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Jewell welcomes students, honors civic leaders at Opening Convocation September 12
Contact: Rob Eisele816-415-7574
August 24, 2007

Civic leaders will be honored for public service at Opening Convocation ceremonies marking the beginning of a new school year at 10:15 a.m. Wednesday, September 12 in John Gano Memorial Chapel on the William Jewell College campus in Liberty, Mo. The program includes Jewell faculty members in full academic regalia. Alumni and friends of the college are invited to attend the ceremonies free of charge.

Addressing students and guests at Opening Convocation ceremonies will be Barbara F. Atkinson, M.D. Dr. Atkinson is Executive Vice Chancellor at the University of Kansas Medical Center and Executive Dean of the School of Medicine. In this capacity, she leads the medical center’s efforts to enhance human health by championing biomedical research, providing exceptional students with excellent educational opportunities and patients with access to the latest advances in medicine. She oversees KU’s Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health with more than 2,700 students and 786 faculty members. Dr. Atkinson is focused on improving our region’s health by bringing a National Cancer Institute designated comprehensive cancer center to the medical center and advancing the medical center’s prestigious research programs in cancer, neurology, liver, kidney and reproductive biology. She is leading the effort for curriculum change for the medical school to ensure that students are learning basic and clinical science from those who are at the forefront of advancing medical knowledge. Dr. Atkinson is a respected pathologist and a member of the esteemed National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine. She is one of only 13 women nationally serving as dean of a medical school, the first woman to lead the KU Medical Center and the only woman to simultaneously hold the positions of medical school dean and executive vice chancellor of a medical center. Her academic and professional honors are numerous. She is a Life Trustee and a past president of the American Board of Pathology, and she holds the distinction of being the first woman and the first cytopathologist to be elected as a trustee. She is a member of the AAMC Committee on Increasing Women’s Leadership in Academic Medicine and a council member of the American Society for Investigative Pathology.

This year’s recipients of the William F. Yates Trustee Medallion for Distinguished Service are Tom Bowser, Karen Pletz and James and Virginia Stowers.

Tom Bowser is President and Chief Executive Officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City is the State of Missouri’s largest not-for-profit health services corporation, serving over 900,000 members in the 30 counties of Northwestern Missouri, plus Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas. It is the ninth-largest private company in Kansas City, with annual revenues of $1.8 billion, a net worth of $470 million and 1,000 employees. Mr. Bowser became President and Chief Executive Officer in 2001. He has been in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield System over 35 years, including 25 years with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, eight years with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma, and two years with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. He was also President of Saint Luke’s Health Ventures from 1984 to 1985. Mr. Bowser is the immediate past-chairman of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, a board member of the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, and past chairman of the Kansas City Area Development Council. He is also a board member of BCS Financial Corporation, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, the KU Edwards Campus, the KU Center for Research Board and the KU Endowment Association. Mr. Bowser received his B.S. degree in 1968 from the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas. He was co-captain of KU’s first Big Eight championship swimming team in 1968 and was a member of that team’s All American freestyle relay team.

Karen L. Pletz, J.D., is President and Chief Executive Officer of Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in education, cum laude, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Missouri. She is also a graduate of Harvard Medical School’s Program for Leaders in Medical Education and Rutgers University Stonier Graduate School of Banking. As a recipient of the coveted Honors Thesis Award, her work is a permanent part of the collection at Harvard University’s Business Library. Ms. Pletz is a leader in national and community health care, corporate and service organizations. She serves on the Boards of Kansas City Southern, Commerce Bank, Missouri Employers Mutual Insurance, the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas City Area Development Council, Stowers Resource Management, Inc., The United Way of Greater Kansas City, Midwest Research Institute, Rockhurst University, Center for Practical Bioethics, the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City and Starlight Theatre. She was appointed by Missouri’s Governor to the Hawthorn Foundation Board, fostering economic development in the State of Missouri. Ms. Pletz was appointed by Missouri’s Attorney General as an inaugural board member of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, the largest healthcare foundation in the region, with oversight for more than $500 million in assets. Active in community service in Kansas City, she is the 2007 Campaign Chair for The United Way of Greater Kansas City; is Co-Chair of the Kansas City Area Development Council; and past Chair (2004) of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

James E. Stowers Jr. is co-founder, along with his wife Virginia, and co-director of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research. He is founder of American Century Companies, a family of no-load mutual funds. Both are located in Kansas City, Missouri. Mr. and Mrs. Stowers are using the fortune that they accumulated through their ownership of American Century to develop the Stowers Institute into what they hope will be one of the finest biomedical research facilities in the United States. The 83-year-old Mr. Stowers started Twentieth Century Investors, now known as American Century, in 1958 with $107,000 in capital from 11 investors. Today, American Century’s staff of 1,800 manages more than $99 billion in assets. Mr. and Mrs. Stowers are both cancer survivors, and that life-changing event helped them decide to dedicate all of their personal fortune to creating a premier biomedical research facility with the goal of creating cures or improved treatments for cancer and other gene-linked diseases. Since announcing their intentions in September 1994, they have set about building the Stowers Institute into a facility that is unique for its innovative, focused scientific vision—a marriage between biology and technology to understand how genes and proteins control the most fundamental events in living cells and to discover better ways of preserving health and preventing disease. Mr. and Mrs. Stowers have created combined endowments currently worth more than $2 billion to support the Stowers Institute. The Stowers Institute occupies a state-of-the-art research complex built at a cost of more than $300 million on a 10-acre site formerly occupied by Menorah Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. With nearly 600,000 square feet of space, it opened its doors to an initial group of scientists in late 2000.

Virginia G. Stowers is co-founder of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, which she created with her husband, James E. Stowers Jr., using the fortune they accumulated as principal owners of the American Century Companies. Mrs. Stowers, the former Virginia Glascock, was born and reared in Rawlins, Wyoming. She moved to Kansas City at 19 to pursue nursing studies. After graduating as an R.N. from Research Hospital School of Nursing, she practiced at Menorah and Research Hospitals, eventually progressing into anesthesiology nursing. She holds honorary doctorates from the Research College of Nursing and the University of Health Sciences. Shortly after completing her nursing studies, she met her future husband at a Christmas party at Research Hospital, and they were married in 1954. Mrs. Stowers has been a wife, a mother, a professional health-care provider and a supportive partner to a successful entrepreneur. Jim Stowers, who started the firm that is today’s American Century from a small office in Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza district in 1958, credits much of his success to his wife. “It was her patience and support through countless early struggles that helped me keep my eye focused on the goal of achieving financial independence,” he says. Though increasingly affluent as the years went by, Mrs. Stowers brought up her four children to live sensibly and to be careful with money. They went to public schools, often walking. Mrs. Stowers made many of their clothes, a skill she passed down to her three daughters. Their son, Jim, is Chairman of the Board of American Century Companies, Inc.

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