November

  • Researcher Wins Third Major Award from American Heart Association

    John Spertus of School of Medicine and Saint Luke’s receives Distinguished Scientist Award
    John Spertus, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine professor and Daniel J. Lauer, M.D., Endowed Chair in Metabolism and Vascular Disease Research, received the American Heart Association’s 2018 Distinguished Scientist Award. Spertus also serves as clinical director of outcomes research at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute. The award annually recognizes several prominent scientists and clinicians who have made significant and sustained contributions to advancing the understanding, management and treatment of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Spertus developed technology that guides physicians and patients in medical-decision making by using models to measure and predict the risk factors of various procedures. Many experts cite two tools he created — the Seattle Angina Questionnaire and the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire — as the gold standards for measuring symptoms, function and quality of life in treating coronary artery disease and heart failure. Both have been translated into more than 95 languages. “I am humbled by the honor to be recognized by the AHA for our work to improve the patient-centeredness of care,” Spertus said. “While traditionally the basic sciences are prioritized, to see the work of our community to improve care and outcomes is a terrific validation of the collective efforts of my entire team and colleagues.” This is Spertus’ third major award from the American Heart Association, which he received this month at the AHA Scientific Sessions in Chicago. He previously received the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015 and the Council on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Distinguished Achievement Award in 2013. “These three prominent awards reflect Dr. Spertus’ national and international stature in lifesaving health outcomes research,” said UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal. “We are proud to have him at UMKC and fortunate that he is in our Kansas City community.” Spertus is the founder of two outcomes research organizations. The Cardiovascular Outcomes Research Consortium and CV Outcomes is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to advancing health care quality and outcomes research in cardiovascular disease. Health Outcomes Sciences is an information technology company that implements precision medicine in clinical care. He is currently leading a regional effort with BioNexus KC and the Frontiers Clinical and Translational Science Awards consortium to bring local hospitals together in collaboration to improve the value of health care in Kansas City. Nov 29, 2018

  • Berkley CFDC Celebrates 25 Years

    Milestone service to UMKC and the Kansas City community
    Inside any child care center, you might see small children sharing toys, toddling around their surroundings and making friends with other children. The staff of the UMKC Edgar L. and Rheta A. Berkley Child and Family Development Center see much more. They understand these children are learning critical thinking skills and building the archetype of the brain. Play teaches children how objects work in the world; how people think, feel and act; and how to problem-solve. It is a crucial part of Berkley CFDC, which has served the UMKC campus and Great Kansas City Community for 25 years. The Berkley Child and Family Development Center (CFDC) was established as part of the UMKC School of Education as a 12-month, full-day program serving as a learning laboratory for children from birth through age five. Berkley’s name is in honor of the major benefactor, Rheta Berkley and her husband, Edgar. Berkley was a leading figure and advocate of education and the arts in Kansas City for nearly three-quarters of a century. Berkley CFDC is dedicated to reflecting state-of-the-art practices in early childhood education and working with children and families. “Berkley was built on the vision to provide a progressive, creative approach to early childhood education, a devotion to developing the whole family in that education and a commitment to supporting its employees and the community,” says Polly Prendergast, Director of Berkley CFDC since 2003. Berkley CFDC seeks to raise the quality of early learning in the Kansas City area. The cornerstone of their philosophy is building equal relationships among the family, child and teacher. Berkley CFDC is firmly embedded in constructivism: the theoretical view that learners construct knowledge through interactions with the physical and social environments. Berkley CFDC helps set the stage for these children with the understanding that 85% of intellect, personality and skills are cultivated by age five. Berkley CFDC is inspired by the Schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy and actively studies their approach to education. It is also accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Nationally, only 7 percent of early childhood programs have received this accreditation. Parents are drawn to the program because of Berkley CFDC’s method of incorporating research-based methods into its teaching practices. Both of Rheta Berkley’s great nieces, Sara and Sophie Sosland, enrolled their children at Berkley CFDC. “The fact that Berkley has a clear vision for its approach to education and backs that up by continuing to explore new and better ways to refine and implement that vision is what makes it so great,” says Sara Sosland. She also appreciates how inclusive the program is as well. “I appreciate the value that Berkley places on professional development and continuing education for their own educators, and I think it’s wonderful that they provide those opportunities in-house,” Sara says. “They host opportunities for parents to learn more about infant and child development, and collaborate with other schools across the world.” Berkley CFDC serves 100 students on a daily basis with 20 full-time and 18 part-time staff members. The programs have also grown over the years. “Berkley expanded its infant-toddler program in 2000,” says Pendergast, “and since 2003 preschool enrollment has increased by 20%.” To the parents, the extraordinary care that Berkley CFDC offers makes the center stand out when searching for the right place for their children. “The staff at Berkley is wonderful,” Sophie Sosland says. “They’re warm, attentive, playful, and knowledgeable. We feel very comfortable knowing our son is under their care. And we are extremely pleased with the progress he has made in the last year.” The School of Education also directly impacts the program through teacher preparation. “Students from the School of Education’s early childhood program complete practicum teaching placements with us. Students complete observations and link those observations to their course work,” says Pendergast. “Practicum students, student teachers, interns, and other students from the School of Education are placed and or given assignments to complete here throughout the year.” In addition, this year, Berkley CFDC initiated a community collaboration focused on professional development with St. Mark Center, an urban not-for-profit preschool located near 12th Street and Garfield Avenue. Just like the children they care for, Berkley CFDC will never stop changing, which leaves only more room for growth. They continue to cultivate their programs based off current research and developmentally appropriate practice. “Berkley challenges us to create a revolution in child care,” Prendergast said. Nov 28, 2018

  • Faculty Honored as Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

    Wai-Yim Ching is one of 461 leading scientists recognized nationally
    Wai-Yim Ching, Ph.D., Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as an AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers. This year 416 members have been awarded this honor by AAAS because of their scientifically or socially Wai-Yim Ching, Ph.D., Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as an AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers. This year 416 members have been awarded this honor by AAAS because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. New Fellows will be presented with an official certificate and a gold and blue (representing science and engineering, respectively) rosette pin Feb. 16 during the 2019 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. According to the AAAS, Ching was cited for his distinguished contributions to theory and methods of electronic structure and spectroscopic properties of materials. Ching began teaching at UMKC as an assistant professor of physics in 1978. He quickly rose to a tenured associate professor in 1981 and a full professor in 1984. In 1988, he was named to his current role as a Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Physics. His research and publications cover diverse disciplines, such as condensed matter physics, ceramics and glasses, chemistry, biology, material science, engineering, medical science, geophysics and earth science. He was one of the most cited physicists in the world from 1981 to 1997, with more 2,000 citations of 171 papers. To date, he has published more than 425 papers in peer reviewed journals with total citations over 19,800. He is currently the supervisor of seven Ph.D. students in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Since 1978, Ching has brought in nearly $8 million in external support and has been funded by several agencies including the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation and the United States Department of Defense. Ching was honored with the University of Missouri System President’s Award for Sustained Career Excellence in 2017. The tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874. This year’s AAAS Fellows will be formally announced in the AAAS News & Notes section of the journal Science on Nov. 29, 2018. Nov 28, 2018

