Smith Scholarship Creates Opportunity through $2.5 Million Endowment

Alumnus’ gift will aid generations of students

Roy Smith (B.A. ’85) did not have a lot of academic direction before coming to UMKC. He grew up in Kansas City and thought he might want to be a photographer. After a stop at a nearby art school where he’d been accepted, he walked across the street to UMKC.

“It was open enrollment,” he says. “I was sort of stumbling around and someone helped me get registered and found me a job as a work study.”

Smith did not have family members to advise him on school, so in the beginning he was largely on his own.

“I knew I didn’t want to be an engineer or a doctor, but I thought I’d go to law school.”

With this direction in mind, he settled on a degree in administration of justice.

“I worked more than 30 hours a week in addition to going to school,” he says. “And I received a scholarship based on financial need. I was very satisfied knowing my future was going to be secure.”

Smith, who decided not to pursue law school, had a successful career in insurance and lived in 23 different cities, though he has always maintained ties with Kansas City and UMKC; he retired in 2018. When his daughter died five years ago, Smith decided to endow a scholarship that will help make college a possibility for generations of students in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS.)

“I wanted to support a good cause and I like the idea of helping students secure their future success.”

Smith established the Roy E. Smith Scholarship and committed $2.5 million to the fund through a bequest expectancy pledge. To be eligible, students must graduate from a public high school in the Kansas City metropolitan area and maintain a 2.0 grade point average.  Smith says he created the scholarship because he has always had an altruistic spirt.

“There’s a lot of satisfaction in knowing that the value of what you’ve accumulated will help other people.”

Tamara Falicov, Ph.D., dean, School of Humanities and Social Sciences recognizes the impact of Smith’s gift.

“In the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, we are committed to supporting students like Roy Smith who may not have family members who can advise them about college,” Falicov says.  “We are proud to support our First Gen Roo students in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences to enable them to lead successful lives as Mr. Smith has. His generous gift will change the future of generations of UMKC students in SHSS.”