Skip to content

The University Loses a Friend and Supporter

by Angie Breithaupt
Olathe Mayor Mike Copeland ('84) accepted the Pioneer Spirit award on behalf of the City of Olathe at the 2017 MNU President's Honors gala. He poses here with four MNU presidents. Left to right, the late Dr. Ed Robinson, Dr. Donald Owens, Dr. Richard Spindle, Michael Copeland, Dr. David Spittal.

The Pioneer community is saddened to learn of the passing of Olathe’s longest mayor, a 1984 alumnus of MNU, Michael Copeland, August 19, 2020. Mayor Copeland was a friend to all Olathe residents and a strong supporter of MNU.

MNU president David Spittal commented on the untimely passing of Mike Copeland.

“Mike Copeland was a mayor for everyone and a friend of all,” Spittal said. “His energetic leadership, vitality and deep faith inspired a community to be the all it could be and his praise and encouragement lifted the spirits of all who knew him. As an alum he actively promoted and supported the university and its mission, including most recently with leadership for its successful Bright Futures Campaign. We extend our condolences and prayers for his wife Maria, his family and a grieving Olathe community on the loss of an inspiring leader and friend.”

And from Pete Brumbaugh, director of alumni engagement, these thoughts.

“In the pantheon of MNU alumni, few stood as tall as Mike Copeland,” Brumbaugh said. “He will be missed for so many reasons. He was a champion for the university, a strong supporter of our programs, and a great ambassador to the broader community – everything you want an MNU graduate to be. Our thoughts and prayers are with Maria and the entire Copeland family.”

To MNU, Mike Copeland was more than the City of Olathe's mayor. He was and will remain a Pioneer. Class of 1984, Student Body President, friend to all.

From the City of Olathe:

Mayor Copeland was elected to six terms as Mayor of the City of Olathe. He was first elected Mayor in April 2001. Prior to that, he served as an at-large Councilmember and Mayor Pro Tem, positions he had held since April 1995. He was first elected to the Olathe City Council in 1993 to represent Ward 4.

Mike’s dedication to delivering top-notch city services, fostering a thriving business environment and prioritizing quality education ensured Olathe was nationally recognized as one of America’s best places to live. It also earned Mike numerous awards and accolades. In 2019 he earned the Outstanding Public Service Award from the Mid-America Asian Culture Association. He has been named the Olathe Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year, the MidAmerica Nazarene University Alumnus of the Year, and earned the Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy Award by the Olathe Branch of the NAACP.

An active proponent of literacy, Mike was named a Daily Points of Light Award winner for his work with the Olathe Reads program and “I Read with Mayor Mike” literacy initiative in Olathe’s Title I elementary schools. His efforts to promote reading to Olathe youth received statewide recognition when he was honored with a Friends of Education Award by the Confidence in Kansas Public Education Task Force.

Mike served as Honorary Chairman of the Olathe Mayor’s Children’s Fund, which consistently raises more than any other mayor’s fund for children in the metropolitan area. To date, the board has raised more than $1.5 million for Olathe children and families.

Mike’s dedication to service was felt across the region and nation with leadership roles on numerous boards as well, including:

  • University of Kansas Hospital Authority Board
  • Johnson County Education Research Authority
  • Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
  • Olathe Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
  • Johnson and Wyandotte Counties Council of Mayors
  • Johnson County Community College Foundation Board of Directors
  • KVC Health Systems Board of Directors
  • Union Station Kansas City Board of Directors
  • U.S. Conference of Mayors
  • Community Leaders of America Steering Committee
  • Greater Kansas City Federal Executive Board (Chairman)
  • Kansas and Missouri Metropolitan Culture District (Bi-State Tax) Commission
  • Boy Scouts of America Iron Horse Honorary District Committee
  • KC SmartPort Board of Directors
  • Advisory Council of the Health Partnership Clinic of Johnson County
  • Olathe Library Board

Mike was the 58th and longest-serving Olathe Mayor.

He is survived by his wife Maria and their children Olivia, Abigail and Joshua.

mnu quarterly publication
stay connected


Get connected with
MNU Alumni


Keep all your info up to date to stay connected