• Record-Best Year of Research at UMKC

    5 questions with Vice Chancellor Chris Liu
    UMKC achieved a major milestone in fiscal year 2020 by winning the highest amount of grant funding in its history: $48.9 million. The record coincides with the first year at UMKC for Chris Liu, the vice chancellor for research. What factors contributed to achieving this milestone? Dedicated faculty, researchers and supporting staff across the campus; clearly defined goals and the implementation of the UMKC strategic plan on research; the Chancellor’s new initiatives on data science and health disparities; interdisciplinary research in both STEM and non-STEM fields. “UMKC is moving toward becoming a more refined urban research university through implementing initiatives such as the NextGen Data Sciences and Analytics Innovation Center (dSAIC) and UMKC Forward.” - Chris Liu   Chris Liu, vice chancellor for research at UMKC Besides this, what has been your proudest achievement in your first year at UMKC? In collaboration with Alexis Petri, director of faculty support, we won a National Science Foundation (NSF) STEM award to host a regional conference on increasing STEM retention and degree completion and preparing a diverse STEM workforce for the Kansas City metropolitan region. This year, you also helped UMKC, in collaboration with California State University-Fullerton, earn one of 25 honorable mentions for the Idea Competition for the Symposium on Imagining the Future of Undergraduate STEM Education from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Tell us about it. We proposed an idea to develop an artificial intelligence (AI)-driven learning system for giving undergraduate students personalized care on actively learning STEM fields in the classroom and beyond. The system would provide dashboard information on both students and their instructors to allow them to better understand each other, so that undergraduate STEM education and student learning become a more proactive practice in the future. The goal is to help first-generation and students from underserved populations receive tailored academic advising. This will also help retention and graduation rates. It also fills a gap in resources for academic advisors. We feel pretty wonderful about this idea. We’ve applied for a grant to fund this proposal. Why is increasing research funding so important to the university’s future? Increasing research funding at UMKC will help generate revenue; strengthen campus infrastructure and facilities for faculty development and student retention/graduation rates; enhance the university’s reputation for national rankings; and create opportunities for community engagement. What opportunities are you excited about for UMKC? UMKC is moving toward becoming a more refined urban research university through implementing initiatives such as the NextGen Data Sciences and Analytics Innovation Center (dSAIC) and UMKC Forward. Nov 20, 2020

  • Former UM System President Gives $2 Million to NextGen Data Science and Analytics Innovation Center

    Gift supports a collaborative effort with MU housed at UMKC
    Former UM System president Gary Forsee and Sherry Forsee have committed $2 million to support research that will provide data analytics to power the NextGen Precision Health initiative and other precision health research across the University of Missouri System’s four universities. The gift will support the NextGen Data Science and Analytics Innovation Center, or dSAIC, which is based at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and operates in partnership with the University of Missouri-Columbia. UMKC will receive $1.2 million and MU will receive $800,000. One role of the center will be to harness immense datasets to extract insights, patterns and knowledge, illuminating the work done at the NextGen Precision Health building, across the system’s institutions and health enterprises. The Precision Health building, currently under construction on the MU campus, aims to usher in a new era of personalized health care by developing medical breakthroughs to treat diseases based on individual variability in genes, environment and lifestyle rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. The Forsees considered the project a great fit for their philanthropic interests, specifically in support of higher education in Missouri. Gary Forsee, a Kansas City resident and former UM System president, is a 1972 graduate of Missouri University of Science & Technology. He serves as a member of the UMKC Board of Trustees and an emeritus director of the UMKC Foundation as well as a member of the NextGen Advisory Board. With a background in the technology industry, he has a clear understanding of the key components necessary to provide the infrastructure for data research and engagement that benefit Kansas City and beyond. “The ability to analyze vast amounts of data and apply that knowledge to some of today’s most critical health problems will have untold short-term and long-term impacts.” - Gary Forsee “Through the development of NextGen Precision Health initiative and the UMKC NextGen Data Science and Analytics Innovation Center, we are helping to lay the groundwork for revolutionary changes in health care,” Forsee said. “The ability to analyze vast amounts of data and apply that knowledge to some of today’s most critical health problems will have untold short-term and long-term impacts.” dSAIC creates a leading-edge data analytics center that can support university research across the state and play a critical role in health, business and workforce development across Kansas City and the region. The Forsees’ gift is the first step in making that happen. “Looking back five years from now, we’ll judge the success of the center based on the outcomes,” Forsee said.  “What systems have been put in place and what are the real project benefits of this center? I want to ensure that with the benefit of artificial intelligence, cloud computing, big data and data analytics that we’ve made significant progress in the NextGen Precision Health initiative.” At MU, a portion of the gift will be used to build necessary computing infrastructure that supports pilot projects and collaborations between life science and health care experts and engineering faculty.  Focus areas include security for medical health care records; DNA sequencing and analysis for individual patients; and automated diagnosis of medical imagery for precision health. The expansion of big data capabilities within the UM System will be complementary to the personalized medicine research at UMKC hospital affiliates and MU Health Care, among other possibilities. “Data isn’t just numbers on a spreadsheet or a chart.With our initiatives, we  are using data to affect people’s lives. The Forsees’ gift enables us to continue that work and improve the lives of Missourians.” - Jannette Berkley-Patton “As president of the UM System, Gary helped refine the vision of our NextGen initiative,” said Mun Choi, president of University of Missouri System and chancellor of University of Missouri-Columbia. “Now, with his continued work on our advisory board and his support in both Kansas City and Columbia, we are turning that dream into a reality.” UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal has reinforced the university’s strategy related to growing data science and research. Between the new Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center, critical private-public research projects and a clear focus on building the research capabilities of the university through dSAIC, UMKC is positioned to capitalize on significant investments. “Vision is critical, whether it involves something as finite as physical space or something as boundless as data analysis,” Agrawal said. “Beyond the benefit of the financial support, the Forsees’ gift is an invaluable validation of the importance of this initiative and its potential impact on the people of Missouri.” Jannette Berkley-Patton, leader of the UMKC Health Equity Institute and a School of Medicine professor, is currently studying the potential health benefits of reliable and free public transportation in urban areas. Her work entails comparing data from more than 10,000 people. “Data isn’t just numbers on a spreadsheet or a chart,” Berkley-Patton said. “With our initiatives, we are using data to affect people’s lives. The Forsees’ gift enables us to continue that work and improve the lives of Missourians.” “Beyond the benefit of the financial support, the Forsees’ gift is an invaluable validation of the importance of this initiative and its potential impact on the people of Missouri.” - Chancellor Mauli Agrawal Prasad Calyam, lead MU scientist on the project, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science and director of the Cyber Education, Research and Infrastructure Center (Mizzou CERI) in the MU College of Engineering, said the funds will advance interdisciplinary collaborations in precision health. “It will enable development of cloud computing expertise and knowledge bases in seamless integration of open/protected data sets as well as medical imagery analytics with intelligent automation using advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence,” Calyam said. “Resulting cyber and human resources will further strengthen partnerships with industry to develop secure and community-scale big data analytics environments that foster research and education innovations in precision health.” Nov 19, 2020

  • The Surprise Discovery That Brought The Beatles Back Together

    David Thurmaier's podcast featured in national article
    “I think the Anthology, especially the first volume, was incredibly important in The Beatles’ catalogue and story for a couple of reasons,” said David Thurmaier, who hosts I’ve Got a Beatles Podcast and is associate professor of music theory and chair of the Music Studies Division at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory. Read the story from YahooNews. Nov 18, 2020

  • Visionary Leaders Honored by UMKC Bloch School

    Four receive Entrepreneur of the Year awards
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City honored four exceptional business leaders at its 35th Annual Entrepreneur of the Year awards Nov. 12. The celebration, sponsored by the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the university’s Henry W. Bloch School of Management, was conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.   The evening’s program began with a Student Venture Showcase, followed by the awards program. The 2020 honorees include: Henry W. Bloch International Entrepreneur of the Year Award: Yvon Chouinard, founder, Patagonia. He was cited for his global impact for not only building a company but transforming his industry. Chouinard is an itinerant adventurer, passionate activist and iconoclastic businessman. In 1973, he founded Patagonia, a mission-driven company known for its environmental and social initiatives. Kansas City Entrepreneur of the Year: Nathaniel Hagedorn, founder and CEO, NorthPoint Development. With 18 years of commercial real estate experience, Hagedorn has helped raise more than $7 billion in capital over the last eight years for the company’s real estate investments. The NorthPoint family of companies has grown to include the real estate development and management company, an international logistics and freight forwarding firm, a third-party logistics company, warehouse technology and supply-chain integration company, and an industrial architectural and engineering firm.   Marion and John Kreamer Award for Social Entrepreneurship: Robert W. Hatch, chairman and CEO, Cereal Ingredients, Inc. and Great Plains Analytical Lab. Hatch founded Cereal Ingredients, a specialty-food ingredients manufacturer, and Great Plains Analytical Laboratory in 1990. Hatch is also Chairman of FINCA International (Foundation for International Community Assistance), a not-for-profit microfinance organization with a mission to provide financial services to the world’s lowest-income entrepreneurs so they can create jobs, build assets and improve their standard of living. FINCA pioneered the “village banking method” of credit delivery, which offers small loans and a savings program to those without access to traditional banks. Student Entrepreneur of the Year: Jonaie Johnson. Currently a Dean’s List business student and athlete at UMKC majoring in entrepreneurship, Johnson started her company, Interplay, when she was accepted into the Bloch School E-Scholars program. Interplay is working towards automating pet interaction by providing dog owners with an interactive, automated dog crate. Last year, she was a starter on the UMKC Roos Western Athletic Conference champion women’s basketball team. Tom and Mary Bloch, son and daughter-in-law of Bloch School patron and namesake Henry W. Bloch, served as the evening’s co-hosts. “One thing Dad was really big on was finding creative solutions to our toughest challenges, and tonight, right now, our friends at UMKC and the Bloch School are showing us how that’s done,” Tom Bloch said. Chancellor Mauli Agrawal thanked the Bloch family for their continuing support and involvement at UMKC. “Their generosity has helped us continue our efforts to increase access to higher education and inspire students to use their entrepreneurship to lend a helping hand and make the world a better place,” Agrawal said. “We are taking real-world challenges and issues and finding solutions and opportunity through entrepreneurial problem-solving. It’s what Henry would have done, and it’s what we will continue to do…and then some.” As part of the unique virtual format, this year’s program included a panel discussion among three local entrepreneurs on the topic of adjusting to the “new normal” of the pandemic. The panel was moderated by Maria Meyers, executive director of the UMKC Innovation Center. Participants included Chris Beier, co-founder, Strange Days Brewing Co.; Riddhiman Das, co-founder and CEO, TripleBlind; and Lyndsey Gruber, founder and CEO, PEPPR. The program also featured an appeal for continued support of the Bloch School’s Summer Scholars program, a beneficiary of the Entrepreneur of the Year program proceeds. Summer Scholars is a 2-week intensive summer program for incoming freshman and transfer students. Ben Williams, assistant teaching professor at the Bloch School and managing director of the Regnier Institute; and Ali Brandolino, president of the UMKC Enactus team and last year’s Student Entrepreneur of the Year, discussed the program’s features and benefits. “The goal of Summer Scholars is to kick start students’ college careers, help them build an entrepreneurial mindset that can be applied to any career track, and to encourage the students to get involved in the amazing programs and organizations at the Bloch School,” Williams said. “As a past participant in the Summer Scholars program, I have seen the benefits,” Brandolino said. “It taught me the basics of entrepreneurship that I've used in many other courses, Enactus and my own business. Early in my journey I learned how to ideate, interview, prototype, test, and pitch.” The Entrepreneur of the Year Awards event is an iconic Kansas City tradition started in 1985. Beyond its philanthropic cause, this event is a valuable forum where Kansas City CEOs, entrepreneurs, business owners, industry legends, world-class faculty and students alike are able to celebrate a common passion. The event celebrates entrepreneurial spirit and serves as a source of inspiration to future generations of innovative entrepreneurs. All proceeds from this event directly benefit the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s student and community programs. The Regnier Institute at the Bloch School focuses on connecting students and community members with a comprehensive combination of world-class research, renowned faculty, cutting-edge curriculum and experimental programs driven to deliver results and nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs. Nov 16, 2020