  • History Professor in Washington Post Story About Medieval Women

    Linda Mitchell discusses the queen at Medieval Times
    “It’s just another form of objectification, isn’t it? To claim that putting a woman on a pedestal gives her power just means that she’s standing somewhere where she can’t get down without help,” said Linda Mitchell, president of the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship and a history professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. “If [Medieval Times] wanted to be more authentic, she would be surrounded by women, her ladies-in-waiting. The women around her would be active and engaged.” Read more of the article. Nov 27, 2018

  • Business Insider Article Focuses on School of Education Research

    Berkley Center report says child’s outdoor play is serious
    Research suggests that outdoor play can benefit the mental, emotional and (of course) physical development of children. In the words of a report released by the UMKC School of Education’s Edgar L. and Rheta A. Berkley Child and Family Development Center, “Child’s play is not just all fun and games.” When kids play outdoors in a relatively unstructured manner, they enjoy the benefits of “growth and development of the brain, body, and intellect.” Read the article from Business Insider. Nov 21, 2018

  • Former First Lady Laura Bush and Daughter, Barbara Pierce Bush, to Headline Event

    Starr Women's Hall of Fame induction to honor Kansas City’s greatest women, past and present
    Former First Lady Laura Bush and daughter, Barbara Pierce Bush, will be the featured speakers at the March 22, 2019, induction event for the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame. Laura Bush served as First Lady from 2001 to 2009 during the presidency of her husband, George W. Bush. She is an advocate for education, health care and women’s rights. After leaving the White House, President and Mrs. Bush founded the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas. The former First Lady will be interviewed during the event by her daughter, Barbara Pierce Bush, co-founder and board chair of Global Health Corps, which mobilizes a global community of young leaders to build the movement for health equity. The event is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. March 22, 2019, in Swinney Recreation Center on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus. The event will honor the 2019 class of honorees into the Hall of Fame, and tickets are available online. The 10 outstanding women to be honored this year will be announced at a later date. As chair of the Bush Institute’s Women’s Initiative, Mrs. Bush promotes access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunity for women and girls around the world. The Women’s Initiative programs are preparing and empowering the next generation of women leaders in North Africa and the Middle East, working to ensure the expansion and protection of women’s rights in Afghanistan, and engaging and supporting first ladies from around the world to effectively use their unique platforms to advance issues for women and girls in their countries. Global Health Corps was founded in 2009 by six twenty-somethings who were challenged by Peter Piot at the aids2031 Young Leaders Summit to engage their generation in solving the world’s biggest health challenges. Barbara Bush and her co-founders were united by the belief that health is a human right and that their generation must build the world where this is realized. “We are both honored and delighted to have Mrs. Bush headlining this event. She represents the qualities of leadership and service that define this Hall of Fame and its honorees,” said Carol Hallquist, co-chair of the hall of fame planning committee. “Having her daughter, Barbara, participate is a perfect example of the Hall of Fame mission to inspire future generations of women.” The Starr Women’s Hall of Fame is dedicated to recognizing extraordinary Kansas City women and preserving the history of their accomplishments. These women are social reformers, volunteers, philanthropists, civic leaders, activists and educators. They are neighborhood leaders and grassroots organizers, from yesterday and today, both famous and unsung. They are movers and shakers whose tireless commitment to community has made Kansas City a better place to live. The Hall of Fame is a repository for their legacies. By sharing their stories, the Hall of Fame encourages and inspires women everywhere. Biographies of all of the honorees are available at https://www.umkc.edu/starrhalloffame/hall.cfm. The Hall of Fame is named in honor of Martha Jane Phillips Starr, a legendary activist and philanthropist who blazed a trail for family issues and women’s rights. The Hall of Fame is made possible through the Starr Education Committee, Martha Jane Starr’s family and the Starr Field of Interest Fund, which was established upon her death through the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. The idea for the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame stemmed from Starr Education Committee members. A permanent display honoring Hall of Fame members is now open to the public on the third floor of the Miller Nichols Library at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The library is at 800 E. 51 St., Kansas City, Missouri. The civic organizations that advocate on behalf of women and family issues and have signed on in support of the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame include: American Association of University Women, American Business Women’s Association, Central Exchange, CBIZ Women’s Advantage, Girl Scouts of NE Kansas and NW Missouri, Greater Kansas City Chamber’s Executive Women’s Leadership Council, Greater Kansas City Women’s Political Caucus, Jackson County Missouri Chapter of the Links, Inc.; Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri; KC Metro Latinas, Kansas City Athenaeum, Kansas City Young Matrons, Women Leaders in College Sports, OneKC for Women, SkillBuilders Fund, Soroptimist International of Kansas City, Soroptimist Kansas City Foundation, UMKC, UMKC Women’s Center, UMKC Women’s Council, UMKC Women of Color Leadership Conference, WIN for KC, win|win, Women’s Foundation, Women’s Public Service Network, Zonta International District 7 and Zonta Club of KC II. Nov 19, 2018

  • Student Organization Raises Funds for Latinx Scholarships

    Association of Latin American Students helps Dreamers stay in school
    Kansas City barbecue is good for so many things – besides being a favorite pastime for locals and attracting visitors from across the country to experience what real barbecue tastes like. For University of Missouri-Kansas City juniors Maria Franco (mechanical engineering major with a minor in mathematics) and Bryan Betancourt (finance and management major), a simple invite to a barbecue led to a huge opportunity for their student organization, Association of Latin American Students, to help Latinx students stay in school.ALAS recently participated in a Hispanic Development Fund fundraising campaign and competition that resulted in the student organization raising nearly $9,000 in matching scholarship dollars for Latinx first-generation and DACA students. The group competed against three other universities – Rockhurst University, University of Kansas and Kansas State University – to see who could raise the most money; the winner received a matching gift from the HDF. ALAS outdid their competition by raising $4,400.Franco, ALAS president, said they dedicated the entire month of September, Hispanic Heritage Month, to hosting off-campus fundraisers for the competition. However, according to ALAS treasurer, Betancourt, the majority of their success was a result of direct donations from community members, professors, peers and the students’ individual networks.“We went out and talked to people, told them we were raising money and why,” said Franco, adding that networking and connecting with the community is important to ALAS. The organization has an underlying goal of increasing the Latinx student population at UMKC.As another fundraising – and low-key  recruitment – strategy, ALAS students designed Latinx-inspired button pins for high school students as a way to show them that not only do Latinx students go to college, there are ways to pay it and that “UMKC is the best.”“The Chancellor had my same idea of using ‘La familia’ because that was going to be one our buttons,” she said, adding that the Spanish phrase often used by Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal, in reference to UMKC’s campus community, immediately resonated with her. In fact, Franco said that makes them “best friends now.”The money ALAS raised for scholarships will go back to help DACA students at UMKC pay for school. Area high schools participated in their own division of the competition, as well as local businesses and organizations.Alta Vista High School, a Guadalupe Center charter school, won the high school division of the competition and those scholarship dollars go toward seniors. The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers won first place in the professional division and those scholarship funds go toward high school and college students.Betancourt said this opportunity especially means a lot to him because “it’s supporting our Hispanic community, which doesn’t have a lot of the opportunities that others have.”Both Franco and Betancourt are first-generation college students and have had personal experiences with the challenges that come with paying for college.“For most DACA students, this means they’re able to stay in school,” said Franco, who proudly proclaims her DACA status despite its accompanying challenges. “With the way politics work, DACA students have to pay international tuition, so every bit helps.”Betancourt and Franco encourage their peers to save the date for January 1 when the HDF starts accepting scholarship applications. In the meantime, prospective and current students can visit the UMKC Financial Aid website for more scholarship and grant opportunities.Over the past three decades, the Hispanic Development Fund has awarded more than $4.5 million in scholarships to more than 3,000 prospective college students. Their mission is to improve the quality of life of Latino families in Greater Kansas City by engaging the Latino community in philanthropy to build stronger communities through grant making and scholarship support. Nov 15, 2018

