UMKC honors Miller Nichols with permanent video display  

The display, which tells the late civic leader’s history and story, is located in the lobby of the Miller Nichols Learning Center


May 11, 2016

A new permanent display inside the lobby of the Miller Nichols Learning Center honors Miller Nichols, the philanthropist and civic leader for whom the university’s main library is named.

Bonnie Postlethwaite, the dean of libraries, said a digital display, which tells Nichols’ history and story, along with his portrait, will be long-term reminders to the community about how much Nichols did for the university and the city.

“He devoted so much to Kansas City and to UMKC, and it’s important that his legacy lives on and inspires other people to give back to their community,” Postlethwaite said. “I think that’s really what he was all about.”

The Miller Nichols Charitable Foundation funded the digital display, “A Tribute to Miller Nichols,” which will be continually shown on a large screen in the lobby. It features details about Nichols’ family, his business and his dedicated civic involvement.

Miller Nichols, who died in 2000, was the son of Jesse Clyde Nichols, developer of Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza and other prominent parts of the city, including the Country Club District, the largest contiguous planned residential community in the United States.

When Miller Nichols took over at his father’s company, the J.C. Nichols company, he made his emphasis improving the Plaza and other developments to make Kansas City “a better place to live.”

Among other achievements, Nichols, who served as a UMKC Trustee for more than 30 years, helped UMKC expand horizontally, rather than vertically, which he believed would have been incompatible with the surrounding neighborhood. Nichols led the effort to acquire land for UMKC’s future, increasing the campus footprint from 75 acres to some 225 acres.

Kay Callison, Miller Nichols’ daughter who serves as president of the Miller Nichols Charitable Foundation, was instrumental in creating the visual history of her father’s life, the community and his family.

“My father dedicated his entire life to Kansas City and engaged others to create a more dynamic and beautiful city,” Callison said. “UMKC was a very important part of his life’s work as he believed every great city should have a great university.”