Celebrating Our Namesake: The Leadership and Legacy of Henry Bloch

Henry W. Bloch (1922-2019) was a devoted friend and supporter of several institutions in Kansas City, but none more so than the school that bears his name: the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

In 2011, he and his wife, Marion, established the Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation, dedicated to improving the Greater Kansas City area. The foundation focuses on seven areas, ranging from social services to education for the poor, disadvantaged and underserved to the family’s “legacy organizations.”

Some people close to Henry have compared his dedication to serving Kansas City in multiple facets to the holistic care of the mind, body and soul. And that is reflected in the family foundation’s priorities: the mind’s focus has been the Bloch School, the body served through Saint Luke’s Health System and the soul with the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Henry Bloch studied at UMKC, then known as University of Kansas City, before graduating from the University of Michigan in 1944. As a former student, Henry had a natural affinity for UMKC. He endowed the former UMKC School of Business in 1986, and the name was changed to Henry W. Bloch School of Management in 2010.

“Henry’s vision was for the Bloch School to serve Kansas City by pursuing excellence. His vision was for us to serve as Kansas City’s Business School, supporting the start-ups, the established firms, and the non-profit and governmental organizations that are all critical to our community’s well-being,” said Brian Klaas, Ph.D., dean of the Bloch School. “Because of Henry, the Bloch School has developed world-class programs, attracted outstanding faculty and staff, and provided opportunities to students from all walks of life. Henry’s life will serve as our inspiration, reminding us to work hard, take risks, fly right, and do good.”

Henry’s hope has been for the Bloch School to be considered a center of excellence for UMKC and Kansas City, creating leaders and the next generation of entrepreneurs by recruiting top students from around the country.

In 2013, Henry attended the school’s 60th anniversary celebration. He recalled a challenge that he issued in 1986 when he endowed the school. “I challenged the school to strive to be the best, to achieve greatness,” he said at the celebration. “Today, I am proud to be able to stand here before you and witness that success.”

Following Henry’s vision, the Bloch School of Management has a strategic focus on twin pillars of excellence: entrepreneurship and innovation in the for-profit sector and social entrepreneurship and innovation in the public and nonprofit sector.

His support over the years has manifested in many ways, including the creation of the state-of-the-art Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in 2013. This building came to fruition thanks to a $32 million gift from Henry to further elevate the Bloch School as a world leader in educating and training future generations of leaders.

Over the years, Henry loved to come to the school for impromptu visits with faculty, staff and, especially, students. Students in the Bloch School’s Entrepreneurship Scholars program in past years found Henry to be a familiar and welcome fixture in classes and at campus events, always ready with a thoughtful question or a timely suggestion.

At the 2013 graduation ceremony for the scholars, he said “as a retired CEO, I can tell you the view from the top is pleasant and satisfying. But the never-to-be-forgotten excitement, the fun and challenge, is in the climb.”