James B. Nutter (1928-2017) and Neal Patterson (1949-2017)
Two self-made business visionaries with strong connections to the University of Missouri-Kansas City died within days of each other.
James B. Nutter, founder of the nationwide mortgage company that bears his name, died July 7 at the age 89. Neal Patterson, CEO and co-founder of Cerner co-owner of Sporting Kansas City died July 9 at age 67.
“These two extraordinary men have helped shape Kansas City into the extraordinary place it has become,” said UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton. “Along with their families and so many others, we grieve their losses. We are so deeply grateful to both of these men for their legacies of generosity and forward thinking.”
James B. Nutter
In the 1950s and 1960s, Nutter refused to adhere to the discriminatory lending practices of the day. As a result, his company was one of the first to make home loans in black neighborhoods and to single women on a large scale.
Nutter followed up his business success with a long list of philanthropic causes including support of UMKC and revitalizing the urban neighborhoods that surround the Volker and Health Sciences campuses. Nutter’s efforts helped bring businesses like Costco and Home Depot to the urban core of Kansas City. Students at the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management attend lectures in the James B. Nutter Family Classroom.
Nutter also supported the UMKC School of Medicine, which he called “one of Kansas City’s greatest and most unsung assets.”
“I have fought diabetes, and know it is a disease that threatens to become epidemic in our country,” said Nutter, who received an honorary doctorate from the school in 2014. “This gift is really a gift to our grandchildren and to people yet unborn, that it might help this great medical school find ways to prevent the onset of diabetes and to improve quality of life for generations to come.”
Patterson, who spent his early life working wheat fields on the Oklahoma-Kansas border, co-founded Cerner in 1979. The company was named Kansas City’s top small business in 1988. It has since grown to become the largest medical records company in the United States, with more than 24,000 employees worldwide and more than 12,000 working on multiple campuses in the Kansas City area.
Cerner has provided financial support for the KC STEM Alliance, located on the UMKC campus. Both institutions are partners.
Mike Nill, chief operating officer at Cerner, is an inaugural and current member of the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering Executive Council, which provides guidance and insight to advance the school’s mission.
In 2015, UMKC and its clinical partner, Truman Medical Centers, began a collaboration to conduct data-driven research using Cerner Health Facts de-identified data. This collaboration provides research capabilities few others, regionally or nationally, can claim.
In 1994, the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management named Patterson and Cerner co-founder Cliff Illig Regional Entrepreneurs of the Year.
Patterson was a major force in saving professional soccer in Kansas City and helped develop a public-private partnership to build a soccer-specific stadium in the Legends area. Sporting Kansas City has remained one of the top franchises in Major League Soccer.
UMKC, which has men’s and women’s soccer teams, has enjoyed a partnership with Sporting Kansas City since 2013, selected after careful consideration for its diverse and youth-driven audience, including connections with a regional youth soccer community.
“As a partner, we are most proud of the title night sponsorship we host every year. The entire evening from start to finish is UMKC focused, putting our brand in front of more than 20,000 fans,” said Anne Hartung Spenner, vice chancellor for strategic marketing and communications. “Sporting Kansas City is a treasure to our Kansas City region and has been very popular with our students.”