  • 13th Annual Global Entrepreneurship Week KC Runs Tomorrow Through Thursday

    The Pitch features KCSourceLink annual event
    “GEWKC (Global Entrepreneurship Week Kansas City) continues to be the largest celebration of entrepreneurship in the region, and we have seen firsthand the difference made in supporting our vibrant local small business community,” said Jenny Miller, chief organizer for GEWKC, and senior director of regional ecosystem development at the UMKC Innovation Center. Read the article. (Website registration required) Nov 16, 2020

  • UMKC Conservatory Students Benefit from Legacy of a Beloved Instructor

    Grassroots effort leads to memorial scholarship
    The late James Rothwell had an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for creating music. A pioneer in electronic sound recording, Rothwell and his achievements are memorialized in the James A. Rothwell Scholarship Fund at the UMKC Conservatory.  Kriss Avery (‘78 B.M.), Rothwell’s widow, led the charge in establishing the scholarship. “After Jim died in 2015, I had a conversation with Larry Bailey (B.M. ’79, MBA ’87) and Tom Mardikes (M.F.A. ’97) [UMKC professor of sound design], who mentioned the idea of starting a scholarship in Jim’s name. I thought it was such a great idea. There were so many chapters in Jim’s life and a lot of people he had touched.” Based on the scope of Rothwell’s career, Avery knew that she would have access to a breadth of people who would be interested in supporting a scholarship. “Jim had a very magnetic personality,” she says. “All of the people that came into his circle he called ‘the tribe.’ But they were all musicians, so we knew we needed to be reasonable in our expectations of what we could raise.” She planned a memorial gathering and encouraged people to share their memories of Rothwell and raise seed money for the scholarship. His daughter’s family made the first contribution. Avery notes that these types of funds are often mentioned at someone’s funeral. Since that hadn’t happened in this situation, she made it her mission to provide access to the information so Rothwell’s friends and colleagues could find information online and direct other people who might be interested in donating. She developed the JAR Fund website, In Room 202, and created a page on Facebook. “Jim had a very magnetic personality.’’ - Kriss Avery But Rothwell’s friends were not the only scholarship supporters. Paul Rudy, FAAR ‘11, curators’ distinguished professor and coordinator of composition at the UMKC Conservatory, did not know Rothwell, but was friends with Avery. He went to the memorial for Rothwell, which a number of alumni attended. “It was amazing to see these people, where they landed and how impactful Jim had been in their lives. It was so touching to see and feel their fondness of him, and I was really glad I got to know him a little vicariously through them.” When Rudy became aware that Avery was establishing a scholarship in Rothwell’s honor, he contributed to the fund. “Jim was an innovator until the end, and so to have a group of alumni leading this idea to memorialize him was really wonderful. They were so proactive — especially Kriss! — and it was heart-warming to see.” Rudy sees the impact of scholarships on students. “It’s really simple — students with scholarships do better,” Rudy says. “Students who don’t have adequate support have to work one or two jobs while going to school full-time. It’s often brutal and can be demoralizing. When students get support — it’s really simple — they do better.” For the last two years, the James A. Rothwell Scholarship has been awarded to Kwan Leung Ling, who is pursuing his master’s degree in music composition. One of his areas of focus is studying the similarities between American jazz and Cantonese musical forms. Recently, he composed music for the animated short film, “24,” which was selected for Animation Chico Film Festival in California and the Video Art & Experimental Film Festival in New York City this November. “Studying at UMKC is a dream for most of the composers around the world. I felt extremely grateful and pleased to be the first recipient of this scholarship in honor of an unforgettable professor.” - Kwan Leung Ling, student “Kwan and I met at a dinner last Fall,” Avery says. “We stay in touch. He let me know that one of his pieces was performed in China last year.” It seems fitting that Ling was the first recipient of the Rothwell Scholarship, as he was drawn to UMKC by the world-class faculty. “Studying at UMKC is a dream for most of the composers around the world,” Ling says. “I felt extremely grateful and pleased to be the first recipient of this scholarship in honor of an unforgettable professor.” Ling says his scholarship has led to unexpected opportunities. “This scholarship attracted even more attention in the sound design world, and gave me an opportunity to research and apply that knowledge into my current projects. I am inserting more sound design ideas into my collaborations with artists in different art fields. I believe that this will be the best way of giving back to this honorable scholarship.” While the site-building and fundraising took some energy, Avery is thrilled that Rothwell’s scholarship is able to make a difference for Ling and other students to come. She would advise people looking to start a grassroots fundraising effort to create a website and take advantage of social media. “I still maintain the Facebook page and I recently re-launched the site,” she says. “I loved him, and I like having this lovely place on the internet to point to and remind people, ‘He really was special.’” Nov 13, 2020

  • Alumna Establishes Scholarship for Women in Technology

    New funding creates opportunity for STEM mentorship
    Building a career in engineering as a woman 40 years ago had its challenges, but Janet Williams, B.S.M.E. '83, succeeded and is reaching out to young women to give a hand up through scholarships and mentoring.  “I like to joke that I’m an accidental engineer,” Williams says. “I didn’t discover engineering until I was hired at Burns & McDonnell Engineering in 1979.” Williams was an exemplary student whose parents understood her opportunities.  “I was the first person in my family to earn a college degree,” she says. “My first degree was actually in Spanish.” But working at Burns & McDonnell among engineers changed her trajectory. “Once I figured out what engineers did, I thought, ‘I can do this.’ And I embarked on a three-year endeavor of part-time and full-time classwork at UMKC to graduate with my B.S.M.E. in 1983.” Williams was part of the charter group that founded the UMKC chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) while she was in her senior year. “The women in SWE were a wonderful support group for a new engineer who lacked self-confidence among her male peers in the workplace,” she says. “They helped me see what I brought to the table, taught me how to dress professionally and gave me leadership opportunities in STEM outreach." When Williams moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1989, she was disappointed to find there was not a SWE chapter there. With a group of other women engineers who understood the particular pressures of being a woman in a field dominated by men, they formed the Central New Mexico Professional Section of Society of Women Engineers. “We were all grateful for the support we had getting to where we were, so we were all happy to give back by conducting outreach programs, giving science fair awards to young women and eventually establishing several scholarships for women in engineering.” Williams notes that Albuquerque is a particularly culturally rich area with a large population of Hispanic and Native American residents, both groups that are largely underrepresented in the field. In addition, Williams knows that research shows that having role models is a hugely important factor in girls pursuing engineering - something they often lack. “It has been gratifying to see the young women we have awarded scholarships to go on to graduate with a degree in engineering, or to be inspired to continue with math and science in high school so they can be ready for engineering or other STEM careers when they enter college.” Despite her success in Albuquerque, she wanted to do more. While she had considered a scholarship for women in engineering at UMKC in her estate planning, she wanted to have a more immediate impact. “This award motivates student research and attracts women to the field. The self-confidence it builds can change the world through science and technology.” - Janet Williams '83 “That’s when I became aware of the Women’s Graduate Assistance Fund, which was especially appealing for several reasons,” Williams says. “It was more affordable than most endowments. I was able to designate the award for a woman in SCE and it was able to be awarded immediately, rather than waiting for years. These were all very important factors to me.”  Earlier this year, Williams made a gift to the UMKC Women’s Graduate Assistance Fund to establish the Jan Williams and Family Award for Excellence in Computing & Engineering. Williams first award recipient, Zeenat Tariq, is pursuing a doctorate in computer science. “Zeenat is an engineer who is pursuing her education while raising a family like I did,” Williams says. “Her research in machine learning focuses on classifying sounds and their applicability to detect changes in the environment and the human body, and she has already published five papers in two years of graduate work.” Tariq is researching using machine learning for early detection and diagnosis for diseases – such as those that affect the heart and lungs – through human body sounds. This technology would provide the ability to detect abnormalities earlier than standard tests. Her scholarship furthered her progress and opportunities. “This award helped me further my career by allowing me to submit my research for publication and travel to present a paper where I had a chance to meet people from my field and gain more exposure to science and technology and share research with my community,” Tariq says. As a mother of a young child she would have had a difficult time attending without these funds. She would like to be able to help students like her when she is an established professional like Williams. Williams is happy to participate in Tariq’s journey as well as the paths of other women like her. “This award motivates student research and attracts women to the field,” Williams says. “The self-confidence it builds can change the world through science and technology.”   Nov 11, 2020

  • Political Science Professors Serve As Resource To Local Media

    Beth and Greg Vonnahme offer expertise on elections
    Beth and Greg Vonnahme, UMKC Political Science Department professors, have been interviewed by local media for months about the 2020 general election. Since Election Day, their expertise has been sought-after. Here are a few of the latest media interviews. ‘Can’t close that gap’: Marshall’s path to US Senate victory, KSHB, Greg Vonnahme Here’s how Trump’s election legal challenges could play out, Fox4KC, Greg Vonnahme Kansas advance-ballot law speeds up election results, KSHB, Beth Vonnahme 2020 Election Analysis, KCUR, 2020 Election Analysis Nov 10, 2020

  • UMKC Pharmacy Researchers Explore Pain Medication Prescribing Trends in Nursing Homes

    Opioids prescribed in conjunction with other medications raises concerns
    A team of researchers at the University of Missouri-Kanas City School of Pharmacy is taking a close look at prescribing trends for opioids used as pain management medications for older residents in nursing homes. Moreover, they are exploring how often opioids are being prescribed in combination with other medications to reduce pain. Maureen Knell, Pharm.D., a clinical professor at UMKC and clinical pharmacist at Saint Luke’s Health System Medical Education Internal Medicine Clinic, says the teams is particularly looking at how opioids are being used in nursing homes in conjunction with other medications that can impact the central nervous system. Prescribing multiple medications on top of opioids can have a significant effect on older adults and create an increased risk for adverse events ranging from falls to constipation to affecting cognitive function. “These are things that we are concerned about and watch out for in our practice every day,” Knell said. With data collected from four long-term care facilities in Missouri, Mark Patterson, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate professor of pharmacy, has created a registry of more than 1,800 medications and supplements to track medication discrepancy during transitions of care among 126 nursing home residents. It can be used to characterize prescribing patterns among various subsets of patients with different diseases and different medications. Working with Knell and fellow researchers Melissa Palmer, Pharm.D., clinical assistant professor, and Kaylee Huffman, a third-year UMKC pharmacy student, Patterson is looking not only at the types of opioids being prescribed, but also additional medications that are sometimes prescribed at the same time to treat pain or other comorbidities. One overarching concern, he said, is the concept of polypharmacy in which patients are being prescribed more than five different medications at the same time, sometimes for the same condition. “When that happens in an older group of patients who are also on opioids, that's a very high-risk mixture going on,” Patterson said. “So, we are very interested in looking further into the trends with regards to this high-risk population.”  Knell said finding patients on multiple drugs that affect their central nervous system such as antidepressants, antipsychotics or antianxiety medications such as valium and diazepam on top of opioids for pain management particularly raises a red flag. “Those types of agents combined with opioids, that's something that the guidelines are pretty clear on, that those increase the risk of undesirable effects when you combine them with opioids,” she said. Another concern that Patterson brings up is transition of care, when older adults go back and forth between hospital and the nursing home. When older patients are seen by multiple care providers, it creates a complicated dynamic in light of those patients receiving multiple prescribed medications.   “We are seeing potentially dangerous combinations of medications being prescribed,” Patterson said. “We don’t know yet the exact number or the rates, but it is concerning.” The information the UMKC research team is gathering will be a potentially valuable tool for the vast array of health professionals involved in providing care for older adults. In addition to the staff of nurses, physicians and pharmacists in the nursing homes, those in hospitals and individual primary care physicians all have hand in managing the residents’ medications as well as the community pharmacists supplying them. “It’s important that all health care providers, patients and caregivers appreciate and understand the significance and implications of these prescribing trends,” Patterson said. “Especially with older adults residing in nursing homes or discharged from hospitals who are prescribed opioids.” Looking forward, Knell said data outlining the prescribing trends of opioids in conjunction with adjuvant, non-opioid medications will hopefully help policy makers and individual clinicians make better decisions on how different medication go together or even whether they should be used together. It could also potentially be applied to a broader range of adults or other special populations. “I think there are a broad range of possibilities with this,” she said. Nov 09, 2020

