Eugene E. Eubanks
Eugene E. Eubanks, Ph.D., was the first African-American dean of the UMKC School of Education. He recently passed away and left behind his wife, Audrey, two sons and one daughter. He was well-renowned in this country for expertise in and forwarding of causes such as equity, desegregation and urban problems.He was regularly called upon as a consultant and expert witness to aid desegregation proceedings. He was also a professor emeritus, an assistant dean and director of Student Services at the School of Education.
Once he received tenure at UMKC, Eubanks took breaks from the school to help aid the Kansas City Public School system. He took a leave of absence to serve as a Community Fellow as special assistant to the superintendent and deputy superintendent. Before coming to UMKC, Eubanks also served as an assistant professor at the University of Delaware. A man of many skills and interests, he was also a math teacher and unit principal in Cleveland, and a Russian voice analyst for the U.S. Air Force. Eubanks earned his Ph.D. at Michigan State University.
Eubanks received many awards in his long and storied life and career. He received the Pomeroy Award, which is the highest award conveyed by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, and the U.S. Department of Education’s John Stanford Education Heroes Award for distinguished work in education.
Martha Jane Phillips Starr
Martha Jane Phillips Starr passed away in mid-November, shortly before her 105th birthday. The late Mrs. Starr and her late husband, John, were UMKC enthusiasts and active leaders in the community. In 1963, Mrs. Starr was the first woman elected to serve as a Trustee, after the University was officially made a part of the University of Missouri System.
According to a UMKC press release, “Legend has it that she was encouraged to host teas for the faculty wives and to concentrate on campus gardens and beautification projects. ‘We were going to do more than plant flowers,’ she is quoted as saying. ‘What we really needed to do was create opportunities for women.’”
A mere five years later, in 1968, she was the first woman to receive the Chancellor’s Medal. She started and was the president of the UMKC Women’s Council.
“Mrs. Starr was a forward-thinking philanthropist who also had a gift for recruiting volunteers and mobilizing advocates for higher education,” said Curt Crespino, Vice Chancellor for University Advancement. “She left an indelible mark on our campus. Few institutions are so fortunate to have such a dedicated, loyal volunteer and donor as Mrs. Starr was for us. Her legacy will continue to benefit us all for generations to come.”
She was the driving force that helped establish the Graduate Assistance Fund (GAF) in 1971. The GAF has helped over 1,500 women, who have received graduate fellowships from the Women’s Council’s efforts. Currently, it has an endowment of more than $1 million. She was the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from UMKC.
Starr was an unceasing supporter of the University. She considered it a perfect place to explore and promote discourse about issues that are challenging women. Starr started the Family Study Center Endowment. Now that endowment is what funds the UMKC Starr Symposium. Her work lives on in her accomplishments, and her symposium still champions issues that confront women and their families.