September

  • Celebrating Faculty for Excellence in Teaching and Research

    Kansas City mayor joined in night of recognition
    Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Quinton Lucas’ speech synopsis: Great UMKC faculty make Kansas City great. UMKC Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer and UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal led the celebration. “Our faculty work day in and day out creating a culture of care for our students, teaching and guiding them toward academic excellence,” Bichelmeyer said. “At the same time, faculty are publishing breakthrough research and award-winning creative works, and striving to achieve promotion and tenure. Most importantly, faculty challenge our students every day to maximize their full potential and reach their goals. UMKC faculty are a key reason why UMKC is the university it is today.” Among the evening’s honorees: Curators' and Governor's Awards New Curators’ Distinguished Professors in 2019 A curators’ distinguished professorship is the highest and most prestigious academic rank awarded by the Board of Curators of the University of Missouri. Virginia Blanton, College of Arts and Sciences, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of English Language and Literature Kun Cheng, School of Pharmacy, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Pharmacy Jane Greer, College of Arts and Sciences, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of English Language and Literature Jeffery Hornsby, Henry W. Bloch School of Management, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Global Entrepreneurship Joe Parisi, Conservatory, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Conducting/Music Education New Curators’ Distinguished Professors Emeriti in 2019 A curators’ distinguished professorship is the highest and most prestigious academic rank awarded by the Board of Curators of the University of Missouri. Joan FitzPatrick Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor of English Emerita Dennis Merrill, College of Arts and Sciences, Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor of History Emeritus Wai-Yim Ching, College of Arts and Sciences, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Physics Emeritus Max J. Skidmore, College of Arts and Sciences, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Political Science Emeritus Felicia H. Londre, Conservatory, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Theatre Emerita Jerry R. Dias, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Chemistry Emeritus Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching The Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching is presented to an outstanding faculty member from each participating higher education institution in the state based on evidence of effective teaching, effective advising, a commitment to high standards of excellence and success in nurturing student achievement. Kym Bennett, College of Arts and Sciences, associate professor, psychology Service and Engagement Awards Chancellor’s Award for Career Contributions to the University One of the highest honors for a UMKC empoloyee (faculty or staff) who has made significant contributions to higher education at UMKC over the course of his or her career and has significantly enhanced the mission of the university. Max Skidmore, College of Arts and Sciences, professor, political science Chancellor’s Award for Embracing Diversity This award recognizes and celebrates UMKC faculty, staff and registered student organizations that embrace diversity by celebrating diversity in all aspects of university life, creating inclusive environments, culturally competent citizens and globally-oriented curricula and programs. Sandy Rodriguez, University Libraries, assistant dean of special collections and archives Omiunota Ukpokodu, School of Education, professor, teacher education and curriculum studies  Chancellor’s Award for Community Engagement This award recognizes and celebrates faculty, staff, units and campus organizations that have made engagement with the community a central aspect of their approach to student learning and scholarship. Department of History, College of Arts and Sciences  UM System Awards Presidential Engagement Fellows Named by the UM System president, the fellows are tasked with fulfilling the university’s land-grant mission by sharing research discoveries with Missouri citizens in every county. They were selected for their excellent teaching, breakthrough research and creative achievements. Jannette Berkley-Patton, School of Medicine, professor, biomedical and health informatics Barbara Pahud, School of Medicine, assistant professor, pediatric medicine Gerald Wyckoff, School of Pharmacy, professor, pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences  Teaching Awards Chancellor’s Early Career Award for Excellence in Teaching This award recognizes and celebrates UMKC assistant professors who have achieved excellence in teaching early in their professional careers. Rebecca Best, College of Arts and Sciences, assistant professor, political science Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching The university’s highest honor for excellence in teaching recognizes and celebrates UMKC faculty who are consistently superior teachers at the graduate, undergraduate