UMKC to honor four Kansas City community leaders with honorary degrees

A tireless civic leader and defender of justice; successful theatre co-wners and promoters of the visual and performing arts; and a renowned advocate for the arts, entrepreneurship and education will receive honorary degrees at the 2012 University of Missouri-Kansas City commencement ceremonies.

The College of Arts and Sciences will award the doctor of philosophy honoris causa degrees at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Friday, May 4 at Swinney Recreation Center, 5030 Holmes St., Kansas City, Mo. to:

Alvin Brooks (recognition at 1 p.m.)

Richard Carrothers and Dennis D. Hennessy (recognition at 4 p.m.)

The Conservatory of Music and Dance will present the doctor of music honoris causa at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 5 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway St., Kansas City, Mo. to:

Julia Irene Kauffman

“This is a great opportunity for the university – and for me – to honor four individuals who have given so much to UMKC and to our Kansas City community,” said UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton. “We appreciate their giving spirits and are privileged to call them alumni of Kansas City’s university.”

Julia Irene Kauffman has been a tireless advocate for the arts, entrepreneurship and education in Kansas City. Her sustained leadership of the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation and her vision and leadership in establishing the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and the Todd Bolender Center for the Kansas City Ballet have been transformational to Kansas City.

Kauffman has served as a UMKC Trustee and as a board member at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre. She also has served as honorary chair for Crescendo – the signature fundraising gala at the Conservatory – and has continued her piano studies at the Conservatory.

Brooks is an alumnus of the College of Arts and Sciences (B.A. ’59, M.A. ’73) and has committed his career to public service, making significant contributions to the university and to the Kansas City metro area. His civic involvement spanning 58 years has emphasized community safety and civil rights. As a founding member of the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime, he has worked diligently since 1977 to make Kansas City’s urban communities safer.

He has served as a Kansas City, Mo. police officer and police board member. Brooks has worked for civil rights and to calm racial tension through collaboration. He symbolizes integrity and perseverance as a defender of justice for the community, a cause to which he has dedicated his life. In 2009, UMKC awarded Brooks with the Alumnus of the Year Award.

Richard Carrothers and Dennis D. Hennessy – both UMKC College of Arts and Sciences alumni – represent UMKC’s tradition of excellence in the visual and performing arts. Both have an impressive list of accomplishments, receiving acclaim on local, regional and national levels. Early in their careers, they were co-owners of Tiffany’s Attic and Waldo Astoria in Kansas City, deemed by the Wall Street Journal as “two of the most successful theatres – both artistically and financially – in the country.”

In the 1990s, they co-founded the New Theatre Restaurant in Overland Park, Kan., and have received numerous awards for their work in theatre and film. They have been recognized for their accomplishments in the community as producers, directors, small business owners and philanthropists. In 1976, UMKC awarded Carrothers and Hennessy with the College of Arts and Sciences’ Alumni Achievement Award.

About UMKC

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 15,000 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. For more information about UMKC, visit You can also find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and watch us on YouTube.

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