  • Prosper with Purpose

    2018 Entrepreneur of the Year Awards Emphasize Lasting Legacy of Henry Bloch
    Hundreds of warm hearts and souls traveled to campus on Wednesday, Nov. 14 to celebrate the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation, and the legacy of Henry W. Bloch, during the 33rd annual Entrepreneur of the Year Awards ceremony, hosted by the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.Among this year’s notable honorees were: Steve Case, co-founder of America Online, Henry W. Bloch International Entrepreneur of the Year Toby Rush, founder of EyeVerify, Regional Entrepreneur of the Year Paul DeBruce, founder of the DeBruce Foundation and former Chairman and CEO of DeBruce Grain, Inc., Marion and John Kreamer Award for Social Entrepreneurship Andrea Savage, business administration senior, Student Entrepreneur Award James “Jim” E. Stowers Jr. and Virginia G. Stowers, founders of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, 2018 Entrepreneur Hall of Fame inductees  The Entrepreneur of the Year Awards event has been an iconic Kansas City tradition since 1985. Beyond its philanthropic cause of supporting the Regnier Institute, 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 – entrepreneurship and innovation. Especially important this year was the event’s return to campus as a way to honor the legacy of Henry Bloch, the endowed namesake of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management and its Bloch Executive Hall. “We brought the Entrepreneur Awards back to the Bloch School this year because there is no better place to recognize the man who has given so much not only to UMKC, but to the Kansas City community.”– Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal One of the more prominent themes of the evening focused on Henry Bloch’s lasting legacy and his entrepreneurial and philanthropic spirit. “At the Bloch School, we strive to follow the example offered by our beloved benefactor, Mr. Henry Bloch. Henry embodies the philosophy of working hard, doing well, and giving back.”-Brian Klaas, Dean of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management Prior to the awards ceremony. students had an opportunity to put their venture creation ideas on display. Projects ranged from a website for group travel planning, disability resource services, autonomous aerial vehicles and more. Senior Andrea Savage accepted the Student Entrepreneur Award for her role as project leader for UMKC Enactus’ FeedKC project, which identified the dual problems of food waste and hunger in Kansas City. In addition to diverting over a ton of edible meals to organizations and people in need, she has taken the additional step of creating a scalable mobile application to create a sustainable solution that can be used across the country.  “I’d like to thank the Bloch School faculty who have boldened and equipped me to make a difference in the world.”– Andrea Savage, business administration senior, 2018 Student Entrepreneur Award. Food for Thought from 2018 EOY Honorees According to this year’s International Entrepreneur of the Year, Steve Case, entrepreneurs are the job creation engine of almost every community. “If we care about our communities we need to make sure we are embracing, mentoring and celebrating the next generation of entrepreneurs.”Case, most known for co-founding AOL, works with civic leaders across the country to champion efforts to jumpstart entrepreneurship. “This a great entrepreneurial nation and I am proud to be a part of it, but when it comes to startup funding it does matter where you live, what you look like and who you know, and we are trying to find ways to level the playing field.”– Steve Case  To that end, Toby Rush, Regional Entrepreneur Award honoree said though he’s traveled all over the world and has achieved much business success, the key to living a fulfilled life is in relationships. “If you invest deeply and often in relationships, you will forever have treasure.”– Toby Rush, founder of EyeVerify, Regional Entrepreneur Award winner It was evident that many of this year’s Entrepreneur of the Year honorees live by a much similar principle. A principle that Paul DeBruce, founder of the DeBruce Foundation, displayed when he dedicated his Social Entrepreneur Award to his team as he “is simply a facilitator for [former UMKC Chancellor] Leo Morton, [DeBruce Foundation executive director] Leigh Anne Taylor Knight, our astute board members and our very talented and passionate staff.”  “We join UMKC, the Bloch School and Regnier Institute in nurturing the next generation of social entrepreneurs who will forever change the world for the better.”– Leigh Anne Taylor Knight, executive director of the DeBruce Foundation Jim and Virignia Stowers’ investments continue to change the world for the better. Sixty years after they founded American Century, the company oversees billions of dollars in assets. This was the company that allowed them to use their wealth to invest back into the lives of others through medical research. The Stowers Institutute, founded in 1994; and BioMed Valley Discoveries, founded in 2002; have received billions of dollars in resources to search for new insights into biology and disease.  “At the Stowers Institute and at BioMed Valley Discoveries, I see people every day who are inspired and guided by Jim and Virginia’s words and deeds. ‘Prosper with Purpose.’  ‘Hope for Life.’ ‘The best is yet to be.’ ‘Do the right thing.’ ‘Trust the team.’ ‘Plan for the long term.’ ”– David Chao, president and CEO of Stowers Institute, BioMed Valley board member accepting award on behalf of the late Jim and Virginia Stowers. Event organizers say each of the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year honorees embody Henry Bloch’s entrepreneurial spirit, community engagement and generous philanthropy. Their stories speak of hard work, perseverance and the importance of paying it forward for generations to come.Henry Bloch celebrated his 96th birthday last July and 96 entrepreneurs donated $96,000 ($1000 each) in his honor to the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Nov 15, 2018

