• With Computer As His Instrument, Kansas City Student Finds ‘Pathway Into Playing Music’

    Conservatory student captures attention of local newspaper
    While many of us are tied to our computers typing, reading or (these days) meeting, Kansas City musician Tim Harte is creating. He’s the first and only student admitted to the UMKC Conservatory with his computer as his instrument. Read the full story from The Kansas City Star (subscription required). This story was also picked up by MSN. Aug 28, 2020

  • KC Celebrates Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker on the Centennial of His Birth

    Flatland publishes article by Chuck Haddix
    This article was written by Chuck Haddix, director of the Marr Sound Archives, a collection of 380,000 historic sound recordings housed at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He also is the author of “Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker” and host of the “Fish Fry” Friday and Saturday nights on KCUR-FM. Aug 28, 2020

  • Alumna Inspires Future Jazz Musicians

    Multi-instrumentalist Aryana Nemati-Baghestani on her musical journey
    UMKC Conservatory Jazz Studies alumna Aryana Nemati-Baghestani (B.M. ’14) spoke with us about her experiences as a female in jazz, what she’s been up to during the pandemic and her future goals. Where does your passion for music stem from? I remember in middle school having a portable CD player (Sony Walkman) and carrying it with me everywhere I went. At the time, I also joined band class playing alto saxophone. My brother and sister, who are older, were also in band so I was inspired by them to join. My mother played clarinet in grade school and my father never really picked up an instrument, but I later realized how avid music listeners and music lovers they were and still are. I didn’t start really listening to jazz until I was in high school. My main influences before then were mainly pop, hip-hop, reggae, alternative and R&B. I was fortunate to be a part of the distinguished band program at Grandview High School. Garry Anders was the band director for only a short time while I was there, but I learned so much from him and was exposed to music and musicians I didn’t know about, which has had a lasting impact on my career and life as a whole. At first, I was inspired by music because of the way it sounded and how it made me feel. As I got older, I began to appreciate and understand why many styles of music came to be. Because jazz and reggae, two genres of music that are dear to me, came to fruition mostly because of oppression, music and its creation has a completely different meaning to me and motivates me in new ways. What instrument(s) do you play? I started my musical journey in middle school on the alto saxophone. About a year later, I switched to the baritone saxophone primarily. When I got to high school, our band director was adamant about getting the saxophone players to be able to “double” on flute and clarinet, so I began to work on both. I am glad I did so at a younger age, because it has definitely come in handy. My brother played the oboe, and I came across some opportunities that had some oboe playing/teaching. With his help, I was able to learn that instrument as well. I took some keyboarding classes in college and continue to work on my keyboard skills. This is one instrument I wish I would have started sooner. I believe it is an important one to know for any musician. I also play a little electric bass and drums for fun. Jazz is seen as a male-dominated industry, particularly regarding instrumentalists. What drew you to it? I was introduced to jazz later in my middle school years and enjoyed playing in the jazz band. I did not really get into jazz until high school. I was exposed to certain artists and performances that I was naturally attracted to for reasons, at the time, I could not put into words. I did know that I felt attentive and intrigued when listening. Also, at this time, I had not really noticed how male-dominant jazz was. What has been your experience as a female in the profession? My experience has been good and bad. I didn’t start realizing that the field, even in Kansas City, was male-dominated until I got to college and began playing professionally. There were only a few females in the jazz department (none on staff) and it felt as though there were even fewer at the jam sessions and gigs around town. As I began to understand the lack of women in the field more, it both discouraged and encouraged me. It isn’t easy being a woman of jazz. You get a lot of sexist comments on gigs and as a woman. Even if you have worked extremely hard to become a working musician, that stigma stays with you. I have been fortunate though to work with people that hire me solely because of my playing, and I feel their intentions are genuine. I have also had people, such as young women or parents with daughters that play instruments, come up to me at shows and thank me for what I am doing or tell me that it is inspiring for them to see a female performing on an instrument. As difficult as it is, it is experiences like those, genuine people, and my love for the music, that pushes me to continue on. How do you hope to encourage the next generation of female musicians? Or next generation of musicians in general? I believe exposure is a big part of it. Thankfully today, there are many well-known female musicians that have successful performing careers. With my female students, I like to show them videos and recordings of these artists to exhibit that there are artists out there, we just have to do some digging. I do expose all my students to current musicians of all walks of life. In the general media, there is not a lot of exposure to jazz, and I do my best to provide resources for them. I have been thinking about doing more community outreach in this respect, to get the word out there. Visiting local schools and giving clinics about jazz. Especially in Kansas City, with the great jazz history we have and the thriving music community, I like to encourage them to go to jam sessions and see live shows because there are opportunities and things happening but, again, you may not see a commercial for it or hear it on the typical radio stations. "Because jazz and reggae, two genres of music that are dear to me, came to fruition mostly because of oppression, music and its creation has a completely different meaning to me and motivates me in new ways." —Aryana Nemati-Baghestani Why did you choose UMKC? Being a Kansas City native, it was definitely one of my top options for school. I was fortunate enough to see Bobby Watson perform a number of times while I was in middle and high school and was always blown away by his playing, so to be able to go to the school he taught at was a huge plus. I also got to see the jazz bands at the Conservatory perform while I was in high school and remember thinking how great the band sounded, as well as the soloists, and that I would be honored to be a part of the program. Luckily, they accepted me when I auditioned! Who was your most influential faculty or staff member at UMKC? I am not able to choose only one. The faculty in the jazz department were great people and phenomenal performers, but I did work with some more closely than others. Doug Auwarter was a drum instructor (now happily retired) but he also taught the Latin jazz combos. He has a huge heart and is one of the sweetest people I know. He is extremely well-versed in many areas, but Latin rhythms and styles was one of the things that he was teaching primarily at UMKC, and he was definitely the one for the job. I was fortunate to work with two wonderful saxophone teachers and my experiences with them will be with me forever. Dan Thomas was teaching mainly the freshman and sophomore classes and I took lessons with him for two years. I will be honest, at first, he stressed me out! He had high standards and was full of energy. Some of the things that he would tell me to work on I would think to myself, “are you crazy? There is no way I can do that!” but little did I know, Dan believed in me and was pushing me to reach my full potential unlike any mentor I had before. I ended up being able to do things I never thought I could because of Dan, and I am forever grateful for his tutelage. And then of course, Bobby. Another kind-hearted man, but would not sugarcoat the truth. He taught me to never take for granted picking up your horn, to have fun but also, that we need to take this musically seriously. Just being around him was inspiring. I am pleased to say that I am still in contact with all three of these mentors and am happy to call them my friends as well. "Thankfully today, there are many well-known female musicians that have successful performing careers." —Aryana Nemati-Baghestani What are your lifelong goals? Most of all, I want to live a happy life. I would like to have a successful performing career and work with a group of other musicians that believe in the music that is being performed. I enjoy learning about other cultures, so it would be nice to live abroad for some time and do more traveling. I have thoughts of starting a nonprofit that would benefit young musicians, primarily females and people of color. I would like to have a family and be able to provide a comfortable living situation for them. I have been doing this a bit, but I would like to explore other hobbies more, and get better at them, such as, painting, gardening, and woodworking. Who are your favorite jazz musicians? There have been quite a few musicians that have inspired me over the years, primarily saxophonists. One of the first was Cannonball Adderley. I had not listened to much jazz when I came across him, but I remember thinking when listening to him, “Wow, how does he even do that?” Another one of my early influences was Bobby Watson. He was one of the first musicians I saw perform live and I will always remember that concert with the high school band in my high school auditorium. I love the personality and phrasing of Sonny Rollins. For the baritone saxophone, Ronnie Cuber is a huge inspiration. In my opinion, he has the quintessential sound for the horn and his ideas are thorough and precise and full of soul. I stumbled upon Charles McPhearson a bit later and when I heard him, I was surprised I had not heard of him before. I have been listening to him quite a bit lately. Where can we hear you play? As of now, for live settings it is hard to say. I have done a few Facebook Live shows, but am taking a break from it to focus on other aspects of music (practicing, writing). I know that some places are having live music, but I feel now is a good time to reflect and meditate instead of rush back onto the scene. I did come out with a reggae/jazz album that is on some streaming platforms such as YouTube and iTunes. A great summer soundtrack. It is entitled The Sax in I. What have you been up to during the COVID quarantine? Since the quarantine and the end of semester for school, I have been primarily teaching online music lessons. I have done some livestream gigs here and there as well. They started out as solo shows but I have had the pleasure of playing with small groups (trios and quartets) mainly outside, on patios and driveways. There have also been some home and studio recording projects for clients and myself that I have been working on. I have also been going for walks, bike rides, working on small home projects, and gardening. A couple of local musicians, Marcus Lewis and Matt Otto, started a weekly Zoom meeting that primarily includes jazz musicians in KC, and our main focus is to discuss the racial injustices that are a big issue in America. This has been great, not only seeing everyone, but working together to figure out what we can do to make a difference for the better. It is also insightful hearing people’s opinions and experiences. I’ve known most of the folks for some time but never got to have discussions with them such as the ones we are having now. Aug 27, 2020

