We are #RooReady for fall semester classes. Learn more about the UMKC response to the global COVID-19 pandemic and get the latest updates and safety information from the CDC.

News Archives

  • A Life-Long Love of Teaching

    Senior Hayley Benton wants to help people learn
    Hayley Benton ’21 Undergraduate degree program: Elementary Education Hometown: Omaha, Nebraska High School: Millard North High School Hayley Benton has wanted to be a teacher since she was in first grade, and a degree in education has been a long-time goal. A visit to the UMKC website led Benton to visit campus. That visit resulted not only in her enrollment in the School of Education, but her immersion in campus life as a Resident Assistant, a member of the Honors College and a campus ambassador. In addition, Benton was selected as a member of the UMKC Forward committee exploring solutions for university success in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Benton is a helper and her focus during the crisis has largely been on the success of others. “They say that you’re supposed to put your oxygen mask on first when the plane is crashing, but, that’s not me,” Benton says. “I wouldn’t be able to help people a row or two behind me if I did that. I would be the one running up and down the aisle making sure everyone has their mask on — or had the ability to put their own mask on. If I see someone who needs help, I drop whatever it is that I am doing and I help them no matter what.” She has stayed on campus and expanded her role with Residential Life to help the students who needed to remain on campus. “For me helping students was crucial to my success and really helped me during such a challenging time.” - Hayley Benton “I am staying on campus throughout the summer as an RA as well,” she says. “For me, helping students was crucial to my success and really helped me during such a challenging time.” Despite her commitment to students at UMKC, Benton is missing the children in her elementary-school classroom. “The biggest challenge was that we were no longer able to go to our practicum placements, so my student teaching experience got cut very short,” she said. “I wasn't able to say goodbye to the class. I went from seeing them almost every day to absolutely nothing. I miss their smiling faces, jokes, personalities and out-loud thoughts. It's definitely pulled on my heartstrings.” She has been able to stay close to her cohort in the School of Education. Beyond online classes, the GroupMe Benton started became an essential way to connect. “We used it a lot prior to COVID-19, but once classes went online we used it a ton! While we couldn't see each other in person it still felt like we were connected and interacting with one another and building our relationships,” Benton said. “A lot of us faced very difficult things during this time as well and it was amazing to have such a strong support system of empowering women.” “I’ve learned that I am a strong leader and that I am able to do anything I set my mind to.” While she is not the first person in her family to attend college, Benton is the first person in a long time. “I take a lot of pride in my academic drive, my passion for getting a degree in education and for pursuing my dreams this way because it’s not the conventional thing for the rest of my family.” She has learned a lot about herself since coming to UMKC. “I’ve learned that I am a strong leader and that I am able to do anything I set my mind to. In high school, I was only involved a little bit. In college, I have thrown myself into a ton of new things in order to be as involved as I can be. I have grown so much as a person.” Her student teaching and the current crisis have opened Benton’s eyes to the challenges students face and has deepened her commitment. “It has inspired me to work as hard as I can to better an education system that is failing for a lot of people. I want to pour my heart and soul into my students.” Hayley’s Highlights Who do you admire most at UMKC? Elora Thomas, associate director of admissions, is the person I admire most at UMKC. I am a campus ambassador and Elora is my boss. She is so strong and powerful, and inspires me to be the very best I can possibly be. Sometimes I can get very discouraged because my family members and friends back home don’t understand the value of my work on campus, but Elora has always been so supportive. She has so much passion for this university. I just hope that one day I can be someone’s Elora Thomas, because she is the best person I have ever met.  What’s your favorite social media channel? RawBeautyKristi on YouTube is so amazing. She’s a very realistic, down-to-earth person who gives her actual opinion on things. It’s so refreshing to hear someone talk about real life on their social media platform rather than the fake stories people make up for entertainment. What’s something that you’re missing? I miss aimlessly wandering around Target for over an hour looking at things I never end up buying. Of course, it's a small thing, but it's all about routine.  Where are you finding joy? I have gone on a ton of walks and I've gone hiking a couple of times. I spent a lot of time—maybe too much time—playing Animal Crossing.  Jun 04, 2020

  • My Life During COVID: Brandon Martin

    Checking in to see how our UMKC community is managing the highs and lows of sheltering in place
    UMKC Athletic Director Brandon Martin is off the court, off the field and home with his wife, two daughters and son. He’s been home with his family more than ever before - and finding that he loves it. “It’s really going great,” Martin says. “We are having a ton of family time and I’m just so grateful that my family is all here and safe.” He and his wife, Rosemary, who works in human resources at Metropolitan Community College, are both working at home in their basement and home office. His oldest daughter is home from her first year of college. “She came home from Arizona State University with straight As,” he said. “We were just thrilled”. His younger daughter and son were both going to school remotely. “They were going to school in their bedrooms and basically living on their iPads.” The Martins are all pitching in and helping each other out, and they are taking a lot of family walks. “I love it,” he says. “I’ve been home more now than I’ve ever been before. Balance has always been tough for me, but I feel like the ratio is good right now and it makes me feel fulfilled. We had a great Mother’s Day. I couldn’t stop thinking about what it would be like if my wife weren’t here. It just filled me with so much gratitude.” Still, Martin is aware of the suddenness of his athletes’ season ending and he understands the loss they are feeling. “I have a great respect for the resilience of our athletes and coaches. Their seasons ended so abruptly. I really appreciate how willing they were to take the appropriate directions. They were all patient, focused and centered.” Despite his positive perspective, Martin struggles with the ambiguity of what will come next. “I am trying to crystallize what the ‘new normal’ is going to be. My life - my job - are never going to be the same. In my life and my career, so much of it is about competing. Now we’re competing against the unknown, but I know we’re going to get through this.” Jun 04, 2020

  • Turning Class into a Podcast

    Students gain valuable experience in the world of podcasting
    What started as a podcast side project for UMKC faculty member Whitney Terrell, has now evolved into the first podcasting class at UMKC. In turn, the class has so far produced four thought-provoking, student-led podcasts. Terrell teaches creative writing and in his spare time has a successful podcast called Fiction/Non/Fiction that he co-hosts with V.V. Ganeshananthan of the University of Minnesota. His podcast led Jennifer Phegley, the chair of the English Department, to approach him to gauge his interest in putting together a practicum on podcasting “The department has always been interested in the digital humanities,” said Terrell. “With me already podcasting, it made perfect sense. And it has been super fun.” UMKC students have interned for Terrell to help with his podcast, and the success of the internship was another contributing factor to starting the class. Still, Terrell said he and his students were in uncharted territory for the university. “I’d never asked students to create a podcast from scratch in three months, so I really didn’t know whether we’d end up with something we’d want public,” said Terrell. “And when we got the final product I realized they were this good — we’ve got to get these out there.” What they got were four unique podcasts. “Everything Genre” — produced by Harmony Lassen, Hunter Moseley and Abbey Outain — teases out the way TV shows use genre tropes. “Lit Adaptations” — produced by Jasmine Rollins, Sophie Straight and Kara Walters — analyzes the ways books are adapted into films. “MFA Insider” — produced by Jared McCormack, Giana Miniace and Montana Patrick — talks to MFA students across the country about their programs and work. I started listening to their podcasts while I was jogging. I would get to the end of my run, finding myself just enjoying them and forgetting I need to be grading them as well. - Whitney Terrell All three podcasts can be heard on this website. There was a fourth podcast produced, by Eva June Narber, Summer Collins, and Beth Graham, that did investigative stories on human trafficking, but out of caution for the interview subjects the hosts decided not to make it public. Terrell was blown away by the finished products. “I started listening to their podcasts while I was jogging,” he said. “I would get to the end of my run finding myself just enjoying them and forgetting I need to be grading them as well.” McCormack plans to continue the MFA podcast, with a slightly different format rebranded as “MFA Writers” where he will be the sole host but continue to interview fellow MFA students from across the country. He sees it as a useful tool for potential MFA students and filling an untapped niche in the literary podcast space. “There are a number of podcasts out there that I love that interview established writers about their process,” said McCormack. “I think it would be really interesting to do something similar but with emerging authors on the cusp of making it.” One thing that hit home for Terrell was the advanced cultural commentary represented in “Everything Genre” and “Literary Adaptations.” “They were putting into practice the techniques that students learn in our creative writing and English programs,” said Terrell. “They were using the skills they’re picking up in the program, and I just love that.” For the class, the students were divided into four groups, with each group coming up with their own podcast idea. The students were grouped by similar interests. In addition to their own podcast, the students were assigned duties on the Fiction/Non/Fiction podcast so they could practice sound editing and script writing ahead of tackling their own podcasts. Jasmine Rollins, who worked on “Lit Adaptations,” thought the work on Terrell’s podcast was particularly eye-opening. “I was surprised at how quickly the turnover was from week to week,” she said. “Before the new episode is even up they’re already working on planning for the next episode.” When it came to finishing production for the students’ podcasts, the class had to get creative because of the shutdown of the campus. They had planned to record and edit everything on campus with the help of a Communications professor, Angela Elam, and using audio software available in one of the computer labs. Those best-laid plans were turned upside down. The students instead used Zoom to record their podcasts and managed to edit their audio with an any-means-necessary array of free (or free-trial) audio editing software. Terrell said he was amazed by the students’ determination to experiment and improvise to get to their finished products. The plan is for Terrell’s spring semester Podcasting Practicum class (ENG 449C) to continue. Another podcasting course will be added in the fall in the Communications Studies Department (class #46784), taught by Elam, who is host of the “New Letters on the Air” podcast. For McCormack, the experience was incredibly rewarding. ““I didn’t know anything about making a podcast before taking this class. This was a great way to get my feet wet learning from someone who is actually doing it,” he said. “You really see what all goes into making a podcast before you jump straight into it.” Jun 04, 2020

  • On a Mission to Bridge the Health Care Gap

    The UMKC Health Equity Institute brings together university researchers, government and community efforts to improve the lives of the underserved
    When Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal needed someone to head the new UMKC Health Equity Institute, he didn't have to look far. The School of Medicine’s Jannette Berkley-Patton is a leader in community health research — just the right person to direct the institute, which is charged with combining the university’s research strengths with community groups’ grass-roots involvement to identify, quantify and reduce health care gaps. Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., a professor in the school’s Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics, might be best known for her Taking It to the Pews project, an outreach effort through local churches that gets people tested for HIV. She also is director of the UMKC Community Health Research Group, putting her in an ideal position to bring together the university’s research programs and Kansas City social services groups and agencies. In the year since Agrawal announced the institute, Berkley-Patton has made sure it got off to a running start. The institute has helped new projects large and small, with the goal of lasting improvements in health across social and economic classes. Anything that might improve health — from providing better transportation and more-affordable care to encouraging better eating and exercise — could be involved. “We spend billions on health care but are still one of the unhealthiest countries in the world,” said Berkley-Patton, who has degrees in engineering, human development and family life, and child and developmental psychology. “Large federal grants can help create effective programs, but we need sustainable improvements that continue when the grants end.” Berkley-Patton also is determined to keep the institute’s momentum moving forward, despite the COVID19 disruptions to health care and the wider economy. “In fact,” she said, “the Health Equity Institute is even more important than ever given that these underserved folks who historically have had more challenges in accessing health care services are likely to be hurt the most by the disruptions. Get on the bus One big project for the institute will be tracking how free bus service affects people’s health. This year, Kansas City, Missouri, plans to become the first large city with free public transit — dropping bus fares to zero to match the city’s streetcars, which already are fare-free. The institute, recognizing a golden opportunity to measure the benefits of free public transit, has drawn up a multi-step research plan and submitted ambitious applications for grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC grant calls for research into “a natural experiment,” Berkley-Patton said, “and if ever there was a natural experiment, offering free transit is it.” She continued, “We know from other research that people who use public transit tend to get 5 to 15 minutes more physical activity than non-riders, just getting to and from public transit. So if free bus service increases ridership, we hope to also see improvements in the health of people in low-income areas.” The institute will start by gathering baseline data, both from comparable cities’ transit systems and from 500 current riders. The plan for identifying those people and getting data from them has been approved by UMKC’s Institutional Review Board, which ensures that research subjects are treated ethically. That data gathering is on hold over COVID-19 concerns, but the institute is ready to go when the situation improves. The CDC grant the institute seeks calls for data on 10,000 people, which defies individual recruitment. “So, we’re proposing to collaborate with the Truman Medical Centers,” Berkley-Patton said. “We have identified 11 low-income ZIP codes, and TMC has data on thousands of people that can serve as a measure of the health of those areas.” Of those patients, the institute hopes to have 4,000 take a brief survey, to gauge some basics about them such as income and incidence of health problems including diabetes and obesity. The institute also plans to recruit 200 occasional bus riders to track, to see whether free service turns them into regular riders, and whether that improves their health. Berkley-Patton says the elimination of fares should be a good incentive, saving a regular rider an estimated $1,500 in transit costs. And the research should identify other possible benefits, such as having access to more and better jobs. “We’ve had lots of collaboration on this already to design research and make our grant proposals,” Berkley-Patton said, ticking off allies from Children’s Mercy, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority and Public Works Department, UMKC Departments of Economics and Psychology, and the Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, and Nursing and Health Studies.  Now the institute must wait — on whether it gets CDC and NIH money to go full bore on its plans, and on when people can resume more normal living and head to jobs, doctor’s appointments and other activities. ‘They miss recess’ Another project is Youth Engagement in Sports, or YES, led by Joey Lightner and Amanda Grimes, UMKC assistant professors in the School of Nursing and Health Studies. When their proposal received an $800,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Grimes described the need to increase activity in middle school students. “The evidence is very clear that American youth suffer from high rates of obesity, inactivity and poor nutrition,” said Grimes, who has a master’s degree in health science and a doctorate in community health. Joseph Lightner and Amanda Grimes of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences involve students in their community health research. “Adolescence seems to be a critical time in a child’s life where behaviors are learned or reinforced. Girls are particularly prone to low rates of physical activity during adolescence.” The YES program will help students at two Kansas City middle schools, Central and Northeast, said Lightner, who has a master’s in public health with an emphasis in physical activity, and a Ph.D. in kinesiology. According to Lightner, sixth- through eighth-graders are in a tough place between elementary and high school. “In talking with them, we found out they miss recess. They don’t get to play anymore. And they’re suddenly supposed to be adults, often without all the information they need on health and nutrition.” One goal of the institute is to come up with innovative programs, and YES is certainly that. “So after school, we’re going to give them a big, healthy snack and then there’s a physical activity intervention — they get to play,” Lightner said. “We’re going to offer competitive and non-competitive games, because we’ve found that some students gravitate to one kind of sport or another.” By reaching out to the students and their schools, the program also embodies the institute’s emphasis on community engagement. And it draws heavily on another institute strength — collaboration. TMC’s Mobile Market, which brings healthy foods to underserved areas, will give students a weekly bag of produce along with recipes. Children’s Mercy consulted on the program, providing its expertise with young people’s health. The Kansas City Department of Parks and Recreation will help with the sports activities. And Lightner, as director of the UMKC Public Health Program and a new bachelor’s degree under it, has recruited undergraduate students to help gather data — and get first-hand experience in devising and tracking the sorts of programs that could become integral in their careers. The program’s aim is to help at least 300 students at the schools in summer sessions, and then again in the fall. Of course, the level of disruption and other unknowns caused by COVID-19 make it hard to plan. But when school is back in full swing, Lightner wants YES to be making a difference. “We know this is a pivotal time for students, especially girls,” Lightner said. “Peer groups are really important; there’s a mentality of, ‘If my friends are doing it, I’ll do it.’ So if we get them engaged in physical activity with their friends at this age, they’re likely to continue. And so many benefits, from physical and mental health to staying in school and achieving academically, have been demonstrated.” Seeding other efforts Another goal of the institute is to communicate across the university and among hospitals, government health agencies and community groups. A database is being compiled for training and other resources, along with opportunities to collaborate. The institute's new website will be a clearinghouse for everything from health indicators to grant opportunities and processes. That could help community groups connect, for example, with the Health Forward Foundation, a Kansas City fund that promotes healthy communities. The institute also will be awarding mini-grants, with the aim of giving several community groups a few hundred dollars each for health-related training, software, added staff help and other basics. Overcoming health disparities is a huge task, made more daunting by the COVID-19 disruptions. But BerkleyPatton and other Health Equity Institute partners have had success in the past and will keep looking for new ways to reshape access to health care. “It will be a while before we know how much damage the pandemic has done,” she said. “But we do know that research programs that involve people in improving their own health can make a real difference, and it’s going to take all the innovative, collaborative efforts we can build to help those most affected. Jun 03, 2020

  • UMKC Announces Plan to Repopulate Campus

    Three-phase process will run June 1 through August 24
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City will begin to repopulate its two Kansas City campuses in June, using a phased approach designed to protect the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and visitors. Phase 1 of the plan runs June 1 to July 5 and will include a small group of employees engaged in critical operations that support the university’s core mission and who must be physically present to effectively complete their work duties. Phase 2 runs July 6 to August 2 and brings back to campus senior administration and departmental leaders heavily engaged in student services and academic roles preparing for the fall semester. Phase 3 runs August 3 to August 24. During this period, all remaining faculty, staff and students will return to campus, except for those with individual medical exemptions. The plan includes guidelines encouraging people to wear face coverings on campus. Masks may be essential under certain work/educational conditions which preclude adequate social distancing. The university plans to return to in-person classes in August but will monitor the public health situation closely and constantly, following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local guidelines, and make changes to steps, timelines and requirements in the plan as needed. UMKC is #RooReady to begin classes in the fall, no matter what that looks like, whether it’s in person, online or a mix of both. “The time has come for us to prepare in earnest to return to campus,” said Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “We will do so carefully and flexibly, because the health and safety of our community is our highest priority. We will continue to be team players in the overall effort to both reduce the impact of the virus and rebuild and restore our economy and our society. ” May 28, 2020

  • 14 COVID-19 Myths and Misconceptions

    Dean of UMKC School of Medicine separates facts from fiction
    Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, is an infectious disease expert. Also an alumna from the UMKC School of Medicine’s innovative six-year B.A./M.D. program, she served as one of six physicians statewide advising Missouri Governor Mike Parson about COVID-19, and was recently named senior advisor of public health in a five-member volunteer group on how Jackson County should spend its $122 million in CARES Act funding. On numerous media appearances, Jackson has answered questions about evidence-based practices in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Here are just a few examples she’s dispelled of legend and lore about COVID-19: 1. A chiropractor has been publicizing an IV vitamin C product as a possible treatment for COVID-19. Anything to that? Jackson: While there is biologic plausibility based on the hypothesis that when an individual suffers a severe infection, vitamin C which is necessary for cellular and tissue function, is depleted, there is no scientific evidence to support the use of vitamin C in the management of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. There is no data to support its use as prophylaxis that would be given in a chiropractor’s office. One study registered at clinicaltrials.gov, will investigate the use of IV vitamin C in SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia patients in China using a randomized control trial protocol. The randomized control trial using a standard control group receiving placebo vs. the treatment group excludes bias and allows the outcome variable to be clear. This is especially important for COVID-19 where we know many cases spontaneously improve.  There have been two recently published studies that are “open label” (no control group) to study the use of vitamin C in non-SARS-CoV-2 infections where individuals suffered from shock and acute respiratory distress syndrome. Neither showed clear evidence of benefit. What is interesting is that anti-vaxxers appear to be circulating information on social media to drive the unproven messaging around vitamin C. For treatment of disease, trust a well-trained healthcare professional who practices evidence-based medicine and has extensive clinical experience. 2. Does heat kill the coronavirus? For example, the sun? A hot bath? Drinking hot water? Jackson: There is no evidence of a benefit to flushing the virus from your system by drinking hot water or taking a hot bath. Drinking water will keep one hydrated and that is recommended for all. The concept that heat can affect the virus is one worth discussing. The virus that causes COVID-19 is an enveloped virus, and enveloped viruses do generally demonstrate sensitivity to temperature and therefore may be more likely to appear or disappear during certain seasons related to temperature. Research on other enveloped viruses suggests that this oily outer coat makes the viruses more susceptible to heat than those that do not have one. In colder conditions, the oily coat hardens into a rubber-like state, much like fat from cooked meat will harden as it cools, to protect the virus for longer when it is outside the body. Many viruses wax and wane in seasons. Influenza typically arrives with the colder winter months. So does norovirus and RSV. Measles cases drop during the summer in temperate climates, and increase when schools are in session. But we have no information about how the virus that causes COVID-19 will change with the seasons. For one thing, pandemic viruses often don’t follow the same seasonal patterns seen in more normal outbreaks. Spanish flu, for example, peaked in the summer, while the typical seasonal flu peaks occur during the winter. Even if COVID-19 does show some seasonal variability, it likely will persist to some degree and not totally disappear in the summer. A dip in cases will bring benefits, however. If it decreases in the summer, it is likely to re-emerge again in the fall. But there will be fewer susceptible individuals at that point, too, so potentially fewer cases-depending on how much of the population remains susceptible after the first wave. 3. If there has been a day of rain followed by sunshine, is playground equipment safe from COVID-19? 4. Jackson: As the weather warms, people will want to be outdoors and I’ve seen more people in our community outdoor walking and running in neighborhoods and in areas of parks and trails. It’s important to be outside to keep healthy, physically and mentally. And I especially like that I’ve seen families outside with their kids, who need to be active especially since they have no school and can’t be out with friends. CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) have been emphasizing that to control the COVID-19 epidemic, we must “flatten the curve” — that is, reduce the amount of transmission of the virus. We know that one proven way to accomplish this is by physical distancing — keeping six feet or more from other individuals and taking precautions to wash hands, refrain from being in enclosed spaces with other people, disinfect surfaces and other precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. But do not take the kids to public playgrounds—you’ll find that all are cordoned off so that equipment can’t be accessed. Not only would open play areas encourage the kind of close contact we are trying to limit, but also, contaminated surfaces have been found to have detectable virus—including plastic and stainless steel. The duration that virus could exist on wood is not clearly known. There is no good evidence that following rain and with a day of sunshine, the playground is safe. There is no present guidance from CDC on how best to manage these spaces, including recommended cleaning and disinfection for outdoor equipment to prevent transmission of the coronavirus. Bottom line: Avoid the playground (and play dates) for kids while you are social distancing unless it is the playground in your own backyard for your family. 4. Should you consider deliberately exposing yourself to inoculate yourself?  Jackson: In the past, some parents participated in “chickenpox parties” to intentionally expose their unvaccinated children to a child with chickenpox in hopes that they would get the disease. CDC strongly recommends against hosting or participating in these events because serious complications and even death can follow infection and one cannot predict how severe the disease will be. Now the same bad idea has emerged related to COVID-19. On March 24, it was announced that an individual in Kentucky tested positive for the novel coronavirus after they attended a "coronavirus party" for people in their 20s. Young people are less at risk of developing serious complications of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, but they may still require hospitalization for serious symptoms. And even someone who only contracts a mild case of the disease can spread it to vulnerable people. We need to wait for the vaccine—and until then continue social distancing. 5. Can livestock pass COVID-19 on through our food supply? Jackson: There are some food products that can be contaminated and pose a risk for transmission to humans—like E coli, norovirus and hepatitis A. That is why there is emphasis on food preparation safety in general. The bacteria and viruses that are transmitted by food products are those that cause gastrointestinal infection. SARS-CoV-2 is a respiratory virus and there is no known foodborne risk for transmission. There is no evidence that livestock or any other food product in the U.S. is a vector for transmission of the virus, and there is no evidence of human or animal food or food packaging to be associated with disease transmission. There is no risk of food product recalls, and the U.S. food supply is safe. 6. Will drinking lots of water wash the virus down to your stomach where it will be killed by stomach acid? What about drinking bleach? Can you ward off the virus by eating food with higher PH level? Jackson: Washing the virus down the esophagus will not reduce the risk of coronavirus and the virus is resistant to the diluted acid in the stomach Gargling with water or with an antiseptic solution, compared to doing neither, did reduce reports of respiratory symptoms in a study from Japan. However, the findings don’t necessarily apply to COVID-19 – and it’s dangerous to assume that they do. The main risk is from breathing in tiny droplets containing thousands of viral particles after an infected person coughs or sneezes within 6 feet from you. The overwhelming evidence suggests that the best approach remains avoiding unnecessary social contact and washing your hands. So, put down the water and pick up the soap instead. Drinking bleach is not a cure and is dangerous—it can result in vomiting, diarrhea and liver failure. Some bleach-based cleaners, however, are helpful for keeping surfaces virus-free. 7. Pets cannot spread the coronavirus, can they? Jackson: This virus is thought to have jumped from animals to humans, but there is no evidence that it is spreading among pets or from cats and dogs to their owners. Cats have been infected, both at the zoo and in homes-but there is no evidence that cat to human transmission is a significant concern. There was one instance in Hong Kong where a dog tested positive, but the dog was well, and it was thought contaminated by secretions from the infected pet owner. The CDC suggests letting family members without symptoms take on pet care and recommends that people with symptoms should avoid close contact such as “petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food.” When you care for your pets, wash your hands before and after handling and feeding. 8. Does ibuprofen make COVID-19 symptoms worse? Jackson: I first heard of the ibuprofen alert after a report from the French health minister, Olivier Véran, identified that it could be a factor in worsening the infection based on anecdotal reports from physicians treating patients in that country. Then there was a letter that was published in the British medical journal The Lancet Respiratory Medicine where it was hypothesized that ibuprofen could make it easier for the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, to enter cells. The theory is that ibuprofen could increase the levels of ACE2, which is a protein that the coronavirus uses to enter cells and might therefore increase the risk of serious infection. However, there is no evidence that ibuprofen raises ACE2 levels. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says more research is needed, but right now, there is “no evidence that ibuprofen increases the risk of serious complications or of acquiring the virus that causes COVID-19.” There are reasons in general to avoid ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs  (NSAIDs) because they are known to have gastrointestinal, kidney and cardiovascular side effects, which may be especially dangerous in very ill or elderly patients or in those with preexisting conditions. 9. Does putting petroleum jelly in your nose prevent the virus from getting into pores? Will rinsing your nose with saline prevent the virus? Jackson: In the face of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, it’s natural that we’re looking for ways to stay healthy. Washing your hands and practicing social distancing are two proven pieces of advice that are more important than ever. A dry nose can make one more vulnerable to viruses and certainly is an irritant for those who suffer allergies. A water-based product can help. Using saline or saltwater nose rinses will not prevent the virus, but in certain people with asthma for instance, who also have nasal and sinus symptoms, a saltwater nasal wash, or nasal irrigation, can help reduce nasal symptoms that can aggravate asthma. According to National Jewish Health, a nasal wash: Cleans mucus from the nose, so medication can be more effective Cleans allergens and irritants from the nose, reducing their impact Cleans bacteria and viruses from the nose, decreasing infections Decreases swelling in the nose and increases airflow But do not use tap water for the nasal wash. Do not use well water. Only use distilled or sterilized water for nasal rinses. And follow the CDC water preparation guidelines for proper preparation. Avoid petroleum jelly in the nose—it can be inhaled and cause lung injury called lipid pneumonia. Don’t use antibiotic ointment either—that type of ointment does not fight viruses. 10. Can kids die from COVID-19? Jackson: While children have been generally spared from COVID-19, pediatric cases requiring intensive care have occurred within our state and there are rare child deaths. The burden of disease is far less for children than influenza though. A new syndrome, recently described, called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). MIS-C is an inflammatory response with organ dysfunction, thought to be triggered by prior exposure to SARS CoV-2. On May 14, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control issued a health advisory, to alert providers to this condition, which has now been identified in at least 19 different states and Washington DC. Parents should report to their pediatric provider if their child develops fevers especially associated with a rash. While the prognosis is good, children have suffered shock and required intensive care—the syndrome is extremely rare and we are still learning more about it.  11. If you can hold your breath for 10 seconds, does that mean you don’t have the virus? Jackson: It is true that those with serious lung disease of many types, such as emphysema, may not be able to hold their breath for 10 seconds. Many respiratory viral infections make it difficult to hold your breath because the airway is irritated.  The inability to do so does not identify those who have COVID-19.  This false claim was first attributed to someone at Stanford University Medicine—and the spokesperson at Stanford denies it came from them, and on March 12, they posted on social media that this was misinformation. The only way to know if one is infected by SARS-CoV-2 is by testing secretions obtained by a swab placed in the nose/throat and having the specimen tested in a laboratory. 12. Is cupping a treatment for COVID-19? Jackson: Cupping is a process whereby the skin is bruised using a suction cup over the skin, and is used in traditional Chinese medicine for a variety of ailments. It is being studied in a Chinese population convalescing from COVID-19, but there is no evidence that it is beneficial at this point. 13. Is proning a treatment for COVID-19? Jackson: There is no specific treatment for COVID-19 and we currently rely on supportive intensive care including oxygen, IV fluids andmechanical ventilation. Of specific therapies targeting SARS-CoV-2, none have been adequately studied, but there are some encouraging reports. Prone positioning of those with respiratory failure, meaning having the patient on a ventilator lay face down, was shown in a small study to result in better lung function with better oxygen levels and this treatment is being incorporated into care now. Other therapies which are being examined include the use of hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug which was shown to inhibit virus in a small study when paired with an antibiotic called azithromycin. We now know that there is no data to support its efficacy and individuals accessing chloroquine products and suffering life-threatening toxicity. There are a couple broad-spectrum antiviral agents (one used in Ebola called remdesivir) that are being studied. Remdesivir is an intravenous drug used for those with serious COVID who require hospitalization and treated patients have shown a shortened course of disease. Drugs that modify an inflammatory over-response seen in COVID-19 appear promising. These agents inhibit IL-6, an immune modifier, and are also being studied in severe cases of COVID-19. 14. Even though COVID is here to stay, at least for the next six months to a year, is it okay for me to go out into the community now? Can I go to the doctor for my routine care? Jackson: We have successfully flattened the curve here in Kansas City, but COVID is continuing to circulate. The chance that you’ll be exposed to SARS CoV-2, is related to three factors: what activity you are involved in your proximity to others the duration of exposure Risk is greatest for indoor exposure where individuals are in close quarters with a large group of people. After a choir practice that took place in Washington on March 17, 2020, among 122 choir members, 87% of the group became infected from one infected member—it appears the act of singing amplified the spread of the virus. In contrast, if one is outdoors for a limited time, and can socially distance from others, the risk is very low. In terms of going back to your doctor for routine appointments, every provider in our community is prepared to care for patients even while the virus is still circulating. It is especially important that infants and children visit their pediatrician and get their immunizations on time. Many pediatricians are asking parents to call on arrival to the office, and the provider will text when the office is ready to place the patient directly into an examination room. We don’t want a measles outbreak in our community while we’re still tackling COVID! May 28, 2020

  • Alumni Physicians Help Chiefs, Blues to Championships

    School of Medicine classmates celebrated their teams' super seasons
    What a difference a few months can make. In February, team physician Michael Monaco (B.A. ’84, M.D. ’87) was holding the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl trophy. Now, he has a new granddaughter he hasn’t held yet, to keep her from any possible coronavirus exposure. And last June, orthopedic surgeon Matt Matava (B.A. ’86, M.D. ’87) was tending to the St. Louis Blues as they won their first-ever National Hockey League championship. Now, he’s slowly reviving his regular surgery practice and wondering whether the rest of the hockey season will be canceled.  Both savor the camaraderie and association with elite athletes that make being a team physician special, and the particular joy of being part of a championship. But they also confront the challenges and uncertainties, personal and professional, that the pandemic has put front and center for everyone. The peak  They didn’t complete the big touchdown pass or make the winning slap shot, but Monaco and Matava did their part to make their teams champions in the past year. In February, Monaco was the senior physician on the sidelines with the Kansas City Chiefs when they won the team’s second NFL championship, 50 years after their first. “I have been with the team 26 years,” Monaco said. “When I realized we were going to win the Super Bowl, I got a little teary-eyed.” It was much the same feeling for Matava the previous June, when the Blues took the Stanley Cup. “In 23 years with the Blues, my most memorable experience was being in Boston for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals,” Matava said. “I got to hold the Stanley Cup overhead on the ice and drink champagne out of the cup in the locker room during the player celebration.” Getting to the top, though, took years of effort, starting at the School of Medicine. Matt Matava in his office with the Stanley Cup. The long climb Matava played basketball for UMKC while he was in medical school, and he wanted to be a surgeon. That focus turned to orthopedic surgery for athletic injuries when a torn ACL (a knee ligament) knocked him off the basketball court. He experienced first-hand the important process of recovering from a serious injury. “Though I wasn’t drawn to internal medicine, my docent was Marjorie Sirridge, an excellent internist,” Matava said. “She taught us the importance of being thorough in the evaluation of patients … of sitting down when speaking with patients to let them know that you are taking time specifically for them. Doctors in general and surgeons in particular have a reputation for paying more attention to lab tests and imaging studies than to the patient themselves. No one should underestimate the importance of the physical exam.” When he returned to his native St. Louis after a sports medicine fellowship in Cincinnati, it didn’t take long to find work with sports teams to go along with a private practice. He became a team physician for Washington University, a job he still holds along with being a professor of orthopedic surgery. He also worked for the St. Louis Rams for 16 years, until the franchise moved back to Los Angeles. That’s in addition to serving the Blues, a position he’s held since 1997. The clock is always running But for all the excitement of being part of sports, being a team physician also means hard work, long hours and performing under intense pressure. “Hockey season involves up to three games a week from October to April for the regular season and into June for a deep run in the playoffs,” Matava said. “When I finish my regular clinical duties, I head to the games.” Add in his 25 years serving Washington University’s sports teams — along with football games each fall weekend during the years he was with the Rams — and Matava has spent a lot of time in locker rooms and away from his family. “In 23 years with the Blues, my most memorable experience was being in Boston for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals."—Matt Matava “But the most challenging aspect of being a team physician or surgeon,” Matava said, “is having to ‘bat 1,000’ in the care of every player, considering the scrutiny of the public, media, team administration, agents and other team members.” In Monaco’s situation, being the Chiefs’ head medical team physician is a year-round job. “From the end of July when training camp begins until the exit exams after our last game, two days after the Super Bowl this past season, there are daily issues: medication changes, illness evaluations, exams for new players acquired.” He’s also involved in the preparation for the NFL Combine each February, a weeklong showcase for possible pros coming out of the colleges, and the NFL draft in April.  “I also have a full-time internal medicine concierge practice with my partner of more than 20 years,” Monaco said. “He’s been very supportive, which makes doing both possible.”  Monaco with internal medicine and Matava with orthopedic surgery exemplify the two main types of medicine for sports teams. And they both will tell you it’s about a lot more than operations to mend broken bones or reconstruct damaged joints.  According to Monaco, his medical team handles various types of injuries, such as chest and abdominal problems. In a given week, they might take care of more players than the surgical and rehab staff, keeping players hydrated and managing their electrolytes if there’s a bug going around. Quickly isolating a player with the flu, for instance, can protect the rest of the team. “I have been with the team 26 years, when I realized we were going to win the Super Bowl, I got a little teary-eyed.”—Michael Monaco Working and waiting When the NHL season was suspended, Matava noted, “the team was in first place and expecting the return of Vladimir Tarasenko, our star goal scorer, whose shoulder I fixed earlier in the year.” Now, he said, he can see the players if they are injured or require rehabilitation, but the training facility, practice rink and weight room have been off-limits across the league. Whether the season resumes or is canceled remains up in the air.  For several weeks at his other practices, Matava said, “Washington University and Barnes Hospital were on a strict lock-down with all non-emergency surgeries and procedures cancelled to treat COVID-19 patients. The most COVID patients we have had at our hospital was 95. We are now allowed to return to 50 percent of our normal duties.” Monaco, far right, with students from the UMKC School of Medicine. For many years, Monaco was a supervising physician, known as a docent, for a group of first- and second-year medical students. For Monaco, coping with the pandemic has meant focusing on safety for his staff and patients, and for Menorah Medical Center in Overland Park, Kansas, where he is on the Medical Executive Committee. Precautions have worked to reduce the pandemic’s effects, but they can’t be eliminated.  “After my first positive COVID-19 in the office, I have been doing all testings outside in the parking lot using personal protective equipment,” he said. “I am doing this to protect my staff, others in the office and all those who come into our medical building.” One picture in particular, of a tent attached to the hospital, haunts Monaco: “Family members of COVID-19 patients cannot be allowed in the hospital, but we placed a tent next to the window of one dying patient in the intensive care unit to allow the family to be with and grieve for their loved one.”  Personally, Monaco said, precautions have meant he has yet to hold his third granddaughter, born just a few days before the pandemic was declared. And his son, Nicholas Monaco, a 2017 graduate of the six-year medical program at UMKC, is serving his internal medicine residency in Georgia, where the incidence of coronavirus cases is high. “I would say this virus has had a definite impact on my life professionally and personally, like so many other health care workers,” Monaco said. Monaco also is in touch with other Chiefs physicians, and infectious disease specialists across the country, as the team moves toward possibly reopening some facilities. Resuming sports would provide a great emotional outlet for fans, he said, but there’s no telling when that might be possible safely. “Unfortunately, I do not see it going away soon,” he said. “I can only hope we come up with more and improved testing to give us the data that we need to make better decisions, better treatment protocols to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with this virus, and eventually a vaccine to once and for all give the global community enough herd immunity so we can get back to work and life again.”  May 27, 2020

  • My Life During COVID: Gayle Levy and Whitney Terrell

    Checking in to see how our UMKC community is managing the highs and lows of sheltering in place
    Gayle Levy and Whitney Terrell are working at home as their two sons go to school via Google Classroom and their cat, Dusty, composes signs in order to get some sleep. The advantage for married UMKC professors Gayle Levy, associate professor of French and director of the Honors College and Whitney Terrell, associate professor of English, is that they have a keen understanding of each other’s jobs. They start each day working in their own offices, while their two sons, Moss (15) and Miles (10) attend school online. While Levy moves from Zoom meeting to Zoom meeting, Terrell is finishing up his new novel, “The Crossroads.” “Miles has made silly signs that we put up on our doors when we can’t be disturbed,” Levy said. Her sign reads, “Do no desturb! Kat uzally zweepin.” "We're getting a puppy!" - Miles Terrell While the family is mostly finding their greatest joys being with each other, they are indulging in some distractions. “Moss has online piano lessons and drama classes through the Coterie,” Levy said. “Miles practices soccer online, which he does in the living room.” But some activities are less demanding. “Miles spends some time on House Party (a social media app) and playing Pictionary with friends,” Levy said. “Moss is generally Snapchatting with friends.” While Levy is missing her students and the boys are missing their friends, the Levy-Terrell clan is welcoming a big dose of joy. “We’re getting a puppy on Sunday!” Miles proclaims. What are you reading?  Levy: Nana by Emile Zola Terrell: MFA theses Miles: Wings of Fire books by Tui T. Sutherland Moss: Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream - for school  What are you watching?    “Miles watches 3-4 Simpsons episodes PER DAY!” Levy said. “I’m just thankful that the show has been on for like 30 years! Moss watches “Gossip Girls” and I’ve been watching “This is Us.” As a family most recently we have watched “Blazing Saddles,” “Smokey and the Bandit,” and “Rocky.” Terrell and Moss just finished “The French Connection” and “Breathless” and I showed Moss “Harold and Maude”—my favorite!” What are you eating?    “Great food!” Levy said. “Moss cooks a few times a week. Tonight, we had miso chicken but he has also prepared shakshouka, curried shrimp, Mediterranean lamb chops and a three-berry pie. I made Guinness cake for Moss’s 15th birthday, which was last week, and lots of banana bread.” May 27, 2020

  • Three UMKC Faculty Receive Fulbright Scholar Awards

    Brian Frehner, Ph.D., Clara Irazábal-Zurita, Ph.D., and Charles Inboriboon, M.D., will use the awards during the 2020-2021 academic year.
    Three University of Missouri-Kansas City faculty members, Brian Frehner, Ph.D.; Clara Irazábal-Zurita, Ph.D.; and Charles Inboriboon, M.D.; have received prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar Awards for the 2020-2021 academic year. The Fulbright program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational program. Award recipients teach, conduct research and provide expertise abroad in a program designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and other countries. Frehner, associate professor in the UMKC History Department, received an award to Germany where he plans to teach and conduct research for three months. Much of his time will be spent working with colleagues at the University of Hamburg to expand upon an online course that examines themes in transatlantic history and German migration from Hamburg to St. Louis, Missouri.. He will also travel to Munich to review documents in the Deutsches Museum relating to the acquisition of oil exploration technology related to geophysicial oil exploration. The research is for a book he is working on that details the science and technology of exploration geophysics that seres as the basis for oil discovery throughout the world. Irazábal-Zurita, director of the Latinx and Latin American Studies program and professor of planning in the Department of Architecture, Urban Planning + Design, received an award to lecture and conduct research at the Universidad de Costa Rica. She will focus on selective (dis)affiliations and (sub)urban implications of middle-class Venezuelan migration to Costa Rica. The project is an extension of her study of migration and urban planning in U.S. Latinx/immigrant communities and in Latin America, including Costa Rica and Venezuela. Irazábal-Zurita plans to conduct her work in Costa Rica during the summers of 2021 and 2022. Inboriboon, director of International Emergency Medicine Programs at the School of Medicine and associate professor of emergency medicine, received an award to Thailand where he plans to spend six months teaching at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. His project will enhance emergency medicine education by incorporating active learning into the didactic curriculum. He will also be developing online learning resources and enhancing individual learner feedback. Inboriboon has led several programs in Thailand during the country’s transition to competency-based medical education. Fulbright award recipients are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, record of service and demonstrated leadership in their respective fields. Funded through the U.S. Department of State, the program is also supported by and operates in more than 160 countries throughout the world. May 26, 2020

  • Two of Five Advisors on Jackson County COVID-19 Funding Group are UMKC Faculty

    School of Medicine dean and director of Latinx and Latin American Studies will help guide $122 million in CARES Act spending
    Two of the five advisors named to help guide Jackson County on spending CARES Act funds from the federal government are top UMKC faculty members: School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., and Clara Irazábal-Zurita, Ph.D., director of the Latinx and Latin American Studies program and professor of planning in the Department of Architecture, Urban Planning + Design. The county received about $122 million under the federal government’s CARES Act to aid the county’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Members of the volunteer advisory group will provide recommendations to County Executive Frank White Jr. and the legislature on how to allocate funding consistent with CARES Act restrictions to have the greatest and most direct impact for the community. Joining Jackson and Irazábal-Zurita on the advisory group are former Kansas City Mayor Sly James, former Kansas City Mayor Pro-Tem and Councilwoman Cindy Circo and accountant Rachelle Styles. Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., dean of the UMKC School of Medicine Jackson, who is also an alumna from the UMKC School of Medicine, will be the senior advisor on public health. In addition to her role as dean, she is a pediatric infectious diseases expert, affiliated with Children’s Mercy and internationally known for her research. She is widely recognized for developing one of the nation’s leading and most robust pediatric infectious diseases programs. She serves as a member of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee, at the direction of the United States Assistant Secretary of Health, to provide recommendations for ways to achieve optimal prevention of human infectious diseases through vaccine development. During the current COVID-19 crisis, Jackson has served as one of the six physicians statewide advising Missouri Governor Mike Parson. She also continues to be a frequently sourced expert for the media and national publications. Clara Irazábal-Zurita, Ph.D., director of the Latinx and Latin American Studies program and professor of planning in the Department of Architecture, Urban Planning + Design Irazábal-Zurita will be the senior advisor on community development and humanitarian response. Before joining UMKC, she was the Latin Lab director and associate professor of urban planning in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University in New York City. In her research and teaching, she explores the interactions of culture, politics and placemaking, and their impact on community development and socio-spatial justice in Latin American cities and Latino and immigrant communities. May 22, 2020

  • New Micro-grant Competition Awards $30,000 in Total Prizes To Local Entrepreneurs

    UMKC Innovation Center's Dare To Venture competition supports entrepreneurs in Kansas City's urban core
    Sixteen Kansas City, Missouri entrepreneurs recently took home cash prizes as part of a new Dare to Venture micro-grant competition hosted by KCSourceLink. At a time when small businesses need the most support, the program offered a total of $30,000 in microgrants to entrepreneurs starting or growing businesses in the city’s urban core. Funded by the City of Kansas City, Missouri, and supported by the UMKC Innovation Center, Dare to Venture was open to any entrepreneur currently living or working in Kansas City, Missouri, who had completed one of the 30-hour-plus entrepreneurship classes offered as part of the center’s Urban Business Growth Initiative. The Missouri Small Business Development Center at UMKC administers the UBGI courses and provides each participant with business coaching. “This is the beautiful thing about collaborations: UBGI’s partner programs unite to offer many levels of support and expertise to UBGI businesses, helping them get the skills, expertise and learning to succeed,” said Carmen DeHart, senior director of entrepreneurial education at the UMKC Innovation Center and regional director of the Missouri Small Business Development Center. “Thanks to funding from the City, the UBGI suite of classes is helping local entrepreneurs and business owners discover the next great innovation, create new jobs, grow their operations and elevate the local economy. And now, these micro-grant awards are continuing to help them push forward during the most challenging time for any business.” Participants submitted video pitches for their businesses and were judged by fellow graduates of UBGI courses who’ve shared their journey of entrepreneurship and education. The following businesses received the most votes: Finalists for top prizes: 1st ($5,000) Reda Ibrahim – RK Contractors – construction venture [Watch the RK Contractors video] 2nd ($4,000) Tate Williams – CoBuild – construction venture [Watch the CoBuild video] 3rd ($3,500) Carlanda McKinney – Bodify – tech venture [Watch the Bodify video] 4th ($3,000) Erin Bopp – Lightwork DJ Mobilverse – new venture [Watch the Lightwork video] 5th ($2,500) Juaquan Herron – 2923 Comics – tech venture [Watch the 2923 Comics video] 6th ($2,000) Brandy Archie – AccessAble Living – growth venture [Watch the AccessAble video] Each honorable mention will receive $1,000: Maggie Bentley – Good Vibe Brows KC – new venture [Watch the Good Vibe Brows video] David Biga – ParticleSpace – tech venture [Watch the ParticleSpace video] Jillian Carlile – TravelHive – tech venture [Watch the TravelHive video] Shelly Cooper – SureShow – tech venture [Watch the SureShow video] Kashif Hasnie – Air Traffic Awareness – tech venture [Watch the Air Traffic Awareness video] Patrick Hosty – Dynamhex – tech venture [Watch the Dynamhex video] Lydia Palma – Pirate’s Bone Burgers – growth venture [Watch the Pirate’s Bone Burgers video] Sheante Thornton – ASAP Neighborhood Resource – new venture [Watch the ASAP Neighborhood Resource video] Karissa Todd – Sugar Cookie Bliss – new venture [Watch the Sugar Cookie Bliss video] AY Young - Battery Tour received the $1,000 Super Supporter Award given to the alumni who voted in the most rounds. Dare to Venture amplifies the already substantial commitment from the City of Kansas City, Missouri, to provide entrepreneurs with the tools, connections, education and coaching they need to build their business savvy, launch companies and create jobs in Kansas City’s economically distressed neighborhoods and beyond. “The micro-grant competition is an idea generated through startup community participation in the City Budget Speakeasy public input sessions. It’s exciting to see this come to fruition through our partnership with the UMKC Innovation Center,” says Rick Usher, assistant city manager of the City of Kansas City, Missouri. Apply for Upcoming UBGI Scholarships, Courses Through UBGI, the city currently provides scholarships that cover nearly 90% of the tuition for UMKC Innovation Center’s multi-week entrepreneurship courses. To date, UBGI has issued 548 scholarships, and its graduates have created a total of 75 business, 455 jobs, $55 million in revenue and $18 million in capital investments. Apply for the next round of UBGI scholarships (offered at a more than 88% discount), starting with NEW Venture, which kicks off July 28. Explore the course offerings below, and apply for a scholarship here to take the multiweek courses at an 88 percent discount. ELEVATIONLAB NEW Venture: July 28 - August 25 Entrepreneurial Mindset Training: September 16 - November 11 ELEVATIONLAB TECH Venture: September 17 - November 12 GROWTH360: September 18 - November 20 Social Media Road Map for Business: September 1 Reading and Understanding Financial Statements: September 8 Learn more about Innovation Center resources May 21, 2020

  • UMKC, Full Employment Council Partner to Create a 21st Century Workforce

    The FEC Coding Academy at UMKC offers two classes for displaced workers
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Computing and Engineering and Full Employment Council created a partnership to deliver a 21st century workforce in Kansas City. The FEC Coding Academy offers two classes – Web Developer Fundamentals and Full Stack Web Developer – for displaced and incumbent workers to move up in their careers. These courses provide an opportunity for attendees to learn to build websites from scratch with no prior experience necessary and tuition assistance for those who qualify. “The Full Employment Council is interested in connecting Missouri residents who have lost their jobs to industry-informed training opportunities that result in industry-recognized portable credentials. Our ultimate goal is rapid reentry into the workplace,” said Shelley Penn, senior vice president and chief operations officer for the FEC. Through the Coding Academy, instructors will equip attendees with marketable skills to forge ahead into the exciting world of coding. They’ll also be working on individual and team projects to build a portfolio to showcase to prospective employers and/or potential clients, as well as working with resume coaches from FEC to prepare for job applications processes and interviews. “This is a fast-track option for those who want to develop skills in technology,” said Christina Davis, director of continuing education at the School of Computing and Engineering. “Given the current state of the economy, the FEC Coding Academy is a great resource for displaced workers to gain skills that translate into positions in high demand.” The 16-week Full Stack Web Developer Course, beginning Thursday, June 4, will introduce attendees to building entire web applications using MongoDB, Express, Angular and Node.js. Throughout this course attendees will focus on how to use each of the technologies in the stack, and how to use them together. The dealine to register is Friday, May 29. The eight-week Web Developer Fundamentals Course, set to begin Monday, July 6, will introduce attendees to the aspects of HTML, CSS and JavaScript, the core building blocks of websites. The course is meant for anyone who wants to learn how to build websites from scratch. Prior programming or markup experience is not assumed, however an aptitude for programming will go a long way in being successful in this course. The deadline to register is Friday, July 3. Basic requirements for these courses include: The ability to pass an aptitude test for programming Proof of birth, residence, authorized work Must live in Jackson, Clay, Platte, Cass or Ray Counties High School/GED with an aptitude for programming The student will need a laptop computer running Windows OS. Motivation to succeed Though the cost of tuition for each course is $3,495 and $6,495 respectively, tuition assistance is available for qualified applicants through the Full Employment Council. Visit the School of Computing and Engineering online for more information on the Coding Academy and registering for classes.   Learn more about the FEC Coding Academy May 21, 2020

  • UMKC Self-Help Legal Clinic Moving Online

    Law school providing legal assistance when community needs it most
    The Self-Help Legal Clinic at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law has earned a national award for community engagement and is preparing to reopen on an online basis in 2020. The pro-se clinic is a partnership between the law school’s Leon E. Bloch Law Library and Legal Aid of Western Missouri. It is staffed by volunteer retired attorneys and judges, assisted by law students. The clinic provides advice and materials so clients can change their names, secure title to their cars, pursue small-claim actions in consumer matters, understand rights and obligations as tenants, or address simple family law concerns. Though some matters may require clients to pay court costs or filing fees, the clinic attorneys work free of charge. As part of the project, the Bloch Law Library also provides legal resources and database access to public patrons. The American Association of Law Libraries recently honored the clinic with its 2020 Excellence in Community Engagement Award. “Our jury felt that this project reaches people in your community at their point of need with practical information, and that it is an inspiring example for law librarians elsewhere of what can be done to engage with a community,” said Clanitra Stewart Nejdl of Vanderbilt University, jury chair for the 2020 Excellence in Community Engagement Award. The clinic opened in April 2019, and has since served more than 700 clients unable to afford legal representation any other way. Prior to the COVID-19 campus shutdown in March, the Self-Help Clinic occupied a permanent physical space in the law library, with regular office hours on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Together, School of Law Dean Barbara Glesner Fines and Latricia Scott Adams, director of Legal Aid of Western Missouri’s pro bono program, took the lead in bringing together the various parties and planning to make the Self-Help Clinic a reality. The library and clinic’s director of public services, Staci Pratt, is a law librarian with an active Missouri attorney license. She supervises the law students and facilitates cooperation with Legal Aid. Ayyoub Ajmi, associate director of the law library, was another driving force behind the creation of the Self-Help Clinic. “Staci Pratt, Ayyoub Ajmi and the volunteer attorneys and students have created an infrastructure and training that will allow the clinic to re-open virtually, just when the public will be needing this the most,” Glesner Fines said. The virtual clinic will run on Level 3 Zoom, which has a significantly higher level of security than the free version of Zoom. The software is designed to be phone-friendly, recognizing that many indigent clients do not own computers or tablets while most have mobile phones. Law student Montanna Hosterman said working at the clinic has multiple benefits for her legal education. “It’s an opportunity to earn hours for the school’s pro bono honors program,” Hosterman said. “We get experiential learning working side by side with experienced lawyers, right here in the School of Law building. Students also get mentorship and networking opportunities with the volunteer attorneys, and research and legal writing experience in a variety of areas of law.” Going forward, law students will also qualify for internship credit through work with the clinic.  Many of the clinic’s referrals come from the Jackson County court system, said Adams, who oversees the volunteer attorney project for Legal Aid. “From the court’s perspective, the clinic is a benefit to them,” Adams said. “People come into court with questions, and often the court personnel are not permitted to answer them, so they refer people to the clinic.” Pratt said the need for the clinic is “profound.” According to the 2019 Self-Represented Litigation Network (SRLN) survey, she said, three out of five people in civil cases go to court without a lawyer. The Legal Services Corporation reports that 86% of civil legal problems experienced by low-income Americans received little or no legal assistance. This is particularly troubling given that 71% of low-income Americans experience at least one civil legal problem in a year. The UMKC School of Law Self-Help Clinic serves residents of the state of Missouri. Callers who live in Kansas are directed to similar programs available in that state. May 20, 2020

  • KCUR Selected as Key Station for NPR’s New Midwest Enterprise

    Public radio service operated on UMKC campus
    NPR has chosen KCUR 89.3 to help lead a new Midwest regional news hub that will create a greater capacity for investigative reporting in the Kansas City metro area. The station is operated as an editorially independent community service of the University of Missouri-Kansas City. KCUR – along with St. Louis Public Radio, Iowa Public Radio and NET in Nebraska – will play a major role in bringing the regional newsroom to life, ensuring the Kansas City community will be well-served by the reporting produced through this new collaboration. The Midwest regional hub is made possible through a $3 million grant to NPR’s Collaborative Journalism Network by philanthropists Eric and Wendy Schmidt. An additional $1.7 million will go toward an existing regional newsroom in California, NPR announced today. Through the Midwest hub, public radio stations in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska will coordinate and expand their local and regional reporting, providing content to national news programs and digital platforms. The 25 public radio stations serving the four-state region will have access to stories produced by the Midwest newsroom. The startup investment by the Schmidts will allow KCUR and its partners at the three other stations to launch the hub and develop it into an essential contributor to the NPR network. “This incredible decision to support local journalism is an exciting opportunity for KCUR,” said Sarah Morris, KCUR’s interim general manager. “The new collaboration not only will boost our own coverage of issues affecting Kansas City and the region, but also will allow us to bring more Midwestern voices to the rest of the nation.” The Midwest hub is NPR’s fourth regional news collaboration, joining regional newsrooms already operating in Texas, California and the Gulf States of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. With a focus on in-depth reporting, the new Midwest team will include a three-person investigative unit and two editors, as well as a coordinating producer based at NPR in Washington, D.C. The team will bring public service reporting to a region dominated by rural news deserts as local publications have fewer resources for extensive projects. KCUR is no stranger to the concept of collaboration, having built a national reputation for developing and sustaining multi-station partnerships. Harvest Public Media, a four-state partnership that covers issues related to food and agriculture, started at KCUR more than 10 years ago. The Kansas News Service, a collaboration of four public radio stations from Kansas City to Garden City, is based at KCUR. And KCUR is the lead station for America Amplified, a national elections project focused on community engagement. May 19, 2020

  • Kansas City Goes All Out for UMKC Graduates

    Landmarks don the blue and gold while KC influencers share wisdom with graduates
    We are in awe of how Kansas City came together to celebrate the accoplishments of our new graduates. We saw you, #Classof2020RooStrong. We saw you celebrate UMKC commencement like never before because these are times like never before. We saw you, #KC. We saw you go #RooBlue and Gold like never before, and we are humbled and honored by your strong show of support and love for Kansas City’s university. Together, we have triumphed over adversity with our #RooStrong spirit and are #RooReady to overcome challenges and defeat obstacles. Because #RoosAreEverywhere, we all win. More than 2,000 UMKC graduates were honored in Commencement ceremonies this weekend. Here are some memorable moments from our community. First, we sent packets of school spirit out to our seniors to help them celebrate at home.    We spotted some of you taking some social-distanced senior portraits. Demarkus Coleman, MBA, took a few senior photos outside the Bloch School.   Then, many of our city's beloved landmarks lit up blue and gold to support graduates of Kansas City's university. Our neighbor, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, donned blue and gold. Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, at which many of our Conservatory students perform, showed its support for UMKC Roo grads this weekend.   Alumni and faculty wrote messages of congratulations and encouragement.   You shared your virtual commencement celebrations on social media.    And well-known Kansas Citians shared words of wisdom with our graduates.  Thank you for making this a Commencement to remember.  May 18, 2020