  • UMKC Names New Athletic Director

    Introducing Dr. Brandon Martin
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City launched a national search in September to find a proven leader who could transform its Division I athletics program, one who could continue its long history of success in developing scholar-athletes while rallying more wins, greater fan support and increased revenue. UMKC announced its pick: Brandon Martin, Ph.D. “Brandon Martin is, first and foremost, an educator. That’s how it should be. He was a true scholar-athlete as a basketball player at the University of Southern California, and he will lead true scholar-athletes at UMKC,” said Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal. “He is coming here to build a tradition that our campus and community can rally around with enthusiasm and pride, and I am confident that he will succeed.” Martin most recently served as athletic director for California State University, Northridge. His history as a scholar-athlete dates even farther back, to when he played basketball at the University of Southern California and earned a Bachelor of Science, Master of Education and Doctor of Education there. He received the Outstanding Dissertation of the Year from the USC Rossier School of Education, “A Phenomenological Study of Academically Driven African American Male Student-Athletes at Highly Selective Division I Universities.” Martin served as a faculty member at the Division I schools where he also was an athletics department leader, at USC and the University of Oklahoma, where he hired men’s basketball coach Lon Kruger. He has presented more than 40 papers, symposia and workshops at national higher education conferences. In 2014, Martin was appointed to the NCAA Committee on Academics. “I always had a passion for education. I always knew that I would become a teacher,” Martin said. “I wanted to work in college athletics, but I wanted to be connected to the true fabric and true mission of a university. I knew that I needed a terminal degree.” Martin served as athletics director at CSUN, from 2013 to earlier this year. While at that Division I program he: Oversaw a $15.8 million operating budget, 19 sports and 350 student-athletes Raised $1 million in his first 100 days Increased athletics donations by 453 percent Increased student attendance at men’s basketball games by 71 percent Was named one of Los Angeles’ 100 most influential African-Americans Martin’s goals for UMKC Athletics are straightforward: Become a Top 100 Division I program. Win Western Athletic Conference championships and earn NCAA tournament berths. Provide a first-rate campus life experience for scholar-athletes while producing graduates who not only earn degrees but develop as leaders for campus and community. UMKC won two WAC regular season championships last year, three WAC post-season championships and contributed more than 2,000 community service hours to the Kansas City area. UMKC student-athletes also excel academically, carrying an average 3.3 GPA. Martin takes the helm of UMKC Athletics on Dec. 3, 2018. He will be joined by his wife, Rosemary, and their children Germany, Riley and Brandon Jr. He is excited about his future at UMKC and in the community. “Kansas City is a great sport town, so we just have to get people engaged,” said Martin, who as a senior associate athletics director at Oklahoma made annual trips to Kansas City for the Big 12 basketball tournament. “There’s really no ceiling on how great we can become.” What they’re saying about Brandon Martin: “UMKC made a tremendous hire. Dr. Martin understands the business of college sports while maintaining genuine care for student-athletes. It’s a rare mix. Go ‘Roos.” -Greg Moore, baseball coach, California State University, Northridge “It was a joy to work alongside Dr. Martin as a colleague in the Big West Conference. He’s an authentic communicator who has proven to be impactful in leading coaches, staff, student-athletes and key stakeholders. Brandon will no doubt build and advance UMKC’s legacy.” -Tamica Smith Jones, athletics director, University of California, Riverside “Dr. Martin is a rising star in our industry. His tenure at CSUN was nothing short of extraordinary. His integrity and core values allowed him to set a standard of excellence at CSUN and within the Big West Conference. UMKC made a fine choice in hiring Brandon Martin.” –Dennis Farrell, commissioner, Big West Conference “Brandon Martin is an excellent choice. He is a highly passionate and extremely capable administrator who genuinely cares about student-athletes and their entire experience – from athletics to academics. In Brandon, the Kangaroos are getting a leader who will wholeheartedly dedicate himself to getting positive results.” –Dan Guerrero, director of athletics, UCLA “Brandon has an unwavering focus on the success of the student-athletes in the classroom and on the fields of play. He will work with the administration, coaches, staff and student-athletes to drive championship performance in sports, academics and in their personal growth.” –Warde Manuel, the Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics, University of Michigan “Dr. Martin’s knowledge, passion and enthusiasm for his work was evident in the interview process. I am excited to work closely with Brandon to continue the forward momentum of Roos athletics.” -Kathy Nelson, president and CEO, Kansas City Sports Commission & Foundation “I’m grateful for the time Dr. Brandon Martin served as an excellent member of my senior leadership team here at Oklahoma. UMKC is getting a dynamic leader but an even better person. He possesses the ability to convey a vision, create energy, collaborate with stakeholders and inspire a culture of integrity and success with the focus on student-athletes. Brandon will connect and engage with everyone who can support the Roos.” -Joseph R. Castiglione Sr., athletics director, University of Oklahoma “Dr. Martin not only brings several years of administrative experience, but he also brings tremendous scholarly expertise. He conducts research, publishes studies, and presents at an impressive array of national conferences. Brandon also has significant teaching experience. This is very rare for an athletics director. The UMKC faculty will respect him and appreciate the intellectual leadership he brings to the University and its athletics department.” –Shaun R. Harper, provost professor and USC Race and Equity Center executive director, University of Southern California “Dr. Brandon Martin is the ideal practitioner-scholar in higher education. He will do transformative things within UMKC Athletics and the campus community.” –C. Keith Harrison, associate professor, DeVos Sport Business Management Graduate Program, University of Central Florida “UMKC has hired an outstanding person to lead their athletics program. Dr. Martin has all of the educational preparation and practical experience to excel. I look forward to working with Brandon and watching his leadership.” –Bob Bowlsby, commissioner, Big 12 Conference Nov 14, 2018

  • Political Science Faculty Co-Writes Washington Post Analysis

    Rebecca Best detailed why so many veterans successfully ran as Democrats
    Best is an assistant professor of political science at UMKC. She teamed up with Jeremy M. Teigen to write this article for the Washington Post: “An unprecedented number of veterans ran as Democrats this year. Here’s why they were unusually successful.” Read the article. Nov 14, 2018

  • Surprise Scholarships Delivered to 42 High Schools

    UMKC, KC Scholars partner on $20 million in new scholarships
    > Watch the video presentation  Paseo High School seniors Nakyiah Hopkins and Diamond Sparks were called to a meeting at Manual Career Tech Center, where they are studying emergency medicine. They thought they were meeting with the principal.But no. Surprise! Each won a $50,000 scholarship to the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Both of their faces went from big eyes to smiles to tears.“Wow, I’m so happy, so happy,” Hopkins said, wiping her eyes. She wants to become a physician, and had already applied to UMKC. “African-American doctors…there aren’t many of us. This is such awesome news.”“$50,000 – I can really go to college,” said Sparks, who wants to be a nurse.“Congratulations, I’m so excited for you both! What a wonderful way to start the day,” said UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal, Ph. D, who was there to deliver these life-changers along with Beth Tankersley-Bankhead, president and CEO of KC Scholars. Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal hugs Diamond Sparks, a senior at Paseo High School who wants to be a nurse.  UMKC and KC Scholars are expanding their existing partnership to create college opportunities for an additional 400 low- to modest-income students from the Greater Kansas City metropolitan area over the next nine years.Agrawal announced the expanded scholarship program during his State of the University address on campus Nov. 8. UMKC and KC Scholars are each contributing $10 million, for a total commitment of $20 million. Nicholas Berns-Hoyt and Joselyn Aldaco Cortes, seniors at Shawnee Mission West High School, were surprised with scholarships. “I can’t stop smiling,” said Berns-Hoyt, who wants to study civil engineering “I didn’t know whether college was a possibility,” said Aldaco Cortes, who is interested in studying art history. KC Scholars, launched in 2016, currently awards approximately 500 college scholarships annually for students from the KC metro area to attend one of 17 partner colleges and universities in Missouri and Kansas, including UMKC. There are 46 recipients of KC Scholars grants currently enrolled at UMKC. The new funding will support 400 additional UMKC scholarships over the next nine years, each worth $10,000 per year.“We are taking our partnership with the KC Scholars organization to a whole new level,” Agrawal said during the address. “KC Scholars provides financial aid and other forms of support to low- and modest-income families in the Greater Kansas City metropolitan area so that young people can attend college. Unfortunately, there are far more students who qualify for this assistance than KC Scholars has the resources to serve. So I am proud to say that UMKC is stepping up to meet that challenge. As the university that was created to serve this community, this is our role and our responsibility.” “This is so cool!” said Harrison Breshears, a senior at Lee’s Summit West High School, who wants to major in graphic design. The UMKC commitment is the first scholarship match program to be offered by any of the four University of Missouri System universities under a new program announced by UM System President Mun Choi on Sept. 14 in his “Excellence Through Innovation: A New University of Missouri System” address. Choi said the UM System would invest $100 million in new scholarship programs, including $75 million for Promise and Opportunity Scholarships available to students based on need. The scholarship investment is a major component of $260 million in total investments by UM System for strategic priorities over the next five years.“In its first two award cycles, KC Scholars had 1,900 eligible 11th-grade applicants that went unfunded because we simply did not have enough scholarship dollars,” said Jan Kreamer, chair of the KC Scholars board of directors. “We are grateful to UMKC for providing a life-changing opportunity to attend college for 400 additional students with this gift.” Nov 09, 2018

