New president, an alumnus, begins work in January
Norris, who since 2005 has served as executive director for development at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, will begin his duties at UMKC on Jan. 5. Norris will replace Murray Blackwelder, who has served as president since the foundation was founded in 2009.
Blackwelder, who is retiring, will remain in a consulting role through the fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2015.
“Murray Blackwelder came in and built this foundation from the day of its official founding,” said Betsey Solberg, foundation chair. “He is the best in the business and we recruited him here to start up the finest foundation. We are fortunate to have him continue as a consultant to bring Steven up to speed on all that has been accomplished recently and the tantalizing plans we have ahead of us.
“We held a national search and the search firm reviewed hundreds of considerations before narrowing the search to five candidates and landing on Steven,” Solberg said. “Steven knows us from his earlier time here and during the interim he has been involved in new approaches to fundraising.”
Norris, who earned his master’s degree in public administration from UMKC, returns to Kansas City with a long resume in the fundraising field. Prior to taking his current position with MD Anderson, Norris held positions with the Salvation Army, including as associate director of development for the Salvation Army of Kansas & Western Missouri.
“I am excited to be chosen for this role,” Norris said. “I look forward to working with the generous donors of UMKC and community leaders to advance the significant goals of the university. When I worked here before I was always amazed at how generous the people of Kansas City were in supporting nonprofit organizations in the community.”
Blackwelder has led the foundation’s capital campaign, The Campaign for UMKC, which so far has raised more than $231 million for expanded scholarships, new endowment funds, additional faculty positions, and new facilities throughout the university. The campaign, which officially ends June 30, 2016, is well ahead of its $250 million goal.
During Blackwelder’s tenure, the UMKC Foundation has received five of the seven-largest gifts in university history, including gifts from Henry W. Bloch; the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation; Thomas D. and Vina W. Hyde; the Hall Family Foundation and an anonymous donor. The foundation endowment has grown to more than $36 million and the foundation receives more than 50,000 charitable gifts for the university annually. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2014, those gifts totaled $40.1 million.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my six years at UMKC, and I am excited about the future of the Campaign for UMKC and the foundation under Steven’s leadership,” Blackwelder said. “This community created the UMKC Foundation because its leaders knew UMKC had every potential to be one of the country’s truly outstanding urban universities. The generosity that so many people have shown during my time here shows how strong that belief is. I see the many strides UMKC has already made thanks to that generosity, and I foresee an equally accomplished future.”
The UMKC Foundation, launched in 2009, is an independent, nonprofit organization that serves as the official fundraising and fund management organization for UMKC. The UMKC endowment at the end of the last fiscal year totaled more than $275 million.