The Who and What of the UCM Foundation
We Asked Three Former Presidents
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Big ideas often start small. Who would believe that a desk on the back porch of a home at Clark and Holden streets would be the start of a critical university operation more than three decades later?
The history of the UCM Foundation, the legal entity that manages the university's fundraising operations, reflects achievements and learning. Its development can be compared to that of a newborn surmounting the phases of life. And its parents can be considered the members of its board of directors - alumni and friends who volunteered their time, expertise and connections - to nurture its growth.
Their leadership has helped the foundation become a mature organization that has generated millions of dollars for student scholarships, created the university's most prestigious teaching award, started the campus' outdoor sculpture collection, expedited new facilities such as Kirkpatrick Library, Maastricht Friendship Tower and Walton Stadium, and more. From the perspective of three of the earliest foundation board presidents, even greater achievements are ahead.
"When the foundation started, it operated from a desk on the back porch of a home at Clark and Holden streets," recalls Doris Houx Kirkpatrick, the sixth person to serve as board president. (It's now the spot where Smiser Alumni Center, the result of a private alumni gift, sits today.) "You had to close the back door to open the drawers on the desk. Since I lived in Warrensburg, Hildred [Williams], the secretary, and I would meet on that back porch once a week and conduct the foundation's business."
Mike Webb, a 1967 alumnus, inventor, entrepreneur and pilot, was the board's first president. Next to serve was Cheerios inventor James Evans. He was followed by Jim Pendleton, a 1955 alumnus and Kansas City businessman who became a partner at Arthur Anderson.
Kirkpatrick, Webb and Pendleton recall the start was a challenge since James Horner, in his first year as the university's 12th president, wasn't convinced that a foundation was needed. "For many years, the deans had done their own fundraising for their own programs," Kirkpatrick says, adding that they had worked hard to develop relationships with their alumni and foster the stewardship that maintained them.
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