Nov 2, 2012    #139
Contact: John Martellaro

UMKC to Retain Existing Name

Research revealed passionate support for University of Missouri-Kansas City

Kansas City's only urban research university will retain the name University of Missouri-Kansas City for the foreseeable future.

The university, founded in 1933 as the University of Kansas City, became UMKC in 1963 when it became part of the University of Missouri System. While the university has been growing in national and global recognition, university officials began considering a name change earlier this year to more clearly convey the school's strong and deep ties to the greater Kansas City community. They decided to explore whether a change might help boost undergraduate enrollment and philanthropic giving, in response to a declining trend in financial support from the state.

Officials conducted a series of public opinion surveys to gauge reaction to a potential change, separately targeting key constituencies such as potential students, the greater Kansas City community, alumni, current students, faculty and staff. Findings showed that while prospective students and the community at large had strong interest in the name change, several other important groups, such as current students, faculty, staff and alumni, do not favor a name change at this time.

"The research at this point tells us that our university community is not ready to make this move," said Chancellor Leo E. Morton. "Going forward, we will focus, as The University of Missouri-Kansas City, on two primary goals: continuing to be Kansas City's university, and a university of national and global impact and significance. And we will find ways to make sure that the value we generate will be clearly understood, from every corner of Kansas City to every corner of the planet."

Morton said the decision, and the process, reflect the university's commitment to openness, transparency and respect for its stakeholders.

"We committed from the beginning to a research-based decision-making process. We said if it could help us achieve our mission, vision and strategy, then it was worth considering. And if we were to learn that it wouldn't help, then we wouldn't go forward with it."

Morton said the exploration process overall was a positive experience for him, the campus and the community. The only downside, he said, was confusion about UMKC's ongoing commitment to the University of Missouri System.

"If there is any disappointment here, it is that some may have misunderstood a name change to mean a break with the University of Missouri System. That has never been contemplated, no matter what our university name is," Morton said. "We anticipated some concern regarding the University of Missouri connection, but it was more widespread than we expected. We want to ensure that no one leaves this process thinking of us as anything other than a strong partner and believer in the University of Missouri System."

Still, Morton said he was pleased by the depth of feeling about the university that the process revealed.

"Throughout this name change exploration, we have been encouraged and gratified by the obvious passion that people feel for this university, among alumni, students, faculty and staff, donors and the Greater Kansas City community. Whether people support or oppose the idea, they care deeply about this university," Morton said. "I am grateful for that, and also for the thoughtful and respectful way that members of our community have expressed themselves on this issue, even when they disagreed. People on both sides made their points with logical reasoning, as well as passion, and that says so much about our university community and our Kansas City community."

About the University of Missouri-Kansas City

The University of Missouri-Kansas City, one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 15,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience. For more information about UMKC, visit You can also find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and watch us on YouTube.

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This information is available to people with speech or hearing impairments by calling Relay Missouri at (800) 735-2966 (TT) or (800) 735-2466 (voice).


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