Supporters Like You

Read about supporters who make a difference in the lives of UMKC students every day.

Annette Luyben

A lifelong lover of music and daughter of the founder of the iconic Luyben Music Store in Kansas City, Annette has continued her family’s legacy of supporting musicians through her gifts to the UMKC Conservatory. From establishing endowed scholarships to contributing materials to the LaBudde Special Collections, she has dedicated herself to fueling the music community in Kansas City. Her philanthropy is a tribute to her late friends and their impact on the music world.

Read more of her story
Anette Luyben, who grew up working in her family’s eponymous music store on Main Street in Kansas City, has lived her life surrounded by music and musicians. While the shop has moved online and narrowed its services, she continues to fuel the music community in Kansas City through gifts to the UMKC Conservatory.

In the past two years she has established four endowed scholarships for Conservatory students and contributed materials to the LaBudde Special Collections.

“My father opened the business in 1948,” Luyben said of the music shop.

While the first location of the store was farther south on 63rd Street, most people are familiar with the trim brick building on Main Street with the red door and red and white striped awning, with “Luyben” in distinct, linear black lettering.

“I was there from the time I was 5 years old. Later, when I went to Westport High School, I would walk over to the store to work after school. During college I worked there during the summers.”

Luyben’s sold sheet music, musical instruments and supplies, and also provided lessons for students. She remembers her parents hiring their first Conservatory student to work in the shop in 1955.

“They hired Don Shoberg, a student who had come in to buy a reed,” she says. “My mom liked him and asked if he wanted a job. He worked for us for 63 years.”

Shoberg (B.M. ’58; M.M. ’64, music composition) was the first of more than 200 students of the UMKC Conservatory who would come to work with the Luybens.

“It has been a strong bond,” she says.

Despite her respect for the business and the delight of the many friendships she made there, she did not start out to make music her life’s work.

“I have a degree in American history and economics, and I taught high school for 15 years,” said Luyben.

Luyben quit teaching and went to work in the shop when her father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

“I knew if the business was going to continue that my mother was going to need more help,” she says. “It was totally my choice. I was proud to be Bob Luyben’s daughter.”

The Luybens’ connection with the Conservatory included relationships with customers who had first come to the shop as children. American operatic tenor Vinson Cole, (B.M. ’72) would visit the shop as a child, Luyben recalls. As a high schooler, Grammy award-winning opera singer Joyce Di Donato was another regular visitor at the Luybens’ shop.

“We were blessed to have so many wonderful customers. I used to say, There should be a sign above the door that says, ‘The nicest people in the world walk through these doors.’”

That good will did not stop with the relationships that the Luyben family had with the students through employment and commerce. Annette Luyben is an enthusiastic and dedicated supporter of UMKC students and programs. She donated significant documentation from the shop archives to the UMKC LaBudde Special Collections this year. But her focus —and joy — is in supporting scholarships for students.

“When my mother passed away, we asked that people support a scholarship at the Conservatory in her name in lieu of flowers.”

When Robert Luyben died in 1993, she added his name to the scholarship and shifted the requirement to support students studying clarinet. But her generosity did not end there. She has established three named scholarships in the last two years.

Shoberg, who worked at the shop for those many years, died in May 2021. He remembered Annette Luyben in his estate, and her first thought was to use the money to honor Shoberg with an endowed scholarship in his name.

“Don was very active at UMKC. He was on the UMKC Alumni Association Governing Board and was very active with the Conservatory Alumni and Friends Governing Board. A scholarship seemed like the best way to honor him.”

When Luyben’s close friend Richard Williams died six months later, she thought contributing to the scholarship in his name would be a fitting tribute to Williams’ dedication to the Conservatory for his work as assistant professor of piano and voice.

“When I called Mark Mattison and told him that I wanted to contribute to Richard’s scholarship, he let me know that there wasn’t a scholarship in Richard’s name,” said Luyben.

With some of the money remaining from Shoberg’s estate, Luyben committed to establishing the Richard L. Williams Memorial Scholarship, which is available to students studying percussion.

“Richard was in our store all the time. He’d been with the Conservatory for 40 years and was close friends with Don. The day I talked to Mark I went out to get the mail and there was another check from the settlement of Don’s estate. It was enough to endow the scholarship.”

Rather than seeing herself as the significant philanthropist she is, Luyben credits her late friends.

“I’m the messenger,” she says. “It’s Don and Richard up there doing this. I’m happy there’s scholarships in place that other people can give to.”

Her most recent gift is an endowment for the Karen Richie Greer Memorial Scholarship in Percussion in honor of Karen Ricci Greer, (B.M.E., ’63). Greer, a Kansas City native and gifted percussionist, was a part-time member of the Kansas City Philharmonic at the age of 15. By the time she was 20 years old, she had joined the philharmonic full time.