  • Hornsby and Parisi Named Curators’ Distinguished Professors

    UMKC, KC Scholars partner on $20 million in new scholarships
    The Board of Curators of the University of Missouri voted to name two UMKC faculty members as Curators’ Distinguished Professors: Jeff Hornsby, Ph.D.; and Joe Parisi, Ph.D.Hornsby is Henry W. Bloch/Missouri Endowed Chair and director of the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship Innovation at the Bloch School of Management. Earlier this year, the UM System named him its Entrepreneurship Educator of the Year. He joined the UMKC faculty in 2013.Parisi is professor of instrumental Music Education and associate director of bands at the Conservatory of Music and Dance. He also is director of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program at UMKC. He also is conductor and music director of the Fountain City Brass Band. He joined the UMKC faculty in 2002.Hornsby and Parisi each received a letter from UM System President Mun Choi informing them of the honor.As a Curators’ Distinguished Professor, they each will receive a $10,000 annual stipend — $5,000 will serve as an increase in annual compensation and the other $5,000 will be available for professional expenses associated with teaching, research or creative activities.The term of appointment is five years, and it can be renewed at the discretion of the chancellor.Here’s a master list of UMKC faculty named Curators’ professors. Nov 09, 2018

  • Geosciences Professor’s Research Cited in New York Times

    Fengpeng Sun co-authored study on California wildfire seasons
    The 2015 study that suggests that California has two distinct fire seasons. One, which runs from June through September and is driven by a combination of warmer and drier weather, is the Western fire season that most people think of. Those wildfires tend to be more inland, in higher-elevation forests. But Sun and his co-authors also identified a second fire season that runs from October through April and is driven by the Santa Ana winds. Those fires tend to spread three times faster and burn closer to urban areas, and they were responsible for 80 percent of the economic losses over two decades beginning in 1990. Read more of the article “Why Does California Have So Many Wildfires?” Nov 09, 2018

  • Media Promotes $20 Million in New Scholarships at UMKC

    KC Scholars partnership receives national and regional attention
    he University of Missouri Kansas City expects to hand out 400 more scholarships to low- and moderate-income students, thanks to a partnership with a local nonprofit. UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal announced Thursday during his state-of-the-campus address that the university is partnering with KC Scholars to expand its scholarship program. UMKC and KC Scholars will each contribute $10 million into the program. Read more in The Kansas City Star Read more in U.S. News and World Report Read more in the Associated Press Read more in the Kansas City Business Journal Read more by KCTV Channel 5 Nov 09, 2018

  • $20 Million in New Scholarships

    Chancellor delivers the good news in his first State of the University address
    > Watch Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal’s State of the University address online. Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal, Ph.D., announced $20 million in new scholarships November 8 as the capstone to his first State of the University address.The address focused on key themes and objectives in Agrawal’s vision for the university he has led since June, and also provided an opportunity to shine a spotlight on outstanding students, faculty and staff.“True greatness can be achieved here,” Agrawal said. “UMKC has the potential to move into the top ranks of the great urban public research universities in America. All of the ingredients needed are already here – we just need to put them together in the correct fashion.” UMKC Women’s Soccer has achieved great success this season. They won their conference in the regular season and performed at a high level in academics, posting a team average GPA of 3.75. Agrawal’s address outlined his vision for a renewed and enhanced partnership between the Greater Kansas City community and UMKC, which was established by and for that community. That vision calls for strategic investment in several key areas, including student success, research, community engagement and an enhanced student life experience on campus.“This is a campus, and a community, on the rise,” Agrawal said. “We can address both our short-term needs and achieve true greatness in the long term. Spectacular can happen here. I believe that we are called upon to ensure that it does happen here.”Commitment to the success of current and future students is at the core of Agrawal’s vision, and starts with making higher education more affordable to more students within the Kansas City community. Breana Boger helped the Honors College increase enrollment from 120 to 400 students since June 2015. Her approach is to understand the complex picture of a student’s entire life situation and use that knowledge to empower each student to solve their own problems and to seek excellence in everything they do. “KC Scholars provides financial aid and other forms of support to low- and modest-income families in the Greater Kansas City metropolitan area so that young people can attend college,” Agrawal said. “Unfortunately, there are far more students who qualify for this assistance than KC Scholars has the resources to serve. So, I am proud to say that UMKC is stepping up to meet that challenge. As the university that was created to serve this community, this is our role and our responsibility.”The new need-based scholarships announced by Agrawal are being funded by $10 million from KC Scholars, $5 million from UMKC and $5 million from the UM System’s new Promise & Opportunity Scholarship program.KC Scholars, launched in 2016, currently awards approximately 500 college scholarships annually for students from the KC metro area to attend one of 17 partner colleges and universities in Missouri and Kansas, including UMKC. There are 46 recipients of KC Scholars grants currently enrolled at UMKC. The new funding will support 400 additional scholarships over the next nine years, each worth $10,000 per year, for students enrolling at UMKC.Agrawal also stressed the university’s public service mission throughout the address. Among the initiatives he announced: Improving and expanding student housing on campus Improving graduation rates Increasing enrollment by 50 percent over 10 years Doubling research grants over a span of 10 years Establishing a Data Science Institute to leverage existing campus strengths in Big Data and Big Learning Establishing a task force to explore potential new programming and uses for the historic Epperson House and potential new funding streams to rehabilitate and maintain the building Increasing service learning opportunities for students bringing the level of student engagement to 75 percent in five years, and 90 percent in 10 years Exploring ways to enable capital projects such as the Conservatory, the renovation of the labs in the Spencer Chemistry building, phase I of a new shared facility in the UMKC Health Science District and renovating parts of the Bloch School Salem Habte is an undergraduate student in the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. She exemplifies the Twin Pillars philosophy of school benefactor Henry Bloch because she believes in addressing problems in the world by using a business model. In the pursuit of excellence in engagement, UMKC will look for ways to increase community partnerships to address cultural, social, health and economic prosperity in the greater Kansas City region. “Our new strategic plan makes one point very clear: our foundational commitment as a university is to provide an unwavering commitment to the development of our people,” Agrawal said. Jane Greer, professor of English, is a gifted researcher. Her leadership has helped make undergraduate research opportunities a hallmark for UMKC, a factor that plays a critical role in attracting outstanding undergraduates to UMKC. To follow through on that commitment, Agrawal has tasked one of the university’s outstanding longtime leaders to develop and oversee an enhanced faculty development structure. Lawrence Dreyfus, Ph.D., has accepted the new position of Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Research Support, effective January 1. In just the past two years, Kun Cheng has been awarded three National Institutes of Health grant awards totaling more than 4.7 million dollars. He is an outstanding example of the greatness that is possible at UMKC. In Agrawal’s listening tour on campus, he has heard a lot from faculty, staff and students about the need to increase attention and service to mental health and well-being. As a result, a task force has been formed to review the state of mental health services. The goal is to take inventory of the campus resources, determine the level of preparedness to respond, identify gaps and develop recommendations for improvements.“My personal commitment is to ensure that we have the right services on campus, staffed at appropriate levels that work seamlessly together,” Agrawal said. “We will also explore ways to provide more professional training and mentorship for our staff so that they can have potential career ladders. This must also be a part of a strong infrastructure. Nate Thomas, associate dean for Diversity and Inclusion at the School of Medicine, plays a critical role in implementing programs to support UMKC students and help them stay in school, overcome obstacles and succeed. Lastly, Agrawal said he will work hard to create a culture of “la familia” or “we are family” on the UMKC campus. This will start with first ensuring a high level of customer service.“This cannot be mandated, but has to be a change from within all of us – a change of attitude where service to others is more important than our own personal benefit,” Agrawal said. “We all will need to be role models – each and every one of us. At UMKC we have a lot to be proud of – both in our history and in our present. But we still have a lot more to do until we achieve excellence in everything we do. I will work alongside you as we march toward this goal. As others see our resolve they will join us.” Nov 08, 2018

