by Pat McSparin // Spring 2010
He’s not an alumnus, but Hugh Zimmer has logged thousands of hours on campus. In April, he will receive UMKC’s highest nonacademic honor. As an advocate and a UMKC Trustee, Zimmer has worked alongside deans, faculty, students and volunteers to build programs that have changed the landscape at UMKC. For his service and dedication, he will be named the 2010 recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal.
Born and reared in Kansas City, Zimmer entered the real estate industry in 1953. And
he hasn’t stopped building. He’s a leading developer, responsible for more than 2,400 acres of business parks and more than 28 million square feet of commercial buildings throughout the region.
A member of the UMKC Trustees board, Zimmer was instrumental in the founding and development of the Trustees’ Scholars program, which he sees as vital to the University and the entire community. “The Trustees’ Scholars program was designed to retain the ‘best and brightest’ in Kansas City,” he says, “so that we would have an opportunity to retain them in our workforce after their graduation. In addition to the small number of Trustees’ Scholars, other bright students are attracted to UMKC after having been exposed to the University through the application process. It would be my hope that, over time, this would have an effect of raising the overall academic level of our student body.”
Zimmer serves on the board of the UMKC Foundation and on the national advisory board for the UMKC Institute for Urban Education – a program he says plays an important part in building a powerful and effective workforce for Kansas City. “My interest in workforce development and recognition of the problem that faces Kansas City and every city in the education of young people from our urban core led to my interest in the Institute for Urban Education,” he says.
Zimmer says he believes the relationship between the University and Kansas City is essential to the success of both. “Great strides have been made by all parties realizing that UMKC can play a pivotal role in Kansas City’s future,” he says, “and that both the academic community and the business community have much to gain from a positive relationship and joint goal in working together.”