Tag Archives: University of Kansas City

Carrying the Standard

As new students begin plans for decorating their residence hall rooms for the coming year here is an example of a decoration from the past.

While we here in the archives do not (yet) know the date of this pennant we can say it is from before 1963 – when the independent UKC merged with the UM system becoming UMKC – and that it also bears the design of the original seal of UKC.



A Nice, Cool, Swim

As the weather begins to heat up as we move into summer many may welcome, a nice, cool, swim at Swinney Recreation Center.  There was an instance though when it was a bit too cool at the pool….

Swinney 4

In 1988 during the additions to Swinney Recreation Center for reasons yet to be learned, the new pool was filled before the glass was installed in the covering retractable doors.  A snow shower resulted in the following pictures – snow covering the pool area and mist rising from the warmer water into the colder air.

Swinney 3

The Greenhouse Wasn’t Green, Pt. 5… But it Got Pruned…

After the University Business Office moved out of the greenhouse  the space began to be used for a number of different functions – all of them not lasting very long… It became special lecture space for the Science Building (Mannheim Hall), and then, in 1967, it returned to being a snack bar and study area — only now unstaffed and stocked with vending machines to provide snacks for students.

Snack Bar 1967

According to an article in the U News 14 lounge chairs were ordered for the space along with vending machines to dispense “candy, cigarettes, cold food, coffee, cold drinks, and snacks.”

Only a year later though a growing student body sealed the fate of the greenhouse.  New classroom space was needed and the lot containing the greenhouse was deemed the perfect spot for a new building.  In 1968 the greenhouse was torn down to make way for the Haag Hall Annex building (later renamed Royall Hall).


The Greenhouse Wasn’t Green, Pt. 4…. But It Did House Greenbacks

After the preschool closed the greenhouse sat idle for close to a year.  In the fall of 1951 though it became retrofitted with a new interior, new doors and locks, and bars on the windows.  Why all this security for the greenhouse?  Because it’s new purpose was as the university’s business office – handling the financial affairs of UKC.

And the man handling those affairs was Sadayuki Mouri – a UKC alumnus and a man who would go on to have a long although somewhat unsung career at UKC.

Suds 2

Christopher Wolff, General Merchandise Manager for the UMKC Bookstore is a UKC/UMKC Historian and someone who has researched the life of Mr. Mouri – nicknamed “Suds” by all at the university – so Mr. Wolff is providing a guest post here about Mr. Mouri and his time at UKC…  So I’ll turn the post over to him now:

    In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor and the United States’ entry into the Second World War, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which enabled the relocation of Japanese Americans on the west coast of the United States to internment camps. President Robert G. Sproul of the University of California wrote to colleges and universities across the country asking if they would be willing to accept some of the displaced Japanese American university students, who were being removed to the camps with their families.  One of them men he reached out to was President Clarence Decker of the University of Kansas City, who agreed to accept some of these students.  The first to arrive was Sadayuki “Suds” Mouri in the fall of 1943.

      Suds was born in Watsonville California in 1921. His parents had come from Hiroshima, Japan in 1918 and like many Japanese immigrants at the time had settled in the agricultural heartland of central California.   He was a junior majoring in French at San Jose State University when he and his family were moved to the Heart Mountain Relocation Center near Cody, Wyoming.  There he was sponsored by a Quaker relief organization, which helped negotiate his move to Kansas City.  In those days before the university had a residence hall, most out-of-town students rented rooms in nearby homes.  The Deckers, fearing that prejudice might make this type of housing problematic, agreed to board Suds in their own home and allowed him to pay for his room, board and tuition by performing odd jobs for the university such as cleaning, chauffeuring and assisting with events. Suds quickly endeared himself to the university community and was popular among the students. He was elected secretary of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity and treasurer of the French Club. Through interaction with Suds and the other Japanese American students, who eventually arrived, the university’s students were able to gain a different perspective of Japanese Americans that was far different from the images prevalent in the media of the time.

     After Suds graduated in the spring of 1944 with a Bachelors in Foreign Languages, he decided to enlist in the army. President Decker told him that if he should ever want to return to the university a job would be waiting for him.  He was trained as a Japanese interpreter and served on General MacArthur’s staff during the American occupation of Japan. There he witnessed firsthand the devastation of his family’s ancestral city of Hiroshima and he interviewed many of the survivors as part of his work with the army.  He was discharged in 1946 with the rank of Technical Sergeant.

    When he returned to civilian life Suds married Martha Nitao, whom he had met at the Heart Mountain camp.  They lived in Chicago a short time before he decided to take President Decker up on his offer and return to the university in 1947 as an assistant in the Bursar’s (Cashier’s) Office.   In 1954 he was promoted to Head Bursar and in 1957 the trustees made him the supervisor of the university’s budget.

     He would eventually leave the university in 1961 to become the business manager for the Chicago Theological Seminary. He was later the Vice President of Business Administration at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois where he worked until his retirement in 1986.  Sadayuki “Suds” Mouri passed away on June 17th, 2005.

The Greenhouse Wasn’t Green, Pt. 3…. But it Housed Little Sprouts

In 1948 UKC acquired several surplus Army buildings from the Camp Crowder military base located near Neosho, Missouri.  One of those buildings became the first Student Union and the Kangaroost immediately moved out of the greenhouse and into this bigger space.