or professional level over an extended period of time. Michael Wei, School of Education, associate professor, teacher education and curriculum studies Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching This award recognizes and celebrates teaching excellence among UMKC clinical and teaching faculty James Benevides, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, teaching professor in cell biology and biophysics Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Mentoring This award recognizes UMKC graduate faculty advisors with a long-established career at the university who have made significant contributions to higher education through exceptional mentoring. Loyce Caruthers, School of Education, professor, educational leadership, policy and foundations Elmore F. Pierson Good Teaching Awards Awarded annually to outstanding teachers in the Henry W. Bloch School of Management, and the Schools of Dentistry, Law and Medicine. Roozmehr Safi, Henry W. Bloch School of Management, assistant professor, management Michaelle Tobin, School of Law, associate clinical professor Amgad Gerges Masoud, School of Medicine, associate professor, internal medicine Tanya Villalpando Mitchell, School of Dentistry, professor, dental hygiene Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Researchers, Scholars and Artists Fenpeng Sun, College of Arts and Sciences, assistant professor, earth and environmental sciences Research and Creativity Awards  N.T. Veatch Award for Distinguished Research and Creative Activity Recognizes distinguished research and other scholarly or creative activity accomplished by UMKC faculty. Kun Cheng, School of Pharmacy, Curators’ Distinguished Professor, pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences Trustees’ Faculty Fellows Award Trustees are recognizing the very best faculty who distinguished themselves through scholarship and creativity. Jeffrey Price, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, professor, biology and biophysics Trustees’ Faculty Scholar Award Recognizes faculty members who show exceptional promise for outstanding future research and/or creative accomplishments. Benjamin Woodson, College of Arts and Sciences, associate professor, political science Promotion and Tenure Eduardo Abreu, School of Nursing and Health Studies, tenure with promotion to associate professor Carolyn Barber, School of Education, promotion to professor Jannette Berkley-Patton, School of Medicine, promotion to professor An-Lin Cheng, School of Medicine, promotion to professor Masud Chowdhury, School of Computing and Engineering, promotion to professor Reza Derakhshani, School of Computing and Engineering, promotion to professor Travis Fields, School of Computing and Engineering, tenure with promotion to associate professor Scott Fullwiler, College of Arts and Sciences, tenure with promotion to associate professor Orisa Igwe, School of Pharmacy, promotion to professor Jeff Johnson, Henry W. Bloch School of Management, tenure with promotion to associate professor John Kevern, School of Computing and Engineering, promotion to professor Sungyop Kim, College of Arts and Sciences, promotion to professor JeJung Lee, College of Arts and Sciences, promotion to professor Debra Leiter, College of Arts and Sciences, tenure with promotion to associate professor Zhu Li, School of Computing and Engineering, tenure Jennifer Owens, College of Arts and Sciences, tenure with promotion to associate professor Tammie Schaefer, Henry W. Bloch School of Management, tenure with promotion to associate professor Zach Shemon, Conservatory, tenure with promotion to associate professor Hye Young Shin, College of Arts and Sciences, tenure with promotion to associate professor Michelle Smirnova, College of Arts and Sciences, tenure with promotion to associate professor Kim Smolderen, School of Medicine, tenure with promotion to associate professor Massimiliano Vitiello, College of Arts and Sciences, promotion to professor Ben Woodson, College of Arts and Sciences, tenure with promotion to associate professor Promotion, Non-Tenure Track John Ball, School of Dentistry, promotion to clinical professor Kylie Barnes, School of Pharmacy, promotion to clinical associate professor James Benevides, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, promotion to teaching professor Scott Curtis, UMKC Libraries, promotion to librarian IV Kenneth Frick, School of Dentistry, promotion to clinical professor Monica Gaddis, School of Medicine, promotion to associate teaching professor Melanie Guthrie, School of Medicine, promotion to associate teaching professor Tamas Kapros, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, promotion to teaching professor Floyd Likins, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, promotion to assistant teaching professor Angellar Manguvo, School of Medicine, promotion to associate teaching professor Steven Melling, College of Arts and Sciences, promotion to associate teaching professor Dhananjay Pal, School of Pharmacy, promotion to research professor Natalia Rivera, Conservatory, promotion to associate teaching professor Amanda Stahnke, School of Pharmacy, promotion to clinical associate professor Yesim Tunkuc, School of Dentistry, promotion to clinical professor Henrietta Rix Wood, Honors College, promotion to teaching professor Sep 20, 2019

