Mar 29, 2007    #039
Contact: Nick Barron

Belzer receives Alumni Achievement Award

Irv Belzer’s life is a tapestry of experiences, relationships and decisions woven together to create a career worthy of the 2007 UMKC School of Law’s Alumni Achievement Award.

Whether it was attending his step-father’s alma mater, discussing the Vietnam War while a college student with a legendary Congressman or choosing to try experimental educational systems, Belzer has made the most of his opportunities. A part of firm-wide management of the 800-lawyer law firm Bryan Cave, Belzer is a Kansas City son who continuously improves his community.

Left fatherless at 12-years-old when his dad passed away, Belzer developed a close relationship with his step-father, Stan Rostov, an attorney who graduated from Oberlin College, where Belzer would earn his Bachelor’s degree.

As an Oberlin student Belzer became interested in open classroom teaching, a form of teaching that sought to increase students’ creativity and individuality. Belzer visited various open classrooms on the East Coast and even visited such schools in England the year after he graduated from Oberlin.

“And so I became interested in that (open classroom teaching) and taught for a year as I was working on my Masters in teaching and had an opportunity to come back to Kansas City,” Belzer said.

Belzer learned of an open classroom school starting in Kansas City, so he returned to his hometown to run the school, serving as “the head master, head janitor and all other things.”

It was in this capacity that Belzer met a Kansas City area school superintendent who told Belzer open classroom teaching wouldn’t work in public schools, adding the recent college grad wouldn’t understand the regulations surrounding public education in America.

Belzer soon enrolled at UMKC’s law school, beginning a powerful relationship that continues to pay dividends to Kansas City and its law school. As Belzer climbed the ranks of Kansas City’s legal elites, first working for the late Ed Smith and then for Bryan Cave, he remained a positive force at the law school.

Belzer has been listed for a number of years in the “Chambers USA, America’s Leading Lawyers for Business,” as one of Missouri’s top commercial litigators and in “The Kansas City Business Journal’s Best of the Bar” survey.

Belzer represents many high-profile clients, such as a variety of GMAC companies, HCA-Midwest Division, Sprint Nextel, and Principal Financial Group.

Belzer has kept in touch with many law school alumni and faculty, including law professor David Achtenberg, who roomed with Belzer while the latter was in school at UMKC. Today Belzer gives back to his alma mater by serving on the UMKC Law School Foundation. Belzer not only gives back to UMKC, he gives back to Kansas City.

He is counsel to and a board member of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, has served two terms as board member of the Kansas City Area Development Council, is a member of the Jewish Community Relations Bureau/American Jewish Committee, and is a board member of the Jewish Community Foundation. He also serves as counsel to The Phoenix Family Housing Corporation.

Belzer is past president of the Board of Jewish Family and Children Services and a recipient, along with his wife, Sue McCord-Belzer, of the Alfred Benjamin Friend of the Family Award in 2000. Belzer’s dedication to public education has not waned over the years, as evidenced by his having served two terms as chairman of The Learning Exchange, Inc., a nonprofit group promoting teaching students through personal experiences.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a three-part mission: visual and performing arts, health sciences, and urban affairs.

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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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