UMKC presents honorary doctoral degrees to two Kansas City leaders

Tom Bloch and Jane Chu recognized in early May

In recognition of their outstanding commitment to UMKC and to the community, the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) will present Kansas City leaders Tom Bloch and Jane Chu with honorary doctoral degrees. Bloch will receive an honorary doctorate in business administration from UMKC’s Henry W. Bloch School of Business and Public Administration, while Chu will receive an honorary doctorate in music from the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.

UMKC will honor Bloch at a reception and he will officially receive his degree at 7 p.m., Friday, May 7 at the Bloch School Commencement Ceremony, Swinney Recreation Center, 5030 Holmes St.

Chu will officially receive her degree at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 8 at the Conservatory Commencement Ceremony, White Recital Hall, 4949 Cherry St.

As one of Kansas City’s most inspirational figures, Tom Bloch‘s unwavering commitment to sound leadership principles in the business and educational arenas is making a difference in Kansas City.

Bloch ended a 19-year tenure at H&R Block in 1995, when he resigned as chief executive officer to pursue his true passion: being an educator in Kansas City’s urban core. After teaching middle school math for five years, he applied his expertise in business and leadership to create a school that would motivate and prepare inner-city children to learn, excel and succeed.

In 2000, Bloch co-founded University Academy, an innovative charter school that operates independently of the Kansas City, Mo. school district. The nationally-acclaimed Academy has grown from 200 students in grades seven through nine to serve more than 1,000 students from kindergarten through 12th grade today. Over the past five years, almost all Academy graduates have gone on to attend college.

Bloch is a founding board member of the UMKC Foundation and chair of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. He and his wife, Mary, founded the Youth Service Alliance of Greater Kansas City to recognize outstanding community service through school-based programs. He is actively engaged as a UMKC Trustee and with the UMKC School of Education‘s Institute for Urban Education. In addition, he is president of the Bloch Endowment Board for the Henry W. Bloch School of Business and Public Administration and serves on the Bloch School Advisory Council. Bloch and his wife, Mary, are serving as honorary co-chairs for the Bloch School’s 25th Anniversary Entrepreneur of the Year Awards Dinner, which takes place in October.

Jane Chu serves as the president and chief executive officer of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Scheduled to open in the fall of 2011, the new 285,000-square-foot, $400 million center will present a diverse range of performing arts groups to Kansas City audiences. It will house the Kansas City Symphony, Kansas City Ballet and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City.

Chu combines her training in the arts and business with experience in the nonprofit sector. She has served as fund executive for the Kauffman Fund, vice president for external relations at Union Station Kansas City and vice president of community investment at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, where she led the five-year Community Arts Initiative to increase participation in the arts.

Chu holds bachelors and masters degrees in piano performance, music education and piano pedagogy from Ouachita Baptist University and Southern Methodist University, respectively. Additionally, Jane holds a master of business administration from Rockhurst University and is a Ph.D. candidate in philanthropic studies at Indiana University.

Honorary degrees are handled by each University of Missouri System campus, starting with a faculty committee that submits nominations to the chancellor. The following guidelines are suggested in selecting honorary degree recipients:

  • People who have rendered distinctive service to the University
  • People who have rendered distinctive service to the State
  • Graduates or former students who have achieved distinction
  • A person of high distinction, from the U.S. or abroad, who is not necessarily associated with the University or the State

For more information about honorary degrees, visit

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience.

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