  • New Assistant Professor Studies Molecular Arms Race

    Advances in the study of plant virus transmission may lead to breakthroughs in human health
    Jared May joined the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences as Kansas City and the rest of the world was beginning to shut down because of COVID-19. While May adjusted to the move from Washington D.C., he pursued research into how plant viruses evade detection in host cells, and how it relates to human virus pathogenesis. Your research focuses on how RNA plant viruses are able to circumvent antiviral pathways of potential host cells. What led you to this specialty? Viruses have been infecting every lifeform since the beginning of time. This tug of war between a host and a virus has been like a molecular arms race. They’re always fighting trying to get the upper hand. That’s one of the things I find remarkable about viruses -- even though they infect such diverse organisms, they are closely related. They share so much in common that what you find in one virus many times will translate to other viruses.   Does this type of research lend itself to human viruses? COVID-19 for example? My research focuses on RNA metabolism pathways that inhibit plant virus replication. Interestingly, these pathways are present in animals and are known to target coronaviruses like COVID-19. By determining how plant viruses have evolved to survive in their host cells, we will gain a better understanding of how viruses like COVID-19 must adapt to survive in human cells. This work has the potential to uncover virus features that could be targeted by vaccines or antiviral therapeutics.  "Viruses have been infecting every animal since the beginning of time. This tug of war between a host and a virus has been like a molecular arms race." - Jared May Some people did not absorb the significance of the spread of COVID-19 immediately. How did you react when you become aware of the virus’s potential? My first concern was that based on the virology conferences that I’d attended, I knew that studying coronaviruses wasn’t extremely popular. The first major outbreak was SARS and there haven’t been new cases since around 2003. So, the interest in the field had died down and shifted towards more recent outbreaks like Ebola. Because of that, there wasn’t a lot of ongoing research. How does the current focus on coronaviruses relate to your work? Both coronaviruses and plant viruses are targeted by their host cells using shared pathways. So, I’m trying to leverage what I’ve already found in plant viruses and see if this this novel coronavirus exploits similar attributes to fight the human antiviral response. What led you to this specialty? In graduate school I became interested in viruses and infectious disease. I studied human noroviruses that often cause outbreaks on cruise ships. But there are unique benefits in working with plants. For one, the cost is significantly cheaper. It’s a difficult time to move to a new city. How are you adjusting? Have you had time to explore? Yes, it is unfortunate timing! But my wife and I just had our first baby. She’s a year old, so sometimes it’s easier to stay home! Nov 09, 2020

  • UMKC Professors Weigh-In On KCPD Diversity

    KCUR investigates dearth of Black detectives on Kansas City police force and its ability to solve violent crime
    KCUR interviewed Toya Like, criminal justice professor at the UMKC Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology; and Sean O’Brien, criminal law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law and a former public defender. Read the full article. Nov 09, 2020

  • Five Top Clay County Employees Resign, Alleging Harassment By The Presiding Commissioner

    KCUR interviews School of Law professor
    UMKC law professor Mikah Thompson said the allegations are troubling. Overall, the separation agreements are “fairly standard,” according to Thompson. She teaches employment law and has about 15 years of experience as an employment attorney. Read the full article. Nov 04, 2020

  • Kansas And Missouri Are Seeing Their Fair Share Of Election Lawsuits

    Legal contests underway in Kansas and Missouri are likely continue well past Election Day
    Beth Vonnahme, associate dean at UMKC, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and associate professor of political science, was a guest on Up to Date. Nov 03, 2020

  • Panelists Discuss 'How To Be An Antiracist'

    Book by author Ibram X. Kendi offers foundation for 2020 Social Justice Book Lecture
    For the 2020 UMKC Social Justice Book Lecture, the Division of Diversity and Inclusion hosted a panel discussion centered on the New York Times bestselling book “How To Be An Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi. The conversation included topics such as agreeing on a common understanding of the term “racist,” understanding the framework of systemic racism and why equity is a lot like justice. Meet the panelists: Cecilia Belser-Patton, principal and culture curator of JUST Systems Gwendolyn Grant, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City  Rodney D. Smith, Ed.D., vice president for access and engagement at William Jewell College; co-founder of Sophic Solutions, LLC.  Mikah Thompson (moderator), associate professor at UMKC School of Law Ajamu Webster, CEO/founder, structural engineer at DuBois Consultants   Below are some excerpts from the conversation. “The system is getting exactly what it was designed to get. It was designed to oppress Black people, it was designed to suppress our ability to engage in American capitalism. And so it has created this persistent and pervasive divide across all quality of life indicators.” —Gwendolyn Grant “When we hear the term [racist] levied and people have such umbrage and take such offense. ‘Oh no, I’m not a racist.’ What I think people mean is, ‘I’m not a hate monger.’ Because we’ve done such a poor job of defining how race really works in our society. Most of the time when I’m talking about race and racism it’s in the structural and systemic sense.” —Rodney D. Smith “No matter what else we do, that intersection of race is always coming in, no matter how many degrees we have, no matter what we earn. People got real irritated with me when I said you can’t out zip code race. You cannot. You can live wherever you want to live, you can choose to live wherever you want to live and there will still be an intersection of our race in all of that.” —Cecilia Belser-Patton  “As long as  [racism] is looked at as a moral issue, then moral suasion can be an option that might have benefit, but moral suasion isn’t enough when the entire economic, political, social, cultural and — before scientific — structure was set up to justify the founding and continuation of the American project at the expense of African people.” —Ajamu Webster Watch the event recording below.  Nov 02, 2020

  • How One Kansas City Group Is Building Up Black-Owned Businesses

    Bloch School associate professor comments on accessing capital
    Accessing capital is difficult without a positive credit history. Many entrepreneurs use their homes as collateral for loans. But that also makes it harder for Black homeowners who live in historically redlined areas where home values are lower, said Brent Never, an associate professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Henry W. Bloch School of Management. Read the full article from the Kansas City Star. (subscription required) Nov 01, 2020

  • Political Science Professor Weighs-In On Election

    Boston Globe interviews Max Skidmore
    Even by doing too little on the virus — at least in the view of his detractors — Trump still occupies the center of the debate. “Though Trump blusters, he’s militant about his passivity and has divested all his responsibility on COVID,” said Max Skidmore, UMKC Curators' Distinguished Professor of Political Science, and Thomas Jefferson Fellow, and author of a book on presidential leadership during health crises. Read the full article. Oct 31, 2020

  • Campus Updates for Spring Semester

    Information for Thanksgiving and winter breaks, return to campus in January
    UMKC plans to continue most of the current pandemic-related health and safety practices and return to a mix of in-person, online and hybrid classes in the next semester, while standing ready to make changes in response to the evolving situation and any new mandates from authorities. Campus officials said the current practices for masking, distancing, reporting and overall hygiene are working well. A move to mostly online instruction after the Thanksgiving break was based on the risks of holiday-season travel, rather than on-campus conditions. Some modifications for spring semester are under consideration because winter weather will limit opportunities for safer outdoor interaction; any changes will be communicated to the campus community. “You have our deepest appreciation for adapting and thriving this semester, learning and working while keeping everyone safe,” Chancellor Mauli Agrawal and Provost Jenny Lundgren wrote in a recent letter to students, faculty and staff. They noted that the rolling 7-day-average of on-campus positive COVID-19 cases has stayed low, consistently between 1 and 2 per day.  Following is a breakdown of what to expect. Return to campus Spring 2021  Coursework next semester will be conducted similar to the fall. UMKC plans to have 50% of courses online and the other 50% in a face-to-face or hybrid format, with an emphasis on providing a larger percentage of lower division and professional program courses face-to-face. Factors such as enrollment, class registration patterns, classroom and faculty availability and public health recommendations will all impact the final breakdown. Existing health and safety guidelines and policies are expected to continue in the spring as well, including mask guidelines. Residential Life housing students will be required to show negative COVID test results upon return in January as they did in August. Those who have left the U.S. will be required to quarantine for 14 days before classes begin Jan. 19. More details, including testing options, will come to those students in the upcoming weeks. Study abroad programs will not be available this spring or summer, due to ongoing COVID concerns in the United States and globally. Thanksgiving and winter breaks Classes will not be in session the week of Nov. 23, and most employees won’t be working Thursday and Friday that week. Residential Life housing will be available to the students who live there and want to remain on campus through the break at no cost to students.  The university will transition from in-person classes to online beginning Nov. 30 for the remainder of the semester, including final exams. Exceptions will be any clinicals, labs or other experiential classes that have been in-person. They will remain in-person through semester’s end. Students in on-campus housing who need to remain on campus during winter break will have that option this year for an additional cost. Residential life will contact those students with information on how to sign up for this option. Health and safety on and off campus Because colder weather and time away from campus are coming, it’s vitally important to continue best practices for health and hygiene such as wearing masks, physically distancing and avoiding gatherings, small and large. Students, faculty and staff are urged to visit the UMKC COVID-19 website for up-to-date information on confirmed cases and health and safety best practices. Per notification protocols for students and employees, please remember that all members of the UMKC community are required to report a positive COVID-19 test within four hours of receiving it, whether you are on or off campus. During business hours, students should call the UMKC HelpLine at 816-235-2222; employees should contact their supervisor. After hours and on weekends, all should report by calling 816-235-COVI. Oct 30, 2020

  • Kansas U.S. Senate Race Breaks Spending Records for Campaigns

    KSHB interviews Greg Vonnahme
    “You can total up every Senate and governor’s race for the last decade in the state of Kansas, and it’s still less than what they’ve spent so far,” UMKC Associate Professor Greg Vonnahme said. Read the full article and watch the newscast. Oct 30, 2020