  • UMKC Researcher Finds Charitable Giving Boosted When People Can Contribute Opinions

    Yes, human expression can be leveraged
    Human beings’ urge to express themselves is so strong that it can be leveraged to increase charitable donations. That’s the finding of one of the newest faculty members at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management.  Jacqueline Rifkin, Ph.D., came on board this semester as an assistant professor of marketing. She is co-lead author of a paper recently published by the prestigious Journal of Marketing. Jacqueline Rifkin For one of the experiments the authors conducted, they placed tip jars on a café counter, alternating for set periods between a single jar marked “Tips” and a pair of two jars, with one labeled “Cats” and the other “Dogs.” The result: When café guests were able to vote for their favorite animal by choosing between two jars, the total dollar amount of tips doubled. In a similar experiment soliciting donations to the American Red Cross in which half of people could choose to donate by expressing their preferred ice cream flavor, donors gave 28% more money when given the opportunity to express an opinion at the same time. Since the paper was published earlier this summer, it has generated international news coverage, including an article in the German magazine Der Spiegel. The research was inspired by anecdotal accounts offered by baristas and other counter-service retail workers. “Put really simply, people are willing to pay for a chance to share what they believe in, and this is what makes the dueling preferences approach so effective at increasing giving.” “Our goal in this research was to formally test the belief that this strategy works, and, moreover, to understand the psychological reason why it works,” Rifkin said. “We found that this strategy works because it transforms an act of giving into an opportunity to say something about one’s beliefs and opinions, which people inherently find motivating. “Prior work has shown that people find the act of self-expression to be incredibly attractive and rewarding. In fact, the parts of the brain that light up when we get to share our opinions also light up in response to finding $10 or eating dessert,” Rifkin added. “Put really simply, people are willing to pay for a chance to share what they believe in, and this is what makes the dueling preferences approach so effective at increasing giving.” Rifkin’s co-authors are Katherine Du, assistant professor of marketing at the Lubar School of Business, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; and Jonah Berger, associate professor of marketing at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Rifkin earned her Ph.D. in business administration at Duke University and her Bachelor of Arts in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Aug 27, 2020

  • Happy 100th Birthday, Bird! Charlie Parker Invented Bebop Style And Put Kansas City On The Musical Map

    KCUR talked to Chuck Haddix about Charlie Parker
    Charlie Parker’s story is also kept alive by Chuck Haddix, the director of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Marr Sound Archives. Haddix wrote a 2015 book about Parker, titled “Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker.” Haddix was recently interviewed for KCUR All Things Considered. Aug 27, 2020

  • Jazz Great’s Legacy Joins University Collections

    Students create digital exhibit highlighting achievements
    Barney Kessel began playing guitar when he was 12 years old in his hometown of Muskogee, Oklahoma. By 1937, at the age of 14, he was playing professionally. Kessel built a legendary jazz career and an impressive collection of music and manuscripts that archivists and students have worked to preserve in the Marr Sound Archives and the LaBudde Special Collections at UMKC. Kessel played with jazz greats, such as Charlie Parker, Lester Young and Charlie Christian. He jammed with Christian for three days and the session had a profound effect on his style. In 1942, Kessel moved to California and played with big bands and studio musicians. He contributed to soundtracks with musicians including Sam Cooke, Elvis Presley and the Beach Boys. After his death, Kessel’s widow, Phyllis Kessel, made the decision to donate his materials to the Marr Sound Archives and the LaBudde Special Collections. “Phyllis had been looking for a place to house Barney’s collections,” says Chuck Haddix, curator of Marr Sound Archives. “She contacted Rob Ray at San Diego State. He is the former head of the UMKC collections and recommended she get in touch with us because of our strong holdings in jazz. He knew that we would be able to manage it.” Phyllis met Kessel in 1987. She was a magazine editor, and while she was on a personal trip, she saw Kessel play with Herb Ellis and Charlie Byrd. She has a natural curiosity about people and an instinct to interview. She was familiar with Kessel and struck up a conversation with him in the park where he was playing. “Barney was the most talkative of the great guitarists that were there and he loved to talk,” she says. They married two years later and traveled together often. Phyllis understood the significance of Kessel’s collection and following his death in 2004, she began to think about preserving his legacy. “I needed to find a home for all that Barney had left behind.” The donation includes an extensive audio-visual collection and manuscripts spanning the length of Kessel’s career. In addition to the library staff cataloguing and processing the collection, seven students, who referred to themselves as the Barney Bunch, produced a digital exhibit, Barney Kessel; Illuminating a Musical Legacy, of Kessel’s life and work. “We started the third week of February,” says Lacie Eades, a member of the team from the UMKC Conservatory advanced research and bibliography class led by Sarah Tyrell, Ph.D., associate teaching professor of musicology. “Our goal was to create a virtual exhibit. We worked for about four weeks before the COVID-19 outbreak led to the global shutdown.” The team moved to working remotely. While it took a few days to adjust, Eades notes that the staff at LaBudde worked to digitize the content the team needed. “Anything we flagged, anything we needed, the staff retrieved for us,” Eades says. “We met as a group two days a week and there was a lot of group messaging. It was continual cooperation.” The team knew they needed to determine if they were going to create a biographical sketch or a narrative. The material seemed to lend itself to narrative. “This class working on a project that shows the artist’s work, gives them the skills to see it through from the research to the digital exhibit – that is the way of the future.” - Chuck Haddix “One of my jobs was to go through his daily planner,” Eades says. “One of the intriguing elements was that on one day he would note, ‘Studio with Elvis.’ And the next day would be, ‘Take boys to the dentist.’ On November 22, 1963 he wrote, ‘President assassinated.’” Each student took responsibility for different aspects of the research. Bryanna Beasley is pursuing her master’s degree in flute performance and musicology. “I had the opportunity to work directly with Phyllis,” Beasley says. “Especially during COVID, she became a primary resource. She is funny and intelligent. It was rewarding to work directly with her to create a legacy for scholars and enthusiasts. We are lucky she saved so much of his materials. It enabled us to highlight different aspects of his legacy.” Phyllis is satisfied and relieved that Kessel’s collection is safe and available for scholars and enthusiasts. “I have a great interest in keeping Barney’s name and music alive for future generations,” she says. “Sadly, I know how quickly the public forgets our stars. It takes some effort to keep their legacies alive. I truly believe Barney was one of the greatest jazz guitarists that ever lived.” Sandy Rodriguez, associate dean of special collections and archives, understands that donating a loved one’s material is always very personal. “They want to give to a place that’s going to be responsible,” Rodriguez says. “As the long-term home for these materials, we work hard to ensure they are cared for over time and are made available for research as soon as possible. Not all collections are processed so quickly. This was prioritized.” “I have a great interest in keeping Barney’s name and music alive for future generations.” - Phyllis Kessel Haddix appreciates that the team was able to make such a quick pivot to develop the digital exhibit. “These are brilliant students who treated the project with humor and good will,” Haddix says. “The exhibit tells Barney’s story and is free and open to the public.” He notes that this turned out to be a great way to manage research. “This class working on a project that shows the artist’s work, gives them the skills to see it through from the research to the digital exhibit – that is the way of the future.” Aug 26, 2020