  • UMKC Honors Top Class of 2020 Graduates

    Seniors recognized through social and multimedia in lieu of annual commencement events
    Each year as the semester begins to wind down and seniors prepare for commencement, one of the biggest moments of their lives, academic and administrative units host breakfasts and ceremonies honoring the academic accomplishments of their graduates. This year, however, things are very different, because of the novel coronavirus and related social distancing and stay-at-home orders. Still, UMKC faculty and staff are finding other ways to virtually recognize honors seniors through social and multi-media. Dean of Students Honors Recipients Dean of Students Honors Recipients are nominated each semester by faculty and staff for their commitment to academic success while actively participating in leadership and service to the community and our university outside of the classroom. Nominators and students recorded videos reflecting on this semester’s honors. See what they had to say: “You are an exceptional group of people. Despite the demands of family, work and studies, you made time to give back to the community. When you saw a need, you worked to fill it. You are humanitarians, leaders and philanthropists and you should rightfully be proud of yourselves,” said Interim Dean of Students Chris Brown. Afaq Alabbasi – School Pharmacy [watch the video]Nominated by Cameron Lindsey, interim chair of the Division of Pharmacy and Practicum [watch the video] Priyesha Bijlani – School Medicine [watch the video]Nominated by Betsy Hendrick, academic advisor, School of Medicine [watch the video] Hannah-Kaye Carter – School of Biological & Chemical Sciences and Honors College [watch the video]Nominated by Carla Mebane, director of the UMKC High School/College Dual Credit Partnership [watch the video] Austin Dada – School of Biological & Chemical Sciences [watch the video]Nominated by Ryan Mohen, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology [watch the video] Morgan Dresvyannikov – School of Medicine [watch the video]Nominated by Brent McCoy, senior academic advisor, School of Medicine [watch the video] Sierra Duncan-Sonich – School of Biological & Chemical Sciences and Honors College [watch the video]Nominated by Tammy Welchert, director of Student Affairs and Undergraduate Enrollment, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences [watch the video] Jorden Erskin – School of Nursing & Health Studies [watch the video]Nominated by Corinna Beck, academic advisor, School of Nursing and Health Studies [watch the video] Elsa George – School of Medicine [watch the video]Nominated by Brent McCoy [watch the video] Thomas Haferkamp – School of Medicine [watch the video]Nominated by Krisana West, academic advisor, School of Medicine [watch the video] Chizitam Ibezim – School of Medicine [watch the video]Nominated by Krisana West [watch the video] Alyssa Jones – School of Biological & Chemical Sciences and Honors College [watch the video]Nominated by Susana Chavez-Bueno, associate professor of pediatrics [watch the video] Anusha Kodidhi – School of Medicine [watch the video]Nominated by Krisana West [watch the video] Christopher Kurian – School of MedicineNominated by Betsy Hendrick [watch the video] Nuvia Lemus-Diaz – School of Dentistry [watch the video]Nominated by Richie Bigham, assistant dean for student programs, School of Dentistry [watch the video] Rmaah Memon – School of Medicine [watch the video]Nominated by Krisana West [watch the video] Pooja Menon – School of Biological and Chemical Sciences [watch the video]Nominated by Lawrence Dreyfus, associate vice provost of faculty development and research [watch the video] Emily Oliver – School of Pharmacy [watch the video]Nominated by Roger Sommi, associate dean and professor, School of Pharmacy [watch the video] Anthony Oyekan – School of Medicine [watch the video]Nominated by Betsy Hendrick [watch the video] Jayanth Rao – School of Biological and Chemical Sciences [watch the video]Nominated by Tara Allen, teaching professor, School of Biology [watch the video] Nicole Rogers – School of Medicine [watch the video]Nominated by Brent McCoy [watch the video] Subhjit Sekhon – School of Medicine [watch the video]Nominated by Betsy Hendrick [watch the video] Mehr-Zahra Shah – School of Medicine [watch the video]Nominated by Betsy Hendrick [watch the video] Saumya Singh – School of Medicine [watch the video]Nominated by Krisana West [watch the video] Garima Thakkar – School of Medicine [watch the video]Nominated by Brent McCoy [watch the video] Sarah Towakoli – College of Arts & Sciences and Honors College [watch the video]Nominated by Ken Novak, professor, criminal justice [watch the video] Rachel Zender – School of Law [watch the video]Nominated by Molly Wilensky, director, Professional and Career Development Center [watch the video] Undergraduate Research Fellows Eleven May graduates earned the Undergraduate Research Fellow honorary transcript designation by demonstrating deep involvement in research process—formulating a research question, identifying an appropriate method to investigate the question, carrying out the project, and publication or presentation of the results beyond the classroom or research group. Jerrah Biggerstaff – B.S. Physics/Astronomy, College of Arts and Sciences Jaime Crouse – B.S. Biology; double minor in physics/astronomy and chemistry Austin Dada – B.S. Biology Lauren Higgins – B.S. Physics/Astronomy Brandon Landaverry – B.S. Environmental Sciences  Andy Leon – B.S. Biology Pedro Morales-Sosa – B.S. Biology Minh Nguyen – B.S. Biology Bwaar Omer – B.S. Biology Annie Spencer – B.A. English and History Sarah Towakoli -- B.A. Criminal Justice & Criminology and Political Science College of Arts and Sciences Graduates with Distinction The College of Arts and Sciences’ Graduation with Distinction luncheon, hosted by the College of Arts & Sciences alumni board, brings together graduates with Latin honors, and their families, in celebration of academic success. Guest speakers offer words of congratulations and advice for the future and scholars are presented medals to wear during commencement. Here is a list of graduates with distinctions Summa Cum Laude – the highest praise – and Magna Cum Laude – with great praise. Honors College Sarah F. Towakoli | Summa Cum Laude Anticipated | Undergraduate Research Fellow University Honors Kamariah Al-Amin | Magna Cum Laude Anticipated Cemile Arabaci | Magna Cum Laude Anticipated Abigail Birkner | Summa Cum Laude Anticipated Zonara Nawaz | Magna Cum Laude Anticipated Erica Sullivan | Summa Cum Laude Anticipated Sarah Towakoli | Summa Cum Laude Anticipated | Undergraduate Research Fellow   May 18, 2020

  • My Life During COVID: Brandon Parigo

    Checking in to see how our UMKC community is managing the highs and lows of sheltering in place
    Brandon Parigo is at home with his wife, Nicole, and his two daughters, Simone, who is 10 years old, and Juliet, who is 6.  Parigo, UMKC staff photographer, is accustomed to a calendar over-flowing with events, portraits, photo editing and creating and editing video. With campus closed and social distancing in place, his duties have shifted. “Lately, my primary roles at work have been online coaching and planning for video work as well as photo archiving, organization and support for our other teams. That may sound simple, but we have a lot of irons in the fire at all times. A lot of projects are being planned for when we are able to make them happen. If I do my job right, we are going to be 100% ready for everything that comes at us once we are allowed back on campus.”   While Parigo does freelance photography and video work during his time off, that work also is on hold. “Thanks to COVID, we’ve had to be creative in how we are trying to find ways to make up that income. I’ve been dabbling in game design and my wife has been doing some work from home for a local factory, sorting parts for shipping. I have a backlog of wedding editing that I’m working on also.”  His girls are attending online school at home and his oldest has kept up her ballet practice with Kansas City Ballet online as well. Parigo’s commute to work is an hour each way. He’s finding the best part of being at home is having more time to spend with his family. “We have picked up a pretty hard-core LEGO-building habit and have been having fun creating together.” This time at home has also reinforced how much his work at UMKC sustains him. He’s found it’s challenging to be without it. “Being around people, supporting them doing good work and supporting the students in their journey was a calling I never thought I’d enjoy so much. While the work I’m doing from home is still a part of that, it doesn’t feel as meaningful and I find myself suffering for it. I thrive on doing my work.”  What are you reading? I’m reading a bunch of roleplaying game books at the moment. My last big push on fiction reading before that was pretty much every book by Bernard Cornwell, recently known for writing the books the show “The Last Kingdom” is based on. My be time routine is to read to Simone (while Nicole reads to Juliet) and we are slowly making it through the “Keeper of the Lost Cities” series by Shannon Messenger. What are you watching? My nights are pretty packed with family and my backlog of editing, but I tend to squeeze in one show right before bed. I’ve watched “Waco” on Netflix because Tyler Kitsch is in it, and he was one of my favorites on “Friday Night Lights,” which is one of my top five all-time favorite shows. I’m also watching “Homeland,” just burned through “Star Trek Discovery” and “Picard.” (Was “Star Trek” always that good? Probably not.) I’m eagerly awaiting the next season of “The Last Kingdom.”  The current TV obsession of my daughters is “LEGO Masters.” What are you eating? Anything bad for me that I can find! In all seriousness, my house is pretty much gluten-free and organic. Lucky for us, Nicole makes the best gluten-free apple cake on the planet. I’m a sugar junkie but we don’t keep much sugar in the house, so that’s always a treat. Mexican-derived food is always top of the list at our house, and there’s a variation of the idea of what Mexican food should be on our plates for what seems like every other meal. I probably need to just devote a whole cabinet to salsa jars.   May 15, 2020

  • Telehealth Program Recognized for Serving Missourians with Disabilities

    Missouri health administrators praise UMKC Institute for Human Development’s innovative approach
    The escalated need for emergency care resulting from possible COVID-19 concerns can be especially challenging for people with developmental disabilities and their caregivers. Recently, the UMKC Institute for Human Development (IHD) received recognition in a National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities podcast for its outreach efforts to connect people with disabilities to newly available telehealth medical evaluations.  “The goal of the telehealth initiative is to help people with developmental disabilities avoid unnecessary emergency room visits that can be unduly stressful for them and their caregivers. We had begun establishing the program prior to the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Michelle Reynolds, associate director, individual and family support for IHD. “Because we had already laid the groundwork, the state was able to speed up the launch.” “The people who are in the trenches already trust us.” - Michelle Reynolds In the podcast, directors from the Missouri Department of Mental Health Gary Schanzmeyer, deputy director, administration and Wendy Witcig, (BA, psychology ’90) deputy director, community operations, both recognize IHD’s critical role in bringing this valuable service to Missourians in need. “It relieves anxiety for families by having help just a phone call away,” Witcig said. Station MD is a HIPPA-compliant, online resource designed to serve vulnerable populations. The service allows caregivers to connect with a licensed physician by video call to assess symptoms and determine if an emergency room – or even regular doctor’s visit – is necessary. The staff at IHD was interested in bringing this innovative approach to Missouri to better serve people with disabilities. Reynolds notes that in many ways, the anxiety in evaluating these possible emergency situations is not different from what any caregiver may feel. “All of us have situations with ourselves and our children where we are second guessing the need to go to the emergency room. This decision is even more crucial if you are supporting a person with a developmental disability” Reynolds said. “This provides a reliable, less expensive and stressful service for everyone involved, including the medical professionals.” If an emergency room visit is necessary, the medical professional contacts the emergency room or care provider and apprises them of the medical situation and any other factors that may help in serving the individual client. “While we initiated this program pre-COVID, with the spread of the virus, we could see that we needed to speed things up,” Reynolds said. “We wanted to make sure there was a safety net for people with developmental disabilities and keep them out of emergency rooms for non-emergency health needs.” Reynolds says that IHD’s established relationships and reputation allow them to provide quality support systems regardless of crisis. But situations filled with uncertainty, like the current pandemic, underscore the immense value of earned confidence. “We have maintained strong partnerships and institutional knowledge,” Reynolds said. “This enables us to shift in a crisis, rather than having to start an initiative from scratch. The people who are in the field already trust us.” May 15, 2020

  • Students, Faculty Honored at National Level

    UMKC Enactus gains national recognition in business pitch competition
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City Enactus team from the Henry W. Bloch School of Management took second place, out of more than 400 teams, at the 2020 Enactus USA National Exposition, held virtually May 6-14. In addition to being among the top two teams in the nation, UMKC Enactus won the audience-voted Enactus Excellence Awards in all three categories – Most Passion, Most Innovation and Most Collaboration. The team also won first place and $7,500 for the Menasha Future of Employment Project Accelerator, which focused on providing employment for underserved communities. Individual awards were presented to students Alessandra Brandolino, the Jules and Gwen Knapp Enactus Ambassador Scholarship ($10,000); Lindsey Temaat, Enactus USA’s Marketing Leader of the Year; Hieu (Peter) Trinh, Project Leader of the Year; and Emily Testerman, finalist for Membership Leader of the Year. UMKC Enactus Advisor Benjamin Williams also received the Jack Kahl Entrepreneurship Leadership Award for the Sam M. Walton Free Enterprise Fellow of the Year, a first in UMKC history. The award, presented at the competition every year, honors an Enactus advisor who has done the most to advance the Enactus organization during the current academic year, exemplified leadership, made a direct impact on Enactus students, and helped students with career placement. The 2020 award to Williams adds to a tradition of excellence among UMKC Enactus advisors. The team’s founding advisor, Cary Clark, was inducted into the Enactus USA Sam Walton Fellow Hall of Fame in 2014. Clark served as advisor from 2005 until his retirement in 2015. Erin Blocher, who teaches business communication at the Bloch School, joined Williams as a co-advisor in 2018. Enactus is a global organization for college students who volunteer to develop projects that create positive change through entrepreneurial action. Students describe their projects in multi-media presentations for the competition. While the team is headquartered at the Bloch School, it draws students from across campus, an example of how UMKC emphasizes entrepreneurship and innovation campus-wide. “This organization has changed the way I view the world,” said UMKC Enactus President Salem Habte, senior, B.B.A. Entrepreneurship. “I'm grateful to have been a part of it for all four years of college. Finishing second in the nation made history and proves that our students are capable of anything with hard work and a lot of hope.” “I am truly at a loss for words right now,” said Brandolino, vice president of Projects and president-elect, junior, B.B.A. Entrepreneurship. “When I joined this team three years ago, I never imagined that we would be the second most impactful Enactus team in the United States. Each person on this team contributed to this win in unique ways and I am so thankful to be a part of such an incredible team.” For this year’s competition, UMKC Enactus presented the projects Feed KC and Generation Green. In total, the team took home $8,300 to put toward their projects and operations. This year alone, the UMKC team has impacted the lives of more than 7,000 people and introduced projects that range from providing sustainable and convenient transportation to low-income commuters to recycling plastic waste into durable classroom tools for teachers. The UMKC students on the presentation team were: Ahmed Boukhousse, Nicole Dover, Hannah Case, Riddhi Sharma, Hieu N. Trinh, Kelly V. Nguyen, Lindsey Temaat, Salem M. Habte and Brian Bartenslager. Members of the UMKC Enactus Executive Board are Salem M. Habte, Alessandra Brandolino, Emily Testerman, Tony Jordan, Hieu N.Trinh, Sydney Steehn, Hannah Case and Lindsey Temaat. May 15, 2020

  • Video Resources for Coping with COVID-19

    Sanvello app offers new digital wellness content
    The Sanvello app, which is free for anyone with a UMKC email account, has recently added video resources for coping with the coronavirus pandemic. They address topics such as social distancing, job loss and fear and managing immunity and symptoms. Access to Sanvello is free for anyone who has a UMKC email address.  It offers on-demand help for stress, anxiety and depression and has a range of features including mood tracking, coping tools, guided journeys and community support to promote healthy habits and behaviors. Here are the new video resources for help coping with COVID-19: Managing family and friendships Coping with the media Virtual care and therapy during the crisis Volunteering and support Managing immunity and symptoms Controlling our impulses during COVID-19   More mental health resources at UMKC May 13, 2020

  • Kansas City Lights Up the Night for UMKC Grads

    Union Station, City Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and other landmarks brandish blue and gold to honor graduates of Kansas City’s un...
    The city of Kansas City will be ablaze in Roo Blue and Gold beginning the evening of Thursday, May 14, in honor of the Class of 2020 of the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Buildings to be lit in UMKC colors for the Roo Blue KC celebration include Union Station, City Hall, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Downtown Marriott Hotel. The Downtown Marriott's animated lights featured a bouncing Roo and words of congratulations. Festivities will not be confined to the evening hours. By day, multiple fountains across the city will flow in bright blue to honor UMKC grads, courtesy of the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department. More than 2,000 UMKC students will receive degrees through a series of online commencement ceremonies, organized through individual academic units, Friday, May 15 through Monday, May 18. The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts featured blue and gold lights. The Art Deco Power and Light building in the foreground and City Hall at right. Illuminated Landmarks Union Station City Hall Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts Downtown Marriott Durwood Stadium on the UMKC Campus Our neighbor, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Fountains and Parks Dyed or Lit Blue Concourse Fountain Northland Fountain  Waldo Water Tower Meyer Circle Sea Horse Fountain The Northland Fountain was dyed Roo blue. May 13, 2020

  • UMKC Pharmacy Student Organization Wins Top National Award - Again

    Outstanding community service and leadership
    The legacy of outstanding student service and leadership continues at the UMKC School of Pharmacy. Student pharmacists at UMKC have once again been recognized as recipients of the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists Chapter of the Year award. It is the third time in the past nine years that the UMKC chapter has received the highest national award. Each year since 2012, UMKC student pharmacists have been recognized as one of the organization’s top chapters in the country. Typically announced at the organization’s annual meeting in March, this year’s awards were announced through a Facebook Live presentation because of the Coronavirus pandemic. The APhA-ASP Chapter Achievement Awards program honors schools and colleges of pharmacy in the United States and Puerto Rico. More than 140 chapters compete for the honors that recognize superior programming to create opportunities for student participation and set standards for leadership, professionalism, patient care and legislative advocacy among student pharmacists. In addition to national Chapter of the Year honors, UMKC students were also second runner up for the organization’s Generation Rx Award for creating public awareness of prescription medication abuse. "This award is only possible because of the student pharmacists who are active members of APhA-ASP at UMKC," said Jordan Thoman, who served as UMKC chapter president. "It says a lot about their passion and excitement for pharmacy and helping the community. APhA-ASP has a wide variety of opportunities for students in areas such as heart disease, diabetes, mental health and policy. It was fun to see our students dive into areas that they really love." The awards recognized the combined efforts of students at the UMKC School of Pharmacy’s three campuses in Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield.  “We are super proud of them and proud of all their advisors who have worked hard guiding and mentoring them,” School of Pharmacy Dean Russell Melchert, Ph.D., said. Faculty sponsors of the UMKC chapter are Cameron Lindsey, Kathryn Holt and Jordan Rowe of the Kansas City campus; Angela Brownfield and Sarah Cox of the Columbia campus; and Lisa Cillessen and Heather Taylor of the Springfield campus. "This really reflects on the great guidance and support we get from the School of Pharmacy faculty and staff," Thoman said. "We have some incredible APhA-ASP advisors across all three campuses, and I will be forever grateful for all that they did for us over the year. We have the perfect combination of excited, passionate student pharmacists and supportive, impactful advisors and faculty." In the past reporting period, UMKC’s APhA-ASP chapter reached more than 228,205 individuals through social media alone, increasing education and awareness on a wide variety of health- and pharmacy-related topics. The student organization led two large projects, Operation Self-Care and Operation Immunization, that reached large numbers of patients. "Student pharmacists at UMKC are passionate about giving back to the community and making a difference," said Afaq Alabbasi, a May graduate of the School of Pharmacy. "Our chapter organizes a variety of events that reach out to different patient populations, from the elderly to children. When we plan our events, we focus on the quality of the events rather than the quantity. Our main goal for each event is to reach patient populations that will benefit the most from our services, even if that means reaching out to only 10 people."  Operation Self-Care partnered with the College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists (CPNP) to create a new mental health screening protocol. The questionnaire included screenings for anxiety and depression. Operation Self-Care reached 10,625 patients through public relations and patient care events. Operation Immunization saw students across the three campuses participate in 58 events in which they provided influenza immunizations for more than 800 patients and immunization education to 5,412 patients. Students also made 18 Generation Rx presentations, reaching and educating nearly 3,000 people about prescription drug abuse, proper medication storage and disposal. Generation Rx partnered with FirstCall to provide drug disposal kits to patients at DEA Drug Take Back Days across the state. More than 8,000 pounds of unused/unwanted prescription medications were collected. Generation Rx also reached nearly 16,000 individuals through public and media relations initiatives.   UMKC School of Pharmacy APhA-ASP Winners 2020 APhA-ASP Chapter of the Year (No. 1 in the U.S.) 2019 APhA-ASP 1st Runner Up in Chapter Achievement (Top 7 in the U.S.) 2018 APhA-ASP Chapter of the Year (No. 1 in the U.S.) 2017 APhA-ASP 1st Runner Up in Chapter Achievement (Top 7 in the U.S.) 2016 APhA-ASP Chapter Achievement Award (Top 4 in the U.S.) 2015 APhA-ASP Chapter Achievement Award (Top 4 in the U.S.) 2014 APhA-ASP 1st Runner Up in Chapter Achievement (Top 7 in the U.S.) 2013 APhA-ASP Chapter Achievement Award (Top 4 in the U.S.) 2012 APhA-ASP Chapter of the Year (No. 1 in the U.S.) May 07, 2020

  • For UMKC Medical Student and Entrepreneur, Health Care Connects It All

    Fahad Qureshi combines medical and engineering interests to create innovative solutions
    Driven. Creative. Optimistic. Curious. Determined. Smart. Happy. These are common traits found in successful entrepreneurs. All of them are found in Fahad Qureshi. A third-year medical student at UMKC, Qureshi took third place in the UM System Entrepreneurship Quest Pitch Competition, where 20 student teams from across the four campuses presented innovative business ventures. Qureshi is the founder and creator of Vest Heroes, which uses a system of pulleys and levers in the operating room to relieve surgeons from bearing weighted lead X-ray skirts and vests during long procedures. Wearing the vests are required by law and protect health care professionals from radioactive exposure. But they are heavy – between 30 and 69 pounds – and can hinder mobility.  Qureshi wasn’t nervous during the final rounds of competition, as he’s had the idea for a long time and knows the product well. In fact, his invention is patent-pending, and he’s launched a company to fulfill orders for 100 vests that will be used throughout the country. “I strongly believe in the idea,” he said, “and it was great to get affirmation from the judges. To know it’s real and it’s working – I feel good about that.” As a child, Qureshi had a good friend who died during an operation following a bad accident. He heard the surgeon say that wearing his 60-pound vest made it hard for him to make movements during his friend’s operation – and that’s something he never forgot. While finding a way to reduce the weight of these vests has been in his head for a long time – “10 to 12 years, maybe more” – he didn’t have the background needed to solve it … until medical school. Once at UMKC, he gained academic understanding, expanded his medical knowledge, got into the operating room and participated in an engineering apprenticeship, completely independent of the School of Medicine. “Just because you are practicing medicine doesn’t mean you can’t do anything else,” he said. “I wasn’t looking for credit, I was looking for knowledge.” He also found a local engineering firm to help out. “When you have an interdisciplinary approach, that’s when you can really solve problems. Without medicine, I wouldn’t know what to build,” he said. “Without engineering, I wouldn’t know how to build it.”  In addition, Qureshi reached out to various physicians to get their opinions – how to improve the vest, how to grow consumer interest, what did and didn’t work well. His biggest support has come from Bogdan Derylo, M.D., a nephrologist from his hometown of Chicago and Akin Cil, M.D., UMKC professor and the Franklin D. Dickson/Missouri Endowed Chair in orthopaedic surgery. “All of the feedback received was terrific,” Qureshi said. “The final model is a culmination of all the suggestions they provided.” Qureshi, who worked minimum-wage jobs to fund the company so he can retain full equity, says mass distribution is his ultimate goal. He’s currently working with a Chinese manufacturer to help produce large numbers of the Vest Heroes, although that is sidelined now due to the coronavirus pandemic. “Any doctor or health care professional that uses radiation has a need for this,” he said. “There’s really no downside to using it – it’s a necessity, as I see it.” There’s no doubt that Qureshi’s entrepreneurial spirit motivates him, but he sees health care connecting it all. As for his future, he plans “100 percent to practice medicine.” And part of that plan includes research, his company and teaching the next generation of doctors. “When you choose what you do every day, it should be something that makes you happy. Going to work shouldn’t be scary or dreaded. If your work makes you happy, you’re doing something right.” In addition to Qureshi, the UMKC teams presenting pitches during the final competition were Greyson Twist, Ph.D., bioinformatics and computer science major presenting his Genalytic project; and Kyle McAllister, business administration graduate student presenting his company Compost Collective KC. May 06, 2020

  • Congratulations, Class of 2020

    Messages for recent graduates from UMKC alumni
    Alumni from across our campuses submitted messages of encouragement and well wishes for the Class of 2020. These are just a sampling of the heartfelt notes for the most recent graduates of UMKC. You are poised to accomplish wonderful things! This has been a learning year for all of us: for our mentors, our bosses, our colleagues and our families. Please take this year and its lessons and know that this has been challenging for every single person. You are not alone, you are not forgotten. You are in this with the entire world and you too can come out on the other side of this if you put your values, your lessons, and your creativity to use. We're here for you, Class of 2020 — best wishes! —Elizabeth McClain (MBA ’17) Congratulations Class of 2020!! You did it! We are all so proud of your resilience, strength and selflessness during these tough times … I know you definitely did not get the moment you all deserve, but if anything, I have only learned how sanguine you all are throughout this experience. Enjoy every moment, remember that you accomplished all of this and continue to be proud of yourself. I wish you all the best. Congratulations, Roos! —Sabat Ameen (B.L.A. ’16, M.D. ’19) Congratulations on your graduation! You’ve reached a major milestone in your life, and I couldn’t be happier for you. I hope you’ll take this time to celebrate. Celebrate all of the hard work it took to get here. Celebrate the friendships you’ll take away with you. Celebrate all the possibilities of your next adventure. I know commencement isn’t happening the way you hoped and planned. But I want you to know that the entire UMKC family is still with you, cheering on your huge accomplishment. We can’t wait to see what you do next. —Mary Daly (B.A. '85) Dear Class of 2020, congratulations on your great achievement. You have shown perseverance and commitment and this is your time to shine! There will indeed be challenges, and undoubtedly there will be uncertainty, but you will also learn how to adapt, take initiative and prosper. And when you look back, the Class of 2020 will be known for having foresight to navigate tricky waters and to reach your goals every time! Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and successful future ahead!  —Fahim Siddiqui (M.S.C.S. ‘93) Congratulations, Class of 2020! Your hard work for this achievement has finally been realized. Though the celebration of your completed degrees and certificates will look different this year, that makes them no less important. Some advice that was given to me when I entered UMKC, I wish to impart to you: College does not complete you — it only compliments what you bring to the table. Continue to bring your inherent, authentic self into everything you do. Allow what you've learned at UMKC and these honors you've achieved to compliment who you are. Be true to who you are. Congratulations, graduates! —Angela Sander (B.A. ’17) This unprecedented time will pass and cannot diminish that your graduation is a source of great pride. And now, you're on your way to new adventures, on your way to the future. May you follow your dreams and your heart. Best wishes as you graduate. —Debbie Brooks (J.D. ’01) Dear graduates: This was not the ending you planned. It certainly is unlike anything any of us expected. A spring quarter full of promise and celebration, in a matter of weeks, has become a source of grieving. Any words of consolation I could try to offer would fall flat. But we still need to celebrate milestones that were a lifetime in the making. We are all trying to find the positives during this trying time so embrace your degree and all the hard work that went into it. Know that you will be able to make a huge difference in the world you are graduating into. Also know that we are proud and celebrating for you at this time even if there is not an official ceremony to mark this passage. Best of luck Class of 2020! —Sue Garnett (B.S.P. ’82) Congratulations! I am so very proud of all you have accomplished in the past four years! It was a long, hard road and you did it!! I know this is such a difficult time since your celebration will not be what you deserve, but just know there are so many of us rooting for you (even all the way out here in Hawaii!) and wishing you all the best life has to offer from here on out!  —Tina Mukai (B.A., D.D.S. ’07) May 05, 2020

  • 4 Ways I’m Considering Celebrating My Graduation

    Creative ways to commemorate this major accomplishment during COVID-19
    No doubt, COVID-19 has created complex circumstances for many across the world. If you’re a spring semester graduate like me, you may feel the need to tie up loose ends before virtually walking across the stage. But with stay-at-home guidelines, the options for celebrating look different than normal. Still, it’s important to bask in the glory of such a tremendous milestone. Virtual ceremonies just might not feel like the real thing, or even feel like enough of a commendation for the hard work put into the years of such a valuable journey. So, it’s important to reflect and think about what could help you, individually, celebrate and be proud of your place in the class of 2020. A Visual Walk Down Memory Lane So, remember that concert you went to or your spring break trip and how you flooded your social media feeds with photos and probably a few Instagram slideshows? Try doing the same to highlight some of your favorite memories throughout your college experience. Get creative and create an actual visual timeline starting from your freshman year to now and what it has meant to you to make it to the finish line. Revisiting times that made you stronger, or that you simply enjoyed, are great for realizing this moment still matters and there’s much more to come. A big moment for me came in December 2019, when I visited New York City after I was selected to attend the IRTS Multicultural Career Workshop for student journalists across the country. Fun fact: I had made it a goal to visit NYC before the end of my senior year, and I did it. Super cool experience!   Be a Creative Director for a Day Lately I’ve been extremely inspired by the talent on display on social media. More so, through aspiring photographers and individuals who are creating home photo shoots for fun, while at the same time boosting their portfolio. From bed sheet backgrounds to home gardens or impressive shoe collections, these folks are creating full-blown shoots that could honestly be placed in our mainstream magazines. You can do the same! If you’re one of the many who couldn’t schedule graduation photoshoots with your cap and gown or put your respective themes to the test, use this time at home and your environmental surroundings to do so. Throw on your cap and gown and take advantage of nature and all it has to offer. Art supplies are collecting dust in your bedroom closet, so get your Dave LaChapelle on! I've been really impressed by the people creating their own photo shoots at home. Photo by Amanda Vick   Party for 10 (or fewer) Staying within social distancing rules, groups of 10 or less is enough for an intimate gathering. Make it even better by hosting a small party with just your immediate family. Also, consider using video chat platforms such as Facetime, Zoom, Skype and the live feature through Facebook and Instagram to connect with family and friends who aren’t able to be there. Take advantage of Amazon Prime for 2020 graduation-themed decorations, in addition to food, games and a playlist of some of your favorite songs you’ve curated from your undergraduate or graduate years. Everyone loves a good karaoke session! Grab some treats and your favorite tunes and make it a fun day with your family. Photo by Brooke Lark   In the words of Parks and Recreation’s Donna, “Treat Yo Self!” (or let others do it for you) Having you been eyeing a pair of shoes, some new tools for a favorite hobby or something else? Feel free to get a congratulations gift for yourself — or make a wish list for others, just like birthdays, baby showers and wedding receptions. After all, you deserve to be celebrated, and if people are asking you if there’s some way they can help you celebrate, don’t feel bad about sharing that list. Or maybe you want to start a cash gift “Recent College Graduate Fund.” Whatever it is, don’t feel bad if people who know and love you — including yourself — want to celebrate with a gift. On the other side of the spectrum, you don’t at all have to spend money to celebrate. After months — no, years — of studying and finals, you deserve to spend some quality time relaxing. Treat yo self. On your graduation date, cook your favorite foods, get dessert and binge your favorite series or film franchise. I already have my corny rom-com list lined up.   Vacation Countdown Within the next couple of months, or maybe throughout the rest of the year, traveling won’t be the first thing most people think to do after the lockdown is lifted. However, there’s always next year with the hope that conditions have improved. So, with the time you’ve got during quarantine, use it to plan a vacation as a treat for earning your degree. Create a group chat for any friends you would want to invite and start brainstorming destinations and travel details. Aim for somewhere you’ve always wanted to go and let yourself consider the possibilities. Maybe a weekend at the cabin transforms into an entire week on an island. Anyone else feel like celebrating with tropical treats and swimming with the dolphins? Anyone else feel like they need a vacation after all this? Photo by Tim Foster Whatever you decide to do, just make sure you do something to mark this incredible accomplishment. The #Classof2020 is strong and resilient and has a lot to be proud of! May 05, 2020

  • KCUR Flattens the Curve with Spanish COVID Blog

    Coverage supported by America Amplified
    Kansas City’s public radio station, KCUR 89.3 FM, with support from America Amplified – a national public media coalition funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to provide election coverage for 2020 – is working to flatten the curve with its new Spanish-translated COVID-19 blog. KCUR announced its America Amplified initiative in partnership with eight other public media networks across the country as part of its $1.9 million Election 2020 grant from the Corporation of Public Broadcasting to cover the presidential race. With the fast outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the program made a shift to cover the global pandemic. “We realize that we have a substantial Hispanic community in Kansas City with a large Spanish-speaking population,” said Director of Broadcast Operations Ron Jones. “This is a great opportunity to provide a public service and ensure that everyone is informed about the pandemic.” The station is also partnering with Kansas City Hispanic News on a 60-day agreement to help spread the word about its new initiative to keep the community informed. In turn, the paper will gain access to the station’s English digital content and publish a print a translated version for its readers Kansas City Hispanic News reaches a market of nearly 200,000 Hispanic residents expanding from the greater Kansas City metropolitan area to Topeka, Emporia and Wichita, Kansas. The paper has an average readership of 35,000 each week. KCUR will be regularly updating its Spanish coverage of the coronavirus in Kansas City through its FAQ and live blog pages. The station is operated as an editorially independent community service of the University of Missouri-Kansas City.   Follow KCUR’s Spanish Coverage May 05, 2020

  • Tips for Job Hunting During a Pandemic

    Tactics, tips and resources to help you navigate the job market
    Currently on the hunt for a job? We caught up with Tess Surprenant, director of the Bloch Career Center and interim director of UMKC Career Services, to get her best tips for graduating students currently looking for a job. Here is a wrap-up of what we learned. Tried and True Job Hunting Tactics 1. Network, network, network We all know that networking is an important part of job hunting. Now, with the potential for fewer jobs and higher applicant numbers, building connections will be more important than ever. Luckily, the new virtual working world has made it easier to get in contact with people. Don’t be afraid to share your goals with others. You might be surprised how quickly people will get on board with your dreams and cheer for you.  2. Start with Roos to build your network What if you don’t have many people to network with? Never fear, we’ve got you covered. Some of the best places to start looking for new connections are to follow up with any guest lecturers from classes, connect with UMKC alumni on LinkedIn, or search for Facebook groups specific to your industry or location. Scheduling an informational interview with someone is a great way to learn about their career path, their current work and their industry as a whole. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! Remember, that UMKC Career Services can also connect you with dozens of industry professionals and alumni that are happy to network with UMKC students.  3. Do your research Whether you are about to reach out to a new contact or apply for a position, do your research. Researching for a networking opportunity allows you to ask more specific and thought out questions which will impress your contact and allow them to provide you with more helpful information. Researching each job and company before applying will also help you tailor your resume to that position, something that Surprenant stressed as absolutely vital when applying for multiple jobs at once.  4. Apply on company websites Surprenant cautioned against applying for positions through recruiting websites like LinkedIn unless you want to tailor your profile each time you apply for a job. Platforms like LinkedIn are great places to find jobs, but applicants should look for the same job posting on the company’s website and submit applications there.  Tess' Nuggets of Wisdom "Keep all your options open for as long as possible and do what is right for you." 1. Know your industry's recruitment schedule If you are seeking to join an industry that follows very specific recruitment schedules and you are not sure how COVID-19 may have impacted those schedules, reach out to UMKC Career Services. They can help you decide which steps make the most sense for your overall career goals. Not sure if this is you? Contact Career Services as well! 2. Questions to ask in interviews during this new normal It is perfectly normal to have concerns about the working world and wonder how COVID-19 may have impacted the company you are about to join. It is important to ask the questions that matter to you so you can be as informed as possible when you make your final decisions, but you still want to remain respectful. Surprenant laid out two ways to ask potential employers about COVID-19 related concerns.  If you are worried about beginning a job remotely, you can say: “I am anxious to be successful here, so I am wondering what tools you have available to employees to help them transition to online work.” If you are worried about the stability of the company, you can ask: “How has COVID-19 changed your business’s culture?” 3. On accepting offers you might not love Surprenant acknowledged that fear might make it easy to rush into accepting an offer that is not the right fit. She also said it is perfectly okay to accept a job in order to remain financially stable. It is important to understand yourself, your timeline and your finances. Keep all your options open for as long as possible and do what is right for you. She noted that you don’t need to accept the first offer you are made, especially if you have other interviews coming up. Reach out to the recruiters from the other companies to let them know you have been made an offer, but you want to be able to fairly consider all your options. Then inquire about moving your interview up.  4. Do something rather than nothing If you find yourself in a position where you take a job outside of your desired field, make sure you keep making forward progress. Reach out to companies and ask if they have any micro projects in your desired field that you can work on. Connect with your professors to see if you can assist in a research project. Volunteer with an organization that is related to the work you someday hope to do. It’s important you continue to learn. Now is a great time to utilize free online learning tools. You can learn to code, master excel, learn a new language or even join a writing group to keep those skills fresh.  Overall takeaway Know yourself and your needs. No one knows the future you want to have better than you. Put yourself out there and share your dreams with others, especially those who have a little more job experience. When in doubt, connect with UMKC Career Services. Bring your questions, your resume and your goals. They can help you along the way, even after you graduate and join the working world. UMKC Career Services May 05, 2020

  • Regnier Venture Creation Challenge Awards Announced

    Student entrepreneurs receive awards, experience at annual pitch competition
    The Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management held the Venture Creation Challenge virtually on Friday, May 1 and selected winners in the annual pitch competition. “All of the competitors involved in this year’s challenge have demonstrated qualities that set innovators and entrepreneurs apart,” said Jeffrey S. Hornsby, Regnier Institute director. “We are grateful that they have shared their efforts, their drive, their inspiration and their creativity with us. These are the qualities that bring us together today, and that define the Regnier Institute.” The Regnier Venture Creation Challenge is about more than money. During the competition, students test their ideas in a supportive environment of educators, mentors and staff who want to see them succeed. To do this involved the support from more than 60 mentors, advisors and community partners, who volunteered to serve as judges throughout the rounds of the competition.  “This was an outstanding class of individuals,” said Bob Regnier, naming benefactor and founder, executive chairman and CEO of the Bank of Blue Valley. “It’s the process that’s important. As entrepreneurs, we deal with disruption all the time. When you open people’s mind to what’s new, you open up the sweet spot for an entrepreneur.” Innovation Award Special Needs Identification App (SNidAP), $500Special Needs Identification App is the smart wearable that keeps you, your loved one, and the public safety community connected. Specialty Awards Outstanding Undergraduate Generation Green, UMKC and UMKC Enactus, $1,000Generation Green is focused on repurposing old plastic waste into dry/wet-erase boards, creating new products that help teachers engage students in interactive learning. Linda Tong Planners, Iowa State University, $1,000Linda Tong Planners is a business that provides completely handwritten and personalized planners that are customized to each individual person.  Outstanding Social Venture Dart, UMKC, E-Scholars and UMKC Enactus, $1,000Dart gives old bikes new life by repurposing them into affordable, high-quality e-bikes. Outstanding Creative Enterprise Vivas y Muerto, Kansas City Art Institute, $1,000Vivas Y Muerto is a sustainable and eco-friendly jewelry line. Outstanding High School Venture MARGOLOH, Blue Valley CAPS, $1,000MARGOLOH is a hologram that uses water vapor diffusers and fans to create a tornado-like shape in an oval shaped structure. General Track Awards Calving Technologies, Mizzou, $5,000Calving Technologies is an animal agriculture startup, providing monitoring and predictive sensory technology for producers to track the health of their livestock. Their first product is a multi-sensory collar that measures various biomedical parameters of late-gestation cows, predicting the timing of calving events hours in advance - ultimately decreasing calf mortality rates and increasing producer margins. ChordaWorm Lures, LLC, Iowa State University, $4,000ChordaWorm Lures, LLC solves one of the largest problems in the fishing industry. The current soft plastic fishing lures on the market are not durable and they are easily ripped off the hook by fish. These lures only last for two to four fish catches each. Interplay, UMKC and E-Scholars, $3,500Interplay is working toward automating pet interaction by providing dog owners with an automated dog crate that will allow them to operate it from their smart phone. With the Interplay dog crate, dog owners will be able to see and talk to their dog, dispense food and water to their dog, and open and close the crate from their phone while they're away from home. Jensen Applied Sciences, Iowa State University, $3,000Jensen Applied Sciences provides Cloud Technology Solutions to local communities, currently focused on the craft brewing industry. JAS provides plug-and-play devices for craft breweries, as well as custom solutions to any industry.  Community Business Award Kanbe's Markets, UMKC alumnus, $5,000Founded in 2016, Kanbe's Markets is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that developed an unmatched food distribution model in the Kansas City region. Blue KC Healthcare Innovation Awards WartPatch, UMKC, $5,000WartPatch is an immunotherapy-containing dissolvable microneedle patch for the treatment of viral warts. Flyover Counseling, E-Scholars, $1,000Flyover Counseling is a telehealth agency providing mental health counseling currently serving Kansas and Missouri. Norah Health, Mizzou, $1,000Norah Health developed a patent-pending, AI-powered software solution to improve the patient experience. Striae Away, Missouri Science & Technology, $1000Striae Away, utilizes bioactive glass and its scar-free healing properties in order to treat striae marks post-pregnancy. Striae gravidarum are stretch marks that occur during pregnancy. The GuideLine, Missouri Science & Technology, $1,000The GuideLine is a first-of-its-kind device to improve upon the still relatively primitive lumbar puncture (LP) technique.  The Regnier Venture Creation Challenge, is a University of Missouri-Kansas City business plan and pitch competition promoting entrepreneurship. The Regnier Institute received 50 applications from 7 universities from the Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska region, the UMKC Bloch School E Scholars program and the first-ever high school applicant. A pool of more than 40 reviewers helped narrow the applications down to 10 ventures who were selected to compete on May 1. New this year was a community business award in the general track competition to show support to small businesses in light of COVID-19 challenges. Monetary awards were made possible through donations from the Regnier Family Foundation and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City. Regnier Venture Creation Challenge benefactors include the Regnier Family Foundation; The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation; and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, sponsor of the Blue KC Healthcare Innovation Prize. This annual event is made possible through the support of Bob Regnier and the Regnier Family Foundation, in addition to the Kauffman Foundation and the Bloch Family Foundation for their support of UMKC entrepreneurship programs. May 04, 2020

  • Commencement Celebration and Ceremony Reimagined

    A look into visualizing a virtual event to honor this year’s graduates
    Graduation is a joyous affair. After years of work and investment, students and their families have the opportunity to celebrate the graduate’s new beginning. While this year’s virtual commencement event will be different, the achievement and excitement will be the same. “Once we realized the significance of the pandemic and the likelihood of its duration, our students’ graduation experience became a priority,” said Curt Crespino, vice chancellor of external relations and constituent engagement. “It was a difficult decision, but in the interest of everyone’s health, the chancellor and the provost made the final decision that virtual graduation this spring was the best approach. Also, graduates will have the opportunity to walk in December.” As leadership formed a committee to determine what virtual graduation would look like, they engaged student leadership in the planning process. “We wanted students’ perspective on what would make the ceremony meaningful,” Crespino says. By the Numbers 12           School ceremonies2,100+   May graduates2020      #Classof2020RooStrong Emma Weiler, who will be graduating with her Bachelor of Science in nursing, served on the planning committee for graduation. Weiler is the Student Government Association speaker of the senate, and was familiar and comfortable representing students on administrative committees. “My biggest concern with the virtual graduation process was allowing family and friends of graduates to be able to view and feel a part of the ceremony,” Weiler says. “I really felt for first-generation college graduates, although I am not one, for not being able to celebrate their accomplishment in person with their families.” "We made it a priority to find a balance between a traditional ceremony and a celebration.” - Jenny Lundgren The committee sent out a survey to students to identify what was important to them. They used that feedback to plan the event. “We realized that some people may only want an in-person ceremony, but there are others who need the opportunity for closure and to see their classmates, even virtually,” Crespino says. Once the committee had responses from students, they could envision an engaging plan. One thing seemed certain: Honoring the original date and times of the ceremonies was important, as well as recognizing the students’ affinity to the schools with which they are affiliated. “Our students tend to be strongly aligned with their academic units, so we knew there would need to be a strong unit flavor to the event,” said Jenny Lundgren, provost and executive vice chancellor.  "We made it a priority to find a balance between a traditional ceremony and a celebration.” Weiler felt the administration was responsive to student feedback. “I think it is very important to allow those who graduate in May the opportunity to walk in December if they want too, and they were very responsive to that,” she said. “The virtual commencement will still be a great way for me and my family to celebrate my accomplishments.”- Emma Weiler, senior In addition, the committee felt it was critical to touch each student personally. The team developed celebratory packets that will include honors cords and a traditional Roo lapel pin along with a few other surprises. “We understand this is a very significant moment for our graduates and their families,” Lundgren says. “We’ve also created a commencement book that will be a commemoration of the unique experience of the class of 2020. We wanted it to reflect that.” While Weiler is disappointed about waiting until December to walk, she is determined to make the best of the situation. “The virtual commencement will still be a great way for me and my family to celebrate my accomplishments,” she says. “I think it is great that the university is doing what they can to make this a special experience for students. You are never going to make everyone happy, but they are really trying hard to make this special for all the graduating seniors.”  Commencement schedule May 04, 2020

  • UMKC Pharmacy Student Participates in Local COVID-19 Response Team

    Melinda Johnson helped develop plasma treatment protocols for coronavirus patients
    Travis Kremmin (Pharm.D. ’11) is a clinical pharmacist at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, a hospital in Merriam, Kansas. In March, the pandemic was just ramping up in the Kansas City area and Kremmin was looking to establish a COVID-19 response team of pharmacists when he received a text message. A fourth-year student at the UMKC School of Pharmacy, Melinda Johnson, had made a lasting impression on Kremmin six months earlier while working together during a clinical rotation at the hospital. She had a general question for him about his specialty, infectious diseases. Kremmin had a question of his own – would Johnson consider coming back to join his team? “It’s a very fast-moving environment right now with tons of literature and data to sort through both good and bad,” Kremmin said. “I was familiar with Melinda and the work she’d done with me before. I requested that she join my team. I knew when this was going on that not only could we help her gain experience, but we could utilize her skills. It was an ideal matchup.” Johnson spent the month of April working as part of Kremmin’s team. She was largely responsible for helping develop the protocols for a convalescent plasma treatment program in partnership with the Mayo Clinic. Working in coordination with local blood banks and those in New York, plasma is received from New York patients who have recovered from the COVID-19 virus. Antibodies from those plasma sources are extracted and then used to treat the most severely ill COVID patients. “This was a totally new concept, especially for a student being on a rotation. I don’t think we really knew what to expect going into it, but it turned out to be an amazing experience.” – Melinda Johnson Johnson was tasked with reading and understanding the Mayo Clinic’s institutional review board (IRB) treatment protocols for the procedure, and then develop a treatment plan for the Shawnee Mission hospital. That included developing the necessary checklists to ensure the required documentations were in place. On April 10, AdventHealth Shawnee Mission was the first hospital in Kansas City to use the treatment. The procedure is now being used across the 49-hospital AdventHealth system under Johnson’s designed protocol. Facilities throughout Kansas City have shown interest in the hospital’s convalescent plasma program as well. “It was a team working on this,” Johnson said. “Travis initiated the process and we came up with the protocols. We were looking every day at patients to see if they would be candidates for the treatment at our facility. I’m grateful to have had this opportunity to work with AdventHealth and all the preceptors there.” COVID-19 patients, particularly those on ventilators, have unique drug requirements. One of Johnson’s roles was to review emerging trials and data to calculate how much drugs are needed for the average patient to ensure that the hospital would have an adequate supply on hand. “With all the information emerging for COVID, it’s almost a constant blast of information,” Johnson said. “I was sorting though what was most relevant, most important, and analyzing things to see what’s actually strong data versus studies that have come out that have been a little bit skewed.” She also explored treatment options in light of caution flags that have raised of potential future drug shortages resulting from a coronavirus pandemic’s disruption of supply chains. “I did work on potential treatment options, proposed treatment options” Johnson said. “I was looking at data for anything else beyond what are our first-line agents. Sometimes, we went down to our sixth and seventh options.” Throughout April, Johnson and Kremmin met online daily for as long as two to four hours at a time to review the day’s patient consultations list and discuss the information being released on COVID-19. Kremmin said Johnson was instrumental in analyzing and deciphering the waves of data in order to develop treatment and dosing algorithms for COVID patients locally and across the AdventHealth network. Twice a week, she and Kremmin met with physicians and pharmacists to discuss patient needs and the latest developments surrounding the virus. The process of working remotely worked out better than they imagined, Johnson said. “This was a totally new concept, especially for a student being on a rotation,” Johnson said. “I don’t think we really knew what to expect going into it, but it turned out to be an amazing experience.” May 04, 2020

  • My Life During COVID: Tammy Welchert

    Checking in to see how our UMKC community is managing the highs and lows of sheltering in place
    Tammy Welchert is sheltering in place with her husband, Dave, who is retired from the Kansas City Fire Department, her son Hunter, who is finishing his senior year of high school and Mr. Diggity, their 3-year-old toy poodle. “Right now, my number one responsibility is to prevent COVID-brain,” Welchert, associate teaching professor, director of student affairs and academic advising research areas at School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, says. “This can take many forms, but my top priority is just remembering what day it is.” Currently, she is teaching four classes and helping with advising. “And I’m helping to plan the most awesome virtual graduation ceremony ever!” While Welchert’s focused on helping students, she’s aware that balance is key. “I feel compelled to be at the ready all the time, to take care of students needs as they indicate them. I’m trying to remember that I am important and need to make time to take care of myself so I can take care of them!” Welchert is known for her exuberant spirit, so it’s no surprise that she’s finding joy, too.  “I love watching the pictures come in from our graduating students and assisting the Life Sciences 202 students as they prepare to submit applications to professional healthcare programs this summer! And being able to pet Mr. Diggity and have lunch every day with Dave on the deck!” What are you reading? I have three books on my nightstand, “Hag-Seed” by Margaret Atwood that we are using in the first-year seminar course this fall with UMKC Essentials, “Every Breath” by Nicholas Spark and “A Pilgrim's Guide to the Camino de Santiago.”   What are you watching?   We just finished “Ozark” and “Little Fires Everywhere.” Both were amazing! We are getting ready to start the newest season of “Billions” and of course don't miss an episode of “Survivor”!  What are you eating?   Yum, I just shared this recipe with a couple of our advisors. It’s the best ramen I have ever eaten. I found the recipe on Pinterest which is where I find almost everything! We’d love to know how you’re sheltering in place! Contact Patricia O’Dell if you want to share your story. May 04, 2020

  • Faculty, Alumni Appointed to KC Health Commission

    UMKC experts will help commission charged with improving community health
    Three members of the UMKC community with expertise in emergency medicine and public health have been appointed by Mayor Quinton Lucas to the Kansas City Health Commission. Erica Carney, M.D., was appointed co-chair of the commission, which provides oversight for the city’s Community Health Improvement Plan and fosters collaborative community efforts in the wider metropolitan area. Carney is a graduate of the UMKC School of Medicine’s innovative six-year B.A./M.D. program, an assistant professor in emergency medicine, an emergency care physician at Truman Medical Centers and the medical director of emergency medical services for the City of Kansas City. Lucas said Carney's work had been instrumental in the city's response to COVID-19 and collaboration with area health providers. Carney said her areas of interest included improving survival rates for out-of-hospital heart attack patients from lower socioeconomic ZIP codes and improving public safety, including response to disasters and special situations such as COVID-19. “The best defense to the unknown is a united front in the name of public protection, and I truly feel that our region is leading the way,” Carney said. The mayor also appointed to the commission Joey Lightner, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor and director of the Bachelor of Science in Public Health Program at the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies, and Austin Strassle, a housing stabilization specialist at Truman who earned his bachelor’s degree in urban studies/affairs from UMKC in 2016. Lightner has helped launch the School of Nursing’s undergraduate public health degree and worked to involve undergraduates in innovative research bringing fitness and nutrition programs to area schools. “It is an honor to be appointed to the Health Commission,” Lightner said. “I hope that over the next three years, we can work to reduce health inequality that is prominent in Kansas City.” In his research and outreach, Lightner has collaborated with community groups and institutions including Kansas City schools and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and Health Department. “I hope that over the next three years, we can work to reduce health inequality that is prominent in Kansas City.” -- Joseph Lightner Strassle, who also has a master’s in city/urban, community and regional planning from the University of Kansas, has worked for three and a half years at Truman as a mental health caseworker. He also was the leader of a successful community campaign to get the Kansas City Council to ban the use of conversion therapy on minors by licensed medical practitioners. The mayor, in making his appointments, said it was important to have “experts in outreach to at-risk communities” on the commission, along with “medical professionals with specialties in trauma, infectious disease treatment, pediatric and prenatal care; supporters for survivors of domestic violence; advocates for residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities; educators; long-time community health reformers; and more.” May 04, 2020

  • Alumnus Helps Transform Buildings into Treatment Facilities

    SCE graduate Mark Chrisman shares changes in his field since COVID-19
    Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. As healthcare practice director and a vice president for Henderson Engineers, Mark Chrisman (B.S.M.E. ’02, M.S. ’07, Ph.D. ’19) works in an already challenging field heavily regulated by codes and standards — he works with teams to design building systems (mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection and technology) for healthcare facilities. Now, with the coronavirus pandemic, his field has undergone a transition to converting existing buildings into healthcare facilities. How has your work shifted since the onset of COVID-19? COVID-19 has presented many challenges and opportunities for us. Primarily, we are trying to be as flexible as possible to assist our healthcare clients as their needs change, which is drastically different depending on what part of the country they are located. One day, we are planning for a COVID-19 observation unit and renovating standard patient rooms for negative isolation rooms designed for patients with COVID-19 to prevent spread, and the next day we are continuing work on projects that started design before the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, we have many talented engineers, so we’re able to pivot quickly. What kind of considerations are taken when converting large spaces or centers into places for patients (coronavirus or otherwise)? The first question on the building system side is what type of patient will be treated in the conversion space — COVID-19, non-COVID-19, and capable of self-preservation or not. Once we understand the patient type and modalities, we can assess the existing building systems and design whatever renovations or upgrades are needed to support the patient functions. Typically, in large event spaces, such as a convention center, there will be a need to upgrade the mechanical system to accommodate additional outside air or exhaust requirements for the applicable patient functions. While most event spaces have emergency power in some shape or form, upgrades likely will be required to support the additional mechanical system work as well as power for any additional life support or technology systems needed. Why did you choose this career/field? I got into engineering primarily because I loved building with Legos as a kid and I enjoyed the process of taking things apart and putting them back together. My father and both of my grandfathers were engineers. While they were all more focused on the industrial side of engineering, I went the mechanical route as it allowed several different paths forward, including consulting, manufacturing, and processing. After two internships, I ended up interviewing with a consulting firm (Henderson) and two different types of manufacturers. I chose Henderson because during the interview process the people were really great and I felt like it fit me culturally. Nearly 16 years later, I can say that it was the best decision I’ve ever made, both professionally and personally. It’s an amazing, inspiring place to work with an excellent culture filled with fun, talented colleagues. You’re a three-time UMKC graduate. What did you most appreciate about UMKC? I liked being close to home to help my parents and siblings during my undergraduate degree and my wife and children during my graduate degrees. I also really like that it is a beautiful and ever-growing campus tucked inside a great city with some tremendous resources nearby, including the Miller Nichols and Linda Hall libraries. The schedule was flexible enough for me to work through all three degrees without any major issues. Lastly, everyone I encountered during my time at UMKC was always willing and able to assist in whatever way they could to further my education. They also provided support in several ways to help me make industry connections. "Everyone I encountered during my time at UMKC was always willing and able to assist in whatever way they could to further my education." —Mark Chrisman Who has been a great influence in your life? My parents, first and foremost, but also my grandparents, and many friends of my parents. At UMKC, there were several professors who helped guide my path, including Dr. Bryan Becker (now retired) who has been a mentor for many years and served as my advisor on both of my graduate degrees. I have also had several great mentors at Henderson Engineers, including Darrell Stein and Shane Lutz. It really does take a village, and I have found that having a large network has been beneficial in picking up skills and knowledge. How are you now using your influence to impact others? I have always had a passion for learning and then passing that knowledge along, which occurs through mentoring at Henderson Engineers and Henderson Building Solutions. My current role has allowed me to expand my reach by sharing technical knowledge and thought leadership so we can help others working in the engineering and healthcare industries. Apr 29, 2020

  • Alumni Expertise on COVID-19

    UMKC grads use experience to combat the coronavirus
    UMKC Roos are lending their expertise across the country to help ease the pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic. These are just a few of the graduates making a difference. Janelle Sabo (PharmD ’00), a clinical development executive at Eli Lilly and Company, led the development and implementation of a registration, data collection and results reporting system to enable Lilly’s COVID-19 testing efforts, which includes a drive-through testing facility and diagnostic lab. Lilly has collected over 50,000 patient samples from across Indiana focusing on front line healthcare workers, first responders, essential workers and vulnerable patients. Additionally, Sabo has led cross functional teams and actively participated in multiple industry forums addressing the challenges in global clinical research during the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn more about Lilly’s efforts to fight COVID-19, visit Lilly.com. Alexander Garza (B.S. ’90), oversees hospitals in four states as chief medical officer of SSM Health in St. Louis. He is also incident commander of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force and appeared on MSNBC in March to discuss the uptick in COVID-19 cases in the Midwest. Gina Mullen (M.D. ’11), emergency room doctor, physician and medical director at VA North Texas Healthcare System and Baylor Medical Center at Uptown appeared on Anderson Cooper 360 with her husband, Jim Mullen. Gina Mullen was treating coronavirus patients in Dallas, Texas, when Jim — a lawyer with a background in nursing — decided to go help COVID-19 patients in New York. Mary Anne Jackson (M.D. ’78), dean of the UMKC School of Medicine and infectious disease expert, is one of six physicians statewide advising Missouri Gov. Mike Parson. Her expertise has been cited in numerous programs and publications including Doctor Radio on SIriusXM, KCUR and The Kansas City Star.  She also helped gather personal protective equipment across the UMKC Health Sciences District to be donated to area hospitals. Apr 29, 2020

  • We Are #RooReady for Fall Semester Classes

    UMKC courses will start on schedule whether they’re in person, online or a mix
    UMKC faculty and staff are preparing for any and all eventualities to start fall semester classes on schedule, under any conditions ranging from full remote to wide-open campus, and anything in between. Make no mistake: Your university is #RooReady ready to launch an exciting and meaningful fall semester in August, no matter what conditions the world may throw at us. “We anticipate being back on campus for face-to-face courses and the full UMKC campus experience in the fall,” said Jenny Lundgren, provost and executive vice chancellor. “We are mindful, however, that public health officials are recommending that we be ready for multiple scenarios. Because the health and safety of our campus community is our top priority, these may range from a stay-at-home order requiring all-online instruction, to a return to a fully wide-open campus or something in-between.” The university will follow the recommendations of health officials and obey state and local laws. “We may need to move in and out of these strategies through the academic year based on regional disease patterns,” Lundgren said. Given these varied possibilities, the university’s approach has been to increase online offerings to maximize flexibility in course schedules. The faculty have increased the number of courses that will be taught with a mixture of face-to-face and online elements. “We anticipate being back on campus for face-to-face courses and the full UMKC campus experience in the fall.” “We love interacting with students in person and miss the physical presence of our campus community, but everyone at UMKC will follow the guidance of public health and government officials and adapt as needed throughout the semester,” Lundgren said. “Faculty are working diligently this spring and summer to design and re-design their courses with best practices for both face-to-face and online delivery.” Lundgren said university officials know that students are facing special challenges because of the pandemic. “We recognize that many students struggle to have the resources they need even in the best of circumstances,” she said. “Thanks to the generosity of many donors, we have set up an emergency fund to help students meet basic needs that affect their ability to engage and learn. We also have an online A-Z resource guide to assist them now and in future semesters.”   Apr 28, 2020

  • UMKC Fills Two Key Leadership Positions

    Welcome Provost Lundgren and School of Medicine Dean Jackson
    University of Missouri-Kansas City Chancellor Mauli Agrawal announced appointments to two key leadership positions at the university. Jenny Lundgren, Ph.D., will serve as provost and executive vice chancellor, the chief academic officer of the university. Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., will serve as dean of the UMKC School of Medicine, known around the world for its innovative six-year B.A./M.D. program. Both have been serving in those roles on an interim basis; “interim” will be dropped from their titles May 1. Typically, even when they have strong internal candidates, major research universities conduct a national search for senior leadership positions. The unprecedented impact of COVID-19 demanded a change in approach. “In this challenging time, I must balance that tradition against the immediate need for stable, innovative leadership,” Agrawal said in a letter to campus April 28. “Drs. Lundgren and Jackson have led with intellect and heart during the pandemic, and I have full confidence that they will continue to capably help us navigate through the uncharted territory ahead.” During her first three months in the provost role, Lundgren has demonstrated a deep capacity for working through complex issues with partners across UMKC and the University of Missouri System. She also will continue to serve as dean of the School of Graduate Studies until further notice. Prior to these roles, Lundgren was a well-published researcher who served as a department chair of Psychology and as an associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences. She joined UMKC in 2006.  “I appreciate greatly the trust and confidence Chancellor Agrawal has placed in me, and I will do my best to live up to it,” Lundgren said. “I am equally grateful for the guidance, support and wisdom my faculty colleagues have shared with me over the past several months, and hope to continue to be able to rely on such a valuable and rewarding collaboration.”   Jackson has been leading the School of Medicine for almost two years. She is an alumna of the UMKC School of Medicine and a pediatric infectious diseases expert, affiliated with Children’s Mercy and internationally known for her research. During the current COVID-19 crisis, she is one of the six physicians statewide who is advising Missouri Governor Mike Parson. She is a frequently sourced expert for national publications. She joined UMKC in 1984. “I am honored to serve as the dean for this medical school, which has been ahead of the curve in educating and mentoring physicians and health professionals for nearly half a century,” Jackson said. “I look forward to helping grow its research enterprise to improve the health of our community and beyond.” Agrawal said he is postponing indefinitely plans to create a senior leadership position to oversee the deans of Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing and Health Sciences, and Dentistry on the Health Sciences Campus at Hospital Hill. He will review that idea once the university has moved past the challenges of the pandemic. “I extend my heartfelt thanks to these two leaders for their contributions to UMKC as we continue to pursue our mission of excellence in learning, service and discovery,” Agrawal said. Apr 28, 2020