  • Donating Our Mental-Health Expertise to Aid Venezuelan Refugees

    UMKC faculty and staff work together to help refugees make transition to Colombia
    Fewer human experiences can be more traumatizing than being a refugee in a foreign country. A team at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Nursing and Health Studies is easing some of that trauma through its expertise. Alex Azar, U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services, asked the Collaborative to Advance Health Services at UMKC to create training modules for first responders in Colombia to help Venezuelan refugees. This will help Venezuelans fleeing that nation’s ongoing economic crisis to get the mental-health assistance they need. The Collaborative oversees numerous federal grants and is home to several national-based centers that implement evidence-based clinical practices into substance use and mental health treatment. “We felt compelled and passionate to do this,” said Laurie Krom, program director of the Collaborative. “We wanted to help in any way we could.” “I have family members who live in the area so I know how difficult the situation is,” said team member Susan Garrett, assistant teaching professor at the School of Nursing and Health Studies, who has an aunt who worked for the Honduran embassy in Venezuela. “People are leaving their homes with only the clothes on their backs to walk to Colombia. We can’t even imagine what people are going through.” “We wanted to help in any way we could.” — Laurie Krom Because of the urgency, producing these training modules meant a quick turnaround time. The Collective delivered the scope of the project in just five weeks, a task which often takes a half year to do. And it was a volunteer project. Krom, Garrett and the rest of the team used nights and weekends of their personal time this summer to complete it. They collaborated with others from the Universidad Central del Caribe and National Latino Behavioral Health Association on expertise, translation and other tasks. The UMKC team, which also included the Collaborative’s associate project director Erin Hobbs and web developer Eric Barr, concentrated on the overall migration process in creating the four, 45-minute training modules translated in both Spanish and Portuguese. “People are leaving their homes with only the clothes on their backs to walk to Colombia. We can’t even imagine what people are going through.”— Susan Garrett The modules focus on what trauma means for different groups: men, women and children. One of the modules focuses on secondary trauma experienced by the workers at the border. “They’re suffering ‘compassion fatigue’ because they’re dealing with a lot themselves,” Krom said. The modules were delivered a few weeks ago to Colombia — and welcomed as much-needed mental-health assistance. “I really hope everyone knows how much you are appreciated for doing this on your own time,” said Pierluigi Mancini, project director of the National Latino Behavioral Health Association who traveled with Azar and other U.S. health officials to Colombia to help implement the project. “I wish I could have bottled the gratitude people expressed so I can share it with you — please know many people are grateful.” Sep 19, 2019

  • UMKC Recognized for Excellence in Diversity

    Outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion brings national recognition
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City has received the 2019 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest publication focused on diversity and inclusion in higher education. Each year INSIGHT Into Diversity evaluates universities’ practices relating to recruitment and retention of students, faculty and staff.  The process also considers the universities’ leadership commitment and program support.  UMKC embraces a broad spectrum of diversities including race, ethnicity, culture, nationality, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, linguistic ability, learning style, religion, socioeconomic and veteran status, life experiences, educational level and family structure. “We are thrilled to be recognized for outstanding work in creating an inclusive environment for our students, faculty and staff.”—Susan Wilson Susan Wilson, Ph.D., vice chancellor of the division of diversity and inclusion, leads the university’s diversity organizational development strategy. “We are thrilled to be recognized for outstanding work in creating an inclusive environment for our students, faculty and staff,” Wilson said. “This award is even more special as we remember how far we have come as an institution. This accomplishment is truly a team effort, as many across campus worked with the Division of Diversity and Inclusion to reach this milestone.” The HEED Award and the Health Professions HEED Award are the only national awards that honor individual institutions for being outstanding examples of colleges, universities or health professions schools that are committed to making diversity and inclusion a top priority across their campuses. “The HEED Award process consists of a comprehensive and rigorous application that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees — and best practices for both — continued leadership support for diversity, and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “We take a detailed approach to reviewing each application in deciding who will be named a HEED Award recipient. Our standards are high, and we look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being done every day across their campus.” UMKC will be featured along with the other 92 recipients in the November 2019 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. It was the only college in Missouri to receive the recognition. The UMKC School of Medicine received a HEED award in 2018 and the School of Dentistry received the award in 2016. Sep 18, 2019