  • UMKC Team Wins National ACCP Clinical Pharmacy Challenge

    Second national championship this year for School of Pharmacy
    Three fourth-year students from the UMKC School of Pharmacy defeated a team from Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy to win the 2020 ACCP Clinical Pharmacy Challenge. It is the school’s first national championship in the competition conducted annually by the American College of Clinical Pharmacy. It is the second time this year that the School of Pharmacy has achieved the top rung in a national competition. In April, the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists recognized UMKC with its national Chapter of the Year award for the third time in the last nine years. The ACCP competition started in early September with 109 teams across the country taking part. UMKC’s team of Brooke Jacobson, Kathryn Rechenberg and Jamie Sullivan made its way through six rounds of online competition to reach the finals on Oct. 16. The challenge pits teams of three students against one another in a “quiz bowl”–type format. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the final rounds, typically head-to-head duels held during the ACCP’s annual meeting, took place in a virtual format. Members of the UMKC team agreed that the online competition helped them improve their ability to communicate in a virtual format while also challenging their clinical skills in pediatrics, infectious diseases and cardiology. “I think this was a really great tool to test the knowledge that we had learned from our didactic coursework and on rotations,” Jacobson said. “We learned that we are very well prepared for our rotations and for practice after (graduating from) school. We’re very thankful for the great faculty that taught us every section. This was a really great tool to measure that.” Each round of the competition consisted of questions posed in three distinct segments: a trivia section of true-false and multiple-choice queries, followed by a set of questions based on a clinical case, then a final Jeopardy-style segment. “Some rounds were more relaxed than others,” Sullivan said. “It got to be high stress, high tension at times but I think we used that to work together and achieve our goal of winning the competition.” This is the 11th year for the ACCP competition. Questions for the contest were written and reviewed by an expert panel of ACCP members. School of Pharmacy faculty members Elizabeth Englin, Andrew J. Smith, Sarah Billings and Jamie Hall, Pharm.D., BCPS, served as the team’s faculty advisers throughout the competition. “Brooke, Jamie and Kathyrn did an amazing job throughout the competition and are well deserving of this accomplishment because of all the hard work they put in, not only for this competition but also their careers as student pharmacists,” Englin said. “All School of Pharmacy faculty and staff are extremely proud and happy for them. The team represented the UMKC School of Pharmacy well and their win demonstrates the strength of our program and how we are able to help prepare students for success including these types of competitions, but more importantly as future pharmacists within our communities.” Rechenberg commended the school’s faculty in preparing the team for the competition. “We want to give a special thank you to the wonderful faculty that supported us along the way and taught us the knowledge we were able to showcase during this competition,” Rechenberg said. Oct 29, 2020

  • Visionary Leaders Honored by UMKC Bloch School

    Four to receive Entrepreneur of the Year awards
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City has announced the honorees for its 35th Annual Entrepreneur of the Year awards.  The celebration is sponsored by the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the university’s Henry W. Bloch School of Management.   The 2020 EOY Ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, November 12, with a Student Venture Showcase at 4:30 p.m. and the awards program beginning at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are not required but advance registration is required for the virtual program. The full list of 2020 honorees includes: Henry W. Bloch International Entrepreneur of the Year Award: Yvon Chouinard, founder, Patagonia. Our Henry W. Bloch International Entrepreneur of the Year truly has had global impact. The honoree not only built a company but transformed his industry and significantly contributed to the economic and cultural development of many throughout the world. Chouinard is an itinerant adventurer, passionate activist and iconoclastic businessman. In 1973, he founded Patagonia, a mission-driven company known for its environmental and social initiatives. Chouinard is a surfer, mountain climber, gardener, falconer and is particularly fond of tenkara fly fishing. Kansas City Entrepreneur of the Year: Nathaniel Hagedorn, founder and CEO, NorthPoint Development. With 18 years of commercial real estate experience, Hagedorn is responsible for the overall strategy of the company. He has helped raise in excess of $7.1 billion in capital over the last eight years for the company’s real estate investments. NorthPoint has developed and managed in excess of 88 million square feet of commercial space and over 4,900 apartments. The NorthPoint family of companies has grown to include the real estate development and management company, an international logistics and freight forwarding firm, a third-party logistics company, warehouse technology and supply chain integration company, and an industrial architectural and engineering firm.   Marion and John Kreamer Award for Social Entrepreneurship: Robert W. Hatch, chairman and CEO, Cereal Ingredients, Inc. and Great Plains Analytical Lab. Hatch founded Cereal Ingredients, a specialty-food ingredients manufacturer, and Great Plains Analytical Laboratory in 1990. Hatch is also Chairman of FINCA International (Foundation for International Community Assistance), a not-for-profit microfinance organization with a mission to provide financial services to the world’s lowest-income entrepreneurs so they can create jobs, build assets and improve their standard of living. FINCA pioneered the “village banking method” of credit delivery, which offers small  loans and a savings program to those without access to traditional banks. Student Entrepreneur of the Year: Jonaie Johnson Johnson is currently a Dean’s List business student and athlete at UMKC majoring in entrepreneurship. She started her company, Interplay, when she was accepted into the E-Scholars program. Interplay is working towards automating pet interaction by providing dog owners with an interactive, automated dog crate. Last year, she was a starter on the UMKC Roos Western Athletic Conference champion women’s basketball team. The Entrepreneur of the Year Awards event is an iconic Kansas City tradition started in 1985. Beyond its philanthropic cause, this event is a valuable forum where Kansas City CEOs, entrepreneurs, business owners, industry legends, world-class faculty and students alike are able to celebrate a common passion. The event celebrates entrepreneurial spirit and serves as a source of inspiration to future generations of innovative entrepreneurs. All proceeds from this event directly benefit the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s student and community programs. The Regnier Institute at the Bloch School focuses on connecting students and community members with a comprehensive combination of world-class research, renowned faculty, cutting-edge curriculum and experimental programs driven to deliver results and nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs. Oct 29, 2020

  • KC Jobs Starting to Return Since Beginning of Pandemic

    Bloch School associate professor weighs-in
    “Hospitality, that’s the area that’s been hit the hardest,” said Nathan Mauck, associate professor of finance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read the article and watch the newscast. Oct 29, 2020

  • At Ease Zone Ready for Action

    Resource for veterans has convenient home on campus
    When Eric Gormly completed his service with the U.S. Marine Corps, his grandmother insisted he take advantage of his G.I. Bill. He worked in the Veterans Affairs office in college and has not stopped advocating for veterans since. Gormly is the assistant director for Veteran Student Support Services at UMKC and oversees the At Ease Zone, a resource center for veterans on campus. While in the Marines, he was deployed to Hurricane Katrina, Iraq and Peru. A Kansas City native, when he completed his service, he came home, enrolled in community college to pursue a degree in law enforcement and worked in the veterans’ office. “After a couple of semesters my academic advisor said, ‘You talk a lot about helping vets. Are you sure you want to go into law enforcement?’” He realized that helping veterans was his calling. He’s spent 10 years in higher education establishing programs to make the transition to college easier for veterans, and to help them feel a part of campus life. “Veterans go from a highly organized structure in the military to no structure at the university. We help with the transition.” - Eric Gormly “There is culture shock on re-entry,” Gormly says. “Veterans go from a highly organized structure in the military to no structure at the university. We help with the transition.” In order to be better informed of veteran enrollment, there is an opportunity to identify that on the UMKC admission application. While that provides some basic information about veterans on campus, Gormly recognizes that all veterans do not have the same needs. “We know who receives benefits, but there’s a wide range of student veterans,” Gormly says. “The military doesn’t do a great job explaining the benefits, and some veterans may not be clear on how to use them.” The At Ease Zone can be a great place for veterans to find resources. Currently located in Atterbury Student Success Center, the At Ease Zone also provides a comfortable spot on campus for military-affiliated students to study, socialize and connect with staff and each other. There are 100 new veteran students at UMKC this semester. “I call every incoming student,” Gormly says. “We push that out. They don’t have to ask. They may need help to connect on campus. For some students, groups are better, for others one on one works best. We try to find the best fit.” Regardless of their preferences, Gormly notes that a visible location on campus has made a significant difference in the way they can provide services with a variety of resources beyond being a place to relax and do homework. “There are computers available and students are welcome to come in to study or do Zoom classes. We have tutors, academic coaches and a 32-inch display with resources including veterans’ organizations on campus and information on the Kangaroo Pantry.” Kavitha Reddy, BLA ’99, MD ’00, is associate director of Employee Whole Health in the Veterans’ Health Administration Office of Patient-Centered Care and Cultural Transformation and assistant professor in Emergency Medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine. Throughout her career, she has been an advocate for veterans’ health through a variety of resources in and outside the hospital setting. “Places like the At Ease Zone are perfect places for veterans to be proactive about their health and well-being,” Reddy says. “For the men and women who went into the service relatively young – often 18 years old – they are facing a lot of new challenges along with mental and physical health issues. Civilian life may seem fragmented, and taking care of themselves, mind, body and spirit, is incredibly important “The university establishing a safe space that is visible on campus is significant.” Gormly is excited about the opportunities ahead. “Vets face a lot,” he says. “They are often confronted with the idea that veterans have trouble adapting, but being in the military often helps us to adapt. These students bring a different level of commitment with maturity, motivation and persistence. Our office provides training for faculty and staff to understand a vet’s mindset. There are so many positive qualities that they bring to campus. We hope to expand.” For more information on services or to volunteer contact Eric Gormly at gormlyea@umkc.edu or 816-235-5599. Oct 28, 2020

  • Two UMKC Professors Fly Above The Metro, Urging Residents To Vote

    Story by Fox4KC
    If you needed a sign from above to convince you to vote, on Tuesday, one week before the general election, there was one.  Two civil engineering professors at the University of Missouri-Kansas City took to the skies to encourage metro residents to head to the polls. Mujahid Abdulrahim and Travis Fields, who are pilots as well as professors, have told UMKC student about the importance of voting all year. Read more. Oct 28, 2020

  • Connection and Focus Define Student’s Year

    Junior Jennifer Rangel reaps benefits of KC Scholars despite challenges
    Get to know our people and you'll know what UMKC is all about. Jennifer Rangel, '22 Hometown: Kansas City High School: Shawnee Mission East High School UMKC degree program: Double major B.A. Communication Studies with an emphasis in personal and interpersonal communication, with a minor in business administration, and B.A. Studio Art with an emphasis in graphic design Junior Jennifer Rangel was drawn to UMKC because of its diverse student body. As a recipient of a KC Scholars scholarship, she had been relieved of some of the stress that college can entail and is able to work part time. While the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic sidelined some of her plans, Rangel is finding her way with grace and good spirits. Rangel started UMKC last year undecided on her major, but determined to find her path. “I think that after taking some time, I found what I am interested in. I love designing and I always talked about it even when it was not my major. I think I just needed some time to really consider what I wanted, and I think I have found it. I have other interests as well that are causing me to consider graduate school.” Currently, she is double majoring and minoring, pursuing a B.A. in Studio Art with an emphasis in graphic design and a B.A. in communication studies with an emphasis in personal and interpersonal communication along with a minor in business administration. Also, she is working part-time at Commerce Bank. “I have been there for almost two years and I do enjoy it. I think it is a great job filled with so many opportunities to learn. I have so much knowledge about finances and how to manage money and I work with a great group of people that support me in any way they can.” “I think that after taking some time, I found what I am interested in. I love designing and I always talked about it even when it was not my major. I think I just needed some time to really consider what I wanted, and I think I have found it." Identifying strong support systems has been instrumental in Rangel’s success. “My advisor, Susi Krulewich has had so much impact. She was my advisor when I was undecided on my major. She talked me through fears and concerns and led me to resources to help me decide. She allowed me to feel confident with my decision and has always been supportive. I am not on campus as much as I used to be, but I will almost always try to stop by and see her any chance I get.” Krulewich leads the KC Scholars program on campus, which includes a mentorship program. “I participated in the mentorship program my freshman and sophomore years and really enjoyed it,” Rangel says. “It was a great way to hold myself accountable and have additional support in ensuring that I have all the resources I need to succeed. Susi has been trying to get me to become a coach to mentor other students for some time now, and I’m hoping that I will be able to take advantage of that opportunity at least once before I graduate.” Rangel wants to give back to KC Scholars because it has meant so much to her. “Honestly, KC Scholars has changed my life. I will never forget the day I found out I was accepted. It makes me emotional every time. Without KC Scholars, I do not think I could have had the amazing college experience I have had. I would probably be working multiple jobs to help pay my way. I am beyond grateful to be a KC Scholar.” "Honestly, KC Scholars has changed my life. I will never forget the day I found out I was accepted." The onset of COVID-19 has meant missing personal connection. As she’s not on campus as often she rarely sees Krulwich. “I was able to stay connected with friends and family, although it was hard. Especially with friends, we had to be creative on how to see each other and spend time together and that often meant Zoom. We had to find time that worked for everyone and even then, there would be some that were missing.” Rangel has found that keeping an open mind and being comfortable not always having a plan can be good tools that reinforce resilience, even in more normal times. “I wish I had known freshman year that you do not need to come to college with a major in mind, and you don’t need to stick with what you choose for the rest of your life. Things change and you may not always be interested in the major you originally chose. Just make sure whatever you choose you actually love. It makes all the difference and you’ll know when you hear yourself talk about it.” Oct 28, 2020

