The story of UMKC is a story of partnerships and progress, expansion and education.
The University of Kansas City was chartered in 1929, and one year later, Kansas City businessman and philanthropist William Volker donated 40.8 acres to the university. In 1931, Volker acquired and donated the Dickey mansion, which would house the first library, classrooms, cafeteria and administrative offices. UKC’s first classes began in 1933 with 17 instructors and 265 students enrolled. In 1936, 80 students became UKC’s first graduating class.
With the founding of the university, UKC and Kansas City leaders wasted no time expanding, constructing three new buildings in three years. The first building constructed specifically for the university, Mannheim Hall, was built in 1935; Newcomb Hall came one year later, designed to be the school’s library. Haag Hall was built in 1937.
Students also wasted no time forming their identity. In 1934, the student council named “old gold and royal blue” the official school colors. And, in 1937, Kasey the Kangaroo became UKC’s official mascot. Intercollegiate athletics and fraternities and sororities were approved by the trustees in 1954.
Academics expanded, too, as UKC partnered with area schools to add more divisions, programs and majors. In 1938, Kansas City School of Law merged with UKC to form the Law School, and in 1941, the Kansas City-Western Dental College, founded in 1881, joined UKC. Today, UMKC School of Dentistry is the only dental school in the state of Missouri.
The university's dedication to the arts was born in 1942, with the construction of the Fine Arts Center. The Kansas City Conservatory of Music joined UKC in 1959. In 1979, the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center was completed. Known as the “PAC,” it’s home to the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance and the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, helping UMKC become an integral part of Kansas City’s cultural character.
One of the university’s most important moves came on July 25, 1963, when UKC became a part of the University of Missouri System. Progress continued to follow, including the construction of Katz Hall (1965), Miller Nichols Library (1965), Royall Hall (1968) and the Education Building (1969).
The UMKC School of Medicine was founded in 1971, offering a unique and revolutionary six-year combined bachelor/M.D. program. Located on the Hospital Hill campus, the Medical School has now graduated over 3,000 M.D.s.
Recent advances, such as LEED® certified buildings and the 2009 establishment of the UMKC Foundation, have helped the university continue to serve students and the community, and to succeed in its mission to become the region’s leading urban research university.