  • Crescendo: Rhythm of a City

    UMKC Conservatory dazzles at scholarship fundraising event
    Nov 06, 2018

  • UM System Offers New Express License to Faculty Entrepreneurs

    To encourage entrepreneurship, the University of Missouri System is now offering a fast-track express license for faculty and staff inventors, enab...
    Each year, UM System faculty create startup companies based on their innovations in research and new technologies. The startups bring in research discoveries to the marketplace and contribute to the university’s $5.4 billion annual impact in the state. “Scientific, business and legal experts in our UM System technology advancement offices help faculty commercialize their innovations by pursuing patents and negotiating licenses with companies interested in further developing university innovations,” said Mark McIntosh, UM System vice president for research and economic development and MU vice chancellor for research, graduate studies and economic development. “Our new express license makes this process easier to navigate, reduces barriers and streamlines contract negotiations for faculty and staff interested in obtaining a license for their startup company.” Licenses and other intellectual-property agreements allow companies to access the rights to university-owned inventions. Eric Anderson, director of the UMKC Office of Technology Commercialization, said that while each technology advancement office within the UM System is responsible for managing and licensing technologies developed at their university, the express license is built as a one-size fits-all. “The express license’s terms are predefined and advantageous to faculty,” said Anderson, “and the UM System may pay for a portion of the patent expense, which is usually an impediment for a startup.” The office offers individual assistance to faculty members. Moving an invention from the university to the marketplace is often a lengthy process that requires education, networking and advocacy. “Before, we negotiated licenses individually and went back and forth on language and terms,” said Anderson. “The express license offers a two percent patent royalty rate. That rate usually ranges anywhere from three to 10 percent.” In order to start the discussion about an invention, faculty members need to submit an Invention Disclosure Form. Disclosures come from all across campus, but the majority arise from the STEM units: engineering, pharmaceutical science, biology and chemistry. The door is open, however, for any faculty and employees (graduate students, postdocs and staff) who are inventors and have interest in obtaining a license for their startup company. Anderson hopes that the express license will offer a new avenue for those who were previously deterred or discouraged. For more information about the express license, view the guidelines and contact Eric Anderson. Nov 05, 2018

  • Podcast Created by UMKC English Professor has Global Reach

    Whitney Terrell discusses seeing news through the lens of literature
    Writers have a lot to say. And books and magazines are not always the best places for them to express themselves.That’s what UMKC Associate Professor of English Whitney Terrell thought.“I read news stories and kept thinking there was something already written about this,” says Terrell. “I noticed in my Twitter and Facebook feeds that writers were more politically active than ever before, which started during the last election. But no one ever asked writers what they thought about what is going on in the world.”They needed more than to be asked, though. They needed a platform on which to answer.Terrell came up with the idea for a podcast a little over a year ago. The result is Fiction/Non/Fiction, a podcast hosted by Terrell and University of Minnesota professor V.V. Ganeshananthan.There was nothing out there like it. Whereas social media feeds and television are populated with political pundits and, on occasion, celebrities, Fiction/Non/Fiction comes alive with the voices of Terrell, Ganeshananthan and guests who range from novelists to poets to journalists.Past episodes have included appearances by award-winning writers such as Tayari Jones, Edwidge Danitcat, Thomas Frank, and Curtis Sittenfeld. Fiction/Non/Fiction has featured the Washington Post’s chief book critic, Ron Charles, and the editor of the New York Times Book Review, Pamela Paul.UMKC already boasted one established radio show and podcast: UMKC Professor Angela Elam’s New Letters on the Air, which invites writers to discuss their work and is the longest continuously- running broadcast of a national literary radio series. But this podcast would be different. It would connect the constant stream of news with writers’ opinions and ideas.“Writers have a political voice in this country in the realm of fiction and nonfiction,” says Terrell.Terrell took his idea to Literary Hub, one of the biggest literature websites in the U.S. Terrell had written a few pieces for Literary Hub, and the site had posted an excerpt of his latest novel, The Good Lieutenant. According to the website, Literary Hub is a “single, trusted daily source for all news, ideas and richness of contemporary literary life.”He reached out to Jonny Diamond, editor of the website, and pitched the idea. To Diamond, the idea of launching the podcast was a no-brainer.“It’s all about giving writers a platform to talk about ideas and the things going on in our world that they may already be writing about,” says Diamond.The news would now be seen through the lens of literature.And it would not just offer the outlet for writers. The podcast would include critics, book reviewers, poets, anyone who wrote about the world around them.Diamond explained that letting writers discuss politics and world events is not a new idea.“There is a great tradition, in Italy and France and other parts of Europe, where in talk shows, they ask writers to talk about what is going in the world, rather than only political analysts.”He added that the idea of the podcast fit in nicely with Literary Hub’s mission.“Literary Hub helps books and writers maintain and regain prominence in cultural conversations,” he says.With the green light, Terrell sought out Ganeshananthan, a professor at the University of Minnesota, as his co-host. In October 2017, Fiction/Non/Fiction launched.“We did the whole thing from scratch,” says Terrell. “And ever since, the response has been really positive.”They now have a world-wide audience, from the U.S to Australia to French territories. Currently, the highest concentration of listeners reside in New York, California, Massachusetts and Missouri. Most recently, an episode that discussed the ins and outs of applying to MFA programs, and featured UMKC professor Hadara Bar-Nadav prominently, reached as far as Jordan.With 40,000 downloads and subscribers from all over the world, Fiction/Non/Fiction allows its subscribers to explore the news of today with the novels and published works of the present and past. Nov 02, 2018