  • Updates on Parking, Library Availability

    Parking app is a no-touch system
    Changes students will encounter this semester include expanded online and in-person library access and a new metered parking system that requires no cash or physical contact with meters. Library Update This fall, the library buildings are open whenever classes are in session on campus, while virtual resources and live help will never close. You can use the library online, any time at Chat with a librarian 24/7, make an appointment for some research help on Zoom, or hop onto video with a librarian any time between 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, no appointment needed. UMKC students voted in March 2019 to implement a new Student Library Fee to pay for improvements to the hours, resources, spaces, and services at UMKC Health Sciences Library and Miller Nichols Library. While the UMKC campus is operating with modifications for COVID-19, the libraries are directing resources toward services, projects and tools to keep the libraries virtually available to users 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. During the pandemic, the library is not open as late as usual and library fee-funded staff have been reassigned to earlier shifts to support health and safety measures such as increased cleaning, making library materials available virtually, and extra work duties to keep library users safe. The library hours for fall 2020 preserve the longer hours implemented last fall as much as possible and retain the new highly-used late closing time on Friday, and early opening times on Saturday and Sunday. When using the library in person, remember to maintain face coverings except when seated to eat or drink. Leave the furniture in place; it has been arranged to maintain physical distancing. Wash your hands before and after using a library computer or table and chair. Parking Update All metered parking on the two UMKC campuses will now be through the use of the AMP Park mobile app, available from both the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. This is a “no-touch” system, eliminating the potential risk of spreading viruses by touching a machine or meter, as well as digging in your cup holders to find enough change to pay for parking. Within the app, users will be able to see on a map the general areas where metered parking is offered on campus. There will be signs in those areas denoting the spaces designated for metered parking. Campus signage indicating metered parking also has a QR code that can be scanned with a smartphone to be taken directly to the appropriate store to download the app. Simply download the app, select the area where you are parking on the map, and select how long you anticipate needing to park. Then add your license plate number, issuing state, vehicle make (brand), and your payment information to the secure app, and start your parking time. You will have the option to save your account information (if you will be a regular AMP Park user on campus) or just enter the information for a one-time use. If you save your account information, you will be able to add another license plate if you are driving a different car during a different parking session. If you find that your class or meeting is running longer than expected, you can add time to your metered parking session from your smartphone, without having to go all the way back to the parking lot. And you will receive a notification on your phone when you are nearing the end of your paid parking time. Anyone who has a meter park card, for use at the old single meters, can contact the UMKC Parking and Transportation office for a refund of the remaining balance on the card. We are also now on Twitter, @UMKC_parking. Follow us to be updated with the latest parking information around campus. Aug 26, 2020

  • 6 Tips to Start the Semester Strong

    From how to meet people to getting help with coursework
    Welcome back, Roos! While this semester looks a little different than normal, there are still plenty of ways for you to get plugged in and explore the many opportunities available to you at UMKC. Here are some of the tried-and-true tips from our students, faculty and staff for incoming students. 1. Check out Roo Groups. Hands-down this is the best way to get involved on campus. With 300+ groups around hobbies and professional interests, you’re bound to find something you’re interested in and meet new people along the way. Check out the current groups or create your own at And if you want to check out what else is happening on campus, visit the Office of Student Involvement. 2. Get to know your professors. Just because you have online class doesn’t mean you can’t get to know your professors. Many professors are natural mentors for students and often have great connections to industry professionals (and internship opportunities) in Kansas City and beyond the region. They’re also the gateway to exploring undergraduate research So, if you can’t stay to chat after class, make sure to send an email or drop by their virtual office hours to get to know them. 3. We’re back on campus – explore it! UMKC has a very green, walkable campus, so take some time every day or each week to walk to an area you haven’t explored yet. While you’re at it, check out our list of top 5 Instagrammable spots on Volker Campus. Both campus maps are available online. If you have questions, stop by one of the CityPost kiosks on campus or ask any staff member you see. And while you’re at it, make sure to check out this slideshow of how campus has changed throughout the years and check out the UMKC campus history tour videos featuring staff member historian Chris Wolff. 4. Scope out academic resources. At the heart of UMKC is the desire to see students succeed. That’s why there are so many campus resources dedicated to helping you. Make sure you check out Supplemental Instruction, especially for those harder classes — SI is basically a free study/review session with your peers led by an upperclassman who aced the course material. Also, look into tutoring and the writing studio for help. And don’t worry, they practice COVID health and safety measures and also provide virtual sessions. And if you’re just looking for general tips on creating a study plan, note-taking, and success in an online course, check out the RooUp Seminars, available 24/7 via the RooUp Seminar Canvas page. 5. Not feeling 100%? Know where to go. The beginning of the semester can be stressful, especially if it’s your first time away from home, not to mention during a pandemic. It can be intimidating to find help in an area you’re unfamiliar with. That’s why we have Student Health and Wellness as well as Counseling Services on campus (and virtually) to help take care of you when you need it. You’re a valuable part of our community and it’s important to pay attention to your health and wellbeing. Our staff are very friendly, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re not feeling well or need help. You can also check out the Counseling Services’ online resources, the Sanvello mental health app (free to all with a UMKC email address), Roos for Mental Health and the COVID symptom monitoring app. 6. Get to know why people love KC. We’ve got a great location in the heart of the city. And while some of typical entertainment, like sports and concerts, aren’t going on right now, there’s still plenty to explore. Check out Visit KC and a list of some of our students’ and alumni’s favorite places to explore and make KC your new home away from home. Aug 26, 2020

  • Why Does California Have So Many Wildfires?

    New York Times taps Earth and Environmental Sciences Department assistant professor
    Fengpeng Sun, assistant professor in the UMKC Earth and Environmental Sciences Department, was interviewed by the New York Times about the California wildfires. Each fall, strong gusts known as the Santa Ana winds bring dry air from the Great Basin area of the West into Southern California, said Fengpeng Sun, assistant professor in the UMKC Earth and Environmental Sciences Department. Sun is co-author of a 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. Sun and his co-authors found a second fire season that runs from October through April and is driven by the Santa Ana winds. Read the full article. Aug 26, 2020

  • Free Mobile App for COVID Monitoring

    Campus Screen is for students, faculty and staff
    Campus Screen is a new mobile app that University of Missouri-Kansas City is recommending that students, faculty and staff can use in their daily COVID-19 self-monitoring. Campus Screen users are walked through a series of questions and responses and based on their answers, are given a “Campus Pass” that is good for a period of time. It can help people identify if their symptoms warrant contacting a health professional, and could be used at campus events to verify entrants have passed a screening by showing their app upon entry. Other University of Missouri System universities are also using Campus Screen, including Missouri Science and Technology and the University of Missouri-St. Louis Download links are here: Download for iOSDownload for Android For more about monitoring your health, please visit the UMKC Coronavirus website. Aug 25, 2020

  • Observing and Influencing Student Growth

    Keichanda Dees-Burnett went from active undergrad to motivating staff member and mentor
    The Black Excellence at UMKC series helps to increase awareness of the representation of Black faculty and staff and show a visible commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion on campus. This series highlights Black and Roo faculty and staff working to help our university achieve its mission to promote learning and discovery for all people at UMKC and the greater Kansas City community.   Name: Keichanda Dees-Burnett Job function: co-interim dean of students and director of Multicultural Student Affairs Tenure: 17 years Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri Alma Mater and Degree Program: UMKC B.A. Communication Studies (minor in Black studies) '02; M.A. Higher Education Administration '04; Current Ed.D student  Keichanda Dees-Burnett grew up at UMKC. From an active undergraduate majoring in communications studies to the director of Multicultural Student Affairs and co-interim dean of students, the Kansas City native is a key source of support for minority students on campus. Oft-referred to by many students of color as a go-to safe space on campus, Dees-Burnett said one the best parts of her job is the opportunity to mentor and interact with them daily while helping them achieve their goals.  "It is my responsibility to help them make connections with other faculty, staff and community members who can help them reach their goals."  Why did you choose UMKC as the place to grow your career?   It happened naturally. I didn’t necessarily know I would grow my career here, but I definitely chose to start here. I enjoyed my experience as an undergraduate student here at UMKC and wanted the opportunity to give back to future students and make their experience even better.  What do you enjoy most about working at UMKC?   I enjoy working with the students and doing my part to help make this campus welcoming and exciting for them. I also enjoy my wonderful colleagues across campus. Everyone is always great about lending their expertise with initiatives that support students.  "There’s a need to help others understand what it is that we do and the importance of our work in achieving the mission of the university." How did you decide this career was right for you?   I knew this career was for me after my first semester in graduate school. I was very involved at UMKC as an undergraduate. I was active with the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, The African American Student Union, Student Government Association and the Rho Alpha Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.   When I started learning about student development theories and the history of higher education and the college environment, it enhanced my understanding of how the university and its staff support students. That’s what influenced me to take what I learned and put it into practice.  Keichanda (far right, second to last) poses for an NPHC (National Pan-Hellenic Council) Greek photo with fellow staff members and MSA student leaders at the conclusion of the 2019 TAASU Freedom Breakfast.  What are the challenges of your career field?   Increased cuts in funding to higher education definitely threaten our ability to create and maintain important programs and services that support student engagement and success on campus. Also, higher education administration or student affairs aren’t careers commonly known to those outside of the field. There’s a need to help others understand what it is that we do and the importance of our work in achieving the mission of the university.  What are the benefits of your career field?   Helping students get to college and helping them reach their aspirational goal of graduating from college. We also have the privilege of observing and influencing the growth and development of students from the beginning to the end of their college journey. For many student affairs professionals, our connections with our students last beyond graduation, sometimes even for life.  How do you connect and establish relationships with other Black faculty and staff in other units and departments?   I am hopeful that there are things in the works to make it easier for Black staff and faculty to connect. I typically meet other Black staff or faculty through committee work on campus, or participation on panel discussions. The Women of Color Leadership Conference planning committee has served as a great source for meeting fellow Black women staff and faculty. I typically try to maintain those relationships through periodic email check-ins, connecting on social media or connecting them to opportunities to get involved with MSA.  Describe your mentoring relationships with students.   My role as a mentor is to empower students to make decisions that are best for them by sharing my knowledge, providing honest feedback, offering pros and cons and, ultimately, respecting the fact they are adults. It is my responsibility to help them make connections with other faculty, staff and community members who can help them reach their goals.  What is one word that best describes you?   Selfless. I very rarely do anything with myself in mind. This may be to a fault at times but doing what’s right for the greater good is what drives me.  What is your favorite spot to eat in Kansas City?   There are too many great places in KC to choose from, but I will say Jazz’s Louisiana Kitchen because I LOVE Cajun and spicy foods. Peachtree Buffet is also one of my favorites.  Where’s your favorite spot to hang out/visit in Kansas City?   My aunt and uncle’s front porch on a Saturday night.  "For many student affairs professionals, our connections with our students last beyond graduation, sometimes even for life." What’s your favorite spot on campus?   The Student Union, specifically the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, which is where my office is located. I love all the noise and energy from the students in the building and the opportunity to interact with them daily. Being around students everyday has definitely kept me youthful.  What is one piece of advice you’d give someone looking to grow their career at UMKC?   I would advise new employees to take some time to understand the culture of UMKC, lean on their colleagues with tenure for support, and to never be afraid to ask questions.  What is one piece of advice you’d give a student wanting to follow in your footsteps?  Start protecting your image and reputation now, and nurture existing relationships because you NEVER know who you will need later when you get into the field.  Learn More About Multicultural Student Affairs Aug 24, 2020