  • Assistant U.S. Education Secretary Visits UMKC Student Success Programs

    Johnny Collett comes from Washington for first-hand look at Propel and International Center for Supplemental Instruction
    UMKC has been a pioneer in development of highly effective programs that promote success for a wide variety of students. A top education official visited campus to get a close-up look at two of them.  Mauli Agrawal and Johnny Collett sat in a meeting room at the University of Missouri-Kansas City to discuss the focus on student success that is becoming pervasive in American higher education. They agreed that the “sink or swim” attitude that held sway for generations is no longer workable; the nation’s skilled workforce needs are too great to allow universities to stand by and watch capable students fail. Agrawal is the chancellor of UMKC; Collett is the assistant U.S. secretary of education. They met after Collett toured two highly successful programs at UMKC: Propel, a certificate-granting transition program for young adults with intellectual developmental disabilities; and the International Center for Supplemental Instruction, a student peer-driven program based on out-of-class group study sessions, developed at UMKC in the 1970s. A recent study by Civitas Learning included Supplemental Instruction, founded by UMKC, among the top five student-success programs nationwide out of almost 1,000 reviewed. Agrawal compared the modern approach – research-driven student success programs designed to provide individualize support for students to reach their full potential – to the practice of genetically individualized medicine. “We all have an academic DNA as well,” Agrawal said. “Your educational needs will be different than mine.” Collett nodded in agreement, adding that his federal department is dedicated to success for all students. “When we say all, we really mean all. And all has to mean each,” Collett said. Collett began his campus visit with a tour of the Propel program; he was accompanied by Gerren McHam, special assistant for external relations for the Missouri Department of Higher Education. They were greeted by John Herron, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; and Alexis Petri, associate research professor of psychology, who directs the Propel program. Many of the 46 students currently enrolled in Propel live in on-campus student housing. Petri said they take 60 to 70 percent of their credits in standard classes with traditional degree-seeking students; 60 percent of the Propel students are eligible for Pell low-income tuition grants. Herron said having Propel students immersed in the mix of the general student body is a teaching opportunity for all students, and campus visitors as well. “We’re sending a message about what kind of place this is – a message about what we care about and what we value,” Herron said. Collett asked about concerns of parents about their students succeeding in the college environment. “Parents need to understand that this is a safe space for their student to bump into challenges, a place where we have support systems in place to help them meet those challenges,” Petri said. The tour then moved from Cherry Hall, home of the Propel program, to the Atterbury Student Success Center, where the International Center for Supplemental Instruction (SI) is housed. Julie A. Collins, Ed.D., executive director of the center, led that tour. Collins explained that SI is targeted to “high-risk” courses – courses necessary for graduation that have a historically high failure rate. Undergraduate students who have previously passed the course are hired to be peer coaches who lead small-group out-of-class study sessions focused on the hurdles individual students are facing.  A recent study by Civitas Learning included SI among the top five student-success programs nationwide out of almost 1,000 reviewed. Following the meeting with Agrawal and Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Barbara A. Bichelmeyer, Collett announced that the Department of Education had just released new guidelines on the use of federal funds for higher education programs for young people with disabilities. Collett said the department wanted to clear up confusion by stating that vocational rehabilitation and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funds can be used to support dual enrollment, comprehensive transition and other postsecondary education programs for students and youth with disabilities. Sep 18, 2019

