Alumnus Allan J. Katz will leave diplomatic post in Portugal for joint appointment to Public Affairs and Political Science departments.
Ambassador Allan J. Katz, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Portugal, has accepted an appointment as a Distinguished Professor at his alma mater, the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Katz’ professorship is a joint appointment to both the Department of Public Affairs, part of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management; and the Department of Political Science, part of the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences. The appointment is effective Sept. 1, 2013.
An attorney, Katz graduated from UMKC in 1969 with a degree in History, and received his law degree from the American University Washington College of Law. In 2012, UMKC presented Katz with an honorary degree, Doctor of Philosophy Honoris Causa, recognizing him as an outstanding alumnus.
During Fall Semester 2013, Katz will teach the timely course “Money and Power: Incivility and Gridlock in Washington, 1960-present” in the Political Science Department at UMKC. The course will trace the evolution of presidential campaigns and partisanship from 1960 through President Barack Obama’s precedent-setting operations in ’08 and ’12. An examination of the role and possible reformation of money in politics will be a central theme of the course.
In 2009, Katz was nominated by President Obama to serve the United States as Ambassador to Portugal and he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The President of Portugal, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, accepted Ambassador Katz’s credentials in April 2010.
In early May, Katz led a delegation of Portuguese business leaders to explore U.S. business opportunities, with stops in Boston and Kansas City. The visit included an international business conference at the UMKC Department of Global Entrepreneurship and Innovation, part of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management.
Throughout his professional life, in addition to practicing law, Ambassador Katz has been involved in local, state and federal public policy. In Tallahassee, Fla., Katz was a partner in that city’s largest law firm and a City Commissioner. As head of the Joint Planning Board for Tallahassee, he coordinated the distribution of funds, including those from United Way, to social service agencies in the city and county. He went on to hold numerous positions with statewide Florida commissions on taxation, legal compensation and insurance.
In 2009, Katz was honored by the Environmental Defense Fund and the Florida Wildlife Federation as a “Champion of Climate Change.” He is also proud of establishing and leading the Village Square, an organization that promotes civil discourse and accurate, fact-based debate of divisive issues. Katz believes that such informed conversation is at the root of real democracy.
When he was a student at UMKC, Katz served as student body president and co-founded the Robert F. Kennedy Symposium. Then as now, the free symposiums explored the causes and possible relief of social ills such as poverty, homelessness, environmental degradation and inequality. In his own words, Ambassador Katz credits UMKC with helping him find his life’s purpose:
“I often find myself in conversations where I surprise myself by knowing things…I ask myself, ‘How did I know that?’ And of course, the answer is that it comes from being a student of History here at this university. Your education provides you with context, and context is everything,” he told a class as a visiting lecturer last year. “Ambassador Katz represents the best that UMKC hopes to see in a graduate – an informed and caring world citizen who strives to make a difference,” said Chancellor Leo E. Morton. “His legacy is his sterling reputation and skill as a negotiator of geopolitical good will and the civil, open exchange of ideas.”