  • Dancing During a Pandemic

    Conservatory faculty and students adjust to changes in classroom and teaching
    Without a doubt, the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 outbreak has changed the way University of Missouri-Kansas City faculty teach and the way students learn. Those changes are particularly challenging for performance classes such as dance. So, we decided to check in with the UMKC Conservatory Dance Division to see what classes look like during the fall semester. DeeAnna Hiett, associate professor of dance and chair of UMKC Conservatory Dance, invited us to a 400-level modern dance class, which includes mostly seniors. She has 19 students in the class. But due to social distancing restrictions, she can only have a total of eight people in the room at a time, six students, one professor and one accompanist. On the day of our visit, Hiett juggled two practice rooms and a group of students on Zoom. Hiett alternated between helping the students in the room she was in. She monitored via Zoom the students in the other practice room and those connectedly remotely.   For the students connected over Zoom, Hiett reminded them to pay attention to details and not watch her on their monitors. She told them to focus on the moves, pay attention to carriage and posture, and give attention to the position of hands, fingers, toes and arms. Senior Emily Moreland said practicing remotely has been a challenge. “The most difficult part is when I have to dance at home over Zoom, having enough space, a suitable surface and technical issues with Zoom,” she said. Before COVID, Hiett said she didn’t record the classes, but has found that the recordings, which are now posted to the class in Canvas, are helpful. She said students can review their movements and listen to the feedback given by the instructor. Squares on the floor mark the space each student needs to stay within. And everyone must wear masks. Moreland said she is more aware of the space around her because of the limited space in the practice room. “I am also so much more grateful for the time that I do get in the studio, with professors and musicians.” All practice rooms have industrial air cleaners and sanitizing supplies. Everyone enters through one door. And exits through a different door. Even though UMKC Facilities staff clean the rooms daily, each dancer cleans his or her own spaces after each practice. Senior Emily Rackers said they social distance as much as possible. “And we end classes and rehearsals with a cleaning spree!” Hiett said one of the hardest things for students right now, particularly seniors, is putting capstone projects together. Moreland is one of the students who has had to make changes to her senior showcase. “The concept for my senior piece came out of the restrictions placed on us as choreographers,” Moreland said. “I wanted something conducive to those restrictions so that I didn't spend the whole process feeling defeated by them.” "The most challenging part for me has just been trying to focus on the moment and not miss the way things used to be, especially since I’m a senior. I think the most positive change is that I’m forced to really focus in class and rehearsals and use more of my time outside of class to work on my craft. I’ve seen more improvement this way.” Emily Rackers Rackers will also graduate in 2021. She is weighing her options after graduation but plans to audition for companies and inquire about jobs. She is also considering graduate school because of the limited job opportunities right now.  After graduation, Moreland would like to dance in a ballet company. The obstacles she’s overcome have made her ready for what comes next. “I know that whatever gets thrown at me in my career I will be able to handle it because we’ve been through so much already,” Moreland said. “I am really proud of the creativity and perseverance of my class. Necessity really is the mother of invention.” Oct 28, 2020

  • UMKC and National Network Awarded $30 Million-Plus to Tackle Opioid Epidemic

    5 ways this coalition has helped people in the Kansas City area and more than 3 million nationally
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City is a key collaborator on a recently awarded $30 million-plus project to address the opioid and stimulant crises across the nation. The American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry is the award recipient working with UMKC and Columbia University to lead an unprecedented coalition of 40 national professional organizations on the project. The UMKC partner in the effort is the Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network Office at the School of Nursing and Health Studies. The grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration supports the ongoing work of the Opioid Response Network, originally funded in 2018. To date, the initiative has reached more than 3 million people with education and training to mitigate opioid and stimulant use provided at no cost. “We’re proud of the network we’ve built nationally, regionally and locally,” says Holly Hagle, co-director of the Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network, UMKC assistant research professor and UMKC site principal investigator. “This literally started with a budget on a napkin of what could be done.” The Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network Office at UMKC is part of the Collaborative to Advance Health Services at the School of Nursing and Health Studies, which has about 30 employees. “Helping people with substance-use disorders would not be possible without the foundational work of the Addiction Technology Transfer Center located at UMKC since 1993 and collaborating with universities across the country,” says Laurie Krom, principal investigator and co-director of the Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network Office and UMKC program director. “There have been a lot of people who have put in countless hours of effort and unyielding passion to develop the network.” “This latest grant, and the ongoing long-term exceptional performance of the Collaborative to Advance Health Services, exemplifies UMKC leadership in healthcare research and service,” said Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal.  “Our School of Nursing and Health Studies is at the forefront of national efforts to address the scourge of opioid addiction.” The new two-year grant began Sept. 30. The Opioid Response Network also intends to expand its support for justice and corrections settings, grow its culturally specific work groups, such as its American Indian/ Alaska Native committee and create new work groups for African Americans, LGBTQ and rural communities. Recognizing the impact stimulant use is having across the country, the network plans to expand resources to provide more educational services in this area – a need that is especially relevant locally. Based on requests, here is how the network has helped people in the Kansas City area and regionally: Provided consultation and support on evidence-based strategies for establishing a recovery high school to a local Kansas City businessman. Presented a treatment and recovery-based training series to Jackson County Family Court personnel, including judges, guardians, social workers, juvenile correction personnel and private attorneys. This training included an overview of opioid-use treatment from a medical and behavioral health perspective, a local recovery subject-matter expert with lived experience and an anti-stigma training. Consulted a Kansas City-based recovery coalition to help the organization collect information, strategize and plan an initiative to increase the number of recovery housing beds available in the metro area, which included applying the National Alliance for Recovery Residences’ accreditation processes and other recovery supports. Developed and support a regular meeting of medical directors and treatment staff from opioid treatment programs in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska, providing opportunities for sharing ideas around treatment and operational issues. This meeting became a vital connection for the participants after the Covid-19 pandemic hit the region. Many programs had to pivot quickly to begin providing services virtually via telehealth and develop safety guidelines for in-person services. Translated patient education materials on opioid use disorder in Burmese, Somali and Rohingya for a community hospital in rural western Kansas located near a meat packing plant. The hospital is treating people with limited English language proficiency and had no materials in those respective languages to describe opioid-use disorder symptoms and treatments. Oct 27, 2020

  • “Real Black: A Spectrum of the Black Present,” UMKC Gallery of Art

    KC Studio reviews UMKC Gallery of Art exhibition
    UMKC art student Shaka Myrick, co-curator of the exhibit with Davin Watne and Emma Thomas, states that she would like viewers to leave thinking, “We are not simply #BLM but we are real humans living in America attempting to live a ‘normal’ life with the compounding injustices of racism and sexism. But with this we are also people with an intrinsic ability to find fantasy and beauty in all of their experiences.” Read the full article. Oct 27, 2020

  • Election-Year Workload Mushrooms for Political Science Couple

    Balancing academia and family life in the busiest of seasons
    Conversations at the Vonnahme family dinner table cover a lot of ground. Trucks. Turtles. Psychological dimensions of voter behavior. Beth and Greg Vonnahme are both political science professors at UMKC, and parents of two preschool children. In a presidential election year generating unprecedented passion and interest, they find themselves juggling teaching, research and administrative duties; family life; and a constant stream of news media requests for analysis and commentary. It’s hectic, but immensely rewarding. Beth is an associate professor of political science, former department chair and now serves as associate dean of the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences. Greg is an associate professor and current department chair. Between the two of them, they have done eight news media interviews since August on national, state and local election topics. They met while in the political science doctoral program at Rice University, and “got together over the final season of The West Wing.”  Here are excerpts from a recent conversation. How did you end up at UMKC?  Greg: Beth came to visit UMKC and loved the city, the department and the college. I was working at Alabama (roll tide!) and eventually got an offer from UMKC. Beth: He is originally from Iowa and was very grateful to be able to come back to the Midwest. How old are your children? Are they politically conscious? Beth: Our kids are 2 and 5. The older one is aware of some basics—the government makes the laws, the existence of a mayor, president, etc. Politics is a big part of our lives and they’ll be exposed to a lot of it eventually, but right now it’s about trains, bugs, bikes, and outer space. (At the dinner table) we’re just as likely to be talking about a huge leaf in the backyard, garbage trucks or a turtle at the pond. What drew you to political science initially? Beth: I have always been fascinated with government and politics. I dressed up as the president in second grade for Halloween. My mom helped me sew “Commander in Chief” on a suit jacket. I always assumed I would be a lawyer until I was a senior in college. I took a number of political science and history classes and loved studying politics. I had a professor who suggested graduate school and I was hooked. Greg: I don’t really remember a time when I wasn’t interested in politics. My parents were highly attentive to politics. Growing up in Iowa also meant that there was a lot of campaign activity around the state and community. There was always this sense that politics mattered and could be used to make our society better. Now, that’s not exactly the same as political science!  One of my first political science classes was on international relations, and that introduced me to world politics, which in many ways operates with its own set of complex norms and rules. That had me hooked on political science as an academic discipline. “Growing up in Iowa also meant that there was a lot of campaign activity around the state and community. There was always this sense that politics mattered and could be used to make our society better.” Greg Vonnahme Have you had strong mentoring relationships with students who have gone on to enjoy professional success? What does that feel like? Beth: I have. Most of my students have gone on to successful legal (defense attorneys, environmental lawyers, corporate attorneys, civil litigation, etc.) or governmental careers (World Bank, Defense Department, etc.). I am endlessly proud of our students’ accomplishments. It brings me great pleasure when I see my students getting excellent jobs, having families and doing amazing things for our community. Greg: I teach a lot of introductory-level classes, so my interactions with students are pretty early, and I also advise them in the major later on. I’ve had students go on to positions on Capitol Hill, the White House, campaigns, in government relations and law. I’m very proud of all of our students, and their effort and resourcefulness. I might have had a small part to play along the way, but I mostly try not to hold them back too much! “I have always been fascinated with government and politics. I dressed up as the president in second grade for Halloween. My mom helped me sew 'Commander in Chief ' on a suit jacket.” Beth Vonnahme Have students changed much over the years you’ve been teaching, in terms of their approach to the subject? In terms of their professional goals? Greg: What I’ve seen in the classroom in the last few years is that the decades-old story about young people not caring about politics might be changing. It is more than just “slacktivism” where people share memes on social media and then don’t actually do anything. I’ve seen a significant increase in the interest that our students have in politics, institutions and voting.  They want to understand the issues and processes as a way to be involved in politics more effectively … There is also a degree of skepticism about technology. When social media first began to emerge as a tool for political organization, there was a bit of a utopian sentiment about its possibilities. There’s much more concern about its negative effects among today’s students. Beth: Students today face many more obstacles than students did when I first started at UMKC in 2006. Food and housing insecurity is a very real issue; financial and family obligations are more acute today than in the past. The specific issues that motivate them have changed, but the passion of political science students to care about the political world and how it affects the daily lives of all has not changed. What are your other major mutual interests besides politics? Beth: Family outings, books and sports. Family outings we generally all do together. Books and cycling are both mutual interests, but books are a little bit more my passion, sports are a bit more Greg’s. Greg:  Beth also likes to bake and I like to eat what she bakes. Oct 26, 2020

  • MRIs Might Be Safe for Patients With Implanted Heart Devices

    Sanjaya Gupta talks to HealthDay about MRIs
    “... patients with these ‘legacy’ devices are still being told they can’t have an MRI,” said Sanjaya Gupta, M.D., a cardiologist at Saint Luke’s Mid-America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Mo., and assistant professor at the UMKC School of Medicine. Read the full article. Oct 26, 2020

  • Few New Movies, Small Crowds: Can KC-based Theaters Survive The Pandemic?

