Talbott Provides Experience, Funding and Mentoring

Linda Talbott with Honors College dean James McKusick and students

Donor who began her relationship with UMKC as a student has enhanced the university for 59 years

By Patricia O’Dell

The University of Missouri-Kansas City is fortunate to have a legacy of men and women who have supported the university through leadership, experience and financial support.  Linda Hood Talbott, (B.A. ’62, M.A. ’64, Ph.D. ’73) has been a leader in all three areas since she served as student body president. Her generous donations to scholarship funding ensure that her legacy of love of learning and the university will continue for generations to come.

“My first scholarship donation was in 1990 to support women who were pursuing their Ph.Ds.” Talbott says. “I always thought graduate students needed support.”

Talbott has chosen to support the schools and programs with which she and her late husband, Thomas, (B.A. ’63, M.B.A. ’65), have been involved.

Talbott’s first professional connection to the university was a role as its first director of development. A graduate student at the time, her first project was raising money for a new performing arts center. The initial goal was $14 million. Her team raised $20 million.

“It’s one of the most important things I’ve done,” Talbott says.

Her enthusiasm for the university did not wane after she left to start her own consulting firm. She has established scholarships in the School of Education, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Henry W. Bloch School of Management, as well as providing support to the Women’s Council, the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, the Institute for Urban Education and Chi Omega. Talbott was recently inducted into the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame for her support and work in the community.

But the Honors College, which she helped to establish in 1979, is particularly close to her heart.

“The Honors College, in many ways, reveals the dimensions of what a liberal arts education is all about,” Talbott says. “The Honors College at UMKC is increasingly acknowledged around the world from Cambridge to Vietnam.”

This year’s Talbott Honors College scholars are Karissa May and Enrico Mejia. The scholarships, awarded to outstanding honors students of any major, make a significant difference in students’ lives.

May is a freshman in the Honors College, pursuing a doctor of pharmacy with a minor in Spanish while indulging her passion for music by taking classes at the Conservatory of Music and Dance.

“When I received the email notifying me on my award of the Talbott Honors College Scholarship, I was thrilled,” May says. “I was proud that they chose me as the recipient of this prestigious award. The money will help immensely with covering next year’s tuition and will take stress off of me and my family. Because of that, I am extremely grateful.”

Enrico Mejia came to the United States from the Philippines when he was 9 years old. He says his move was a fresh start for him and his family. Now he is a sophomore majoring in business administration with a minor in mathematics. As part of the Honors College requirements, he wrote a research paper his freshman year that led him to an interest in studying law and to participating in Mock Trial.

“I want to become a civil rights and criminal defense attorney to be an advocate for the defenseless and legally indigent,” Mejia says.  “To be a Talbott Scholar, in my opinion, is to be a man who gives.”

While the caliber of students who receive her scholarships does not surprise Talbott, she still delights in their experiences and successes. It is not unusual for her to stay in touch with former students after graduation.

“Being involved in the Honors College is a thrilling experience. It’s been a great pleasure,” Talbott says of the results of her giving. “I’ve enjoyed a marvelous association with the students.  It’s wonderful to see them fulfill their dreams.”