  • Introducing a New Department: Race, Ethnic and Gender Studies

    REGS is in the College of Arts and Sciences and offers many opportunities
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City will offer a new academic department starting in the fall semester: Race, Ethnic and Gender Studies (REGS) in the College of Arts and Sciences. The REGS Department’s interdisciplinary curriculum teaches critical thinking through an examination of historical and contemporary problems and expands student understanding of the intersection of gender, culture and society. The department currently offers minors in three interest areas: Black Studies; Latinx and Latin American Studies; and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Students are able to pursue a specialized focus while enhancing their major in the humanities, social sciences or natural sciences. The minors provide flexibility to allow for the creation of a course of study suited to individual student interests. A proposal for a Race, Ethnic, and Gender Studies major is in development. “The REGS Department truly reflects who we are as an urban, public university community. UMKC REGS alumni will be the future leaders who will insist on and play a significant role in creating a more socially just Kansas City community.” - Provost Jenny Lundgren, Ph.D. “This is the course of study we need to offer right now, during this period of raised consciousness and expanding opportunity,” said Toya Like, Ph.D., interim chair of the REGS Department and associate professor of criminal justice and criminology. “Individuals and organizations across the country are recognizing that they have a lot of work to do if they want to expand social justice, and that work will need to be guided by well-educated professionals with a deep understanding of the roots of injustice.” Employers in business, law, education, communications, the arts, government, medicine and public and social services actively recruit job candidates with knowledge and training in issues of race, ethnicity, sexuality and gender. The goal is for REGS to offer a Bachelor of Arts degree and minors for the Fall 2021 semester, and students can start earning credits toward that with the currently available minors. The degree will focus on the intersectionality of race, ethnic, gender and sexuality studies. “Creation of a REGS Department is the culmination of years of research, effort and activism by students, faculty, alumni and community stakeholders,” said Kati Toivanen, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “The result is a strong interdisciplinary program featuring some of our most accomplished faculty from multiple disciplines representing diverse perspectives.” “This is the course of study we need to offer right now, during this period of raised consciousness and expanding opportunity. Individuals and organizations across the country are recognizing that they have a lot of work to do if they want to expand social justice, and that work will need to be guided by well-educated professionals with a deep understanding of the roots of injustice.” - Toya Like, Ph.D. A few of the faculty in addition to Like include Brenda Bethman, Ph.D., associate teaching professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies and director of the UMKC Women’s Center, who was integral in helping form the department and developing the new degree; Clara Irazábal-Zurita, Ph.D., Latinx and Latin Studies and planning professor; Linda Mitchell, Ph.D., Martha Jane Phillips Starr Missouri Distinguished Endowed Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and professor of history. “Our classes fill up semester after semester because UMKC students are interested in the intersectionality in these areas of study,” Bethman said. “It is rewarding that we can offer this new robust course of study that will provide students with the opportunity to eventually major or double major in REGS.” Internship programs will provide opportunities for undergraduate or graduate students to gain on-site experience. In some cases, students can receive 1 to 4 hours of academic credit while learning and working in off- or on-campus placements. Kansas City offers numerous opportunities. When travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic are lifted, REGS along with other departments will once again host a study-abroad program in Senegal, West Africa. UMKC is known for its strong commitment to diversity and inclusion and is consistently striving to improve at every level. REGS is one of the ways the university is strengthening academics based on this core mission. “The REGS Department truly reflects who we are as an urban, public university community,” said UMKC Provost Jenny Lundgren, Ph.D. “UMKC REGS alumni will be the future leaders who will insist on and play a significant role in creating a more socially just Kansas City community.” Aug 24, 2020

  • UMKC Welcomes Back Students

    Kansas City television station covers the first day of the new semester
    UMKC welcomed students back to campus Monday. KSHB talked to Michael Graves, director of facilities operations, about the new semester and changes students will see. Aug 24, 2020

  • UMKC Week of Welcome Creates Connection

    WoW now more than ever
    UMKC faculty, staff and student leaders welcomed our new and returning Roos with the same confidence and enthusiasm as always. Showing up and connecting has never been more important, which was evident in the online activities that made up Week of Welcome. While events were virtual, common experiences and common goals still connect students in a unique way. This year’s Week of Welcome  ‑ or WoW ‑ included Residential Life housing floor meetings, where students drew Roos with the guidance of local artist Josh Ware and had the opportunity to participate in Late Night with the Greeks Trivia. Brandon Henderson, Student Government Association president, encouraged freshmen to get involved in one of the more than 250 student organizations. “You are embarking on your journey. The most exciting part is the time you will spend outside the classroom,” Henderson said. “No matter who you are, you’ll find a space on campus to call your own.” “No matter who you are, you’ll find a space on campus to call your own.” - Brandon Henderson Convocation embraced new students by celebrating their addition to our UMKC family with the traditional UMKC Pinning Ceremony. A longtime tradition, this ceremony signifies the inclusion of new students into our UMKC family. Chancellor Mauli Agrawal noted that this year’s virtual convocation was a great example of how the university is balancing being careful with health with a real campus experience. “I hope you are as eager as I am to get started,” he said. “Today marks the beginning of the best four years of your life. From this moment on you are officially part of the UMKC family.” This year’s freshman class and new students will always have a special story to tell about the commitment to their future that they undertook at a challenging time. That commitment will draw this class together in a unique way. To this year’s students we say: “WoW!” We can’t wait to get to know you. Aug 21, 2020

  • Classes, Procedures Looking Different at UMKC as Students Begin Moving In

    Fox4KC stopped by campus on Monday to learn what's new
    College students started moving into dorms on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus Monday. Check out John Pepitone's story online. Aug 17, 2020

  • College Freshmen Still Excited Despite Coronavirus Precautions

    Local television station previews UMKC move-in
    Aug. 17 was the first day for move-in at UMKC. Like almost everything else in 2020, it’s going to look a lot different than in years past. Read the story by KCTV5. The station came back on the first day of move-in and covered the story again. Aug 16, 2020

  • ReboundKC: New Grant for Minority-Owned Businesses Is Accepting Applications

    Charlie Keegan with KSHB interviewed Rebecca Gubbels of the UMKC Innovation Center about new grant
    Beginning at noon, Monday, Aug. 17, the Kauffman Foundation and UMKC Innovation Center began accepting applications for the Kansas City Minority Business Resiliency Grant. The full story is on the KSHB website. Aug 16, 2020

  • Athletics Get Hopping at UMKC

    Brandon Martin featured on the Aug. 14 cover story of the Kansas City Business Journal
    When people talk about Division 1 college athletics in the metro area, the University of Missouri-Kansas City rarely enters the conversation. Brandon Martin vows to change that. Read the full article. Aug 14, 2020