  • DJ’s Extensive Collection Enhances Marr Sound Archives

    The late Gordon Spencer was a disc jockey and enthusiastic collector who interviewed jazz greats and other musicians and composers.
    Gordon Spencer interviewed many of the remarkable jazz artists of the 20th century including Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. He began his career in radio in 1951 at WSRN, the student radio station at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania when he was a junior. His widow, Hannelore Rogers, has donated his extensive collection of albums, CDs and his reel-to-reel interview tapes to the Marr Sound Archives so enthusiasts and scholars can benefit from his remarkable career. “Gordon loved jazz beyond anything else,” Rogers says. “He had two passions – radio and stage. As a little boy, his aunt gave him a pretend radio play set with scripts, a wooden microphone and sound effects equipment.” This childhood gift led to a lifelong career. Spencer worked at radio stations along the East Coast starting when he was in college. Rogers met Spencer when they were both living in New York in the early 1980s. “I listened to WNCN in the morning. There was this DJ, Gordon Spencer, and he was very funny and could pronounce all of the composers’ names. I wrote him a letter and said, ‘If you’re not married or the father of 10 children, call me.’” Spencer did call, and took her to lunch at an Indian restaurant for their blind date. It lasted four-and-a-half hours. He told her later, “classical music DJs don’t get a lot of fan mail.” “When he was at WNCN in New York, he started buying records to play on the air,” she remembers. “Once he had his own program, he would go to the public library to check out albums to play on his show. His passion was incredible. There was no limit to what he was willing to do.” “Gordon loved jazz beyond anything else.” - Hannelore Rogers Spencer’s collection includes 2,550 albums, 1,215 CDs and 165 reel-to-reel and cassette tapes of his interviews with musicians. While Rogers understood the significance of his work, it took her a while to find a home for the collection. “After he died, I had to deal with his belongings. Clothes were easy to donate. But his office and his albums and tapes were in the basement. He spent a lot of time there and it was too painful for a long time for me to walk in.” Eventually, she became concerned that if something happened to her, the collection might disappear. “I was worried it would end up in a landfill or garage sale,” Rogers says. “I started asking around and someone referred me to Chuck Haddix at UMKC. When I spoke to him the first thing he told me was, ‘Whatever you do, don’t break up the collection.’” Haddix, curator of the Marr Sound Archives, notes that the entire collection is impressive, but believes the interviews are the most exciting. “Spencer interviewed an unbelievable amount of jazz greats as well as contemporary classical composers,” Haddix said. “A lot of the classical composers were very Avant-garde. Some were from Europe. Usually someone will have a very narrow focus, but Spencer’s interest was broad. He was also a radio producer, so the quality of his interviews is outstanding. They’re really great quality.” Beyond technical quality, Spencer was a great interviewer. “He really let people tell their stories,” Haddix says. Haddix, who is also a radio producer and accomplished interviewer, thinks his understanding of the material and Spencer’s process may have helped Rogers. “Donors have an emotional connection,” Haddix said. “Just as with Hannelore, it’s usually their partner’s life’s work and they want to do the right thing and memorialize their loved one. Now the collection will live forever.” Haddix appreciates Spencer’s talent, taste and painstaking care of his collection. He says that it’s not unusual to develop a personal connection to the collector. “Every collection tells a story. They’re all different. He was meticulous. Everything was very carefully selected. This collection represents his life’s work. As the recipient of the collection, you get to know them after the fact. Often I think, ‘I’d love to have met him.’” Haddix and his team have begun preserving the collection. They are currently digitizing the open reels and creating a collection page with a search option. Once everything is catalogued and digitized, the collection will be searchable on the internet. “Every collection tells a story. They’re all different. I’d love to have met him.” - Chuck Haddix Haddix’s connection to the collection has made the donation process easier for Rogers. “I have found UMKC to be so sensitive about what this meant to me,” Rogers says. “Gordon’s collection was something I had to let go. But when Chuck came and loaded the truck with all the materials, I knew UMKC would take excellent care of it.”   Apr 28, 2020

  • Hunger, Humility and Teamwork Cook Up Historic Season

    Coach Jacie Hoyt, Ericka Mattingly recap the team’s journey to winning the WAC
    Although it’s been nearly seven weeks since the KC Roos women’s basketball team made UMKC history by winning the WAC championship, the celebration and excitement carry on as if it had just happened yesterday. We caught up with head coach Jacie Hoyt and leading point guard, senior Ericka Mattingly to reflect upon the team’s incredible journey leading up to this major achievement and their hopes for the future. Hoyt said that at the start of the season, the team knew it wanted to win the conference championship ‑ and the players believed they were capable of doing so, but they also knew they had to take it one day, one game at a time. Last season, the team lost in the semi-finals to New Mexico State, who went on to win the WAC and a spot in the NCAA tournament. With a sour taste in their mouths and unfinished business to handle, the KC Roos used that as motivation all season long, ending the year with a 21-10 record. “Our team has a motto that never changes – be uncommon. We talk daily about being uncommon in everything we do from basketball to school to being representatives in our community and everything else in our lives. We feel that if we make uncommon choices and decisions each day, they’ll add up to something that separates us from others,” Hoyt said. “We were always pushing each other to be the best we could be." - Mattingly It took being uncommon to secure the program's first-ever regular-season conference championship and NCAA Women’s Division I Basketball Tournament berth. Though the NCAA tournament was cancelled due to COVID-19, the team still has plenty to celebrate as the recognitions keep coming in: WAC Coach of the Year – Jacie Hoyt WAC Player of the Year – Ericka Mattingly Spire Sportswoman of the Year – Ericka Mattingly Back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1991 - 1992 “I was ecstatic to learn about being named Sportswoman of the Year by the Kansas City Sports Commission,” Mattingly said. “When Coach Jacie called me to let me know I had been chosen and to tell me who I was going to be in company with, it was an amazing feeling! There are going to be KC Super Bowl champs there. So, I am super excited and grateful receive that award.” Though much of the season’s success is attributed to Mattingly’s contributions, becoming just the second Roo player to surpass 1,000 points in two years, she and Hoyt say it’s all about teamwork. “I’ve learned many lessons in my coaching career, one being that it’s incredibly hard to win, and you have to have the right people to get it done,” Hoyt said. “Receiving the Coach of the Year recognition is a true reflection of my staff and my team.” That same attitude is reflected throughout the entire squad. Hoyt said winning a championship is all about surrounding yourself with the right people. She said the women’s coaching staff works tirelessly at their craft and has the integrity and motives to invest in each player the right way; and they sought to recruit players who are high-achieving, competitive and who value hard work. These things are the ingredients that helped cook up a history-making season in addition to collaborative team effort. "I believe that we have the respect of the Summit League after what we did this year, and we want to go into the new league and show them what we are all about.” - Hoyt “I love those girls and would do anything and everything for them,” said Mattingly, adding that she also has a great relationship with Hoyt, who they affectionately call Coach Jacie. “I know that, from my two years, I have developed friendships that will last for years to come. “The biggest lesson that I will take away from Coach is to always push yourself to be the best you can be. Speak up and be loud and proud in yourself and your goals. Be passionate and always do it with God in your corner!” Having missed the opportunity to keep going and compete in the NCAA tournament, Hoyt said the disappointment of not being to play due to the coronavirus will be motivation for next year. The third-year head coach, who brought instant success to the KC Roos when she took over in 2017, said she’s not a big goal person, but she believes in doing your absolute best every day and seeing what happens over time. “Nobody knows when this COVID stuff will clear up, and we certainly don’t know what it looks like when it does,” Hoyt said. “I just want to say that our team came out victors, not victims of the circumstances. I believe that we have the respect of the Summit League after what we did this year, and we want to go into the new league and show them what we are all about.” As Mattingly prepares for virtual commencement and closes out her collegiate journey with a degree in criminal justice and criminology, she is excited to pursue a career in coaching. “I have always been passionate about helping others, and especially helping young women be able to have successful careers, get better on the court and get better off the court as well,” Mattingly said. “Having an influence in changing their lives like my coaches have done for me.” As for her teammates and the newcomers joining the team next year, she advises them to always stay hungry. “Push yourself to be the best you can and make sure that you are embracing the present,” Mattingly said. “I know things get hard, and being a student-athlete is not easy, but appreciate it while you can. There is so much to be grateful for!” Recap the season Apr 28, 2020

  • Bloch Student and Business Owner Supports COVID-19 Relief

    Aubrey Larkin has turned her entrepreneurial efforts to help the UMKC student assistance fund through design and sale of a new T-shirt
    Like many UMKC students, Aubrey Larkin is living at home, going to Zoom classes online and hoping and waiting for the COVID-19 crisis to subside. But Larkin, who says she comes from a long line of entrepreneurs, mobilized her online shop, Aubrey’s Attic Company, to create a product that will help students in need. “I’ve been in business almost my whole life,” Larkin says. “Since I was young, I’ve been selling things - lemonade, cards, art.” Larkin developed a love for fashion in middle school, and in her senior year of high school, she started a blog featuring products, trends and looks she liked. Her business developed from there. “My senior year in high school, I decided to turn the blog into a business. I researched wholesalers and turned the site into a store.” When the coronavirus began to spread, she wanted to be a part of the community that was helping. “My mom and so many of our friends were making masks,” she said. “I wanted to contribute. I started looking for a way I could help UMKC students. I knew a lot of people who were struggling financially.” "I wanted to contribute. I started looking for a way I could help UMKC students."- Aubrey Larkin Her mother discovered the UMKC Student Emergency Relief Fund, and after doing some research, Larkin knew that was the best place to direct her support. “I have a great platform on Instagram, and I knew I could create awareness for both sides – people who needed the help and people who could donate.” Larkin designed a black T-shirt with the phrase, “Staying in is cool.” in bold white text. The shirts retail for $34 and all the profit - $14 per shirt – will go directly to the student relief fund. “I didn’t want to make money off this myself,” she says. “I just want to reach as many people who can buy them – and help students – as I can.” “I am continually amazed by the creativeness and thoughtfulness of our students, and Aubrey represents that ingenuity,” said Lisa Baronio, president of the UMKC Foundation. “Together, UMKC will survive COVID-19. We are grateful for all of our students. I am looking forward to proudly wearing my own awareness T-shirt that will benefit our students.” Apr 28, 2020

  • Regarding Henry

    We remember Henry W. Bloch, whose all-in approach, gratitude for community and love of people set the foundation and future for the Bloch School of...
    Henry W. Bloch knew how to leave an impression. Brian Klaas, Ph.D., Bloch School dean, remembers vividly how gracious and kind Mr. Bloch was, even when he was emphatically making a point. “Henry and I were having a wonderful conversation about H&R Block, Kansas City and the Bloch School,” Klaas recalled. “Mr. Bloch paused, leaned in and said, ‘We need to help the Bloch School achieve excellence, and we need to do it quickly. We need to do it for Kansas City because this city needs a great business school. Are you going to be a part of this?’” The quest for excellence long guided Henry. He was an investor and he expected a return of excellence. The Bloch School was his investment, forged as a freshman at UMKC, then called the University of Kansas City. Through good times and bad, achievements and struggles, Henry was all-in with Kansas City’s business school. Up to the end of his life, Henry was working on making the Bloch School excellent. That was his mission. That is his legacy. “When I look around Kansas City and look at all the places where Henry has made his mark, I think one of the most incredible places is the Bloch School,” said Jeff Jones, president and CEO of H&R Block. “When I think about legacy and future, the idea that his name will continue to spawn the next generation of entrepreneurs that will go on to have success in Kansas City and beyond is one of the most incredible representations of what legacy can be about.”   How this legacy began and how this legacy lives on in others is a testament to his values that will endure long into the future. A kid from down the block When Henry died on April 23, 2019, at the age of 96, he left behind a well-documented life. He was many things: entrepreneur, executive, philanthropist, husband, father, avid fan of the Royals and Chiefs. He also was a study of contrasts. He was someone who repeatedly said he wasn’t very intelligent but demonstrated he was extraordinarily intelligent, shrewd and insightful. He was a humble young man who went on to become a war hero. He was someone who claimed his success was simply luck but also worked very hard, developed sound business strategies and executed them in a masterful way. And he was someone educated at the top universities in the country who purposely invested his time and resources over the course of decades to the business school of the local university he only attended for one year.  “He was a pretty interesting individual. All these things were opposites but he bridged them together,” said UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal, Ph.D. “That was perhaps the source of what distinguished and differentiated him as a person and made him stand out.” Henry grew up at 58th and Wornall and went to Southwest High School. When he came to what was then the University of Kansas City, both Bloch and the university were young. Henry graduated early from high school and was unsure of his direction and his abilities. “This was his first real effort at becoming a grownup,” said John Herron, Ph.D., interim dean of the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences. At UMKC, Henry discovered a passion for mathematics and the first signs of it being a possible career. While his academic skills grew at the University of Michigan and his short time at Harvard Business School, it started here. UMKC, starting a few years before Henry’s arrival in 1933, was part of Kansas City transitioning from its cowtown image into what would become a booming metropolitan area. While the university offered business classes, it would be quite some time before a bona fide business school would spring up. Herron recalled asking Henry about moving away from Kansas City or giving to other places outside the region. “Henry was incredulous at the question. ‘Why would I have done that? Kansas City gave me everything,’” Herron said. Herron thinks that comes from Henry’s perception that he and H&R Block really couldn’t have made it anywhere else. Unique conditions allowed the business to grow: postWorld War II economic booms, the Internal Revenue Service halting its free tax preparation service and a growing metropolitan area in Kansas City. But Henry was cognizant of the cultural sensitivities of Kansas City. After all, Henry and Richard Bloch were two Jewish brothers who walked down Troost Avenue and Main Street, talking with African-American businesses about helping with their bookkeeping needs. Even though Henry spent one year at what was then the University of Kansas City, he maintained a decades-long relationship with UMKC and what became the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. Photo courtesy of H&R Block. Henry’s service during World War II amplified that contrast of modesty and doubt and achieving success through hard work. Herron and Mary Ann Wynkoop, a retired UMKC professor and former director of the American Studies Program, co-wrote “Navigating a Life: Henry in World War II,” which chronicles Henry’s days in the U.S. Army Air Corps. For all the adventures and accomplishments, this stood out to the two authors: Henry was someone who noted the taxing nature of navigator training and wondered if he could complete it, but ended up completing 32 missions without a single injury to himself or his crew. He was a war hero but he would never admit it. Henry, in conversations with Herron for the book, would say his successes, like so many things in his life, were the product of luck. But other values were taking root, like hard work, discipline and, because of the war, losing his fear of failure. And perhaps most important, being faithful to where you came from. Herron said UKC was a critical time in Henry’s life, one that he looked back on with fondness. “He was trying to figure out what are the proper boundaries of adulthood, and it all came together for him here,” Herron said. “He felt a great connection to the place.” And that connection would be the foundation to build upon the small business school at UMKC.  Going all in While Henry and Richard were building H&R Block, the university was struggling to get its business school going. According to Chris Wolff, who researches UMKC history, the school of business started on a shoestring budget and a desire for business classes. The school didn’t have its own facility until the university bought the Shields Mansion. But the school quickly grew and was soon competing with its neighbor, Rockhurst University, for top business students.  In 1983, Dean Eleanor Schwartz, who later became UMKC chancellor, convened an advisory committee of local CEOs to help the school meet the needs of area employers and achieve accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the premer accreditation body for business schools.  The mansion was in dire need of renovations. With project plans totaling $7.5 million, the University of Missouri System allocated $6 million toward the renovation. The rest was to be left to private donations. By this point, the Bloch family had already funded the Leon Bloch Law Library for the School of Law in 1978. Seeing a way to help, Henry gave $1 million toward the school. It led to an intriguing offer. “(Former UMKC Chancellor) George Russell and (former UMKC Trustee) Ed Smith cooked up the idea of naming the business school after me,” Henry said in spring 2002. “The first I knew about it was at a board meeting. I was very flattered.”  “Henry saw his involvement with UMKC as a way to combine his love for Kansas City and his passion for business,” said David Miles, president of the Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation. "With his namesake on the building, Henry saw an opportunity. He recognized a need within the region for a high quality and respected school of management that would create the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders, which he saw as an exciting and worthwhile goal,” Miles said. Those who knew Henry know that once he was committed, he was committed for life and in all things. “It struck me that with Henry, there wasn’t a half in. You were all-in or you weren’t,” Klaas said. “Once he made that commitment, he was not going to waver. He was going to be focused on the mission.” Thanks to Henry’s investment, the Bloch Executive Hall of Entrepreneurship and Innovation opened in 2013. “A tapestry that works” When Henry was a student, the term “entrepreneurship education” did not exist. There was no formal educational component to learn the ins and outs of entrepreneurship. The only instructors were the hard knocks of life and business. When the opportunity came to shape the future of the Bloch School, Henry wanted to make sure teaching the principles of entrepreneurship was top of mind. Anne St. Peter, who founded Global Prairie, a global marketing consultancy, said that Henry was fond of telling entrepreneurs not to fear making mistakes, as he and his brother made many of them. “The goal, Henry said, was to learn from these mistakes and to develop resilience along the way,” she said. “Henry told me his support of the Bloch School was to help entrepreneurs learn from the mistakes he and other business leaders made and, hopefully, allow Bloch students to learn valuable business and life lessons quickly.” Henry’s lessons on entrepreneurship inspired many like St. Peter. Both she and Henry were past chairs of the board of the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. At a luncheon, Henry told St. Peter to relish the opportunity to serve the business community of Kansas City. “At the time, I was the youngest leader to serve as Chamber chair, and Henry knew I had two small children,” St. Peter said. “Henry told me to share what I was learning at work and at the Chamber with our children, as he had done with his children while they were growing up. Henry encouraged me to bring our children along for the ride and make them feel a part of my entrepreneurial journey.” St. Peter admired Henry and his leadership greatly. He served as inspiration for her to certify Global Prairie as a Benefit Corporation, or B Corp. For Henry, community engagement and employee happiness mattered as much as shareholder value. Another component of entrepreneur education was having a strong physical presence in the community in which you serve. For the Bloch School, that meant state-of-the-art academic and research facilities. In 2011, the school was ready for a substantial upgrade. Just as in 1983, Henry chose to invest, putting $32 million toward a new building. “I choose to make this significant gift because I felt now was the right time,” he said at a celebratory event on Sept. 15, 2011. “The new mission and vision of the school both respect and directly tie into the legacy of Kansas City and align with what this community wants and needs from its business school.”  Leo Morton, who was UMKC chancellor at the time, said Henry was the right person to do this because he understood that to build a reputation of excellence, you have to have the infrastructure to back it up.  “One advantage UMKC has is its location. If you’re a student who has lots of options and are world class, you can go any place you want to go,” Morton said. “To recruit and retain these students, you need to have faculty that they’re attracted to, and you have to have facilities that match all of that. It’s a consistent picture, a tapestry that works.”  A first-generation investor Within the timeline of UMKC benefactors, Henry falls in line with the likes of Stanley Durwood, Miller Nichols and Helen Spencer, who built upon the foundation of UMKC. Wolff said Henry’s contribution helped steer UMKC toward the modern era of education. “Mr. Bloch grew up in an age where it was possible to invent an industry from scratch. He saw that the future of business lay in innovations such as the ones that were created at H&R Block,” Wolff said. “Now that we live in the digital age where once again businesses and entire industries can be invented out of whole cloth, the Bloch School is on firm footing to train the next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs in this new world.” Henry was a philanthropist who gave generously. And yet, he was an investor at heart. Morton, who knew Henry for many years before he became UMKC chancellor in 2007, said Henry invested with a sense of purpose, and he wanted a return. When it came to UMKC, he was a first-generation investor. When investors like Henry invest, “they don’t just put it in and leave you, they put in and hold you accountable,” Morton said. “The investor says, ‘I had an objective when I invested in you and that objective is important to me and I put in enough to show that I’m serious about that investment. And I’m going to hold you accountable.’” That objective, for the Bloch School, was for it to be excellent. And that’s something Klaas said continues today through the Bloch Family Foundation. “What the Bloch Family Foundation wants is what Henry wanted: It’s for the Bloch School to help this region thrive. They want us to support the region by pursuing excellence in everything we do and by offering outstanding experiences for students from all backgrounds and at all stages of their careers,” he said. The values Marion and Henry Bloch set with their life and example continue on in the lives of others who come through the Bloch School and UMKC. Photo by Brandon Parigo. “Never despise small beginnings” Henry Wash never had any desire to go into business. One of the first members of the Henry W. Bloch Scholars program in 2001, he didn’t know much about the scholarship or the man for whom it was named. He went to the scholarship reception fully intending to drop out of the program. Then he met Henry Bloch. “I arrived 30 minutes early and my plan was to get out of it. Mr. Bloch was there when I walked in, just standing,” Wash recalled. Henry Bloch was early as well. After pleasantries and realizing they had the same first name and middle initial, Wash shared his hesitations. “I wanted to let Henry know that I’m wanting to get out of this,” Wash continued. “I just wanted to help people. So, I was telling this long story. He was looking at me and when I was done, he said ‘I want to help you. I want to mentor you and help you along.’” “I was thinking to myself, nah, he wouldn’t want to do that, not for a guy like me,” Wash continued. “And he said, ‘Oh, I really do.’” That started a long friendship and mentorship that lasted many years. The Henrys spent many a lunch talking about business and life. Henry Bloch visited the Wash family often and sat on the front row during Wash’s wedding. “I was taught to never despise small beginnings,” Wash said. Henry knew that investment was more than just funding. It’s about people: where they came from, what they’re about. “Every time there were students, he wanted to mingle and speak,” Agrawal said. “He was not supporting the Bloch School for the publicity. It’s because he really cared about the students, and that stood out clearly.”  The Henry W. Bloch Scholars program at UMKC, of which Wash did stay in and graduated from in 2003, is now a 20-year commitment to provide those highly qualified students a path toward a degree. It helped students like Marla Howard, who completed her degree in Fall 2005. She said in 2006 that, “my family hasn’t had a lot of opportunities and isn’t as financially stable as others. So, I was determined to take advantage of any opportunities that crossed my path.”  Wash and Howard are just two of the many students who have been impacted by Henry and the Bloch family’s investments. With the Henry W. Bloch Scholars and the Marion H. Bloch Scholars programs, both high potential and excelling students living in underserved communities attend UMKC on scholarship. Many students are currently being supported by the Bloch Launchpad program, which combines academic rigor with professional development training. It’s an investment for success with the goal of – taken from Tom Bloch’s biography of his father – many happy returns. We are Bloch To be sure, there is only one Henry Bloch. He is irreplaceable. But his values and the relationships he’s built with UMKC and the Bloch School are the road map for others to make an impact as he did. “Henry was an amazing example for how supporting a school can make an important difference in the lives of so many,” Klaas said. “We are fortunate to have a number of supporters who were inspired by Henry’s work with our school. And we look forward to building upon Henry’s legacy by engaging with other alumni and supporters who are inspired by our mission.” The impact is fundamentally relational: Bloch alumni who mentor students, build a company or entrepreneurial venture and fulfill their own debt to Kansas City and beyond. They carry on Henry’s legacy. Although Henry came from another generation, what is timeless and relevant are his values: working hard, persevering, learning from customers, serving, giving back generously and never forgetting where you came from. Agrawal sees Henry’s life and example as imperative to building on that legacy of excellence. “We are good, but we need to be excellent,” Agrawal said. “So that a student in 2042, when they come to the school, somebody will be asking them where they want to apply and they’ll say, ‘I want to apply to the one of the best. I’m applying to Bloch.’”  This story originally appeared in the 2020 issue of Bloch, the magazine for the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. Apr 22, 2020

  • From the Artist’s Chair to the Orthodontist’s Office

    Dentistry graduate Grant Snider discovers his gift for smiles
    When most people are just waking up for work, Grant Snider (D.D.S. ’11) is sitting down at his drawing table to make himself laugh with one of his signature comic strips. The rest of his typical work day is spent straightening smiles at his orthodontics practice in Wichita, Kansas. Grant Snider, D.D.S. '11Credit: Mark Woolcott About 10 years ago, just as Snider was accepted to the UMKC School of Dentistry, he also embarked on another career, illustrating comics. His multi-panel comics have appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the Kansas City Star, the Best American Comics 2013 and University News, the student newspaper at UMKC. A collection of his comics, The Shape of Ideas, published in 2017, was translated to French. Every morning at 5:30 or 6 a.m., Snider works on one of his comics for either his blog or social media. “I always knew I was into science and math,” Snider says, “but I also knew I had a creative side that I wanted to nurture as well.” From dental school doodles to big-time artist  When Snider was first searching for a creative outlet, he considered watercolor painting or another form of traditional art. Eventually, though, he realized that what he most enjoyed was reading comic strips like Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side. The real revelation happened when he came across New Yorker cartoons, with their simplicity of design and quirky observations of life. Initially, he was turned off by them because they were such a departure from the newspaper comics he had grown up with. But as he spent more time with them, it suddenly clicked — this was what he wanted to do creatively.  “I always knew I was into science and math, but I also knew I had a creative side that I wanted to nurture as well.”—Grant Snider, artist and orthodontist Snider started to use cartooning as a way to relax after dental school classes. He began carrying a sketchbook everywhere he went, doodling anything that inspired him. Over a week or two, those small doodles would become a finished comic, delivering smiles to his close friends and family. Fast forward several years and his charming, minimalist cartoons are being featured in the publication he once admired, the New Yorker, making people smile around the world. As Snider puts it, he started drawing before he knew what he was doing, and soon, it was too late to stop — not that he’d want to. A new source of inspiration When he and his wife had their first child in 2012, Snider, like many first-time parents, thought “Hey, I should write a children’s book.” The process, though, proved more arduous than he initially anticipated. With a number of ideas going nowhere, he was beginning to doubt the plan. Then he found out he was chosen for an artistic residency in the Catskill Mountains of New York. He thought this would be the perfect opportunity to work on his children’s book idea. So in April 2018, Snider spent a week in a cabin with three feet of snow on the ground, a trip he calls “the most creatively frustrated period of my life.” Snider uses his comic to lift the spirits of people during the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. Two weeks later, he got an email from a book editor. She had seen a particular cartoon on his blog and wanted to use it as the starting point for a children’s goodnight book. Snider thought the idea was brilliant and, admittedly, was mad he hadn’t thought of it first. He spent a frantic weekend getting a rough draft back to the editor and, within a week or two, the book was picked up by a publisher. “After all the frustration of two years, plus being snowed in for a week in the mountains working on an idea that wasn’t going anywhere, an email arrives and two days later I’m on the way to getting published,” Snider says. That book, What Color is Night?, hit shelves in November 2019. Double the doodling power  According to Snider, navigating the worlds of science and creativity is freeing for him. He views his orthodontic work as a break from any writer’s block he may be experiencing. At his dental chair, he can focus solely on the patient in front of him and not worry whether a comic he’s working on is funny or not. The cartooning bug runs deep in Snider’s DNA, as his twin brother, Gavin, is also an illustrator. Gavin, like Grant, also pursues dual careers, as an architect and an illustrator. They talk constantly about their work. Snider says critiques are easier to take coming from his brother than, say, from a book editor. In May 2020, two more of Snider’s books will be released, a children’s book — What Sound is Morning? — and another collection of his comics — I Will Judge You By Your Bookshelf. As for what’s next, Snider says he plans to divide his time between straightening teeth and making himself laugh creating his own illustrations. Apr 22, 2020

  • 4 Ways to Thrive During COVID-19

    How I'm tackling this virtual semester
    COVID-19 has stolen Spring 2020 from students everywhere. If you’re a senior like me, it’s an extra punch in the gut. However, despite the struggles the coronavirus has brought from switching to online classes to losing out on on-campus experiences, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  True resilience will be built within us during this time. We will forever have an example of “how we overcame a difficult time” in an interview. We will appreciate our degree in a way many don’t. We can and will get through this trying season. The Marines have a slogan, “Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome” which is a mindset that allows them to deal with any physical, mental or spiritual hardship. Now is our time to improve, adapt and overcome. I believe we have the opportunity to not only survive this trying season but thrive in it! While this is written for seniors, these tips can be applied for any virtual education. Here are my tips on how to make the most of the rest of this semester. 1. Mourn This might sound like an odd step, and if you’re anything like me you tend to deal with your issues by thinking “well—others have it way worse than me right now.” While this may be true, you are going through a loss right now. Loss of in-class debates, loss of seeing your friends, loss of engaging in the club you joined, even loss of commencement ceremonies for us seniors. No matter how big or small losses, it still leaves a feeling of sadness and a lack of satisfaction. It’s still something that you were looking forward to, but now no longer have. It’s appropriate and healthy to give yourself a moment to be sad. It’s appropriate and healthy to give yourself a moment to reflect on how this loss is making you feel. Mourn the commencement ceremony you won’t attend. Mourn the friends you won’t see. Mourn the fact that this time of your life did not meet your expectations. This doesn’t make you selfish, it makes you healthy. 2. Create Your Workspace I understand in this station the playing field for a comfy, focused, workspace is not levelled. However, we all have the ability to make any space our own. Whether it’s a traditional desk decked out with pictures that make you happy, or the dining room table with a candle burning next to you, it’s important to have a designated space you can call your own to be productive during this unsettling time. I am in a tiny two-bedroom apartment in NY with my family. I have designated a small desk in my bedroom as my “work desk” and my back porch mixed with a lap desk and my “school desk.” My work desk has an extra monitor, a cup full of pens, and an essential oils diffuser that I put on when I’m feeling stressed. My back porch is designated for school because I need good lighting throughout my day to keep my mood up. If you can help it, try to not have your desk in the same room as your bed, or if you are like me and have to, have it facing away from your bed. It’s important to clearly distinguish rest and work time in this season, which brings me to my next point… 3. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule! This has been my saving grace in this COVID-19-lock-in-strangeness. It is so easy for me to get out of a rhythm being stuck inside, but I have been extra intentional about keeping a weekly and daily schedule. Usually, my schedule would include activities like class, work, etc. But my “lock-in” schedule is in blocks of time that break down my entire day. In addition to my normal routine, my days will be filled with scheduled times to go on a walk, Zoom call a friend, do homework, work on building my career and meditating/praying. I cannot tell you how good I feel when I get to the end of a long day but have accomplished everything on my schedule. It also keeps me accountable to work on myself in ways I might not if I didn’t have it written down (example: 20 minutes of yoga). Scheduling gives you a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day, but it also makes it easier to view your day in 24-hour periods instead of wondering how you’re going to survive weeks of this!  4. Stay Engaged Virtual Hangouts:  I don’t know about you, but I am living for my weekly hangout with friends. Every week, I ask a friend to grab something to eat or drink with me via Zoom call. It has been a really fun way to stay in touch with people as well as reconnect with old friends. It’s not the same as meeting up downtown, but hey—I save money! Host a virtual game night, watch a movie together on Netflix Party, or just catch up with a friend. Virtual Networking: Think forward to post this crisis. What are the things you always wish you had time for, but never do? Now is the time! Personally, working on my professional career by updating resumes, revamping cover letters, working on my website, graining industry knowledge, are all things I needed time for. Since I am alone so much now, I have been asking professors, professionals and colleagues to grab a “coffee” with me virtually about once a week. It has been a great time to gain knowledge, focus on my field and get to network with others that I usually might not reach out to. This is the time to build our network. Virtual Counseling: Let’s be real … this time is just rough. NONE of us is actually equipped to handle this. If you aren’t talking to a licensed therapist, counselor or spiritual director, this would be a good time to. A lot of counseling offices are now offering virtual sessions. Another great example are apps, like BetterHelp, where a licensed therapist can be available via text. There is no shame in needing to process fears, disappointments or problems during this time considering many of us are dealing with this on some level.  Coronavirus has stolen a lot from us, but I believe it can be a trial that refines us to make us stronger than ever. We have lost a lot, but with the right mindset and hard work, I also believe we have a lot to gain during this time. Keep your head up high, reach out if you’re hurting and focus on what you can control during this time. You can make this a memorable, productive semester. Class of 2020, don’t forget: You are RESILIENT.   This article was edited and reposted with permission from ericafiori.com. Apr 21, 2020

  • UMKC Furthers Local Hospital’s COVID-19 Testing Capabilities

    School of Biological and Chemical Sciences lends University of Kansas Health System equipment to increase Kansas City’s testing opportunities
    As the coronavirus continues to spread, patient testing has become critical, but it is often unavailable. In an effort to increase detection and decrease the spread of the virus, the UMKC School of Biological and Chemical Sciences loaned the University of Kansas Health System a piece of equipment to scale up testing possibilities in the area.  When local hospitals and state laboratories received an update from the Centers for Disease Control outlining available resources for states in the battle against the COVID-19 coronavirus, UMKC faculty members realized they could help.  “We have two 7500 PCR (polymerace chain reaction) machines that are used for processing tests for the virus,” said Theodore White, dean of the School of Biology and Chemical Sciences. “We are currently not doing the kind of experiments that require this equipment, so we began to identify a provider who might need one.” After determining that none of the facilities that are partners in the UMKC Health Sciences District had a need, the school contacted the University of Kansas Health System. The 7500 PCR will be on loan to the medical center for the duration of the crisis. The additional machine will allow KU Health System to scale up its testing capabilities, which benefits the metropolitan area. The 7500 PCR system is small enough to fit in the back of a sport utility vehicle. The machine rapidly makes copies of specific DNA, then moves quickly through three cycles of different temperatures. This process allows scientists to take small sample and achieve quick results. The system is commonly used in processing prenatal tests and forensics testing. A new processor would cost approximately $50,000. “When things go back to normal, the machine will come back to us,” White said. “In the meantime, we’re thrilled it’s making a difference in fighting the virus.”   Apr 21, 2020

  • Biology and Chemistry Alumna’s Focus on Women’s Health Leads to Fulbright Award

    Now a Mayo medical student, Nazanin Kazemi immigrated to the U.S. knowing one word of English
    Nazanin Kazemi always wanted to go to medical school and had a desire to make international collaboration a cornerstone of her career as a scientist. Kazemi recently received a Fulbright award to pursue her studies in ovarian cancer and placenta biology at the University of Geneva.   How did you feel when you heard about the Fulbright award? What difference does it make for you? Being a Fulbright Scholar is such an incredible opportunity and I am so thankful - and still in disbelief. I really feel that being selected as a Fulbright Scholar is the realization of my "American Dream." My parents and I moved to the United States from Iran in 1999. Between the three of us, we knew about two words of English. I only knew how to say, "Hello." My education has always been their top priority and I feel like this is a culmination of their sacrifices toward my future. We live in a truly unique country when a first-generation college student and first-generation immigrant who didn’t speak a word of English in 1999 can become a Fulbright scholar while training at one of the nation's top hospitals. What led you to pursue studying in Switzerland?   I have always wanted to make international collaboration a cornerstone of my career as a scientist because diversity of thought and training are truly integral to the success of our research - and in turn to the options that we are able to provide patients. I am excited about the Fulbright program because their goals are so well-aligned with my own. They have a reputation for helping students establish relationships with communities all over the world in many different fields. Living in Switzerland will not only progress my projects and training, but will also be an incredible opportunity to explore the Swiss culture. Having spent a lot of time hiking, climbing and doing yoga in the Midwest, I am excited to meet the Swiss communities around these outdoor hobbies and take advantage of the natural beauty of Switzerland's iconic mountains and hiking trails. As an avid cook, I will be able to learn more about Swiss history by learning to make traditional dishes such as raclette. I will be leaving for Switzerland in September, if the pandemic is under control by then. "I really feel that being selected as a Fulbright Scholar is the realization of my 'American Dream'." -Nazanin Kazemi What are you studying and working on at Mayo? Currently, I am earning my doctorate in immunology. I study how the maternal immune system is reactivated at the end of pregnancy to help induce labor and how this activation can cause pre-eclampsia and pre-term labor when dysregulated. I will be spending the final year of my doctorate as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Geneva to establish an ongoing collaboration between our institutes. I will then return to Mayo to finish medical school.  I’m passionate about these areas of research because they are integral to the health of women around the world. Pre-eclampsia and pre-term labor are leading causes of maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality. Currently, diagnostics and treatment are lacking for the majority of these complications. By understanding the mechanisms involved in their pathophysiology, we can improve outcomes for women and children everywhere. Ovarian cancer also presents a significant threat to women's health because it is often detected very late (stage III or IV) when current treatments are not as effective. Understanding the biology of this malignancy can help us provide earlier diagnoses and better treatments. I want to be a physician-scientist to be in the service of others, and I have been incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to train at an institution with the same dedication to service.  What led you to your interest in women’s health? I have always been interested in women's health because I really believe that women are the most integral part of our society. The health of women all over the world has undeniable implications for the health of every facet of our society from the health and success of our future generations to the global economy. Moreover, we live in an era where, despite women all around the world making amazing progress toward our rights and fair treatment, we still face a great deal of prejudice and abuse. I am dedicated to women's health because I believe in a world where every woman feels safe, respected and treated fairly and is able to pursue her goals without fear. As a first-generation college student and first-generation immigrant, I have always known that education is the biggest privilege. I believe those of us fortunate enough to pursue our education undeterred have a duty to those who have not had the same opportunities. I am determined to use the amazing opportunities I have been given to serve women all over the world.  I read a story where you said that your parents instilled the philosophy that women made this world and run this world. How did their perspective affect how you see the world and yourself? My parents raised me to be a feminist. In a world where women are not treated equally and do not get to enjoy the same freedoms as men, my parents are determined to teach me and my sister that those views are wrong. Our education is their biggest priority and is the reason we moved to the United States. My dad has been dedicated to raising strong, fearless, self-reliant, independent girls. I remember being very young and fearful about many things. My dad would always say, "Go ahead and don’t be scared!" "As a first-generation college student and first-generation immigrant, I have always known that education is the biggest privilege." Fulbright at UMKC  Since 1946, the Fulbright Specialist Program has sponsored hundreds of thousands of students, scholars, teachers, artists and professionals of all backgrounds and fields the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to important international problems. To date, 18 other alumni have received Fulbright awards. Apr 20, 2020

  • Film by Bloch School Finance Professor Available for Viewing

    Stephen Pruitt movie on Amazon Video Direct
    "The Land," available for viewing on Amazon Video Direct. deals with the current farm crisis taking place all over the United States, which Pruitt said is so severe that the suicide rate of U.S. farmers is now twice that of military veterans. It is the fourth feature film created by Pruitt and his wife, Mary Pruitt. Pruitt said the film “asks a question on a lot of our minds today: Are we more than what we do?" The film has earned accolades at multiple film festivals. It was one of sixteen feature films selected to play at the Dances with Films festival in Hollywood; was named Best Feature Film by Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday at the Over-the-Rhine International Film Festival in Cincinnati; and was named Best Feature Film at the Route 66 International Film Festival and the Critic's Choice at the Iowa Independent Film Festival. "The Land" was one of only 20 non-studio-affiliated feature films (out of more than 200 submitted) to play at the St. Louis International Film Festival. Apr 20, 2020

  • Campus Events Updates

    Cancellations and postponements due to COVID-19 precautions
    Out of an abundance of caution during the COVID-19 pandemic, all in-person UMKC campus events through the end of June are canceled or postponed. Please reference the UMKC Alumni and campus calendars for listings of canceled and rescheduled events as well as virtual opportunities. Apr 16, 2020

  • Century-Old Lessons Apply to Current Pandemic

    Alumna and retired UMKC librarian wrote thesis on 1918 flu
    The year was 1918. The world was at war, tens of thousands of soldiers spent weeks at a time in filthy, fetid trenches and, according to Susan Sykes Berry, “medical science at the time was still arguing about what caused disease: miasmas, chemicals called zymes, or germs.” During the next three years, despite the absence of 21st century jet travel and global commerce, a horrific respiratory illness ravaged the world. Precise statistics still elude historians, but it is estimated that the so-called “Spanish Flu” infected a quarter of the world’s population and killed tens a millions of people. A shade more than a century later, the world is a much different place, and medical science has advanced exponentially. Nevertheless, lessons of 1918 apply today, Sykes Berry said. A retired UMKC medical librarian and registered nurse, she earned a master’s degree in history from UMKC in 2010 with a thesis entitled “Politics and Pandemic In 1918 Kansas City.” “The 1918 flu was so deadly because it was a new strain of flu,” she said. “Because of research by Jeffrey Taubenberger, Ann Reid and others published in the journal Virology in 2000, we now know it was an H1N1 strain. So no one had any immunity.” According to her 2010 thesis, “Kansas City did not escape the influenza pandemic. Public health officials began their response by denying there was a problem, and finished their response by simply waiting for the disease to run its course. Between those extremes there was political infighting, flouting of quarantines and bans by businesses and the public, lack of coordination with Kansas officials, and many needless citizen deaths.” Today, Sykes Berry sees parallels. “The lessons from 1918 that apply today is that quarantines have to be applied everywhere in order to work,” she said. “It isn't effective to close Kansas, and not Missouri, when all people need to do is drive across an invisible state line. In 1918, Kansas had less death than Missouri because they had a better quarantine. I fully endorse the recommendations of the Core4 governments (the city of Kansas City, Missouri; Jackson County, Missouri; Johnson County, Kansas and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas) in recognizing that Kansas City is one big metro area and for an effective response the whole metro area has to act. “Those four governments have saved lives.” In an interview with KCTV5, Sykes Berry said the city’s response in 1918 was ineffective because of interference from political bosses such as Tom Pendergast. “They would not shut anything down,” she said. “Streetcars were still running and saloons that Pendergast owned remained open. The chamber of commerce, for whatever reason, was actually trying to get the city to shut down. So, businesses that were in the chamber of commerce were trying, but the city just couldn’t get its act together.” It is estimated that 11,000 in Kansas City were infected, and 2,300 died. Sykes Berry also said that while the news media popularized the term “Spanish Flu,” there is evidence that the disease actually may have arisen in Kansas and was spread globally by soldiers deploying to World War I from what is now Fort Riley. “John Barry, who wrote ‘The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History,’ was the historian who first came up with that idea,” she said. “But in my research I was able to find mention of a severe influenza in the Santa Fe Monitor in April of 1918, and also mention of soldiers from Camp Funston (now Fort Riley) who had been back and forth during the period. So it is a plausible theory. However, almost all historians agree that it was spread so quickly by soldiers due to the war.” Apr 15, 2020

  • Stressed? Help and Healthy Resources Are Available

    An interview with the UMKC counseling director about coping with COVID-19
    The strain of the personal and global effects of the coronavirus pandemic may be unavoidable. But there are resources available to help manage stress and anxiety. Arnie Abels, Ph.D., director of Counseling, Health, Testing and Disability Services at UMKC, suggests strengthening your assets may help you manage your emotional needs. “One thing to remember is that every experience is individual,” Abels said. “For some people, isolation is a huge blow. Those folks are learning to be creative – trying new activities or using Zoom or online activities – to stay connected to other students, friends and family. For others, the physical constraints may be more challenging. They need to figure out how to get enough sleep, the best way to exercise and create a routine. Others’ primary concerns may be financial as they lose jobs and may need to change living situations. All of this is valid. Each of us needs to understand that all of these things are important and manage our own individual emotional needs.” “Personally, I’m writing letters to the people I care about. It’s a creative process for me and it allows me to let people know in a way that may be out of the ordinary and maybe more special than an email or text.”- Arnold Abels, Ph.D. He notes that students graduating this spring may be feeling completely differently than underclassmen. “Having the experience of virtual graduation and the opportunity to walk at a later date may be more helpful than some people realize,” Abels said. “It may ease the grief of not experiencing that ceremony.  For some, it may be a wonderful addition.” Noticing an increase of posts on social media related to alcohol and drugs, Abels cautions about turning to substances for relief. “First, smoking cigarettes or cannabis creates vulnerability in your lungs, which we all need to avoid,” he said. “We don’t judge, but we want to encourage people to make healthy choices. There’s nothing wrong with having a drink – if you’re of legal age – but drinking to excess can create difficult situations with difficult consequences, especially if you are using it to avoid feelings.” There are healthier ways to deal with stress. “Getting enough sleep is very important,” Abels said. “One of the things that may help with this is regular exercise. Eating healthy will feel better. But not everything needs to be productive. Along with online exercise videos, Swinney Rec is offering a video-gaming competition. That could be a great escape as well.” Abels encourages people to take the opportunity to see how we can grow and become better individually and as a group. “Personally, I’m writing letters to the people I care about. It’s a creative process for me and it allows me to let people know in a way that may be out of the ordinary and maybe more special than an email or text.”   Mental Health Resources Personal counseling UMKC Counseling offers several resources to students, faculty and staff to promote mental health.There is currently a waitlist, but Abels and his team are working with the Missouri Governor’s Office to try and suspend licensing restrictions so that they can provide online counseling to students who are now outside the state. Mind Over Mood A three-week workshop focused on grief and anxiety. The counseling office is working to provide ADA- compatible transcripts and videos on the site as additional resources. Movement Matters Swinney Recreation is offering fitness classes available through Instagram stories, and Esports including PS4 and X-Box Fifa and Madden. Help at Your Fingertips The Sanvello app provides on-demand help for stress, anxiety and depression. Additional Resources Roos for Mental Health has additional resources. Apr 13, 2020

  • 8 Expert Tips for Parents Turned Teachers

    Award-winning alumna provides her favorite processes and resources for teaching at home
    On top of managing working at home, shopping online and keeping everyone healthy, many parents are now bearing the weight of teaching their children at home. Deborah Siebern-Dennis, B.A. ’05, a science teacher at Bode Middle School, was selected for a two-year teaching and learning project funded by the National Science Foundation in 2019. She has suggestions to make teaching at home a little easier. Parents have had a little time teaching at home now and many are discovering the challenges of keeping their children engaged and on task. What is one of your best tips to make the day go easier? I would recommend having a consistent structure that is similar to a classroom setup. With my experience, kids like routine and they feel most comfortable knowing what their learning day will look like with a set schedule. For example, I am currently Zooming with my students at the same time each day and I set up a science-learning schedule on Google Classroom. My students know when activities will be posted and when our interactive sessions will be. Consistency is key!   What kind of breaks make sense? Exercise? Dancing? Drawing? In the classroom, any brain break is good break! Since I teach middle school, my kids like to be active so we will do a cooperative activity or a student-led stretch. There is a lot of power in student choice, so I would recommend asking your child what he or she would like to do and don’t be afraid to join in on the fun! Being a goofball is fun!!   "Technology is a great learning tool when used with direction." - Deborah Sieburn-Dennis Any tips on tackling a student’s least favorite subject? First? Last? With rewards?  It is all about perspective! This would be a great opportunity to take one of those content areas that your child doesn’t enjoy as much and explore the possibilities. See if you could make some real-world connections. Go outside and explore some science or reflect on this experience with writing. The possibilities are endless!     What are your suggestions on how parents can juggle their children’s school work when they are working also?   I would go back to the scheduling. Kids are acclimated to a daily schedule, and I would recommend setting up a daily learning routine. All of the teachers that I know are working so hard right now at creating lessons and digital learning opportunities for their students that would work great with a parent’s busy schedule.  What’s the best plan of attack with subjects that aren’t the parent’s strong point?   Please reach out to your child’s teacher! We are here for all of our families and I can’t tell you how many parents and students that teachers have been helping since this pandemic has started. Teachers love to teach and we miss the classroom so very much, and I’m certain that your child’s teacher would love to help out in any way that that they can.   Can you suggest online resources that may be helpful with homework? I like Wide Open School. I’ve also recommended a document provided by Milken Educators - I was a 2015 Milken recipient - that is full of great resources.  Are there activities you could recommend that might be productive and/or educational when students are finished with their assigned tasks?   I’m a big fan of Quizizz Reviews. The parents can research a topic and assign the review as homework. I create my own assessments, but it’s a great resource for formative assessment data. I would also recommend iReady if it is used at your school.     Based on what we know about the effects of electronics - TV, gaming, etc. - what are your suggestions for limitations? And should they be used as a reward?   Technology is a great learning tool when used with direction. I teach at a 1:1 school (one device per student) and it is so valuable right now during this digital learning time. I would recommend that parents monitor their child’s device time and explore the possibilities together. It’s also a good idea to remind their child to be a responsible digital citizen. Apr 13, 2020

  • Clinical Training Without the Clinic

    Expanded telemedicine exercises help UMKC medical, nursing students keep learning
    When coronavirus precautions canceled hands-on clinical experiences for students, UMKC medical and nursing faculty and staff had to get creative. Their spring break turned into a fast break to create online replications of direct patient contact. A School of Medicine program switched its in-person patient contact modules to a telemedicine format. And the director of the School of Nursing and Health Studies’ simulation lab brought two high-tech manikins home with her, so students could still use them to learn, albeit remotely. As a result, half a dozen medical and nursing classes logged clinical training online, just in the first week after break, and that pace will pick up in weeks to come. Education on the line On April 2 and 3, 95 students in the UMKC nurse practitioner program interviewed and assessed 10 patients with varying health conditions, all without risking any contamination. That’s because all the interviews were done by video conference — telemedicine style — rather than in person. And their “patients” were from the School of Medicine’s Standardized Patient Program, which has 60 people trained as medical actors to present dozens of possible conditions to student learners. “Several training events had to be canceled in the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 closures,” said Courtney McCain, the program coordinator. “Faculty members and I hurriedly emailed, phoned and Zoomed to come up with alternatives for our April events.” As a result, the students in the nursing school’s nurse practitioner program had video conferences with their “patients.” Then they were rated on how well they interviewed them and took their medical histories, and on how well they communicated with them. “Our standardized patients also are trained in constructively assessing how well the students communicate, which they will do after running through their scenario so the students can learn from these experiences,” McCain said. “Ordinarily, this exercise would have included a hands-on, physical exam. But we have modified its objectives to emphasize students’ ability to take a competent patient history and to communicate professionally.” There were some first-week glitches, as bandwidth bottlenecks and software quirks were discovered. But five students who submitted comments were all positive about the exercise, which let them see their patient’s chart well in advance, so they could be prepared for the examination. Two students, Tiffany Arnold and Abby Martens, said they had handled real telemedicine appointments shortly before campus shut down. The exercise “was very accurate, with no real difference from the visits I was doing in the last month,” Arnold said. Martens added, “I thought it was realistic. I worked with a physician one day a couple of weeks ago who did telehealth all day, and it was pretty similar.” Another classmate, Catharine Cooper, said, “My actor was fantastic as a patient and really seemed like patients that I have seen in clinic, when I was at clinic.” “This experience is helping us realize how much more we can do in a telemedicine setting. We’re growing our repertoire of simulations and possibilities.”— Courtney McCain McCain said some tweaks had been made after the first sessions, so things should go even better for the next large group of nurse-practitioner students who have a similar exercise. The first students for a revamped exercise in the School of Medicine program just happened to be from the nursing school, she said. The program is overseen by Emily Hillman, M.D., director of simulation for the UMKC Clinical Training Facility. Hillman, an assistant professor, earned her M.D. and a recent master’s in medical education from UMKC. Now she and other faculty are devising the online versions of fourth- and fifth-year medical students’ clinical experiences in family medicine, pediatrics, surgery and in-patient hospital visits and treatment. McCain has been with the Standardized Patient Program since 2011 and has seen the number of training scenarios it presents grow 450 percent. Now, as challenging as it is to shift all clinical training online, she sees an opportunity for more growth and creativity. A recent international webinar with other directors of standardized patient programs also gave her some more ideas and troubleshooting tips. “It’s been a crash-course in new technology, along with everything else. We are rapidly making lemonade,” McCain said. “This experience is helping us realize how much more we can do in a telemedicine setting. We’re growing our repertoire of simulations and possibilities, so if the COVID-19 closures continue, we’ll be in a good position to continue delivering scenarios to students so they’ll have minimal interruption in this portion of their studies.” Smart use of dummies Christine Zimmerman’s house recently added a couple of occupants, but she didn’t have to put them on her Census form. Her guests, one adult and one child, are manikins from the nursing school’s simulation lab. Nursing students normally spend hours in the school’s high-fidelity simulation lab, managing patients with complex clinical issues while practicing assessment and communication skills. When Zimmerman heard that access to campus buildings would be greatly restricted, she got the idea to set up a smaller version of the lab in her basement. “We have nine manikins, but I can adapt most simulations with these two,” said Zimmerman, who has a master’s in nursing education and a Ph.D. in nursing from UMKC, in addition to her R.N. “They breathe; they blink. They’re computer controlled. You can monitor their heartbeat and other vital signs.” Students can’t come to her house, but groups of around eight meet online and can see and guide Zimmerman’s assessment of the patients. Other simulation staff members are online, too, and can speak for the manikin as the students ask questions. The class members can discuss the case among themselves, but they have to be tactful about what they say in “earshot” of the patient. And if they decide medicines are needed in a particular scenario, they can make a virtual stop by a “meds station” Zimmerman has set up. There she can hold labels up to the camera so a student can verify that the right pharmaceutical is being dispensed. Zimmerman started the lab sessions the Tuesday after spring break and is running four or five a week, as she usually does when she has access to the full lab. “The sessions run either four hours or eight hours,” she said. “We cover a lot of ground, and I’m pleasantly surprised with how successful this transition has been.” Students agreed. Madison Putnam, a senior nursing student, said, “I am grateful UMKC and Dr. Zimmerman have found ways to continue to provide us nursing students as much ‘hands on’ education as possible.”  Natalie Patton, a junior said, “Dr. Zimmerman's recreation of SIM lab was amazing. And it was wonderful to work with more of my classmates than an in-person simulation would have provided. Though we had to take turns talking, the online format did not impede our communication at all, and we were able to efficiently work together and save the patient in crisis.” Zimmerman also said it was a bonus for her to have a whole group of students online so she can hear their discussion of cases, something she can’t normally do when a class huddles up out of her earshot. “If anything, they are more focused on the critical thinking and clinical evaluations they have to do,” Zimmerman said. “Of course, I’m sorry for the situation that makes all this necessary, but I enjoy the challenge and the need to take a creative approach to these challenges.” Apr 13, 2020

  • Three Teams Advance To Pitch Competition Finals

    UMKC students will compete at UM System Entrepreneurship Quest Student Accelerator Pitch Competition
    Three UMKC student teams will compete against the top finalists from Mizzou, Missouri S&T and the University of Missouri-St. Louis in the University of Missouri System Entrepreneurship Quest Student Accelerator. The UMKC teams secured their spots in the March 25 competition. First place went to Genalytic. Second place went to Compost Collective KC. Third place went to Vest Heroes. The student entrepreneurs were all solving problems through their business ventures. UMKC, MU, S&T and UMSL held workshops during the fall semester that covered business models, venture pitching and the EQ application process. University representatives and community leaders chose the most promising applicants, who participated in a pitch competition to narrow the field to 10 semifinalists. Student teams chosen during the first competition had the opportunity to participate in an eight-week EQ educational program. The EQ program included workshops, mentoring, demo days and coaching from local entrepreneurs. The purpose is to help students research, develop and practice pitching their concepts based on feedback from business leaders, investors and subject-matter experts. At the end of the program each university held another pitch competition to choose three finalists and proceed to the EQ finals this week. Round one of the finals starts at 4 p.m. April 15. Twelve teams will present on Zoom to a panel of judges recruited by each school. The top three present again in round two at 1 p.m. April 16 for a different panel of judges. Winning UMKC Ventures Genalytic Greyson Twist, Ph.D., bioinformatics and computer science major, founded Genalytic. He describes Genalytic as a way to prescribe the right drug for each patient based on their genome. “Pharmacogenomics sounds, and is, really complicated; but the idea is that every time you take a new drug or combination of drugs, or even drugs and food, you toss the dice and hope you are going to be OK,” Twist said. “Usually you are, but sometimes the drug doesn't work. The drug makes you worse, or the drug kills you. We aim to fix that problem.” Twist left his job at Children’s Mercy a year and a half ago and started working on Genalytic full time. He considered using Genalytic for a PhD project only. But friends and family convinced him there was business value in his idea. At about the same time, Twist learned about the EQ program and decided to give it a try. The tag line he has been using is “putting the person back in personalized medicine.” “We have a very long way to go, but the EQ program is – was – the first step. And the support they have given me has really put wind in my sails to try and make this a reality,” Twist said. “If you have an idea or go to the EQ program, you literally have nothing to lose.” Compost Collective KC Kyle McAllister, business administration graduate student, leads Compost Collective KC. The company’s goal is to solve two fundamental problems. The first is a global issue. McAllister said food waste is a major threat to the environment and is produced in the United States at an alarming rate. Approximately 30% to 40% of all waste going to landfills in the U.S. is food. He said that equates to approximately 33 billion pounds of food in landfills per year. That volume would fill the entire Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, each day for an entire year. McAllister said food waste breaks down in a landfill without oxygen and, as a result, emits methane gas. Depending on the study, McAllister said methane gas has 25 to 84 times the climate-change impact than carbon dioxide. Given this issue, people are looking for more sustainable alternatives. McAllister cited a recent Yale study that found that 70% of Americans think environmental protection is more important than economic growth. McAllister believes Compost Collective KC can help solve a second problem – give people a simple way to have a positive environmental impact by composting.    Kyle’s partner is Meredith McAllister, co-founder. They are preparing for the April competition by incorporating feedback from the judges, practicing the pitch with their team and presenting to Kyle’s MBA class for feedback. “I've learned a lot! It's been a blast to participate and see some of the other really great ideas competing in the program,” McAllister said. “I've improved my presentation skills and the competition has also pushed us to think critically about our business, and that has helped us make some helpful decisions.” Vest Heroes When UMKC School of Medicine student Fahad Qureshi started shadowing physicians, he saw that surgical operations involving an X-ray or radioactive imaging technology often requires the health care professional to wear a lead vest and skirt. The equipment was very heavy, weighing between 30 and 69 pounds. Qureshi said surgeons complained of back pain and hindered operational mobility due to the excess weight. In addition, Qureshi said the pain worsened for physicians as they worked long surgeries and as they aged. To solve this problem, Qureshi realized he needed to add an engineering element to his medical background. He started an apprenticeship with a local engineer and learned how to work with his hands. Qureshi said his eyes were opened to the problem-solving nature of the field. He soon started constructing his own prototypes based on the action of pulleys and levers. The prototype consisted of a lead vest/skirt with a tether. This tether was hooked to a cord that ran to a small hook on a ceiling. Finally, the cord was connected to a weight that offset the weight of the vest. In this way, a simple pulley was created. He contacted an interventional nephrology practice in Chicago that uses radioactive imaging called A.I.N., who allowed him to build a model in the operating room with special sterile materials. Qureshi used a 50-pound weight to make a 60-pound vest and skirt feel like just 10 pounds. The physicians at the practice were astounded and asked for more, citing their immense need. “My preparation comes from trying to advance the company,” Qureshi said. “I’ve pitched the product to doctors in hospitals across the country, most notably at the Mayo Clinic. I intend to pitch the huge progress and real-world applicability.” “I have learned what it takes to build something, and this program has given me an opportunity to take an idea to a business,” Qureshi said. “I saw a problem when my childhood friend's passing was partially the result of pain and limited mobility of the physician wearing a heavy lead vest that complicated the operation. I saw an opportunity to create a solution. I want people to know that I, like every member of the health care team, want to serve patients better and help them achieve the longest, healthiest life possible,” Qureshi said. Apr 10, 2020

  • Arts and Sciences Alumna Leads Black Archives of Mid-America

    Carmaletta Williams shares some of the rich history housed in the archives
    Carmaletta Williams (B.A. ’87) serves as executive director of the Black Archives of Mid-America in Kansas City. The archives are home to incredible artifacts documenting the social, economic, political and cultural histories of persons of African American descent in the central United States, with particular emphasis in the Kansas City, Missouri, region. Carmaletta Williams, B.A. '87 We spoke with her about what she wishes people knew about the archives and her favorite pieces among the exhibits. Tell us about your role as executive director at the Black Archives of Mid-America in Kansas City. My role primarily is to keep the place afloat. That pertains to many levels: financially, educationally, exhibition-wise, public partner duties, arts advancement, personnel, programming and so many other duties. What’s something you’ve learned by working at the archives? I've learned that being the administrator at a museum or public organization is not a one-person job. It takes a crew with different skillsets, abilities, desires and commitments to make the Black Archives a rich, viable part of the Kansas City landscape. I would love to spend all my time taking people on tours and talking about the history of Black folks in Kansas City and, indeed, in this country, but that is not possible. I learned that my efforts are better directed towards financial management e.g., fundraising, paying bills, writing grant proposals, etc. What is something you wished people knew about the archives? I wish people knew that there is an active (except in the age of quarantine) Black Archives with a wonderful Ewing Marion Kauffman Exhibition Hall. The fixed exhibition in that hall chronicles the establishment of Kansas City through the lives of the African Americans who worked toward building lives and culture for their families and their communities. I wish people knew that those early actions frame today's Kansas City. I wish people knew that we are building another exhibition in the area that houses Lucy's cabin, the home of an enslaved woman in Trenton, Missouri, that will pay honor to the victims of racial lynching. Charles Swayze, a talented, young African American artist is creating a wall-sized mural for that exhibition. Lucy's cabin in the Black Archives of Mid-America. I wish people knew that women's professional basketball began in Kansas City with the Women's Basketball Association, started by Lightning Mitchell. The Black Archives houses their Hall of Fame as a permanent exhibition.  I wish people knew that we are a beautiful facility with spaces that we rent to people, groups and organizations throughout the area. We also provide a wide array of educational programs, including workshops on mental health with Dr. Erica Thompson and on legal issues with the Jackson County Bar Association. Additionally, we host poetry readings, book signings, fitness workshops, musical presentations and more. Painting of Henrietta Lacks on display in the Black Archives of Mid-America. Favorite artifact, document or photo in the collection? I have many "favorites" in the Black Archives. I love the poster-sized picture of Fannie Lou Hamer, the woman who made history by saying she was "sick and tired of being sick and tired." Another favorite is the picture of our founder Horace M Peterson III. Sadly, it hangs next to his obituary. Eva McGhee's gift of a portrait of Henrietta Lacks brings joy to me and the Research and Reading Room. I smile in every room of that space because the Archives is filled with history, art, music, culture, poetry, literature, business, and all those elements that create communities. How can people support the Black Archives during this time? People can support the Black Archives during this time by making donations online. When you visit our website, be sure to scan through our holdings. We are developing programs that can be accessed online and are eager to hear what community members want from us. Apr 09, 2020