  • 3 New Ways UMKC and Metropolitan Community College Are Getting Students A Degree

    Partnership to provide affordable and accessible opportunities for Kansas Citians to succeed
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City and Metropolitan Community College are joining forces to create new opportunities for Kansas City area students for an affordable, accessible and successful college education. RooMentum is a series of programs designed to increase opportunities for student access to success in higher education in the Kansas City metro. Students who enroll in RooMentum will begin their studies at MCC but will have a dual enrollment in both institutions. The students will have access to student and academic support services at both UMKC and MCC, including libraries and financial aid. Academic advisors at each institution will work in tandem to co-advise students in the RooMentum programs. Chancellors Mauli Agrawal of UMKC and Kimberly Beatty of MCC signed a memorandum of understanding Sept. 17 that set up the RooMentum programs, and clarified transfer policies and procedures to assist students in making a seamless transition when transferring from one institution to the other. RooMentum will launch with three programs: 1. RooMentum “On Track” Program (Starting Fall 2019) is designed for first-time, full-time college students who may not qualify for direct admission into UMKC. This program will provide students an opportunity to explore academic and career interests, improve academic preparation and develop key academic strategies to enhance their success. Once students complete the prescribed RooMentum On Track curriculum at MCC, they will automatically be admitted to UMKC. 2. RooMentum “Pathways” Program (Starting Spring 2020) allows students to take advantage of dual enrollment and creates transfer pathways that promote successful completion of a bachelor’s degree in as few total credit hours as possible. Pathways allows earlier connection with major-specific opportunities at UMKC and eases transition to upper-level course rigor. 3. Bachelor of Applied Science (Targeted for approval in Spring 2021 and implementation in Fall 2021) – students will simultaneously work toward an Associate of Applied Science at MCC and a Bachelor of Applied Science at UMKC. The program provides an opportunity for returning students to complete a bachelor’s degree that builds on technical skills and experiences gained through the completion of a technical degree. “Today, we are announcing a major initiative designed to lower the barriers to college enrollment and college success that are too prevalent in this community, as they are in communities across the country,” Agrawal said. “With the adoption of these partnership programs, MCC and UMKC are living up to the promise, and the responsibility, of public higher education.” “Kansas City students are looking for affordable ways to attain an education that will help them get ahead,” Beatty said, “and this partnership with UMKC creates convenient and accessible pathways to a top-notch degree.”    Sep 17, 2019

  • Research Aims to Tackle Trauma Related to Community Violence

    Research shows one in two youth have been exposed to community violence.
    WDAF-TV Kansas City reports on UMKC School of Medicine professor Jannette Berkley-Patton's research on the affects of community violence on youth. Sep 16, 2019

  • Alumna New President at Local High School

    Siabhan May-Washington, BA '88, MA, '91 takes the helm at local school for girls
    The Catholic Key reports that Siabhan May-Washington, Ph.D. is the new president at St. Teresa's Academy, a Kansas City high school for girls. Sep 16, 2019

  • New Sculpture Finds Home on Campus

    Open Spaces public art donated by the R.C. Kemper Charitable Trust
    A new work of art will find a home on Volker Campus, thanks to a gift by the R.C. Kemper Charitable Trust. The sculpture, titled “Any Word Except Wait” by Flávio Cerqueira, is one of three pieces that are being gifted to the city of Kansas City, Missouri. The sculpture by Flávio Cerqueira, titled “Any Word Except Wait."  The public art was part of last year’s inaugural Open Spaces, a two-month citywide visual and performing arts festival that was a collaboration between the City’s Office of Culture and Creative Services and a private arts initiative to highlight Kansas City’s arts, culture and creativity. The event, which gained national media attention, expanded opportunities for residents to experience world-class art created specifically for our city. “Open Spaces 2018 illuminated the ability of public art to connect and unify people, enriching lives and communities through shared experience,” said Mary Kemper Wolf with the R.C. Kemper Charitable Trust. “The Trust is proud to underwrite the permanent placement of three significant works from the inaugural Open Spaces.” Sep 12, 2019