  • Emergency Team Helped Dental Patients Through Months of Shutdown

    When everything became 'after hours,' School of Dentistry faculty kept emergency care available.
    Ask a person with a toothache to list “essential workers” and chances are “dentist” will top the list. So when most UMKC operations closed and moved online for the pandemic, some School of Dentistry faculty stayed on call for emergency patients. “Three of us were used to taking turns answering emergency calls after hours,” Cynthia Petrie, associate professor and chair of the Department of Restorative Clinical Sciences. “Suddenly, everything was ‘after hours,’ but we worked together to get our patients through the difficult time when the school closed.” Another member of the emergency team, Ahmed Zarrough, clinical assistant professor, said they did their best with phone calls and teledentistry to determine the nature and severity of callers’ conditions. Though initial pain relief often could be taken care of over the phone, the team members didn’t hesitate to have patients come in when needed — and to call on their specialist colleagues. “We could do restorative work,” Zarrough said, “but I have to give a big shout out to endodontics and oral surgery. When patients needed an extraction or a root canal, those specialists stepped in and took care of them.” Similarly, Petrie said, problems with braces led to frequent calls to the school’s orthodontists. “Orthodontists rarely get emergencies,” Petrie said, when their practices are open. But with their practices shut down, “they had a couple of emergencies every day.” An important part of the emergency team’s work was advising and reassuring callers, especially early in the pandemic, said Melynda Meredith, a clinical associate professor in the Department of Restorative Clinical Sciences who is the third member of the school’s emergency dental team. “We were a counseling service of sorts for concerned patients,” she said. “Some of them were so scared at first. There was so much unknown in March and April, and if you even had a minor dental issue, it made it seem more severe. But just being there to offer reassurance — to let them know it will be OK — seemed to help a lot. And once I got out of my house and came back to the school the first time, I felt much better, too.” “I have to give a big shout out to endodontics and oral surgery. When patients needed an extraction or a root canal, those specialists stepped in and took care of them.” — Ahmed Zarrough If anything, she said, patients with urgent needs might have been seen more quickly during the shutdown. “Before, we could always say ‘come in tomorrow’ or ‘come in Monday’ if a problem could wait,” Meredith said. “But with everything closed, we got people in as quickly as we could.” Though the team members didn’t work side-by-side, they said communication with one another and with other colleagues was a key to providing excellent care during the shutdown. For example, the school donated most of its personal protective equipment to hospitals nearby, but the dental faculty who run the clinics made sure to keep enough on hand for emergencies. “We also made sure to let each other know about patients who might need continuing care,”  Zarrough said, “and to plan ahead.” The team members’ triage duties have lessened a bit as the school slowly and carefully reopens its clinics. An operator is back on phone duty most days from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and some non-emergency patients are being scheduled (primarily those who had to stop mid-treatment when things shutdown). But the team members still cover emergencies after hours and are ready to do whatever is needed. “We have hundreds of patients,” Petrie said, “and with our added precautions, we don’t expect to be able to treat the same volume we did before. But we will provide safe, excellent care — and continue to handle the emergencies as they arise.”     Aug 13, 2020

  • Masks, Small Classes, No Parties. How Colleges Plan to Keep Students Safe From COVID

    The Kansas City Star interviewed UMKC faculty, staff and students for back-to-school article
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City will test dorm residents before they move in, and vending machines are now loaded with personal protective equipment. UMKC faculty, staff and students were interviewed for the article, which included two videos about UMKC welcome kits that include a mask and hand sanitizer as well as the vending machines. Read the Kansas City Star article or the story picked up by the Wichita Eagle. Aug 13, 2020

  • Campus Survey on Fall Semester Supports Mask Policy

    Responses on class modality vary widely
    A July survey of students, faculty and staff revealed deep and widespread support for a face covering requirement on campus for fall semester. While the campus face covering policy announced last week is based on best available medical advice, the survey indicates strong support for that decision. The survey also sought student preferences with regard to in-person, online and blended class modalities. Responses varied widely among various student groups – new students, returning students, graduate students and professional students – but one consistent factor was a strong preference for asynchronous online courses (students engage with the course on their own schedule) over synchronous courses (class sessions conducted live at a scheduled time). Survey results will inform decisions on in-person, online and blended class options in the spring. Here are highlights of the survey results: 90% of faculty and staff and 83.9% of students agreed that face coverings should be required while you are physically on-campus. The UMKC policy is that face coverings or masks are required in all indoor spaces, except when you're alone in a private office, and are required in all outside spaces when physical distancing of six feet cannot be maintained per Kansas City order.  Class modality preferences: Incoming new students: 56.2% prefer face-to-face, 46.1% blended and 25.6% asynchronous online courses All undergraduate students: 42.9% prefer asynchronous online, 40.1% face-to-face and 37.2% blended Graduate students: 40.4% prefer blended, followed by any online modality Professional students: 46.6% prefer face-to-face, 34.4% blended and 29.1% asynchronous online Note: percentages on class modality preferences are not cumulative since this question allowed students to select multiple preferences. Student meetings/consultations with faculty and staff: Incoming new students preferred appointments over walk-in unscheduled sessions, either in-person or virtual Exceptions: walk-in preferred for Roo Wellness and UMKC Central All other students preferred virtual sessions by appointment Exception: walk-in preferred for Roo Wellness Survey response rates: more than 6,000 students, faculty, and staff responded Faculty: 23.6% Staff: 28.5% Students: 30.7% Aug 11, 2020

  • Managing a Safe Return to Campus

    Personal responsibility will be a key factor
    People want to know: Is it really safe to return to campus during a pandemic? University officials conducted a webinar for employees on Aug. 10 and for students on Aug. 11 that explained in detail how this can be accomplished with a high level of cooperation from the university community. The hour-long webinars included detailed explanations from campus experts about risks, the steps UMKC is taking to minimize those risks, and the vital role individuals must play to manage risks on an ongoing basis. Chancellor Mauli Agrawal said occurrences of COVID-19 on campus during the semester are all but inevitable, but if we all do our part, the spread can be controlled. “The virus is with us, but the good news is we can keep it under control,” the chancellor said. Personal responsibility, many of the presenters emphasized, is key. If students, faculty, staff and visitors are disciplined about three fundamental behaviors – wearing face coverings, maintaining at least six feet of distance from others and frequent, thorough hand washing – the risk of on-campus transmission will be significantly reduced. Another vital step is for anyone who gets sick to notify campus authorities immediately, and stay home.  Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., is dean of the UMKC School of Medicine and an infectious disease expert who has counseled Kansas City and Missouri state government leaders on pandemic response. She pointed out that the mortality rate from COVID-19 infections is three times higher for black patients compared to the population as a whole, and two times higher for Hispanic patients. “This is an example of health inequity driven by systemic racism,” she said. Jackson added that the primary source of transmission is personal contact; the risk of contracting COVID-19 from a contaminated surface such as a countertop is much lower than originally believed. Nevertheless, Mike Graves of Campus Facilities Management said their team has been hard at work all summer and will continue a stepped-up regimen of cleaning and sanitizing across campus. “We’ve been here all along. We have flushed water systems in buildings and improved air circulation in HVAC systems,“ he said. “We know we are going to have positive cases. We have a plan to respond.” Obie Austin, Student Health and Wellness administrator, said his team will play a major role in that response as well, working to trace the movements and contacts of people who test positive for the virus and advising people on proper isolation or quarantine steps. “If at any point you can’t remember what to do or you’re not sure, call us,” Austin said. Student Health and Wellness can be reached at 816-235-6133. Provost Jenny Lundgren said the academic operation is fully prepared as well. UMKC faculty participated in training specifically for effective online teaching. For the fall semester, the university will be offering approximately 50% of classes online, 40% percent in person and 10% via hybrid delivery. “Students will have a wonderful experience because of the hard work of our faculty,” Lundgren said. The full range of student success services, from advising to financial aid, will be offered via a mix of virtual and face-to-face modes; appointments are recommended in most cases but walk-ins will be allowed in many offices. In the student webinar, Kristen Temple, UMKC Residential Life director, addressed the steps taken to prepare the physical spaces and configure the rooms. Guests will not be permitted in the residence halls, except for move-in help (two guests per student). Students living on campus must submit a negative COVID-19 test result before moving in, from a test taken no more than 7 days before their official move-in date. The Student Services Office has a list of testing locations that provide test results within 24 to 48 hours. "All spaces are ready for you," Temple said. Changes to campus dining services were addressed by Jody Jeffries, manager of Student Union Operations and Student Auxiliary Services. Although seating capacity in the UMKC dining center will be reduced to allow for physical distancing, all but one menu option will be offered. Open area cooking will not be offered. UMKC retail dining services will also be open. Students will have the opportunity to dine in person or take their orders to go. Order ahead and pay ahead services have also been added to the offerings, including the Bite by Sodexo App. Lundgren also urged faculty and staff to refer to the UMKC coronavirus website to get full details on all aspects of preparation and response to the pandemic. A recording of the student webinar is available online. Aug 11, 2020