  • School of Computing and Engineering Recognizes Alumni and Friends for Supporting STEM in KC

    KC Water, Prep KC, two SCE Alumni are among this year’s Vanguard Award recipients
    From donors to student mentors to community partners, the role of alumni and friends is essential to furthering the mission of the University of Missouri-Kansas City and its School of Computing and Engineering. The annual SCE Vanguard Awards is an opportunity to spotlight those who help expand STEM education and outreach in Kansas City. “This is a great opportunity for us to recognize the key role that our alumni, corporate and community supporters play in making the School of Computing and Engineering the success that it is today. This group of honorees is just a small depiction of the outstanding leaders in engineering that we have the opportunity to connect with every day,” said Kevin Z. Truman, dean of the School of Computing and Engineering. This year the school will recognize four honorees in the categories of SCE Young Alumni Award, SCE Supporter Award, STEM Outreach Partner and Organization of the Year. 2020 SCE Vanguard Award Recipients Young Alumni Award: George White, Jr., BSCE ‘13, civil engineer, GLMV Architecture George White, Jr., SCE Alumni Association director-at-large and Engineers Without Borders mentor, has a knack for giving back. Heavily involved in the Kansas City community, White is a staunch supporter of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kansas City, Christmas in October and other mentoring programs that affect underrepresented youth. As a civil engineer at GLMV Architecture, White’s primary role consists of business development and engineering site design for facilities, though he takes great pride in his responsibility to apply his skills to the greater good. SCE Supporter of the Year: Sherry Lumpkins, BACS ’93, principal, Blue Symphony Lumpkins’ dedication to STEM education, community service and the School of Computing and Engineering is demonstrated though her company and her personal volunteer activities. Lumpkins has served as a UMKC Legacy Summit Leadership Conference Workshop facilitator, KC STEM Alliance Girls In Tech Hour of Code volunteer and a panelist for Computer Science Teacher Mentor Day hosted by KC STEM Alliance, Science City, Project Lead The Way and the KC Tech Council. As an African American female owner of an information technology firm, Sherry Lumkins is a prime example of the value that women and people of color bring to STEM. Since 2017, Lumpkins has employed six School of Computing and Engineering interns, three of which she currently employs, showing a commitment to improve students’ education through valuable hands-on experiences in STEM. Outreach Partner of the Year: PREP-KC The mission of PREP-KC is to develop leverage and deploy resources to improve Kansas City’s urban and regional educational outcomes by strengthening relationship between students, teachers and parents and by improving teaching learning. Founded in 2006 as Kansas City’s leading urban education intermediary, Prep-KC aims to improve college readiness and access to high-quality employment for more than 60,000 students and families served by six of Kansas City’s bi-state urban school districts. PREP-KC has several STEAM partnerships where students are earning Market Value Assets, industry-recognized and valuable skills that help students transition more seamlessly from high school to college and career. Organization of the Year: KC Water KC Water is committed to providing excellent water, wastewater and stormwater services that ensure the health and safety of half a million Kansas City residents while safeguarding regional water resources for future generations. In order to maintain this commitment to customers and community, KC Water has a long-standing reputation of recruiting and retaining a workforce consisting of several graduates of the School of Computing and Engineering. Currently, there are nearly a dozen UMKC graduates in KC Water’s engineering department. One notable employee is John Hitson, a 2018 UMKC mechanical engineering graduate who serves as a Project Manager on KC Water’s Wastewater Systems team. In his first nine months, Hitson has been assigned several infrastructure-improvement projects. Specifically, he is serving as a project manager of a critical repair project on a 12-foot diameter brick arch sewer that failed in the West Bottoms and created a sinkhole in the summer of 2019. The School of Computing and Engineering recently announced a partnership with KC Water and other stakeholders – including FEMA, Unified Government and the Army Corps of Engineers — to launch the Center for Urban Stormwater Research, a research consortium focused on tackling urban flooding in Kansas City. Plans to formally recognize the 2020 Vanguard Award recipients will be announced at a later date. Apr 09, 2020

  • UMKC Pharmacy Faculty Member Working to Improve Animal and Human Health

    Emma Stafford, Pharm.D., is part of the One Health initiative, exploring the links between animal health and human health
    A world thrown into the rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic is discovering the harsh reality of a shared environment where animal health and human health are intertwined. More than half of all infections and diseases contracted by humans can be spread by animals. In fact, in the United States alone, tens of thousands of people each year fall ill from diseases spread by animals. At the UMKC School of Pharmacy, Emma Stafford, Pharm.D., is working on a Centers for Disease Control initiative that is also at the forefront of BioNexus KC to address those concerns. One Health is a collaborative of researchers and health care providers in human and veterinary medicine working together to improve the health of people and animals. “One Health is the idea that human and non-human species and the environment all play off of one another,” Stafford said. “We each have similar issues that can definitely have a massive effect on one another. COVID-19 is an unfortunate, but a good example of that. What we’re seeing right now is a virus that previously infected bats and has now been able to spill over or jump to humans.” She explained that environment plays an important role in One Health as well, particularly in regard to our food sources. The COVID-19 virus that reportedly began from people in China eating infected bats is a prime example of the effect of interaction between environment, animals and humans on our human health, Stafford said. “A lot of the concerns for those spillovers of diseases from animals to humans do come from countries like China where they eat lot of what we would consider non-traditional animals,” Stafford said. Stafford is part of a select group of pharmacists trained in veterinary medicine. A member of the Veterinary Hospital Pharmacists, she is also one of only 28 pharmacists in the country with Diplomate status in the International College of Veterinary Pharmacy. “One Health is the idea that human and non-human species and the environment all play off of one another. We each have similar issues that can definitely have a massive effect on one another. COVID-19 is an unfortunate, but a good example of that." - Emma Stafford After joining the UMKC pharmacy faculty in December, she is currently working on establishing a laboratory to expand the research she began a few years ago as a clinical veterinary pharmacy resident at North Carolina State. She is also working to add two new veterinary electives to the UMKC School of Pharmacy curriculum. A part-time retail pharmacist in Kansas City, Stafford is expanding her comparative medicine research, a multi-institution effort that is evaluating the presence of autoantibodies, commonly seen in human diseases, in dogs with neurologic disease. “If we can develop drugs to help these animals, we can also help move human drugs forward faster,” Stafford said. “That’s where being a pharmacist trained in veterinary medicine, as very few of us are, have such a unique role. I describe it as being a conduit between the human and the animal world or between a physician and a veterinarian. You can straddle both worlds and help them both.” Stafford is working with research colleagues at UMKC, Kansas State University and North Carolina State to create a unique information sharing initiative that could potentially save pharmaceutical companies time and money in their research and development. The DrugAssist database is designed to bring together those companies on the animal side of pharmaceuticals to share information regarding tested drugs that were not approved and the accumulated data that wasn’t used or required to report in order to receive approval. The hope is that those companies would share their previously unreported data in a central repository through a process that would protect their intellectual property. Such a database of information could potentially save companies millions of dollars and enormous amounts of time duplicating tests that have already been tried and failed for one reason or another. If the group can get animal pharmaceutical companies to respond in a positive manner, the next step, Stafford said, would be to get pharmaceutical companies for human drugs on board with the information sharing platform. “There’s a lot of good data and information out there,” Stafford said. “If all that data can be brought together with everybody contributing to a central repository, we can use that information to develop better drugs, more effective drugs, and save a lot of money.” Apr 07, 2020

  • Nominations Open for Annual Pride Awards

    Awards recognize individuals who have contributed to the betterment of the UMKC LGBTQIA+ community
    The Pride Awards recognize outstanding individuals who have contributed to the betterment of the university’s LGBTQIA+ community through education, support, programming or activism. These awards honor those who have contributed to the areas of service and outreach and establishing a safer, more welcoming environment at UMKC. Nominations for the following Pride Awards will be accepted through Friday, April 24, 2020. Outstanding Faculty/Staff Award Recognizes LGBTQIA+ or ally faculty or staff who contribute to a positive campus climate for LGBTQIA+ individuals. This may be through offering LGBTQIA inclusive curriculum, expanding LGBT research in their discipline, challenging and working to improve campus policies and climate or proving thoughtful and inclusive programming.  Jim Wanser Award This award recognizes an individual who has volunteered hours of service to the UMKC LGBTQIA+ community or the greater Kansas City LGBTQIA+ community. This person has gone above and beyond in helping to create a better community for all, and has served as a model of excellence for establishing community and volunteering.  Rising Star Award Recognizes one area high school student whose leadership and service have resulted in a tangible gain for LGBTQIA+ students (such as a Gay/Straight Alliance), or whose energies have created a more friendly, inclusive environment at their high school. Outstanding Alum Recognizes one UMKC alum who works toward fostering an inclusive community at UMKC or in the community in which they live and work. Their commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community serves as a model for current and future UMKC alumni.  Collaborative Excellence Award Recognizes departments whose collaborative efforts have resulted in new or improved resources and services for LGBTQIA+ students, faculty, staff or community members. LGBTQIA Student of the Year Recognizes one student for outstanding leadership, dedication, and service within the university or community, that has resulted in new or revitalized resources, services, or programs for the LGBTQIA+ community. This individual serves as a role model for their peers, and demonstrates a commitment to queer leadership, advocacy, activism, or education. Read more about each award and submit a nomination Apr 06, 2020

  • International Student Ambassador Shares His Experiences in Self-Quarantine

    Engineering major Joshua Koni is coping with the challenges
    As students and faculty are adjusting to online classes, socially isolating and the advantages and challenges of learning and socializing via Zoom, Joshua Koni, a current international student ambassador had to make the decision to stay in Kansas City or return to his home in Cameroon in central Africa. He decided to stay and is making adjustments as he juggles school and the separation from his family and friends. How have you been adjusting during the transition? I am trying to stay positive. My situation could be so much worse. I was in an apartment with a roommate and I had about a week to decide if I should go home, stay with my roommate or move in with my host family. I’ve known them for the last five years and they are great. It was hard to know what to do, but I decided to stay with my host family. Now I’m living in a house with nine people. How have you been managing? It’s been fine. For a while, we were taking turns going to the grocery store, so we had the opportunity to get out a little. But as we had more information we were concerned about the virus spreading further with the more people who are out. Now we’re having groceries delivered and are pretty much home all the time. Being isolated is challenging. How are you handling it? Mostly, I feel very lucky. Some international students could not find families to stay with in the United States. Online school and Zoom classes are a significant adjustment. "It was hard to know what to do, but I decided to stay with my host family. Now I'm living in a house with nine people." - Joshua Koni What’s working for you? First of all, I’m glad we have Zoom! It’s been a good tool for me and I am mostly finding the resources that I need. I know that some of my teachers are using Zoom for the first time. We are all working through the challenges. What’s the biggest adjustment? The lack of interaction is difficult. Sometimes I am recording classes and watching them later. It gives me the opportunity to move through things I know and focus on new information. What’s your most significant personal challenge outside of school? Isolation from my fellow students and friends. A lot of my friends are international students who went home, but I was able to talk to one of my friends who had gone back to France. She said she’s also struggling with motivation. Does the situation make you anxious? Yes. It’s especially difficult because we don’t know how long we’ll be in this situation. I know it’s been hard for some of my friends to stay home and isolate. Spring break – when we did not have classes – was even more challenging.  "I think we need to remember that we are in this together."- Joshua Koni How are you managing that anxiety? Part of it is just not having enough to do to stay busy. I play guitar and I’ve been coloring this map, which has been a good way to spend time. I’m not much of a gamer, but I am giving it a try with my host family. It’s a good way to spend time with them. I’m in touch with my family back home, which also helps. They are doing well. They haven’t had the order to stay home, so their life isn’t that different.  You were responsible for volunteers for Culture Night, one of the largest events, this year. It must have been disappointing when that had to be cancelled. Yes, it was something that I really enjoyed doing. It seemed like a full-time job planning it, but it felt good to be a contact person for the new students. A lot of students – not just international students – look forward to the festival. But once we became aware of how things were escalating in New York, we were concerned about the number of people who might be exposed. We are hoping we will be able to reschedule early in the fall semester next year. We haven’t gotten a decision on that, but that would be ideal. You are in a safe place and have good support systems. Do you have any advice for other students on handling this situation? I think it’s good to be conscious that this is a hard time. Sometimes I feel guilty in one sense – because I had options – but I am so grateful. I think we need to remember that we are in this together. It’s been great to see the emergency funds that the university and the Student Government Association have raised. People shouldn’t hesitate to take advantage of those if they need them. And I think it’s a good idea to have fun when you can. There’s nothing wrong with a virtual happy hour! My hope for other students is to remain positive and hopeful during this time, find something to do in addition to doing schoolwork and stay connected with organizations. Video call friends and family members, get enough sleep, work out with a friend virtually, start a puzzle or board game, paint something, play an instrument, bake some bread. Above all, play your part in slowing the spread of the virus by washing hands and staying home. Apr 06, 2020

  • UMKC to Conduct Virtual Commencement in May

    Students will also have opportunity for-in person celebration in December
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City is planning a virtual commencement for May graduates, with details to be influenced by a survey of graduates and their families. The decision is in keeping with the announcement by the University of Missouri System that all four UM universities were postponing in-person spring commencement exercises, with each university making individual plans to celebrate graduates. UMKC will conduct a two-pronged commencement celebration, with May graduates invited to participate in both the virtual commencement in May and to walk the stage in traditional cap and gown in December. All students who completed requirements for graduation will still have degrees conferred upon the regular schedule.  In a letter to pending graduates and their families from Chancellor Mauli Agrawal and Interim Provost Jenny Lundgren, they said: “We know what a treasured tradition and milestone commencement is for our graduates who have worked long and hard for their diplomas. At the same time, we must address the need to keep our campus community, as well as our graduates’ families and loved ones, safe and healthy.” “In May, we fully intend to find a fun, creative way to celebrate graduation and commencement virtually, with survey input from our graduates,” they wrote. “In December 2020, we also will plan to host our biggest in-person commencement celebration ever, inviting May and December grads to march across the stage and receive their diplomas.” The campus is planning virtual ceremonies for each school with recorded speakers, special mailings, messages and more to ensure students have a celebration worthy of their accomplishment. Apr 02, 2020

  • A Pioneer Woman in Medicine

    Marjorie Sirridge, M.D., was a champion for women in medicine and a fixture at the UMKC School of Medicine
    In recognition of Women’s History Month, we are recounting the impact of women in STEM at UMKC. A deep appreciation for medical humanities and an emphasis on empathy and compassion for her patients were hallmarks of Marjorie Sirridge, M.D. They are also bedrocks of the curriculum at the UMKC School of Medicine, where Sirridge was a fixture from time of its inception until her death. Sirridge earned her medical degree in 1944, graduating first in her class from the University of Kansas School of Medicine. She dropped out of medicine for a time when told it was improper for women to become pregnant while doing their post-graduate residency. She later returned to medicine and had worked for more than a decade in private practice and on faculty at the University of Kansas School of Medicine when she and her husband, William, received a new calling. They were recruited to serve as two of the three founding docents for the new University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine when the School opened in 1971. Sirridge spent the remainder of her career in numerous leadership roles at the school including a tenure as dean. While serving as a docent, Sirridge established the UMKC Program for Women in Medicine to help female students and physicians succeed in a male-dominated system. Due in part to her influence, the UMKC School of Medicine boasts one of the highest rates of female students among the country’s co-educational medical schools. Longtime School of Medicine Dean Betty M. Drees, M.D., remarked following Sirridge’s death in 2014 at the age of 92, how Sirridge had enriched those around her. “We have all been extremely privileged to have worked with Dr. Sirridge for many years and have been enriched by her tremendous wisdom and guidance,” Drees said. “Her contributions to the School of Medicine are many and are sure to have a lasting and positive impact on future generations of physicians.” Sirridge was honored in 2010 by the Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine with the Alma Dea Morani, M.D., Renaissance Woman Award. In 2003, the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine (NLM) created a traveling exhibit called Changing the Face of Medicine: Celebrating American Women Physicians. Sirridge was one of the pioneering women included in the exhibit that now exists online to honor the achievements of women who excelled in their medical careers. Marjorie and William Sirridge endowed the Sirridge Office of Medical Humanities and Marjorie Sirridge became its first director in 1992, building a program of courses in medicine and the humanities that other medical schools in the country have copied. She later endowed a professorship in medical humanities. In 2011, the Kansas University Women in Medicine and Science organization established the annual Marjorie S. Sirridge, M.D., Excellence in Medicine and Science Award. “There have been many ups and downs,” Sirridge said in her Changing the Face of Medicine biography. “But I have never felt that I made the wrong decision when I decided to be a physician.” Mar 31, 2020

  • UMKC Researcher Awarded $3.3 Million Grant to Prevent Diabetes

    Jannette Berkley-Patton will focus on overcoming health barriers with African Americans
    The National Institutes of Health awarded a $3.3 million grant to Jannette Berkley-Patton, professor, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, to help improve diabetes prevention outcomes with African Americans. “This is an extension of what we’ve been doing in the School of Medicine with Project FIT, which stands for Faith Influencing Transformation” says Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., director of the UMKC Health Equity Institute and the Community Health Research Group. With Project FIT, nearly 900 people have participated in the program and more than 200 medical, physician assistant, nursing and health studies and psychology students have been trained as FIT health coaches to help deliver the program. At UMKC, Berkley-Patton has won other significant grants that focus on improving the health of African Americans, and each centers on health inequities and community-engaged research with African American community-based organizations, including places of worship because of their cultural importance. This new five-year grant, which starts on April 1, will include similar strategies. To date, Berkley-Patton’s work has been supported by more than $10 million in federal grants over the past 14 years. The grant will tailor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Diabetes Prevention Program, an evidence-based lifestyle change intervention, with 360 African American pre-diabetic participants recruited from Truman Medical Centers. The program includes 22 group sessions that take place over one year and primarily focuses on eating healthier and exercising regularly. Preventing diabetes can help stave off other associated chronic health issues including blindness, kidney failure and heart disease.  People who participate in the CDC program aim to lose 5 to 7 percent of their body weight and exercise 150 minutes per week, which have been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes by up to 60 percent. The program has also been found to outperform pre-diabetes drugs such as Metformin. However, African Americans typically don’t fare as well, especially women and those with low incomes. Some of the issues include barriers such as cost of the program, transportation, childcare, access to healthy food and places to exercise. These barriers are often referred to as social determinants of health. “With the grant, we’re trying to address every barrier related to social determinants,” Berkley-Patton said. “The most successful outcomes are correlated with attending the sessions – the more sessions attended, the better the outcomes.”  The grant will support linking Truman Medical Centers patients to FIT Diabetes Prevention Program classes in their home communities via church, community center or neighborhood association settings. The program will be culturally-tailored for African American adults. The program is at no cost to the participant – typically it costs $450 per year. In addition to Truman Medical Centers, program partners include several urban Kansas City churches, Calvary Outreach Network, YMCA, Chestnut Resource Center, KC Care Health Center, Children’s Mercy and the University of Kansas. Although the grant begins this week during a pandemic that has Americans sheltering in place and working from home, the first year of the grant is a planning year. “With this grant, we are looking forward to further refining our current Project FIT program to have trained UMKC students and community members working side-by-side as FIT coaches,” says Carole Bowe Thompson, project director, UMKC Community Health Research Group. The program will be launched by this time next year. “We are looking forward to getting started,” Berkley-Patton said. “We want to show participants that here’s a premiere program designed just for you.” Mar 31, 2020

  • UMKC Researcher Helped Lead Studies Published in New England Journal of Medicine

    John Spertus is renowned for his work in cardiac outcomes
    UMKC School of Medicine researcher John Spertus, M.D., M.P.H., is part of two large NIH-funded clinical studies published Monday, March 30, in the New England Journal of Medicine. The studies indicate eliminating unnecessary surgeries for cardiac patients could save the United States hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Spertus serves as professor of medicine and is the Daniel J. Lauer, M.D., Endowed Chair in Metabolism and Vascular Disease Research at the School of Medicine, and Clinical Director of Outcomes Research at Saint Luke’s Hospital. The studies looked specifically at coronary-artery disease patients who had high-risk blockages with at least 10 percent or more of the heart muscle being at risk. One focused on patients with preserved kidney function and the other targeted patients with end-stage kidney failure. That latter group has largely been excluded from almost all cardiovascular trials, despite having a high prevalence of coronary artery disease and death, Spertus said. Both studies, conducted in unison, examined the most important outcomes for patients, hospital visits (including heart attacks and death) and patients’ symptoms, function and quality of life. Participants were randomized to undergo invasive angiography and surgeries with aggressive medical therapy or aggressive medical therapy alone. The goals of the medical treatment were cholesterol reduction, blood pressure control, aspirin and medications to treat chest pain. The studies in patients with preserved kidney function showed that invasive medical procedures provided no reduction in hospital visits, but did improve patients’ symptoms and quality of life, if they had chest pain within a month of entering the trial. These health status benefits were evident within three months and sustained out to four years. “Importantly, this benefit was only observed in patients who had angina, chest pain, and not in asymptomatic patients,” Spertus said. “There is no indication for these procedures in patients whose symptoms are well-controlled with medications alone. If we avoided revascularization in asymptomatic patients, we could potentially save about $500 million to $750 million a year in the United States alone.” Among patients with very severe kidney disease, there was no significant difference in hospital visits or in patients’ symptoms and quality of life.  “While disappointing, this is a very ill patient population for whom an aggressive, invasive treatment strategy does not seem to offer much benefit,” Spertus said. The NEJM published four papers from these two studies, one for each trial focusing on the clinical events and another for each trial focusing on the quality of life outcomes. Spertus was involved in writing all four and is the lead author on the two quality of life papers. He and his team designed, analyzed and led the health status, quality of life components of both trials. Spertus is the author of the Seattle Angina Questionnaire (SAQ) that used in the studies. It is widely recognized throughout the world as the gold standard for quality of life measurement in cardiac medicine. “Our group has led its use and analyses in multiple studies and quality improvement efforts,” Spertus said. “In light of these findings, the SAQ may start becoming a routine part of clinical care in cardiology.” Mar 30, 2020

  • Luke Bryan Steps Up for UMKC Students

    Country music superstar makes gift to student emergency fund
    Country music superstar Luke Bryan has donated $8,000 to a new emergency fund set up to help students at the University of Missouri-Kansas City cover unexpected expenses related to returning home, food, housing and other issues stemming from the coronavirus epidemic. The donation came from the proceeds from Bryan’s annual Farm Tour. Bryan typically makes contributions to colleges and universities near Farm Tour stops. Bryan was scheduled to perform at a farm in Louisburg, Kansas in October 2019, but the concert was moved to the Sprint Center due to weather issues. “UMKC is extremely grateful for the gift provided by the Luke Bryan Farm Tour in helping launch our emergency support for our students,” said Lisa B. Baronio, chief advancement officer and UMKC Foundation president. “Luke Bryan represents the values of many in the Heartland and has always generously supported the communities where he has performed. “Many of our students are strongly impacted by this pandemic and are in need of resources such as food, funds to travel home, and even support to pay their bills,” Baronio continued. “Students often work in the service industries that have shut down, including restaurants and retail stores, and need your help. Within the first 24 hours of launching this site, multiple students have reached out asking how they can apply for a micro-grant. We encourage you to do what you can to help our students during this challenging time.” Bryan has been named "Entertainer of the Year" by both the Academy of Country Music Awards and the Country Music Association. Learn more about donating to the Student Emergency Fund. If you're a student who is in need of aid, learn more about how to apply for emergency funding.  Mar 27, 2020

  • UMKC School of Education Launches Major Expansion and Fundraising Efforts

    The Institute for Urban Education kicked off a $15 million capital campaign to help support enrollment growth and programming additions for student...
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Education is launching major efforts to expand its Institute for Urban Education, which prepares students and teachers for success in urban classrooms. The institute recently kicked off a $15 million capital campaign with support of the newly appointed Dean's Fundraising Council, co-chaired by Leo Morton, UMKC chancellor emeritus and DeBruce Companies COO; and Jerry Reece, former CEO of Kansas City real estate agency ReeceNichols. The $15 million campaign aims to support enrollment growth, programming additions and staff support for the Institute for Urban Education as it works to address the need for more highly motivated, exemplary teachers in K-12 classrooms in greater Kansas City area school districts. Programming additions include: Adding a graduate education component to the Institute for Urban Education's existing undergraduate program Opportunities for career changes — the Master of Arts in Teaching, a four-semester program for people with bachelor's degrees in any area interested in teaching Additional services to partner schools, professional development in diversity, equity and inclusion and culturally relevant instruction, masters degrees and certifications Enrollment-growth tactics include: Grow Your Own: a comprehensive approach to developing pipeline programs for future Institute for Urban Education students/teachers in local K-12 schools. The program aims to add more teachers of color, particularly males, who view urban education as a social justice profession. Expanded scholarship opportunities, including the Sherman Scholars program, which will provide more than 150, $15,000 annual scholarships over five years to support students in both graduate and undergraduate teacher prep programs. Staffing additions: new associate director for urban education, 2.5 staff coordinators and a recruiter “Supporting urban education continues to be a top priority for UMKC,” said Justin Perry, dean of the UMKC School of Education. “The expansion of the Institute for Urban Education provides us unique opportunities to help address the teacher shortage in Kansas City, and help place more well-equipped teachers in classrooms who reflect the population of the students they serve. We are excited to continue working with our partner schools as we support our community's efforts to shape the future of the Kansas City education system it deserves.” The institute partners with the following greater Kansas City school districts to develop pipeline programs for future teachers: Kansas City Public Schools, Kansas City Kansas Public Schools, Center School District and Hickman Mills School District Founded in 2005, the Institute for Urban Education prepares and supports teachers for success in urban classrooms by focusing on social justice, multicultural education, diversity and equity. The institute has remained a locally focused program, recruiting students from neighboring communities who want to remain in the greater Kansas City area for their careers. Mar 26, 2020

  • Engineering Alumnus Uses Tech Experiences to Track COVID-19

    Riddhiman Das (B.S.C.S ’12, M.S.C.S. '19) is part of a Kansas City team developing White House-endorsed app designed to track users’ locations
    From student entrepreneur to product architect for Kansas City’s renowned EyeVerify (now Zoloz) to co-founder and CEO of six-month old digital startup TripleBlind, School of Computing and Engineering graduate Riddhiman Das has set off on yet another groundbreaking venture that, this time, could help solve the global COVID-19 pandemic. The seven-member TripleBlind startup was recently featured in Startland News following the White House’s expected endorsement of a new coronavirus tracking app, Private Kit, they designed to help the government keep tabs on where the contagious disease is spreading while maintaining the privacy of everyday citizens. “Solutions for COVID-19 are top-down. The government wants to track everything from where you’ve been to who you’ve encountered, but that can be overreaching,” Das said. “Our team wanted to install citizen-first private tracking to keep users’ data private while still helping to track the virus.” Private Kit is a voluntary app that smartphone users can install to track where they’ve been in recent days without having to rely solely on their memories. Should they need to get tested, they can choose to make their data available for health experts to determine if they need to test others as well. Das said the added benefit of the app is that if users decide not to download it immediately, they can do so later and allow it to import their location data from Google or Apple maps applications. In addition to the White House, foreign governments around the globe are also endorsing the use of Private Kit, as well as, the city of Kansas City, Missouri; Boston; Washington, D.C.; the World Health Organization; the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control. TripleBlind enables entities to safely provide and consume sensitive data and algorithms in encrypted space, without compromising privacy or security. The company worked on 100% of Private Kit’s development until recently when they began working with students from Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to help bring the app to life. Das credits his career successes to his student experiences at UMKC. “UMKC has been phenomenal,” Das said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today had it not been for Bloch E-Scholars or the skills I learned at the School of Computing and Engineering and Zoloz, which also started at UMKC.” His advice for students following his footsteps? “Optimize your resume. Do a lot of internships. And a variety of them so that you can diversify your experiences.” Mar 26, 2020

  • On A Mission: Personal Protective Equipment for Those on the Front Line

    So far, UMKC has found and donated needed PPE to area hospitals
    The need for personal protective equipment — called PPE — is one of the most serious challenges facing healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Every healthcare institution in the U.S. has a critical shortage of PPE and no help is on the way in terms of federal stock to replenish the supply. The call to inventory PPE at other sites that have available stock is one way to provide the help needed by hospitals, and that is why the University of Missouri-Kansas City is on a mission to find and share currently unused PPE. In the latest development in this ongoing effort, the UMKC-based Edgar Snow Memorial Foundation has obtained a donation of 2,000 critically needed face masks from a partner organization in China.  “Since 1974, the Edgar Snow Memorial Foundation has worked to promote friendship and understanding between the U.S. and China. During the current pandemic, at a challenging time for both nations, it is truly meaningful and gratifying for us to learn that our partner organization in Shanghai has generously donated protective face masks to the foundation for us to distribute to areas of greatest need here in Kansas City,” said Jim McKusick, president of the Edgar Snow Memorial Foundation and dean of the UMKC Honors College. “This donation was provided by our partner organization, the Shanghai People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (SPAFFC), a non-governmental organization based in China. It speaks to the deep friendship and mutual respect that exists between the people of the U.S. and China, thanks to the devoted work of many people to build strong and enduring relationships that transcend any cultural or political differences. Such a gift to the UMKC School of Medicine seems especially appropriate because the foundation was originally co-founded by E. Grey Dimond, a key founder of the UMKC medical school and the architect of its unique six-year combined B.A./M.D., who was a good friend of Edgar Snow." So far, UMKC has located and given more than 20,000 masks, tens of thousands of pairs of gloves and hundreds of gowns to local hospitals. “What we are doing on the UMKC Health Sciences Campus is working with our colleagues across the university to identify PPE that can be deployed to those hospitals most in need, and we are sharing that precious equipment,” said Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., interim dean at the UMKC School of Medicine. Jackson, who specializes in infectious disease, is a national expert on the new coronavirus. She said proper PPE is crucial. "Caring for patients with COVID-19 in our hospitals requires institutions to provide explicit guidance so staff can identify patients that need hospitalization and use all measures to prevent spread to other patients, and to themselves.” - Mary Anne Jackson, M.D.   “As the COVID-19 pandemic engulfs the United States, there are gaps in our scientific knowledge to tell us how many have been infected, and to identify the full spectrum of symptoms and signs. Adequate and reliable testing to help us correctly identify cases has not been widely available,” she said. “Still, the patients come and we care for them. Caring for patients with COVID-19 in our hospitals requires institutions to provide explicit guidance so staff can identify patients that need hospitalization and use all measures to prevent spread to other patients, and to themselves.” To date, Italy, the hardest-hit country in the world, has seen an enormous number of cases; 20% of those infected are the doctors and nurses caring for the patients, Jackson said. “Across the country, we are already seeing New York in a desperate situation,” Jackson said. “California, Washington state and now Louisiana, all are seeing a steep uptick in cases that threaten to overwhelm the healthcare system within the next week, and states like ours are only weeks behind unless we strictly enforce social distancing to reduce spread. That is why schools and businesses are closed and our mayor has issued a stay-at-home order. We face caring for patients without bed capacity, ventilators or the PPE needed to keep our workforce safe and operational.” “What we are doing on the UMKC Health Sciences Campus is working with our colleagues across the university to identify PPE that can be deployed to those hospitals most in need, and we are sharing that precious equipment.” - Jackson, M.D.   Within minutes of being asked if the UMKC School of Dentistry had surplus PPE it could part with, Dean Marsha Pyle and her colleagues rounded up a large inventory of boxes filled with gowns, masks and gloves that are not being utilized as the dental clinics have closed to all but emergency patients. Later, the UMKC schools of Nursing and Health Studies and Biological and Chemical Sciences also donated. KC STEM Alliance at the School of Computing and Engineering gave 500 pairs of goggles. These were brought to local hospitals where staff said supplies were critically low. “We do know that everyone wants to help and there has been a grassroots effort to have the community sew cloth masks. A recent study of cloth masks cautions against their use...so these are not the protection that healthcare workers can use in the healthcare environment at this time." - Jackson, M.D. Students from the UMKC Schools of Medicine and Dentistry led by Stefanie Ellison, associate dean for learning Initiatives at the School of Medicine and Richard Bigham, assistant dean of student programs at the School of Dentistry, are collaborating to identify other sources in the community and coordinating efforts to collect and distribute these vital supplies to local healthcare workers on the front lines. Others in the community that may be willing to donate their supplies include: Nail, hair, tattoo and piercing salons Local carpenters and maintenance workers, especially if contracted with apartment complexes, professional painters, drywallers, construction/machine operators, welders Professional colleagues in veterinary medicine Others in the local and regional dental community Warehouses (such as UHaul), mechanics, auto shops Cleaning services, or any organization that employs janitorial services or cafeterias Any organization with nursing stations (pools, gyms, schools) “We are also aware that our colleagues at Missouri S&T have developed a prototype for a face shield and N95 respirators (a protective mask designed to achieve a close facial fit with highly- efficient filtration of airborne particles) that could be mass produced, and we’re actively looking for community resources to do so,” Jackson said. “We do know that everyone wants to help and there has been a grassroots effort to have the community sew cloth masks. A recent study of cloth masks cautions against their use: moisture retention, reuse and poor filtration may result in increased risk of infection so these are not the protection that healthcare workers can use in the healthcare environment at this time." Shortages of PPE are severe and increasing because of hoarding, misuse and increased demand, according to the World Health Organization. There is clear data that pricing for surgical masks has increased sixfold, N95 respirator prices have tripled and even gown costs have doubled. The governor of New York has criticized the price gouging that prevents him from getting the masks he needs in the most urgent of situations there. The WHO has shipped 500,000 sets of PPE to 27 countries, but supplies are rapidly depleting and that stock won’t nearly cover the need. It estimates that PPE supplies need to increase by 40%, and manufacturers are rapidly scaling up production and urging governments to offer incentives to boost supplies, including easing restrictions on the export and distribution of PPE and other medical supplies. This from WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: "This cannot be solved by WHO alone, or one industry alone. It requires all of us working together to ensure all countries can protect the people who protect the rest of us." To donate equipment to the UMKC PPE initiative, please email Stefanie Ellison at ellisonst@umkc.edu and Richard Bigham at bighamr@umkc.edu. Mar 25, 2020

  • UMKC Innovation Center Resources for Business Owners During COVID-19 Outbreak

    The place for entrepreneurs offers a hotline, help and advice
    The UMKC Innovation Center is always a go-to for small-business owners and entrepreneurs, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is now more than ever. The center, which includes KCSourceLink and the Missouri Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UMKC, has added resources to help businesses throughout the coronavirus outbreak. Looking for funding updates and business help during the coronavirus outbreak? KCSourceLink has created a portal of business resources to help business owners navigate these challenging and uncertain times. Updated regularly. In fact, the Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Funding became available for businesses in Kansas and Missouri on March 21. Call the KCSourceLink hotline at 816-235-6500 or email info@kcsourcelink.com to get connected with resource partners that can help complete paperwork and answer your questions. Are you an entrepreneur? Take this survey from KCSourceLink to help community leaders and decision makers assess your needs and activate resources during the coronavirus outbreak. The Missouri SBDC at UMKC continues to offer online classes to help entrepreneurs and business owners start businesses and navigate challenges. “Typically, economic recessions trickle down to small businesses, but with this situation, restaurants and retailers are on the front end,” said Maria Meyers, executive director of the UMKC Innovation Center and founder of KCSourceLink and SourceLink. “Even when their doors might be closed, we’re here to keep financial advice and resources open.” Entrepreneurs and small businesses create 58% of net new jobs in the Kansas City metro area. These are young and small firms with fewer than 20 employees. According to the the KCSourceLink survey data so far, our small businesses are hurting right now. 75% need financial assistance. 60% are worried about revenue dropping. 15% are concerned they may have to close. What consumers can do to help small business right now: Buy curbside lunch/dinner from local restaurants. Shop local – buy gift cards, order online What government officials can do to help small businesses right now: Provide immediate financial support that enables small business to continue paying their employees – consider community/corporate supported short-term grants Help small businesses manage cash flow by delaying tax payments Extend benefits to solopreneurs What Kansas City area entrepreneurs are saying: The pressure to adapt quickly is immense. Our cashflow depends on clients coming in every day, there is no reserve. We have had to close up shop and file for unemployment. We adjusted our food service offering to delivery/pick-up/to-go only and this week had to close up completely. We won’t be in business without capital help. We will have to find online work to support ourselves and our business, leaving us unable to gear this back up when the virus has run its course. Once things settle down, my clients will likely be busy recovering and they may have to adjust their budgets which may cut my work. Mar 23, 2020

  • UMKC Cited for Commitment to First-Generation College Students

    First-gen Forward designation recognizes universities that improve experiences and advance outcomes of first-gen students
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City has been included in the 2020-21 cohort of First-gen Forward Institutions in recognition of its efforts to support first-generation students. The First-gen Forward is a designation given by the Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and the Suder Foundation. The designation recognizes colleges and universities that have demonstrated a commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students. Selected institutions receive professional development, community-building experiences, and a first look at the Center’s research and resources. About 40 percent of current UMKC undergraduates are first-generation college students, defined as those who do not have a parent with a college degree. UMKC initiatives for first-generation students include a First Gen Roo program designed to increase student success and satisfaction, with targeted goals for GPA, retention and graduation rates. Program goals are to facilitate campus navigation and integration, academic preparation and success (expectations, time management, note-taking, study skills, test-taking strategies); and social preparation (decision making, financial literacy, culture of higher education and strategies for success). The program begins with a week-long First Gen Roo Summer program immediately prior to the start of the fall semester which include early move-in, meals, resource workshops, academic sessions, one-on-one meetings with program staff, social events and more. During the fall semester, first generation peer mentors provide additional support in meeting the program goals. The program was pioneered by the College of Arts and Sciences and will be expanded to all UMKC academic units in Fall 2020. The university was also cited for the First Gen Proud program, a campus-wide initiative for first generation faculty, staff, alumni, and current students as well as supporters who were not first gen themselves, designed to recognize and celebrate the supportive, energetic, and inclusive first-generation community at UMKC. “Now in its second year, First-gen Forward institutions continue to lead the nation by their commitment to first-generation student success. The 2020-21 cohort consists of diverse institutions across the nation and we are pleased to welcome UMKC for their long-term commitment and demonstrated strategies for scaling first-generation student initiatives,” said Sarah E. Whitley, senior director of the Center for First-generation Student Success. UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal said support for first-generation students is a key component of the mission of UMKC.“We respect our first-generation students as trailblazers for their families and communities,” Agrawal said. “Their success is our community’s success, and as Kansas City’s only public research university, we play a critical role in enabling and empowering that success.”“First-gen Forward is an exciting opportunity for UMKC to join an elite community of professionals prepared to share evidence-based practices and resources, troubleshoot challenges, generate knowledge, and continue to advance the success of first-generation students across the country. We are excited to see a groundswell of activity from the First-gen Forward cohort and know that UMKC will be a significant contributor,” said Kevin Kruger, president and CEO of NASPA. Mar 23, 2020

  • A Match Day Like No Other

    School of Medicine conducts virtual Match Day celebration
    Match Day 2020 was like no other. Because of coronavirus concerns, the usual bustle bordering on bedlam at the School of Medicine was replaced by quiet, empty hallways. There also was a video-streamed and email presentation of where the more than 100 graduates-to-be will serve their medical residencies, leaving them to smaller individual celebrations. Interim Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., addressed students, their families, faculty and friends with a video message. She congratulated the UMKC Class of 2020 for its hard work of the past six years and called Match Day a rite of passage that is this year all the more significant in light of the pandemic gripping the nation. “When facing pandemics in the past, physicians have recognized a professional duty to care for patients, even in these difficult circumstances,” Jackson said. “That is why today I emphasize the human side of medicine. Today you promise to commit to put patients first, to always try to be worthy of the privilege of caring for patients, and that you will continue to pursue the education that ensures the care you provide is cutting edge and the best practice.” Students and their residency matches were revealed as part of the on-line video production. Just more than half of the UMKC class will be headed to a primary care residency in internal medicine, family medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, or pediatrics. That exceeds the national average and is in line with the school’s mission to provide primary care for the Kansas City area, Missouri and the rest of the Midwest. While students celebrated at home, some took to social media to share their good news. Student couple Mike VanDillen and Ariana Foutouhi were excited to find that they matched together. See their post below.  The students won assignments in 27 states and the District of Columbia, from Massachusetts to Hawaii and California to Florida. Missouri had 31 of the placements, followed by 11 in Illinois, 10 in Florida, eight in Texas, five in Kentucky and four each in Kansas and California. And, as usual, some are headed to the top names in medicine, including Mayo, Stanford, the Cleveland Clinic, Harvard, the University of Chicago and UCLA. Twenty-two will stay at UMKC and its affiliate hospitals; a baker’s dozen will be elsewhere in Missouri and Kansas. Internal medicine was the top category with 39 placements — eight of whom will move on to sub-specialties after a year — followed by 14 in pediatrics or medicine-pediatrics, nine in family medicine, seven in general surgery, six each in anesthesiology and emergency medicine, and five in obstetrics/gynecology. Jackson said in her message that the soon-to-be residents will join the front line of physicians and health care professional across the country playing a key role in caring for patients and responding to the current health crisis. “Know that you as resident providers will take the knowledge you’ve learned here, that you will be a partner in the preparation and response that is critical at this time, that you will be the calm that stabilizes those who are afraid, and that you will be the kind, compassionate physician that is the hallmark of our School of Medicine,” Jackson said. “Congratulations as we celebrate with you today, Match Day 2020.” Mar 23, 2020

  • Enactus’ FeedKC Launches New Web App

    UMKC students help direct food from restaurants to food banks, especially needed now
    With the demand at food banks growing, UMKC Enactus students have developed a new app to help restaurants donate excess food to local pantries for people in need. Three years ago, UMKC Enactus students discovered 1 in 8 Kansas Citians struggles with hunger daily. Meanwhile, over 40 percent of food produced in the U.S. is thrown away. For the past two years, the team of UMKC students has been manually transporting food from local cafeterias, including at UMKC and Rockhurt University, to food banks across the city. To date, they have created 6,000 meals for those in need. Now they’ve developed an app that connect locally-owned restaurants and cafeterias with excess food directly to food banks serving Kansas Citians in need. And with that need growing, due to coronavirus complications of schools being shut down and some employees getting fewer hours, the demand for food is higher than ever. The new app provides a safe, tax-deductible way for restaurants to donate food and help feed the hungry. Restaurants can post produce close to its sell-by-date, prepared food that hasn’t been used, is still in the kitchen or was a leftover. A local food pantry can request it and work out a time to transport it. When the food is picked up, you’ll receive a form detailing the donation which can be used for tax purposes. You can learn more about the process on the FeedKC website. The app was developed by a member of the team and graduate of UMKC. FeedKC is currently recruiting both restaurants and food banks to begin using it. “With the launch of the web application, the team hopes to see an increase in their number of community partners,” said Caitlin Easter, who inherited the project from the former project leader, Andrea Savage, earlier this year. “Our team has been working so hard to perfect our web application so that we could launch a product that we are truly proud of!” Learn more about the FeedKC app online. Check out the team's story on KCTV5.  Mar 19, 2020

  • UMKC School of Computing and Engineering Announces New Center for Urban Stormwater Research

    The research consortium will tackle flooding issues in Kansas City
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Computing and Engineering is teaming up with KC Water and other stakeholders — including FEMA , Unified Government and the Army Corps of Engineers — to launch the Center for Urban Stormwater Research (CUSR), a research consortium focused on tackling urban flooding in Kansas City. John Kevern, Ph.D., professor and civil and mechanical engineering department chair will serve as director of the center. Kevern regularly works with KC Water, including School of Computing and Engineering alumni like Tom Kimes (B.S.C.E. ’87), manager of stormwater engineering, and Jose Lopez (B.S.C.E. ’15), watershed planner. “Climate change is rapidly impacting engineering designs related to flooding across the globe,” Kevern said. “The Center for Urban Stormwater Research will help provide novel and innovative solutions to those challenges in Kansas City.” The center’s first project will focus on a FEMA grant exploring ways to educate the public about the risks of flooding.  “Our hope with the center is to see Kansas City manage stormwater in a way that leads the nation and turn the city’s ‘wild rivers’ into community assets,” said Tom Kimes, manager of stormwater engineering at KC Water.  The School of Computing and Engineering will recognize KC Water as Organization of the Year at its annual Vanguard Awards, originally scheduled to take place on April 2. The new event date is to be determined. The Vanguard Awards celebrates excellence in computing and engineering and will also recognize Sherry Lumpkins, principal at Blue Symphony, LLC; George White Jr., civil engineer at GLMV Architecture; and PREP-KC. Mar 19, 2020

  • Managing the Transition to Online Courses

    Professor Leigh Salzsieder shares his thoughts on the move
    University of Missouri-Kansas City students and faculty are wrapping up their first week of exclusively online classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We checked in with seasoned online instructor Leigh Salzsieder, chair of the department of accountancy and associate professor of accounting at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management, about making the move to online. How long have you taught online courses? How has the technology improved since you began teaching online? I have been teaching online since 2017 and have seen a couple of big improvements. First, the textbook publishers’ ability to run their digital content native in Canvas makes designing and delivering a course significantly easier. Another big improvement is the development of high-functioning apps for mobile use. Canvas and Zoom both do very well on a mobile device. Did you have any concerns when you started teaching online? My biggest concern moving from in-person to online teaching was that I would lose the ability to connect with my students. While things are different online, I can honestly say that in many ways it is more humanizing. For example, I have never met so many of my students’ children and pets. In an online synchronous environment where students are logging in from home, it is common for a toddler or pet to wander on screen. Those sorts of interactions allow for student-to-student and student-to-faculty interactions to have more personal meaning. It probably sounds silly, but it is really cool! What did students think of the switch to online classes? Any surprising reactions? Most of the students have really enjoyed the online synchronous delivery. The added flexibility has been the students’ favorite part. In previous classes, I have had students join class from all over the world, and even from airplanes (although the connection wasn’t great). What are the benefits of online courses? Challenges? The biggest benefit for students is flexibility. It also allows them to pause and replay course content that they’re struggling with and need to revisit. In addition, having a significant portion of the material online allows students to interact with it on their terms. I have had students tell me they listen to lectures while working out, while driving, etc. Online integrated content also allows students to get quality feedback on content at any time day or night. That’s not to say I’m answering questions at 2 a.m., but my online content is answering their questions with detailed feedback on practice sets. There are challenges to moving online, particularly for faculty. The change from in-person to online instruction can be a little scary. There are also costs to learning and adopting new technology, training and course certification, learning and creating new ways of assessing student outcomes, etc. Managing students online is also different than managing students in-person. It takes some time to get used to using discussion boards and other tools that facilitate meaningful interaction both peer-to-peer and with the instructor. "Most of the students have really enjoyed the online synchronous delivery. The added flexibility has been the students’ favorite part."—Leigh Salzsieder You're a member of eLearning Online Faculty Advisory Committee for UM System. What type of things do you work on for that group? Our group is advisory to the eLearning Strategy and Implementation Oversight Committee which is the actual decision-making body for eLearning and includes provosts for the four system campuses and system-level representatives. Our group was created with the intention of providing a faculty voice directly to the Oversight Committee regarding the eLearning enterprise. Any tips for students who are new to online learning? Professors? I think my tip for students would be to establish a routine. Having content available 24-hours-a-day often leads to procrastination. When I ask successful students how they do it, having a routine is the most common response. For professors, I would say try not to make your mind up about eLearning before you give it a chance. I’d also recommend that faculty utilize the resources available to them. We have faculty all over campus that are extremely effective online in areas you might not realize. For example, I serve on the eLearning Online Faculty Advisory Committee with Amanda Grimes from the School of Nursing and Health Studies and Kati Toivanen from Art and Art History, both of whom have excellent online courses.  Mar 19, 2020

  • Political Science Professor Awarded Carrie Chapman Catt Prize

    Research focuses on women and politics
    Rebecca Best, assistant professor of political science at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, was one of seven awarded a Carrie Chapman Catt Prize for research on Women and Politics from the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University. Best is also an associate faculty member of the UMKC Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program. Best’s research study, “Gendered Reintegration of Veterans and Political Representation of Women in the United States,” will examine whether there are gender differences in how certain types of reintegration experiences influence a veteran’s interest in and willingness to vote, run for office or engage in activism. The study will also explore whether factors such as marital status and dependent children have a gendered effect on the willingness of veterans to engage in politics. The award, valued at $2,000, will be used to fund a survey of military veterans, at least 40% of whom will be women. We spoke to Best about her research on women and politics. What got you interested in researching women’s military service? Several years ago, I went to Fort Leavenworth to give a presentation on women in rebel groups. Through that visit, I got connected with Kyleanne Hunter, a doctoral candidate at the University of Denver who had previously served as a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. We had similar ideas about why women engaged in political violence, in that we both believed that women’s reasoning was not fundamentally different from that of men, though their circumstances and the options available to them might be different. We started studying veteran women because it turns out to be much easier to survey and interview military veterans than to interview women in rebel groups (though scholars like Mia Bloom and Angie Nichols among others have been doing excellent work interviewing former rebel women).   What do you hope happens as a result of your research? Primarily my research goals are to better understand social science phenomena, but I also think that there are often important policy implications of social science research. With this project I am interested in better understanding how gender creates unique challenges for veterans reintegrating into society. I hope that a better understanding of these challenges will contribute to the development or programs and support networks designed to ease the transition out of military service. I also hope that this research can call attention to the contributions of the many women who have served and are serving in the United States military – including political scientists like Dr. Ky Hunter, Dr. Angie Nichols, and Dr. Theresa Schroeder. Finally, I hope that we can get a better sense of the causes of the gender gap in political representation and the types of policies that might help to further reduce this gap. Tell us about the research this award will help with? This award will help me to fund a survey of veterans of the United States military (both male and female). The purpose of the study is both to understand the gendering of reintegration experiences and how different reintegration experiences influence the willingness of veterans to run for office. This project builds on work by Jennifer Lawless and Richard Fox who find that an important cause of the gender gap in political representation is that women are less likely to run for office – for a variety of reasons including concerns about their own electability, family concerns and not being recruited to run. Specifically, Lawless and Fox surveyed men and women from several backgrounds that are common among lawmakers (law, education, entrepreneurship and political activism). The money from the Catt prize will allow me to extend this work to military veterans, tailoring the survey to experiences of veterans. Who are the women who influence your work the most? I have been lucky to be surrounded by supportive women here at UMKC and in my field of political science. Within my department, Beth Vonnahme, Debra Leiter and Mona Lyne have all been important mentors, sounding boards for new ideas and friends. There are many women doing exciting work in political science and international relations right now – and more than I can name here have impacted my own work. A few influential women include Cynthia Enloe, whose work on women, gender and international relations is both a lot of fun to read and incredibly insightful; Mary Caprioli, whose work evaluates links between gender inequality and armed conflict; Barbara Walter who uses strategic theory to resolve puzzles surrounding civil conflict resolution; Kelly Kadera who both consistently promotes other women in conflict studies and publishes innovative research on interstate conflict as well as women and gender in international relations; Carla Martinez Machain who studies arms transfers, military deployments, and air strikes, in addition to being an excellent mentor and friend for other women in political science; and Jakana Thomas, Alexis Henshaw, and Kanesha Bond, who have all published really interesting empirical evaluations of women in rebel groups. How do you influence others? The most impactful part of my job is teaching UMKC students. In doing that, I hope to help students see the relevance of academic work to both public policy and their own lives. For example, in my conflict resolution class students read academic literature on negotiating strategies and we discuss examples of implementing these strategies both in larger scale political negotiations (like peace processes) and in negotiations over salary and benefits. Similarly, I ask my students to consider how the theories we discuss in class are reflected in the stories they read in the news from negotiations with the Taliban to protests in Iran. I’ve published some of my own thoughts on these and other issues in public forums such as the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage, the Conversation and Political Violence @ a Glance. Mar 18, 2020

  • Schools of Pharmacy, Medicine in U.S. News Rankings

    Pharmacy in top 25%; Medicine makes debut
    The UMKC School of Pharmacy was tied for 31st in U.S. News and World Report Best Grad Schools rankings released Tuesday. That put the school in the top one-quarter of the 134 U.S. pharmacy schools that were rated. “This is a testament to the quality and resilience of our hard-working students, and to the dedication of our faculty and staff,” said Dean Russell Melchert. “It’s great to be recognized nationally as we pursue our mission to improve health throughout our state and region through education, research and community engagement.” The U.S. News pharmacy rankings are based solely on surveys of academics at peer institutions. The UMKC School of Pharmacy ranking was up from 36th in 2016, when U.S. News last surveyed for pharmacy programs. The UMKC school also has had great success matching its graduates. The Class of 2020 had an 81% initial match rate, the program’s best ever. In addition, “pharmacist” tops a CNBC list of top-paying professions right out of school, with a median annual salary of $123,670. The UMKC School of Medicine also joined the rankings for the first time this year, placing 75th for primary care medical schools and 88th for research medical schools. U.S. News said its rankings covered 122 accredited medical and osteopathic medical schools that participated in the rankings, out of 189 that were asked. “Our school is known for excellent clinical training and great success in residency matching. We also offer expanding research opportunities.” — Interim Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D. UMKC, whose innovative six-year program takes most of its students right out of high school, has not participated in past surveys because its program is so different from others in the United States. Interim Dean Mary Anne Jackson, a 1978 graduate of the program, thought it was time to join the survey. “Our school is known for excellent clinical training and great success in residency matching, throughout the Midwest and at Mayo and other top institutions,” Jackson said. “We also offer expanding research opportunities and have placed students in the top National Institutes of Health student research program for several years in a row.” The medical school rankings were based on a weighted average of indicators, seven for the primary care rankings and eight for research. Some indicators were quality assessments by academic peers and residency directors. But most were objective data submitted by the schools, such as research activity, student test scores and acceptance rate. The UMKC school rated in the top one-third, for example, in faculty-student ratio, on a par with Stanford, the No. 4 school overall, and ahead of 78 other schools. It also did well in the percentage of its graduates going into primary care. Dean Jackson said it took a "yeoman's effort" to compile and submit the required data for the first time, and she thanked the school's leadership team including Vice Deans Steven Waldman, M.D. '77, J.D., and Paul Cuddy, Pharm.D., M.B.A., for their efforts.    Mar 18, 2020

  • Alumnus Provides Specialty Care to Those in Need

    Kevin J. Blinder to receive the UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Achievement Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. In 2020, UMKC is honoring Kevin Blinder (M.D. ’85) with the School of Medicine Alumni Achievement Award. Kevin Blinder (M.D. '85) As an ophthalmologist, Blinder is a leading specialist of vitreoretinal diseases — which affect the back of the eye and fluid around it. A partner at the Retina Institute in St. Louis, Blinder is also a professor of ophthalmology at Washington University and has trained countless residents and fellows in retina education. In addition to teaching, operating and seeing patients, he has an interest in clinical research and has been an investigator in more than 30 clinical trials dealing with a variety of vitreoretinal pathology. He spoke with us about his specialty and time at UMKC. Did you know you wanted to pursue ophthalmology while getting your degree? I had no idea what area of medicine that I was going to specialize in early on. All I knew is that I wanted to be a physician and that I wanted to be in the six-year medical program that UMKC offered. I had an interest in ophthalmology throughout medical school and chose my specialty after taking the elective offered at UMKC with Dr. Felix Sabates. You find time to participate in clinical research in addition to your other roles. Where does your passion for research stem from? We learned early on in medical school the way to advance medicine is to ask questions and pursue answers. Clinical research attempts to answer these questions, from the simplest to the most complex. We can offer our patients cutting-edge technology that otherwise may not be available outside of the research protocol and benefit those that participate in the students and many other future patients. You travel monthly to Quincy, Illinois, to serve patients without access to specialty care. How did you get involved with the clinic there? I was approached many years ago by one of my former roommates from medical school, Eric Sieck, to come to his office in Quincy and provide retinal care. I take an entire crew with me for what is usually a 15-hour day to provide care for patients who would otherwise potentially go untreated. It has been very fulfilling to provide this service and to work in the same office as one of my classmates and dearest friends from my medical school days. What is a memory that stands out from medical school? I think the most vivid and profound memory that I still have nightmares about is the night I was on call during a docent rotation when the Hyatt Regency walkway collapsed. We were asked to first assist in the ER, triaging and treating survivors as they were brought in over from the hotel. Then they asked for volunteers to go to the scene where people were trapped underneath tons of concrete to assist with rescue efforts; 114 people were killed, and 214 people were injured. I would like to think that we played a role in saving those 214 people who survived. Meet the rest of the 2020 UMKC Alumni Awardees Mar 06, 2020

  • Alumna Driven by Passion for Patients

    Theresa Maxwell to receive the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies Alumni Achievement Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. In 2020, UMKC is honoring Theresa Maxwell (M.S.N. ’01) with the School of Nursing and Health Studies Alumni Achievement Award. Theresa Maxwell (M.S.N. '01) Maxwell’s 30 years in nursing has been driven by her expertise in gastroenterology — disorders of the stomach and intestines — and her passion for its patients. As an ostomy specialist and nurse practitioner at Digestive Health Specialists in St. Joseph, Missouri, Maxwell works closely with physicians to provide the best specialty care in the region. She even started her own business, Image Specialties, when she felt that companies were substituting items where they shouldn’t, overbilling and subscribing to generally unscrupulous practices. Additionally, Maxwell contracted with nursing homes, home health agencies and hospitals to provide pre-operative teaching, in-services and educational programs. We spoke with her recently about her path in nursing. How did you choose your specialty of gastroenterology? I liked surgical nursing and any procedures that I could do. I identified a need for an ostomy and wound-specialized nurse and became one. The ostomy specialty was by far the most rewarding nursing that I had ever done, much to my surprise. Most of my patients, especially the ones who are ostimates, appreciate me. Nursing is frequently an underappreciated profession and I like being where I feel needed and appreciated. You’ve worked in a variety of settings, including a hospital, surgeon’s office and as a home health clinician. Did you enjoy one workplace more than the others? I really enjoyed having my own practice, except I was the worst boss that I have ever worked for! I believe each job that I’ve held had its role in making me more well-rounded and independent. Tell us about your role at Digestive Health Specialists. What is a typical day like for you? I have clinic every morning which includes seeing patients for a variety of issues including office procedures. Most mornings, I am the only provider in the office, so I will usually triage any calls or walk-ins that occur as well. I do another clinic in the afternoon, then I go to the hospital for rounds or work in my office charting and doing administrative duties. Mar 06, 2020

