UMKC officially launches campaign to raise $250 million

The University of Missouri-Kansas City’s capital campaign to raise $250 million to increase student scholarships, hire top faculty and build new facilities has been officially launched.

“This is only the second major capital campaign in the history of the university,” said Murray M. Blackwelder, UMKC Foundation president, and the first, he said, led by the two-year-old foundation.

“It is what we need to do to take UMKC to the next level,” Blackwelder said.

The seven-year effort, which began unofficially two years ago, is slated to end in 2016.

Once the money is raised, the foundation expects to allot $53.4 million to need and merit-based scholarships; $5 million for an honors college; and $47.3 million for 16 endowed faculty chairs, 20 endowed professorships and a faculty scholars program.

About $17 million will expand programs such as the Dental Clinic, and the Urban Education Research Center started earlier this year. About $1.5 million is to be set aside for updating the law library.

Nearly $60 million is slated for construction, including new learning areas at the Conservatory of Music and Dance; renovation of research space on Hospital Hill; and common student areas at the Miller Nichols Library.

The early fundraising brought in more than $100 million, nearly a third of it donated in mid-September by Henry Bloch to expand the Bloch School of Management.

Announced Tuesday evening was another gift of $6 million from Tom and Vina Hyde to be left to the discretion of the chancellor on its disposition. The majority of the $100 million raised so far, however, is “donor directed.”

The two gifts are the largest and fourth-largest respectively in the school’s history, said Alan Atterbury, chairman of the UMKC Foundation.

Explaining the two-year wait before announcing the public part of the campaign, Blackwelder said: “You don’t want to announce a campaign that you can’t succeed at. We feel that now we are over the tripping point. We feel sure we can be successful at reaching $250 million.”

University officials noted how this campaign goes toward satisfying parts of a six-point strategic plan drawn from the “Time to Get it Right” report on higher education in Kansas City. The 2005 report, commissioned by the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, recommended that UMKC grow as a research institution.

“The report kind of laid down the groundwork, and we have crafted the campaign in a way that addresses issues in the strategic plan,” said Atterbury.

Although expressing certainty that the $250 million goal will be reached, Atterbury said, “I don’t think it will be easy. It will be a challenge given the all the other philanthropy that has gone on here in Kansas City recently.”