Greer and Luyben became close friends in their adulthoods and attended many Conservatory events together. After Greer’s death Luyben attended a performance by percussionist Isaiah Petrie.

“He blew my mind,” she remembers. “The following week I reached out to Walter Greer and said, ‘I saw this musician play and he’s remarkable. It made me think of Karen. Do you want to establish a scholarship with me in her name?’ And he did.”

Luyben waves away the idea that she could be spending this money on herself.

“These people deserve to be remembered,” she says. “It’s important. Don was incredible. Richard Williams and Karen committed so much. They deserve to be remembered in some other way than on a tombstone.”

Roy Smith (B.A. ’85)

UMKC alumnus Roy’s gift of $2.5 million will support generations of students in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. His generous scholarship for First Gen Roo students from the Kansas City area reflects his altruistic spirit and desire to help others, inspired by his own experience at UMKC. This gift goes beyond financial aid, creating a sense of community and support for students. Smith’s story is a reminder of the impact of giving back and the importance of accessible education for future generations.

Read more of his story

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.”

Nate Hogan

Nate went from dropping out of high school to becoming a successful business professional and chair of the Kansas City Public Schools Board of Education. His journey inspired him to create the Hogan Family Scholarship Fund, which provides financial assistance for students enrolled in business programs at UMKC. The scholarship aims to support and motivate students facing similar challenges, with no GPA or standardized test score barriers. Nate’s story serves as an inspiration for students to “Redefine Potential” and achieve their goals.

Read more of his story
Hogan Family Scholarship supports Kansas City Public Schools graduates enrolled as Business majors

“Redefining Potential” is the theme of the new Hogan Family Scholarship Fund at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

It’s a subject Nate Hogan knows well, because it’s essentially the story of his life.

Hogan serves as chair of the Kansas City (Missouri) Public Schools (KCPS) Board of Education. He and his wife, Felecia, endowed the fund to support KCPS graduates of color who enroll in the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management. Hogan holds an Executive Master of Business Administration degree from the Bloch School.

His route to a master’s degree was hardly a typical one; that road began with his decision to drop out of his Florida Keys high school in 10th grade (the only year he lived outside of Kansas City). Today, he is Vice President, Healthcare Solutions for NIC Corp. in Olathe.

The scholarship is designed to support and inspire young people who face similar hurdles to those he overcame.

“My high school grades were terrible,” he admits. “Nobody would have offered Nate Hogan a scholarship.”

The Hogan Scholarship has no GPA or standardized test score barriers.

“Why look at every kid through the lens of standardized tests?” he said, noting that such tests also heavily influence high school GPA. “It’s not a really good predictor of a person’s potential.”

The scholarship program is designed to ensure every student who wants to go to college, has an equitable opportunity to do so. The $2,000 annual scholarships are intended to supplement the Pell grants and other financial aid these students typically receive – and serve as a motivating force.

“We want to tell these kids, ‘you have a real opportunity here,’ and help them understand that they can ignore all the noise going on in their lives, all the noise going on in society, and think about how they can dig deep and tap into their full potential,” Hogan said.

Nate and Felecia started the scholarship fund with an $8,000 contribution, and have committed to make that same donation on a yearly basis. Additional fundraising has added another $2,000 to the fund, and the Hogans plan to step up their personal involvement in fundraising for the scholarship in future years.

The focus on business education is also based on the Hogans’ personal journey.

“Our entire careers have been business-focused,” Hogan said. They met at Commerce Bank – Nate’s first job outside the service industry – where today Felecia serves as senior vice president and director of diversity, equity and inclusion. Nate has served in a variety of business roles before taking his current position at NIC, crossing just about every major business discipline (accounting, finance, sales, relationship management, operations and leadership).

“We believe a business degree can be a great foundation no matter what you end up doing in your career,” he said.

Ultimately, Hogan’s motivation for setting up the scholarship fund is the same as what drove him to become a leader for the city school district.

“Because I was a very mobile student who came to school carrying a bunch of stuff that no child should have to take on, I can identify with our students.”

Harold Gersh (M.A. ’55)

Harold, a dedicated high school counselor for 28 years and UMKC alumnus, used frugality to establish an endowment fund for scholarships in secondary education. His legacy continues to shape young lives with scholarship support, inspiring future recipients to also give back and make a difference. With just one gift, Harold changed the course of future generations. Watch more of his story in this video.

“We want to tell these kids, ‘you have a real opportunity here,’ and help them understand that they can ignore all the noise going on in their lives, all the noise going on in society, and think about how they can dig deep and tap into their full potential.”

— Nate Hogan, UMKC Foundation Donor

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