Arts & Sciences, Conservatory award honorary degrees to area leaders

Lindsay Adams

Four Kansas Citians outstanding for their community work will receive honorary degrees at the 2012 University of Missouri-Kansas City commencement ceremonies.

“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 Chancellor Leo Morton. “We appreciate their giving spirits and are privileged to call them alumni of Kansas City’s university.”

The four are Alvin Brooks, an advocate for justice and a crime fighter; Richard Carrothers and Dennis D. Hennessy, both theater owners and supporters of the visual and performing arts, and Julia Irene Kauffman, a renowned campaigner for the arts, new business and learning.

The College of Arts and Sciences will recognize Brooks, Carrothers and Hennessy with doctor of philosophy honoris causa degrees.

Brooks is an alumnus of UMKC, graduating from the College of Arts and Sciences with a bachelor’s degree in 1959, and a master’s degree in 1973. Since then he has dedicated himself to public service. Brooks was a founding member of Ad Hoc Group Against Crime, which was formed to address the unsolved murders of nine black women in the area. The organization’s goal is to combat crime and violence through crisis intervention and prevention, and to support youth and families affected by criminal behavior. Brooks has worked as a Kansas City police officer and has served as a police board member. In 2009, Brooks received the Alumnus of the Year Award.

Carrothers and Hennessy are also College of Arts and Sciences alumni. They were co-owners of Tiffany’s Attic and Waldo Astoria in Kansas City, which were praisedby the Wall Street Journal as “two of the most successful theatres – both artistically and financially – in the country.” They have received acclaim on local, regional and national levels for their work in theatre and film.

Carrothers and Hennessy co-founded the New Theatre Restaurant in Overland Park, featuring such stars as Loretta Swit and Jamie Farr from “MASH” and Don Knotts from “The Andy Griffith Show.” Carrothers and Hennessy received the College of Arts and Sciences’ Alumni Achievement Award from UMKC in 1976.

The Conservatory of Music and Dance will present Kauffman with the doctor of music honoris causa.

Kauffman has led the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation and has been the driving force behind establishing the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and the Todd Bolender Center for the Kansas City Ballet. Kauffman has been a UMKC Trustee and a board member at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre. She also has served as honorary chair for Crescendo, the fundraising party for the Conservatory.

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