  • Honoring a Pioneering Pharmacist, Educator and Researcher

    Jerry L. Bauman to receive the UMKC School of Pharmacy Alumni Achievement Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. In 2020, UMKC is honoring Jerry Bauman (Pharm.D. ’78) with the School of Pharmacy Alumni Achievement Award. Bauman has had a distinguished 40-year career as a pioneering clinical pharmacist, educator, practitioner, researcher and leader. Currently editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy, Bauman was dean and distinguished professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy for nearly 12 years. His research on the clinical pharmacology of cocaine and cardiovascular drugs, specifically anti-arrhythmic medicines, earned him international recognition. He recently spoke with us about his career. You were the first pharmacist elected as a fellow of the American College of Cardiology (ACC). How did that feel? I was extremely proud to be elected as such. Today, there are quite a few pharmacists who have been elected as fellows in the ACC and I feel as if I, in part, paved the way. Shortly after I was elected, the ACC office called me because they thought I had misprinted my degree — that is how I knew I was the first. "The Pharm.D. program transformed me into a confident and competent clinical pharmacist."—Jerry Bauman Tell us about your internationally-recognized research on the clinical pharmacology of cocaine and cardiovascular drugs. I developed an interest in arrhythmias at UMKC and Truman Medical Center and then at the University of Illinois at Chicago, I was fortunate to be working with an incredible group of electrophysiologists. There, I began to study drug-induced arrhythmias and eventually saw the similarities between cocaine and anti-arrhythmic agents. We then defined the electrophysiology of cocaine and found agents that could reverse its effects. The agent was sodium bicarbonate, which is still recommended and came from my experience at Truman Medical Center. How did UMKC contribute to your success? I can’t overemphasize how it contributed to my success. The Pharm.D. program transformed me into a confident and competent clinical pharmacist. I used the knowledge and skills I developed there to create my academic career, including research programs and teaching style. Meet the rest of the 2020 UMKC Alumni Awardees Mar 05, 2020

  • ‘The CEO’ Leads On and Off the Court With Her Own Business

    Jonaie Johnson juggles the demands of college basketball and the rigorous Entrepreneurship Scholars program
    Get to know our people and you'll know what UMKC is all about. Jonaie Johnson ‘22 Hometown: Chicago, Illinois Degree Program: Business administration with an emphasis in entrepreneurship High school: Kenwood Academy Jonaie Johnson has a history of success. The sophomore women’s basketball guard is recognized as a team leader following a high school basketball career where she was recognized with All-Conference honors her sophomore and junior years, and earned All-City, Second Team All-State, Chicago Tribune Third Team All-State and Kenwood Academy Player of the Year during her senior season. But not all of her accomplishments were on the court. Johnson was valedictorian of her 8th grade class and graduated 5th in her high school class with a 5.1 GPA. Johnson is seen as a leader on the Western Athletics Conference champion Kansas City Roos women’s basketball team, but is also excelling in the Bloch School Entrepreneurship Scholars (E-Scholars) program. She is developing her first product, Interplay, a dog crate designed to provide remote interaction – including video and audio access, locking and unlocking features and the ability to provide food and water – for a dog and its owner through a mobile app. Why did you choose UMKC? It was a combination of things. I was recruited for basketball, but I really had no idea about what UMKC was like. I had other schools recruiting me, so I wasn’t sure UMKC would be for me. But once I came here and was on campus, I loved it. And then once I realized that it was one of the few schools where you could major in entrepreneurism on the undergraduate level, that was the decision maker for me.  Why did you choose your field of study? I developed the idea for Interplay for a project when I was in high school. My aunt was always leaving our family events to go home to feed her dog. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to do that remotely?” I want Interplay to be the Apple of dog crates. My freshman year, I attended an event and was seated with Mary and Tom Bloch. They mentioned the Entrepreneur of the Year program at the Bloch School and asked me if I was going to be there. I actually didn’t know about it, but I offered to volunteer to help people to their seats. I was wondering about the companies that were presenting and someone told me that they were part of the Entrepreneurship Scholars (E-Scholars) program. I had a clipboard with the seating assignments, but underneath I had my business model. That night I had the opportunity to talk with Ben [Gruber, director Regnier Institute] and I was able to show him my plan. That’s how I ended up in E-Scholars. “I want Interplay to be the Apple of dog crates.”- Jonaie Johnson What are the challenges of the program? The biggest challenge for me is time management. On top of the course work, in college you have a lot of events and activities going on around you and you want to hang out with friends. The freedom itself is an adjustment because you don't necessarily have your parents guiding you and telling you what to do and what not to do. Being able to stay focused and manage my time is a challenge. But I do have fun! I enjoy school and working on my company. I’m kind of a nerd. I love learning.  What are the benefits of the E-Scholars program and participating in athletics?  There are a lot in both cases. The E-Scholars program laid the foundation for my company. They took me from a simple idea to a viable business. When I came into the program, my company was nothing more than a cool idea for a product. Their resources, connections and mentors took me from an idea to a viable business. Their coursework taught me how I should strategically go about starting my venture to avoid many mistakes entrepreneurs make when starting a company. Their continuous support and help throughout the program, and even after I graduated from E-Scholars, has been a major key in the success I’ve had thus far with my company.  When it comes to starting my career, I know companies are always looking for college athletes. Even some of my mom’s managers at Eli Lily are always asking when I’m going to graduate. We have the time management, discipline and the ability to work with others that we learn in the team setting. Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself? I've learned how hard I can work, what I can really do and how mentally strong I am. I've always known it about myself, but my experiences in college have enhanced that. What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor? When I went to talk to Jonae Hone, who is a mentor in residence in the E-Scholars program, about my company, she told me, “Do what you do best and hire the rest.” That’s the thing that keeps me going. I know I can’t master and be strong at everything, but I can understand what and how things need to be done and work with others who can complement my skills. What is one word that best describes you and why? Driven. Because I consistently strive to be the best me in any and everything I do. I’m very goal oriented, and I don’t stop until I achieve my goals. What’s your greatest fear? Not reaching my greatest potential. “"I enjoy school and working on my company. I'm kind of a nerd. I love learning.”- Jonaie Johnson Do you have a role model? Absolutely. It’s my mom. I’m an only child, and we have a really tight-knit relationship. From a young age, she was one person that I could look up to. She was a Mary Kay director and got the pink Cadillac in a short amount of time. Now she’s a pharmaceutical rep and she’s always one of the top sales representatives. She always goes above and beyond. Were you always interested in sports in general or basketball specifically? I’ve always been a competitor. Growing up, I loved sports. I started out playing baseball. I was the only girl on the all-star baseball boys’ team and I made the all-star game. When I had to transfer over to softball I didn’t really like it. It was softer to me, and I liked baseball more. But in between seasons when it was cold outside, my mom put me in basketball. It took off from there.    When you started playing did you think you would play in college? When I started playing competitively, I was determined to play in college. My mom was so worried about how she was going to pay for college and where the money was going to come from. I always told her “Mom you’re not going to have to worry about college. I’m going to get an academic scholarship or a basketball scholarship.” I was pretty confident about that. We’ve heard that sometimes your teammates call you “the CEO.” Do you see yourself as a leader? I do, but my mom always tells me that I don't necessarily walk in the room and try to take charge and take the lead. People just naturally flock to or look to me as a leader. I usually don’t want it, but it comes. There are a lot of young girls who come to watch your games. Do you see yourself as a role model? What would you tell them about pursuing sports in college? I’m usually so focused during the game, that sometimes I forget that they may see me as a role model. But, I would tell them that if they find a passion and have a heart for it, to work hard and just let it happen. If it’s meant to be, everything will fall into place.   Mar 05, 2020

  • UMKC Staff Awarded for Excellence in Service

    Annual ceremony recognizes contributions
    Excellence at UMKC is not just the standard for our students, it is the standard for everyone who lives, works and visits our university. For more than 1,300 staff members, excellence in customer service and quality of work are not just university values, they’re personal ethics, and the annual Staff Awards event gives our campus community a chance to recognize those who make a difference at UMKC. On the morning of March 4, hundreds of staff members gathered for the annual Staff Awards celebration in the James. C. Olson Performing Arts Center to celebrate a commitment to student success, diversity and inclusion, engagement and outreach and research and discovery. The celebration also included milestone anniversaries, staff who were a part of the 2019 graduating class and staff who completed leadership development courses offered through the university. “Whether you work directly with our students, coordinate programs and services for the greater Kansas City community or provide support to keep this university running, what you do here matters.” - Interim Provost Jenny Lundgren Congratulations to the 2020 Staff Awards recipients 40-year Milestone Anniversary Kevin McCarrison 2019 spring, summer and fall graduates Emily BrownCynthia ChristyMegan FrasherRussell FriendHilary McNeilJulie MyerBailey WaltonSybil Wyatt Supervisory Development Series Graduates Casey BauerLaura BegleyKenneth BledsoePetra BrickerAndrea BrownEmily BrownLauren ButlerAllan DavisKinglsey KakieJessica KeithBridget KoanAlia KrzyzanowskiTamica LigeDerek LongDea MarxAshley MasonBrenton McCoyAngela McDonaldLaura MoorePatricia MullinMike NorrisNikhilia Donti ReddyEmily ReebHea Kyung ShoemakerAmber SotoCasey StauberRichard ThomasSeth TracyJodi TroupAlmaz Wassie Administrative Leadership Development Program Graduates John AustLaura BegleyChad BristowAmber DaughertyJeffery HeckathornMakini KingBecky MarkleyKady McMasterSarah Mote Staff Council Dedication Award Alexandra Schumacher Living the Values Awards Selena Albert, School of Computing and EngineeringSilas Arnold, School of Biological and Chemical SciencesNancy Bahner, School of PharmacyAyleen Bashir, Innovation CenterJennifer Parker Burrus, ConservatoryElizabeth Couzens, School of LawRoland Hemmings Jr., Student AffairsKristen Kleffner, School of MedicineRandy Krahulik, Intercollegiate AthleticsAudrey Lester, College of Arts and SciencesJennifer Lyles-Maqsood, School of Nursing and Health StudiesGuadalupe Magana, School of EducationShana Malone, Office of Registration and RecordsLindsey Mayfied, Strategic Marketing and CommunicationsTanya Moore, School of DentistryGene Pegler, Henry W. Bloch School of ManagementHeather Swanson, Finance and AdministrationLaura Taylor, National Museum of Toys and MiniaturesGail Williams, University LibrariesSandy Wilson, Office of Research Services University Staff Awards Excellence in Student Success – Kaitlin Woody, External Relations and Constituent EngagementExcellence in Research and Creative Works – Stephanice Griffin, School of Computing and EngineeringExcellence in Engagement and Outreach – Christina Davis, School of Computing and EngineeringExcellence in Multiculturalism, Globalism, Diversity and Inclusion – Anthony LaBat, University LibrariesExcellence in Planning, Operations and Stewardship – Kevin Mullin, College of Arts and SciencesChancellor’s Staff Award for Extraordinary Contributions – Ted Stahl, Office of Human ResourcesRising Star Award – Ivan Ramirez, Office of Multicultural Student Affairs Learn More About UMKC Mar 05, 2020

  • School of Education Cancels Annual Urban Education Forum

    Recognition of former mayor Sly James will postponed
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Education has cancelled its annual Urban Education Forum scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, March 12. Featured speaker Marilyn Cochran-Smith, Ph.D., is unable to travel to Kansas City due to Coronavirus concerns. The School will postpone its presentation of the Hugh J. Zimmer Award for Excellence in Urban Education to former mayor Sly James. Details regarding the new presentation date are to be determined. The biennial award is given to individuals who have affected a systematic and broad-reaching impact on urban education through policy development, program design and implementation and philanthropy.  The Urban Education Forum brings together teachers, administrators, school counselors, social workers and community members to learn from thought leaders about expanding quality education in the greater Kansas City community and is sponsored by the School of Education. Mar 04, 2020

  • Vision Researcher Awarded $1.16 Million Grant to Battle Glaucoma

    Peter Koulen receives third NIH grant in the past year
    UMKC School of Medicine vision researcher Peter Koulen, Ph.D., has received a $1.16 million grant for a study to battle vision loss and blindness. Backed by the National Institutes of Health National Eye Institute, his research will investigate how a mechanism that allows nerve cells to communicate effectively could lead to the development of new treatments for glaucoma. Glaucoma is a major cause of irreversible vision loss and blindness in the United States and worldwide. The disease causes degeneration in the retina and optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. Preventing the death of these cells is currently the only feasible way to prevent vision loss due to glaucoma. In the past year, Koulen has won two other major NIH research grants. His current study of new chemical compounds to treat and prevent age-related macular degeneration received a $1.16 million grant. He is also part of an innovative $1.5 million project exploring a novel tissue-preservation method that could help meet far-reaching clinical needs in ophthalmology and other fields of medicine This new glaucoma research will focus on alternative strategies directly targeting the damaging effects of the disease on the retina and optic nerve. “Just like elevated blood pressure predisposes patients to stroke, high pressure inside the eye is a predisposing factor for glaucoma,” said Koulen, professor of ophthalmology and director of basic research at the Vision Research Center. “There are currently several therapies available to patients to reduce abnormally high eye pressure, but when these therapies fail or cease to be effective, glaucoma and the accompanying vision loss continue to progress.” Koulen’s project will determine how to boost the cell-to-cell communication that retinal nerve cells use to defend themselves from disease and injury. The hope is this will protect these cells from the damaging effects of glaucoma. If successful, Koulen’s research will result in new drug candidates that would contribute to “neuroprotection” as a strategy to treat and prevent glaucoma. New therapies could potentially act in concert with current eye pressure lowering drugs. Other areas of medicine, such as cancer treatment, have effectively employed the concept of using complementary drug action in combination therapies. Mar 04, 2020

  • Swan Lake Challenges Conservatory Student’s Mental and Physical Stamina

    Erica Lohman performs in one of the most recognized ballets of all time
    Get to know our people and you'll know what UMKC is all about. Erica Lohman Anticipated Graduation: 2021 Academic Program: Dance, Conservatory Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana High School: Mt. Vernon High School Erica Lohman, a senior studying dance, chose the UMKC Conservatory because she knew the dance department allowed students to take leaves of absence to participate in professional performances. Since she’s been a student she’s toured with had the opportunity to perform with the Kansas City Ballet in The Nutcracker, and most recently, Swan Lake.  Have you performed with ballet companies like this before? Yes! I grew up dancing at a ballet school in my hometown that put on two full-length ballet productions a year, so I definitely have a soft spot for these types of productions. I took a leave of absence to dance professionally with Albany Berkshire Ballet in 2018, where I performed in their annual tour of The Nutcracker in the northeast United States. I also performed with the Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company last fall before participating in Kansas City Ballet’s productions. Lohman, left, rehearsing for Swan Lake; image courtesy of Kansas City Ballet, photography Courtney Nitting What does it feel like to be on a stage with seasoned professionals?  I have looked up to the dancers in Kansas City Ballet for many years, so at first it felt very strange and a little intimidating to be dancing alongside them. That being said, both the dancers and the artistic staff were encouraging throughout the rehearsal processes for both The Nutcracker and Swan Lake. Once I got used to dancing the challenging choreography with these professionals, I really enjoyed myself. I feel inspired by these amazing artists, and dancing with them has motivated me to keep working hard and pushing myself to someday reach their level of skill and artistry. Was the experience what you expected it to be? Swan Lake is a very popular ballet with iconic music, so I knew what to expect with the structure of the choreography. I also knew just how hard it was going to be and how much we had to get done in rehearsals. I was part of the corps de ballet, or the 24 women who dance as the swans. We had to be precisely together and in line at all times. We spent a lot of time in rehearsals going over details like which way to tilt our heads and which wrist to cross in front of the other. It even gets as specific as how we place our fingers.  “I realized that half the battle was learning to trust myself and stay mentally calm.”- Erica Lohman Because of this precision and how much the swans dance, doing a full-run of the ballet takes immense mental and physical stamina. For me, I realized that half the battle was learning to trust myself and stay mentally calm. It’s easy to get caught up in being “perfect” and not making any mistakes. Once I let go of those negative emotions, stayed present on stage with the other dancers, and turned to the music to carry me through, I enjoyed myself so much. The music at the end of Swan Lake is so beautiful, and it’s empowering to finish strong alongside 24 women who I admire more than anything. I was so moved during my last show I actually ended up crying tears of joy during that moment onstage!  Have you performed with other Conservatory students in professional productions?  There were three of us in Kansas City Ballet’s The Nutcracker this year. But UMKC dance students really get awesome professional gigs all the time! I am so proud to be a part of this dance department and feel as though it keeps getting stronger and stronger.   Mar 04, 2020

  • 5 Questions with a Prison Researcher

    An interview with Janet Garcia-Hallett
    The Urban Institute recently awarded grants to improve the conditions of prisons in five states including Missouri. University of Missouri System researchers are playing a central role, including Janet Garcia-Hallett, assistant professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The 4.5-year research project will be piloted at Moberly Correctional Center, a 1,800-bed minimum/medium-security facility located 35 miles north of Columbia, Missouri. It houses two intensive therapeutic communities for individuals committed to personal growth and sobriety. It provides opportunities for incarcerated individuals to give back through programs such as Puppies for Parole and Restorative Justice. It also offers 48 courses and groups that build skills in areas such as anger management, parenting, employability preparation, cognitive interventions, addiction management and understanding the impact of crime on victims. We spoke to Garcia-Hallett about the research project. What got you interested in researching correctional facilities? It was personal. Growing up in Harlem in the 1980s and 1990s, I saw how mass incarceration affected the community. I saw the adversity my community faced with rampant substance abuse, and when encountering the criminal justice system. I’d see people go missing when they were incarcerated. And I’d see people return home from incarceration, and try to regain stability. I grew up with friends who became wrapped up in the criminal justice system or who were killed or committed suicide as a result of the systemic oppression. Because of this, I became interested in finding ways to address the systematic oppression embedded in carceral systems. What will your role be in improving the Missouri correctional center? What do you hope happens as a result of your research? We will work using community-based participatory research — getting involvement from not only those who live there, but also those who work there. The first step will be interviewing and conducting focus groups to inform climate surveys about the prison environment. I hope that our research will encourage data-driven change and help all people impacted by the system — establishing a more humane and rehabilitative environment for those who live there and also improving the working conditions for those who work there. Tell us about the book you’re writing. “Invisible Mothers” (scheduled to publish in 2022 by University of California Press). It’s about mothers who were incarcerated; I interviewed 37 mothers in New York City about their experiences navigating motherhood after incarceration. I saw much of incarceration research was based on men, and I was interested in researching formerly incarcerated women. Over two-thirds of incarcerated women are mothers, and this book is about them and putting them at the forefront to show how their gender, racial-ethnic background, and maternal roles make their experiences unique. As I’m navigating motherhood myself now, this resonates even more with me. Who influences you the most? My mother, Sandra Garcia, who is Afro-Latina. She endured the hardships of Honduras and came to the U.S. to find a better life and to establish better circumstances for her children to excel. She has always motivated me to aim high, to do things for the greater good and to give back to my local community and home country. How do you influence others? I’m a first-generation college student, and I list that on my email signature at UMKC – ‘First Gen Proud.’ Many of my students are first gen, too. By seeing that I finished college and went on through graduate school to obtain a Ph.D., this often serves as a source of empowerment. I also find that, as a woman of color, many of my underrepresented students come to me for information, advice or solace, and I am more than happy to serve in this capacity.   Feb 26, 2020

  • Alumnus' Business Focuses on Craft Beer and Community

    College of Arts and Sciences selects John Couture to receive Alumni Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. In 2020, the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences is honoring John Couture (B.A. ’96) with its Alumni Achievement Award. In 2012, Couture launched Bier Station, the first spot for sampling and enjoying craft beer in Kansas City. In addition to being an award-winning nationally recognized destination for beer enthusiasts, he’s worked hard to make his business a civic asset with an emphasis on giving back to the community. He spoke to us recently about how he's getting by during COVID-19 and his time at UMKC. How are you coping with the stay-at-home order as a small business owner? We know many friend in the local restaurant/bar/brewery industry are struggling mightily right now — not just economically, but emotionally. COVID-19 has wreaked havoc among local businesses that oftentimes don’t have the deep pockets of corporations to withstand weeks, let alone months, of shuttered business. The one thing many of us do have now is time. If you want to support your favorite, local businesses, you can start by monitoring their social media. Can you place a carry-out or delivery order? How about contributing to a Go Fund Me page to support its laid-off staff? Or, purchase a gift card online to provide immediate revenue to the business. Even just a personal note of encouragement and support to a business can mean so much when each day is filled with uncertainty and anxiety. Your major at UMKC was communication studies. How does that help you in running a business? Communication is vital to everything we do. Our relationships with breweries are dependent upon strong communications. We try to always be professional, but friendly, and collaborative, which goes a long way to helping keep a business healthy. How did you come up with the idea for a craft beer shop? How did you put it in motion? I went to Europe with my best friend in 2006. We were always big craft beer fans, and we really appreciated how laid-back European pubs were. They were much more family-friendly than America. A few years later, I was researching online and saw the craft beer tasting/bottle shop concept that was hot in the Northwest, but not in the Midwest yet. Bier Station was the Midwest’s first craft beer tasting/bar/bottle shop, and we’re definitely known for our family-friendly neighborhood vibe. Selfishly, I also wanted to make sure my daughters would feel comfortable visiting me at work. Couture, pictured right, stands with representatives from Children's Center for the Visually Impaired as they receive their donation check. Bier Station maintains an ongoing, community-focused charitable fundraising program. Since January 2017, the pub has raised more than $160,000 for causes ranging from veterans’ programs to animal shelters to suicide prevention – as well as the UMKC Women's Center, Kansas City Athletics and Kansas City’s NPR affiliate station, KCUR. Why is it important to you to support and be active in the community? Sometimes I still can’t believe I have a job that revolves around beer. I feel very fortunate. I also feel we have a duty to give back to our community. It helps give our staff a sense of pride to know when they come to work and pour a beer for a fundraiser, it’s for a great cause. What advice do you have for students who’d like to follow in your footsteps? Be confident, but respectful and always think of others in everything you do. I’ve found that a little bit goes a long way when you take others’ wellbeing into consideration with your everyday work life. Meet the rest of the 2020 UMKC Alumni Awardees Feb 26, 2020

  • Making Black History

    ‘Doing something so remarkable that it does not fade from people's minds.’
    In celebration of Black History Month, we asked student leaders to reflect on the idea of making history – as opposed to studying or celebrating history. Participants include: Jordan Grimmett, president, Men of Color InitiativeHometown: St. LouisAge: 20Major: Six-year BA/MD program at UMKC School of Medicine  Justice Horn, SGA presidentHometown: Blue Springs, MissouriAge: 21Major: Business Management  Alexis Jackson, secretary, The African American Student Union (TAASU)Hometown: St. LouisAge: 22Major: Health Science Cameron Johnson, president, Multicultural Student Organization CouncilHometown: St. LouisAge: 21Major: Biology  What does it mean to you, personally, to “make history”? Grimmett: Making history can be attained in countless ways, but there are commonalities between them: inspiring others, making change or doing something so remarkable that it does not fade from people's minds. So, to me, making history means giving back to the less fortunate, staying true to yourself and fighting for what's right. Johnson: To me, making history means leaving a legacy that people who come after you can use to be better versions of themselves; and to get to places that, before you, they would have a harder time reaching. Horn: As UMKC’s first multicultural, openly gay student body president, making history means that I represent my community, but also those who came before me. I represent several disenfranchised communities, and representation matters. That is why I make history: to break through barriers in sectors that have never seen anyone from my community. Who are the people alive today who have made black history? What have you learned from them that you apply in your own life? Jackson: People like Beyoncé, LeBron James, Barack and Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Robert Smith have made black history. These major figures have taught me that the sky is the limit and not to hold out on my dreams for anyone. Grimmett: A few that have inspired me frequently are Barack Obama, LeBron James and Oprah Winfrey. They all have been leaders in their respective careers and have paved the way for others like them to be successful in similar ways. As a future health-care provider, I take these lessons personally because I’m aware of the disparities that exist in certain communities and I know that I will have a strong platform and resources to support and fight for those that are less fortunate. Johnson: Barack Obama, Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, Jay Z, Simone Biles, Claressa Shields, 50 Cent. What I have learned from them is to raise the bar against all odds. I have also learned to follow your dreams, even if the people around you won't understand at the time. Do you know anyone personally who you would call a black history-maker? What have you learned from them? Johnson: Every person that breaks down barriers for people in their family is making black history. We come from generations of overcoming oppression, so yes, if you are doing things that you never thought you could do, then that is black history. Congratulations are in order. Grimmett: Dr. Kevin McDonald, the vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Virginia. I was fortunate to meet him through a program called MOCHA (Men of Color, Honor and Ambition) that strives to provide development in various aspects of life and academics to men of color in high school and college in an effort to increase academic success, retention and future success as leaders. Horn: I know a lot of people I would call history makers and many of them are here at UMKC, leaders such as Athletic Director Brandon Martin, NAACP President Kayla Pittman, Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Inclusion Susan Wilson, MSA President Cameron Johnson, TAASU President Brandy Williams and many more. Those are people I look up to because they are making history every day.  Why does making history matter? Horn: For our community to advance and make strides, we must have a seat at the table. When big decisions are being made and/or policy is set, there must be someone from our community representing us and advocating for us. Always. Grimmett: We need acts of excellence to continue inspiring others to follow their dreams. There have to be leaders and innovators who aren't afraid to take risks for the advancement of mankind. Do you believe that you will make history? As an individual? As part of a community? Horn: I believe I will continue to make history because I’m pursuing a career in a profession that hasn’t seen a lot of people like me. I plan on pursuing a career in politics, and my end goal is being Missouri’s first African American governor. Grimmett: There is not a lot of African American representation in medicine, so in part I hope to make history as an individual, but also make history by building a community of African American physicians that can be the face for aspiring individuals in younger generations. Johnson: I do believe that I will make history, not because I seek to be famous but because everything that I do is for the benefit of those around me. That kind of dedication to the cause has a good chance at getting recognition, and if it doesn't, that doesn't make the contribution to my people any less historic. Jackson: I believe I will make history by contributing to our society, by volunteering to make change and helping keep policy makers in office that support all people and recognize their struggles. What are your goals in terms of making history? Jackson: My goal is to excel in my career, to let other black and brown girls know that anything is possible. Grimmett: Graduating medical school and becoming a physician will open many doors. I want to create scholarships and programs that will help increase the population of underrepresented minorities attending college and entering medical school. Feb 25, 2020

  • Interest in Helping Native Americans Leads Student to Dental School

    Shanon Black, mother of three, pursues healthcare field to work on reservations
    Get to know our people and you'll know what UMKC is all about. Shanon Black '22Hometown: Lawrence, KansasDegree Program: Doctor of Dental SurgeryHigh school: Lawrence High School An interest in healthcare and a focus on making a difference for Native American communities led Shanon Black to the UMKC School of Dentistry.  While the program is as challenging as she expected, the mother of three is successfully juggling school and life. Shanon Black knew she wanted to be on the frontline of health care and make a difference for Native American communities. Initially, she was focused on medical school because of the shortage of native doctors on reservations. But one of her professors suggested she explore dentistry. “I decided to take a look,” Black says. “A representative from the UMKC diversity office visited Haskell University later that week.” Black, who had completed her associate’s degree, had enrolled in Haskell to finish her bachelor’s degree in environmental science when the youngest of her three children went to school. But it didn’t take her long to realize that her heart was in healthcare. After attending the informational meeting, Black realized that many of her interests were a strong fit with dentistry. "I could tell that this school cared about the students and not just student numbers." - Shanon Black “Dentistry is on the frontline of healthcare, which is important to me. And I used to make jewelry and really enjoyed it, so I’m familiar with crafting small objects and the need for perfection.” That night, Black researched the need for native dentists. At the time there were fewer than 100 native dentists in the United States. According to the American Dental Education Association, of the more than 11,000 dental school applicants in 2018, only 23 were Native American. “There are never enough Native American dentists to reach all the geographically isolated reservations,” she says. “So there is a great need. After I discovered that, I decided that dentistry was where I needed to be.” Black shadowed dentists and dental specialists as part of her research to decide if dentistry was right for her. She was fascinated by pretty much everything she saw. “I learned that dentistry is awesome. I knew I was moving in the right direction.” She applied to the dental program at UMKC and other schools. After her interview, she knew that UMKC was where she wanted to be. “Everyone was so enthusiastic, kind and accommodating,” she says. “I could tell that this school cared about the students and not just student numbers. The prospect of dental school was a little daunting, and everyone at UMKC made me feel like I was already family and I hadn’t even been accepted to the program yet.” Black has discovered that academically dentistry is similar to medical school and challenging on many levels. Last semester she was enrolled in 25.5 credit hours and managing the lab work from three labs.  “It’s a lot of pressure,” she says. “But there are a lot of support programs, too. As intense as it can be, it’s good to know that there is tutoring, administration and peer groups that can see me through the rough times. No one has ever made me feel like a burden when I have gone to them with fears. I have only ever been met with concern, compassion and problem solving. This attention has been vital in navigating the coursework.” Beyond coursework, the dental program has taught Black a lot about herself. “I’ve learned that control is an illusion and my fight to be in control is and will always be a losing battle. So I need to be able to roll with what comes my way and stop trying to master plan everything. I also learned that I can’t accomplish my goals alone.” From staff members to upperclassmen to her fellow classmates, Black is constantly inspired by their dedication and service to others. “I’m surrounded by people who entered the program to care for people. All of them want to make the world a healthier, happier place for everyone. It makes me want to constantly do better.” Feb 25, 2020

  • Bobby Watson's Inspiration in Life and Music

    Watson’s father instilled love and respect of music and family
    Bobby Watson, renowned saxophonist and retired UMKC jazz studies professor, grew up with four brothers all one year apart. His father, who quietly and consistently taught his children to create an interesting life and value their relationships with each other, has been his lifelong inspiration. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and the Kansas City, Missouri City Council issued a resolution for Watson at the Feb. 27 meeting. The resolution stated: “Honoring Bobby Watson on the occasion of his retirement for his twenty years of dedicated service to the Conservatory and UMKC as the Distinguished Professor of Jazz Studies.” He thinks his father’s influence was critical to his success.  Who was one of your greatest inspirations when you were either a child or young man? My father. He flew airplanes and taught pilots to fly at ground school for the Federal Aviation Administration. He was an artist and an inventor – he held patents on several of his inventions. But everything centered on his love of music. He played saxophone in church and at home. He would stand in a corner and play because he thought the sound was the best there. What about his accomplishments inspired you? He wasn’t a boastful man. He taught us humility. As young black men he wanted me and my four brothers to be good public speakers, so we had Toastmasters at home. We stood at a podium and spoke with no microphone. "He really taught me how to listen."-Bobby Watson He kept us safe. When we wanted to play basketball, he built a basketball court for us and our friends at home. When we wanted to play pool he put a pool table in the basement so we wouldn’t go to pool halls. When we wanted to ice skate, he made a skating rink in the yard. Usually, I thought he was right. There were five brothers in my family and he taught us that you don’t fight with your brother. Once when we were young, I got in a tiff with one of my brothers. He told us to sit on the sofa and hug each other. Then he went out to cut the grass. And then he trimmed the bushes. Then he stopped and fixed himself a glass of lemonade – all while we were holding each other looking out the window and crying and wondering when he was going to let us let go. We didn’t fight after that. How have you incorporated his values into your life? He really taught me how to listen. When I talk to people, I listen. If you’re thinking about what you’re going to say next, you’re not listening. I don’t want to go back and forth like you see today. I’ll talk, you listen. You talk, I’ll listen. Feb 24, 2020

  • Father's Struggle Leads to Daughter's Success

    Tamica Lige’s father overcame poverty and discrimination to provide his daughter an avenue to success
    Tamica Lige, STAHR program coordinator of diversity at the School of Medicine, feels fortunate to have been inspired by so many people in her life, from her childhood clarinet instructor to writer Toni Morrison. But her biggest influence was her father. What about your father’s accomplishments inspired you? My dad, Henry Edward, Lige Jr., was one of six kids who grew up in the projects of Montgomery, Alabama, in extremely impoverished and segregated conditions. He was 11 years old at the time that Martin Luther King Jr. led the Selma to Montgomery march. Dad lived through the civil rights movement, experienced the rampant racism of the Deep South and watched his parents struggle to gain equal rights. Like so many young black men who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and underperforming schools, my dad saw sports as the ticket that would give him a chance at a better life. He played football in high school and was recruited to play collegiate football at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. "Dad lived through the civil rights movement, experienced the rampant racism of the Deep South and watched his parents struggle to gain equal rights."-Tamica Lige I can only imagine the culture shock he faced with upon arrival to the predominately white town we called home. While in Manhattan, my dad met my mom, a white woman from Shawnee, Kansas, and began his family with her. My parents came from two completely different worlds. My dad’s family was disgusted with him for dating a white woman, and my mom’s ridiculed her for dating a black man. It was commonplace for my dad and us kids to be addressed with racial slurs by our own family members. The constant microaggressions, blatant acts of racism and mistreatment could have broken my dad’s spirit, but instead, he used it as fuel to be a better man. He was one of the most kind, caring and accepting people I have ever known. He embraced any and every one he encountered and made a conscious effort to have genuine exchanges of experience with people who were different than him. My dad overcame so much adversity in the 54 years he walked on this earth that I can’t help but be inspired by him. His soul smiled so bright despite all of the terrible things he had gone through. He was my biggest cheerleader. He was always right there on the sidelines to tell me I could and would be able to do whatever my heart desired.    Feb 24, 2020

  • Everyone Counts

    UMKC community encouraged to complete U.S. Census
    UMKC – and Missouri – needs your help. March 12 is the first day you can respond to the 2020 census. And for the first time in American history, individuals will complete the U.S. Census online. The state of Missouri needs everyone to complete the survey. The count impacts federal student loans; federal research grants; campus funding; campus improvements, including labs, buildings and classrooms; health and social services; federal legislation; and students’ future careers. Many professionals working in medicine, social work, nursing, science, research or public health are also heavily dependent on federal funding. College students benefit from federal student loans, legislation, campus funding, campus improvements, and health and social services. The U.S. Census Bureau has made an internet link available. The department will also mail cards with PIN numbers to be used for filling out the census. People can still answer census questions by mail. By responding to the census, you can help bring resources and representation to your community and campus. To help ensure everyone is counted, including hard-to-reach communities such as college students, a number of campus and community events will be scheduled. One event will be April 1, which is Census Day. Specific activities are still in the planning stage and will be announced soon. The U.S. Constitution requires a census every 10 years. The census covers the entire country and everyone living here. The Census Bureau conducts the decennial Census, the American Community Survey, the economic Census and many other surveys and is the leading source of quality data about the nation’s people and economy. Federal funds, grants and support to states, counties, academia and communities are based on population totals and breakdowns by sex, age, race and other factors. Individuals’ data are confidential and federal law protects census responses. Answers can only be used to produce statistics. The census is also important for redistricting and fair representation. Every 10 years, the results of the census are used to reapportion the U.S. House of Representatives, determining how many seats each state gets. Quick facts about Missouri Missouri has nearly 6 million residents, and is the 18th most populated state in the U.S. 338,515 students were enrolled at universities, colleges and community colleges in Missouri in fall 2019. In 2017-18, 104,364 Missourians were awarded $431,411,598 in Pell Grants based in part on census data. Census survey data are one factor to determine the funding for many programs in higher education. Feb 24, 2020

  • Community Leaders Taking Nominations for Prestigious Starr Women’s Hall of Fame

    The Starr Women’s Hall of Fame recognizes Kansas City women of distinction
    Every two years, an independent panel of Kansas City community leaders selects local women of significance for the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame. This year, the panel is once again seeking nominations for women with noteworthy ties to the Kansas City area who have historically or more recently made important and enduring contributions in their fields of work. The nomination form and full directions for making a nomination are available online. The deadline for submitting a completed nomination packet is July 31. Twenty-six Kansas City women have been inducted into the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame, half of them posthumously. Members of this select group include philanthropists, business executives, women’s and civil rights activists, political leaders and more. You can read more about the inductees online. The Women’s Hall of Fame is named after Martha Jane Phillips Starr. A Kansas City philanthropist and women's rights leader, Starr was one of the first women to serve on the UMKC Board of Trustees. She played an important role in establishing the university’s Women's Council and the Graduate Assistance Fund, which today provides financial assistance to female students. UMKC’s annual Starr Symposium is named after and endowed by her. Starr died in 2011 at the age of 104. The Starr Women's Hall of Fame is funded by her family, the Starr Education Committee and the Starr Field of Interest Fund. It is also supported by 27 leading women’s organizations throughout Kansas City. Make your nominations for Starr Women’s Hall of Fame by July 31. Submit a nomination Feb 24, 2020

  • Student Team Wins Journalism Innovation Competition With Deepfake Fighting Tool

    Two School of Computing and Engineering teams pitched their ideas for fighting fake news during the University of Missouri School of Journalism’s D...
    Columbia, Mo. — A web-based tool known as Deeptector.io, which harnesses artificial intelligence to detect synthetic or deepfake videos and images made with AI, won the 2019-20 Missouri School of Journalism’s Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute student innovation competition and a $10,000 prize.  Defakify won second place and $2,500, while Fake Lab received $1,000 for third place. Deep Scholars also participated, but did not place in the competition. Read more. Feb 21, 2020

  • UMKC Students Awarded for Program that Detects Fake News

    Five interdisciplinary RJI Student Innovation Competition teams tasked with developing tools to fight against deep fakes and fabricated content pit...
    UNEWS - Digital media has made all sorts of information increasingly accessible, and as a result, the deliberate spread of disinformation has become an increasingly important issue. Known by the relatively new term “fake news,” this false information rose to prominence during the 2016 election, with governments and internet companies desperately making efforts to fight it. Fortunately, students in the UM system are now working to combat fake news by creating programs that can recognize fabricated photos, videos and audio. Students developed verification software as a part of the Student Innovation Competition at the University of Missouri’s  Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI). Read more. Feb 21, 2020

  • Superheroes Don't Always Wear Capes

    Alumnus Vladimir Sainte addresses mental health in children through writing and social work
    Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you'll know what UMKC is all about. Vladimir Sainte, LCSW Hometown: Queens, New York UMKC degree program: B.A., sociology ’07, Master of Social Work ‘10 Vladimir Sainte is helping children by carrying forward the mentoring he received as a young man. Originally from Queens, New York, his mother sent him to live in Kansas City with his uncle, William Jacob, hoping he would be a good mentor for Sainte. Her strategy was a success; Jacob instilled a love of learning and a desire to give back. Could you tell us a little about your work? I’m a team leader for client care in mental health at Truman Behavioral Health, and worked previously as a counselor and crisis clinician. I also write children’s books to create inclusive literature to increase awareness of diversity and tolerance. Why did you choose this career/field? As an undergraduate, I knew I wanted to get my master’s degree.  I took Introduction to Social Work with Grey Endres. He’s this great guy who wears Hawaiian shirts and superhero belts to class. He showed me that social work can be a profound and beautiful career – where you get to play with kids all day!   "With power comes great responsibility."-Vladimir Sainte  How did you become an author? I was working with a black boy who was struggling with his identity. I was looking for a book that might help him and I couldn’t find anything, so I decided to write one myself. I wrote “Just Like a Hero” – a story about Will, a black boy who is coping with daily struggles – to highlight the importance of personal value. I didn’t expect it to escalate, but I’m happy it’s been recognized. My books are designed as a reminder of how important we all are. The other reason I focused on a young black boy in my first book is because I wish I’d had something like this growing up. Throughout my career, I’ve seen that some people in the African American culture can treat mental health issues as taboo. If we know someone who has mental health issues – that person is crazy. We don’t talk to them. It’s like a plague. And we act as if we ignore it, maybe it will go away.  I wanted to reach diverse backgrounds through boys or girls who look like me.  "We need to accept people as they are – shine the flashlight on that – and let them know if things are difficult that it’s not going to be this way forever.” What did you most appreciate about UMKC? Meeting my wife, who was in the social work program with me. We were friends first. She has been my rock and my pillar through my career and my books. I can be in the clouds – she is analytical. She’s instrumental to my process. How did UMKC and your UMKC connections help prepare you for your career? Elaine Spencer-Carver, School of Social Work’s director of field education, saw the potential in me. I saw Grey Endres as a mentor. He taught my last undergraduate class and I told him I’d applied to the MSW program. He helped place me in my practicum at Gillis Center my last year in the program and it became my first job. Do you have a personal motto or words you live by? I love comic books, and Spiderman’s motto has always resonated with me. “With great power comes great responsibility.” As a social worker, I am an agent of change – that has great power. Kids learn through their environments. If we’re stressed, they feel that. We need to show acceptance, support and compassion.  We need to accept people as they are – shine the flashlight on that – and let them know if things are difficult that it’s not going to be this way forever. Who has been a great influences in your life? My uncle, William Jacob, who was an engineer in Kansas City, was very influential. When I was a 16-year-old kid living in New York, I hung out with kids who weren’t interested in school. I wasn’t interested in school. I had terrible grades and was searching for connection, which I found with the wrong group of people. He and my mother came up with the plan for me to move to Kansas City so he could mentor me. He saw my potential, even though I didn’t. Every Tuesday night after watching The Andy Griffith Show, he’d sit down with me to do one hour of algebra. I hated it, but he pushed me. He made me enjoy education. With his influence, I saw a future for myself. "Every Tuesday night after watching The Andy Griffith Show, he’d sit down with me to do one hour of algebra.  I hated it, but he pushed me.  He made me enjoy education. With his influence, I saw a future for myself.” How are you now using your influence to impact others? I hope I’m helping to break down the stigma of mental illness by raising awareness in children. For me, that’s through creating books that talk about mental health. It’s important for kids to understand that it’s OK to be anxious or depressed, but you have worth. You are important. Mental health struggles don’t signify or create a boundary. My first book, “Just Like a Hero,” is about a young black boy, and the second, “It Will be Okay,” is about a Latina girl. The third and fourth books also feature children of color with their own challenges. Recently, I spoke at Turner Middle School. A girl came up to me after my presentation and thanked me. She said she’d struggled with feeling sad for herself, and that she doesn’t feel important. My presentation helped her understand that she can talk about that. It was breathtaking to hear. Feb 19, 2020

  • UMKC Theatre Again Named a Top 10 Costume Design Program

    Hollywood Reporter names UMKC to its Top 10 list
    For the third year in a row, Hollywood Reporter has included UMKC Theatre in its list of Top 10 Costume Design schools. “Many incoming grad students think that they can only have significant training and careers on the coasts,” said Lindsay W. Davis, UMKC Theatre professor of costume design. “Three times in a row validates our training program, because we already know that all our graduates work in the entertainment industry.” UMKC Theatre offers a single comprehensive M.F.A. degree in costume design and technology, which has been key to its success. Students learn many skills including drawing, painting, sketching and learning how to construct a garment with techniques in fabric manipulation, millinery, tailoring and pattern drafting. Doug Enderle was the first M.F.A. costume design graduate from UMKC in 1981. He received an Emmy for his work as a senior lead costume designer for The Walt Disney Company. Other notable alumni include Tom Houchins, costumer on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy;” and Jonathan Knipscher, lead tailor on the Hugh Jackman film “The Greatest Showman.” Pheobe Boynton (M.F.A. ‘08) is a freelance costume designer and technician. She was costume supervisor on the Norwegian and Oceania cruise lines; and also designed for the Discovery channel group, YouTube Red, The Los Angeles Opera, Kanye West, Kansas City Repertory Theater, Legendary Digital, Relativity Media and Theatrical Arts International.  Here’s where other UMKC Theatre graduates are working: HBO, The Metropolitan Opera, The Los Angeles Opera, on Broadway, London’s West End, the Market Theatre in South Africa, as well as opera companies in Brazil, Italy and throughout the U.S. Recent graduates have worked at regional theatres such as Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., The Roundabout Theatre in New York City, The Cleveland Play House and The Old Globe in San Diego. Feb 17, 2020

  • UMKC School of Dentistry Offers Free Dental Screenings

    Need free work done on your teeth? UMKC dental school is looking for you
    The School of Dentistry at the University of Missouri-Kansas City was featured in the Kansas City Star while needing a few good — or not so good — mouths for student's clinical exams. Fox4KC also highlighed how patients could be eligible for free dental work and cleaning while helping UMKC dental students earn their degree. Feb 13, 2020

  • Changing of the Guard at a Prized Literary Institution

    Editor-in-Chief Robert Stewart is bringing 44-year career to an epilogue
    As critically acclaimed longtime editor Robert Stewart prepares his final issue of New Letters, successor Christie Hodgen, Ph.D., reflects on the past and future of the award-winning UMKC magazine and its publishing house partner, BkMk Press. New Letters was founded just one year after the University of Kansas City, which became UMKC, Hodgen said, “so it might be said that in a sense, we are the most enduring living artifact to the university’s intellectual life and ambitions.” The English department faculty member makes a compelling case for her bold assertion. Indeed, New Letters has published some of the nation’s greatest 20th and 21st century authors, including J.D. Salinger, e. e. cummings, Marianne Moore, Pearl S. Buck. Edgar Lee Masters and May Sarton. In 2008, Stewart was awarded the magazine industry’s highest honor, the National Magazine Award in Editing. The magazine has regularly placed original work in the highly regarded annual award anthologies the Pushcart and Best American. Together with partners BkMk Press and New Letters on the Air, it is the only literary enterprise in the country boasting not only a magazine and book press, but also a weekly radio program. “It might be said that in a sense, we are the most enduring living artifact to the university’s intellectual life and ambitions.” - Christie Hodgen Hodgen credits Stewart for the magazine’s ongoing sterling reputation. “Robert Stewart has worked for New Letters magazine for more than forty years. As editor-in-chief for the last eighteen years, he has not only maintained but in fact furthered the magazine’s reputation for excellence,” she said. “Under the surface of these awards—which are flashy and exciting—is an almost monk-like devotion to the work. A tremendous amount of care is given not only to the selection of the content for each issue of the magazine, but to the integrity of its presentation. Bob is publishing with posterity in mind. “It is worth mentioning, too, that Bob is also an accomplished poet and essay writer, with multiple critically acclaimed books of poetry and essays to his credit. Like many great editors, his eye for talent is so honed because he possesses so much himself.” “The magazine’s mission is to ‘discover, publish, and promote the best and most exciting literary writing, wherever it may be found’ and frankly, I can’t think of a better job.” - Christie Hodgen New Letters and BkMk play a significant role in the university’s educational mission. Working with the departments of English and Communication Studies, they offer UMKC students internship opportunities in magazine and book publishing, and radio production. “These internships have introduced countless students to the skills they require to enter the workforce as editors, writers, publishers, and producers,” she said. Stewart praised the choice of Hodgen as his successor. “After spending 44 years on the staff of New Letters—the latest 18 as editor of the magazine, press, and radio series—I am heartened, relieved, and overjoyed to know that UMKC literary publishing and broadcasting will be led by someone I so much admire,” he said. “Christie Hodgen is a great writer, herself; her love and understanding of literary art will reshape and invigorate our work.” Hodgen recognizes the weight of responsibility she is taking on, to students, to the community and to American literature. “We are an important part of the arts community here, sponsoring and co-sponsoring a number of prizes and readings, and hosting the region’s most robust calendar of literary events,” she said. “The magazine’s mission is to ‘discover, publish, and promote the best and most exciting literary writing, wherever it may be found’ and frankly, I can’t think of a better job. I am looking forward to both continuing to publish the voices that already make New Letters a great magazine, and also scouring through the slush pile to discover new voices. “We really do read all submissions, hoping to discover and promote those new voices.”  She is looking to add more than just new voices. “First and foremost, I see my job as maintaining the magazine’s tradition of excellence. In addition, I am undertaking a project of digitizing our 86 years of back issues, with the hopes of being able to host these online, making our rich history available to the public,” Hodgen said. Readers can also look forward to a user-friendly digital version of the magazine. New Letters is a not-for-profit entity that depends on donations for a share of its funding. Feb 13, 2020

  • The Couple That Rules Together, Stays Together

    Law graduates navigate work and love — at home, at the office and on television
    If you ask Dana Tippin Cutler (J.D. ’89) and Keith Cutler (J.D. ’89) whether they thought, in their wildest dreams, they’d ever have their own television show, they’d tell you “heck no!” In fact, Dana says when she first got the call from a production company several years ago looking for a husband-and-wife team to preside over a new courtroom TV show, she hung up. “I thought it was a joke. I have a friend who likes to jerk my chain and I thought he was pranking me,” Dana says. She didn’t buy it until the production company called back and confirmed they were not, in fact, pranking her. Dana was sure her husband, Keith, wouldn’t go for it, but to her surprise, he agreed to learn more. Two years later they’re the hosts of the Emmy-nominated daytime TV show Couples Court with the Cutlers, the first time a married couple has ever presided over a TV courtroom. Finding the balance in law and love Couples Court with the Cutlers specializes in, you guessed it, couples — helping them find resolutions and move forward. The Cutlers travel back and forth to Atlanta, where the show is filmed, several times a year to shoot new episodes. This allows them to keep up with a demanding TV schedule while still managing the family law practice they manage with Dana’s father and another associate. On the show, the Cutlers are given a little more leeway than regular courtrooms allow; they’re able to laugh and keep up their natural banter, show expression when they hear wild stories and provide real advice to the couples standing before them. On the show, they draw from their experiences practicing law, but also from practicing marriage. Left: The couple on their first date during college in Atlanta, Georgia. Right: Keith and Dana on their wedding day in 1989, at the Second Baptist Church in Kansas City. “As lawyers, you learn a lot with different experiences, and the trial work we do in our regular jobs has trained us to think on our feet. We were building up for the show and didn’t even know,” Keith explains. He adds that after 37 years of being together — or as Dana puts it, joined at the hip — “we know a little something about relationships.” The Cutlers met in the 1980s while getting their undergraduate degrees in Atlanta — Dana attended Spelman College and Keith attended Morehouse College. They have enjoyed joking and pestering each other ever since. Despite living and working together every day, the Cutlers say they don’t think that’s too much time together. They truly enjoy each other’s company. “We’re like the columns of a church. They’re working together but not on top of each other,” Dana says. “We have different hobbies and interests at home, and when we’re in the office we’re working on different things as well.” Dana works primarily as an education attorney, representing charter schools, while Keith works as a civil defense trial attorney. Keeping a community focus The Cutlers don’t think of themselves as celebrities, but their unique job does require them to occasionally play the autograph-and-selfie game at the movies or the grocery store. Most times, the Cutlers say, people are just surprised to discover that two of their favorite TV stars live in Kansas City. The show currently airs in more than 100 U.S. television markets, and episodes are also available on YouTube. Dana and Keith on the set of their TV show, Couples Court with the Cutlers. Kansas City is important to the Cutlers, though, not just because they live and practice law here, but because they care about the community and being civically engaged. “At UMKC, they stressed being a good lawyer for the community,” Keith says. “One of the best things about UMKC is their emphasis on the practical side of law, which contributes to the learning experience that a lot of students don’t get until after law school.” As you can imagine, the Cutlers are big supporters of the UMKC School of Law. Both have been honored with the school’s Alumni Achievement Award — Keith in 2008 and Dana in 2018 — and Keith is an adjunct professor. It’s important to them to help young lawyers achieve the same level of success they have, wherever that may be. “We’re like the columns of a church. They’re working together but not on top of each other. We have different hobbies and interests at home, and when we’re in the office we’re working on different things as well.” —Dana Tippin Cutler “I didn’t appreciate how accessible and relatable the faculty were at UMKC until I realized that law school wasn’t like that for everybody,” Dana says. “It’s the same thing we enjoy about the judges we work with in Kansas City.” Their advice for future attorneys? A law degree is one of the most versatile degrees you can have. Even if you don’t want to go to court, which is one small part of the job, there are plenty of other things you can do. A TV show, perhaps? This story originally appeared in the UMKC magazine, Perspectives, vol. 29. Feb 13, 2020

  • Students Sink Their Teeth Into School of Dentistry Discounts

    Half-off prices on many basic procedures now are available for anyone with a valid UMKC student ID
    The pace and costs of college can make getting good, affordable dental care seem daunting, but at UMKC, the School of Dentistry can help. Services at the school’s clinic often cost less than what private practices usually charge, and now the school is offering further discounts to UMKC students. “University students often avoid visiting the dentist for financial reasons,” said Yasmin Hussein, a fourth-year dental student. “However, what many UMKC students do not know is that UMKC’s dental clinic provides very affordable prices for dental care. UMKC students receive a 50 percent discount on top of the already low prices, not to mention the convenient location and excellent facility.” The added discounts for students, which started this semester, offer a basic evaluation with X-rays for new patients or an emergency visit for just $10 and, as Hussein noted, half off any further basic services needed, such as taking care of a cavity. Hussein’s classmate, Rachel Slenker, also agreed that the clinic’s location, just a few minutes north of the main campus, was ideal for busy students. “The dental care they receive is very thorough,” Slenker said. “Because it's a learning environment, all of our work is getting checked by a dental professional, sometimes multiple. Many of my patients have said our close attention to detail and the ‘many eyes that see their teeth’ are the main reasons for attending the clinic.” “I have worked with several dental students who are seeing UMKC students receiving the new discount. They are so grateful to be able to take care of their dental needs at an affordable cost.” — Linda Seabaugh, DDS, clinical assistant professor One of their supervisors, Linda Seabaugh, DDS, said it was particularly rewarding seeing her students provide care for other students. “I’ve seen many UMKC students come through the clinic, but one stands out to me,” said Seabaugh, a clinical assistant professor and director of ergonomics at the dental school. “He was a patient of one of our students and had quite a bit of dental work done. He would have benefitted greatly from reduced fees at that time. As it turns out, he is now a first-year dental student. He already has a unique perspective as a dental school patient, which will serve him well when he sees his own patients.” Seabaugh, who taught at the school in the 1990s and returned about three years ago, added, “I have worked with several dental students who are seeing UMKC students receiving the new discount. They are so grateful to be able to take care of their dental needs at an affordable cost.” The clinic’s patients get high-quality care at a good price, and they help the next generation of dentists prepare for their careers. “Most of my time is spent working with students in the clinic as they treat patients,” Seabaugh said. “The clinic is a critical element of dental education … when dental students transform into dentists. It is amazing to watch how much the students learn and how their skills develop. Not only do they advance their knowledge and skills, they provide much needed dental services to members of the community, many of who would not otherwise be able to afford dental care. In addition, our students have the privilege to work with many diverse individuals and apply our core values of excellence, compassion, integrity and justice.”  Affordable Dental Care for UMKC Students $10 – Initial screening, examination and X-rays for new patients only $10 – Emergency visit 50% off – UMKC’s already low prices (does not apply to care in Advanced Education Program clinics) Call 816-235-2100 for an appointment. More details on the program are here.     Feb 13, 2020

  • UMKC Seeks Developer to Restore One of KC's Most Endangered Properties

    UMKC is seeking submissions to develop the Epperson House
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City is looking for a developer that would work with the university through a public-private partnership to restore a historic home on its campus. Read the Kansas City Business Journal story. Feb 12, 2020

  • Engineering Faculty Develops Technology to Remove Harmful Chemical from Wastewater

    Professor Megan Hart received $354,000 from the Department of Defense to continue work on PFAS
    PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl substances) solutions can be found everywhere, even in the places you least expect. It’s a lab-made compound of synthetic material that has been in use since the 1930s. Wrinkle-resistant clothing, nonstick cookware and firefighting foam are just a few of the many things that contain this material, incorporating it into our daily lives and, quietly, causing harm.  Assistant Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering Megan Hart received $354,000 in funding from the Department of Defense’s Strategic and Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) for a two-year project focused on destroying PFAS in concentrated liquid waste streams through a series of lab-based tests. Though the actual project won’t begin until May, Hart is already hard at work conducting chemical engineering experiments in her lab as she figures out the best way to destroy the harmful material, which she said is no easy feat. “Traditionally, people incinerate the wastes containing PFAS, but there is growing evidence that it becomes airborne and redeposits in the soil around the smelters,” Hart said. “This is the first time a SERDP grant has been awarded at UMKC and we are very excited,” - John Kevern, civil and mechanical engineering department chair One of Hart’s research focuses is groundwater and geochemical influences on soil stability, so she’s naturally excited by the opportunity to put on her gloves and experiment in the lab. She developed a treatment technology that combines two major methods for PFAS removal in water – pH and free-radical destruction. The technology is engineered to release hydroxyl radicals (a type of free radical with the most active chemical properties. They have a high reaction rate and cause the most harm among the free radicals) into a solution that passes through it. Those radicals are then excited with UV light to form free radicals, which attack and destroy the PFAS in groundwater and waste water solutions. Hart says that some PFAS are easier to destroy than others but all of them are destroyed using the method she developed. “Traditionally, people incinerate the wastes containing PFAS, but there is growing evidence that it becomes airborne and redeposits in the soil around the smelters.” - Megan Hart Hart was able to leverage an existing relationship with Geosyntec, who funded previous work on novel remedial treatment technologies for PFAS. “This is the first time a SERDP grant has been awarded at UMKC and we are very excited,” said John Kevern, civil and mechanical engineering department chair. PFAS has been part of a larger conversation surrounding environmental sustainability and its negative effects on the human body. As an example of how serious the issue is, Hart mentioned an ongoing lawsuit where airline employees claim their uniforms — containing PFAS for wrinkle-resistance — are making them sick. The issue has also been raised in some ongoing presidential campaigns. “I’m excited to start working on this project, and can’t wait to get back more results to share,” Hart said. In addition to the SERDP grant, Hart will be working on a separate project to remove PFAS material from consumer-based products including popcorn bags that contain PFAS material to keep them from combusting in the microwave. She said that she’s equally excited to begin that work in the near future. Explore research at UMKC Feb 12, 2020

  • UMKC Seeks Partner to Restore Historic Epperson House

    University wants to reopen century-old mansion to campus and community
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City is seeking a developer to engage in a public-private partnership to restore and reopen the historic Epperson House on Volker Campus. The Gothic Revival style mansion, designed by architect Horace LaPierre and constructed from 1919 to 1923, was originally built as a large single family home of approximately 24,000 gross square feet on five primary levels. The home originally had 54 rooms, six bathrooms, multiple elevators, a swimming pool, a billiard room, a barber shop, an organ loft and a tunnel linking the east and west basement levels. A Request for Interest document, issued Jan. 9, seeks proposals to develop building uses and programming that support the goals of UMKC and the community and provide financial resources for the restoration and operation of the facility, plus design and construction services. Responses will be accepted through Feb. 20. The house was acquired by UMKC (then called the University of Kansas City) in the 1940s and originally served as a dormitory for Navy pilots in World War II, then as housing for university students, then as home to a number of university schools and programs. The building has been closed since 2011. The Request for Interest calls for proposals “to complete the historic restoration of the Epperson House exterior, interior public spaces and grounds; along with a strategic renovation and repurposing of the private spaces for compatible market-rate revenue-generating office or hospitality uses that support the urban engagement mission of UMKC, the desire of the community to see the house restored and the interests of the developer while covering the operating costs of the facility.” Interested parties should contact Robert A. Simmons, associate vice chancellor for administration, at simmonsr@umkc.edu or 816-235-1354. “One of our responsibilities as a public university is to be proper stewards of our legacy. Epperson House is a treasure for not just our campus, but for the Kansas City community,” said Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “With this invitation, we are seeking a team of partners to work with us to bring that prominent and grand building back into the daily life of our campus and our community.” Feb 10, 2020

  • Former Exchange Student Listed Among 2020 Forbes Under 30 in Brazil

    Mateus Borges studied mechanical engineering at UMKC from 2014 to 2015
    Research and discovery is not just a goal at UMKC, it’s who we are. It’s what we do. Through hands-on learning experiences – undergraduate and graduate research, internships, volunteerism and real-world classroom assignments – our students are prepared to excel anywhere. One-time Roo, 2014-15 mechanical engineering exchange student and agribusiness entrepreneur, Mateus Borges was listed among the 2020 Forbes Under 30 in Brazil for his entrepreneurship and innovation in helping farmers purchase fertilizer, seeds and chemicals online. Borges credits his research experience with civil and mechanical engineering professor Travis Fields on parachute and aerial vehicle systems as the inspiration that led to his interest in using drones to support agricultural work in Brazil. Though he isn’t currently working with drone technology, Borges used his business and technology background to co-found a tech company in 2016 – shortly after graduating from the State University of Campinas – that later became Orbia, a joint venture with Bayer CropScience. Through Orbia, medium to large-scale farmers have a seamless way to purchase the supplies they need for growing and harvesting their plants. Borges said the platform provides supplies for nearly 140,000, or 65% of the land of, soybean farmers in Brazil. “UMKC was empowering for me to be able to use technology to solve real-world problems,” Borges says. “That changed the way I saw internships and I’m able to use that in my career path.” Borges was part of a Science without Borders exchange program, a partnership between the School of Computing and Engineering and the State University of Campinas. He was nominated in the e-commerce and retail category of Forbes Under 30 and still has plans for his company to expand. “Our goal is to become a global company and help reshape how agribusiness is done around the world.” Feb 10, 2020

