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Botch endows scholarship for city management legacy students

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Ray Botch, who has claimed fame by sending over seven hundred KUCIMAT hats*, has recently created a scholarship to support MPA students who have a legacy of city management. As the son of a city manager who followed his father’s footsteps into the city management profession, Mr. Botch established the Raymond P. Botch and Raymond Paul Botch, Jr. City Management Scholarship to provide scholarships for sons, daughters, or relatives of past and present city managers to become future city managers. Botch gave $30,000 to create the fund and is giving additional monthly gifts.

When asked why he wanted to establish this specific scholarship, Botch shared, “The two biggest influences on my becoming a City Manager were Dad and the Kansas University KUCIMAT City Management intern-option MPA Program. In 1965 during my senior year at St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Iowa, I told my father I wanted a career in city management. He said, and I remember it vividly, ‘Then you will need an MPA from Kanas University.’ In 1966 I became a member of the KUCIMAT Class of 1968.”

Botch continues, “Dad was very familiar with the KUCIMAT program as he had attended the April City Management School several times, and he was a friend of Dr. Stene. Dad also had several KUCIMAT interns in Elgin and Rock Island. He was impressed with their knowledge and willingness to work and learn. One of his interns, Winston O. Franklin, would later become city manager of Phoenix, AZ. Before I enrolled at KU, I had the luxury of attending the April City Management Conference and visited with Dr. Stene about the KUCIMAT Program.”

The Class of 1968 was one of the last to have “Case Problems in City Management” written and taught by Dr. Stene. Botch says it was interesting to later find which cities were parts of the case problems.

“City Management is a calling not a job,” Botch says. “It takes a special make-up to be a successful City Manager. To me the KUCIMAT Program helped bring out those talents. As KUCIMATS we are part of Professor Edwin O Stene’s dream to provide better local government through better educated and trained professional city managers. Giving to the program is my way of saying thank you and keeping Dr. Stene’s dream alive.”

After graduating from KU, Botch became the Assistant to the City Manager in Highland Park, IL (1967-1970). His mentor was future ICMA President Stan Kennedy. He then became City Manager of Mt. Vernon, IL (1970-1984) and then Village Manager in Westmont, IL (1985-2004).

Upon his retirement as Village Manager of Westmont, the Illinois General Assembly honored Botch with a House Resolution of congratulations. The resolution shared these highlights of Botch’s career:
•    Westmont’s police department and fire department received accreditation by their national accrediting agencies.
•    For three consecutive years, Westmont received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association.
•    Westmont’s yearly business revenues increased from $295 million in 1990 to $823 million in 2002, allowing Westmont to have one of the lowest municipal tax rates in its county.
•    In appreciation of Botch’s efforts to redevelop the downtown area, Westmont honored him by renaming a building to be the Raymond P. Botch, Jr. Westmont Centre. (You can read more about the Westmont Centre in the program created for the dedication.)
•    Botch became an ICMA Credentialed Manager in 2003.
•    In 1998, Botch was the Westmont Citizen of the Year.
•    Botch received the Distinguished Service Award from the Westmont Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau in 1997.
•    In 1994, Botch was named Business Person of the Year by the Westmont Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau.
•    The Downers Grove/Westmont Knights of Columbus honored Botch as the Government Official of the Year in 1990.
•    And numerous other points of recognition that you can read in the resolution here.

In sharing about this fund, it is only fitting to give historical background on both Botch men.

Botch’s father, Ray P. Botch, worked for the International City Managers Association (ICMA), revising the training manuals on municipal finance and administration. From ICMA he went to Carroll College, where he was professor and headed the department of business administration, and then he began his career in city management at Pendleton, OR. After six years he moved into the city manager post at Elgin, IL, spending six years there before being hired by Rock Island, IL as city manager.

During his time at Rock Island, Botch received national recognition for combating the 1965 Mississippi River flood. He was given the nickname “The Rock of Rock Island” for his leadership. At the 1977 ICMA convention Botch was awarded ICMA’S  Distinguished Service Award which was presented to him by ICMA’S President (and KUCIMAT) Bob Kipp.

Botch retired from Rock Island after 16 years. In a newspaper article about him at the time of his retirement in 1977, he talks about the issues that the incoming city manager will need to deal with: creating a wider economic base and dealing with the city’s solid waste. It’s interesting to note that listed among Botch Jr.’s accomplishments in Mt. Vernon are numerous economic development projects. In fact, in 1972 he was a member of the economic development team that brought General Tire Company’s Radial Ply Tire Plant to Mt. Vernon. Today owned by Continental Tire, it is Southern Illinois’ largest employer providing over 3,000 jobs. Perhaps the son became the teacher?

Botch Jr. did indeed become a teacher of sorts. He regularly seeks to pass along what he learned in 35 years of city management to those who are entering the profession now. In an article titled, “Words from the Trenches,” Botch shares his insights. He encourages those in (or entering) city management to be a leader not a boss, to work amicably with/for all, to be visible to employees and citizens, to care, to manage the budget wisely but creatively, to communicate the budget message inspirationally, to be active in associations and the community, etc. You can read the full "Words from the Trenches" article here.

From 1950 until 2004, there was a Ray Botch in city management. Humorously, Botch posits: “If Dad is ‘The Rock of Rock Island’ am I ‘The Pebble’?” At the School of Public Affairs and Administration, we certainly think so, but not because we think that pebbles are small; pebbles have grand effect:
“A Pebble” by James W. Foley
Drop a pebble in the water: just a splash, and it is gone;
But there's half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and on,
Spreading, spreading from the center, flowing on out to the sea.
And there is no way of telling where the end is going to be….

The fund is managed by KU Endowment, and anyone can contribute to the fund.

*Photo taken during the KUCIMAT banquet at ICMA in 2011 (L to R): Kelly Unger, MPA student & hat model; Greg Stopka, MPA student Photo taken during the 1978 ICMA Conference (L to R): Mark Keane, ICMA Executive Director, earned ICMA Distinguished Service Award in 1992, married KUCIMAT Judith Moyer, established a KUCIMAT scholarship; Raymond Paul Botch, Jr., introduced in article above; Raymond P. Botch, introduced in article above, hired four KUCIMAT interns, earned ICMA Distinguished Service Award in 1978; Robert Brunton, best friend of Ray (Sr.), City Manager of Elgin, IL, earned ICMA Distinguished Service Award in 1998, mentored KUCIMAT Clay Pearson Ray Botch, Jr. at Westmont Centre dedication


Ruth DeWitt, Communications Manager
KU School of Public Affairs and Administration
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