  • UMKC Innovation Center Launches Grant Program for Minority Businesses

    The Kansas City Business Journal reports on new funding opportunities
    The UMKC Innovation Center has partnered with local banks to help close the funding gap for minority-owned businesses in the Kansas City metro. Read the full article. Aug 11, 2020

  • ‘They Know It’s Wrong.’ Some Call on Scouts to Change Use of Native American Culture

    Kansas City Star interviews UMKC professor
    Robert Prue, a professor of social work at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said his scouting experiences years ago didn’t involve Native American traditions, but when he moved to Kansas City he learned more about Mic-O-Say and its various traditions. You can read the full article with a Kansas City Star subscription. Aug 11, 2020

  • Biden’s Historic VP Selection Receives Positive Reaction In the Metro

    Fox4KC taps UMKC political science professor for commentary
    This fall UMKC Associate Dean and Political Science Professor Beth Vonnahme will be teaching a class called “The Road to the White House.” She says that race now starts in earnest. Read more from Fox4KC. Aug 11, 2020

  • With COVID-19's Spread Comes Serious Ethical Dilemmas

    KCUR includes UMKC ethics professor on panel discussion
    Clancy Martin, professor of philosophy at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, was a guest on KCUR's Up to Date. Aug 11, 2020

  • AI Could Help Track Response to Anti-VEGF Therapy for Diabetic Macular Edema

    Medscape covers commentary by UMKC School of Medicine professor
    In a linked commentary, Peter Koulen, Ph.D., of the University of Missouri-Kansas City and colleagues write, “These findings are in accordance with previous work demonstrating aflibercept’s superiority compared with other anti-VEGF treatments in improving functional and anatomical outcomes in DME, particularly in patients with a BCVA of 20/50 or worse.” Read the full article. Aug 10, 2020

  • Nursing Research Mentor Knows: Horses Are Good for You

    Sharon White-Lewis oversees a rare nursing doctoral research program in equine therapy.
    Betting on a horse at the racetrack is a good way to lose your money. But betting on horses to help people heal turned out to be a sure thing for Sharon White-Lewis, earning her a Ph.D. and making her a unique mentor and leading researcher in the field of equine therapy. Horses have been used for therapy since at least the second century, but research documenting their therapeutic benefits is a relatively recent development, said White-Lewis, an assistant professor in the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies. Her review of equine-therapy research was published in 2017, and she found benefits for all sorts of patients, from veterans with PTSD and women recovering from breast cancer to cerebral palsy patients who regained nerve function and muscle strength through horseback riding. “The physical and psychological effects are huge,” said White-Lewis. “Some people walk who have never walked before. Autistic kids talk who never talked before. Horseback riding stimulates all five senses. It’s fascinating what it can do.” Her own doctoral research at UMKC found that a regular riding program for adults with arthritis decreased their pain, increased their range of motion and improved their quality of life in just six weeks. She’s currently following up with research involving the biomarkers — molecules in the bloodstream —that indicate cartilage and muscle damage, to track how much they decrease with equine therapy as a way to measure its effectiveness. Besides earning her doctorate, White-Lewis joined the UMKC faculty, and now she wants prospective nursing graduate students to know that they, too, can do equine-therapy research at UMKC, with most of their costs covered. She particularly likes the Nurse Faculty Loan Program, which forgives 85% of advanced-degree students’ loans in return for serving as nursing faculty or hospital preceptors.  “Some people walk who have never walked before. Autistic kids talk who never talked before. Horseback riding stimulates all five senses. It’s fascinating what it can do.” —Sharon White-Lewis  As White-Lewis sees it, “It can take five years to earn your doctorate, so why not spend that time working with horses and having most of your expenses covered?” She has identified more than two dozen medical uses for horses, so there are plenty of types of therapy to research. And as more high-level research is conducted to document the benefits, she said, equine therapy could gain insurance coverage and benefit more people. White-Lewis currently has one student doing doctoral equine-therapy research, Holly Bowron Hainley of San Diego. She’s a certified nurse practitioner and has a non-profit organization in Southern California that promotes the psychological benefits of equine therapy by bringing miniature horses to schools and clinics. Like White-Lewis, she’s hoping equine therapy can spread through greater awareness and more evidence leading to insurance reimbursement. Bowron Hainley, whose research involves people with eating disorders, said, “Our goal is to have the kind of data you could show a health system saying that if you would reimburse, say, $10,000 for a person to be part of this equine-assisted intervention program, it would save you $30,000 you would have to spend otherwise on psychotherapy, medication, and hospitalization for relapses. “I can’t tell you how many people tell me my work is the first time they’ve ever actually seen a horse in person. And I’m in California where it’s much easier to have horses than in many parts of the country. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this therapy was more widely available and affordable?” Bowron Hainley also hopes others interested in equine therapy research will find White-Lewis. Though such research can be done under a variety of disciplines, from psychology and psychiatry to physical, speech and rehabilitation therapy, such research at nursing schools is rare. “I did some deep searches, and she appears to be the only nursing faculty in the country mentoring equine therapy research,” Bowron Hainley said. “When I read her dissertation, I said, ‘This is what I want to do.’ ” “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this therapy was more widely available and affordable?” —Holly Bowron Hainley  White-Lewis hopes for more doctoral students and pointed out that the research could be done in and around Kansas City, or elsewhere as Bowron Hainley is doing. “My husband and I own four horses and two miniature horses,” said White-Lewis, who also noted that there are several good stables and riding programs around the area. Her work also has drawn international attention. Her published analysis of equine-assisted therapy helped clarify terms in the field, and her dissertation led to a consortium of researchers in Spain, the United States and six other countries planning to perform extensive further research like hers on equine therapy for arthritis. For all she has done in equine therapy research, White-Lewis is no one-trick pony at the School of Nursing and Health Studies. She also leads the school’s emergency response studies and teaches quantitative research and disaster preparedness for nurses. As an expert in emergency response, she has helped with local efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus, and she will help teach a COVID-19 course the school is adding this fall. But it’s also clear that horses, and equine therapy, have a special place in her heart. “It’s gratifying that physicians, occupational therapists and other professionals in other countries are working on this,” White-Lewis said. “But I want to see more equine therapy research at UMKC. Its benefits are fascinating, from physical improvements to psychosocial and mental health. We just need more nurse researchers willing to look into the applications and gain evidence to support it.”  Aug 07, 2020

  • Future of Policing: Part 1

    Panelists address police reform in Kansas City
    The Future of Policing is the second discussion in the Critical Conversations series sponsored by the office of UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal and the Division of Diversity and Inclusion. The murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer was the latest chapter in a bigger story. From police stops to use of force and arrests to incarceration and the death penalty, nearly every aspect of the criminal justice system is pervaded by racial disparities. On July 30, panelists discussed the history of policing and actions for reform moving forward, focusing on Kansas City. Another Critical Conversations discussion will be held on Aug. 27 to further examine the future of policing. Participating panelists included: Gary O’Bannon (co-moderator), executive-in-residence, Henry W. Bloch School of Management and former director of human resources, City of Kansas City, Missouri Jasmine Ward (co-moderator), third-year student at the UMKC School of Law Jean Peters Baker, Jackson County prosecutor Emanuel Cleaver III, senior pastor, St. James United Methodist Church Damon Daniel, president, AdHoc Group Against Crime Toya Like, associate professor, UMKC Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology The importance of engaging the community and rebuilding trust of the police was a common theme throughout the discussion. In Kansas City, panelists said a lack of local control, unresolved complaints, unsolved cases and biased policing has resulted in distrust of the police. Currently, the city does not have local control over its police department — making it the only city in Missouri and one of the largest in the U.S. that doesn’t govern its own police force. The Kansas City Police Department is controlled by a five-member board (among the members is Mayor Quinton Lucas) appointed by the governor. The argument for local control has pros (making decisions regarding police without having to go through Jefferson City) and cons (the challenge of putting together a new structure for the KCPD). Whether or not the city gains local control over the police department, Cleaver suggested forming an independent review board to address community complaints in an effort to foster trust. Right now, complaints are overseen by the police department and community members feel many are unresolved. Peters Baker added that two out of 10 violent crimes come to her office for charges, meaning that eight cases go unsolved leading to further distrust of police. Calls to reallocate funding and increase training for police officers have been heard across the country. All the panelists agreed that changes in funding should be considered, including training on recognizing bias, ongoing psychological evaluations for officers and systematically reviewing cases where excessive force was used to improve future encounters. Like wants to remove confusion around defunding the police, a common call-to-action during recent protests, by putting community safety and reformation at the forefront. Watch the discussion in its entirety below and check-in on the original story to see when part two of the future of policing will be announced this fall.    Aug 07, 2020

