Bob Simmons, associate vice chancellor of administration, worked more than 25 years in higher education with the University of Missouri System and UMKC and almost four decades in architecture. His recent retirement announcement mentioned a few of his favorite projects and his work on dozens of capital projects on all four UM System campuses. While he plans to start a new chapter with his wife, Leslie Short Simmons and their family, his dedication to UMKC will continue by serving on the UMKC Master Plan committee.

How has campus changed since you first started working for UMKC?

While there is still tremendous room for improvement, I think the biggest changes have occurred in the areas of facilities and outdoor spaces for student life and community interaction. In my 26 years at both the UM System and UMKC, we created the first true academic quadrangle on the Volker Campus with the construction of Flarsheim Hall and the first green space of any type in the UMKC Health Sciences District with the construction of the Health Sciences Building. Both of these green spaces were made possible by the generous estate gift of Robert H. Flarsheim. The creation of the new Student Union, which then allowed for the renovation of the old University Center to be the Atterbury Student Success Center, created fantastic new amenities and meeting/support spaces for our students! I am so proud of the progress made in this quarter century of time.

What are the opportunities available in the UMKC Master Plan?

Like all plans, the current Master Plan will build upon the foundation of prior plans while offering a unique opportunity to reimagine our campus in the context of the new UMKC Strategic Plan, the UMKC Forward planning and the post-COVID-19 campus. This timing will allow the campus to look ahead to new student housing and dining solutions on the Volker Campus and to build upon the new Health Sciences District partnership on the Health Sciences campus. The Master Plan will not just be about what is new but will also look at the need to potentially strategically divest of buildings and properties that no longer serve the needs of the campus. "Right sizing" our campus for the future is a key component of addressing the significant deferred maintenance and repair challenges that the campus faces. I am excited to be able to continue to work with the campus master plan working committee and campus leadership as the plan progresses to a summer 2021 presentation to the Board of Curators. I am so pleased to have the leadership group of Bill Haverly, Sheri Gormley and Troy Lillebo in place to keep the plan moving forward.

What are some of the new adventures you are looking forward to in retirement?

In the near term, I look forward to getting settled into a new home we purchased in west Olathe. It is a maintenance-provided villa that will allow for great family gatherings and easy travel post-COVID-19. We do plan on doing lots of travel to our favorite beaches in Southern California, Florida and Hawaii, but also to travel to some new spots we have never been to, like Alaska and Europe. We look forward to some great family time amongst the travels and to new opportunities to serve our church. Even with all of that, I will look forward to continued opportunities to connect with UMKC and the people that I have loved working with over these many years.