Dr. David Atkinson: UMKC remembers professor of 44 years for ‘hunger for life’

U-News Staff

More than 60 former colleagues and students from several departments across campus gathered to honor the contributions and achievements of Dr. David Atkinson, who passed away on Nov. 14.

A memorial was held for the retired political science and law professor on Jan. 25 at the School of Law student lounge from 4-6 pm.

In his 44 years at UMKC,   Atkinson came to know many colleagues and students from many departments across campus. Current, former and retired professors and faculty rekindled and shared memories of Atkinson before the event.

The memorial’s program included tributes and thoughts from Dr. Beth Miller, Arts & Sciences Dean Wayne Vaught, School of Law Dean Ellen Suni, Dr. Harris Mirkin, Dr. Dale Neuman, Fred Wickman Angela Bennett and Dr. Mona Lyne.

Miller shared that Atkinson was “more than a colleague— my mentor— a regular lunch date – [and] the number one source of gossip at UMKC.”

Vaught spoke of when Atkinson first came to UMKC in 1967.  Atkinson signed his employment offer to earn $8,800 per academic year.

Among moments of grief, speakers and attendees shared light hearted memories highlighting his personality and legacy.

“He had a hunger for life and fine dining,” Miller said.

This sentiment set the precedent for many other anecdotes about Atkinson’s heightened culinary palette.

“David never ate lunch anywhere but in a restaurant. The only reason I got on the rotation was Beth refused to go to Stroud’s,” said Lyne.

Wickman, worked as the faculty adviser to the University News under Atkinson’s direction as the Board of Publishers’ chair . The two had a monthly lunch ritual, and Wickman remembered Atkinson’s love of Indian food.

“David always had my back, and I always had his.  He was the purest scholar I have ever known,” said Wickham.

Mirkin, who shared an office next to Atkinson for 40 years, joked that he was very cheerful, but morbid because he focused on studying the death of judges. Neuman, remembered Atkinson’s love of mystery novels, poetry and a variety of cars.

Atkinson taught in both the Political Science Department and the School of Law, progressing to emeritus professor in both departments. He was awarded the “highest honor” of UM Curators’ Teaching Professor.

“His expansive knowledge of the justices and the judicial system is incredible,” Suni read from a student evaluation.

His interest in constitutional studies, the justice system, law and his students, lead Atkinson to establish the David N. Atkinson Scholarship in political science.

Bennett, former University of Missouri Curator and a student of Atkinson’s, talked about the scholarship, which was established in 2010.

Bennett said the scholarship is substantial and that it has reached numerous political science students with interests similar to Atkinson’s.

For more information on the scholarship, please call the UMKC Foundation (816) 235- 5776.

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