  • Recipe for Healthy Neighborhoods: Mix Well

    Alumnus Tony Salazar builds modern, thriving communities
    Tony Salazar has a recipe for healthy, thriving neighborhoods. The ingredients may vary a bit from place to place, but the directions are always the same. Mix well. Salazar, a UMKC alumnus, is a successful real estate developer whose focus is on distressed urban neighborhoods across the country. But while the result of many urban developments is gentrification that drives lower-income residents out, Salazar preaches – and practices – a holistic approach based on mixed-income housing and mixed-use tracts. In many cases, it even involves mixed-use individual buildings. The result is stabilized neighborhoods in which newcomers blend with longtime residents, while people, local businesses – and the developer – all thrive. Salazar discussed his approach to neighborhood-building at the annual National Hispanic Heritage Month Lecture, co-sponsored by UMKC’s Latinx and Latin American Studies Program; Association of Latin American Students; the departments of Economics and Architecture, Urban Planning + Design; and numerous community partners. Salazar is president of west coast operations for McCormack Baron Salazar, a firm he co-founded. He was born and raised in Kansas City, and is one of 14 members of his family to hold UMKC degrees. The key to his approach, he said, is not to segregate people by race or economics. His multi-family buildings typically combine market-rate units with “affordable” units subsidized by a variety of government aid programs. Affordable units are not segregated to a single floor or wing, but sprinkled throughout the property. “No one knows who is affordable and who is market,” he said. Redevelopment of distressed urban neighborhoods must be a planned process, he said, and usually involving public-private partnerships. That way, the newly developed neighborhood will have all the necessary ingredients for success – anchors such as churches and schools, mixed-income housing, retail, transportation, open space and health care. “It doesn’t happen automatically. You have to look at it holistically and make sure all of the ingredients are there,” Salazar said. “Layout, landscaping, illumination – they all matter.” In one project in California, he said, “I put units that sold for $775,000 next to units that rented for $500 a month. And I sold every one.” “I dispelled the myth that people with different incomes won’t live together. It’s absolutely not so,” Salazar added. Economic segregation is a modern anomaly from most of human history, he said, driven by practices of the modern real estate industry. This kind of redevelopment require government to play a financial role, he said in response to an audience question about tax incentives. His projects typically are financed with a combination of federal housing grants, private investment and local or state historic tax credits. “Otherwise, it’s not going to get built.” Nov 02, 2018

  • KCSourceLink Will Leverage EDA Grant and Community Matching Dollars

    University Center Economic Development Grant will support infrastructure for entrepreneurs, job creation and corporate engagement
    The U.S. Department of Commerce recently announced that KCSourceLink, a program of the Innovation Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, will be awarded a second grant to continue its work as a University Center Economic Development Program to spur entrepreneurship, economic growth and job creation. KCSourceLink received its first University Center Program grant in 2013. “KCSourceLink and the University of Missouri-Kansas City have made great strides to cultivate an environment where entrepreneurship can flourish and entrepreneurs can pursue their dreams,” said Angie Martinez, regional director of the U.S. Economic Development Administration. “The EDA is proud to once again partner with KCSourceLink to make resources more visible and accessible for all entrepreneurs and to deliver such strong outcomes for the Kansas City economy and community.” The five-year grant, awarded by the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, will be awarded in annual installments. The grant is being matched with financial support from Kansas City’s corporate leaders, civic organizations and foundations. Organizations and people who have committed to support KCSourceLink’s work of building an infrastructure to connect, empower and measure Kansas City entrepreneurship include, among others: Black & VeatchBurns & McDonnellCity of Kansas City, MissouriThe Illig Family FoundationDairy Farmers of AmericaSS&C DST SystemsGlobal PrairieHall Family FoundationJE Dunn ConstructionEwing Marion Kauffman FoundationKCP&LKemper Family FoundationDeBruce FoundationThe PNC Financial Services GroupRegnier Family FoundationsJack F. and Glenna Y. Wylie Charitable Foundation “SS&C began as a startup, so we know the importance of supporting entrepreneurs and innovation to move our industry forward. Our largest global office is in Kansas City, and we’re committed to the communities in which we operate,” said Bill Stone, chairman and CEO, SS&C Technologies. “SS&C DST has a long history of supporting Kansas City and we’re proud to renew our commitment with KCSourceLink.” Building America’s Most Entrepreneurial City Starts with Entrepreneurial Infrastructure “Our community is stronger and more entrepreneurial because of the work, vision and grit of KCSourceLink and its founder, Maria Meyers,” said Anne St. Peter, founder of Global Prairie and member of the KCSourceLink board of advisors. “We are proud to be working with KCSourceLink in our collective quest to make KC America’s most entrepreneurial city.” For the past five years, KCSourceLink’s University Center Program has used university assets to support young firms that create jobs by connecting them to just-in-time resources to start and grow business in Kansas City. KCSourceLink will continue to build on its programs, partnerships and progress toward making Kansas City America’s most entrepreneurial city, a community goal framed in 2011 by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. In 2012, with its first University Center Program grant, KCSourceLink developed a series of metrics to measure the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region in six key areas: 1) access to capital, 2) corporate engagement, 3) talent, 4) pipeline of opportunity, 5) awareness of Kansas City as a region for entrepreneurship and 6) technical resources. Research completed in 2016 revealed that Kansas City has made measurable progress in finding capital for its early-stage companies and raising the awareness of the KC entrepreneurial ecosystem. But the research also found that corporate engagement still remains weak. To address this gap, KCSourceLink will work with local corporations to define and implement interventions that draw corporations and entrepreneurs together, creating access to industry research, investment, customer acquisition, connections and expertise, leading to jobs for the community. “The UMKC Innovation Center and KCSourceLink play a leading role in the region’s initiative to advance entrepreneurship and drive innovation in Kansas City,” said UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal. “We are pleased to have the support of the Economic Development Administration and our local private-sector corporate partners to provide additional support to our entrepreneurs who create new ideas, businesses and jobs in our community.” The Right Resources at the Right Time The first task completed under the new grant award: a refreshed website with a more streamlined user experience for doers, makers, creators and entrepreneurs eager to find the resources they need to start and grow businesses in Kansas City. At KCSourceLink.com, aspiring and established entrepreneurs can access a smart database of resources for their industry and challenge; review and download entrepreneurial guides for starting, growing and funding business in Kansas City; and get inspired by the journeys of other KC entrepreneurs. And when they have question about their particular business or just need help with their next step, they can reach out to KCSourceLink’s Network Navigators via email or phone to get a personal action plan to help move their business forward. KCSourceLink uses the aggregated data from its website and one-on-one referrals to build community-wide collaborations to fill gaps in services and advance entrepreneurship in Kansas City. In recent years, KCSourceLink-led collaborations have improved access to capital for early-stage entrepreneurs, resulting in nearly a billion dollars in available capital. Discover other research, collaborations and their impact at WeCreateKC.com, KCSourceLink’s research portal. Over the next five years, KCSourceLink will focus on building regional collaborations with university, government, community and business leaders to further identify and fill gaps in Kansas City’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. KCSourceLink’s previous work increased available capital, advancing its mission to establish Kansas City as a financial hub for entrepreneurs. Identifying gaps has helped KCSourceLink create an action plan and collaborations to increase corporate engagement in KC entrepreneurship. And most importantly, KCSourceLink will continue to build inclusivity and assist every entrepreneur at any stage of business. To that effort, it will support distressed areas of the community to create economic mobility through access to funding, knowledge and resources. “Our goal is to strengthen the fundamental building blocks of a prosperous and innovation-centric economy by building better connections between entrepreneurs, resources, capital, talent and the greater KC community,” said Maria Meyers, founder of KCSourceLink, executive director of the UMKC Innovation Center and vice provost of economic development at UMKC. “We know entrepreneurship doesn’t just add value to our society by way of startups, innovations and jobs. For many, it’s a path to economic independence, hope and prosperity.” Nov 01, 2018