  • UMKC Conservatory Professors’ Podcast Explores Pulitzer Prize in Music

    Andrew Granade and David Thurmaier invite you to join their music conversations
    So, you don’t have time to read about all 73 winners of the Pulitzer Prize in Music? No problem. Just download the new podcast “Hearing the Pulitzers,” hosted by two UMKC Conservatory professors. The first episode, which launched Feb. 1, is an introduction to the podcast and the hosts Andrew Granade, associate dean of Academic and Faculty Affairs and professor of Musicology; and David Thurmaier, chair of the Music Studies Division and associate professor of Music Theory. They gave opening thoughts on the history of the music prize and the concept and meaning of the Pulitzer Prize. Going forward, each 30-minute episode will examine and analyze a Pulitzer Prize in Music composition and composer. The discussion, interspersed with musical segments from the award-winning piece, will review the composer’s work and why it was chosen for the award. At the end of each episode, each will share whether he thought the piece was a “hit” or a “miss” for winning the Pulitzer Prize. “The list of winners is fascinating because it features classical music household names like Aaron Copland, Charles Ives, and Samuel Barber,” Thurmaier said, “but there are also quite a few obscure or forgotten composers that will allow us to discover new music alongside our listeners.” Zhou Long, Bonfils Distinguished Research Professor of Composition at UMKC, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music for his first opera, “Madame White Snake,” in 2011. His work will be a featured episode. Granade and Thurmaier have been teaching together for several years and enjoy the experience of bouncing ideas off each other from their different discipline perspectives. Granade is a musicologist and researches music in its historical and cultural contexts. Thurmaier is a theorist and studies the way musicians and composers make music. “Dave and I are both scholars of American music and were discussing, especially after Kendrick Lamar’s win two years ago, why the Pulitzers in music seemed largely irrelevant to American culture when the prizes in writing were so important,” Granade said. “That lead us to think about what we could learn about American music culture by exploring each winner in turn. We thought it might be fun to make a podcast where we could invite other people outside our classroom into the conversations we regularly have together.” The podcast series starts with the first award in 1943, “Secular Cantata No. 2. A Free Song,” by William Schuman. It posted Feb. 8. With 73 award winners to explore, Granade said he expects the project to take three years. New episodes are available every two week. After all 73 award winners have been featured, Granade and Thurmaier will update the podcast yearly when new prize winners are announced. Dale Morehouse, associate professor of voice-opera, recorded the introduction used for each episode. Tristan Harris, UMKC music composition undergraduate student, recorded the podcasts. Granade and Thurmaier received a Sight and Sound Subvention from the Society for American Music to cover the costs of equipment and hosting the podcast online. “Hearing the Pulitzers” is available on iTunes, Google Play and Podbean. You can also follow “Hearing the Pulitzers” on Facebook and Twitter. Feb 10, 2020

  • Kansas Voters Moving Away From Caucuses For Presidential Primary

    UMKC political science chair says traditional primaries have their drawbacks
    While caucuses can cause issues, UMKC Political Science Chair Greg Vonnahme explained on KCTV5 that traditional primaries also have their drawbacks. Feb 08, 2020

  • School of Computing and Engineering Touts Most IEEE Student Scholarship Recipients In United States

    Eight from UMKC were selected to receive $7,000 in scholarship funding over the course of three years
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Computing and Engineering has more IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Power and Engineering Society scholarship recipients than any other school in the country. 135 students — eight from UMKC — across the United States were selected to receive $7,000 in scholarship funding over the course of three years to help defray educational costs. “It's a great honor — 'a feather in our cap,' as the saying goes — for us to have eight PES Scholars within the School of Computing and Engineering, the largest number of scholarships among all US engineering programs. IEEE is highly regarded within the engineering community around the world, and this accolade speaks to the quality of education we provide our students at UMKC,” said SCE Dean Kevin Truman. The goal of the IEEE PES Scholarship Plus Initiative is to encourage undergraduate students to pursue careers in power and energy engineering. In addition to scholarships, the program also facilitates internship/co-op experiences, mentorship opportunities and special recognition as a PES Scholar. Scholarship amounts are $2,000 for the first two years and $3,000 the third year. Feb 07, 2020

  • Nontraditional Engineering Alumnus Gives Back With a Scholarship

    Jason Painter builds solid future for his family and future students
    Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you'll know what UMKC is all about. Jason Painter '12 Academic Program: Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering Hometown: North Kansas City, Missouri Jason Painter (BSME ’12) always liked school, and math was his strong point. But following high school graduation, he decided college wasn’t for him. He married his high school sweetheart and started working in residential construction. But after a few years, he began to reconsider his decision to forego a college degree. “I felt like I was failing,” Painter says. “I went through a spiritual awakening and realized college was the answer.” Painter talked to his wife, Tiffany, and she was supportive, even though it meant Jason would have to work nights and go to school during the day to make it happen. But the couple agreed college was the right decision and that they needed to stay close to home. “We weren’t going to uproot our family, so I went to visit UMKC. I fell in love with the campus the first time I walked around.” While the Painters were committed to his getting his degree in engineering, the reality was more challenging than they anticipated. “Going to work, going to school and having a family at the same time was incredibly emotional and physically and mentally draining.” Painter was a third-shift janitor at an elementary school. He did his homework in a closet during his breaks.  “I am so glad I had the opportunity to go to school, but the saddest part was coming home at 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning when my wife was getting ready to leave for work. I’d be able to see my son for five minutes.” While it was a challenging situation for his family, was it justified? “Absolutely. Hard – but worth it.” Experiencing this challenge inspired Painter to give back, even while he was in school. UMKC Missouri Society of Professional Engineers coordinator Jane Vogl recalls that he invigorated the MSPE student chapter while he served as president. “He tripled the membership and was always looking for ways for the SCE engineering students to gain hands-on knowledge through field trips to super structures,” Vogl says. “He arranged visits to the Harry S. Truman Dam in Warsaw, Missouri and the Iatan Power Plant in Weston.” In addition, Painter volunteered for competitions and the E-Week blood drive. His giving did not stop when he graduated. Painter has recently established a $5,000 scholarship for non-traditional students in engineering. “Knowing that there are other people who are struggling inspired me to give back,” Painter says. “I had people cut me down and tell me I couldn’t do it. But I had a lot of help from my professors. I graduated cum laude. Sometimes, I can’t believe I got through it. I just want to help other people.” Dahn Phan is the first recipient of the Jason and Tiffany Painter Scholarship. Phan is a non-traditional student who is studying electrical and computer engineering. “My family immigrated to the United States during the Vietnam War with nothing besides the clothes on their back hoping for a fresh start to life,” Phan says. “Growing up, my parents did everything they could to provide food on the table and to give me and my brothers the necessities to succeed in life. With their sacrifice and dedication, I am proud to say I will be part of the first generation graduating from college.” “I had people cut me down and tell me I couldn’t do it. But I had a lot of help from my professors. I graduated cum laude. Sometimes, I can’t believe I got through it. I just want to help other people.” -Jason Painter Painter’s scholarship helped make that success possible.  “Receiving this scholarship motivated me to maintain my GPA and has given me the opportunity to complete my final semester in engineering school,” Phan says. “I’ve been able to take time off of work and be more involved with school organizations and activities. This helped me build leadership and team-working skills, which I knew employers wanted.” Phan met Painter during the School of Computing and Engineering scholarship luncheon last semester and they had the opportunity to learn more about each other’s families and their personal paths. “I got to know a little more about Jason’s family and his history as a non-traditional student. After meeting him and learning that he works as a controls engineer at Kiewit, he inspired me to becoming a controls engineer as well.” Phan is anticipating graduating this spring. He has accepted a job with the Global Product Development Division of General Motors in Detroit. Painter’s future is also bright. He is in the midst of a 2-3 year power plant project at Kiewit. His goals are both simple and significant. “I feel as if I made it already!” he says. “My goal is to be a good father and be there for my son.  I missed out on a lot of the early years. My wife deserves a lot of the credit. She gave me constant affirmation that it would all be worth it. I’m just looking forward to our life together.”   Feb 07, 2020

  • KCUR Leading ‘America Amplified 2020 Election’ Initiative

    KCUR leads community engagement efforts as part of 2020 election season
    As the election season kicks off, the “America Amplified: Election 2020” initiative, led by KCUR 89.3, a service of University of Missouri-Kansas City, announces eight public media networks that will produce innovative journalism from community engagement efforts. Yahoo Finance reported the story $1.9M ‘America Amplified: Election 2020’ initiative announces partner stations. This story was also picked up by Investor Network. Feb 04, 2020

  • UMKC Law Student Doubles As Super Bowl Broadcaster

    UMKC law student Hannah Bassham was a sideline reporter for the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory.
    University of Missouri-Kansas City law student Hannah Bassham had a sideline view of the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Feb. 2. Missouri Lawyers Media reported the story ‘The greatest experience of my life’: UMKC Law student doubles as Super Bowl broadcaster. (Subscription required)   Feb 02, 2020

  • Chiefs Are Super Bowl Champions

    UMKC joined in the celebration of the Kansas City Chiefs winning the Super Bowl
    The UMKC victory tweet for the Kansas City Chiefs was featured. ‘Meant to be’: Leaders, celebrities react after Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory KSHB – February 2, 2020 Feb 02, 2020

  • Donors Strike a Chord with New Scholarships Honoring World-Renowned Faculty

    Individual and foundation giving have common theme for UMKC Conservatory student success
    Bobby Watson and Vinson Cole have been influential professors at the UMKC Conservatory in addition to being internationally recognized musicians. Cole recently retired from his role as Professor of Voice and Watson will step away from his role as the William D. and Mary Grant/Missouri Professor and co-coordinator of Jazz in the fall of 2020. In recognition of their outstanding commitment and contributions to the UMKC Conservatory, local donors have created scholarships in their honor to provide future students the opportunity to follow their passions.  Bobby Watson A renowned saxophonist, composer and native Kansas Citian, Watson has worked with jazz icons such as Max Roach, Louis Hayes and Wynton Marsalis. For three decades, Watson lived in New York City and performed with and composed for some of the most acclaimed jazz performers in the world. He has recorded 28 records and appears as a leader on dozens of recordings.  In 2000, he returned to Kansas City and joined the faculty of the UMKC Conservatory. While teaching at the Conservatory has been a passion – “I bleed blue and gold,” he says – it has never been his intention to stay forever.  "I bleed blue and gold." - Bobby Watson  “I thought after 20 years I’d stop and reflect,” Watson says. “It seems like the right time. I’m still young enough to go on the road. And we’ve brought the school to a high level.” Long-time Conservatory and Watson enthusiasts, Sarah and Jim Weitzel, have shared a passion for music since they first married. When they learned of the musician’s retirement, the news was bittersweet.  “When Bobby announced that he was retiring so that he could play, we wanted to honor that,” Sarah Weitzel says.  Wanting to recognize Watson’s contribution to the Conservatory and provide opportunities for future students, the couple decided the timing was right to establish an endowed scholarship in Watson’s name. “We didn’t need to name the scholarship after us,” Weitzel says. “We don’t have a legacy in jazz – Bobby does. We are hoping other people will contribute to the scholarship in his honor.” Watson was overwhelmed by the gift. “I was speechless, humbled, honored and flabbergasted,” Watson says. “It’s a great honor and a great gift. Every scholarship that we can award our students is life changing.” Vinson Cole Vinson Cole, (BM ’72) is an American tenor and retired Professor of Voice. He was flattered when he received the news from Michael Fields, on behalf of the Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts - Commerce Bank trustee, that the foundation wanted to establish an annual scholarship in his name to benefit students at the Conservatory. “Vinson Cole was the perfect choice for a named scholarship at the UMKC Conservatory,” Fields says. “The Richard J. Stern Foundation is committed to excellence in the arts in Kansas City, and Vinson definitely represents the highest standards of excellence.” "I listen for what someone can do – open their heart, their soul, their body and mind.” - Vinson Cole Fields notes that Cole is perhaps better known internationally than he is in the city where he was raised, however Richard Stern certainly knew Cole and followed his career. “It’s nice to be recognized for what I’ve done, especially in Kansas City,” Cole says of his hometown. Cole began singing as a young child and has fond memories of his voice teacher. “He had so much knowledge,” Cole remembers. “I wanted everything. I would ask and ask and ask. All I wanted was the work.” Cole’s career has been successful by any measure. He is internationally recognized as one of the leading artists of his generation. A frequent guest of the most prestigious orchestras throughout the world, he has collaborated with some of the greatest conductors of this era.  When he teaches, his focus is firmly on his students. In auditions, he pays attention to the voice, but his focus is broader.  “I listen for what someone can do – open their heart, their soul, their body and mind.” Beyond the honor of the recognition of his dedication, Cole knows first-hand how significant scholarships are to students. “It’s great that there is help for people who want to come to school who can’t afford it,” he says. “I know a lot of students who come to school and always need money. I was always spending my money on music when I was in school – mounds of sheet music.” While today’s students usually store their music on iPads, their expenses are still significant.  “These scholarships will be significant awards for talented students, and we are grateful for donors like the Weitzels and the Stern Foundation who generously support Conservatory programs and students,” says Conservatory Dean Diane Petrella. “Bobby and Vinson have been valuable members of our community and we look forward to keeping them involved with the Conservatory. Their legacies at UMKC will live on through the students who receive the gifts of these scholarships.” For additional information on the Bobby Watson and Pamela Baskin-Watson Scholarship or the Vinson Cole Scholarship contact Mark Mattison at mattisonm@umkcfoundation.org Jan 31, 2020

  • Student’s Fellowship with Chiefs an ‘Electric Experience’

    Meghan Dohogne, Arrowhead Art Collection Fellow, works with team, artists on community outreach projects  
    Name: Meghan DohogneHometown: Cape Girardeau, Missouri High School: Notre Dame Regional High School  Undergraduate Degree: History with minors in Painting and Art History, McKendree University, Lebanon, IllinoisGraduate Degree: Master’s Degree in Art History from UMKC in 2016UMKC degree program: Interdisciplinary PhD with a core discipline in history, secondary in humanities consortium. IPhD student Meghan Dohogne is an Arrowhead Art Collection Fellow. The position is more specific than a general internship and connotates a higher level of specialization and achievement, which is important because only graduate students are eligible to receive it.  What is the Fellowship Program with the Arrowhead Art Collection at Arrowhead Stadium and why did you apply? The fellowship is a partnership between the UMKC History Department and the Kansas City Chiefs. I applied for it as my graduate research position through the department. The length of each fellow’s tenure is dependent on a few factors and varies based on their position in the program.  What kind of work do you do? The AAC fellow is responsible for supporting the Arrowhead Art Collection. Day to day, I work with artists for the outreach events we participate in throughout the community. Recently we ran an African mask-making workshop at Central Middle School lead by AAC artist Lonnie Powell.  Another responsibility I have is to support recent acquisitions by collaborating with Sharron Hunt, chairwoman of the collection, to write the education materials. In addition to the educational materials, I support press events that are typically covered by many news outlets around the city.   Another area I have chosen to focus my fellowship around is community partnerships and raising awareness for the collection. Each day is an opportunity to support the organization that has given me so much insight into the engine that is professional sports. What are your career goals? I am excited at the number of opportunities I am preparing for, but I haven’t settled yet on exactly which direction I will pursue. I currently co-own a research company called D2 Research with fellow UMKC graduate student Poppy Di Candeloro. We pursue arts management and historical research. Working with different organizations and members of the community has been extremely rewarding.  What has it been like working at Arrowhead this season? Holy smokes, working for the Chiefs organization right now is electric. I’m thankful for the opportunity to have experienced this season with a great group of people who all want to see the Chiefs do well. As for the collection, everyone should come see it! It’s a fine example of Regionalism and a lot of care has been put into its inclusion as part of the Arrowhead experience.  What advice do you have for someone considering an internship or fellowship? Finding a place where your creativity is embraced and celebrated is great for your personal career growth. I have been able to spearhead some events that have given me the opportunity to really develop professionally. The Chiefs have placed a lot of trust in me and allowed me the space to try out some big ideas.  Jan 30, 2020

  • TeamSmile Gets a Kick Ahead of the Big Game

    UMKC dental students provide care through the efforts of Chiefs player Dustin Colquitt and TeamSmile
    There are plenty of reasons to smile with the upcoming Chiefs’ Super Bowl. Chiefs’ punter, Dustin Colquitt, has long championed TeamSmile, a national advocacy group that provides children in need with a life-changing dental experience through the power of sports. Since the organization’s inceptions, UMKC School of Dentistry students and faculty have also worked hand-in-hand in this amazing effort. TeamSmile is in the news due to the generosity of Colquitt, who went above and beyond for a recent patient and a longtime Chiefs fan. At a recent home game – for which they were his guest – he surprised the family with a trip to the Super Bowl. Little did they know, it’d also be the first Chiefs Super Bowl in 50 years. Each year, UMKC students and faculty team up to volunteer at three TeamSmile events – at Kansas City Chiefs, Royals and Sporting KC. The students see about 300 children, providing provide initial screenings, X-rays and recommendations for what care the kids need for that day. Accompanied by UMKC School of Dentistry faculty members Becky Smith, Eileen Cocjin and Michael McCunniff; 18 dental students from two dental student groups, Students Take Action and the Pedodontic Dentistry Club, volunteer at the outreach events. According to Smith, it’s the breadth of care provided at TeamSmile events that impresses her when she participates. “The impressive thing about TeamSmile is the variety of procedures that are provided,” Smith says “They don’t limit themselves to just preventative care like fluoride and sealants. These kids are getting everything from extractions to root canals.” “They look in the mirror and see what we’ve done, and they realize, ‘Oh my gosh, this kind of changed my life.’” — Dustin Colquitt Started in Kansas City, TeamSmile has gone nationwide, partnering with oral health organizations as well as professional and college athletic teams. It began in the Arrowhead Stadium parking lot now has partnering with 17 NFL franchises, providing millions of dollars in free dental care. "I have participated at four Team Smile events including at the Chiefs stadium," says Tara Craven, D.D.S. '21, and president of Students Take Action. "The kids love coming to get their teeth checked and the program has a whole day of activities planned for them. When the players come to visit they all light up! They love the high-fives and fist bumps offered by the players — including Dustin Colquitt! The volunteers all love seeing the players as well and it’s an amazing day full of giving back and helping kids get jazzed about taking care of their teeth!"  So why is Colquitt involved? For him, it’s the kids’ reactions that really drive home the importance of dental care and how TeamSmile can help. “We feel like in 20 minutes, we can change a kid’s trajectory, meaning that a lot of our kids are hiding what they have going on in their mouth,” Colquitt says in a promotional video. “They look in the mirror and see what we’ve done, and they realize, ‘Oh my gosh, this kind of changed my life.'” According McCunniff, UMKC became involved with TeamSmile nearly at the inception of the organization. In 2007, co-founder Bush was planning his first one-day outreach event at Arrowhead Stadium but needed portable equipment since his existing dental practice equipment wasn’t going anywhere. Not only did UMKC provide the equipment, but also student and faculty volunteers. For McCunniff, he hopes the opportunity inspires his students to come up with their own initiative. “I challenge the students that when you get out in the field, make your own legacy with an initiative like this,” McCunniff says. Although he hasn’t heard, yet, of a former student take him up on that challenge, he has received the next best thing. According to McCunniff about half of the participating dentists in the Kansas City-based TeamSmile events are alumni of UMKC. “The kids love coming to get their teeth checked ... When the players come to visit, they all light up! They love the high-fives and fist bumps ... it’s an amazing day full of giving back and helping kids get jazzed about taking care of their teeth!” — Tara Craven, D.D.S. '21 According McCunniff, the school even has an alum who worked on both sides of the organization. Prior to dental school, alumni Caitlin Silverstein (DDS ‘16) was a staff member for TeamSmile. Once in school, she continued to volunteer at every event and now as dental practitioner herself, McCunniff sees her at nearly every event. The example of the commitment to TeamSmile is a testament to the UMKC School of Dentistry, says Dean Marsha Pyle. “Instilling in our students the importance of volunteerism is a pillar of our institution,” Pyle says. “By showing our students how meaningful these experiences can be, we hope to encourage a lifelong passion for giving back.” Jan 30, 2020

  • Media Outlets Highlight UMKC Announcement of Test-Optional Admissions

    UMKC's announcement of a new test-optional admissions process made headline news throughout Kansas City and beyond.
    UMKC going to test-optional admissions Kansas City Star How Much Influence Will UC’s Faculty Have? Inside Higher Ed  UMKC eliminates mandatory ACT, SAT scores from admissions process KSHB UMKC makes admissions now test-optional KCTV5 UMKC decides to not consider ACT scores in enrollment. Hour 3 1/29/2020KMBZ Radio At UMKC, students are more than test scores. New admissions policy is about inclusion Kansas City Star Why are so many US universities going test-optional?Study International ACT, SAT scores are no longer required for admission to UMKCAssociated Press   Will University of California dump SAT and ACT? Not yet University Business UMKC admissions become test-optional University News Jan 29, 2020

  • Student Headed to Miami to Cover Super Bowl

    Hannah Bassham's job with Tico Sports has her covering the first Chiefs Super Bowl in 50 years
    Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you'll know what UMKC is all about. Name: Hannah Bassham Hometown: El Paso, Texas High School: Pembroke Hill Undergraduate Degree: Criminal Justice from Texas Christian University (TCU) UMKC degree program: J.D./MBA joint degree program Anticipated graduation year: May 2020 for my J.D. and December 2020 for my MBA Third year law and business student Hannah Bassham is also in her third year with Tico Sports, which provides the official Spanish language coverage of the Chiefs. She spoke with us recently about how she landed the job, her role in Super Bowl LIV and her scoring prediction for Sunday. How did you get involved with broadcasting and Tico Sports? I have been a big Chiefs fan since I was a young girl. After undergrad, I was searching for the perfect law school to attend. At the same time, I came across the opportunity to join the Tico Sports family. They were looking for a Spanish-speaking female who was also a football fanatic to join their broadcast team and asked if I would work for them. Since UMKC has a wonderful law school and Tico Sports had a great opportunity for me to be connected with Chiefs football, I realized Kansas City was the perfect place for me to move to and I have been pursuing these two passions ever since. What’s your role with Tico Sports? Tico Sports produces the Chiefs’ official Spanish radio broadcast. In my first year with Tico Sports I worked as a spotter and statistician in the booth to support the color and play-by-play commentators during the broadcast. I was promoted to work as a sideline reporter during my second year with Tico, and this year, along with being the sideline reporter for the broadcast, I took on the role as host of our halftime show. Our halftime show often features interviews with players and community leaders as well as commentary on other games around the league. After each game, I go into the Chiefs locker room for interviews and attend the post-game conference to hear Coach Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes speak to the media. What will you be doing on Super Bowl Sunday? On Super Bowl Sunday I will be in Miami working for Tico Sports as a sideline reporter. As a sideline reporter, I report on weather conditions, injured players, stadium atmosphere and provide general commentary on what I see from my vantage point on the sideline next to the Chiefs bench. I will also host our halftime show which I now call “El Mejor Show de Medio Tiempo” (The Best Halftime Show). You can listen to our broadcast by downloading the Chiefs app and clicking the “radio” prompt in the upper right corner to select the “Tico Sports Español Radio” option or by tuning into La Mega 1160 AM and KPPZ-LP 100.5 FM in Kansas City. Is there a way you see using both your law and broadcasting experience together in the future? I truly hope that my experiences in both law and broadcasting will merge at some point in the future. Law school has been such an incredibly challenging learning experience and along with my experience in broadcasting, I have grown so much in just three years. I can’t help but to think my experiences in both fields have given me new skills that will help me in any career to come. Guess for final score on Sunday? I anticipate seeing a high-scoring game this Sunday with both teams scoring over 28 points. That being said, if I have learned anything from these past few weeks, it is that the Chiefs are unpredictable and wildly entertaining to watch week in and week out. Bassham with her Tico Sports coworkers outside Arrowhead Stadium. Courtesy of Tico Sports. Favorite thing about covering the Chiefs? My favorite thing about covering the Chiefs is having the opportunity to see such an amazing organization at work. I love getting to work side-by-side with talented people who make the Chiefs who they are. As a whole, the Chiefs organization is humble, hard-working, brilliant and grateful to be in the position they are today. I am ecstatic just to be a spectator to the incredible achievements that the entire organization has accomplished together. Jan 29, 2020

  • UMKC Offers Test-Optional Admissions

    Standardized test scores no longer required in applications
    Responding to strong evidence that high school grades are a more reliable predictor of college performance than standardized test scores, UMKC is joining the growing movement to make such test scores an optional component of the admissions process.  With this move, the university is providing more opportunities for qualified people to pursue a college degree. Under the test-optional admissions process, if applicants have performed well in high school, they do not need to take a standardized test, such as the ACT or SAT, to be considered for admission. If an applicant does decide to take such a test, reporting the scores to UMKC is optional. “This is a better way. Now it's the UMKC way.”— Alice Arrendondo, director of admissions   “We made this decision as part of our ongoing commitment to create opportunity. It is in the best interest of the people who live in our community, the workforce needs of our employers and the overall economic development of Greater Kansas City and the state of Missouri,” said C. Mauli Agrawal, chancellor of UMKC. “We are proud to be the first university in the UM System to adopt this approach, as we join a growing number of U.S. colleges and universities—more than 1,000 so far—who have established similar practices.” Applicants remain free to take standardized tests and have the scores reported to UMKC. These scores also will continue to play a role in admission to certain specialized programs and some scholarship opportunities. “This is a better way," said Alice Arredondo, director of admissions at an announcement event. "Now it's the UMKC way.” “For UMKC to become test-optional will be a game changer for students like me. I get test anxiety ... and I worried whether I’d get accepted into UMKC.” — Sadie Billings, senior  The move to test-optional admissions, however, is an evidence-based, educationally sound approach. There is substantial evidence that these tests are less-reliable predictors of the academic potential of traditionally underserved applicants. According to “Defining Access: How Test-Optional Works,” a 2018 study commissioned by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, applicants who chose not to submit standardized test scores with their college applications ultimately graduated at rates equivalent to—or marginally higher than—those who did submit scores. “For UMKC to become test-optional will be a game changer for students like me,” said Sadie Billings, a communications major who will graduate in May. “I took the ACT six times – six times! — only to score the same each time, one point short at 21. I get test anxiety anyway, and I worried whether I’d get accepted into UMKC.” Billings, who made a 4.0 in high school, eventually was accepted at UMKC with a strong recommendation to take mentoring and academic-coaching classes. Now a senior peer academic leader, she’s applying to graduate schools because she wants to work in higher education in programs that help students like her who have what it takes to succeed — no matter the test score on a standardized test.  “This is a change in admissions practices, not a change in the academic standards we enforce. The value of a UMKC degree, and the educational attainment it represents, are unchanged,” Agrawal said. “We are committed to providing every qualified individual an opportunity to leverage their talent and effort to contribute to our economic development and find life and career success.” Learn more about Test-Optional Admission Jan 29, 2020

  • Art Inspired By Worms

    UMKC Gallery of Art exhibition features a collaboration between art and science
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City Gallery of Art and The Stowers Institute for Medical Research present a new exhibition, “Body of Inquiry: The Art, Biology and Being of Flatworms,” with an opening reception from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 30, at the UMKC Gallery of Art, Room 203 in the Fine Arts Building, 5015 Holmes St., Kansas City, Missouri. The exhibition asks the questions, What if you could clone yourself from a small piece of your fingertip? What if you could self-regenerate? What if you were essentially immortal? Scientists have found the answers in the planarian flatworm and local scientists are sharing that through art. “For the planarian flatworm, these human fantasies are reality,” said Nowotarski. “And they’re all around us all over the world, from fountains in Barcelona, to lakes in Mexico, to nearby Brush Creek.”    The exhibition is a collaboration between art and science, two seldom, yet undeniably intertwined, fields. In the multi-disciplinary exhibition “Body of Inquiry,” sensory perception, curiosity, and creative problem-solving converge in order to provide both valuable insights into an unseen world, and beautiful art from an unlikely source. Four intergenerational local artists put the exhibition together. They include retired Kansas City Art Institute fiber chair Jason Pollen, recent KCAI graduate William Plummer, and Stowers Institute artists and research scientists Mol Mir and Steph Nowotarski. They wanted to understand and expand upon the connection between art and science, so they plunged into local waterways and emerged with a greater appreciation for the complexities found there. They explored the role of the planarian flatworm in our local ecosystem then translated their findings to a broader scope. This exploration facilitated the cross-disciplinary dialog which led to Body of Inquiry. This immersive installation celebrates the joy of discovery, inviting visitors to engage with and observe planarian flatworms in a variety of perspectives. Explore our interpretations and examine your own through the use of video projection, live planarians, and visual responses from each artist. This exploration offers insight and helps to answer the question: what can these flatworms teach us about being human? The UMKC Gallery of Art hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The exhibition runs through March 7 at the UMKC Gallery of Art. Jan 27, 2020

  • Celebrating the 30th Annual TAASU Freedom Breakfast

    Alumnus Chiluba J. Musonda reflects on his experiences as an immigrant while honoring the legacy of Dr. King
    The African American Student Union (TAASU) Freedom Breakfast was created to not only commemorate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. but to promote unity and harmony within our community and celebrate the university’s values of diversity, inclusiveness and respect. This year marked the 30th anniversary of the breakfast and saw student tributes in music and dance. Alumnus Chiluba J. Musonda (B.B.A. ’09, M.P.A. ’12) spoke about his journey from Lusaka, Zambia, to Kansas City, Missouri. Student dancers Ivyana Robinson, left, and Jayla Johnson perform during the TAASU Freedom Breakfast. Musonda’s migration to the United States began with five words in a Yahoo search: mid-sized American colleges – affordable. Sifting through more than a hundred results, he applied to four universities. UMKC was the first and only university to respond. “I am no different than any immigrant that comes to America,” says Musonda, now director of operations at Kansas City Museum and author of “Home Away from Home.” “Everyone comes seeking a ‘better life.” He stresses that what most people fail to recognize is the bravery and emotional cost that comes with leaving your family, home and country behind. Musonda recalled a moment in 2007 when he received a call from his sister saying that his mother was robbed at gunpoint in Zambia. He realized then that there was nothing he could do to help and the feeling of being alone in the U.S. sunk in. He cites UMKC and the people around him with helping him pull through the dark moments. “Each one of us has a responsibility to help others,” Musonda said as he encouraged attendees to remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Members of TAASU honored UMKC staff member Todd Wells with The Dr. Joseph Seabrooks Jr. Leadership Award. Pictured from left to right: Blessing Onwundinati, Brenda Reed, Makini Morrison, Jayesha Griffin, Brandy Williams, Todd Wells, Jarinar Robinson. Jan 24, 2020

  • Alumna Helps People Heal from the Inside Out

    Lauren Thompson draws on diverse background for unique brand of wellness
    Earning degrees in dance, psychology, and counseling and guidance with a minor in gender and women’s studies may sound like a meandering path to a career, but alumna Lauren Thompson (B.F.A. ’09, B.A. ’09, M.A. ’12) knew she could make all her interests come together. Thompson’s unique brand of wellness comes together at her Pilates studio, Thrive Pilates, in Kansas City’s Westside. But her work goes far beyond what happens in that cozy space. The connections she makes with her clients are aimed at benefitting the whole person — not just their body composition. So many interests, so little time  Thompson will be the first to tell you: It wasn’t exactly a straight path to her current line of work. Thompson says people were often skeptical when they learned she was pursuing such different courses of study. She got the same question many college students get when selecting a major (or two) without a crystal-clear job description: “What are you going to do with that?” Anyone asking that question hadn’t realized the connection between mind and body, she says, “but I was living it. It was so clear to me how those degrees worked together. Eventually, everyone else caught up.” As an undergraduate at UMKC, Thompson would dance for six hours a day, then go to her psychology classes. Along the way, she also decided to get a minor in gender and women’s studies. And she didn’t stop with her undergraduate degrees. A year after graduation, she was back at UMKC, pursuing her master’s in counseling and guidance, with a focus on mental health. Around this time, Thompson started teaching Pilates and yoga classes, a way to combine her backgrounds in dance and psychology that would turn out to be a crucial thread through her many work experiences. When she was offered a job working with sex offenders in maximum security at Lansing Correctional Facility in Leavenworth County, Kansas, she took it. Though that job offered many challenges, Thompson calls it a “blessing” — just another step on the path to where she is today. Making her own way in the wellness world  During this time, Thompson was teaching and exercising less, usually taking only one yoga class a week. She was frustrated that she wasn’t moving her body more, so she put formal counseling aside and went back to teaching yoga and Pilates full-time. But even the studios where she taught brought some frustration. “I couldn’t really teach the way I wanted to teach,” she says. “And I couldn’t control the messaging, which I am hypersensitive about because of my knowledge of mental health.” She realized it was time to open her own studio, incorporating her wide range of training and experiences. She wanted to meet the multifaceted needs of women from both physical and mental health perspectives, and her diverse background gave her the skills she needed to do it. “I think the important thing is to not compare yourself to other people. There’s so much wasted energy for women on comparing. I feel lucky that I had the training early to help me block that.” —Lauren Thompson “One of the things that we address is that a lot of exercise and training is developed for the male body. That can be a problem for a number of reasons,” she says. “It’s not as if women can’t do these things, but there are times when many exercises are not appropriate.” Thompson notes that the constant physical fluctuations of women’s bodies — menstruation, pregnancy and menopause — deserve acknowledgement in the wellness world. “Men’s health is relatively linear. They don’t experience the same kind of cycles that women do,” Thompson says. “We know that girls playing soccer experience significantly more ACL tears correlating with menstruation. It’s similar to the hormones from pregnancy that cause joints to be less stable.” In addition to being in tune with individual physical needs, Thompson pays close attention to her language. “The idea of ‘skinny equals healthy’ is false, and that mentality is mostly what we hear from the fitness industry,” she says. “I think it’s shame-based, and shame-based motivation never works. Intensity is not going to treat you well.” Thompson practices the balance that she preaches. While work is important to her, she is active in the Kansas City arts and dance communities, using her Conservatory training to choreograph and participate in collaborative art projects. She also works on zoning and development issues in her Westside neighborhood, which has become popular with developers. While managing her work in wellness, art and community development, Thompson works hard to stay healthy and grounded. “I think the important thing is to not compare yourself to other people. There’s so much wasted energy for women on comparing. I feel lucky that I had the training early to help me block that.” This story originally appeared in Perspectives magazine, vol. 29. Jan 24, 2020

  • 12th Annual MLK Lecture Recounts Waves of Athlete Activism in America

    Renowned sports activist and sociologist Harry Edwards was featured speaker
    Speaking to a full crowd of community members during the 12th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture Series, Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Inclusion Susan Wilson said that “we’re still fighting civil rights struggles from economic to social justice” in the United States. She reminded attendees, who piled into Pierson Auditorium to hear from sports activist and sociologist Harry Edwards, Ph.D., that the struggle is not over that King was fighting to overcome. Each year the Division of Diversity and Inclusion brings social-justice thought leaders to UMKC to provide insight and advocacy to current rights issues of education, economic and justice inequalities. The goal of the lecture series is to encourage the campus and Kansas City community to build upon the courageous, non-violent activism of civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and to increase awareness of present day avenues to advocate for social justice through free thought, action and scholarship. This year’s discussion was a timely fit as discourse surrounding former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protest against police brutality and, even more fitting, the Kansas City Chiefs are headed to the Super Bowl. Here a few takeaways from Edwards' lecture. “The challenges of our circumstances are diverse and dynamic. Our struggle, therefore, must be multifaceted and perpetual and there are no final victories.” Each wave of athlete activists — more times than not — is directly tied to a social justice movement in the broader community. Wave 1: Plessy V. Ferguson and Establishing Legitimacy Edwards shared that to understand resistance athletes, we must begin at the turn of the 20th century — the collapse of reconstruction and the passing of Plessy vs. Ferguson: racial segregation under the guise of separate but equal public accommodations. This law is what led to the development of viable, vibrant and parallel black social and cultural institutions — historically black colleges and universities, fraternal and community organizations and sports — constituted by an ongoing resistance amongst black people. “Human rights emphases carried the perceived potential to enhance the dignity and respect of black people.” Achievement by black athletes on the world stage became a feature of African-American resistance to the oppression imposed upon them in America under Plessy vs. Ferguson. This model of black excellence was a direct contradiction of race-based claims of black inferiority and would be reiterated throughout history. Excellence at home through black sports teams and excellence abroad led to the first wave of athlete activism: an effort to establish the legitimacy of blacks in America. Wave 2: Establishing Access Edwards said America underwent a talent pool shortage after WWII due to war casualties, which is what ultimately caused sports officials to fill gaps with black talent in revenue-producing sports like baseball, basketball and track and field. “When you look at collegiate athletics, blacks are virtually underrepresented, especially when it comes to giving scholarships… except in basketball, football and track and field.” According to Edwards, athletes like Jackie Robinson modeled the path for the larger civil rights movement in American society and served the interest of advancing the black struggle against racial segregation and oppression, as well as mainstream sports. “Women have always been a part of every movement, but this movement is about women.” He shed light on how sports was a reflection of what was happening in the broader society and how athletes were the first to take nonviolent direct action against racism and oppression years before King led nonviolent protests in the South. Black clergy and community organizers were taught nonviolent direct action so that sports spectators knew how not to respond when they witnessed their star athletes’ mistreatment on and off the field. “They knew that if there had been a riot in the stands, it would spill into the streets and vice versa if players fought back on the field” and that would hinder them from furthering their push for access both in sports and the community. “The culture of sports has not changed. It is about a transactional reality.” Wave 3: Human Rights – Why Should We Play Where We Can’t Work? After the onset of desegregation and, largely due to what civil rights accomplished, millions of people were left leaderless and hopeless. The trajectory of efforts of young, militant blacks such as the Black Panther Party, shifted to the concern for human rights and human rights development. “Human rights emphases carried the perceived potential to enhance the dignity and respect of black people,” Edwards said. He further explained that it was no longer enough to have access, athletes demanded respect and dignity. He used Muhamad Ali as a prime example of how black athletes fought for dignity and respect for race, name and religion and drew a line to highlight how Ali’s fight opened the door for Barack Obama to eventually become the 44th president of the United States. The third wave of resistance athletes — Ali, Jim Brown and others — was fueled by the Black Power Movement. Each movement has a trending expiration date of about six years, 10 at the most. There was no movement by 1972. Edwards said there were athletes between 1972 and 2012 who were prominent, but not as remembered because most athlete activists are tied to larger movements. “The culture of sports has not changed. It is about a transactional reality.” Wave 4: Black Lives Matter Edwards tied Kaepernick’s protest to the Black Lives Matter movement and the quest for social justice, further noting that current activists have social media at their disposal and are able to use their power and influence to call on their followers to protest. “This generation is about the exercise of power.” Wave 5: Gender Equality The WNBA donates $5 of every ticket sale to Planned Parenthood. “Women have always been a part of every movement, but this movement is about women.” Young women are more dependent on services offered under the Affordable Care Act and nonprofit health care clinics. Edwards said if those go away, it will constitute a direct threat on the existence of women’s sports, and women are already beginning to react to it. “The challenges of our circumstances are diverse and dynamic,” Edward said. “Our struggle, therefore, must be multifaceted and perpetual and there are no final victories.” It’s not the activists who created the struggle, Edwards said, but the athletes who are participating in their leg of the struggle. He said there will always be a movement, which is why we’re constantly in pursuit of forming that more perfect union. “It will never be perfect but the struggle to get there is what will be part of what is in the very fabric and soul of American society.” Learn more about Diversity and Inclusion at UMKC Jan 23, 2020

  • On MLK Day, School of Dentistry Volunteers Service for Thousands of Smiles

    Students, faculty and staff assemble 2,000 dental-supply kits
    From the outside, the UMKC School of Dentistry looked quiet Monday morning, befitting a day when classes were out and its clinics were closed. But inside, the cafeteria and second-floor hallways were abuzz with volunteers doing service befitting Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The volunteers’ mission: assemble 2,000 dental-care supply kits for distribution to points of need throughout the community. It was the second year for the dental school’s MLK Day of Service, and the number of kits was double the output of a year ago. “It’s great to see everyone here volunteering,” said Shurouk Alkharabsheh, a third-year dental student. “I missed last year and wanted to take part this time. It’s good to do something productive with the day.” Ryan Greenway, a second-year dental student, agreed: “I enjoy volunteering, and was bummed when I missed the event last year. But now I’m here! It’s also a nice break from our routine.” Students got the dental-kit day of service going a year ago, and it has had the full support of School of Dentistry leadership. Dean Marsha Pyle was on hand Monday morning and took a brief break from her assembly line to praise the effort. “I’m grateful that our faculty, staff and students have created this opportunity to do good in the community,” Pyle said. “It’s a team effort — and Kansas City loves its teams! It’s great to see this special effort on this special day, when we don’t have our usual commitments.” Most of the kits were packed with an average adult in mind, with items including a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and information on the school’s clinical services and free dental cleanings available to the public. But one station packed kits suited to children, and another included supplies of use to older residents and people with dentures. “I’m a big believer in volunteering, so this fits right in with my ideas. I participated last year and really enjoyed the sense of community.” - Mark Dallas Richie Bigham, assistant dean for student programs, said the kits were bound for several places, including the City Union Mission, a program to help the homeless that’s on the original site of the dental school. The school also added a sock drive this year, as socks are an often-requested item at some of the locations that receive the dental kits. Just as the kits will benefit the wider community, the volunteer corps this year drew from outside the dental school. One group came from St. James United Methodist Church, which also was sending volunteers to other locations around Kansas City for MLK Day. “We’re happy to help here at the School of Dentistry,” said one parishioner, Phyllis Jackson, “and we have other volunteers today at Hospice House, Rose Brooks, Harvesters and other locations to honor the memory of Dr. King.” Faculty and staff from the School of Dentistry rounded out the volunteers, including Mark Dallas, M.S., research assistant in the Department of Oral and Craniofacial Sciences. “I’m a big believer in volunteering, so this fits right in with my ideas,” said Dallas, who joined the school in 2001 along with his wife, Professor Sarah Dallas, Ph.D. “I participated last year and really enjoyed the sense of community.” The volunteers had started the day at 8:30 a.m. with a half-hour video on Dr. King’s legacy, and then they made fast work putting the kits together. By 11 a.m., they reassembled to be thanked by Jeffery Primos, director of business affairs, and then to make their first delivery, to nearby Ronald McDonald House. The project will make a difference for hundreds of people, Primos said, “and embody what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for.” Jan 20, 2020

  • Prison Research and Innovation

    $200,000 Urban Institute grant supports corrections research, offender rehabilitation
    University of Missouri System researchers will play a central role in a new initiative aimed at improving the prison environment in Missouri. This week the Urban Institute, with support from Arnold Ventures, announced a $200,000 grant to support a collaborative effort between university researchers and the Missouri Department of Corrections. Missouri was one of one five states chosen for phase 1 of the Prison Research and Innovation Network, along with Colorado, Delaware, Iowa and Vermont. Janet Garcia-Hallett, assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, is part of the research team. The team, led by Kelli Canada and Clark Peters of MU, received an annual grant of $100,000 to support their work in the project. Canada and Peters co-founded the Center for Criminal and Juvenile Justice Priorities. Other researchers involved are Ashley Givens, assistant professor of social work at MU; Beth Huebner, professor of criminology and criminal justice at University of Missouri-St. Louis. “We are excited to partner with the Department of Corrections on this important work,” Canada said. “This collaboration speaks to the land-grant mission of the University of Missouri, as our research findings will be put to use to improve lives in communities across the state.” The researchers will conduct climate surveys and collect data to provide objective analysis to the Department of Corrections for the research pilot project.   “I am a firm believer in using research and data to make good decisions,” Missouri Department of Corrections Director Anne Precythe said. “We’re thrilled to work with the University of Missouri, to join the network and to implement evidence-based practices, policies and programs that advance our goal of improving lives for safer communities.” The 4.5-year research project will be piloted at Moberly Correctional Center, a 1,800-bed minimum/medium-security facility located 35 miles north of Columbia, Missouri. The prison is the inaugural site of the Missouri Veterans Project and the state’s first dorm for veterans. It houses two intensive therapeutic communities for offenders committed to personal growth and sobriety. It provides opportunities for offenders to give back through programs such as Puppies for Parole and Restorative Justice. It also offers 48 courses and groups that build skills in areas such as anger management, parenting, employability preparation, cognitive interventions, addiction management and understanding the impact of crime on victims.  “We look forward to supporting Missouri in its efforts to employ research and data to improve prison culture, operations, and design while creating more humane and rehabilitative correctional environments,” said Nancy La Vigne, vice president of justice policy at the Urban Institute. “Missouri’s leadership and commitment to transparency and accountability will help spur lasting change for people who live and work in prisons.” Jan 14, 2020

  • UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies Ranks in Top 30 for Eighth Year in a Row

    U.S. News & World Report ranks online graduate programs
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Nursing and Health Studies ranked No. 26 among the nation’s best online graduate nursing programs of 2020 by U.S. News & World Report, giving it at least a Top 30 ranking for the eighth year in a row. The UMKC ranking, released today, is the highest of any university in Missouri or Kansas. Last year, UMKC also ranked high at No. 19. “The UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies is proud that our online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program continues to be recognized as one of the best in the nation," said Joy Roberts, interim dean. "For the past two decades, UMKC MSN graduates have been demonstrating excellence in nursing care throughout Missouri, Kansas and the Midwest." The UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies is a pioneer in distance-learning programs, offering online advanced degree programs since 2002. The programs offer busy professionals a high-quality but convenient way to further their careers and meet the needs of an evolving health-care system. Online students are expected to participate in online discussions as if they are present in the classroom. Technology offers two-way communication in real time via multiple modes. Students also experience on-site learning through summer institutes where they are required to attend clinical training or dissertation work sessions, and deliver presentations to classmates and faculty. UMKC offers a variety of online graduate nursing tracks, including Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and other options: Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Family Nurse Practitioner Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Nurse Educator Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Ph.D. Doctor of Nursing Practice U.S. News began ranking online education in 2012. The categories include faculty credentials and training; student engagement; admissions selectivity; peer reputation; and student services and technology. U.S. News began their data comparisons with more than 550 institutions that had accredited graduate degree programs in nursing. Among the ones that replied, more than 180 said they offered online graduate nursing programs. The number of online nursing programs is continually growing nationwide. Jan 14, 2020

  • Criminal Justice Professor Uses Sticky Notes to Humanize Crime Statistics

    Seven questions with Ken Novak
    In January 2019, criminology and criminal justice professor Ken Novak noticed an unusual pattern of homicide cases in Kansas City and casually decided to track them using color-coded sticky notes and posting them on his office door. He intended to spark a conversation. On each note he recorded the date, victim name, victim demographic and the location. Orange for gun violence, blue for other, yellow for unknown and purple for officer-involved. He wanted students and colleagues to stop and ask questions, to take in what was happening and be led to help find a solution. He detailed his findings on Twitter at the start of 2020. What stuck out to you the most about the homicide rate last year? The thing that stuck out to me in general was the number of gun-related homicides – it’s clear that guns are involved in nine out of every 10 homicides. “I hope this humanizes crime statistics. Behind every homicide is a victim and grieving families experiencing unimaginable trauma.” 151 homicides in one year? That’s a lot. Is that the highest it’s ever been? There were several years in the 1990s when the raw number of homicides was higher. In fact, there were more homicides in 2017 than in 2019. But I believe it’s better to examine the population-adjusted homicide rates and compare Kansas City’s rates to national trends. In the 1990s, the national homicide rate was almost twice as high as it is today. Since then, the national rate trended downward, where Kansas City’s homicide rate is stable. In 2019, Kansas City’s homicide rate was roughly six times higher than the national rate, and this disparity between Kansas City and the U.S. is the highest it has ever been. What can we attribute to the heightened rate of gun violence in our city? Several different factors contribute to the heightened rate of gun violence in Kansas City. First: Research demonstrates that cities and counties in states with lenient gun laws have more gun homicides, even after considering other factors. Second: There is a culture of gun violence in Kansas City, as well as in other urban areas in Missouri, perhaps due to the availability of guns. Using guns to settle disputes and arguments is normative in Kansas City, so we run the risk of viewing this violence as normal because it is what we have become accustomed to expect. Additionally, many homicides are a result of retaliatory violence. “Settling the score” with guns rather than the criminal justice system has become normalized behavior. Third: Many affected by gun violence do not view the criminal justice system as effective, fair, impartial or transparent. Only about half of homicides are cleared by the police, and only about 20% of non-fatal shootings result in an arrest. When witnesses and victims don’t see people being held accountable for their actions, they are less likely to cooperate with detectives and prosecutors. Add in the fact that witnesses and victims may also fear retaliation if they cooperate, their motivation to collaborate with the police goes down even further. It’s a vicious cycle. “There is no single solution to this problem, and there is no single strategy we can implement...” Your goal when you started posting these notes on your door was to start a conversation and you’ve done just that, especially with the recent wave of media coverage after your Twitter thread. What do you hope the community will take away from your findings? I hope this humanizes crime statistics. Behind every homicide is a victim and grieving families experiencing unimaginable trauma. It’s easy to lose sight of this fact. I also wanted to draw attention to how homicide victimization clusters by demographics. Young black males experience a disproportionate amount of victimization – about 95 times higher than the general U.S. population. The burden and trauma of homicide is not shared equally across everyone in KC. You were previously on the board for KC NOVA (the Kansas City No Violence Alliance). What community initiatives are you currently involved in to help solve criminal justice issues in Kansas City? I am currently working with the Kansas City Police Department on a hot-spot policing initiative in the most violent areas in eastern Kansas City — where many of these shooting occur. I am also working with the police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms on an initiative to link shootings by examining ballistic evidence left behind at crime scenes. Both of these are sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice. “In 2019, Kansas City’s homicide rate was roughly six times higher than the national rate, and this disparity between Kansas City and the U.S. is the highest it has ever been.” Interesting! We’re looking forward to hearing more about those initiatives as they progress. What about those of us in the community? What can we do to help solve the gun violence issue? There is no single solution to this problem, and there is no single strategy we can implement. Kansas City needs a violence-reduction portfolio of strategies. We have learned some crime prevention strategies work better than others do and, over time, science has developed evidence-based solutions to reduce crime. Citizens should demand evidence-strategies be given priority within this portfolio. You mentioned that you started this as a casual effort. Are you planning to do it all again this year? I don’t think I’m going to do this in 2020. I never intended this to be an annual exercise. Learn more about faculty research Jan 13, 2020

  • Researcher Working to Prevent Age-Related Vision Loss

    $1.16-milion NIH grant award explores macular-degeneration treatment
    Backed by a $1.16 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, UMKC School of Medicine vision researcher Peter Koulen, Ph.D., is studying new chemical compounds to treat and prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss and blindness among older adults. As many as 11 million people in the United States have some form of age-related macular degeneration. “AMD affects a significant and increasing portion of the U.S. population, with age being a predisposing factor,” said Koulen, director of basic research at UMKC’s Vision Research Center. “This research will contribute to improving health care and the prevention of blindness.” His project, funded by the NIH National Eye Institute, will focus on the preclinical development of novel antioxidants that have the potential to be both preventative and therapeutic in nature. The compounds could prevent the deterioration and death of retina nerve cells and supporting cells. The retina cannot regenerate these cells, therefore, their loss as a result of AMD leads to irreversible damage to one’s vision. If successful, these new antioxidants being developed by Koulen’s research would be effective in both preventing the disease from progressing and treating already existing damage. The research focuses on dry AMD, a form of the disease that affects the majority of patients. Effective therapies are lacking for this form of the disease, in which cells are gradually lost over time resulting in blindness.   Medications developed as a result of the study could also complement existing treatment designs for the wet form of AMD that is more aggressive and affects a smaller number of patients. Jan 10, 2020

  • UMKC Professor Wins Grant for Using One Health Data

    Gerald Wyckoff is one of three local scientists awarded nexus of human and animal research funding
    BioNexus KC and the Hall Family Foundation awarded Nexus of Human and Animal Health Research Grants to three local researchers including Gerald Wyckoff, Ph.D., professor at UMKC. Each researcher was given $50,000 to further the Path to 2025 regional vision: Kansas City is a global leader at the nexus of human and animal health benefitting all our citizens and the economy. This nexus is called One Health. Wyckoff, with the joint University of Missouri-Kansas City and Kansas State University 1Data project, will work on creating a set of highly curated potential therapeutic target genes for rare disease. Wyckoff works with the School of Pharmacy and School of Biological and Chemical Sciences. Building on this, the project will construct an algorithmic approach to screening for new therapeutics in over 3,400 rare disease genes, creating a new resource and tool for precision medicine in the rare disease space. By taking a One Health approach, and using computational techniques, 1Data plans to address the major problem of the lack of availability of treatments for rare disease and do so in a way that benefits both animal and human health. Jan 07, 2020

  • Winter Break Reduced Operating Schedule

    Hours and services limited during break
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City will conduct reduced operations, with most offices and departments closed, from Dec. 25 through Jan. 1. Normal business operations will resume on Jan. 2. December 25 through January 1 has officially been designated as winter break for the University of Missouri System. The campus will be closed with exception of a few offices. Here are a few more details about specific services. Emergency In case of emergency, contact UMKC police at 816-235-1515. UMKC Dental Clinic UMKC School of Dentistry Clinic reopens at 8 a.m. Jan. 2. Year-End Donations You are welcome to make on-line donations via credit card here. The Office of Gift Processing will only be available Monday, Dec. 30, and Tuesday, Dec. 31, from 8 a.m. to noon to accept year-end gifts. Inquiries can be directed to (816) 235-1566 or umkcgiftprocessing@umkc.edu. The UMKC Foundation will also be taking calls at (816) 235-5778. Any checks must be in an envelope postmarked prior to Dec. 31, 2019 in order to be credited in the 2019 tax year. Please address donations to: UMKC Office of Gift Processing112 Administrative Center5115 Oak StreetKansas City, MO 64112 For any stock gifts or wire transfers, please contact Katherine Walter at walterka@umkcfoundation.org. Stock gifts must be received into the UMKC Foundation’s brokerage account by Dec. 31, 2019 to be counted in the 2019 tax year. Mutual funds should be initiated no later than Dec. 20 to be transferred on time. Thank you for supporting UMKC and enjoy the winter break!   Dec 20, 2019

  • Alumna Tells Tales of Westboro and Bison

    MFA leads to rich and varied freelance career
    Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about.  Name: Anne Kniggendorf '14UMKC degree program: MFA in Creative Writing and Media Arts, College of Arts and Sciences Alumna Anne Kniggendorf attended the MFA Creative Writing program on the G.I. Bill. While she always had a passion for writing, she did not see herself as a journalist. But her freelance career has been full of delightful surprises.  Tell us about your current position. I’m a freelance writer in Kansas City. I started freelancing for the Kansas City Star in 2014 and I still write for them occasionally. I write for KCUR 89.3, the Kauffman Foundation, and have written for Flatland Magazine a few times. I’ve also written for national magazines and twice for international journals. How did you choose your field of study? Writing has been my favorite activity for as long as I can remember. I got to a point when I was in my mid-30s when I felt that I’d hit a wall. I needed more tools to write the way I wanted to be able to. What brought you to UMKC? I wanted a writing program near home and UMKC seemed perfect. What was your favorite thing about UMKC? I enjoyed all of my classes, professors and assignments. My favorite thing was the chance to reopen the part of my mind that had to work with whatever someone else assigned me--which is what I’ve been doing ever since.  What did you learn about yourself while you were here? At UMKC, I learned that I was holding myself back from being a writer. I saw that Kansas City is home to a community of writers who are generally willing to help each other, and that all I needed to do was show up and work to be a part of it. “At UMKC, I learned that I was holding myself back from being a writer.” - Anne Kniggendorf Who was the most influential faculty or staff member at UMKC? As far as working hard and diligently, Whitney Terrell encouraged me more than anyone else. He was in charge of The Kansas City Star internship at the time, and he selected me for that program. How did the internship affect how you viewed the field? I don’t think I’d be doing what I’m doing now if I hadn’t had the opportunity at The Star. Learning how to work with an editor and write under a deadline was a lot different from writing for leisure. I hadn’t worked with deadlines since my early 20s, and I had to write a book review every week for an entire semester. At the same time I was learning how to work that hard at writing, I was writing my thesis and taking two or three other classes. What are the challenges of your field? I told myself until I was about 37 that writing isn’t a job. I think lots of people in the arts feel this way, because it’s culturally accepted that no one in the arts makes much money. The exceptions are so few. There’s no writer who expects to grow up to be the next Stephen King. What are the benefits? Every assignment I take is different from the last one, and I meet new people all the time who are really fascinating and eager to talk to me about what they love doing. What has been one of your favorite freelance assignments? I just did a story for KCUR with Megan Phelps-Roper (granddaughter of the late Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church) about her new book “Unfollow.” Because I grew up in the area and heard about the Westboro members’ picketing, I was really interested in being able to sit with her ask about her experiences. I had a great learning opportunity when I did a story about a buffalo ranch.  Amy and Michael Billings are interested in conserving bison in an effort to preserve the ecosystem of their land. As it turned out, conservation and slaughter are compatible. If you want to save something, you need to eat it. How did UMKC help you reach your current position? In a very real way, the internship at The Star that I got while I was in the program put me on the path I’m on now, but beyond that, the feedback about my work from the professors and other students really highlighted my strengths and weaknesses in ways I hadn’t seen before. What are your goals for the future? I want to keep writing for media outlets and organizations. I’m also working on two books. “Secret Kansas City,” which is part of a series about weird, mysterious, unexpected or goofy stories about individual cities, will be published in fall 2020. The publisher found me and asked me to write it. I’ve been working on my own book for six years. It’s about the relationship between military service and the liberal arts. I think’s there’s a connection, and I don’t think it’s smart to separate them. I have the whole narrative in place, but I just don’t think it’s as succinct as it needs to be.  Would you recommend the MFA program? Yes, it strengthened my writing in a lot of ways. The process of giving and receiving feedback was helpful. But one of the things that was really significant was getting the opportunity to write across genres. It’s been super valuable and not every MFA program has that. While I wasn’t initially interested in poetry, I enjoyed those classes. And there’s a lot to be learned from poetry courses – like word economy – that have helped in journalism. Playwriting and learning about writing dialogue helped with choosing quotations to support the ideas in my articles. Every day when I’m writing I’m thinking what can I do to draw people into the story? What’s the point that will make someone care enough to keep reading?” Those are things I learned in the MFA program. “Every day when I’m writing I’m thinking what can I do to draw people into the story? Those are things I learned in the MFA program.” - Anne Kniggendorf What is one word that best describes you? Tenacious. Do you have a motto you live by? Don’t panic... What is your advice for a student entering UMKC? If you study what you really want to know about, whether that’s in a larger sense like your degree program, or on a smaller scale like topics you choose for papers, you’ll learn more and work harder than if you study something you imagine would be good to know, or that someone else wants you to learn about. Dec 20, 2019