The greenhouse was not empty for long though as the university expanded to offer a new, experimental, program.  The building was quickly repainted and slightly remodeled to open as a preschool under the administration of the School of Education.  Twenty children, all four year-olds, were enrolled at the opening.

Children at Kangaroost

The ultimate aim was for the preschool to act as a kind of laboratory school for Education students majoring in Early Childhood Development or Pre-Kindergarten Teaching.   Ultimately, however, the experiment failed as child registration dropped and the center could not remain viable; it closed only two years after opening.

The greenhouse had another transformation waiting in the wings though not long after the ‘little sprouts’ left.

Children's Party

The Geenhouse Wasn’t Green, Pt. 2 ….But it Hopped….

In 1941 the chemistry and biology departments moved into a brand-new building (now Fine Arts) leaving the greenhouse without a purpose for a time .

Although the university had a cafeteria in the Liberal Arts building (Haag Hall) it was only open during serving hours and closed in between.  The Student Council therefore petitioned for the creation of a “canteen” — a place where students could grab a snack between classes, ‘hang-out’, and socialize — and in 1944 their petition was granted.

The greenhouse was converted into what was initially called the Kangaroo Kanteen and opened for business on November 6, 1944.

Interior of the Kangaroost
Interior of the Kangaroost

The Student Council quickly sponsored a contest to determine the official name of the space and the moniker of Kangaroo Kanteen lost out to “The Kangaroost”. Other suggestions had included “The Pouch”, “The Kangaroo’s Pouch”, “Decker’s Dungeon” (named for then-University President Clarence Decker), and “The Last Resort”.

The Kangaroost became the site of formal (and informal) Bridge tournaments and other card games, and student dances.  A nickelodeon was purchased for the space at the cost of $80 to facilitate the latter.  As for the Bridge games — it was not long before Bridge actually had to be banned in the Kangaroost because the Bridge players took up all the tables for marathon games!

Despite all of this the university was growing rapidly and even the greenhouse would be hard-pressed to keep up….

The Greenhouse Wasn’t Green… Pt. 1

When the University of Kansas City opened in 1933 as a privately supported institution it consisted of only three buildings — all part of the former Walter S. Dickey estate — a mansion, a maintenance and boiler building, and a greenhouse.

Greenhouse Post 1935

While most of the academic activities took place in the mansion (now Scofield Hall) the greenhouse was pressed into service as a laboratory building.  The East half became the biology lab while the West half became the chemistry lab.

Biology Class in Greenhouse

As you can imagine, the greenhouse was often very warm — not always an ideal climate for working with chemicals.  In 1981, Dr. Harold Brown, one of the first faculty members in the Chemistry Department, wrote some of his memories of those early days — including a rather explosive incident caused by the warm conditions:

I prepared some Nitrogen Triiodide.  This material decomposes explosively when dry and mechanically disturbed, as for example by touching.  I collected very small amounts of the wet material on a series of filter papers which I arranged across the front of the lecture desk.  They were well separated and I had no reason to anticipate any problems.  I left this particular demonstration until near the end of the hour.  I wrote the next days assignment on the board.  I opened the glass side windows of the greenhouse wide[,] and also the roof windows.  I then explained the chemistry involved.  I told them the story of how Irving Langmuir as a small boy put the material on the window sill so that his younger brother would be frightened when he touched the material.  I explained why the papers were well separated[.]  That I would pick them up one at a time and only very mild pops should occur.  However, I said if something should cause a louder bang class was dismissed.  To my great surprise and consternation, when I picked up the first piece of paper they all went off.  I could hear nothing, nor could most of the class.  Fortunately we had opened the windows and no damage was done at all.  I suspect that this was an illustration of the effect of the considerable heat which we sometimes experienced in the greenhouse on warm days and that the Nitrogen Triiodide was much more easily exploded then normal due to its temperature.

Chemistry Class in Greenhouse

Countdown to Commencement

As the school year comes to a close many of UMKC’s students prepare to graduate, say farewell to their time here, and plan the next phases of their lives. While we in the University Archives do spend time looking forward as well, now seemed to be a good time to look back to Commencement Ceremonies of years past….

In 1936, UKC, as the university was then known, held its first Commencement exercises in June.  Of the 76 graduates in that first class, the oldest and the youngest graduates were singled out for the photograph below.  Edith Bruen, the oldest graduate, is on the left; notably, her age was not actually given in the press release, only the fact that she was a “grandmother”.  Clementine Templin, the youngest graduate at 20, is on the right.  You may notice the black circle on the photograph.  In the days before digital images and photo editing software, original prints were marked or retouched before printing.  In this case, the original photo editor wanted the image to be cropped in a circle.  As we do not have the original negative nor any extra, untouched, prints, this photo is permanently defaced.

First Graduating Class Oldest and Youngest

The 1945 Commencement was a special affair for UKC. That year the school bestowed an honorary degree in Doctor of Laws to President Harry Truman. Truman had briefly attended the Kansas City School of Law in 1924.  By 1938 that same independent law school merged with UKC. At the time of this photo, the increased attendance for the special commencement ceremonies required the graduation be held in Municipal Auditorium for the first time.

Harry Truman

Of course, while commencement is a solemn occasion, it is also a time of joy and levity… just ask these card players….

Graduate Card Sharks

I wonder if they managed to finish their game before they were called up to the stage to accept their diplomas….