University of Missouri-Kansas City eyes new name

The University of Missouri-Kansas City is considering a name change that could help it emerge from the sizable shadow of its campus cousin down the road in Columbia.

The school has used its current name since joining the four-campus University of Missouri system nearly 50 years ago. But Chancellor Leo Morton, encouraged by some prominent donors and alumni who have sought the move for years, is suggesting the school look at dropping “Missouri” and return to the name used for more than three decades after it was founded in 1929: the University of Kansas City.

“It’s not about going back in history, it’s not about not liking the name we have,” Morton said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “It’s about finding the right name to develop our brand and better execute our mission.”

A name change would have to be approved by the university system’s Board of Curators. No formal proposal has been submitted, and Morton cautioned that he has no interest in leaving behind the affiliation with the flagship Missouri campus in Columbia as well as the University of Missouri-St. Louis and the Missouri University of Science & Technology in Rolla.

“We derive significant benefits from being part of the system,” he said. “I would never even consider that.”

With 15,000 students and its own schools of law, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and nursing, as well as a music and dance conservatory, the university is still mistaken for a “branch campus” of the flagship far too often, Morton said.

“In many people’s minds, that’s a lower position,” he said. “The University of Kansas City says, ‘this is a university that serves the region, and the city.’”

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