  • Not Taking Your Pills is a $300 Billion Healthcare Problem

    UMKC study shows solution with intervention technique
    Half of Americans who are prescribed medications don’t take them as directed. That’s a $300 billion healthcare problem, but a University of Missouri-Kansas City study shows progress using a personal-systems approach to taking medicine. The UMKC study tracked the medication practices of kidney transplant patients. UMKC Professor Cynthia Russell is the primary investigator on the Medication Adherence Given Individual Change — or MAGIC — study, recently published by the American Society of Transplantation and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons. Her team, funded by a $2.585 million National Institutes of Health grant, includes researchers from University of Missouri, Children’s Mercy, University of Tennessee and Indiana University. “Though they have received the ‘gift of life,’ about 75 percent of people with a kidney transplant struggle to take transplant medicines on time every day for the life of the transplant,” said Russell, past president of the International Transplant Nurses Society. “Without these critical medications, the kidney will not survive. Our goal is to help people keep their gift of life for a very long time. More kidneys will be available to those in need of this critical resource, since they won’t have to rejoin the transplant list.” “Though they have received the ‘gift of life,’ about 75 percent of people with a kidney transplant struggle to take transplant medicines on time every day for the life of the transplant. Without these critical medications, the kidney will not survive.”-Cindy Russell, Ph.D., UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies In the MAGIC study, Russell’s team used the SystemCHANGE intervention, which has been shown to be effective with difficult-to-change behaviors like exercise. With the intervention, the patient is taught to modify daily routines and habits. They track success using data from an electronic medication monitoring system. The SystemCHANGE approach moves away from traditional interventions that focus on motivation and intention and instead improves the patient’s ability to monitor small environmental changes and determine the effectiveness of the changes using data. The MAGIC study was conducted with 89 kidney transplant patients at Saint Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City; University of Kansas Medical Center; University of Missouri Healthcare in Columbia; Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. “...not only are kidney transplant patients able to benefit from this research, but patients with other diseases will soon gain from this model of scientific investigation.” -Mark Wakefield, M.D., University of Missouri Health Care The result: using SystemCHANGE “demonstrated large, clinically meaningful improvements in medication adherence.”  Russell’s recently published research represents a capstone of nearly 20 years of discovery to understand and improve medication adherence in transplant patients, said Mark Wakefield, M.D., director of the renal transplant program at University of Missouri Health Care.  “During this journey, she has successfully collaborated across disciplines and among institutions, which has allowed for a greater clinical impact among a more diverse population of patients,” Wakefield said. “As a result, not only are kidney transplant patients able to benefit from this research, but patients with other diseases will soon gain from this model of scientific investigation.”  “Our intervention with transplant patients is now being tested in other chronic illnesses such as heart failure, stroke and soon, chronic kidney disease,” Russell said. Sep 11, 2019

  • UMKC Professors Explore Effects of Contact Sports

    KCUR explores balancing the enthusiasm for football with concern for players' health
    KCUR's Ethics Professors consider the conflict of supporting sports that can lead to irreperable brain damage. Sep 10, 2019

