UMKC alumna gives back with gift to honor a favorite professor  

Kathleen Orozco, a 1973 graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences, hopes her gift to a scholarship endowment will help future students find the love of art


May 11, 2016

Since Kathleen Orozco graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences with a bachelor’s degree in art history, she has moved around the country and through a couple of careers.

Where she’s landed — as Denver’s premier appraiser of antiques — is where she wants to be. Orozco is quick to point out that she wouldn’t be where she is if she hadn’t fallen in love with art all those years ago at UMKC.

For that, Orozco said, she thanks two of her favorite professors: the late Geraldine Fowle and Burton Dunbar, professor of renaissance and American art and a graduate advisor in art history.

This spring, Orozco decided to say thank you with a $20,000 gift to the endowment of the Geraldine E. Fowle Art History Scholarship Fund, which was established after Fowle died in 2011 after a 45-year teaching career at UMKC.

“She had a gift for the field — just like Dr. Dunbar,” Orozco said of Professor Fowle. “She was a gifted teacher and she really understood art history and was very enthusiastic…She was great at explaining how a painting, sculpture or architecture reflected a culture and fit into or departed from an artistic tradition.”

Orozco said she is happy to contribute toward a scholarship that she hopes will give a young person the gift of art she was given so long ago.

“I do believe in the difference a college education can make,” Orozco said. “And I do believe in the liberal arts and art history. It’s a benefit you have for your entire life. You look at the world differently. You have a context and an understanding of the things you see — not just at a museum — but everything you see.

“I think it’s really important for anyone who has that interest to have that opportunity,“ she said.

Dunbar, who has worked with Orozco in a professional capacity since Orozco began her antique appraisal business in 1993, said Orozco is a shining example of what a liberal arts education can mean.

“Ms. Orozco truly represents what the liberal arts is all about from the standpoint of having basic tools at the undergraduate level,” Dunbar said.

He said her work at UMKC let her go on to impressive graduate training.

“(She) succeeded admirably, ultimately finding her own career and becoming one of the most sought-after appraisers in the Denver region,” Dunbar said.

Kati Toivanen, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of studio art, thanked Orozco for her gift.

“Her support is a testament to the commitment alumni have for UMKC, and the trust that their financial commitment is being well-stewarded to support students as they achieve their goals of obtaining a liberal arts education in an exceptional institution” Toivanen said. “She wishes for others the same opportunities she had to discover the gifts of knowledge guided by dedicated professors.”