  • Helix Prize for Architecture Students Shows Dedication to Details

    Winner Alexa Radley thrives in challenging program
    Alexa Radley carefully lifts the roof of the model of her prize-winning design in the unusually quiet studio space of Katz Hall. She points to colorful, geometric art that spans a large section of the wall. "I suggested having a local artist create a mural here,” she says of her design for a community center in the Lykins neighborhood in Northeast Kansas City. “I think that would really help make it their own.” Museum board, basswood, heavy-gauge wire and tiny plastic people are the tools that the students of the Architecture, Urban Planning and Development program use to translate the needs of their clients into physical solutions at the annual Helix Prize competition for the second-year students. For this year’s class, these models — diminutive in scale — represent the strengthening of a neighborhood in the development of a new Lykins Square Community Center. “While this is not a real project, we did meet with representatives of the neighborhood association, and they gave us feedback on what the neighborhood would want,” says John Eck, associate teaching professor. “The neighborhood owns the site and sees it as a possible ‘real’ location.” Eck says there were a couple of interesting challenges with this project, especially as the residents included gym space as part of their wish list. “One of the biggest challenges was the insertion of a fairly bulky building into a very modestly-scaled residential neighborhood. No one wants a giant new building looming over their home, but at the same time the design needed to accommodate the program and address the large scale of the park.” In addition, the slope of the site is significant. “There’s a drop of about twenty feet from the back of the site to the front sidewalk,” Eck says. “Finding a way to “step” the program down, both indoors and outdoors, while maintaining accessibility for all is no small feat.“ Radley came to the AUPD program after a year in community college. With equal strengths in art, design and math, she thought architecture might be a good fit. “I interned with A3G in Liberty, Missouri,” she says. “It’s a small firm of women architects. It was a great way to see if I would enjoy the field.” Her experience assured her that architecture was her path. She was accepted into the program and will continue to Kansas State University as part of a partnership between the two universities. "You get really close to the people in the program."    -Alexa Radley For the Helix Prize, students had seven weeks to outline their objectives and approaches, complete structural drawings and build their models.  “It’s a big project,” Radley says. “There are a lot of small components. Dealing with the topography of the sloped site was a real challenge.” When she began her design, she envisioned the roof as a ramp, but as the design evolved, she incorporated angular silhouettes to mimic the roofs of the neighborhood. “That’s when I really started to love my project,” she says. Radley’s design is nestled into the landscape, creating the feeling that the neighborhood both surrounds and protects it. Her building has more movement than some of her classmates, whose designs relied largely on right angles. She included orange panels on the exterior as a warm and inviting accent.  But one of her favorite components was the mural. “The community representatives really love it,” she says. This year’s jurors included Gail Lozoff, neighborhood representative; Mike Frisch, department chair, AUPD; Katie Kingery-Page, landscape architect and Kansas State University representative; and Anthony Luca. And despite what might look like an intimidating and very personal process to have professionals critique their student projects, Radley did not find the process daunting. “Most of the jurors have been through the process, so they understand what it feels like. Their feedback is very constructive and they focus on strengths as well.” Radley and the runner-up, Anna Greene, will both receive scholarships to Kansas State next year. Radley is looking forward to their transition. "You get really close to the people in the program,” she says. “We’re all in the same classes and studio together, which is more intimate. Most of us are going on to K-State next year.” While she loves the field and the program, she cautions that it’s not for everyone. “The program itself is challenging and not everyone who has an interest decides to tough it out,” Radley says, as she carefully replaces the roof of her model. “If you’re not 100% committed, you’re not going to make it. There were 36 first-years in my class. We’re down to eight.” Eck is not surprised that Radley is one of the remaining eight. “Alexa’s design process and work ethic is actually what was most striking to me. She has a remarkable ability to put her head down, focus, move forward, and get it done. The end product is important, of course, but learning how to get there is even more important. Design studios are about teaching design process; the project is just a vehicle to do that.” Dec 18, 2019

  • UMKC Pitches In for Better Missouri Roads and Bridges

    Professor John Kevern will help lead a UM System effort to bring cutting-edge technology and research to bear on the state’s transportation issues
    Missouri’s roads and bridges need an upgrade, but state funding is tight. A new entity, the Missouri Center for Transportation Innovation, will combine academic research with industry partners and other stakeholders to create novel transportation solutions. Innovative solutions are needed to address crumbling roads and bridges across Missouri. A new collaborative center within the University of Missouri System hopes to accelerate the future of transportation-related research by connecting academic minds and industry leaders. The Missouri Center for Transportation Innovation (MCTI) will share academic research from each of the four UM System universities — UMKC, MU, UMSL and S&T— with the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to maximize the impact of state-funded transportation research, and to attract large-scale, federal grants to pursue research on the cutting edge of transportation. Built around a common theme of innovation, MCTI research interests will include connected and autonomous vehicles; transportation safety; advanced materials for pavements and bridges; recycling and sustainability; resilience; big data in transportation; congestion relief; and transportation policy and economics. Bill Buttlar, the Glen Barton Chair in Flexible Pavement Systems at the MU College of Engineering, will serve as the center’s director for its first three years, joined by John J. Myers, professor of civil engineering and associate dean of the College of Engineering and Computing at S&T as the deputy director. John Kevern, professor and chair of civil and mechanical engineering at UMKC; and Jill Bernard Bracy, assistant teaching professor in the College of Business Administration and assistant director of program development for the Center for Transportation Studies at UMSL; will also help lead MCTI by serving on the center’s operations cabinet. “Combining the strengths of the UM System universities with MoDOT through the MCTI is a clear expression of our  mission to foster research that benefits the people of Missouri, the nation, and the world,” UM System President Mun Choi said. “Building effective connections between our universities and the state will accelerate research breakthroughs and support economic development and improve transportation safety.” The base funding for MCTI will be provided through the MoDOT state planning and research funding. Myers notes that new transportation-related laboratories at both Missouri S&T and UMKC will also help facilitate the expansion of transportation-related research capabilities at all four UM System universities. The $32 million Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center at UMKC, scheduled for a fall 2020 opening, will include leading-edge high-tech research and development capabilities. And next spring, the $6.5 million Clayco Advanced Construction and Materials Laboratory (ACML), currently under construction at Missouri S&T, will combine civil infrastructure testing and analysis techniques with the development of new infrastructure materials and construction methods in the ACML. Dec 17, 2019

  • Pharmacy Students Help Missourians Battle the Bug

    School held 59 flu-shot events throughout the state
    ‘Tis the season for colds and flu. And this fall, UMKC School of Pharmacy students were again busy battling the bug. Third-year pharmacy students participate each year in a pharmacy-practice experience that includes learning to administer immunizations. This year, that involved giving 2,676 flu shots to patients at 59 immunization events throughout Missouri. This is the eighth year the School of Pharmacy has been part of the flu shot initiative. It started in 2011 as a collaborative effort with the University of Missouri System Healthy for Life wellness program to administer the shots to faculty and staff. “We have enjoyed an excellent collaboration with Healthy for Life,” said Val Ruehter, Pharm.D., BCPP, director of experiential learning. “In Kansas City, we also collaborate with Children’s Mercy, where we participated in flu shot clinics for its Family and Friends program.” The collaborations expanded this year in Kansas City to include Hy-Vee Pharmacies, where students assisted with in-store clinics. In addition, immunization events were held at the John Knox Village retirement community. Students at the Springfield campus collaborated with Alps Pharmacies and its locations in local businesses, and senior assisted living and nursing care centers; and Walgreens and its locations in local businesses, schools, veterans organizations and homeless charities. Clinics were also held at both Lawrence Drug and Sunshine Health Mart for patients at these pharmacies. Students from all three UMKC School of Pharmacy campuses participated. In Kansas City, students participated in 14 immunization events and administered 1,453 flu shots. Springfield campus students participated in 44 events and gave 930 shots. And students from the Columbia campus administered 293 immunizations.  “These collaborations engage students in a variety of activities and allow us to demonstrate the knowledge, skills and impact that pharmacists can have on community health and wellness,” Ruehter said. “Our students were well-prepared, engaged and represented themselves as knowledgeable health care professionals.” All vaccines administered by students are given under required protocol with oversight by a physician. Certified immunizer faculty members take the lead in managing the protocol and supervising the student training and immunization events. The regional American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists organization honored the UMKC School of Pharmacy earlier this year with an Operation Immunization chapter award. It recognized the extraordinary contributions pharmacists provide to improving vaccination rates in their communities. The UMKC chapter also received the national recognition in 2012. Dec 17, 2019

  • Celebrating 1,000 New Grads During Mid-Year Commencement

    Class of 2019 graduates honored
    Nearly 1,000 students received their degrees during University of Missouri-Kansas City mid-year Commencement exercises on Saturday, Dec. 14. Festivities began with the College of Arts and Sciences Graduation with Distinction Luncheon where alumna Liz Cook (M.F.A. ’14) offered advice for the 70 students graduating with honors. “You may not have all the answers right now, but you have the skills to find them,” said Cook, who works at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and as a writer for The Pitch. Liz Cook, pictured left, with Chancellor Agrawal and fellow College of Arts and Sciences alumna, Anne Kniggendorf,  pictured right. Among the students graduating with recognition were the Dean of Students 2019 Honor Recipients. Faculty and staff nominate students for their academic excellence, leadership and service. Ten Roos were honored this fall. Shahodat Azimova, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences Shelby Chesbro, School of Medicine Jordann Dhuse, School of Medicine Lindsey Gard, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences Fiona Isiavwe, Bloch School of Management Leah Israel, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences Anna Lillig, School of Nursing and Health Studies Zach Randall, School of Medicine Marcella Riley, School of Medicine Landon Rohowetz, School of Medicine Student crowd surfs in celebration outside Swinney Center after graduation. On Saturday, Swinney Center was packed with students and their families celebrating the milestone of graduation. Chancellor Agrawal congratulated students saying, “You are ready to take on the world.” During the Henry W. Bloch School of Management ceremony, alumnus Mike Plunkett (B.S. ’91) addressed students. Plunkett is the co-founder and COO of PayIt, an award-winning digital government platform that simplifies doing business with state, local and federal governments. As students move forward in life, he encouraged them to: Dream: Get in the habit of visualizing attainable goals on a daily basis. Work: The absolutely necessary step to making your dreams a reality. Hope: Have the determination to be positive in life, even when things aren’t going well. Give: Enrich your life by giving to others. Alumnus Mike Plunkett offers advice to the class of 2019. Student speaker Ian Njoroge encouraged his fellow graduates saying, “Believe that you will find opportunities. Look for opportunities and you’ll see that opportunities are looking for you.” Dec 17, 2019

  • Alumnus’ Determination to Bring Music to Kansas City’s Youth

    Darryl Chamberlain has helped more than 200 students learn to play instruments
    At 10 years old, Darryl Chamberlain (B.A. ’15, ’16) walked to school composing music in his head. Despite having no formal training and no instruments in his home, the music still came to him at an early age. Now, more than 40 years later, Chamberlain is actually composing some of those melodies for the Kansas City children in his A-Flat Youth Orchestra. Since its creation, Chamberlain has helped more than 200 students learn to play instruments, many of whom wouldn’t have had access to music lessons otherwise. Chamberlain’s journey from 10-year-old sidewalk composer to volunteer orchestra director is an unlikely one, made possible through remarkable hard work and tenacity. A winding road to music (and back) At 17, Chamberlain begin attending a church full of energetic young people like himself. The church had a youth choir Chamberlain longed to join, but he didn’t know how to sing or play an instrument. Instead, he hung around the choir practices and one day noticed a guitar leaning in a corner. With a few minutes’ instruction from the bass guitarist and the devoted study of a Mel Bay guitar book, Chamberlain taught himself how to play. Then, another stroke of luck: The church needed a place to store their piano after a storm, and Chamberlain’s house was nearby. A few months later, and Chamberlain had taught himself piano, too. “There are among us Beethovens and Bachs and Mozarts and Schuberts and Schumanns and so many more. They are among us, and sometimes they get a chance to surface, because they came from a community that supported music and allowed them to grow.” – Chamberlain Over the next few decades, Chamberlain continued to learn and teach music while he, as he puts it, “created a life.” He got married, worked as an auto mechanic, earned an associate’s degree from the Electronics Institute and got a job at Texas Instruments. Community need becomes personal mission In 2004, Chamberlain moved back to Kansas City from Texas and found himself at the American Royal Parade. When he had left Kansas City back in the 1980s, the parade had been full of Kansas City high school bands. By the early 2000s, he was concerned to see none performing. He started talking to educators in the area and discovered the need for music education was great, but funding wasn’t always available. In 2005, Chamberlain decided to create a youth orchestra for kids who might not have access to music otherwise. He began buying instruments for his project, which has now become as the A-Flat Youth Orchestra. He purchased most of the instruments out of his own pocket, starting with just the money he earned playing piano at a local church. He was a familiar face at local pawn shops and spent hours searching listings on eBay and newspaper classifieds, looking for any instrument that looked playable (or at least fixable). Today, the orchestra owns enough instruments to outfit two-and-a-half concert bands. Bassoons, violins, cellos, guitars, flutes, drums and more, are all owned by A-Flat Music Studio, Inc. and loaned or rented to students who want to play music. Recently, a woman saw a Kansas City Star story about the orchestra and donated a harp. On Saturdays, the instruments show up in places like the W.E.B. DuBois Learning Center, in the hands of dozens of young people, many of whom wouldn’t have had access to an instrument elsewhere. More than 30 students play in the orchestra, ranging in age from seven to 19. Chamberlain has recruited five other teachers to help instruct various sections. His motto? “There will not be a child in this city who wants to study music but can’t because money is an issue.” Chamberlain’s love for teaching is apparent. It’s part of what led him to UMKC in 2009, eventually earning two bachelor’s degrees: one in secondary education–social sciences and another in history. His studies at UMKC were a natural fit, he says, giving him access to formal education in the areas of art, history and teaching that he’s informally enjoyed his entire life. Chamberlain with members of the A-Flat Youth Orchestra at a performance at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The power of giving kids a chance When asked about the particularly memorable moments from his 14 years directing the orchestra, a few come to mind, Chamberlain says: The day a student who had been struggling blurted out, “I’m doing it! I’m actually reading!” Receiving an invitation to a graduation party for one of his students who had earned her M.D. Seeing the students play at the Kauffman Center in bow ties. Once, a young man asked him why he “dresses up” for rehearsal. Chamberlain explained to him, “I dress up for you, because it’s the kind of respect I want to extend to you. I want you to know you’re worth it.” The next week, that same student came to class in slacks and shiny dress shoes, looking, as Chamberlain put it, “like a million bucks.” The important thing, Chamberlain says, is giving kids a chance. Because if we can teach music, we can also teach discipline, character, tenacity, all those little things that make a person — and a community — great. In the process, you might help a child discover a part of themselves they didn’t know existed. “There are among us Beethovens and Bachs and Mozarts and Schuberts and Schumanns and so many more,” Chamberlain says. "They are among us, and sometimes they get a chance to surface, because they came from a community that supported music and allowed them to grow.” Support the Youth Orchestra This story originally appeared in Perspectives magazine, vol. 29. Dec 17, 2019

  • UMKC, KU Developing Digital Course for Formerly Incarcerated Women

    NSF funds $1.4 million project meant to improve eligibility for jobs
    There are currently more than 1 million incarcerated women in the United States. According to Baek-Young Choi, associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering, women are the fastest growing segment of the prison population, increasing nearly 834% nationwide within the last 40 years. Yet prison education systems are still primarily designed with men in mind. Choi, alongside co-principal investigator Sejung Song, Ph.D. and a group of graduate-level students, is partnering with a team of faculty from the University of Kansas on a $1.4 million National Science Foundation-funded project – led by Hyunjin Seo, Ph.D., associate professor in the KU School of Journalism – to help women exiting prison advance their technology skills in hopes of improving their eligibility for better job opportunities and their ability to support their children’s education. “Many women going into prison were underprivileged to begin with, and then in prison there’s a lack of access to the internet,” Choi said. “This leaves women vulnerable because when they are released, it’ll be difficult for them to find good jobs and have positive influences on their children as well.” The NSF’s advancing informal STEM learning (AISL) program that supports this project seeks to engage the public of all ages in learning STEM in informal environments, and may serve as a template for workforce preparation efforts. The scope of the program the two institutions are designing consists of curriculum planning, developing a three-course learning management system (which Baek-Young and team are building), engaging with potential program participants and potential community partners as well as leveraging regional resources for additional support. The UMKC STEM team will co-lead education sessions and curriculum development alongside KU, build the online learning system and participate in experiential research to understand the challenges of women-in-transition with respect to acquiring technology skills and analyzing effects of different education models – face-to-face (in public libraries), hybrid (a combination of on-site and online) and online only. “We really want this program to be informed by research, so we do a lot of research to learn what the participants’ needs and interests are, and incorporate that into the STEM curriculum,” Choi said. “We also want to know what the most effective way of teaching STEM is for this population, so we’re testing multiple modes of education.” Course 1 - Introduction to computing The introductory course will teach computational thinking, which is not only helpful for understanding technology but also for everyday problem solving skills. Choi said the team hopes that this program will help improve women’s self-esteem and confidence as they face new challenges and how they feel about themselves as their attachment and sense of belonging evolves in this group, which will help their employment in the long run. Course 2 – Web basics The course will lead women in learning basic website elements, HTML and development environments. Course 3 – Web advanced The course will teach women website building for business, which would include form building and use of FinTech tools. This course is a combination of hybrid and online-only courses. The duration of each course depends on the needs of the women, but the project team is anticipating 12 to 16 weeks per course while the full project, including research and development, will last about three years. The team kicked off the project in September 2019, and will use this first quarter for planning and preparation, followed by leading educational sessions and, finally, analyzing results by August 2022. They’re also hoping to garner industry and other support to enrich and sustain the program. Choi said they’ll have potential users try out the learning management system before it officially launches. Learn more about this project Dec 17, 2019

  • Honoring An Engineering Student

    Brian Dieckman (1996-2019)
    Brian Dieckman, a senior in the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Computing and Engineering, died after a motorcycle accident in Lee’s Summit.  Dieckman was a mechanical engineering major and research assistant performing work for an Office of Naval Research project. “Brian was a diligent, hard-working and careful student, balancing a full courseload with aspirations of studying materials science in his graduate career,” said Tony Caruso, professor and assistant vice chancellor for research at UMKC. “He was kind and thoughtful, and his sense of humor helped him quickly make friends in his cohort,” said Stephan Young, a Ph.D. student who was Dieckman’s mentor. “Brian had an incredibly bright future, and will be greatly missed by those fortunate enough to have known him.” Here is information about his services. Dec 16, 2019

  • Celebrating UMKC Police Sgt. Timothy Layman and His 40 Years of Service

    Timothy Layman (1957-2019)
    Sgt. Timothy Joe Layman of the UMKC Police Department died unexpectedly due to health complications. Layman (1957-2019) had been an officer with the UMKC Police Department for 40 years, and was the longest serving police officer in UMKC PD's history. Layman graduated from UMKC with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1985; and a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science and math in 1985. Layman graduated from the Independence Police Academy in May 1979, and began his decades-long career as a UMKC police officer. He was employed as a UMKC sergeant at the time of his death. “Sgt. Layman had dedicated his life to proudly serving UMKC and the community,” said UMKC Police Chief Michael Bongartz. “Tim was the heart and soul of the UMKC PD, and our memories of him will never be forgotten.” Layman’s professional memberships included International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation - Law Enforcement Executive Development Association (FBI - LEEDA) and National Association of Clery Compliance Officers and Professionals (NACCOP). Layman, of Blue Springs, is survived by his wife of 40 years, Rebecca Brooks Layman; son, T.J. Layman, Jr.; and his parents. Here is information about his services. Dec 13, 2019

  • Satellite Campus Feels Less Remote When You Have a Sense of Home

    Third-year pharmacy student Raeann Kilgore discusses her passion for community pharmacy and why she chose to attend the UMKC School of Pharmacy at ...
    Growing up in a small Missouri town riding horses on a cattle ranch is a part of Raeann Kilgore’s core framework. She loves rural life. She enjoys the tight-knit community she grew up in and interacting with people. So when it was time for the University of Missouri graduate to choose where she would attend pharmacy school, she chose the UMKC School of Pharmacy satellite location in Columbia. “I chose the Columbia campus based on its location from home as well as the class size,” Kilgore said. The petite, long-haired blonde from Green City, Missouri, isn’t interested in pursuing a career in big pharma — she would much rather have a large impact on improving access to health care in rural areas where she can connect with patients whose lives are similar to that of her family’s. “I recognize the need for health care in these areas and have always had a strong desire to return to my community to provide health care in some form,” Kilgore said. “While going to office hours in person isn’t really an option, my professors are more than willing to make arrangements to schedule a Zoom meeting or phone call, and they’re generally great at responding to email.”  Though she’s always been interested in medicine, it was a job shadowing experience she had with an independent pharmacy in high school that got the small-town woman interested in pharmacy. She fell in love with the personalized service and relationships the pharmacy had with its patients, employees and other care providers. That’s where she sees herself in the future. “It helps to have relationships with patients because you have more personal connections with them and, as a farm girl myself, I can relate to them. I know their lifestyle and what kinds of things they’re doing. It’s a more holistic health care experience for both parties.” Kilgore has already taken the initiative to immerse herself in diverse learning experiences to help her prepare for her pharmaceutical career. She spends her spare time volunteering at Cedar Creek Therapeutic Riding Center, a local horseback riding stable for people with disabilities in mid-Missouri. “Cedar Creek gives me a sense of home away from home,” Kilgore said with a slight twang in her accent. “It also allows me to deal with diverse populations and broaden my perspective of health care. It teaches me how to communicate and bond with patients over a common passion.” “It helps to have relationships with patients because you have more personal connections with them and, as a farm girl myself, I can relate to them.”  Given her expert riding experience – she’s been riding since she was three years old – Kilgore serves as a horse leader, guiding and directing the horse while patients ride. For people with disabilities, horse riding simulates a walking experience with the way their hips move as the horse is led around the stable. “I once worked with a patient who had cerebral palsy. He had a particular horse he rode and, over time, learned to give commands. I nearly cried the first time I saw him ride by himself without me as a guide,” Kilgore recalled. According to Cedar Creek founder Karen Grindler, that patient eventually went on to ride at the American Royal. In addition to her volunteer work, Kilgore is involved in numerous organizations through the School of Pharmacy and works as a pharmacy intern at University Hospital. “My involvement in the American Pharmacy Association and other organizations gives me a chance to provide service to the community like blood pressure and blood glucose screenings, immunizations, drug take-back and other services that give me more career experience.” “Being surrounded by like-minded individuals who are all passionate about the pharmacy profession has really given me inspiration to put 100% into everything I do at school and the organizations I’m involved with.”  Being based on a satellite campus, professors are nine times out of 10 not physically in the classroom. The satellite campus is a hallway of classrooms located in the lower level of the Mizzou Academic Support Center. When Kilgore goes to class, she’s sitting among her peers in front of a large projector screen where they can see the professor – usually based in Kansas City – teaching. Every chair has a microphone and a button, so if Kilgore needs to ask a question, she can press the button and wait to be called on. When she has the floor, she can speak directly into the microphone. “Whether having the professor physically here or not is a challenge can be debatable,” she weighed. “While going to office hours in person isn’t really an option, my professors are more than willing to make arrangements to schedule a Zoom meeting or phone call, and they’re generally great at responding to email.” That’s not to say satellite students don’t have professors to turn to. They have on-site faculty and advisors and the dean for the School of Pharmacy works closely with students. “I love our class. We’re like a small family,” Kilgore exclaimed in her cheerful, high-pitched voice. “Being surrounded by like-minded individuals who are all passionate about the pharmacy profession has really given me the inspiration to put 100% into everything I do at school and the organizations I’m involved with. Doing so will allow me to be the best pharmacist I can be in the future and provide the newest services and best care to my future patients.” “I recognize the need for health care in these areas and have always had a strong desire to return to my community to provide healthcare in some form.”     With only a semester left of her third year of pharmacy school, and having just completed the OSCE (objective structured clinical examination) – which she and her classmates “nearly freaked out over” in preparation – she’s looking forward to seeing where she matches for residency next year. She’s hoping to land in Washington, D.C., with the National Community Pharmacists Association. Thinking ahead to the pharmacy school experiences she wants to carry into her career, Kilgore said she hopes to take away friendships that last a lifetime, knowledge to improve patients’ lives and leadership skills to someday lead her own team of community pharmacists. Dec 11, 2019

  • Research Study Can Help People Get Healthier

    Enhanced Lifestyles for Metabolic Syndrome trial will test group vs. self-directed approaches
    Many who set goals for the new year place top priority on becoming healthier. Now a national study can help take the guesswork and expense out of accomplishing a more active lifestyle. University of Missouri-Kansas City is one of five research sites in the U.S. for this study, which focuses on helping those at risk for metabolic syndrome. UMKC is looking for participants. Metabolic syndrome is a bundle of risk factors caused by common lifestyle choices that can lead to serious conditions such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease and cancer. Currently, one-third of Americans have metabolic syndrome, up from one-fourth a decade ago. Over the next two years, with funding from the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund, the Enhanced Lifestyles for Metabolic Syndrome (ELM) Trial, developed at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, aims to enroll 600 people who are at high-risk chronic disease and are interested in managing this risk by optimizing their lifestyle. In addition to UMKC at Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City, the other sites are Rush in Chicago; University of Colorado Denver; Geisinger Health System in Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, Pennsylvania; and Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. The Kansas City study site is overseen by a prestigious UMKC School of Medicine team of principal investigators: endocrinologist Betty Drees, M.D., dean emeritus of the school and Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., director of the Health Equity Institute; and Matthew Lindquist, D.O. “Metabolic syndrome is a serious condition because it is so common, and it can silently increase risk of heart disease and stroke without early warning symptoms,” Drees said. “Research into how to stop it early and keep it controlled is very important in preventing heart disease in individuals and in the population as a whole.” Starting in January, participants will engage in the program for six months, and then will be followed for an additional 18 months, to allow for an assessment of how well they have been able to sustain the good habits they developed and the health benefits they received. “We know that making these small lifestyle changes can have a big impact on people who have health issues that indicate they may have metabolic syndrome. Plus, everyone who participates will receive a free Fitbit. Other lifestyle-change programs can cost upwards of $500, but ELM will be free to our participants, which is awesome.” - Jannette Berkley-Patton The ELM program provides tools, methods and support for healthier eating, increased physical activity and stress management. Guidelines include making vegetables half of every lunch and dinner, exercising for at least 30 minutes on most days, and learning to be less reactive to stressors. The Rush team has been studying a group-based version of ELM for nearly a decade. The group approach, which has been shown to be effective, requires participants to attend meetings. While those can be helpful, they're time-consuming and may be inconvenient; from a public-health standpoint, groups are expensive and labor-intensive. So researchers want to know: Can we simplify this treatment? Can participants get the same or better health results under their own direction, with only minimal contact with the program? “Metabolic syndrome is a serious condition because it is so common, and it can silently increase risk of heart disease and stroke without early warning symptoms. Research into how to stop it early and keep it controlled is very important in preventing heart disease in individuals and in the population as a whole.” - Betty Drees For this study, a "self-directed" program will be compared to a group-based program, with the best lifestyle information available in clinical practice today provided in both.. Everyone in the self-directed arm will be assigned to a coordinator, and will receive a Fitbit activity tracker, access to the program's website and monthly tip sheets for six months. In the group-based program, participants will get most of those things, too. But instead of the tip sheet, group members will meet for an hour and a half weekly for three months, biweekly for an additional three months, and monthly for 18 months after that. They will also have access to the ELM website. They will learn, for example, to distinguish when they are eating because they are hungry from when they turn to food because it is available or they are bored or sad. Participants in both arms of the program will report for three follow-up visits so their progress can be assessed. They will receive lab results and physical measures after each visit. “We are hoping we can learn how self-guided and group support programs can help people eat healthier and move more,” Berkley-Patton said. “We know that making these small lifestyle changes can have a big impact on people who have health issues that indicate they may have metabolic syndrome. Plus, everyone who participates will receive a free Fitbit. Other lifestyle-change programs can cost upwards of $500, but ELM will be free to our participants, which is awesome.” How to participate Participants in the study must be ages 18 years or older, not have diabetes, speak English, be willing to commit to a healthy lifestyle and have at least three of metabolic syndrome’s five risk factors: Central fat (waist circumference of 40 inches or more for men, 35 inches or more for women) High blood pressure High blood sugar Low HDL cholesterol Elevated triglycerides A condition of enrollment is a willingness to participate in either arm of the trial. Participants will not get to choose. To participate in the Kansas City area, email ELMtrial@tmcmed.org or call Alex Lyon at (816) 404-4418.     Dec 09, 2019

  • Meet UMKC IDEAS

    The 3 most important things you need to know about our new data sciences institute — plus its coordinator
    Data scientist is the “sexiest job of the 21st century,” and now the University of Missouri-Kansas City is boosting that excitement and appeal for people in Greater Kansas City. Introducing the UMKC Institute for Data Education, Analytics and Science (IDEAS). “Shortly after I arrived in Kansas City, I realized UMKC had enormous capabilities and opportunities in data science,” said Chancellor Mauli Agrawal, who created the institute. “There are exciting possibilities here for us, and for potential science and technology partner organizations throughout our community.” The vision of the institute is positioning UMKC as the top option for data science training in the region, building on the university’s strengths in biomedical informatics, big data analytics, image analysis, digital humanities and geospatial analysis. The coordinator of the new institute is Brent Never, associate professor at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. There are no other specific faculty members attached to IDEAS. It is a space for all, with a focus on fostering connections to generate new ideas — pun intended — and move quickly on promising opportunities. Never is a public-policy expert who uses city data to analyze abandoned housing, and was interviewed about his work by Lester Holt on NBC Nightly News. “Scholars looking at real estate are often looking at how to finance new development, but I think about how we can empower communities to tackle distressed housing and vacant lots,” said Never, who last year with research partner and Bloch colleague, Jim DeLisle, won the national Alteryx Excellence Award. Focus areas for UMKC IDEAS: 1. Workforce development The institute will have vibrant educational opportunities for UMKC students and area professionals, positioning UMKC as the premiere source for data science in the region. This will mean evening and weekend opportunities, for both technicians as well as executive education. Pilot workshops have been held with more on the way. For UMKC students, it means they can earn data-science bonafides no matter their major. “A philosophy major could apply her knowledge of ethics to the real concerns around privacy. A music composition student could use patterning in music to understanding trends in data,” Never said. “All students enrich our learning.” 2. Accelerating research UMKC features strong research areas across the board. Examples include the Center for Health Insights at the School of Medicine, the Center for Big Learning at the School of Computing and Engineering and the Center for Economic Information at the College of Arts and Sciences. “The goal is to foster more collaboration and get more faculty in the mix,” Never said. This will help spur more grant and contract development. “Data science is inherently complex and needs a full range of participation from all disciplines.” 3. Industry partnerships IDEAS will be professional problem solvers for regional businesses for companies such as H & R Block, Cerner and engineering firms. “We’re partnering with industry and government to help provide new insight, something they might not be able to do in house.” Grant Opportunity An exciting opportunity is the Collaborative Data Science Grant Program, which helps UMKC faculty and research staff get their data science ideas off the ground. The funds, up to $25,000, can be used to conduct pilot projects, skill up in new techniques, or develop collaborative relationships with data scientists around the country. The deadline for submission is December 16, and submission materials can be found here. For more information, contact Never at neverb@umkc.edu. Dec 09, 2019

  • Education Major Went from English Language Learner to Soon-To-Be Teacher

    Astrid Vega’s career aspirations are inspired by her life experiences
    Astrid Vega '22 Hometown: Kansas City, Kansas High School: J.C. Harmon High School Degree program: Education Astrid Vega was five years old when she and her family moved from Mexico to the United States. As the product of two Spanish-speaking parents and a native Spanish speaker herself, starting school was a challenge due to the language barrier she had to overcome. Thankfully, she had teachers who were willing to work with her as she learned to speak English. Fast forward several years later, the sophomore pre-elementary education student has the opportunity to pay it forward while working with English Language Learners (ELL) at Northeast Middle School as part of an Introduction to Language Acquisition and Diversity course (English 250) offered through the UMKC School of Education. “I get the freedom to chart my own path and define my career.” – Astrid Vega “I wanted to become a teacher because I want to work with kids, and I like to give back,” Vega said. “My teachers always pushed me to do my best and I want to impact kids and help them succeed.” As a young mom, Vega’s college experience is nontraditional. She came to UMKC as a freshman interested in studying nursing but had to take time off to raise her son. After re-enrolling in school — this time at Metropolitan Community College — she changed her major to education. “My parents didn’t go to college, but they always stressed the importance of going and finishing. And now I tell my younger sisters and my son ‘I made it, so you have to make it. No ifs, ands or buts.’” Upon receiving her associate’s degree in education, Vega is back at UMKC working to complete her bachelor’s degree. Inspired by her own life experience and the School of Education's English 250 course, she’s considering becoming a teacher for English Language Learners. “It’s amazing to see the students grow and, working a lot with Spanish-speaking kids, I like being an inspiration to help them see what they can become.” Northeast Middle School is Kansas City Public School's district hub for English Language Learners. Children of various international backgrounds are bussed from all over the Kansas City metro to Northeast Middle for ELL classes. In class, children are grouped by comprehension level and UMKC students spend one day a week for 13 weeks working with them on reading and comprehension activities. “It’s the small moments like seeing two children with different backgrounds and native languages speaking with one another in English that give me the most joy.”– Quinlinn O’Donnell, ELL teacher, Northeast Middle School The Spanish-speaking students in Vega’s group were so excited that she speaks their language and can help them, although Vega says she tries to balance between Spanish and English so that they can practice communicating in both languages. “I come up with different lesson plans and fun activities beyond what’s expected because I want them to learn,” Vega said. “I didn’t have Hispanic teachers growing up but my teachers were supportive and helped me learn more than I thought I could. The teachers at Northeast do an amazing job with the kids in the ELL class.” The valuable lesson of diversity and inclusion reveals itself throughout the classroom as students are encouraged to help one another find creative ways to figure out how specific words in their respective languages translate to English. “I wanted to become a teacher because I want to work with kids and I like to give back. My teachers always pushed me to do my best and I want to impact kids and help them succeed” - Astrid Vega “It’s tough sometimes because these kids are trying to adjust to learning a new language on top of adjusting to a new home life as several of them are new Americans, but it’s the small moments like seeing two children with different backgrounds and native languages speaking with one another in English that give me the most joy,” said Quinlinn O’Donnell, Northeast Middle ELL teacher. “Or when a word they’ve been struggling with finally clicks and I’m like ‘Yes! You get it!’” ELL students, some of which are refugees, are from countries all over the world ranging from Mexico to Myanmar to Somalia. Vega said it's experiences like working with ELL students at Northeast that she enjoys most about her education at UMKC. “I get the freedom to chart my own path and define my career,” Vega said. “I think teaching ELL will open up a lot of opportunities for me. I wish I can continue working with the students and seeing how far they go.” Learn more about School of Education programs Dec 09, 2019

  • Associate Professor Michael Wei Receives Top Honors for Book Publication

    ‘Applied Linguistics for Teachers of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners’ selected as one of IGI Global’s Core Reference Titles for 2019
    IGI Global, a leading international academic publisher, called “Applied Linguistics for Teachers of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners” an essential scholarly publication that seeks to contribute to TESOL (teaching English to students of other languages) and language teacher education programs. The book, co-written by Michael Wei, associate professor and TESOL program director in the Division of Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies at the UMKC School of Education, covers every aspect of applied linguistics for ESOL teachers: morphology, syntax, semantics, phonetics and sociolinguistics — to name a few. “Strong language instruction is especially crucial given the fact that ELLs represent the fastest-growing segment of the student population in U.S. schools (ELLs make up about 10% of the total student population) and fall behind their native English-speaking peers and struggle academically in the K-12 setting,” Wei said. Wei, the 2019 recipient of the UMKC Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, has more than 25 years of experience working with English language learners. He’s taught TESOL programs in elementary and secondary schools in the U.S., middle schools in China, and at the university level in China, Thailand, and the U.S. He joined the UMKC faculty in 2006, and teaches graduate courses in applied linguistics, English grammar, second language acquisition and research methods. “’Applied Linguistics for Teachers of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners’ contains impactful and highly cited content that prompts thought-provoking discourse and inspires further discoveries, making it a pinnacle publication from our full collection of 5,300+ reference books,” according to IGI Global This is the seventh book Wei has published in addition to one book translation, 28 chapters and articles and a translated film among other published works within his research areas — second-language acquisition, phonetics, reading/writing English as a second language and learning environments. This publication is geared toward teacher candidates in TESOL programs across the globe and provides knowledge about linguistics for ESOL teachers who are going to teach about 5 million ESOL students in the nation. Learn more about Wei's research and teaching Dec 09, 2019

  • Examining Body Image in Women

    Ph.D. student Frances Bozsik's research on what constitutes the ideal female figure made international headlines
    Frances Bozsik, a UMKC doctoral candidate in clinical psychology, has made international headlines for her research on body image. Now she's inviting women to participate in research for her dissertation. She's conducting an online study examining body image in adult women, and is recruiting women between the ages of 45 and 60. People should feel free to take and/or pass along to others in their network. Participation is entirely online in a survey format. If interested, participants may enter their email address at the end of the survey to be sent a $10 VISA e-gift card. Email addresses will not be associated with responses.  Bozsik's research on what constitutes the ideal female figure earned media coverage around the globe. “It’s really exciting,” said Bozsik, who is working to complete a clinical health psychology Ph.D. in 2020. “The study reflects the trend people are noticing that fitness and nutrition – vs. thinness – is the ideal.” Models used in social media postings, or more than a decade’s worth of Miss USA beauty pageant winners, tell us that thin female bodies are still rated as attractive. However, U.S. women’s perceptions of what constitutes the perfect female figure have evolved in recent years to more of a muscular and toned ideal. This is according to Bozsik, who led a study published in 2018 in the journal Sex Roles. Dec 08, 2019

  • Kansas City Business Journal Writes Cover Story About UMKC Entrepreneurial Support

    Whiteboard to Boardroom helps KC startups turn ideas into commercialization
    The Kansas City Business Journal details how the UMKC Innovation Center's Whiteboard to Boardroom program helps local healthcare startups transition from from lab success to commercialization. Featured was UMKC Professor Gerald Wyckoff, at right, who created a computerized system that predicts problematic drug interactions.  Dec 06, 2019

  • 12 Teams Advance in UM System Pitch Competition

    UMKC students pitch ventures in Entrepreneurship Quest Student Accelerator
    Twelve student entrepreneur teams from UMKC will move on to the next round of the UM System pitch competition. Last week, 20 teams pitched their ventures at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. All of the student entrepreneurs were solving problems through their business ventures that ranged from tech products to beauty products to apps and platforms to connect busy parents. Teams pitched in 10-minute time slots with 5 minutes for the pitch and 4 minutes for questions and answers. The next round of the UM System EQ Pitch Competition is in March 2020. Here are the 12 ventures: Pegasus Project Thomas Murphy, business administration, undergraduate; Kyla McAuliffe, business administration, undergraduate; Abdulmajeed Baba Ahmed, mechanical engineering, undergraduate; Ami Khalsa, computer science, undergraduate Project DescriptionPegasus upfits traditional bicycles to run with battery-electric-power assistance. The company is intent on creating an alternative and affordable transportation option for all residents. The target audience identifies as low-income, which drives Pegasus to provide a more effective and reliable mode of transportation for individuals to reach jobs, school and communities. An included bus pass will help manage instances of inclement weather. The team said market-rate customers will experience value from Pegasus’ cost leadership strategy, because an upfit will cost half the price of an equivalent quality new e-bike. Vortex Cooling Systems Jordan Berg, mechanical engineering, undergraduate      Project DescriptionAccording to Berg, there is an unmet demand for a business to create and sell direct water-cooled central processing units and graphics processing units. He said Vortex Cooling Systems would provide in-house integration of a cooling system and processor to create a much more powerful system than what is currently on the market. By professionally bonding a cooling system to the CPU, the thermal resistances present in currently-available cooling systems would be bypassed and the new cooling system would perform far better. The customer could then purchase the CPU and cooling system combo directly from the company instead of purchasing each component separately. Other business capabilities would include retrofitting customers current CPUs with a cooling system, or custom chained cooling system based on customers’ requirements. The goal of the company would be to keep up with the customizable nature of the gaming community. Koil Hair Dryer Konnie Wells, mechanical engineering, undergraduate; Zion Guerrier, mechanical engineering, undergraduate Project DescriptionThe product is a hair dryer designed to help individuals with curly and coily hair textures to dry and/or straighten their hair. The student entrepreneurs said customers will no longer have to buy multiple devices to straighten or dry their hair, because attachments will be made specifically for curly and/or coily hair types. The hair dryer will also have an ergonomic handle that has better sensors to offer great heat control and power control. In addition, Wells and Guerrier said the attachments will be strong, because coily hair can place a large amount of resistance on them compared to the resistance from straighter hair textures. The hair dryers will be available online or can be bought in stores, giving customers a device tailored specifically for them. Good Bitter Best Jennifer Agnew, business administration, graduate Project DescriptionBecause many of bars and restaurants in the Kansas City area use generic bitters, or make them in-house, Agnew plans to offer local bitters that are made from locally-sourced ingredients. Agnew said giving bars and restaurants access to a local company will allow them time to mix more creative drinks without the mess, hassle and expense of making their own. Providing local bitters would also allow for drink menus to change with the seasons or different events rather than sticking with one flavor all year. Good Bitter Best has already created a line of bitters, giving Agnew the bittering agents and experience with what works best to get the most flavor out of the ingredients. Recipe Tree Nathaniel Worcester, computer science, undergraduate Project DescriptionWorcester believes the industrial food service and restaurant industry needs an across-platform recipe sharing application that supports different file-types. As the market stands, recipe sharing applications do not support file transfer in their native file format (docs, .txt, pdf, video, etc). Worcester said this requires the chef to manually update and replace old recipes by filling in fields in a recipe sharing application. Where the tech world has moved to “drag and drop,” functions, he said the food industry still uses the equivalent of static html applications that do not allow multimedia or anything outside a filled out form. File-sharing applications provided by Apple or Google Drive are currently being used in many instances in the food-service industry, but these programs do not support role-based access for files to allow the employee to edit, change or share a recipe where they should only be able to view it. Because of the hassle, Worcester said some companies are still using paper recipe books. Compost Collective KC Kyle McAllister, business administration, graduate         Project DescriptionCompost Collective KC solves two fundamental problems – the first is a global issue. McAllister said food waste is a major threat to the environment and is produced in the United States at an alarming rate. Approximately 30% to 40% of all waste going to landfills in the U.S. is food. He said that equates to approximately 33 billion pounds of food in landfills per year. That volume would fill the entire Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, each day for an entire year. McAllister said this is a problem because food waste breaks down in a landfill without oxygen and, as a result, the process emits methane gas. Depending on the study, McAllister said methane gas has 25 to 84 times the climate-change impact than carbon dioxide. Given this issue, people are looking for more sustainable alternatives. McAllister cited a recent Yale study that found that 70% of Americans think environmental protection is more important than economic growth. McAllister believes Compost Collective KC can help solve the second problem – give people a simple way to have a positive environmental impact by composting.                                                                                   Vest Heroes Fahad Qureshi, medicine, undergraduate/graduate Project DescriptionWhen Qureshi started shadowing physicians, he saw an unexpected problem when any surgical operation involving an X-ray or radioactive imaging technology requires the health care professional wear a heavy lead vest and skirt – the equipment was very heavy and often weighed between 30 and 69 pounds. Because failure to wear protective gear results in carcinogenic radioactive exposure, wearing of protective equipment is required by law. When questioned, Qureshi said surgeons complained of back pain and hindered operational mobility due to the excess weight. In addition, Qureshi said the pain worsened for physicians as they worked long surgeries and as they aged. To solve this problem, Qureshi realized he needed to add an engineering element to his medical background. He started an apprenticeship with a local engineer and learned how to work with his hands. Qureshi said his eyes were opened to the problem-solving nature of the field. He soon started constructing his own prototypes in the fashion of the pulleys and levers. The prototype consisted of a lead vest/skirt with a tether. This tether was hooked to a cord that ran to a small hook on a ceiling. Finally, the cord was connected to a weight that offset the weight of the vest. In this way, a simple pulley was created. He contacted an interventional nephrology practice that uses radioactive imaging called A.I.N. in Chicago who allowed him to build a model in the operating room with special sterile materials. Qureshi used a 50 pound weight to make a 60 pound vest and skirt feel like just 10 pounds. The physicians at the practice were astounded and asked for more, citing their immense need. Unity Gain Travis Fields, business administration, undergraduate Project DescriptionFields is creating a 21st century solution to the fragmented local music scenes left in the wake of the 20th century recording industry. Unity Gain is a brand, anchored by a live music venue, artist’s hostel and a 24-hour diner built on local music communities offering local and touring musicians the resources, networking and support necessary to make their musical careers sustainable. By offering hostel-style sleeping quarters for touring musicians, as well as membership based production studios, digital marketing resources, mentorship and more to musicians, Fields said Unity Gain will create a community and value that will attract top talent, and in turn, the live music fans and supporters in those communities. Fields also expects to build relationships with the influencers of tomorrow. Pythagorus Adeesh Parvathaneni, medicine, undergraduate/graduate Project DescriptionPythagorus provides an online service that would allow young people and athletes to have physical therapy whenever and wherever they would like it. By providing an online physical therapy experience using a webcam, the application would use copyrighted code to detect angles and thus, the exercise that the young person made. Therapists can then let patients know whether or not they did the exercise right. The program would also count the amount of reps completed, allowing a physical therapist to use the software to prescribe a workout to a young athlete through a video demo. The patient could then complete the exercises under the guidance of the software. Parvathaneni said the application differentiates itself by not only its marketing strategy, but by being the sole company that allows for physical therapy online. In addition, he said the solution is proprietary and utilizes Intel OpenVino software, which leverages deep learning technology. DivviUp Brad Starnes, information technology, undergraduate    Project DescriptionDivviUp would solve the problem of sharing or splitting automatic payments between peers. Currently, Starnes said consumers have to put one card on file if they plan use auto pay, and use other methods to get funds to their peers or make multiple payments to their merchant for a simple bill pay. DivviUp would allow consumers to put a virtual card on file with their merchant for monthly recurring transactions to then be separated by an algorithm for each person’s portion of their transaction via an ACH withdrawal. The DivviUp team integrated with a third-party banking service, Plaid, which allowed them to conduct real-time balance checks on consumers’ individual accounts prior to allowing the transaction to go through on a monthly basis. They utilize user input of each person’s percentage of the transaction to charge the dollar amount to each user’s checking account each month. Plaid allows them to check each user’s account to see if they have their specified amount, and if not, they send a notification rejecting the transaction. Starnes said this program gives the opportunity to transfer funds and re-attempt the transaction when funds are available. DivviUp will utilize data entered by the consumers on a mobile app, specifying what utility company in use, to market to those companies for an online API integration to reduce cost. EEG Controlled IoT Devices Syed Jawad Shah, computer science, graduate (PhD) Project DescriptionShah has identified a problem for people who are physically disabled and don't have an effective communication medium. EEG Controlled IoT Devices is a brain-computer interface that directs IoT devices to take certain actions. It is an assistive and non-invasive technology that enables physically challenged individuals to complete their daily tasks with some degree of independence. They can also communicate with others in a more effective manner. Examples would be turning the light on or off or calling for help. The device also enables health care providers to provide better services to patients. The interface uses deep learning technology to learn distinct patterns in EEG signals and associates them to trigger certain actions on IoT devices. For example, a patient with no ability to move or talk can turn on a light in a dark room by thinking of an illuminated light bulb. In this way, Shah hopes his product will increase users’ confidence and provide positive a experience. Genalytics Greyson Twist, bioinformatics and computer science, graduate (PhD) Project DescriptionThe core of Genalytics is to prepopulate data from experts in line with current FDA approved and supported/drug gene interactions in the required/proprietary format. Access is shared across all possible target customers but the interface and interaction may differ. In direct-to-consumer, uploaded relevant demographic information as well as genomic information, customers can present a potential medication, via barcode scanner or the drug NDC code. The system will screen the active ingredients and the genomic data, and return a red light or green light based on the results. A green light means it is safe, based on known information to take the medication. A red light means that some concerns exists. With the red/negative indication, the team would like to provide alternative medication options, such as a product minus the offending active ingredient, or suggestions to consult a pharmacist or doctor for dose adjustment guidance. Read about the last pitch competition Dec 06, 2019

  • Top Stories of 2019

    Growth and accolades abound
    The year 2019 was one of monumental growth as UMKC and its community partners expanded opportunities for students. We’re also proud of the many significant accomplishments of our Roos. These are just a few of our top stories for this year. Agrawal celebrates investiture with new initiatives Mauli Agrawal, Ph.D., announced his dedication to establishing a Community of Excellence through five signature initiatives: Roo Strong, a student success initiative; the UMKC Institute for Data Education, Analytics and Science (IDEAS); TalentLink, a skill development initiative; Health Equity Institute, a new initiative to ensure equal opportunity for improved health; and Building Pride, a mentorship program.   Significant gifts support capital improvements and student success The Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation committed $21 million to support programming and capital improvements for the Henry W. Bloch School of Management and RooStrong, a new student success initiative. The Sunderland Foundation committed $15 million for capital improvements to the Bloch School of Management, School of Dentistry, University Libraries, the School of Law and the School of Computing and Engineering.   Bloch Family promotes student success by generating $20 million in scholarship funding About 800 students will benefit from scholarship programs established by the Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation, the H & R Block Foundation and matching funds from the University of Missouri system. University bids farewell to champion and supporter Henry Bloch Entrepreneur, philanthropist and tireless UMKC supporter Henry Bloch died in April. His legacy will live on through the people he loved and the organizations to which he was committed.    Former First Lady Laura Bush visits campus First Lady Laura Bush and First Daughter Barbara Pierce Bush were in conversation about their experiences in the White House and their family connection at the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame luncheon, which honors the legacy of women leaders in Kansas City.   UMKC composer named to American Academy of Arts and Letters Chen Yi, Lorena Searcy Cravens/Millsap/Missouri Distinguished Professor of Composition, was inducted in the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an honor society of the country’s leading architects, artists, composers and writers.   School of Dentistry unveils state-of-the-art training lab A multimillion-dollar makeover provides students with fully-equipped, ergonomically-correct work stations that is among the newest and largest in the U.S.   UMKC researcher helps discover new strain of HIV Carole McArthur, M.D. ‘91, Ph.D., of the School of Dentistry, made news around the globe as part of a team of scientists who discovered a new subtype of HIV, which can be traced back to the Democratic Republic of Congo.   UMKC business students represent the U.S. in global competition Three Bloch School of Management students represented the U.S. in the Unilever Future Leaders’ League, a global business-case competition in London. Students from 26 countries participated. Elevating Athletics Kansas City Athletics had a banner year under the leadership of Athletics Director Brandon Martin, Ph.D.  The Roos returned to the Summit League, launched a new fighting Roo logo and a bold basketball court redesign.  Dental student delivers patient’s baby at clinic A fourth-year student in the School of Dentistry started her first day of her new externship eager to treat as many patients as she could. Aliah Haghighat was prepping the tooth of her second patient when the woman’s water broke.      Dec 06, 2019

  • UMKC Researchers Present at UM System Collaborative Summit

    Four College of Arts and Sciences professors share sustainability ideas
    Four University of Missouri-Kansas City professors from the College of Arts and Sciences presented their research at the UM System Collaborative Summit, “Converging Disciplines to Support Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” Nov. 20 at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. In 2015, member states of the United Nations adopted “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” to support global action toward peace and prosperity for all nations. The agenda includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to guide the global community in critical action to sustain the health and wellness of our planet and its inhabitants. The UM System Research Summit focused on several of these goals, including: no poverty; zero hunger; quality education; gender equality; affordable and clean energy; decent work and economic growth; reduced inequity; and peace, justice and strong institutions. Presentation topics and brief descriptions for the four UMKC professors at the UM System Collaborative Summit are listed below. View session one and session two from the summit on YouTube. Caroline Davies, associate professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Studies, on “Teaching the Sustainability Development Goals through Undergraduate Research and Community Engagement.” The presentation described community engagement via a large format course around sustainability and the impacts of hands-on projects for students and community partners. To date there have been nearly 600 sustainability projects across the Kansas City metropolitan area. Linwood Tauheed, associate professor and IPh.D. director of Economics, on “The ecological and community economic development: A methodological reconciliation.” There is a significant conflation in the definitions of three concepts – resources, assets and capital – both in economic theory and in common usage. This conflation creates a cognitive frame in how the use of resources is discussed, which is biased in favor of increased resource usage, and leads to justifications for risk-taking behavior associated with increased resource usage and its effect on the global climate. A reconceptualization in the definitions of resources, assets and capital can help to normalize the framing around resource usage, and help bring to the forefront the liabilities of increased resource usage. This is a reconceptualization needed within ecological economics, if it’s to generate public support for its goal of creating an environmentally sustainable economy that simultaneously improves human well-being.  Jacob Marszalek, associate professor of Psychology, on “Promoting the development and assessment of social justice advocacy.” A cornerstone for building institutions that promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development is to help their individual members (e.g., those in the helping professions) develop social justice advocacy (SJA), a pillar of Development Education. An important component of any type of education is assessment, and the Social Issues Advocacy Scale (SIAS; Nilsson, Marszalek, Linnemeyer, Bahner, & Misialek, 2011) was developed to measure the competency of SJA in students in the helping professions, and has been translated and used both nationally and internationally. The SIAS has been used to develop mastery profiles of SJA in students in clinical and counseling psychology, nursing and education, which may be used to assess growth in SJA attributes over the course of an academic program. The scale has been further developed into the SIAS-2 to account for a broader array of SJA dimensions, and ongoing research is refining a short form version for greater usability. Sunghyop Kim, professor of Architecture, Urban Planning and Design, on “Equity in transportation mobility and safety: Issues in an aging Society.” Aging population poses substantive equity issues. Safe mobility is critical to ensure a good quality of life regardless of one’s age. However, older adults often must deal with transportation disadvantages. Older adults who cannot drive face significant mobility challenges. A significant increase in bankruptcy rate and a growing financial insecurity among older adults pose added concerns. Gender and racial gaps in mobility exist among older adults. Older women, older minority women in particular, are more vulnerable than older men in meeting their mobility needs. Older adults aged 65+ are more likely than any other age groups to be fatally injured in pedestrian crashes. A number of recommendations have been made to address older adults’ transportation issues. However, specific strategies to promote safe and affordable mobility of older adults are still underexplored. Dec 05, 2019

  • Favorite Photos of 2019

    Images capture memorable moments of campus life
    When we look back over the year, words often fail to describe exactly what we experienced or what it felt like to be present during certain moments. That’s where photos come in. Our university photographers Brandon Parigo and John Carmody excel at capturing what life here at UMKC is really like. We caught up with them to look at their favorite photos from 2019, and discuss what made each image memorable. Trashcano (image above) “Any time you can photograph an explosion, it’s a good day,” Brandon says. No further explanation needed. Petting Zoo The featured animal in the event before spring finals was, of course, a baby kangaroo, John says. Soccer The women’s soccer team is conducting a focused moment of quiet before a game, a meaningful part of their pre-game routine. Brandon also says that the “Roo Up” that follows is one of the most genuine expressions of school spirit that he has ever seen. Therapy horses  Two therapy horses joined a nursing class, thanks to assistant professor Sharon White-Lewis who raises miniature horses and teaches about their benefits. John wonders “who knew there was such a thing?” Well “Parks and Recreation” fans sure do, hey Li’l Sebastian! Basketball Stillness and concentration are part of what makes this photograph special. Brandon notes that he likes the unique formation of her hand and the way she lingered in that exact position until she made sure the ball went through the net. Even the referee at the edge of the frame is focused on the ball, giving off the feeling that everyone in the room was holding their breath. Marcus and Daphne at Miller Nichols Library For Brandon, this photo shows how fun students can be, and how willing they are to go the extra mile to support campus. The expressions seen in the photo are also genuine reactions to the goofiness of Brandon’s directions, which makes him feel like he is reflected in this shot as well. Snowball fight Brandon appreciates the spontaneity of the photoshoot, capturing the impromptu snowball fight and all the action and movement in this particular shot.   Cross Country John remembers how the brutal weather conditions including a two-hour lightning delay meant lots of mud, but the Roos still made a good showing. Avanzando event The dancing and celebrating on the patio of the Student Union reflected a unique side of UMKC that Brandon says he would love to see more of on campus. Fall dance concert Brandon loves how the shot was taken right as the lights were fading out, making the photo appear to be a blending of black and white and color. He also feels that this image complements the emotion and symbolism conveyed in this performance. Dec 05, 2019

  • UMKC Nursing Dean at the Right Place, Right Time to Save a Life

    Joy Roberts’ CPR skills were pressed to action
    Ever think about giving up a few hours for CPR training? You never know how important they can be.  That’s what Joy Roberts, interim dean at the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies, learned first-hand this month when her CPR skills were called to action. Roberts and her daughter were attending a museum fundraiser in Columbia, Missouri. Her daughter, a Mizzou student studying textiles, was among those presenting artwork at the event. While the crowd viewed the displays and mingled with refreshments, Roberts suddenly heard a loud crash, thinking someone had knocked over a table. But her daughter could see that a man had collapsed. “Mom,” she said, “you need to get over there.” “With the holiday season right around the corner, I would encourage people to think about giving the gift of a CPR class to loved ones. As I know first-hand, it could really turn into the gift of life for someone else.” - Joy Roberts, interim dean at the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies Roberts described the scene as chaotic, with people literally screaming and unsure of what to do. She reached the man at the same time as another patron was coming to help. That woman said she was an ICU nurse.  “Good,” Roberts said, “because I’m an old ICU nurse.” The man had no pulse, no circulation and was not breathing. Roberts performed mouth-to-mouth and the other nurse did chest compressions. “When you’re in the thick of something like that, you have no sense of time,” said Roberts, who couldn’t guess how long they worked on the man. Finally, he took a few breaths and they got a faint pulse – a sign it’s time to stop CPR.  The man was still unconscious but was moving air on his own. Soon, emergency personnel arrived and transported him to a hospital. His current condition is unknown. Fortunately, the delegation of duties worked out well for the two of nurses. “She was quite a bit younger so it was probably for the best that she handled compressions,” Roberts said. “And I talk a lot, so I have a big oxygen capacity.” As a nurse practitioner, Roberts has been called to scenes where her CPR skills were needed and she had access to other medical equipment. But this was the first case where she was armed with only her knowledge of CPR. And in this situation, it appeared the two nurses were the only patrons in the group that knew how to perform the life-saving procedure. Roberts says it was unclear if the museum had an automated external defibrillator (AED), a portable device that can diagnose and treat life-threatening cardiac events. But she encourages people to note if and where their building has an AED -- and to learn how to use it. “Knowing CPR is something that was really instilled in me at an early age. It’s such an important skill to have.” - Joy Roberts Studies have shown that children as young as 9 can learn and retain CPR skills. Roberts was ahead of the curve, having her first CPR class when she was just 7 years old, part of her hometown’s community CPR training following the drowning of a local high school student.  “When you’re 7 and say, only 40 pounds, it’s not easy getting that mannequin’s lungs to go down,” she said. Roberts took the training again in high school as a required class, something she hopes catches on in more districts across the country. According to the American Heart Association, more than 350,000 emergency-medical-services (EMS)-assessed out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur annually in the United States. Of that group, only 46 percent receive the immediate care needed before professional help arrives. “Knowing CPR is something that was really instilled in me at an early age,” said Roberts. “It’s such an important skill to have.” Inspired by this experience, both her daughter and a UMKC faculty member have already signed up for CPR training - and the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies is training its students, faculty and staff Dec. 19. Roberts is encouraging other people and employers to do the same. “With the holiday season right around the corner, I would encourage people to think about giving the gift of a CPR class to loved ones,” she said. “As I know first-hand, it could really turn into the gift of life for someone else.” Be a Life Saver The following groups provide CPR and other life-saving training: American Heart Association American Red Cross The YMCA In addition to these groups, many cities may offer these types of trainings. Contact your local municipality for more information. Dec 03, 2019

  • UMKC Health Professions Students and Coterie Theatre Have Important Message for Kansas City Teens