    Kansas City Star interviews Bloch School Associate Professor
    “That (money loss and debt) was not a product of the pandemic. It was a product of the industry and also their specific performance within the industry,” said Nathan Mauck, associate professor of finance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read the KC Star article. (subscription required) Oct 25, 2020

  • Voter Apathy Expected To Be Common Problem In 2020

    Beth Vonnahme talks to KCTV5 about voter turnout
    UMKC associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Beth Vonnahme, defines voter apathy as nonparticipation caused by feeling “turned off” of the political process. Read the story or watch the newscast.  Oct 22, 2020

  • Haunted UMKC

    5 Historically Eerie Locations on Campus
    Just in time for Halloween, we’re getting the scoop on five reportedly haunted places at UMKC from our own resident historian, Chris Wolff, manager of the UMKC Bookstore. Historical photo of University Playhouse at its location near present-day Miller Nichols Library and Learning Center. 1. Lurking Patron at the University Playhouse Vaugn Burkholder Since opening in 1948, the University Playhouse had a tradition of bringing in professional actors and directors to work with the students. One of the actresses was a local woman named Vaugn Burkholder; she had a short career on Broadway, was petite in size and wore tall heels to compensate. With her love for theater, she would often observe casting calls and rehearsals from the catwalk above the stage. On the night of Oct. 23, 1957, Vaugn’s husband dropped her off at the playhouse. Just as she walked in, she was greeted by the stage manager and suddenly collapsed. They called an ambulance, but it was too late. Vaugn died of a heart attack right in the manager’s arms. Since Vaugn’s death, strange activities began to happen at the University Playhouse: reports of lights turning on and off; campus police, on multiple occasions, found all the doors and windows open in the middle of the night as they heard sounds of a performance—including audience laughter and applause--yet upon entry, they discovered no one was there. Sometimes guests of the theater would claim they saw a woman on the catwalk. However when they asked the ushers who it was, there would be no one there. The most interesting of all:  the stage manager would often hear the distinct, chilling sound of Vaugn’s footsteps in those high heels on stage when he was in the building alone. The University Playhouse was eventually torn down; all that remains today is the playhouse patio located on the southwest corner of Miller Nichols Library and Learning Center. Present-day Spencer Theater with catwalk pictured above. 2. Dancing With the Past in the Spencer Theater After the University Playhouse was torn down in 1978, Olson Performing Arts Theatre was built to replace it. The Kansas City Repertory Theatre moved inside to the Spencer Theatre in 1979, and it wasn’t long before strange things started to occur. Lights would mysteriously turn on and off. One evening, a costume designer left a project unfinished only to find it finished in the morning. Another time, an actress fell coming down the staircase from the catwalk and felt an invisible force stop her fall mid-air and steady her on the steps. And again, like in the University Playhouse, guests would ask the ushers, “Who is that woman up on the catwalk?” In 1985, an actress named Laura San Giacomo was cast as Juliet in the KC Rep’s production of Romeo and Juliet. One evening, Laura went on stage to perform a scene where she danced around the stage by herself. As she set out across the stage, suddenly an older woman appeared in full costume dancing with her, step-by-step. Laura kept her composure and completed the scene. She then rushed off stage and found the stage manager and asked, “Who was that woman on stage with me?” He replied, calm and unfazed: “It was just the stage ghost.” Historical photo of the UNews House at 5327 Holmes Street. 3. The UNews House Possession The house at 5327 Holmes St. has been owned by the university for decades; it was once the home of radio station KCUR 89.3 as well as a weekly radio show first produced there in the 1970s. Legend has it that in 1977 a gunman forced his way into the home, burst into the studio and shot the host and guest he was interviewing. The gunman fled the scene and was never caught. However, none of that is true. Once the rumors had begun, it only grew, and when the University News campus newspaper moved into the house years later, the legend took on a life of its own. It provided a backdrop and explanation for all the strange phenomenon that generations of UNews staff have experienced in the house. Working hard well into the night, students would often experience lights turning off and on by themselves and strange, unexplainable noises. Some students even encountered cold spots in corners of the house. Could it just be faulty wiring in an old, settling house? Could the urban myths be clouding the students’ perceptions? Perhaps.          The UNews house has sat empty for the last several years and the stories have now faded into memory. However, this year, the staff have moved back into the house and taken possession of their old work-space. Hopefully they’ll have no paranormal activities to report. Historical photo of Linda Hall Library, which is surrounded by Volker Campus. 4. Ghostly Pages in the Linda Hall Library When Herbert and Linda Hall passed away in the 1940s, they left behind a trust fund, their home at 5109 Cherry St. and instructions to create a public library. The trustees of their estate decided that the library would be dedicated to science and the history of science. Over the years, the library has acquired a world class collection of books, including original works of scientists such as Galileo, Darwin and Einstein. In 1964, the Hall home was torn down and the modern Linda Hall Library we have today was built. This new facility allowed the library to store and make available hundreds of thousands of books it had collected over the years in a special annex building — and within that collection, one of those books is haunted. When someone requests a book, a staff member must go to the annex to retrieve it. In the late 1960s, staff began to experience strange phenomena on the top floor of the annex, where items least requested are stored. In this room there are also statues, paintings, and other relics that made a decidedly creepy atmosphere. Staff would enter and find themselves in complete darkness after the lights mysteriously went out.  When they came back on, there would sometimes be a message scribbled on the chalkboard on the wall. One message identified a ghostly author: “I am Andre Dettonville.” Over time, Andre revealed his story. He was killed on a scientific expedition in the 1650s. His spirit attached itself to a book published by the French Academy of Science, and now he is travelling through time along with the book. It is to be believed that when the Linda Hall Library acquired the collection of the American Philosophical Society in the mid-1960s, it acquired Andre, too. Living room, or Great Hall, complete with organ loft pictured top right, of the Epperson House in 1926. 5. Famous Epperson House Haunting When the home of insurance tycoon, Uriah Epperson, at 5200 Cherry St. was under construction in 1920, his wife, Mary, couldn’t help but call it “The Eppersons’ Folly.” This four-story, 54-room, $500,000 mansion built for just the two of them was a cross between a Tudor style home and a castle. Beautiful and a little eerie after you learn some of the reasons it’s considered haunted. Here is part of the story. Uriah Epperson The Eppersons had no children and devoted most of their time and affection to the various charities they supported, most of which had to do with music and the arts. Their support of the Kansas City Conservatory (now the UMKC Conservatory) led them into a friendship with organ instructor Harriet Barse, whom they fondly referred to as their “adopted daughter.” It was agreed that Harriet would move in with the Eppersons and a special organ loft was constructed for her in the home’s living room. Harriet commissioned a custom pipe organ and everyone looked forward to her entertaining guests of the home. However, shortly after they moved into the home around 1922, Harriet fell ill. She was rushed to the hospital where she died during an operation to remove her gallbladder. The Eppersons were crushed, but life went on. Uriah Epperson died of a stroke in 1927, and following that, Mary Elizabeth Epperson died of cancer in 1939. In 1942, the home was donated to the University of Kansas City and its first real use was as a dormitory for Navy air cadets during WWII. These men were the first to report sightings of a ghostly woman in a white gown who walked the hallways of the home. The home was later used as a residence hall for the School of Education and in the 1970s, as practice and office space for the UMKC Conservatory. It was during this time that stories of strange phenomena inside Epperson House came to life. In addition to sightings of the ghostly figure, students reported hearing footsteps in empty parts of the home. Interestingly, the light in the top of the tower would turn on by itself even though the tower had been sealed off decades before. Then, there were claims of the unmistakable sound of the organ music coming from the basement. Harriet Barse A chandelier came loose in the living room once and barely missed a custodian, which only encouraged the spread of belief in the haunting of Epperson House to university staff. Even campus police were becoming believers after one officer was struck in his vehicle early one morning by another vehicle. When the officer got out to see what happened, there was no one nor another car around. Yet he had heard the shattering of glass and saw skid marks on the ground where his vehicle had been moved. And there weren’t just sightings of a woman: another officer saw a ghostly hand clothed in a man’s blue suit appear out of nowhere and turn off a light. Today the Epperson House sits empty and in need of repair and access is strictly forbidden. However, depending on who you ask, you will get mixed responses on the potential for the supernatural. Although some may think the strange occurrences are caused from the old structure, others know for a fact they have heard the organ music and seen unexplainable things.  Oct 21, 2020

  • School Of Law Associate Professor Weighs In On Presidential Candidates, Health Care

    Ann Marie Marciarille was interviewed about the two competing theories on health care
    “They have two different philosophical positions of fairness,” said Ann Marie Marciarille, associate professor of law at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. “Biden has the social insurance theory that we are all in this together…the other side is about having people live with their own actual risk.” Read the story. Oct 21, 2020

  • 5 Tips To Help Students Filing the FAFSA

    Best way to save time is to be prepared
    Not only is it “Spooky Season” and time to put pumpkins out on our front porch, but now is the time for students to file their FAFSA. Regardless of your financial situation or your family's, it is still recommended for all students to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid  because it can be the first step in qualifying for grant money as well as other types of need-based financial aid. While the FAFSA form can be intimidating, these helpful tips can make you feel more prepared and less stressed. Apply early The FAFSA is open for students to apply on Oct. 1 every year. And when you apply early, you'll be able to have access to more federal or school financial aid. Applying early also means you can get it out of the way now and not have to think about it later. Pushing it too close to the due date means more stress upon you and your family to find any relevant tax and income information. Be prepared Make sure that you are prepared and have gathered the information required to complete the FAFSA. By going out of your way to have the information you need, it will be easier to fill it out. For most students, who are still claimed as dependents on their parents' tax returns, that means making sure their parents have their financial and tax information easily available. Schedule time to do it A good tip when it comes to completing the FAFSA is to schedule a day where you and your parents, especially if you're using their financial and tax information, can do it together and make sure that everything is filled out. By scheduling a day to do it and making sure everyone knows what info is needed beforehand, it makes it easier for the student and the parents. Proofread One thing that students tend to forget is to double-check that all the information entered is correct and is ready to be submitted without any errors. It’d be terrible to miss out on aid because you entered information incorrectly without realizing it, so it pays to take a few minutes to review your work. Don’t be afraid to ask for help When it comes to financial aid, there are plenty of resources to help students and parents with the FAFSA application. Here at the UMKC Financial Aid Office, students can contact them to set up appointments if they have any questions or concerns when applying for FAFSA.  And don't forget, just because you filed the FAFSA doesn't mean you'll get aid. Make sure you also apply to scholarships and look for other means of financial aid like grants and loans. The UMKC Financial Aid Office is here to help you. Learn more about UMKC Financial Aid Oct 20, 2020

  • How Leaders Can Learn To Be Humble And More Effective

    Forbes interviews Nancy Levit
    The ability to learn how to be humble may not be the real problem, however, according to a forthcoming paper. The problem may, instead, be that organizations do not select for humble leaders, but use competitive tournaments to select for corporate executives promising immediate results, explains UMKC School of Law Professor Nancy Levit. Read the story online. Oct 20, 2020

  • Ethics Of Debate, Voting

    Clancy Martin joins KCUR discussion
    Clancy Martin, professor of philosophy at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, was a guest on Up to Date. Oct 20, 2020

  • Whispers Of An Italian-Jewish Past Fill A Composer’s Music

    The New York Times features Yotam Haber
    Yotam Haber’s “Estro Poetico-Armonico III” combines live singing with archival recordings of cantors. Haber is an associate professor of Music Composition at the UMKC Conservatory. Read the full article. Oct 20, 2020

  • The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Driving Food Insecurity Among Young People

