Kady McMaster // Fall 2014
This year the Chancellor’s Medal was awarded to a group that has a unique and historic connection to UMKC: the China Society for People’s Friendship Studies (PFS). PFS has supported the strong ties between UMKC and China for years and has been UMKC’s liaison, host and connection in China. The mission of PFS has always been to enhance China’s relationships with other countries on a people-to-people level, rather than on a governmental level.
The UMKC Chancellor’s Medal is the highest non-academic award presented to a volunteer. This medal, given at the discretion of the chancellor, recognizes those who have shown UMKC support and service. This is only the third time in its 54-year history the medal has been bestowed on an organization.
The UMKC relationship with PFS developed through the late E. Grey Dimond’s close friendship with Chinese diplomat Huang Hua, a founder of PFS. Huang Hua and Dimond, a founder of the UMKC School of Medicine, were both influenced by their mutual friend, Kansas City native and journalist Edgar Snow, who ignited Dimond’s passion for U.S.-China relations. Dimond’s wife, Mary Clark Dimond, founded the Edgar Snow Memorial Foundation at UMKC after Snow died in 1972, launching the Edgar Snow Symposium, a forum for continuing dialogue between scholars in the U.S. and China. The symposium is held biennially, alternating between Kansas City and China. UMKC also holds a historical collection of Snow’s writings and photographs.
The friendship between the Dimonds, Huang Hua and his wife, He Liliang, and Snow led to a connection between PFS, the university and its Edgar Snow Memorial Foundation. The groups have been working together for years to promote greater understanding between the people of China and the U.S. In addition to the Snow Symposium, PFS has partnered since 1979 with UMKC on the Snow Visiting Professorship, which brings Chinese scholars to teach at UMKC. PFS also publishes research and writings by and about foreigners and their experiences in China. Before his death last November, Dimond spent years traveling to China and working with Huang Hua and the PFS to advance the friendship between the Chinese and American people.
The Chancellor’s Medal will be presented officially to the PFS delegation in October during its visit from China to UMKC for the 2014 Edgar Snow Symposium.