    Dramatic collaboration shows the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV
    Gus Frank begins to share his story with a group of Kansas City teenagers. For about 20 minutes, he describes how this local high school basketball player discovered that he is HIV-positive and must now live with consequences. But the story is not really his own. It is, however, the unnerving and true story of a Kansas City teen whose life has been dramatically changed forever. Frank is actually a fourth-year medical student at the UMKC School of Medicine acting in the production, “The Dramatic STD/HIV Project.” The partnership brings together health professions students from UMKC, the University of Kansas and Coterie Theatre actors to provide Kansas City teens with the facts about sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS. “Some of the highest STD rates are among our youth and young adults ages 15 to 24. Education, knowledge and prevention are an important step in changing this risk to our youth.”  —Stefanie Ellison, M.D. In the roughly hour-long program — a 15- to 20-minute scripted presentation followed by an often-intense question-and-answer period — a professional actor from the Coterie pairs with a medical, pharmacy or nursing student to discuss the dangers of the diseases with audiences from eighth grade through high school. “We’re there to inform the youth of Kansas City,” said Frank, now in his second year with the project. “We’re not doing this to tell them what they should do, but to inform them of the facts. We want them to be able to make their own informed decisions when the time comes.” Evolution and impact Joette Pelster is executive director of the Coterie Theatre and a co-founder of the project. She started the program with the theatre’s artistic director Jeff Church, an adjunct theater instructor at UMKC, and Christine Moranetz, then a faculty member at the University of Kansas Medical Center. That was 26 years ago when the AIDS epidemic was at its height, becoming the one-time leading cause of death among Americans ages of 25 and 44. Wanting to create an educational program with credibility, Pelster reached out to the local medical community for help. She first enlisted aid from the University of Kansas School of Nursing. The UMKC School of Medicine joined the program in 2004, followed by the UMKC School of Pharmacy in 2008 and the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies in 2015. “We wanted to do something that would have an impact,” Pelster said. “A lecture wasn’t going to do it. This was a perfect partnership because their weakness was our strength. We brought the acting, they brought the medical content and credibility. That’s why it’s lasted so long.” “We’re there to inform the youth of Kansas City. We want them to be able to make their own informed decisions when the time comes.” —Gus Frank, medical student  UMKC faculty members Stefanie Ellison, M.D., at the School of Medicine and Mark Sawkin, Pharm.D., at the School of Pharmacy, serve as medical directors. They provide the actors with training on such things as current trends in infection rates, symptoms, testing and treatment. They also compile and routinely update a huge binder loaded with information to prepare the actors for what might be thrown at them during the question-and-answer portion of the program. Each actor has a copy of the binder that is updated throughout the year and training updates occur at least twice a year so that troupe members have current facts to share with at- risk students.  “UMKC was very influential in our talking about STDs because the incidence rate was rising so high,” Pelster said. “They are integral to the project and training for the question-and-answer periods that are vital to the project.” “This is still relevant 25 years later,” Ellison said. “Some of the highest STD rates are among our youth and young adults ages 15 to 24. Kansas City has an increased incidence of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis. Nationally, one in five new HIV diagnoses is in patients ages 13 to 24, and 20 percent of new diagnoses are among patients from ages 14 to 19. Education, knowledge and prevention are an important step in changing this risk to our youth.” The production Since 2008, the program has averaged more than 210 presentations a year in junior highs and high schools throughout the Kansas City Metro area. Through last school year, it had been presented 4,495 times, reaching more than 194,000 Kansas City teenagers. This year’s cast includes 14 UMKC medical students, two UMKC pharmacy students, one UMKC nursing and health studies student, two University of Kansas nursing students and 17 professional Coterie actors, one a graduate of the UMKC theatre program. “I would share with them that this (prescription) is something you’ll have to take the rest of your life; you’re stuck with it. Just being able to embed that in their memory by telling these kids was really helpful.” —Krista Bricker, pharmacy student  Every presentation pairs one male and one female of different ethnicities, helping to make the team more relatable to its audience. Each actor follows one of six different scripts to present the true story of a Kansas City teen that has contracted an STD or HIV/AIDS. The productions require little theater other than the actors’ monologues, slides projected on a wall or screen behind them and music to help present each story. They take place in intimate settings of a single classroom of maybe 15-20 students to auditoriums filled with as many as 100 or more students. The actors say the small classroom sessions sometimes produce the most intense interactions because the students in their smaller, tight-knit setting become less inhibited during the Q&A periods.  “It feels like we’re talking student to student,” said Madison Iskierka, also a fourth-year medical student. “It doesn’t feel like you’re sitting in a lecture listening to someone preach about whatever you’re learning. It’s very personal and I like that.” Frank admits feeling some early awkwardness when talking about such a sensitive subject with a young audience. But that faded after a few presentations. “It’s something that we need to make not weird,” he said. “We need to destigmatize all the sexual education about HIV and all other STDs. If we could make those things something that is easier to talk about and comes up in conversation more often, it would probably make people more aware and more willing to get tested and get treated if they do have something.” The actors are trained to hit on a list of key points during the question and answer sessions to highlight abstinence as the only sure way to avoid contracting infections, as well as discussing risky behaviors and sources of transmitting the diseases. “We wanted to do something that would have an impact. A lecture wasn’t going to do it. This was a perfect partnership...we brought the acting, they brought the medical content and credibility. That’s why it’s lasted so long.” —Joette Pelster, Coterie Theatre  Krista Bricker, a fourth-year UMKC pharmacy student, was among the cast of student actors a year ago. She said she often leaned on her pharmacy background and honed in on the medications when sharing the hard reality of what is involved for patients living with these diseases. “I would share with them that this is something you’ll have to take the rest of your life; you’re stuck with it,” she said. “Just being able to embed that in their memory by telling these kids was really helpful.” Frank reflects on the story of the local teen he portrays. He is determined to get the details as perfect as possible during each presentation because if not, he says, “I’m messing up someone’s personal story.” And for the young people hearing that story, Frank has one more message: “This could have been anyone. It could have been your classmate. It could have been you.” Dec 03, 2019

  • Congratulations to the Fall 2019 Honor Recipients

    10 students honored for academic excellence, leadership and service
    Ten Roos will be honored as Dean of Students Honor Recipients this fall.  Graduating students who have excelled in both academic achievement and service may be nominated for the honor. This program recognizes the exceptional students who maintain high scholastic performance while actively participating in university and community leadership and service activities outside of the classroom.  Shahodat Azimova, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, nominated by Tammy Welchert Shelby Chesbro, School of Medicine, nominated by Jignesh Shah and Betsy Hendrick Jordann Dhuse, School of Medicine, nominated by Stefanie Ellison Lindsey Gard, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, nominated by Mary Osbourne and Tammy Welchert Fiona Isiavwe, Bloch School of Management, nominated by Jessica Elam and Krystal Schwenker Leah Israel, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, nominated by Tammy Welchert Anna Lillig, School of Nursing and Health Studies, nominated by Ursula Gurney Zach Randall, School of Medicine, nominated by Stefanie Ellison Marcella Riley, School of Medicine, nominated by Nurry Pirani Landon Rohowetz, School of Medicine, nominated by Peter Koulen and Betsy Hendrick Dec 02, 2019

  • University of Missouri-Kansas City Dental Student Delivers Baby

    The American Dental Association featured the amazing story of a UMKC dental student who delivered a baby
    Aliah Haghighat had just finished prepping her patient’s tooth before a restoration and was about to get the lead doctor to inspect her work, when her patient tells her something shocking. This story was also picked up by Becker’s Dental Review. Read the ADA story. Nov 29, 2019

  • First-Generation College Student Navigates College By Learning About Her Heritage  

    Mentor in the UMKC Avanzando program assists in journey
    The heart of UMKC is our campus community. With lots of opportunities, it’s easy to develop student mentorship teams. And these rich relationships—our Dynamic Duos—are some of our best success stories. When Aricela Guadalupe first arrived at UMKC, she spent a lot of time thinking about her parents - would she make them proud? Would she have what it takes to succeed in college? As a first-generation college student, she was eager to take advantage of the opportunity she’d been given. But the path to graduation seemed uncertain. “It was honestly scary, because you don’t know what to expect,” she says. “You doubt yourself. ‘Am I going to be able to do it? Am I doing this right?’ You don’t want to mess up.” Guadalupe’s parents immigrated to the United States from a small Mexican village. Growing up, their main concern had been getting food on the table, not filling out college applications or studying for exams. They came to the U.S. so their children would have opportunities they’d never been able to aspire to. Now, Guadalupe was living the dream her parents always wanted for her, but the transition to college was intimidating. Thankfully, she had an important resource to turn to: She was a member of the Avanzando program, which offers academic support and mentoring to Latinx students. “It’s such a joy. It’s such a rewarding experience. And it’s a way of paying back all the opportunities I have had in life. If I hadn’t had mentors, I wouldn’t have come as far as I have.” - Clara Irazábal-Zurita Through Avanzando, Guadalupe was connected with Clara Irazábal-Zurita, director of the Latinx and Latin American Studies Program and a professor in the Department of Architecture, Urban Planning + Design. Irazábal-Zurita quickly became a trusted friend and advisor, never more than a few buildings away on campus.  When asked how a mentor can help a student, especially a first-generation student like Guadalupe, Irazábal-Zurita’s answer is simple: They can help “with everything.” “We’re here to be friends, to be companions in their journey of education, of growing up in general and maturing as people,” she says. “It is important that students have an opportunity to chat with others who can guide them through the experience, and sometimes even vent with the frustrations that come naturally with that process of growth.” For Guadalupe, knowing she has a friend and advisor just a call, text or email away has made the college experience a lot less scary. “I just know she’s there, that I have someone to go to to ask for guidance and advice,” she says. “I know I have someone to talk to.” Guadalupe, a business administration major with an emphasis in management, says her goals for the future are to graduate from college and begin a career she likes, whatever that may be. She is also learning more about her history and culture as a Latinx and Latin American Studies minor. She dreams of owning a business of her own someday, but for now, she’s happy with what she’s pursuing at UMKC: studying, networking and meeting new people in groups like Avanzando and the Latinx Student Union. “I just know she’s there, that I have someone to go to to ask for guidance and advice. I know I have someone to talk to.” - Aricela Guadalupe Her advice for future students? Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there or ask for help. “Don’t be scared. Just talk to people,” she says. “Because everyone is going through the same thing. You never know, maybe they’re scared to make friends, too.” Irazábal-Zurita also has a message, but for the parents and families of new college students. “Instead of advice, I would want to congratulate families in general, and Latino families in particular, because they invest a lot in supporting their children to come to college and to do well in college,” she says. “Keep doing what you’re doing and realize that this is an investment for the long term.” Mentoring students like Guadalupe, she says, is just as beneficial for her as it is for the students. “It’s such a joy. It’s such a rewarding experience,” she says. “And it’s a way of paying back all the opportunities I have had in life. If I hadn’t had mentors, I wouldn’t have come as far as I have. I wouldn’t be where I am today. It’s very important for me to help out - to be that building stone for others who come behind me.” Learn more about the Latinx and Latin American Studies Program   Nov 26, 2019

  • Activist Shares His Painful but Hopeful Journey at UMKC Pride Lecture

    Shane Bitney Crone’s story is the topic of a documentary
    Shane Bitney Crone was banned from the funeral of the love of his life. He went unmentioned at the ceremony and in the obituary. His partner’s family turned on him because he was the other half of a loving, committed gay couple. Crone shared his sorrow and ongoing recovery at the 13th annual UMKC Pride Lecture Nov. 21. For Crone, telling his story is hard. But necessary, he said. “It is so important that we have these conversations and share these stories, because it’s in telling these stories that we open people’s hearts and minds,” he said. Crone and his partner, Tom Bridegroom, had been living together for more than five years when Bridgegroom fell to his death from a rooftop in 2012 while seeking a better angle for a photograph. As a couple, they traveled the world, started a successful business and promised to get married when it would be recognized by the federal government. After the fall, Crone was initially not permitted to enter Bridegroom’s hospital room, though sympathetic hospital staff eventually ignored the rules and let him in. Bridegroom’s family had all the legal rights to his body, property and services. They shut Crone out completely, refusing to even tell him the day, time and site of the funeral.  On the one-year anniversary of Bridegroom's death, Shane uploaded a video to YouTube called "It Could Happen to You." His goal was to demonstrate that common humanity that we all share. The video went viral within a matter of days and has since been viewed more than 20 million times on social media. “It is so important that we have these conversations and share these stories, because it’s in telling these stories that we open people’s hearts and minds.” Hollywood producer Linda Bloodworth-Thomason was inspired by the video and approached Crone about turning his story into a feature-length documentary. The film, “Bridegroom: A Love Story, Unequaled,” premiered at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival where it was introduced by former President Bill Clinton. Today, Crone travels the world to show the film and, more importantly, ignite conversations that he hopes will lead those prejudiced against the LGBTQIA community to open their hearts and minds to think in different ways. After showing the film, Crone took questions from the audience. One asked how he managed to pick up the pieces of his life following that painful tragedy. “That first year was dark,” Crone responded. “I reminded myself what Tom would have wanted, and he would not have wanted me to stay in that space.” In the seven years since Bridegroom’s death, Crone has become a speaker and activist, and found a new love. He’s now engaged. “I want to think that Tom would be happy for me.” Nov 25, 2019

  • Winter Prep: Make Ice Melt That is Environmentally, Pet Friendly

    David Van Horn, associate chemistry professor, talked to KSHB about rock salt variations that are harmful to pets and the environment
    “When you go to the store, you will now find a magnitude of products. Some get down to different freezing levels...typically any salt [sodium chloride] will work. Some are touted as being more environmentally safe or pet friendly, so those are with calcium chloride or magnesium chloride as their ingredients,” David Van Horn, associate chemistry professor at University of Missouri-Kansas City, explained. More. Nov 20, 2019

  • Alumna Founds Unique Retail and Dining Destination

    Rachel Kennedy Cuevas founded Iron District, an innovative dining and retail court made of shipping containers
    Big things come in small packages. Rachel Kennedy Cuevas’ new business development is proof of the proverb. Cuevas (B.B.A. ’98) is the brains behind Iron District, a new restaurant-retail destination made of 18 shipping containers in an industrial neighborhood at 16th and Iron in ever-growing downtown North Kansas City. The container park is a rare hybrid of two popular fast-casual dining concepts: food trucks and food halls. Cuevas takes a small group on a tour of the containers, where red, green, yellow and blue boxes — some double-stacked — form a rectangle where picnic tables are arranged inside the center forcommunal eating. “There’s not much like this in the U.S. except in Las Vegas,” Cuevas says. “And the businesses there are mostly bigger brands.” The Iron District containers — including one with a rooftop bar — offers plenty of home-grown eating and beverage options to choose from: vegan, ice cream, coffee and even an avocado bar. And it’s her own Cuban fusion restaurant, Plantain District — originally a food truck — that led to the Iron District in the first place. Cuevas founded Plantain District after eating a Cuban sandwich with her husband, Yvan Cuevas (B.B.A. ’98, MBA ’00), who had lived in Cuba. The two met while they were students at the Bloch School of Management. After taking a few bites, she had a revelation: “I can make something better.” “The food truck thrived because I had the business education and hired chefs to do the cooking — a recipe for success,” Cuevas says. “UMKC, through the Bloch School, gave me the business background, and that’s why I’m now a developer working with other entrepreneurs.” After its creation in 2014, Plantain District motored along swiftly, catering at food truck rallies, corporate events and weddings. But the nature of the business made Cuevas anxious: a livelihood based on an expensive kitchen that could be sidelined by a flat tire. “It means collaborating with others. It means fostering a community, which is one of my favorite parts of business.” — Rachel Kennedy Cuevas Though her fears never played out, they led to the Iron District concept. The size of shipping containers are roughly the same dimensions as food trucks and don’t include the threat of engine failure. She pitched the concept to North Kansas City leaders and was greeted with enthusiasm. “It means collaborating with others,” Cuevas says. “It means fostering a community, which is one of my favorite parts of business.” After more than two years of working on the container park, Iron District finally opened in October 2019. Vivid art murals greet customers from the sides of the containers, along with a diversity of culinary options. Cuevas fervently talks about future plans, including adding walkways between containers. Cuevas considers Iron District a proof-of-concept incubator for startups. The restaurants and businesses, including clothing boutiques and a wellness center with a rotating schedule of yoga and massage practitioners, have short-term leases. One container is devoted to conference space and can be rented hourly to entrepreneurs for meetings. “If any businesses outgrow their space, I’ll consider that a win,” Cuevas says. “It means they can attribute some of their success to what we’ve built at the Iron District.” This story orginally appeared in Perspectives magazine, vol. 29. Nov 20, 2019

  • UMKC Vision Researcher Exploring New Technique of Cryopreservation

    Peter Koulen is part of $1.5-million NIH grant working on novel tissue-preservation method
    Surgeons around the world currently perform more than 240,000 corneal transplants a year to address a wide range of eye diseases. Researchers and physicians, however, estimate as many as 10 million patients could benefit from the procedure if enough viable tissue was available. The University of Missouri-Kansas City Vision Research Center is part of a $1.5-million National Institutes of Health grant-funded project exploring the capability of a novel, ultra-fast technique of cryopreservation — the use of extremely low temperatures to preserve living cells and tissues — that could help meet those far-reaching clinical needs in ophthalmology and a number of other fields of medicine. The NIH awarded a grant to CryoCrate, a Columbia, Missouri-based company active in biomedicine working with the University of Missouri-Kansas City Vision Research Center. The new two-year award is for $1.5 million and includes a subcontract of $722,870 to the UMKC Vision Research Center. It is a follow-up NIH grant for earlier collaborative work between CyroCrate and UMKC. With current techniques, many types of cells and tissues, including cornea tissues, cannot be preserved at all or lose their function when subjected to the freeze-thaw process of cryopreservation. Peter Koulen, Ph.D., professor of ophthalmology, endowed chair in vision research at the UMKC School of Medicine and director of basic research at the UMKC Vision Research Center, and Xu Han, Ph.D., president and chief technology officer of CryoCrate, jointly developed a new cryopreservation technique to preserve the viability and functionality of cornea and bioartificial ocular tissues. This new phase of funding will allow Han and Koulen to extensively test and refine the technology before taking it to the clinics. So far, traditional methods of cryopreservation have been unsuccessful to preserve and store human corneas for use in patients because cells critical for cornea function are lost during freezing. Corneas need adequate numbers of such cells to be present and properly functioning in the grafted tissue for the surgery to be successful. This currently limits storage of corneas to refrigeration, which is insufficient in delaying the deterioration of cornea tissue beyond a few days and creates numerous clinical challenges shared by other areas of transplantation. CryoCrate is headquartered at the Missouri Innovation Center. It commercializes a new cooling method that better preserves tissue in a frozen state with only negligible mechanical damage to the tissue. The technology is co-developed and co-owned by CryoCrate and UMKC. It also eliminates the need for so called cryoprotectants, chemicals that facilitate successful recovery of live tissue from freezing, but pose a range of medical and regulatory challenges. International patents pending and patents by CryoCrate and UMKC protect the technology and will enable CryoCrate and Koulen’s team at UMKC to address the urgent worldwide clinical needs and rapidly evolving fields of transplantation medicine. The new funding allows Han and Koulen to further develop an upgraded system that is equally effective in the cryopreservation of whole corneas and large bioartificial tissue. This would enable long-term storage of the tissues and could make them more readily available when and where needed for clinical use and research. Early tests at the UMKC Vision Research Center detected no statistical difference in the number and quality of the cells that determine cornea health and function when comparing corneas cryopreserved using the new technology with fresh cornea tissue. This level of efficiency in preserving corneal tissue has not been achieved before with traditional corneal cryopreservation techniques. If further tests prove to be equally effective, the goal is to introduce the new cryopreservation products for clinical use in patients following completion of the new grant and regulatory steps of product development. Nov 20, 2019

  • Mock Disaster Very Real for UMKC Nursing Students

    Large-scale emergency preparedness event held in Missouri
    For Julie Miller, treating 65 patients in three hours in a makeshift medical tent really brought home the importance of being prepared when faced with the unexpected. Miller, a UMKC nursing student, recently participated in Missouri Hope, a national emergency preparedness event held each year at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville. Presented by the Consortium for Humanitarian Service and Education, the $2.4 million immersion exercise prepares students and professionals to manage a community’s needs when disaster strikes. Complete with patient actors, students are challenged with emergency scenarios including a water rescue and several mass casualty situations. They also participate in a high-ropes course, designed to help train for patient transports when steps or elevators are unavailable due to building damage or power outages. Sharon White-Lewis, an assistant professor at UMKC, led a group of 16 students during Missouri Hope, which spans four days and three nights. UMKC was one of two nursing schools in the country providing student participants, who were joined by members of the military, homeland security, fire fighters and police. “The Missouri Hope exercises are the only immersive exercises that train students to prepare for our worst days,” said White-Lewis. “Nurses deployed to these disasters are thrust into circumstances facing devastating destruction, dangerous situations and ethical dilemmas, all while trying to help survivors with severely limited resources and personnel. As the world keeps facing both man-made and natural disasters, our UMKC graduates will be prepared.” According to Miller, at the time the opportunity was presented, there has been a deluge of natural disasters in the news. “A string of tornadoes and hurricanes had just happened, and I would sit and think, I wished there was something I could do that would be helpful.” Missouri Hope was the answer. The UMKC Nursing and Health Studies Alumni Board also saw the importance of this experience and offered its support. Because disaster simulations require supplies students normally wouldn’t have – such as disposable stethoscopes, duct tape and mylar blankets – the board stepped in and provided funding to acquire these items for the students. By design, participants aren’t given a great deal of prep or lead up before the exercise, said White-Lewis, as organizers want to stay as close to the reality as possible. But she does provide students training in a few care techniques that are unique to emergency situations: makeshift gurneys and wound coverage, improvised splints and emergency triaging. Miller said triage is particularly hard on health-care providers as it goes against everything they’re taught. For example, in a hospital, nurses work to make sure patients have all the care needed to get back in good health. But in an emergency, it’s a judgment call on how much time to spend on each patient. “When you’re out at a disaster and there are 50 victims in a field, you have to figure out how you can do the most good for the most amount of people,” said Miller. “On the spot, you have to perform a rapid assessment and decide if you can help that person or not and sometimes, you have to make hard decisions.” “With 3 million nurses in the United States alone, the more nurses that know what to do in a disaster, the more we maximize our ability to save lives. It’s as simple as that.” - Sally Ellis Fletcher Miller says the exercise felt like a real disaster from the moment it began. She compared it to her experience in the UMKC patient simulation lab, where students interact with high-tech mannequins. While that offers valuable learning, it can feel artificial and require a bit of acting, she says. But at Missouri Hope, there was no feeling of having to act, as she treated every patient with the immediacy of an actual disaster. The Consortium for Humanitarian Service and Education sponsors two other Hope initiatives – one in New York and one in Florida. All three provide unique disaster scenarios that would apply to that particular geographic area. Last year, UMKC students and faculty took part in both Florida Hope and New York Hope, and the school plans to continue that effort. Sally Ellis Fletcher, associate dean of students at the school is a strong advocate for disaster preparedness opportunities for students. She believes these experiences will have lasting effects. “Disasters aren’t planned; they can happen anywhere or at any time,” she said. “With 3 million nurses in the United States alone, the more nurses that know what to do in a disaster, the more we maximize our ability to save lives. It’s as simple as that.” Learn more about the School of Nursing and Health Studies Nov 20, 2019

  • 5 Top Instagrammable Spots on the UMKC Volker Campus

    Student ambassadors take you on a quick tour
    As campus ambassadors, we’re always showing prospective students all around UMKC. There are a ton of cool spots to snap a pic. Here are five of our favorites – all within about a short walk around the Volker Campus.  1. Miller Nichols Library and Learning Center The library is a great place to hang out because not every place is a quiet spot, plus it’s super photogenic. The Minecraft-esque lime-green-and-emerald study area as you enter literally has us leaping for joy. 2. UMKC Student Union Rooftop Of course we need to mention nearly every student’s favorite spot to hang when the weather’s still nice. There are lots of fun angles – whether you’re lounging atop or looking at it from afar. 3. Big Stairs on Oak Street This pedestrian gateway to Volker Campus is one of the most defining features of UMKC. As you walk up — and up, and up — you’re surrounded by scenes of campus and Kansas City. Another bonus: you get a decent workout. 4. Archipenko Sculptures Plenty of other colleges have typical, traditional columns, but few can claim a pair of funky abstract sculptures by the internationally-acclaimed Alexander Archipenko, who was an artist-in-residence at UMKC. Fun fact: the two painted, sheet-iron sculptures are actually identical — one is just rotated 90 degrees from the other to give the appearance of two different sculptures. 5. Epperson House Everyone wants to go inside this 56-room Tudor-style mansion that was built in 1923, but it’s closed to the public until a future use of this turreted, brick building is determined. However, it’s definitely an interesting enough place to snap a selfie. The house’s claim to fame is that it’s reportedly haunted – boo! Nov 18, 2019

  • UMKC Bloch School Honors Hometown Entrepreneurs

    34th annual celebration recognizes Cerner founders and Kansas City leaders
    “Everything that Henry touched was heart and soul first,” said Roasterie founder Danny O’Neil in a warming tribute to the late Henry W. Bloch. That’s just one of the many lessons Bloch shared with a community of entrepreneurs who sat at his feet and sought his wisdom. And, in true Henry Bloch fashion, the 34th Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, hosted by the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management, was celebratory of the collaborative work it takes to turn dreams into reality. “In the past few years, we’ve been saying ‘let’s make Kansas City America’s most entrepreneurial city,’ and we’ve worked together to make that happen,” said UMKC Innovation Center Director Maria Meyers, the Marion and John Kreamer Awardee for Social Entrepreneurship. Meyers founded KCSourceLink, a repository of resources for entrepreneurs in the Kansas City region that has been replicated across the nation. Many of the 2019 honorees shed light on their climbs to success, the leaps of faith it took to get their ideas off the ground and the support from the Kansas City community it took to not give up. People, passion and persistence were the rippling themes of the evening. “Persistence is the most important character trait for an entrepreneur. It’s essential for success,” said Kansas City Entrepreneur of the Year Michael Rea. “During the difficult times, knowing what you’re fighting for will get you through.” “Kansas City is a town built by entrepreneurs,” - Cerner co-founder Cliff Illig, International Entrepreneur of the Year/Entrepreneur Hall of Fame inductee Rea, founder and CEO of Rx Savings Solutions, added that he didn’t start his company because he thought it would make him rich but because he thought it was the right thing to do. “If you’re not actually creating a change or making a difference in someone’s life, so what?” repeated Zach Anderson Pettet, managing director of Fountain City Fintech at nbckc bank, in his recollection of lessons Bloch passed down. “Through their entrepreneurial spirits, our honorees have shown what it takes to grow an idea into a successful business and that education these days is more than just about landing your dream job. Education, now, is about creating your dream job,” said Brian Klaas, dean of the Bloch School. Which is what junior business administration major, Ali Brandolino, leans on to find her drive and success in college – through entrepreneurial experiences as a member of UMKC Enactus. “I’ve realized that my idea of entrepreneurship wasn’t changing the world myself, but inspiring others to change the world. I’m a social entrepreneur and I hope to create my own social venture someday,” said the Enactus vice president and Student Entrepreneur of the Year. “There’s a long-existing theory that suggests when you dream out loud – when you speak your ideas into the universe – they are more likely to come back to you,” said Tom Bloch. “We could say that’s what happened for Cerner co-founders and Entrepreneur Hall of Fame inductees Neal Patterson, Paul Gorup and Cliff Illig. From an idea generated around a park bench to one of the largest healthcare technology companies in the world 40 years later, Cerner employs more than 29,000 associates in 26 countries worldwide. Illig shared gems from the founders’ journey for attendees to take away. Treat employees as business associates Create a collaborative culture to tackle complex problems together Share the success with your team Get all of your employees in a room and talk “I’ve realized that my idea of entrepreneurship wasn’t changing the world myself, but inspiring others to change the world." - Ali Brandolino “Kansas City is a town built by entrepreneurs,” said Illig. Recalling words from co-founder Neal Patterson, he said “the only way that Kansas City can grow and thrive is through the efforts of its entrepreneurs. We’re not going to attract the big national companies to relocate or headquarter in our city. We have to grow our own.” All proceeds from the Entrepreneur of the Year awards directly benefit the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s student and community programs. The Regnier Institute at the Bloch School focuses on connecting students and community members with a comprehensive combination of world-class research, renowned faculty, cutting-edge curriculum and experimental programs driven to deliver results and nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs. Learn more about the Regnier Institute Nov 18, 2019

  • From Doughnut Shop to Fed: The Unlikely Journey of Mary Daly

    News 3 Now and Channel 3000 in Wisconsin picked up a story from Matt Egan, CNN Business, about UMKC Alumna Mary Daly
    Mary Daly earned her bachelor’s degree in 1985 in economics and philosophy from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. That’s when she achieved what she calls her “escape velocity.” A podcast interview by CNN’s Poppy Harlow is also available online. Read the Channel 3000 story. Nov 16, 2019

  • Childhood Dream of Medicine Inspired by Family and the Farm

    While Marlena Long grew up caring for livestock, her lifelong plan has been curing patients
    Marlena Long '25Hometown: Paris, MissouriHigh School: Paris High SchoolDegree program: Six-year B.A./M.D. Marlena Long has always loved science. But it was her exposure to life, death and medicine—through farm life and personal experiences—that led her to the six-year B.A./M.D. program at UMKC. “My grandfather died when I was 7 years old. We would travel to the cancer center in Columbia, Missouri, and I would sit with my grandpa while he received chemotherapy treatments,” Long says. “I noticed how the doctors and nurses made my grandpa feel better, and I knew that I wanted to do that someday. Ever since then, I have dreamed of being a doctor.” Long shadowed with a cardiologist while she was in high school. Just as the medical professionals who treated her grandfather influenced her, this experience further confirmed her interest in becoming a doctor. "I have learned so much about myself in just the first month at UMKC.  Now I know I have a very bright future in front of me if I continue to work hard." Marlena Long   Long completed her associate’s degree at Moberly Area Community College before coming to UMKC. She says the classroom experience gave her an idea of what to expect, but getting acclimated to college life has been different. “The courses have been intense,” Long says. “I have been able to learn so much in my short time here due to my professors working so hard to make sure I understand what I need to for my future. But there are advantages, too. Not taking the MCAT decreased the time I need to receive my degree, and I’m able to start clinic work my first year.” While Long is taking her studies seriously, she is also making the time to make connections. “I didn’t know my roommate before school started, but we are close friends now. All my friends have different backgrounds, but I’m the only farm kid,” says Long, who grew up raising pigs and cattle on her family farm through 4-H and the National FFA Organization. “They are really curious about it. I’m planning a trip home with them this winter so that they can see the piglets that I’ll be showing next summer.” While Long grew up exposed to the practice of animal medicine, she was never interested in being a veterinarian.  "The biggest advantage is understanding the circle of life." “That seems like my parents’ life,” she says. “My mother works at BASF (a company that develops chemical products for agriculture with a focus on sustainability). She told me she may be able to help me get a job in that business. But I want to be a doctor.” Regardless of her career choice, Long does value her experience growing up on a farm. “There’s so much responsibility. When it’s snowing outside on Christmas morning, you still have to go outside and heat up the water for the animals to drink,” she says. “But the biggest advantage is understanding the circle of life. I’ve seen animals be born, do all the things they are supposed to do and then pass away. I learned that so early.” Long showed her pigs at the American Royal this fall. She’s confident and comfortable moving through the rows and pens of the livestock. While she is very independent, she still visits home a lot and has one foot firmly on her home turf. “I’m going to be a doctor, but I don’t think I’ll ever stop showing pigs.” Long smiles and nods slowly. “I mean, my kids will show pigs.”     Nov 14, 2019

  • UMKC Will Honor Cerner Founders, Other Entrepreneurs During Awards Ceremony

    From the Kansas City Business Journal: The UMKC Bloch School Entrepreneur of the Year awards program honors several entrepreneurs
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is gave a nod to Cerner Corp. this year in the annual Entrepreneur of the Year awards program. Read more. Nov 13, 2019

  • Henry W. Bloch School of Management Entrepreneur of the Year Awards Honor Visionary Leaders

    Cerner founders among UMKC honorees for 34th annual event
    KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The University of Missouri-Kansas City has announced the honorees for its 34th Annual Entrepreneur of the Year awards. The celebration is sponsored by the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the university’s Henry W. Bloch School of Management.   The event is Friday, Nov. 15 at Bloch Executive Hall, 5108 Cherry St., Kansas City, Missouri. A Venture Showcase and Reception begins at 5:30 p.m. with the awards program following at 7 p.m. Here is ticket and sponsorship information. Past inductions for the Bloch School’s Entrepreneur Hall of Fame are included in the program. "This year’s Entrepreneur of the Year Awards is particularly meaningful for us as we celebrate the lessons we learned from our friend, the late Henry Bloch; lessons that we are responsible to carry on and teach the next generation of young, ambitious entrepreneurs."   - Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal The Entrepreneur of the Year Awards event is an iconic Kansas City tradition started in 1985. Beyond its philanthropic cause, this event is a valuable forum where Kansas City CEOs, entrepreneurs, business owners, industry legends, world-class faculty and students alike are able to celebrate a common passion. The event celebrates entrepreneurial spirit and serves as a source of inspiration to future generations of innovative entrepreneurs. All proceeds from this event directly benefit the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s student and community programs. The Regnier Institute at the Bloch School focuses on connecting students and community members with a comprehensive combination of world-class research, renowned faculty, cutting-edge curriculum and experimental programs driven to deliver results and nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs. Nov 12, 2019

  • Crescendo – Together We Rise

    More than 300 students, faculty perform in annual concert
    The talent of more than 300 University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory faculty and students was on display Nov. 8 at Crescendo. Held in the stunning Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts, Crescendo is the signature event for the UMKC Conservatory and a scholarship fundraiser for UMKC Conservatory students. This year’s gala and concert raised more than $600,000 as of event night and the total is expected to increase as donations continue to come in. “Many of these young artists would not have the opportunity to pursue their dreams without your patronage,” said Conservatory Dean Diane Petrella before the concert. “Since moving Crescendo to the Kauffman Center in 2012, we have raised over $2.5 million in scholarship funds.” In addition to raising scholarship dollars, this year’s Crescendo accepted donations to the Conservatory’s piano fund to improve the quality of the piano inventory. Pianos play a critical role in Conservatory programs. The average age of the current piano inventory is 42 years old, with the condition of these instruments deteriorating under the near constant use they are subjected to on a daily basis. Last June, The Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts generously awarded the Conservatory a $75,000 grant to use towards the purchase of new pianos. The Conservatory is currently in a campaign to match that grant by raising an additional $75,000 through private donations. The goal is to purchase a new concert grand piano for the White Recital Hall stage on the UMKC campus. As Crescendo has also grown over the years, Petrella said they have actively sought ways to expand the impact of the performance. Three years ago, the Conservatory began hosting an annual special matinee performance, busing middle and high school students from all over the Kansas City area to the Kauffman Center. For many of the children, this was the first time they’ve experienced a performance of this caliber in a setting this spectacular. “These performances not only support our efforts in community outreach, but also help us to connect with local talent to recruit the next generation of artists to the Conservatory,” Petrella said. This year, through grant and private funding, the Conservatory expanded this outreach to two performances, with more than 2,500 students attending matinees earlier in the day. The fast-paced performance began with Masquerade (2013), Anna Clyne (b. 1980) trans. Dennis Llinás, performed by the Conservatory Wind Symphony, Professor Steven D. Davis, conductor. It was quickly followed by O Clap Your Hands (1920), Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-958), sung by the Combined Choral Ensembles with Professor Charles Robinson as conductor. UMKC piano students delighted the audience with Galop-marche á huit mains (1898), Albert Lavignac (1846-1916); followed by Libertango (1974), Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) arr. Jeff Scott, performed by the UMKC Graduate Fellowship Woodwind Quintet and Professor Celeste Johnson as coach. UMKC Brass students also played “Nimrod” from Enigma Variations (1898-99), Edward Elgar (1857-1934). The program then featured a scene from An Italian Straw Hat (1851), Eugene Labiche (1815-1888) Marc-Michel (1812-1868), and translated by Professor Felicia Londré. The Conservatory Orchestra, with Conductor Professor Adam Boyles, performed Music to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (1947), David Diamond (1915-2005), 1. Overture. Allegro Maestoso. The UMKC Jazz Combo entertained with Night and Day (1932), Cole Porter (1891-1964) arranged by Zak Jonas; followed by Precious Lord (1938/1996), Thomas A. Dorsey (1899-1933) arranged by Arnold Sevier, sung by Conservatory Singers and with Professor Eph Ehly as conductor. Courtesy of Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company, the audience was tantalized by Sweet in the Morning (1992) with choreography by Leni Wylliams (1961-1996), music by Bobby McFerrin and restaged by Professor DeeAnna Hiett. Wrapping another amazing year, Crescendo’s last performance was “Make Our Garden Grow” from Candide (1956), Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990), performed by the Conservatory Orchestra, Combined Choral Ensembles and Professor Adam Boyles as conductor. The 2019 Crescendo honorary co-chairs were Julie Quinn and Teri Miller; and Mark Sappington and David McGee. Co-Chairs were Marylou Turner and Michael Henry. Nov 11, 2019

  • Composition Faculty Yotam Haber Wins International Prize

    Conservatory's Yotam Haber is one of three winners of the 2020 Azrieli Music Prizes
    The Conservatory is pleased to note that Associate Professor of Music Composition Yotam Haber is one of three winners of The Azrieli Foundation awards. Haber has won the Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music. Established in 2014, the biennial Azrieli Music Prizes offer opportunities for the discovery, creation, performance, and celebration of excellence in music composition. The release notes, "The Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music is awarded to the composer who displays the utmost creativity, artistry, and musical excellence in proposing a response to the question – "What is Jewish music?" – in the shape of a musical work. 2020 Commission winner, Yotam Haber, has been awarded to write a new song cycle for voice and ensemble. His new work – Estro Poetico Armonico III – will continue baroque composer Benedetto Marcello's "telephone game" of hearing and re-hearing music he transcribed in a Venice Synagogue, and remembering and misremembering." Nov 11, 2019

  • Focusing on Mental Health

    Chancellor Agrawal and UM System launch initiatives to improve wellness
    Chancellor Agrawal’s new initiative at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Roos for Mental Health, is part of the university’s commitment to maintaining a culture of care. Did you know that one in four adults will be affected by mental illness at some point in their lives? And that nearly two-thirds of people don’t seek treatment because of stigma, discrimination or lack of understanding? Roos for Mental Health is aimed at reducing the stigma around mental illness, creating opportunities to enhance self-care for students, faculty and staff and offering education about the importance of nutrition, physical activity and communication. “Seventy-five percent of serious adult mental illness starts by the age of 25 and these conditions are better managed when diagnosed and treated early on,” says Kathryn Brewer, visiting assistant professor and co-chair of Roos for Mental Health. The initiative will kick off a year-long campaign during the Kansas City Roos men’s basketball game on Monday, Nov. 18, followed by activities throughout the week including a lunch-and-learn on Tuesday, Nov. 19, from noon–1 p.m. in Swinney Center. The topic will be how nutrition affects mental health. It is free to attend and open to students, faculty and staff. Sign-up through the IMLeagues website. “The program wouldn’t be possible without the work and dedication of the staff, faculty and students who are volunteering their time to the committee and at events,” says Brewer. In 2020, each month will focus on a related topic with corresponding events and resources. January: Drugs and Alcohol February: Eating Disorders March: Self-Injury April: Sexual Assault May: Mental Health June: PTSD July: Grief and Loss August: Happiness September: Suicide October: Domestic Violence November: Depression December: Stress and Anxiety “We take a holistic approach when looking at mental health and wellbeing — not just in terms of counseling but also by looking at things like exercise, healthy sleep patterns, social support and other activities that contribute to a healthy and balanced life,” says Arnold Abels, director of Counseling, Health, Testing and Disability Services and co-chair of Roos for Mental Health. “These initiatives will save lives. The incidence of mental health issues is on the rise for college students." —Kathryn Brewer, co-chair Roos for Mental Health “We are working to better utilize our existing services and develop more proactive strategies to address the needs of students, faculty and staff,” says Brewer. “The Sanvello app is a good example of that.” The Sanvello app offers on-demand help for stress, anxiety and depression. The University of Missouri System is making the app available for free to anyone who has a UMKC email address. Sanvello has a range of features including mood tracking, coping tools, guided journeys and community support to promote healthy habits and behaviors. “These initiatives will save lives,” Brewer says. “The incidence of mental health issues is on the rise for college students. Through Roos for Mental Health we’ll provide the resources and support to help students on their path to mental health and wellness.” Look for more information to come on Roos for Mental Health events, activities and resources. Nov 11, 2019

  • UMKC Researcher Helps Discover New Strain of HIV

    First time a new subtype of HIV-1 has been discovered since 2000
    Carole McArthur, M.D. '91, Ph.D., of the UMKC School of Dentistry and UMKC School of Medicine, was part of a team of scientists who discovered a new strain of HIV. The new subtype is referred to as HIV-1 Group M, subtype L—and is part of the Group M viruses that are responsible for the global pandemic, which can be traced back to the Democratic Republic of Congo. "In an increasingly connected world, we can no longer think of viruses being contained to one location," said McArthur, one of the study authors. "This discovery reminds us that to end the HIV pandemic, we must continue to outthink this continuously changing virus and use the latest advancements in technology and resources to monitor its evolution." In order to determine whether an unusual virus is a new HIV subtype, three cases have to be discovered independently. The first two for this subtype was discovered in 1980s and 1990s and this third was collected in 2001 but difficult to sequence until now. Today, technology allows researchers to build entire genomes at higher speeds and partnering scientists at Abbott had to develop new techniques in order to confirm the discovery. “This discovery reminds us that to end the HIV pandemic, we must continue to outthink this continuously changing virus and use the latest advancements in technology and resources to monitor its evolution.” – Carole McArthur, M.D., Ph.D. Mary Rodgers, Ph.D., one of the Abbott scientists who co-authored the study with McArthur, said identifying viruses like this one are like searching for a needle in a haystack; however, with new technologies it feels as though they are now “pulling the needle out with a magnet.” “This scientific discovery can help us ensure we are stopping new pandemics in their tracks," she said. Abbott’s Global Viral Surveillance Program monitors HIV and hepatitis viruses, specifically, to ensure the company’s diagnostic tests remain up to date. And now that this new strain has been identified, they are able to detect it. You can read the full release here. The study was published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (JAIDS). In the News Hundreds of outlets around the world published this discovery, including: CNN Daily Mail Forbes Kansas City Business Journal MSNBC Newsweek USA Today Nov 08, 2019

  • UMKC's VentureHub will move (onto 'purposeful collision path with entrepreneurs')

    The Bloch VentureHub's move to Plexpod Westport Commons was recently featured in the Kansas City Business Journal
    The Bloch VentureHub, a program of the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management, will get a new home in Plexpod Westport Commons. Read the story and view the photos. Nov 07, 2019

  • UMKC Bloch VentureHub Moving to Plexpod Westport Commons

    New location places Regnier Institute entrepreneurship facility at heart of KC startup community
    The Bloch VentureHub will join entrepreneurs from across Kansas City at Plexpod Westport Commons with permanent office space in the giant co-working building. The redesigned VentureHub will feature mentors on site, a resource library and open co-working hours for students and entrepreneurs. The Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, a program of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, announced a multi-year agreement this fall with Plexpod.  The Plexpod Westport Commons in Midtown Kansas City will be the new home of the Bloch VentureHub, which has moved from its previous location at 43rd and Madison streets. The historic Plexpod building once housed Westport Junior High School. A 2017 renovation transformed the 1923 structure into one of the world’s largest co-working communities, meshing a modern office space with eclectic whispers from the building’s past such as restored hardwood floors, metal lockers and a historic 600-person theater.  The Bloch VentureHub plans to offer Coworking Wednesdays where enrollees in the Institute’s Entrepreneurship Scholars program, program alumni, UMKC students and other entrepreneurs can work in the space and enjoy the benefit of Institute mentors on site and a resource library. The move to Plexpod puts the VentureHub on a purposeful collision path with entrepreneurs in Kansas City.  “The mission of the Regnier Institute is to take entrepreneurship beyond the classroom. This is a deliberate step to offer RIEI resources to the community,” said Andy Heise, assistant director.  In addition to housing active ventures, Plexpod hosts One Million Cups and community events. The building offers a rooftop deck with 360 degree views of Kansas City, a gourmet café, boardrooms, meeting rooms, and creative space – all intriguing options for hosting future Regnier Institute programs and events on key topics such as ideation, modeling, scaling the venture, and business basics in close proximity to entrepreneurs who can put the information to use.  The VentureHub’s new home places the Regnier Institute in the center of Kansas City’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Institute Managing Director for Venture Creation Bryan Boots oversaw the development of the agreement and said, “Being here will help the Regnier Institute stay close to the pulse of entrepreneurship communities.” Along with this new Plexpod annex, the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation will maintain its core offices in Bloch Executive Hall on the UMKC campus. The Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (RIEI) inspires and nurtures entrepreneurs and innovators through transformational education, research, and programs. RIEI offers formal entrepreneurship education to enrolled students at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and provides educational opportunities for members of the community who are looking for guidance and support as they prepare to launch new ventures. RIEI programs are designed to advance entrepreneurship and innovation across the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus, locally in the Kansas City region, and around the world. Nov 07, 2019

  • Scientists Discover First New HIV Strain in Nearly Two Decades

    CNN and a number of news outlets wrote about the research, co-authored by Carole McArthur at UMKC
    “This discovery reminds us that to end the HIV pandemic, we must continue to out think this continuously changing virus and use the latest advancements in technology and resources to monitor its evolution,” study co-author, Carole McArthur, a professor in the department of oral and craniofacial sciences at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said in a statement. Read more. Nov 06, 2019

  • Flatworms Inspire UMKC Gallery of Art Exhibit

    More about the exhibit was published in The Scientist
    Steph Nowotarski, an artist and postdoc in Alejandro Sanchez Alvarado’s lab at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, Missouri, studies how planarian flatworms (class Turbellaria) regenerate. “[I] can cut a 1 cm worm into multiple pieces, and each piece, regardless of where in the animal it was taken from, will make a whole new animal in just 14 days,” she says in an email to The Scientist.  Nowotarski is teaming up with other Kansas City–based artists to create an exhibit inspired by flatworm research in the University of Missouri–Kansas City Gallery of Art. Read more. Oct 31, 2019

  • Flatland Features Epperson House

    Kansas City religious leaders grapple with the notion of ghosts
    A few locations routinely pop up when taking inventory of haunted places in Kansas City. The most legendary of all local haunts is the Epperson House on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus, according to Darren Hinesley, a local expert on Kansas City hauntings and host of the podcast Creepy in KC. Hotels such as the historic hotel Savoy and places of worship such as St. Mary’s Episcopal Church also are thought by some to be scenes of paranormal activity. Read more. Oct 30, 2019

  • Author of “White Fragility” delivers Social Justice Book Lecture

    ‘Racism is a System, Not an Event’
    Author and scholar Robin DiAngelo, Ph.D., examined the unconscious and unintentional forms of racism at UMKC Diversity and Inclusion’s 13th annual Social Justice Book Lecture. DiAngelo is an associate professor of education at the University of Washington, and has been an educator and trainer on issues of social justice for over 20 years. Her book, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism, was released in June of 2018 and debuted on the New York Times Bestseller List. At the Social Justice Book Lecture, DiAngelo explained to a capacity audience that many white people simply do not understand the true nature of racism. They think of racism as deliberately offensive acts committed by people with clearly hurtful intent. Since they do not commit or condone such behavior, they believe they are not racist. What they miss, DiAngelo said, is that they live in, and benefit greatly from, a system that provides enormous advantages to white people from cradle to grave, in areas ranging from education to careers to health care to justice. Those advantages confer on white people a responsibility to educate themselves on the racist nature of society and its impact, and to approach that responsibility from a position of humility.  “Niceness is not anti-racism.” – Robin DiAngelo Numerous scientific studies over many years have demonstrated that all people carry unconscious biases, DiAngelo said; the difference for white people is that their biases are supported by legal authority and powerful institutions. Defining racism as intentional individual actions, she said, actually helps perpetuate the systemic racism of society by diverting attention away from it. “The white experience is deeply separate and unequal,” she said. And while white progressives often attribute racist actions and intent to conservatives, “white progressives produce the most daily toxicity for people of color.” “We are the ones who send our co-workers home every evening with stress, wrestling over whether they should address the unconscious indignities they endure from us.” DiAngelo’s closing thought: “Niceness is not anti-racism.” “Focusing on intent allows us to avoid taking responsibility for impact.”  About the Social Justice Book and Lecture Series The UMKC Division of Diversity and Inclusion’s Social Justice Book and Lecture Series brings to campus thought leaders from across the country and various fields to explore issues of social justice with our students, faculty and staff. The objectives of the series are to: Foster a sense of community on our campus through shared literature and relevant dialogue. Prompt participants to think critically about the historical context of social justice issues while focusing on current social justice challenges and the interdisciplinary thought and leadership skills necessary for solving such challenges. Provide a platform for further reflection, dialogue and action within our campus and greater communities through related coursework, gatherings and exposure to local, regional and national social justice projects and initiatives. Oct 30, 2019

  • Mental Health Caretakers on KCUR

    Psychologist Carolyn Pepper of UMKC Counseling Services was a guest
    A mental health diagnosis for one person can inadvertantly affect their family members and caretakers, and lead to confusion, concern and guilt. One mother shares her experience in caring for her adult daughter, whose bipolar disorder and schizophrenia often manifested itself as violence and tension. Her suggestion to other caretakers is to seek support. "I can't help her before I can help myself," she says. Listen here. Lori Mitchell, mother and caretaker of someone diagnosed as bipolar-schizophrenic Carolyn Pepper, psychologist, UMKC Counseling Services Oct 28, 2019

  • UMKC Dental Student Delivers Patient’s Baby at Clinic

    Patient came for a filling, left with a son
    The email subject line to UMKC School of Dentistry faculty read: “There is no limit to what our students can do!” The email detailed something completely unexpected that happened on fourth-year dental student Aliah Haghighat’s first day of an externship rotation at Samuel Rodgers Health Center in Kansas City. “It was definitely a day I will never forget,” Haghighat said. Oct. 21, 2019 It was Monday morning, the first day of her new externship, and Haghighat was eager to treat as many patients as she could. A woman was her second patient of the day, and everything was going great with prepping her tooth. As Haghighat stood up to get the lead doctor to check her work before the filling, the patient exclaimed that her water broke. Haghighat ran to tell the doctor, and then went straight back to help her patient. She remembers the woman was off the dental chair and was worried about the water everywhere. Haghighat assured her that it was going to be okay, and made efforts to try to call someone to give her a ride to the hospital. At this point, the lead doctor went to the other side of the clinic to get more help.  “It was definitely a day I will never forget.” -Aliah Haghighat Soon after, Haghighat remembers the patient saying the baby was coming and then jumping back on the dental chair. The only other people in the room at the time were Haghighat and a dental assistant. “We were both in shock and in disbelief of what was happening,” Haghighat said. The woman exclaimed “grab my baby,” and both Haghighat and the assistant reached down to grab hold of the baby boy and handed him carefully to the mother. The baby was crying and had a full head of hair. About 10 seconds later, the lead doctor came back and saw that the baby was delivered. She immediately called 911, and at this point, many providers from women’s health including a doctor came to help. Haghighat and the others used equipment to suction the baby’s mouth and covered both mom and baby in personal protective equipment gowns to keep them warm. “The patient only spoke Spanish...Thankfully, I am fluent in Spanish and was able to speak to her to keep her calm and translate for her as well.” -Aliah Haghighat The paramedics arrived within 10 minutes. The baby opened his eyes to a room full of people trying to help. The paramedics cut the cord and rushed the mom and baby boy to the hospital. “The patient only spoke Spanish so this entire incident was happening in Spanish,” Haghighat said. “Thankfully, I am fluent in Spanish and was able to speak to her to keep her calm and translate for her as well.” Haghighat thought back to a UMKC School of Dentistry course she took, Medical Emergencies, that prepares dental students for incidents that could occur in the dental chair. And this isn’t the first time she’s had to put what she learned in that course to work. Last year, Haghighat had a patient who had a 5-minute-long seizure in the UMKC dental clinic. “Although delivering a child was not a part of the curriculum, I feel that this class and the experience with a patient who had a seizure helped me remain calm,” Haghighat said. Nearly a week later, Haghighat remains both delighted and amazed at having helped deliver a baby. “I am overwhelmed with joy that everything went okay, and that both the mom and baby are healthy and happy,” she said. She called the patient’s husband later that day to make sure everyone was doing well. “This is an experience I will never forget, and I know now that I will be able to handle any situation while practicing dentistry,” she said. She has no thoughts, though, of switching her studies from dentistry to obstetrics. “I am definitely in the right profession.” Oct 28, 2019

  • Health for All Remains an Elusive Goal

    Community leaders discuss UMKC efforts to close gaps
    Health equity is a broad concept that encompasses differences in disease and mortality rates, and in access to healthcare services, among different population groups. It also includes differences in social determinants of health, such as poverty, exposure to toxins and access to healthy food. UMKC leadership quantifying and addressing these differences was the focal point of the UMKC Engagement Showcase, the university's signature event celebrating Engagement Week – a special week of engaged leadership, partnership and learning hosted by UMKC and the UM System. The event included a demonstration of the System’s new online Engagement Portal and a panel discussion on health equity led by the director of the new UMKC Health Equity Institute, Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., of the UMKC School of Medicine. Engagement with community partners by the UM System and its four universities is hardly a new phenomenon. Curt Crespino, UMKC vice chancellor for external relations and constituent engagement, noted that UMKC history is rooted in an enduring city-campus partnership. Marshall Stewart, chief engagement officer for the UM System, said what’s new is a more systematic and coordinated approach to engagement, including a transformation of the system’s Extension programs, designed to expand engagement beyond Extension’s original rural focus to forge engagement partnerships in every community and corner of the state.  “Urban and rural communities are facing very similar issues across Missouri. Our mission is to work together with all of our stakeholders to expand our impact by using our research to help transform lives,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “That spirit of connection to the city and engagement with our community was woven into the origin story of UMKC. And we are excited to take those efforts to the next level in collaboration with the efforts being led by the system.” Following are excerpted highlights of the health equity panel. Jannette Berkley-Patton, director, UMKC Health Equity Institute: “We spend billions on healthcare but are still one of the unhealthiest countries in the world.” The burden of health disparities rests primarily on groups outside the mainstream, including people of color, rural communities, veterans and seniors. Large federal grants allow for the creation of effective programs, “but what happens when the grant ends? Everything goes away. We need to figure out how to take the Cadillacs we create with these million-dollar grants and turn them into Pintos.” Rex Archer, director, Kansas City Health Department: “We need to change the structural issues that create the (health equity) problem.” These include issues with disparities in housing, poverty, education, safety and more. Mary Anne Jackson, interim dean, UMKC School of Medicine: In 2014, the Kansas City area had to contend with a large outbreak of a serious respiratory illness among school-age children. Researchers were notified early enough to identify the virus responsible and contain the outbreak. “We were able to address this in time because of the strong connections we have with people in the community who brought it to our attention.” Eric Williams, pastor, Calvary Temple Baptist Church: Conducting funerals for victims of gang violence and AIDS led Williams to involvement in public health. “Conversations about HIV were happening, but it was all on the down-low. (Berkley-Patton) helped us to understand that some of the things we were already doing were working” to change behaviors.  Rashaan Gilmore, founder and director, BlaqOut: BlaqOut surveyed gay African Americans about their health care priorities, and the top response was health care access. “It was because they didn’t feel welcomed by traditional providers. We asked them to recommend strategies to address that, and we developed interventions based on those results.” Bridget McCandless, former president and CEO, Health Forward Foundation: After 15 years working in a free health clinic, she changed her approach from providing care to impacting policy “because I saw that policy could be far more effective.” Citing a sampling of dramatic health disparities between local white and black populations, she said “there’s no excuse for us to have disparities like that.” Data analysis can empower highly effective strategies if we act on the findings. “We’re getting smart enough to figure this out. (Data-driven policy) can be the new germ theory; it can revolutionize the delivery and effectiveness of health care.” Oct 28, 2019

  • Academy Award Winner Kevin Willmott Headlines Writers for Readers Event

    Nov. 13 dinner celebrates the power of expression through creative writing and reading
    KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Kevin Willmott, the Academy Award winning screenwriter from Lawrence, Kansas, will be the featured speaker this year at the annual Writers for Readers dinner at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Willmott will discuss his screenwriting and filmmaking career, including his work on “BlacKkKlansman” and other collaborations with director Spike Lee, with local scriptwriter Mitch Bryan and author Whitney Terrell, UMKC associate professor of English. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas is also scheduled to speak. Writers for Readers is an event celebrating the power of expression through creative writing and reading. Proceeds benefit a new creative writing initiative co-sponsored by the Kansas City Public Library and UMKC, providing scholarships for UMKC graduate students in Creative Writing. The students will be teaching creative writing classes for underserved populations at the Kansas City Public Library and helping the library organize a new literary festival and a new literary award. Writers for Readers will take place at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13 in Room 401 of the UMKC Student Union, 5100 Cherry St. Tickets include dinner, open bar and admission to the event. For tickets, click here. Oct 25, 2019

  • Dance Major Finds Success in Musical Theater

    Shacura Wade is part of the national tour of The Lion King
    For Shacura Wade (B.F.A. ’15), the journey after graduation has been unexpected. “I thought the Broadway world was very cheesy and over-commercialized, so I didn’t think it had a place for me,” Wade says. But she had a change of heart two years ago, when she was cast as an ensemble member in the national tour of The Lion King. Now she performs on stages across the country, spreading a message she deeply believes in. “I always wanted to be a part of something that had a deeper meaning, and The Lion King is such a spiritual show,” Wade says. “It has a great story about unity and how everything is connected.” It also allows her to combine her love of dance with two other talents: singing and acting. Wade says the Conservatory curriculum helped prepare her for her current role because she was able to take classes in other performing arts disciplines, like music. “You don’t always get that variety at a lot of schools,” Wade explains. “That’s why [the Conservatory] produces such well-rounded dancers in general.” She also credits her teachers at the Conservatory for helping her develop skills that set her apart in auditions. “It’s a passion, it’s a hunger, it’s a confidence, it’s a boldness I feel as though I learned from the faculty,” Wade says. “You don’t really realize it when you’re in school, training every single day, and you’re exhausted. But when you get out in the world and allow your training to speak for itself? It separated me a lot." This story originally appeared in Encore, the UMKC Conservatory magazine. Oct 25, 2019

  • This Publicist Prides Herself on Being a Voice for the Culture

    How positivity and creative thinking are making Kiarra's dreams come true
    Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Kiarra Brown-Edwards is the entertainment publicist you want to meet. Recently named among the 2019 class of Forbes Under 30 Scholars, the former Conservatory dancer turned Communication Studies student has made it her mission to serve as a voice for the culture. And she isn’t afraid to get creative to make her dreams come true. Kiarra Brown-Edwards '19Hometown: Kansas City, MissouriHigh School: Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing ArtsUMKC degree program: Communication Studies Why did you choose UMKC? I transferred to UMKC as a dance major in the fall of 2016. I loved how elite the conservatory is here. I eventually changed my major from dance to Communication Studies because there’s so much more I want to do. People need to hear me. I realized, then, how great the Communication Studies department actually is. Choosing UMKC was a great decision for me. Not only do I love the people here, but I love that there are a great deal of faculty and staff who want you to succeed just as much as you want to succeed. College can be tough and the “real world” is tougher. At UMKC, students are accepted for who we are as individuals. Why did you choose communications? I chose to be a mass communications major because I enjoy, and also understand, the importance of being a voice for black and brown people. Whether it be politically or in the realm of entertainment, people of color are either under-represented or incorrectly represented, and I want to change that. The media industry always keeps me on the edge of my seat. There is always something to be learned … or unlearned. “Choosing UMKC was a great decision for me. Not only do I love the people here, but I love that there is a great deal of faculty and staff who want you to succeed just as much as you want to succeed.” What are the benefits and challenges of the program? The benefit of this program is being able to get that much needed one-on-one time with professors. In media, we have to put in extra work to perfect our craft no matter our focus. Being able to get that extra help or a pep talk from professors, who are also professionals, is a benefit that I value greatly. My challenge with this program is not having professors who look like me. Though I find a majority of Communication Studies professors valuable and an asset to students, I think it’s also important to not only maintain the diversity among students and professors alike. My experience as a black woman in media will be different than others in the same field. And not because I want it to be, that’s the reality. How do you find mentorship and connection in your field given that a lot of your field given that a lot of your professors themselves don’t look like you? I'm an active student member of the National Association of Black Journalists. It literally provides black students with everything we need in this field. Being a member has helped me meet other black professionals in media. Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself? Since entering college, I’ve learned how hard I will work for something that I believe in, no matter if anyone else believes it or not. I don’t settle for anything that I believe is less than what I deserve. This mindset, and knowing how to communicate this in the proper manner, has granted me many life-changing opportunities. “LinkedIn is the plug!” Since transferring to UMKC I have been actively involved with campus organizations. I was the president of Sister Circle, an organization for women of color from May 2016 to May 2018. Now I support by being a general body member. I am also a general body member of The African American Student Union and am also a contributing writer for U-News. On Tuesdays at 4:30 p.m. I have a radio show on K-Roo radio, “Your Weekly Dose with Ki & Los,” where we talk about culture, what’s happening around campus and current events in mainstream media. Wow! You do a lot on campus. What about off campus? Have you had any internship experiences? I have had a nice amount of valuable internships. I am currently a pub