    Anthony Maly was a guest on Up to Date
    Anthony Maly, senior program manager at the UMKC Office of Student Involvement, addressed food insecurity among college students. Listen to the story from KCUR. Oct 19, 2020

  • Matching Gift for #RooRelief Student Emergency Fund Donations

    Recent study shows nearly a quarter are struggling financially
    Despite previous efforts to replenish emergency funds for students, demand is outweighing availability. A recent survey of more than 1,000 UMKC students found that nearly one-fourth of them are struggling financially. Many do not have the money they need to buy materials for their courses. To respond to this need, an anonymous donor has committed matching #RooRelief funds to any gift made to the Student Emergency Fund and the Kangaroo Food Pantry. In addition to being unable to meet their financial obligations, many students have gaps in food security. The Kangaroo Food Pantry reports significant increases in demand over last year. With the escalating ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on job availability and housing, many students at UMKC face unprecedented economic challenges. Last Spring the UMKC Foundation established the Student Emergency Fund to help students manage these shortfalls in order to keep them in school and physically and mentally healthy. These funds helped to keep students in school and meet their basic needs. “I cannot tell you how much this will help me and my three small children. It was a stretch going back to school as a single mom, but I knew if I didn't we would be caught in this cycle of poverty forever. I want better for my children. With your gift, I am now able to pay for the internet we never had. This was much needed not only to help me with my school work, but it was also a godsend for my children during their homeschooling. I am also able to get caught up on our utility bills, which is a blessing!  I hope to do the same for others when I am able to pay it forward. Thank you again.” - UMKC Emergency Fund recipient Despite the initial overwhelmingly positive response to the Student Emergency Fund, the demand has exceeded resources. Since the beginning of the semester, UMKC has had to place dozens of student applications on hold because funds are no longer available. “Our students’ well-being is always our top concern,” UMKC Provost Jenny Lundgren said. “We are doing our best to help them meet these challenges. In the current environment, emergency funds are critical to keeping our students healthy and on track for graduation and future success.” “In a time where things are not what they used to be, the extending hand of giving is almost always an apprehensive gesture given the nature of what the future may entail. It is with that thought in mind that I am even more appreciative of your gift. Thank you for being a blessing to me, words simply cannot express how I am feeling. A little goes a long way - and I know that in the same way I was blessed with this small gift, my plans for my future will work out just fine." - UMKC Emergency Fund recipient UMKC Foundation president Lisa Baronio considers these funds more than a short-term safety net. “At UMKC we view our students, faculty and staff as family,” Baronio said. “We are grateful for the response to the Student Emergency Fund we had last spring as it made a difference for so many students. Unfortunately –  rather than improving – students’ situations are in many cases becoming worse. We are so fortunate that we have a donor who has offered a challenge match, as they are as committed to the health of our students and our community as we are. With this match, even small donations become significant.” To help aid our students and take advantage of the matching gift for #RooRelief, donations can be made online to the Student Emergency Fund or the Kangaroo Food Pantry.   Oct 19, 2020

  • curiousKC | Pondering the City Beneath Our Feet

    Flatland interviews UMKC professor emeritus
    Professor Emeritus of Environmental Geology Syed Hasan used to work with Charles Spencer at UMKC. He said people who spend a lot of time underground don’t have any issues with it, citing a psychological study one of his colleagues conducted on underground workers. Read the story online. Oct 19, 2020

  • Faith In KC: A Conversation With Professor Gary Ebersole

    Professor Gary Ebersole joined 41 Action News anchor to discuss how history can teach about faith when the world is in peril
    Taylor Hemness with KSHB talked to UMKC History Professor Gary Ebersole for the Faith in KC conversations series. Oct 19, 2020

  • As Pandemic Surges And Economy Stalls, Professor Weighs in on Presidential Responses to Pandemics

    Washington Post interviews Max Skidmore
    Donald Trump, who himself contracted the virus and was hospitalized this month, “seems not to have been chastened by the experience,” said Max J. Skidmore, UMKC Curators' Distinguished Professor of Political Science and the author of a book on presidential responses to pandemics. Read the full article. Oct 17, 2020

  • Language Matters: The Word ‘Socialism’ Has Lost its Meaning In America

    Emeritus professor writes Special to The Star
    This Special to The Star was written by Thomas Stroik, professor emeritus of English at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Oct 17, 2020

  • Pandemic Exposes Existing Inequities

    Community leaders from Missouri's largest cities discuss health disparities
    UMKC kicked off its inaugural Engagement Month with UniverCities Exchange: Health Disparities in the Time of COVID-19, a panel discussion in collaboration with University of Missouri-St. Louis. UMKC Engagement Month is a 31-day (virtual) celebration of all the ways our UMKC students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends contribute to the Kansas City community and beyond. The month overlaps with the University of Missouri System’s Engagement and Extension Week, held Oct. 26-30 and includes a variety of events. The UniverCities Exchange: Health Disparities in the Time of COVID-19 discussion highlighted issues facing the urban communities of Kansas City and St. Louis and exacerbated by the pandemic. The event was moderated by Steve Kraske, host of KCUR’s “Up to Date.” Panelists included: Diego Abente, president and chief executive officer, Casa de Salud Jannette Berkley-Patton, director, UMKC Health Equity Institute Alexander Garza (B.S. '90), chief community health officer, SSM Health Riisa Rawlins-Easley, chief of staff, St. Louis Regional Health Commission Qiana Thomason, president and chief executive officer, Health Forward Foundation Pictured clockwise from top left: Moderator Steve Kraske, Diego Abente, Jannette Berkley-Patton, Alexander Garza, Riisa Rawlins-Easley, Qiana Thomason Here are some highlights from the conversation. “I would argue that it’s not so much health disparities, but social and economic disparities that contribute to or actually produce the health disparities. And if we want to come across a solution to the pandemic, we have to address these things first.” —Alexander Garza “What underpins poverty is income and wealth inequality and structural racism. So knowing that, how do we calibrate our strategy and our positioning to go further upstream and address asset-building opportunities that build income and build wealth in communities?” —Qiana Thomason “We need to recognize that we all play a role in addressing these inequities that have led to where we are today and that we all have a role and responsibility in addressing those moving forward. And so we need to give folks agency and empower them to help them feel like they are part of the solution.” —Diego Abente “If we are going to really look, full in the face, and pivot — because this is our opportunity to pivot — from the systemic inequities that lead us to the disparate outcomes that we’ve seen 100 years ago and that are repeating themselves today, it’s only going to be through expanding that table and the conversation to the folks who are most impacted.” —Riisa Rawlins-Easley “Medical mistrust [in Black and brown communities] is one of the key critical issues that has to be addressed. It’s not unfounded: studies show that, for people of color, many times they receive worse quality of health care, that they don’t believe they’re being respected by health providers, and there are other issues that come into play — like being able to access health care.” —Jannette Berkley-Patton What the entire UniverCities Exchange discussion below.   View UMKC Engagement Month events Oct 16, 2020

  • Connecting Through COVID

    Tips for maintaining self-care and relationships during the pandemic
    As the coronavirus pandemic continues, UMKC Staff Council recently conducted a panel discussion on staying connected, centered and well-grounded during COVID-19 as a critical part of protecting and maintaining one’s mental health and wellbeing. Here are some of the key messages from the event. Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation. Studies have shown that for many people, COVID-19 has led to an increased feeling of loneliness. While it’s necessary to maintain the practice of social distancing as we work together to bring this pandemic under control, it’s also important to remember that social distancing does not mean social isolation. Staying socially connected strengthens our immune system. It helps lower our anxiety levels. It helps prevent depression from setting in. And, it leads to a greater satisfaction in our lives. Take audit of your media exposure and focus more on intentional relationships. There are many ways that we can do that. Understanding and embracing what we do and don’t have the power to control is vital. Things such as managing our consumption of the news and social media. Be willing to simply turn off the TV, the radio and your social media, and instead make it a point to maintain social relationships. Those who are comfortable with and enjoy casual interactions with others are typically able to have personal, lasting and satisfying relationships that lead to greater mental and physical wellbeing. Review your self-care habits and attitude. Pay attention to your nutrition and excercise habits, and focus on fueling and strengthening your body and mind. Maintain your regular work/life schedule as much as possible. Engage in old hobbies or explore new ones. Get out and enjoy nature. Monitor your self-talk and exercise self-compassion. Take disappointments in stride. Be realistic about your abilities and don't strive for perfectionism. Find COVID-safe ways to connect with other people. So, how do we stay connected while protecting ourselves and one another through social distancing? First of all, don’t isolate yourself. Prioritize and maintain relationships by setting up regular communications with others using Zoom, Skype or other technology. Or, simply pick up the phone and call a friend you haven’t talked to for some time. Be the one to organize activities such as: Start a virtual book club. Hold a virtual class and family reunion. Host a virtual dinner party. Take in a free online concert. Schedule a virtual watch party of your favorite TV show or movie with friends. Take a virtual tour of a zoo or museum. Learn something new; take up a new hobby that you can practice together. Find an online support group or others who share a common interest. Consider implementing some of these lifestyle changes post-COVID. Dealing with COVID-19 has made us rethink and, in many ways, change how we work and live. But that’s not all bad. In fact, some of these changes could provide benefits long after the pandemic has passed. For instance, with the normalizing of technology such as Zoom, we now save on time and travel by conducting more meetings and training sessions online. And many more of us have seen that teleworking can be a successful and effective option. As you strive for work/life balance, make plans to get away from work and technology. Set boundaries. Learn to delegate or even say “no” when appropriate. Take advantage of your vacation time. You’ve earned it — use it. And don’t forget that it’s important to get help when you need it. UMKC offers counseling services for students and the Employee Assistance Program, which provides counseling and resources for employees. Oct 16, 2020

  • As Homicides Reach Record Highs, Kansas City Experts Say To Look Beyond The Numbers

    KCUR, Kansas City Star again taps UMKC criminal justice professor
    “We’re going to very soon break the homicide rate record in Kansas City. It’s inevitable. We’re certainly on track to shatter that number,” says Ken Novak, a professor of criminal justice and criminology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read the story from KCUR. Read the story from The Kansas City Star (subscription required). Oct 16, 2020