  • An Un-Trivial Pursuit

    University gained the national spotlight as first interracial team in televised trivia competition
    A package arrived at the UMKC Alumni Association office last year. Inside was a single sheet of paper with a contact name and phone number. It also included a medal, tucked inside bubble wrap. The medal, with “GE College Bowl” embossed on one side and “Alvin F. Easter University of Kansas City” engraved on the other, is a small reminder of the big impact four students had on the university in 1963. Right around the time the University of Kansas City (UKC) announced its plans to merge with the University of Missouri System to become the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the school was chosen to compete on the popular television show “GE College Bowl.” The program, sponsored by General Electric, pitted two colleges, each with a team of four, against each other in a trivia showdown. The young men chosen to represent UKC — Team Captain Elbert Hayes (B.S. ’63), Phil Marcus (B.A. ’63), Bill Williams (B.A. ’65) and Alvin Easter (B.A. ’67) — began an accelerated study program to prepare for the trivia show. Easter, a freshman who skipped a grade in high school and was just 17 at the time, specialized in history and cinema. Hayes was the music and science enthusiast. Marcus focused on sports and literature, while Williams was the expert on art, geography and nursery rhymes. Their skillsets were certainly impressive, but this team was different from every other in one important way: Hayes was black, making him the first African-American to compete on the program and UKC the first interracial team. Their appearance on “GE College Bowl” drew criticism from some and even resulted in death threats for the team. But on a Sunday afternoon the UKC team took the stage, undeterred. Accompanying photo caption from the Kansas City Times on Feb. 18, 1962 [sic]: A team of four University of Kansas City students will compete Sunday for scholastic honors on the national television program, “College Bowl.” Left to right, Elbert L. Hayes, science; Alvin Easter, history; Phil Marcus, literature, and Bill Williams, fine arts. They will match erudition with the university’s alternate team at a warm-up session at 8:30 o’clock Wednesday night in room 214 of the Law building, Fifty-second street and Rockhill road. It will be open to the public. Alternate team members are Dan Creasy, Mike Edwards, Grover Walker and Steve Wheelock. Dr. Walter Murrish, forensic director at the university, is the team’s coach and will accompany them when it faces a group from Norwich university, Northville, Vt., in New York. UKC’s episode of “GE College Bowl” was taped live on Feb. 24, 1963. UKC was competing against Norwich University from Northville, Vermont. Easter, who sent his medal to the UMKC Alumni Association for its archives, says he still recalls a few of the questions posed during the show: naming a photo of the crab nebula, the date of the Battle of the Alamo and identifying a line from “Death of a Salesman.” Ultimately, the team bested Norwich and won $1,500 for the UKC Scholarship Fund. Back in Kansas City, the university was abuzz with excitement. It was the first time UKC had received national media attention, and the win united campus. Hundreds of students watched the contest to support their hometown team, and many showed up at the airport to give the team a hero’s welcome. Although they didn’t claim victory during their next matchup against Wake Forest on Sunday, March 3, the team still received an additional $500 for the UKC Scholarship Fund and a place in university history. This article first appeared in the 2018 issue of Perspectives, the UMKC alumni magazine.   Nov 01, 2018

  • History of the Haag Hall Don Quixote Mural

    Mural by Luis Quintanilla captures an enduring, pre-World War II point of view and has special connection for one Kansas Citian
    Every year, hundreds of students, faculty, staff and visitors pass the vibrant murals of Luis Quintanilla, the Spanish expatriate who spent part of his exile from Spain creating the work for the University of Kansas City (UKC). Julián Zugazagoitia, director of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, has a compelling connection to the murals — one he only discovered when he saw them firsthand. Zugazagoitia had lived in Kansas City for five years before he climbed the marble steps to the second floor of Haag Hall to investigate the legacy between his family and Kansas City. Quintanilla and Zugazagoitia’s grandfather, also named Julián Zugazagoitia, were friends and soldiers in the Spanish Civil War, fighting the fascist regime of General Francisco Franco. Quintanilla and Zugazagoitia had been in prison together in Spain in 1934, where the artist sketched his friend and compatriot. “I’d seen an exhibit in New York that included the drawing of my grandfather,” says Zugazagoitia. “Not long after, Quintanilla’s grandson sent me an email to tell me about the murals. It was in the back of my mind, but I had not made it over to see.” A Presidential Request Quintanilla came to UKC in 1940 to serve as its first artist-in-residence at the invitation of UKC President Clarence Decker. At 34 years old, Decker was the youngest-serving president of the country’s youngest university. He suggested Quintanilla paint a mural in Haag Hall using the theme, “Don Quixote in the Modern World.” It was a bold move for the college president, considering Quintanilla’s political past. “The national mood in 1938 was certainly one of unease,” says John Herron, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of history. “The effects of the Great Depression were still apparent, and the growing militarism and unrest in Europe did little to calm fears. Americans, for the most part, wanted nothing to do with a second world conflict and were eager to stay out of European politics.” Decker, a vocal proponent of the arts and culture, used his role at the university to cultivate relationships with many politically informed artists. “He offered visiting appointments to a number of artists, poets and writers, and worked actively to make Kansas City a kind of avant-garde center in the American Midwest,” Herron says. “Decker understood the hostility many artists and scholars, especially Jews, faced abroad. He remained a proponent of bringing these artists to Kansas City whenever possible.” Quintanilla's Vision At the time of Decker’s invitation, Quintanilla was living in New York as part of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Committee for Displaced Scholars and Artists program that brought oppressed and imprisoned artists from Europe to the United States. His art had recently been shown at the 1938 World’s Fair in New York. Quintanilla envisioned four panels using Don Quixote’s story as an allegory of the horrors and oppression of fascism in Europe. The artist used members of the university faculty and staff as models. His own family appears in one panel. Zugazagoitia, who was aware that Quintanilla used family and friends as models in his work, expected to find his grandfather’s face looking back at him from the walls. This was not the case, but what he discovered was even more powerful. “When I saw he had dedicated the mural to my grandfather I was stunned. To see his name — my name — in the corner … It took a while for me to process, but it fulfilled a notion of destiny for me. Finding his name confirmed that Kansas City is where I should be.” Modern-day Revelations Beyond his personal connection, Zugazagoitia was reminded how significant it is to be an immigrant. He sees the murals as a reminder of what it takes to make your way in a foreign place. “It underscored for me how important it is to reinvent yourself in a new country. It seems the perfect time to be talking about this,” he says. Zugazagoitia emphasizes how important it is to preserve these murals. Besides recognizing the work for its artistic and historical merit — it is one of only two Quintanilla murals that were not destroyed during the Spanish Civil War — he believes living with art changes those who are exposed to it. “Our experience is better because it exists. We are privileged to live in an environment that nourishes us, even if we don’t notice,” he says. “It makes these stories meaningful and present in our lives.” This article originally appeared in the 2018 issue of Perspectives, the UMKC alumni magazine.  Nov 01, 2018