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UMKC Foundation President Honored with Fundraising Award

Local chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals names Murray Blackwelder 2014 Outstanding Fundraising Professional

The Association of Fundraising Professionals Mid-America Chapter has named UMKC Foundation President Murray Blackwelder its 2014 Outstanding Fundraising Professional.

The award will be given at the organization’s annual National Philanthropy Day celebration, Wednesday Nov. 19, at the National World War I Museum. National Philanthropy Day celebrates philanthropy and volunteerism in the Kansas City area.

Tanja Heinen, CFRE, AFP chapter president, said the AFP Mid-America Chapter National Philanthropy Committee selected Blackwelder for the award because of his long tenure as a dedicated and successful fundraising professional.

“Murray has made dreams come true in higher education for more than 40 years,” said Heinen.  “Scholarships, professorships, buildings and more exist today because of Murray’s vision and the respected work he has done with donors in our community and around the country.”

Blackwelder, who has led the UMKC Foundation since it was founded in 2009, will retire at the end of June. He has led the foundation’s successful $250 million capital campaign, The Campaign for UMKC, which so far has raised more than $231 million for expanded scholarships, new endowment funds, added faculty positions, and a swell of new facilities throughout the university.

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 thousands of charitable gifts for the university annually. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2014, those gifts totaled $40.1 million.

UMKC Foundation Board Chair Betsey Solberg has called Blackwelder “the best in the business.” The foundation board recently announced that it had named Steven P. Norris, a UMKC alumnus, as its next president.

Blackwelder has devoted his entire career to philanthropy in higher education. Before joining the UMKC Foundation, he was senior vice president for advancement at Purdue University, where he directed a staff of more than 50 professionals to complete a $1.7 billion campaign.

Prior to his tenure at Purdue, Blackwelder was vice president of external affairs at Iowa State University, where he oversaw two separate campaigns that raised more than $600 million. He also has held leadership positions at the Wichita State University Endowment Association, Wichita State University, Rockhurst University and Baker University.

The UMKC Foundation, launched in 2009, is an independent, nonprofit organization that serves as the official fundraising and fund management organization for The University of Missouri-Kansas City.

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