Floyd, UM curators object to UMKC split

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:20 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

KANSAS CITY — The University of Missouri will not support any effort to separate its Kansas City campus from the university system, President Elson Floyd said last week.

Two high-profile consultants serving on a task force evaluating the relationship between the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the community suggested at recent forums that the Kansas City campus could increase local fundraising ability if it were on its own.

What was formerly the private University of Kansas City became part of the University of Missouri system in the early 1960s. Other campuses in the system are at Columbia, St. Louis and Rolla.

Benno Schmidt, a former president of Yale University, and Jim Duerstadt, a former president of the University of Michigan, had said during forums to gather information for a report due out next month that some considered the university’s Board of Curators to be an “absentee” governing body and not responsive to Kansas City needs.

The task force on which the two men serve was formed by the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. Floyd, in a letter to the foundation last week, defended the university system’s commitment to UMKC and the greater Kansas City community.

“The University of Missouri Board of Curators and I cannot support any report that might suggest a severing of that relationship, in whole or in part,” Floyd wrote, sending a copy to Schmidt, who heads the task force.

Floyd said Kansas City and the university had benefited from being a part of the university system.

“The citizens of our entire state have invested mightily in UMKC for more than four decades, building up vast equity — both in faith and finances,” Floyd wrote. “It disturbs me greatly that we are hearing expressions of concern from potential students, faculty, legislators and our valued alumni about the possibility of losing the imprimatur of the University of Missouri.

“I cannot emphasize enough to you the negative impact this perception will have on our ability to attract top faculty and students and to raise money in these tough budget times.”

A preliminary report from the task force is due June 24, with the final report coming in August.

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