UMKC Foundation honors Julia Irene Kauffman

U-News Staff

Chair of the UMKC Foundation Betsy Solberg presented Julia Irene Kauffman with the Award of Distinction at the annual Seeds of Learning dinner on Thursday, Oct. 2.

More than 100 donors attended the dinner held at the Intercontinental Hotel on the Country Club Plaza, including University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe.

The UMKC Foundation, a “separate but affiliated enterprise that is devoted to raising funds for the university,” as stated on its website, recognized Kauffman for her support of local arts and the University, including a $20 million challenge grant from the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation to the Conservatory of Music and Dance towards the building of a downtown arts campus.

Kauffman has been chairman and chief executive officer of the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation since the death of the Foundation’s namesake in 1995. Muriel Kauffman was a local philanthropist and wife of Kansas City Royals owner Ewing Kauffman.

Solberg, said Kauffman “understands that our greatest hope for a tomorrow built on the firmest of foundations starts with equipping the youth of today with the highest level of education we can provide them.”

UMKC Chairman Leo E. Morton also announced that with the Kauffman Foundation grant and other gifts to the Conservatory, the UMKC Foundation has now raised more than $30 million of the $48 million in private capital necessary for the state of Missouri to match the funds towards the downtown arts campus project.

According to a press release from the Foundation, the award “is given annually to an individual who has demonstrated loyalty to the university.” The award is a silver-on-bronze statue designed by local metal firm A. Zahner Co.

The first Award of Distinction was given to local philanthropist Henry W. Bloch in October 2013.
Kauffman was a student at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance. She was “thrilled and honored” to receive the award.

“As a former student, giving back to UMKC means a lot to me,” Kauffman said.

The Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation has no formal involvement in the downtown arts campus project aside from the challenge grant. Kauffman is excited about the project and wishes the UMKC Foundation luck in securing the rest of the necessary funds.

“It will be nice to see a school downtown, not just high-rises,” she said.

Kauffman is particularly excited about Conservatory students receiving access to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. According to the UMKC Foundation, a possible location for the new arts campus will be directly south of the Center for the Performing Arts.