  • Computer Science Faculty Honored for Making a Difference for Women in STEM

    Professor Yugi Lee receives Central Exchange award for her mentorship efforts
    The heart of UMKC is our campus community. With small class sizes and 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. As an internationally-recognized expert in computer science, Yugi Lee, professor of computer science at the School of Computing and Engineering, says her motto is that teaching and research are not separate. Throughout her 20-year tenure at the SCE, she’s continued to mentor and equip her students to survive in any work environment – teaching or industry – an experience she said also helps to inform her research and make a difference for women in STEM following her footsteps. It’s her impact and engagement with students that landed Lee among Central Exchange’s 2019 STEMMy Award recipients. Lee and mentee, Ph.D. student Mayanka Chandra Shekar, sat down to discuss the importance of mentorship and its significance for women in STEM. What makes faculty mentorship critical to the success of students? Lee: Students have their own goals. Sometimes they know what their goal is and they need someone to help guide and sometimes we help them identify their goals. That’s why it’s critical to have the right advisor, especially for graduate students. Sometimes their research may not be accepted, sometimes a project they’re working on may not go right and they get down. Additionally, mentorship is really important for female students in engineering where there aren’t many female faculty. “In the last five years I’ve been at UMKC, our number of female Ph.D. students in computer science has significantly increased. When I joined the program there were three of us, now we have between 15 and 20!” - Chandra Shekar How has your mentor inspired you? Chandra Shekar: How I perceive research is how Dr. Lee has taught me. She’s the most approachable faculty I’ve ever encountered. Every time there’s a new technology Dr. Lee says “let’s teach it,” because you become an expert through teaching.  I had limited exposure to research when I came to UMKC, but in my time here I’ve received a Google Lime scholarship, I’ve been selected to receive research funding from the School of Graduate Studies three times and has received the UMKC Women’s Council’s Graduate Assistance Fund scholarship five times. Lee: Mayanka is one of the more popular students in our department. She’s got a lot of energy and fresh ideas. Her presentation is great and she can teach almost anything. She’s currently supervising 10 master’s degree students and mentors five project groups, and will apply to a faculty position when she graduates. She even received a scholarship to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration, which is one of the largest conferences for women in technology. She is applying to some faculty positions. I think she will land somewhere great. What led you to UMKC? Chandra Shekar: When I came to UMKC in 2014, I had limited exposure to research. Where I’m from, in India, UMKC had positive reviews. I am only one of two students from my master’s program who came to the United States.  One of two? Wow! How many of you were there? Chandra Shekar: I received my bachelor’s and master’s degrees from a women’s college in India. We had 16 master’s students. Some are working, some got married and started families and two of us went on to pursue Ph.Ds. There just aren’t a lot of women in computer science. In the last five years I’ve been at UMKC, our number of female Ph.D. students in computer science has significantly increased. When I joined the program there were three of us, now we have between 15 and 20! I’m getting married in December so I’ll be learning to juggle marriage and completing my program. I graduate in May. "Teaching is part of the life cycle of research." - Yugi Lee What qualities make a good mentor? Lee: Understanding. It’s important to understand the student’s abilities and family situations. You have to be able to adjust to what’s going on with them and work with them to persist. Build a relationship with your students and be a support system for them. Finally, it’s important to be a good trainer and equip your students to be able to survive in any work environment – industry or teaching. What’s your favorite part about being a mentor? Lee: Relationships. I’ve overseen more than 20 PhD students in 20 years. Every year we have new faces coming in and sometimes I get students that challenge me in different ways. Each year students will have new questions, ideas, problems... Not all graduate students teach, but mine do. My philosophy is: teaching and research are not separate. Teaching is part of the life cycle of research. “All of her hard work has made such a difference in the lives of many.”   - Kevin Z. Truman, dean of the School of Computing and Engineering How has your mentor helped you grow as a person? Chandra Shekar: Dr. Lee has been a big source of support for me when I needed it – inside and outside of the classroom. When I was really sick, she supported me and motivated me to not want to stop learning. I was in the hospital coding! I was wheelchair-bound for a while and my mom came from India and stayed with me for close to a year. She and Dr. Lee helped me get around to my classes. They’ve been really fundamental women in my life. If you’re giving advice to a student on finding a mentor, what would you tell them? Lee: You have to meet every faculty member to find the best advisor or mentor. Sometimes without the right advisor, students won’t complete their degree program. You need good chemistry and you should have similar work styles. But if you don’t meet all the faculty, you won’t know who that person is. Finally, Yugi, what does your Central Exchange recognition mean to you? Lee: Recognition for women in STEM doesn’t come as often as it does for men. Computer science is a male-dominated field everywhere. I was the first female faculty member in our department only 20 years ago. While there are more women in the field than before, it’s important for women to have support systems. Central Exchange helps to create that. Women contribute a lot to STEM – we have a lot of creativity and pay close attention to detail…things you need in computer science. Kevin Truman, dean of the School of Computing and Engineering, nominated me to receive a STEMMy Award and I’m honored to have been selected.  Truman said of Lee’s honor: “Yugi is so deserving of this award, SCE and I are proud to have her as one of our leading faculty. All of her hard work has made such a difference in the lives of many.”  Lee will receive the WISTEMM Educator Award for full-time faculty in STEMM fields at the STEMMy Awards ceremony on Sept. 17. Read more UMKC mentorship stories Sep 09, 2019

