By Patricia O’Dell
The Sunderland Foundation recently announced their intent to grant $6 million to the University of Missouri – Kansas City’s School of Computing and Engineering. The Sunderlands’ gift, the largest in its history, is a reflection of their commitment to the field, the university and Kansas City.
“It’s important to us to have strong graduates in the science, technology, engineering and math [STEM] fields in the community,” says Kent Sunderland, who serves as president of the Sunderland Foundation, vice chairman of Ash Grove Cement and as a director of the UMKC Foundation board.
Sunderland recognizes that the School of Computing and Engineering is growing at an exponential pace. Primed to be the region’s leader in STEM education, the SCE is the fastest-growing and now third largest school on campus.
The school constantly needs resources to advance its teaching and research spaces so it can not only accommodate more students but also house small- and large-scale equipment. The programs in the academic unit serve not only SCE students, but also those enrolled in the Henry W. Bloch School of Management, College of Arts and Sciences, School of Education and schools on the UMKC Health Sciences Campus at Hospital Hill, among other academic units.
The Sunderland Foundation, which has also made commitments to the UMKC’s Downtown Art Campus, the Spencer Theatre and the Health Sciences Campus, understands the value of supporting capital campaigns.
“We focus on capital,” says Sunderland. “It’s part of our mission. We’ve always felt that it’s important to have a strong local university. We recruit here, but we recruit nationally, too. Having a strong business community, educational institutions and arts community help us attract and retain outstanding employees. It’s good for us and it’s good for Kansas City.”
The Sunderland Foundation will be receiving UMKC Foundation’s Award of Distinction at this year’s Celebration of Generosity dinner on Sept. 28.