  • Education Faculty Publish Award-Winning Collection of Essays

    Womanish Black Girls/Women Resisting Contradictions of Silence and Voice
    “Womanish.” It’s an anthology of stories meant to break the silence and spark conversation surrounding key issues around power and transformation among Black women, and two School of Education faculty members – professor Loyce Caruthers, Ph.D. and professor emerita Dianne Smith, Ph.D. – are among the trio of editors who compiled this award-winning literature. Since it was published in 2019, Womanish has received two awards and sold out twice. Society of Professors of Education Outstanding Book Award, 2020 American Educational Studies Association Critic's Choice Book Award, 2019 While it can serve as a secondary text in academia, Caruthers and Smith said book clubs from Kansas City to North Carolina have read and discussed the collection of essays. “We all have different interpretations about what womanish means, but one of the common themes was about speaking your mind and being heard." - Smith “There is a lot of hope and self-empowerment in this book,” said Caruthers. “The themes in each of the stories shed light on things that have impacted all of our lives that we don’t always understand.” The editors said the power of the book comes from breaking the silence about topics from abuse to religion to the stereotypes and sexualization of Black women and girls. Each of the writers pulls from personal and familial life experiences to share how their lives were shaped from childhood to adulthood. “'Womanish' for me comes from the fact that we are sexualized too early as little girls. There was also Black male patriarchy where we were to be seen and not heard,”  Smith said. “I used to ask my Sunday School teacher why Eve was blamed for the fruit and not Adam, and I was shamed for that.” The idea for “Womanish” stems from Smith’s dissertation and previous writings, which focus on themes surrounding race and racism, feminist theory, critical educational theory and curriculum theory. When the opportunity came to publish a book, she said knew she needed to include more than one Black woman’s voice, so she invited Caruthers and Shaunda Fowler, principal of Troost Elementary in Kansas City, to contribute and serve as co-editors. “The themes in each of the stories shed light on things that have impacted all of our lives that we don’t always understand.” - Caruthers Each woman has her own story to tell, they have each had various experiences growing up being called “womanish.” “We all have different interpretations about what womanish means, but one of the common themes was about speaking your mind and being heard. A lot of it has to do with our mothers protecting us from cultural and social oppression,” said Smith, adding that the book, for some, is hard to read. Caruthers said “Womanish” is about each author grappling with the secrets of their lives, things that they know happen to women but that become silenced and left unaddressed. “Womanish” is a book for every generation of woman from every walk of life, says its writers. The list of authors includes women from academia and from the broader community. Voices from the past and present can be heard as, throughout the book, each writer chose different Black women authors and theorists to pull from as influence and inspiration: Audrey Lorde, Alice Walker, Brittany Cooper, Rebecca Walker and Maya Angelou and Joy James, who authored the foreward, are among the voices you can expect to be presented in this collection of work. “If you don’t know where you’ve been,” said Caruthers, “you don’t know where you’re going.” Aug 06, 2020

  • UMKC Foundation Celebrates Record Year

    Donors respond with increases across the board in challenging year
    The UMKC Foundation has had a year of record giving with significant increases in both contributions and donors. This year’s donations are 35% greater than the previous record year, with gains in all areas of giving. “We are thrilled with the level of support that we have received from the community and our alumni through donations,” said Lisa Baronio, UMKC Foundation President and UMKC Chief Advancement Officer. “This year, we celebrate our donors who have provided contributions that totaled more than $59 million. To receive an increase in giving at this level in a year that has proved so challenging for so many people is reflective of the recognition of the great work UMKC is doing and our staff.” The Marion and Henry Bloch Foundation and the Sunderland Foundation that support programming integral to student success as well as capital commitments represent a significant component of the donations. But individual giving increased as well. “More than 20,000 donors contributed 103,789 gifts,” said Baronio, who recently celebrated her first year at UMKC. “And we also achieved a $20,000 increase in annual giving – a small, but significant increase.” These donations represent increased funding to programs, scholarships and emergency funds as well as capital improvements. This year the Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation donated $21 million to support three initiatives: $11.8 million for programming within the Bloch School of Management; $8 million for infrastructure improvements to and expansion of the Bloch Heritage Hall building; and $1.2 million to support RooStrong, the university’s new program for increasing student retention, six-year graduation rates and career outcomes. “We are deeply grateful to donors who support UMKC with gifts at any level,” - UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal  The Sunderland Foundation’s $15 million gift provided significant support for capital improvements on both UMKC campuses including $5 million for renovations to Bloch Heritage Hall, which has not received an upgrade since 1986, and $3 million for the School of Law for renovations of classrooms and student services. In addition to major gifts, individual support of more than $70,000 to the Student Emergency Fund provided funds to help students stay in school and with basic living expenses during the COVID-19 crisis. “We are deeply grateful to donors who support UMKC with gifts at any level,” UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal said. “We view this as strong message of confidence in the university, as well as our students, faculty and staff and an investment in future success. I commend the UMKC Foundation on their dedication and diligence in helping to generate these resources.” Aug 06, 2020

  • Guidelines for Events and Meetings on Campus

    Safe planning ensures physically and mentally healthy Roos
    Thinking about hosting an event this semester? Returning to campus creates needed opportunity for connecting and collaborating. In order to facilitate meetings and events in the safest possible way, the university has developed guidelines incorporating the latest information on preventing the spread of COVID-19.  Safe and successful events can be arranged with three criteria: Make it easy for attendees to touch fewer surfaces Allow touchless check-in Manage space effectively Creating opportunities to register online can provide a high level of touchless interaction. Digital registration also creates an opportunity for attendees to print digital credentials at home, eliminating the need to pick up materials at the event. Digital registration information also allows organizers the opportunity to communicate staggered arrival times and ensures effective communication if follow-up information related to exposure or contact tracing is necessary. If on-site registration is necessary, plexiglass shields are recommended between registration staff and registrants and masks are required for registration staff. All attendees must wear masks as well. In addition, advanced digital registration allows organizers to plan for the necessary space for the number of attendees. While rooms can be arranged with seating six feet apart, meeting rooms with stadium seating may require seats to be blocked to allow distancing. Directional arrows on the floor can provide clear guidelines on traffic flow that enable attendees to limit interaction. Pre-packaged food provided by a fully licensed caterer ensures that attendees will not be sharing serving utensils or condiments. Bottled beverages may be used at self-serve drink stations, and pre-wrapped utensils are required. Hand sanitizer throughout the event – at the meeting room entrance and exit, food and beverage stations and restrooms – are key to encouraging the elimination of spreading. Face masks are required and should be worn whenever people are within six feet as recommended by the CDC. Communicating as much information as possible to attendees in advance allows all attendees to understand the expectations and make appropriate accommodations when visiting campus. For further information, including suggested room seating diagrams, please visit the Events section of the Coronavirus site. Aug 06, 2020

  • Conservatory Professor's Work Will be Featured in Gala

    Yotam Haber won the Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music prize
    The Azrieli Foundation will present its biennial Azrieli Music Prizes Gala Concert on Oct. 22. Yotam Haber's work will be featured in the gala. Haber is a UMKC Conservatory associate professor. Read the full article online. Aug 06, 2020

