2014 Alumni Award recipients announced

    The UMKC Alumni Association has officially announced its upcoming class of Alumni Awardees. You should have received the fall issue of Perspectives in your mailbox last week, where we first announced this extraordinary group of alumni. These honorees and their accomplishments clearly speak to the impact our campus is having locally, nationally and around the world. We look forward to celebrating them at the Alumni Awards Luncheon April 24, 2014.

    The class is led by our Alumna of the Year, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar (B.A. '75).
    One of the single most internationally renowned names in dance, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar is also one of the most decorated. A trailblazer and innovator in the dance world, Zollar is the recipient of the 2013 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. Zollar is also a past recipient of a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship.  In 1984, Zollar founded Urban Bush Women (UBW) as a performance ensemble dedicated to exploring the use of cultural expression as a catalyst for social change. She has toured the United States and five continents sharing her works through live performances, a PBS special “Free to Dance,” which chronicled African-American influence on modern dance, and was a representative of the U.S. State Department’s inaugural cultural diplomacy program.  Zollar’s career spans performing and creating works for Alvin Ailey, Philadanco and collaborations with Compagnie Jant-Bi from Senegal and Nora Chipaumire.  She has been designated a Master of African American Choreography by the John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center.  Zollar developed a unique approach to enable artists to strengthen effective involvement in cultural organizing and civic engagement, which evolved into UBW’s acclaimed Summer Leadership Institute. She serves as director of the Institute, and currently holds the position of Nancy Smith Fichter Professor of Dance and Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor at Florida State University.  (Photo by Crush Boone)

    The other campus-wide awardees are:

    Bill French Alumni Service Award: Michael S. J. Albano (J.D. '68)
    While Michael Albano is known nationally for his expertise in family and matrimonial law, his hobby and passion is Roo blue and gold. For more than 45 years, Albano has been a bedrock of alumni support and advocacy for the university. He has served as president of the UMKC Alumni Association, on the board of the UMKC Law Foundation, on the UMKC Trustees Board and as chair of the UM System Alumni Alliance. He is also a fixture in the fan stands at Roo athletics events and has been a tireless advocate for UMKC in the community. In 2013, he completed his service as chairman of the UM System Alliance of Alumni Associations. Albano’s accomplished career includes service as president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Foundation and chairperson of the American Bar Association Family Law Section. His career accolades include the Missouri Bar President’s Award, multiple Family Lawyer of the Year awards, Best Lawyer in Kansas City and the Missouri Bar Association’s Family Law Practitioner of the Year award. He also was previously awarded a UMKC Outstanding Alumni Service award.

    Defying the Odds Award:
    Bambi Nancy Shen (M.A. '76)
    The harrowing life story of alumna Bambi Shen stretches across cultures and continents. Daughter of a Chinese diplomat, Shen was born in French Indochina (now Vietnam). For much of Shen’s young life, her mother berated her and repeatedly told her how she wished she’d been born a boy. She and her family endured internment in a concentration camp when Japan took over Vietnam. Shen persevered and sought out an education, coming to the United States on a scholarship to attend a college in Kentucky, where she faced discrimination for her ethnicity. In spite of a lack of family support and obstacles created by gender, ethnicity and culture, Shen triumphed as an educator and businesswoman fluent in Chinese, French, Spanish, and English. She is a frequent speaker at battered women’s shelters, sororities, college campuses. In 2011, she published her memoir, The Uncrushable Rose: A Memoir from Concentration Camp to Becoming a Free Woman.

    Spotlight Award:
    Mike Keefe (M.S. '74)
    Journalism’s highest award – the Pulitzer Prize – went to a graduate of UMKC’s department of mathematics. Mike Keefe began dabbling in drawing editorial cartoons during his days as a UMKC student, when in an unguarded moment during the Watergate scandal he found himself “drawn to Richard Nixon’s nose.” His potential career in math went by the wayside as he pursued his hobby. His body of work at the UMKC University News student newspaper as a cartoonist led to a more than 30-year career at the Denver Post. Thousands of drawings later, including regular work for USA Today and AOL, Keefe won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning in 2011. The Pulitzer jury cited his “widely ranging cartoons that employ a loose, expressive style to send strong, witty messages.” With more than 8,800 cartoons in his Denver Post career that reached more than 600,000 people each day, Keefe’s work has had national visibility. He returned to UMKC last year to be a keynote speaker at Commencement.

    Legacy Award:
    The Waldman Family
    The story of the Waldman family’s Kangaroo tradition began in 1929 when the first graduate of three generations of Waldmans was admitted to the Kansas City School of Law (now the UMKC School of Law). David Waldman (J.D. ’32) walked from his West Bottoms home to the School of Law to save his nickels for food. His tireless efforts paid off when he graduated with honors in the top five percent of his class in less than the usual four years of study. Throughout his career as a trial lawyer, he mentored and provided financial assistance to countless students who attended the UMKC School of Law, including his brother-in-law, Leonard Swade (B.A. ’53, J.D. ’56), and his nephew, James Scherzer (J.D. ’80). David’s sons, Steven Waldman (B.S. ’73, M.D. ’77, J.D. ’96) and Howard Waldman (B.A., B.S. ’75) both graduated from the UMKC College of Arts & Sciences with bachelor’s degrees in geosciences before pursuing careers in medicine. One of the first pain management specialists in the region, Steven founded pain clinics at numerous area hospitals. Steven and his wife, Kathy, have raised four children. David attended the College of Arts & Sciences and Corey (B.L.A. ’11, M.D. ’12) graduated from the UMKC School of Medicine in 2012. Jennifer attended the School of Medicine and Reid is a current student at the School of Medicine. Kathy’s sister, Margaret Peggy Keith (B.B.A. ’94) once served as the COO for her brother-in-law’s pain clinics and is currently co-owner of the Lenexa-based graphics company, Custom Color Corp.

    The Alumni Achievement awardees, by school:

    • College of Arts & Sciences: Peggy J. Dunn (B.A. '72)
    • School of Biological Sciences: Cole Haynes (Ph.D. '03)
    • Bloch School of Management: Catherine A. Lewis (B.S. '85)
    • School of Computing and Engineering: Kimberly and Trent Robinett (B.S.E.E. '95) (B.S.C.E. '95) 
    • Conservatory of Music and Dance: Jan Kraybill (D.M.A. '00)
    • School of Dentistry: Connie Lee Drisko (D.D.S. '80)
    • Dental Hygiene: Dorinda D. Ball (B.S.D.H. '03)
    • School of Education: Rodney E. Watson (Ph.D. '07)
    • School of Law: Jim Bartimus (J.D. '77)
    • School of Medicine: Michele Kilo (M.D. '84)
    • School of Nursing and Health Studies: Kathleen Elaine Dunbar Haycraft (D.N.P. '11)
    • School of Pharmacy: William E. Osborn (B.S.P. '56)

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