Jul 3, 2008    #065
Contact: Wandra Brooks Green

Volunteer power brings personal and institutional rewards McPhee honored for contributions to higher education

Mary Kay McPhee of Kansas City, Mo. is one woman whose efforts have brought opportunity and resources to higher education.

McPhee, a graduate of the University of Kansas, has worked on behalf of the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) for nearly 40 years. Her efforts are spread among corporations and institutions, including the three institutions that approved her nomination – UMKC, Kansas City’s Metropolitan Community College and Baker University.

McPhee’s prowess at fundraising has netted UMKC more than $5.6 million. However, UMKC Chancellor Guy Bailey and local community advocate Adele Hall tell of McPhee’s skill at remaining more focused on the outcome.

“She sees the big picture,” read their nomination letter, “directing and enriching consequences for the individual.”

As a longtime volunteer, McPhee, whose dedication has positively impacted the image of volunteers, will be honored for her work.

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) will recognize McPhee as the Distinguished Friend of Education award recipient, based on her work as a non-alumna on behalf of a university. CASE will confer the Distinguished Service Award to five leaders, including McPhee, for their promotion and support of higher education missions on July 14 at its luncheon in New York City.

Beginning in the 1970s, McPhee became active with the Women’s Council and the Family Study Center, raising interest and funds for faculty positions, scholarships, academic courses and public presentations by renowned speakers. McPhee credits two friends who directed her energies.

“Martha Jane Starr was always ahead of the trends,” McPhee said. “Her observations and experiences showed her that a healthy, squared-away person comes from a healthy family. Martha Jane wanted to strengthen families through education and encouragement, so we began the Family Study Center.

“Herman Johnson wanted scholarships to assist African-American students in going to college,” McPhee said of her late friend. “It was a joy and a privilege to help him set up his scholarship fund; and so far, more than 150 young scholars would agree on how beneficial this scholarship fund is in their lives.”

A partial list of McPhee’s additional volunteer leadership at UMKC:

Conservatory of Music and Dance – chair of “Crescendo” fundraising event in 1995 and 2004 –

Henry W. Bloch School of Business and Public Administration –

Jazz Friends – Friends of the Library –

Kansas City Repertory Theatre –

School of Medicine –

School of Nursing –

Starr Education Committee

Women’s Council -

Graduate Assistance Fund -

UMKC Trustees

University Associates

Community Participation

University of Kansas Alumni Association -

Women’s Foundation -

Penn Valley Community College -

Truman Medical Center -

Kansas City Free Health Clinic -

AIDS Council and Mayor’s Task Force on AIDS

Heart of America United Way -

Central Exchange -

Ewing M. Kauffman Fund – Advisory Board


Midwest Bioethics Center -

For additional information, go to the CASE Web site at:

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. Celebrating 75 years, UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a three-part mission: visual and performing arts, health sciences, and urban engagement.


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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