The University of Missouri-Kansas City announced this morning that Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer will step in as interim chancellor when Leo Morton, who announced his impending retirement earlier this year, serves his last day as chancellor in early October.
Morton, who has led the urban university for nearly a decade, will serve as Chancellor Emeritus and assume the position of Chief Operating Officer at DeBruce Companies, the university said in a news release. “This is a unique opportunity for me to put my skills and experience to the highest and best use in service to a community I love, so I have moved up my scheduled retirement from UMKC to seize the day,” Morton said. “I wouldn’t be comfortable doing this if I did not have the utmost confidence in the UMKC leadership team to provide strong direction and management of the university in the interim. Kansas City’s university is in very capable hands.”
University of Missouri System President Mun Choi has announced that Bichelmeyer, who also serves as executive vice chancellor, will take the reins until a permanent replacement for Morton is found. A Shawnee native, Bichelmeyer has served as provost since June 2015.
“For two years, I have had a front-row seat to observe how to provide effective, dedicated leadership for Kansas City’s university,” Bichelmeyer said. “As both a member of the UMKC community, and a Kansas Citian, I am profoundly grateful to Leo Morton for both his service, and his example. Our university enjoys a level of civic support that few urban research universities can match. That is the keystone of Leo’s legacy.”
Among the pinnacle achievements during his tenure, Morton oversaw the most successful capital campaign in the university’s history, creation of a strategic plan for diversity and inclusion, and a successful campaign to advance UMKC’s goal of building a Downtown campus for its arts and music programs. He was named UMKC’s chancellor on Dec. 15, 2008, moving into public service after a career in executive positions at large companies in the region, including Aquila, AT&T Microelectronics, Bell Laboratories, General Motors, Rust Engineering Co. and Corning Glass.
Morton had been a UMKC Trustee since 2000 and was in his third year as chairman of the Trustees Board when he stepped down to serve as the university’s interim chancellor.