By Patricia O’Dell
Elizabeth Noble, Ph.D., has a long history with the UMKC School of Education. After earning her bachelor’s degree in history in 1973, her master’s degree in education in 1974 and her doctorate in education in 1978, she went on to become the director of the Family Studies Center, which was the precursor to the Educational Leadership, Policy and Foundations (ELPF) program, preparing leaders with advanced educational degrees for careers in the field.
“I was director of the Family Studies Center for 25 years,” Noble says. “It was a great project. I was brought in by [founder] Martha Jane Starr. I was lucky to have worked with her.” Starr was a pioneer for women’s rights in Kansas City, and the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame at UMKC is named for her.
Noble went on to work in the Middle East, consulting on the accreditation of a women’s college. Her recollections of the richness of this experience highlight her dedication to the value of travel.
“I was always encouraging my students to get passports,” she says. “Travel is how we experience alien cultures and appreciate different values. Sometimes over half of my students did not have passports. Some had not even been outside the state of Missouri. At the very least I would encourage them to travel regionally to conferences.”
Interacting with colleagues and peers is important to Noble as well. To this end, she has established two endowments to foster students’ completion of their doctorates in education.
“Completing a doctoral degree is a big challenge,” Noble says. “It’s not uncommon for people to complete the coursework, but not finish their dissertation. It’s the saddest thing to hear that someone has completed all that work, that they have so much knowledge, but they didn’t finish the dissertation and attain the degree.”
Her awareness of these challenges led Noble to donate $25,000 to establish the Dr. Elizabeth Noble Non-Endowed Scholarship Fund to support ELPF doctoral students in good academic standing.
The second gift of $10,000 supports ELPF faculty in support of their research.
“It’s important for tenure-track professors to go to conferences and present research and get published,” Noble says. “Self-funding that kind of thing is not easy. We have great professors doing great research. Delivering papers benefits the university and is a great opportunity to share with the academic community.”
This type of support is critical for students individually and the school as a whole.
“Dr. Noble personifies what it means to be an engaged citizen of UMKC — in the past as a faculty member in the School of Education, and now as a generous benefactor,” says Justin Perry, Ph.D., dean of the UMKC School of Education. “Her support means so much to our students and tenure-track faculty, and it is already paying off. We are deeply grateful for her gifts.”