Engineering Progress

Gregory Graves, CEO of Burns & McDonnell, has been awarded an honorary doctorate of engineering from the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s School of Computing and Engineering.

Gregory Graves Received Honorary Doctorate

For years, Gregory Graves has been an advocate for growth and change in the Kansas City metro. His vision expands UMKC’s already prominent presence in the area. Now Graves, CEO of Burns & McDonnell, has been awarded an honorary doctorate of engineering from the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s School of Computing and Engineering.

The presentation took place during the school’s commencement ceremony at 10 a.m., Friday, May 17, at the Swinney Recreation Center, 5000 Holmes St.

During his tenure as chairman of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Graves led the charge in 2011 to outline the chamber’s “Big Five” goals for the region. This included a proposal to move UMKC’s world-class arts programs to a new downtown location, as well as creating a Regional Translational Research Institute where UMKC clinicians will work with other area investigators in a bi-state effort. Another of the goals, making Kansas City “America’s most Entrepreneurial City,” will optimize assets such as UMKC’s Henry W. Bloch School of Management.

Graves has been a member of the UMKC Board of Trustees since 2012, and is a strong supporter of a new engineering, computing and information technology partnership between UMKC and Rockhurst University. Last spring, when the two universities announced an innovative partnership between Rockhurst and UMKC that will enable students enrolled at Rockhurst to receive an engineering or information technology degree, Graves voiced his strong support.

“Having two prestigious Kansas City universities partner to increase the pool of qualified engineering and information technology professionals will be a huge asset to local and regional employers,” Graves said. “The heavy concentration of firms located in Kansas City should also be a benefit to students while they are in the program and upon graduation.”

Graves also championed the establishment of UMKC’s Newton A. Campbell Engineering Excellence Scholarship in 2010. He has been named to Ingram Magazine’s Power Elite, has provided leadership to numerous civic boards and educational organizations and has chaired several fundraisers with his wife, Deanna. In 2009, they were named Kansas City’s Philanthropists of the Year.

Graves is one of five exceptional civic leaders who have made an indelible mark on the community and will receive honorary doctorate degrees during spring commencement exercises at UMKC. The other honorees are R. Crosby Kemper Jr., retired chairman of UMB Bank, College of Arts and Sciences; philanthropist Shirley Bush Helzberg, Conservatory of Music and Dance; James A. Polsinelli, founder of the Polsinelli law firm, School of Law; and Ralph Reid, president of the Sprint Foundation and vice president of corporate social responsibility for Sprint, School of Education.

Times and Locations

  • The College of Arts and Sciences commencement (Kemper) is 1 p.m. Friday May 17 at Swinney Recreation Center.
  • The Conservatory commencement (Helzberg) is 10 a.m. Saturday May 18 in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
  • The Law commencement (Polsinelli) is at 4 p.m. Saturday May 18 at Swinney Recreation Center.
  • The Education commencement (Reid) is at 10 a.m. Saturday May 18 at Swinney Recreation Center.



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