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Leo E. Morton appointed chancellor of UMKC


Christian Basi

December 15, 2008
Selection of interim leader provides welcomed continuity to university's ongoing work

University of Missouri System President Gary Forsee has named Leo E. Morton as chancellor of the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Morton has been acting interim chancellor since Aug. 1, when then-Chancellor Guy Bailey resigned to lead Texas Tech University. 

"Leo's strong leadership as interim chancellor is a reflection of his untiring commitment to the critical role of higher education," Forsee said. "His ability to develop partnerships with students, faculty, staff and the Kansas City community is an asset that will continue to help advance UMKC's vision and mission. The continuity and stability of Leo's leadership is immeasurable. He continues to be the right person to serve as UMKC's chancellor."  

Although Morton was not a candidate for the chancellor's post during the search process, the members of the chancellor search committee, named by Forsee on Aug. 7, agreed with the president’s decision to give Morton the permanent appointment.

According to John Readey, UMKC Trustee chairperson and partner, Bryan Cave, LLP, "The decision to retain an effective and highly-respected leader like Leo is the best possible result for the University and for Greater Kansas City.  We are doubly fortunate to have him work alongside someone like Gail Hackett who is so well-regarded in her field, and also among the faculty here at UMKC."

"This selection sends a clear and welcome message to all of us," said James Mobberley, UMKC Curator's Professor of Music. "Our top system and campus administrators are dedicated to long-term stability and progress at UMKC." 

Since his nearly five-month appointment began, Morton has kept UMKC on course by working with faculty, staff and students in order to maintain momentum. Meetings with key stakeholders have resulted in several significant gifts toward two of UMKC's signature projects, the Conservatory and the Miller Nichols Library expansion. A priority area has focused on the current economic climate and ensuring that UMKC's mission is not compromised. 

"I am honored by this appointment," said Morton. "The success of our university is inextricably linked to the success of Kansas City, and I can’t imagine a more important role to play in a city about which I care so much. In recent weeks the community has stepped up to provide much needed financial support of the University's strategic goals. I look forward to our continued dialogue regarding Kansas City’s initiatives."

Prior to his role as interim chancellor, Morton served as chairman of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Board of Trustees. Beginning in 2000, he also served on the leadership team at Aquila. He has held leadership positions with AT&T Microelectronics, AT&T Bell Laboratories, General Motors Corporation, Rust Engineering Company and Corning Glass. He received a master's degree in management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Tuskegee University.

In announcing Morton's appointment, Forsee said that "leaders anticipate change.  Leaders bring out the best out of their teams.  Leaders aren't interested in merely surviving the storm. They want to navigate through it.  This is what Leo brings to this role, and this is why today I am pleased to name him Chancellor of the University of Missouri-Kansas City."

Morton's executive team will include Provost Gail Hackett, whose title will be changed immediately to Vice Chancellor and Provost. On Dec. 5, Hackett announced to the UMKC campus that she had removed her name as a candidate for the provost position at Texas Tech University to remain at UMKC.  

"It's important that a chancellor and the chief academic officer collaborate and work well together," Forsee said. "We have been following the Time to Get It Right report for several years as our campus direction. With these two appointments, we have the leadership team in place to '‘get it right,' and I call on our campus, community, alumni and business constituents to rally and support this milestone."   

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