By Shannan Henderson
Philanthropy and community have always been important to UMKC Chemistry Department Chair Kathleen Kilway so when she recently got married to Marshall Miller, it was a no-brainer to have guests donate to charity instead purchasing gifts.
Kilway says that she and Marshall first had the idea of charity when talking to other UMKC faculty, such as Joan McDowd, Diane Filion and Theodore White, who also had guests of their celebrations make philanthropic donations.
“When we talked about this, Marshall said he didn’t want stuff,” Dr. Kilway says. “I sort of wanted stuff, but I don’t need a lot of things and I knew that wouldn’t make me happy. It’s people, it’s interactions, it’s research, it’s a challenge, it’s teaching, it’s finding what your passion is.”
Giving back to people is a passion for both Kathleen and Marshall. Marshall, a UMKC alum (’67, History), has been very involved in the Kansas City Art Institute’s Art of the Car event to fund KCAI scholarships. These interests helped them decide where they wanted guests to donate.
“We actually have three charities. Kansas City Art Institute—his, UMKC—mine and the Salvation Army—ours.”
As a member of UMKC’s faculty since 1996, Kathleen said that it was easy to decide to designate UMKC as her charity.
“This has been my home for the past 22 years,” she says. “It’s giving back to an institution that took a chance on me when I started as an assistant professor here and it helped me through that.”
She has previously established the James and Neoma Kilway Scholarship in honor of her parents to help students pursing their degrees in Chemistry.
We’re helping the best and the brightest students” she says. “This little bit of money, whatever it may be—it may pay for a book or make it easier so someone doesn’t have to work 40 hours a week.”
Education is invaluable in today’s society, she believes.
“I’m one of six kids and we didn’t have a lot, but my parents actually supported us through our undergraduate education,” Dr. Kilway says. “An undergraduate education is something—well any type of education—is something that someone cannot take away. Higher education is not being supported the way it needs to be supported. It’s one thing that [donors] can add to it; it’s direct impact whether they see it or they don’t see it.”
What Kathleen and Marshall like most about the idea of these wedding donations is that “it’s giving back in such a way that it’s endowed and it cannot go away. It’s not about us, it’s about the students.”
If you would like to make a donation in honor of Kathleen and Marshall, please visit this website. At the bottom of the page, you can choose to make a gift in honor or in memory of someone, check “Honor of” and type “Kilway/Marshall Wedding” in the name box.