  • Health Sciences Student’s UMKC Education Began in Kindergarten

    Alea Roberts aspires to a career in nursing
    Name: Alea Roberts Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri High School: Raytown High School  UMKC degree program: Health Sciences, Pre-Nursing Track Anticipated graduation year: 2022  Get to know our people and you'll know what UMKC is all about. Alea Roberts has her sights set on nursing school, but as she makes her way through her undergraduate degree, she works with Jumpstart, a program to encourage kindergarten success for children in under-resourced communities. Alea's history with UMKC began in kindergarten, so her experience has come full circle. “I participated in programs at UMKC from kindergarten through 12th grade,” Alea says. “I did a summer reading program in elementary school, I was in the Young Achievers program my sophomore year of high school and I did the Summer Scholars program my junior and senior years.” She also picked up some dual credit classes in high school that went through UMKC. So it’s no surprise that she is pursuing her dream of nursing school, hopefully at UMKC. “I love the medical field!” Alea says. “There is a vast selection of careers to choose from and there will always be demand as a health care worker, even more so as a nurse. I want to meet new people every day, never stop learning and make a difference in someone's life. Nursing is a great path to achieve all of these goals.” Beyond her interest in nursing, Alea is a team leader for Jumpstart. Her work there has been eye-opening. “When we walk into the classroom wearing our red T-shirts, all of the children's faces light up and they run to give us hugs, even on the first day we meet them.” - Alea Roberts “When we walk into the classroom wearing our red T-shirts, all of the children's faces light up and they run to give us hugs, even on the first day we meet them,” Alea says. “There are children from many different cultural and economic backgrounds, some who face devastating hardships at home. School becomes a safe haven for them.” The Jumpstart teams are made up of four to five people who spend two hours a day twice a week in the classroom reading and playing games. As a team leader, Alea also teaches short sessions on topics relating to the children’s current curriculum. She develops close relationships with the students. “We really encourage them and make them feel special. When they show us their projects, we really react. ‘You did so well! You used all those colors! You made that shape? I can see all the hard work you did.’ That’s what connects them to us.” As a team leader, Alea also spends time in the office preparing materials, meeting with supervisors and her other team members. She never feels as if the hours she puts in feel like work. “Jumpstart is different than people might expect. We tutor, but it feels as if we’re playing all day. We get to spend hours being big kids. And it’s a great opportunity to help out with our community.” “Jumpstart is different than people might expect. We tutor, but it feels as if we’re playing all day.” This year’s session ended a week early because of COVID-19 precautions. It was a tough transition. “Our job is to be a pillar of stability and encouragement while providing a way of learning that connects to each kiddo,” Alea says. “We ended up doing our year-end celebration and wrap-up online. It wasn’t the happiest ending, but we made the best of it.” Alea’s experiences at Jumpstart have influenced her career direction. “Now I’m sure I will be in the pediatric field,” she says. “I have seen how much kids can struggle and how they need someone who sees them. I learned that in Jumpstart. I know there’s so much I can do in the health field.”   Aug 05, 2020

  • Director Hired for UMKC Center for Health Insights

    Lemuel Russell "Russ" Waitman also will teach at the School of Medicine, help lead UM System’s precision health effort
    Lemuel Russell “Russ” Waitman, Ph.D., will join UMKC on Oct. 1 as the director of the Center for Health Insights at the School of Medicine. He also will be a professor in the Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics. The center partners with Truman Medical Centers and Cerner Health Facts to use de-identified health systems data to conduct data-driven research for biomedical discovery and to gain insights into usage and comparative effectiveness of treatment to improve patient safety and quality of care. “We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Waitman, who can help accelerate our research at the university to help improve health care for millions of people,” said Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D. “We look forward to his leadership at the UMKC Center for Health Insights and expanding our outcomes research enterprise.” Waitman also will spend time at the University of Missouri System’s campus in Columbia as the director of medical information for the NextGen Precision Health Institute, which fosters big data medical research at the UM system’s four campuses. He also will be the Columbia campus’ associate dean for informatics and vice chair for informatics and professor in its Department of Health Management and Informatics. He also will be an adjunct professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine there. In his new position, Waitman plans to split his time between the campuses. He will work one day a week from his UMKC office at the School of Medicine and spend the rest of his time working from the Columbia campus. “This is a transformational hire to the University of Missouri System, as MU and UMKC have jointly worked together to make a recruitment of this type happen,” said Richard Barohn, M.D., executive vice chancellor for Health Affairs at the University of Missouri. “Dr. Waitman is a national leader in medical informatics and is well known around the country as an informatics researcher at the top of his field. We hope this is the first of a number of systemwide recruits that will further our mission to provide leading-edge research and world-class health care to Missourians.” Waitman's research is funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. Waitman established the Greater Plains Collaborative, which linked the electronic medical records for a dozen academic health centers in the Midwest, Utah and Texas to enable investigators to access clinical data to perform leading-edge precision health research. The University of Missouri has been part of the Greater Plains Collaborative for several years as one of the collaborating sites. “By working together, we have an opportunity to create a stronger environment for investigators from all schools.” —Russ Waitman Since 2010, Waitman has served as a professor of internal medicine, the director of the Center for Medical Informatics and Enterprise Analytics, and as the associate vice chancellor for Enterprise Analytics at the University of Kansas Medical Center. There, he has worked to establish a strategy for clinical and translational research informatics for Frontiers, the Kansas and Kansas City NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award. Before his time at KU, Waitman served as a faculty member with the Department of Biomedical Informatics in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine where he led their Computerized Provider Order Entry project, “WizOrder,” and its commercialization to McKesson Corp. “I’ve enjoyed my collaborations with the University of Missouri over the past decade and am excited about this opportunity to enhance informatics across the campuses,” Waitman said. “By working together, we have an opportunity to create a stronger environment for investigators from all schools to engage patients and partner health systems in advancing health in Missouri and nationally. As a former Air Force medical service corps officer and military brat, I am also interested in the potential with Cerner to contribute to military members’ and veterans’ health.” Waitman received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and a master’s degree and doctorate from Vanderbilt University in Nashville.   Aug 05, 2020

  • New City Beautiful Movement: Restoring KC’s Parks and Boulevards

    Flatland KC wrote about a study that pushes for more a equitable investment citywide
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City Center for Neighborhoods opened in April of 2016. While it is still fairly new, the center currently works with 67 neighborhood associations across the city. Writer Mawa Iqbal interviewed Director Dina Newman, who refers to the center as a “one stop shop” for neighborhood associations seeking resources to go back to their communities and do the work that needs to be done.  Read the full article. Aug 05, 2020

  • UMKC, Kauffman Launch $100K Resiliency Grant Fund For Minority-Owned Businesses Hit By COVID

    Startland News writes about the fund
    A new $100,000 fund is expected to help minority-owned Kansas City businesses — left out of initial rounds of COVID-19 relief — to build resiliency and come back stronger as the pandemic persists. The grants are funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and administered by the UMKC Innovation Center in partnership with local financial institutions. Aug 05, 2020

  • Drama and Intrigue Greet Voters in Kansas GOP Primary

    UMKC Political Science professor offers election commentary
    Greg Vonnahme was recently interviewed by Courthouse News Service about the upcoming primary election in Kansas. Read the full article. Aug 04, 2020

  • Our Top 10 Roo Responsibilities to Each Other

    Cooperation is vital to managing pandemic
    As we return to campus during this uniquely challenging time, all of us will need to become more careful and intentional about how we interact with our physical environment and, especially, how we interact with each other. To protect our own health, as well as the health of other members of our community, we have responsibilities that we must take seriously. Our challenge will be to keep these responsibilities top of mind. We have to really think about things we used to take for granted, such as conversations and formal and informal gatherings; even the way we greet old friends we haven’t seen for months. Here are our most important responsibilities to each other: Wear a mask or face covering. UMKC policy: face coverings or masks are required in all indoor spaces, except in private offices, and are required in all outside spaces when physical distancing of six feet cannot be maintained, per Kansas City order. Any time you are within six feet or less of another person, you must have your nose and mouth covered. This is the single most important thing we must do to prevent the spread of the virus on campus.   Maintain physical distancing. Stay at least six feet apart from others to the maximum extent possible. Be patient. Don’t crowd, don’t cut properly distanced lines. Do not congregate in hallways, outside classrooms in other common areas. Wash your hands. Wash as often as possible, for at least 20 seconds, with soap.   Be safe off campus as well as on. Masking, hand washing and distancing on campus will make no difference if you go unprotected to crowded social gatherings in bars, restaurants, music clubs, parties, etc. after school. This also means avoiding unnecessary travel. Monitor yourself for symptoms. Take your temperature daily. If it is above 100.4F, or if you display these other symptoms of COVID-19, stay home. If you test positive, we ask that you call and notify campus within four hours of getting test results. Students: Call UMKC HelpLine at 816-235-2222. Faculty and staff: Call your supervisor. After business hours: Call 816-235-COVI.   Cover coughs and sneezes. Follow these CDC recommendations. Clean up after yourself. When using residence hall kitchens, workplace break rooms and other common areas, clean up before you leave by using provided materials and following directions on posted signs.   Take care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet, get plenty of rest and exercise and reduce your stress levels. Useful information and tips on a healthy lifestyle are available on the Sanvello app and the campus recreation Instagram account. Understand and accept that you will be inconvenienced. This will be a challenge for all of us. Be patient, be kind and remember that you are part of a Culture of Care. Stay informed. Take the time to read campus communications. Our COVID-19 website has all of the most recent communications as well as the latest rules and recommendations for our campus based on local, state and national public health guidance. Aug 04, 2020