  • The Story of Steve Lewis the Midwest Chamber Ensemble's Founder

    The Kansas City Star profiles alumnus Steve Lewis
    The Kansas City Star profiles the Midwest Chamber Ensemble's founder alumnus Steve Lewis. Sep 07, 2019

  • UMKC School of Dentistry Focuses on Special Needs Patients

    Fox4KC focuses on scarcity of metro dentists caring for patients with special needs.
    Alumnus Seth Cohen, DDS '14 and Tom Vopat, DDS, UMKC School of Dentistry clinical professor support focus on sensitive care for patients with special needs. Sep 06, 2019

  • KCUR Explores Kansas City's Country Music Connection

    Chuck Haddix host of KCUR's Fish Fry and director of UMKC's Marr Sound Archives discusses history of music in Missouri
    Country music is triving in the Kansas City area and Chuck Haddix weighs in on why. Sep 05, 2019

  • Cerner to Layoff 250 Workers

    KCTV and Fox 4 interview Stephen Pruitt, Gottlieb Chair of Finance at the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management
    KCTV and Fox 4 interview Stephen Pruitt, Gottlieb Chair of Finance at the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management regarding Cerner reorganization. Sep 04, 2019

  • Alumnus and Legendary Comics Editor Dies

    Lee Salem signed "Calvin and Hobbes" and discovered "Cathy" for Universal Press Syndicate
    The Washington Post recognized alumnus Lee Salem, MA '73, a legendary comics editor who died September 2nd. Sep 04, 2019

  • Meet the new artistic director of the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Stuart Carden

    Media report on new Kansas City Repertory Theatre's new artistic director, Stuart Carden
    Read the Kansas City Star article: 'A really wonderful guy': Meet the new artistic director of the KC Repertory Theatre Read the Broadway World article: Stuart Carden Named New Artistic Director of KCRep Read the American Theatre article: Stuart Carden Named New Artistic Director of the Kansas City Rep Sep 03, 2019

  • Professor of Criminology Discusses Causes of Gun Violence

    Kansas City Star article and editorial explore causes of violence
    Ken Novak, UMKC professor of criminal justice and criminology wrote a guest commentary on breaking the cycle of violence. Novak debunks the myth that heat causes an increase in crime. Sep 03, 2019

  • UMKC Trustee John Sherman will buy the Kansas City Royals

    KCUR announces hometown team's sale
    Kansas City businessman and UMKC Trustee, John Sherman, will buy the Kansas City Royals. Sep 03, 2019

  • Sean Chen Joins Jonathan Wentworth Associates Roster

    Musical American Worldwide reports Sean Chen, currently a Millsap Artist in Residence at the UMKC Conservatory, joins Jonathan Wentworth Associates...
    Musical America Worldwide recognizes 2013 American Pianists Award Winner representation. Sep 03, 2019