  • Man on a Mission: Connecting Latinx Students

    Personal experience enhances mentorship role
    Iván Ramirez immigrated to the United States when he was 15 years old. He did not know anyone outside of his family or speak English. In his new role in Multicultural Student Affairs as senior coordinator of the Avanzando mentoring program, he is leveraging his personal experiences and education to increase the engagement of Latinx students at UMKC. Ramirez is familiar with the challenges of transitioning from one culture and country to another. “My dad had always worked in the United States, even before I was born,” Ramirez says. “We decided to move from Mexico to be together as a family when I was a freshman in high school.” After arriving in the United States, Ramirez remembers himself as “silent.” “I did all the things that high schoolers do — homecoming, going to football games — but I wasn't connected,” Ramirez says. “I wasn't able to attach to anything because of the language and cultural barriers.” He says felt as if he was in the shadows and people were staring. “I was with my small group of friends, but didn’t understand what was going on around me. The culture was different, the language was different and the educational system was different.” His A-ha Moment Ramirez’s parents both worked at Tyson’s Food and he felt that would be his path as well. But a neighbor saw his potential and took him to meet Uzziel Pecina, assistant teaching professor in the UMKC School of Education, who was at the University of Central Missouri at the time. “He let me know that community college was a good path for first time college students.” “I didn’t know what community college was. That is not a concept that we had in Mexico. But he convinced me. I went to community college and kept in touch with Dr. Pecina. When I graduated, he said, ‘That’s great! Now you have to go back and get your bachelor’s degree.’” Ramirez started college at the University of Central Missouri and things began to click. He did earn his bachelor’s degree and started teaching. With Pecina’s continued encouragement, he completed his master’s degree. It was through this organic experience that Ramirez uncovered the value of mentoring. “I don’t want our students at UMKC to struggle the way I did. I want to do what Miss Gomez and Dr. Pecina did for me. It’s my priority to find a way that that works for each of our students, so there’s no need for them to be struggling.” Part of his strategy is to reinforce something he’s learned from his mentors. “We are part of something bigger. We’re here with a purpose. We don’t exist as a single person. There’s a collective.” “I don’t want our students at UMKC to struggle the way I did."- Iván Ramirez Ramirez believes that if one person succeeds, the collective succeeds. “This comes naturally to me. As a Mexican Latino person, when I go back to Mexico, I see the collective. I see how people take care of each other in my neighborhood back home in Mexico.” That connection is what Ramirez is trying to replicate with students at UMKC. “It’s working,” he says. “I see that our students peer mentor organically. They are helping each other with homework. They help each other meet other people. It’s great to see.” Helping Each Other Adriana Suarez is a sophomore studying business administration with an emphasis in nonprofit management and a double minor in Latinx and Latin American studies and sociology. She came to UMKC through the KC Scholars program. She became involved with Avanzando her freshman year. “Ivan was the first person to reach out to me from the university,” Suarez says. “Entering college, I had no idea what kinds of organizations were available to me as a Latina until Ivan sent out emails about a leadership retreat and the Avanzando program he coordinated.” Adriana Suarez Suarez had participated in leadership programs in high school, but not in a mentoring program like Avanzando. “Avanzando has provided me an outlet to engage in the Latinx community, where I not only get to learn more about myself, but it has also taught me what it means to be a part of the Latinx community,” Suarez says. Suarez finds Ramirez’s passion for supporting students, and his skills in pairing them with effective mentors to be incredibly helpful. But she discovered these attributes were critical during the time campus was closing because of COVID-19. “When I didn’t know where I would be staying for the rest of the semester, Ivan helped me find resources that were available to students in my situation,” she says. “Not only that, my mentor checked in on me to see if I needed any help emotionally or academically. It was a situation that had never happened before, yet they did their best to support me.” “Avanzando has provided me an outlet to engage in the Latinx community, where I not only get to learn more about myself, but it has also taught me what it means to be a part of the Latinx community.”- Adriana Suarez Ramirez does not see Latinx students developing mentoring relationships in the Latinx community as having a foot in two worlds by staying connected to their country of origin while adjusting to life in the United States. “It’s the same world,” he says. “But the goal is to find a place where people can be themselves. Once they are here, the goal is to be strong enough and secure enough in our culture and personality to use our voices on campus.” The rise in animosity against Latinx and immigrant populations over the last four years have created challenges. Ramirez sees his role to move Latinos forward, even as he has felt at times that they have been regressing. “I thought this challenge of assimilation and acceptance was going to be solved by the time I became an adult. But we keep moving backwards, though there are glimpses of successes and accomplishments that we all have. The last four years have been hard on me as a professional, but also the students. They feel afraid. Just the uncertainty — whether or not their parents will be here the following day, or whether or not they will be able to have a job because of their status. That was something for me as a student that I didn't have to worry about, because we didn't have those challenges then. But our community is really supportive. I know I'm one person, but there's a lot of people behind the program that support our students and they’re able to jump in there when the times are difficult.” That has been Suarez’s experience. “The Avanzando program definitely opens opportunities for its students to grow as people and professionals. It creates opportunity to build responsibility, ambition, confidence, social skills, and so many important life skills that help students, like me, advance their careers at UMKC. After all, that is what “avanzando” translates to in English — to move forward.” Oct 15, 2020

  • Cancer Researcher Receives National Pharmaceutical Scientists Honor

    Pharmacy Professor Kun Cheng awarded as AAPS Fellow
    University of Missouri-Kansas City Curators’ Distinguished Professor Kun Cheng, Ph.D., in the School of Pharmacy was named one of seven 2020 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Fellows. Each year, the AAPS Fellows Committee recommends a few members to be made fellows in recognition of their professional excellence and sustained superior impact in fields relevant to the AAPS mission: To advance the capacity of pharmaceutical scientists to develop products and therapies that improve global health. “When I first attended an AAPS meeting as a graduate student, I was very impressed with the achievement and inspiration from the AAPS fellows. I hoped that one day I could become one of them, and today the dream has come true.” - Kun Cheng Cheng’s research focuses on the development of novel therapeutics for prostate cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, liver fibrosis and Alzheimer’s disease. He has made substantial contributions in advancing the fields of nanomedicine, drug delivery and peptide drug discovery, winning several National Institutes of Health grant awards. He is also an active educator in mentoring a new generation of pharmaceutical scientists.  “I am truly honored and humbled to be named as the AAPS fellow this year,” said Cheng, who joined UMKC in 2007. “When I first attended an AAPS meeting as a graduate student, I was very impressed with the achievement and inspiration from the AAPS fellows. I hoped that one day I could become one of them, and today the dream has come true. “As an AAPS fellow, I hope that I can inspire the next generation of scientists in pharmaceutical sciences. I would like to highly encourage young scientists to get involved in the activities of AAPS. This is a great place for scientists to learn, to grow and to enjoy pharmaceutical sciences.”  Cheng will be honoredin a virtual reception from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Nov. 2 during PharmSci 360, the AAPS annual conference. Oct 15, 2020

  • Barr Touts Success Of Federal Law Enforcement Surge In St. Louis, But Questions Remain

    UMKC Criminal Justice and Criminology professor weighs-in for St. Louis Public Radio
    “It’s unclear whether a surge in law enforcement actually caused any change, or whether the natural ebb and flow of crime rates was going to go down anyway,” said Ken Novak, professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology at UMKC. Read the full article. Oct 15, 2020

  • Nonpartisan Group Wants Voters To Know Their Rights At Polls

    KSHB interviews School of Law professor
    Allen Rostron, a constitutional law scholar and law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said it’s important to know your rights as a voter and understand who may be at the polls aside from the poll workers, who are there to help shepherd voters through the process and answer questions. Read the story and watch the news clip. Oct 15, 2020

  • Why Democrat Alissia Canady Says She's Not The Underdog In Missouri's Lieutenant Governor Race

    UMKC Political Science professor weighs-in
    Debra Leiter, UMKC political science professor, said Alissia Canady has been much more visible this campaign than her opponent. But she said that’s a common strategy for an incumbent. Read the full article from KCUR. Oct 14, 2020

  • Scholarships and Financial Aid for Hispanic and Latinx Students

    Everything you need to know about how to get started
    At UMKC we understand beginning your academic journey can be scary, overwhelming, and seem impossible to afford, but we’re here to help. Here are some tips and resources to help you get started. Fill out your FAFSA as soon as you can. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the primary way need-based financial aid is evaluated. Fill out your FAFSA application as soon as possible to ensure funds are readily available. The form, which is available online opens Oct. 1. Check out the UMKC Financial Aid website to learn about automatic scholarships, work-study positions, loans and grants. For more information on financial aid and scholarships available, visit the Financial Aid site. To qualify for automatic scholarships, you just have to complete your UMKC application by the priority deadline. Once you’ve applied and been accepted to UMKC, you can then explore competitive scholarships through Academic Works. Here are some tips for navigating that site. Sign in using your UMKC username and password.  You will be directed to complete your General Scholarship Application. Depending on your major, you may be prompted to complete an additional Conditional Application which is required for scholarships in your major or area of study. Once you complete the General Scholarship Application (and Conditional Application, if applicable), scholarships that are currently “open” will be recommended to you if you meet the basic criteria. Please keep in mind, that recommended does not constitute qualified. You can update and edit any application (including the General Application) untilthe scholarship opportunity closes. Scholarships with the word “apply” in the action column (after you sign in) require further action on your part in order to be considered. Click “apply” to complete the application process. Please read the scholarship eligibility requirements carefully to make sure you meet the eligibility requirements (e.g. major, GPA, enrollment requirement to receive the scholarship, other requirements as stated) before applying. There are some scholarship opportunities you do not have to apply to but will be automatically matched to after you complete your General Application (and Conditional Application if there is one). Search and apply for Hispanic or Latinx-specific scholarships. UMKC is proud to offer numerous scholarships specifically for Hispanic/Latinx students. Please reach out to one of our financial aid specialists or your high school’s guidance counselor to assist further if you have any questions. In addition to scholarships throughout UMKC, there are also resources available from Kansas City, the state of Missouri, and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (see the links below). Fill out the automatic and competitive scholarship applications where eligible. The sooner, the better! UMKC Avanzando Program Agapito Mendoza Scholarship Joel Christopher Brown Book Scholarship Leo Long Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Scholarship Henry W. Bloch School of Management: Martin Daneman Scholarship Chancellor’s Historically Underrepresented Minority Nonresident Award UMKC Hispanic Matching Scholarship KC Scholarships The Greater KC Hispanic Development Fund Scholarship Program BizFest (awarded for students who attend) Missouri Scholarships Minority and Underrepresented Environmental Literacy Program Other Hispanic Scholarship Fund  Learn More About Financial Aid and Scholarships Oct 14, 2020

  • Critical Conversations: Women in Higher Education

    Women of color and white women share experiences and perspectives
    Leading women in higher education from across the U.S. participated Oct. 7 in a vrtual panel discussion, “A Dialogue Among Women of Color and White Women in Higher Education.” The event was the sixth in the Critical Conversations series of panel discussions addressing systemic racism, sponsored by the UMKC Division of Diversity and Inclusion. UMKC people are taking thoughtful action on campus and in our community to ensure lasting and comprehensive change through Roos Advocate for Community Change, a new campus-wide effort announced in June. The Critical Conversations are part of that initiative. The goal of each discussion is to enlighten, to educate and to explore the causes and potential cures for racism. Panelists for the Women in Higher Education session included: Karen Lee Ashcraft, professor, College of Media, Communication, and Information at the University of Colorado Boulder; Karen L. Dace, vice chancellor, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; Lona Davenport (co-moderator), senior diversity program coordinator, UMKC Division of Diversity and Inclusion; Christine Grant, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, former associate dean of faculty advancement, North Carolina State University; Jennifer Laflam, professor and director of Center for Teaching and Learning at American River College; Tamica Lige (co-moderator), program coordinator, UMKC Students Training in Academia, Health, and Research (STAHR); Shani Barrax Moore, director of diversity and inclusion, University of North Texas; Julia Vargas, director, Center for Service Learning, Rockhurst University. Excerpts from the conversation are below. A recording of the complete event is available at this link. Excerpts: Moore: Some white women “want to do the work (of addressing racism) and also get credit for doing it … It’s not about the credit.” Vargas: Seeking credit for work done is a very prevalent mindset in higher education overall. “The way the system is set up pits us against each other.” Ashcraft: the relationship among white women and women of color in academia “has transformative potential, but that potential remains latent. … There is a long history of white women not being trustworthy allies. That’s something we need to interrupt.” Laflam: “For the first four decades of my life, racial issues were all around me but I believed that they didn’t involve me. I neglected to see myself as a raced person with racist tendencies. … This conversation is an act of love, for me and for everyone involved in it.” White women need to focus on listening to women of color; “let me share my experience without you minimizing it by comparing it to your own.”   – Shani Barrax Moore Dace: “One of the reasons this (conversation) is important is that women of color and white women make up the majority in multiple academic arenas. You would think that would lead to more women in leadership, but it has not. … There is a division between white women and women of color on many campuses, a division that women of color know about and most white women do not.” Moore: To help bring down the barriers between women, white women need to “stop denying your privilege; stop denying your ignorance and willful obliviousness; stop denying the level of frustration that women of color deal with day in and day out.” Grant: Women need to work at creating true friendships between white women and women of color; “We need to talk about more than just (race).” Ashcraft: Factors that drive distrust of white women by women of color include “habitual reactions of fear and intimidation, which is gaslighting” and “insisting that your intentions matter more than your impact.” Moore: White women need to focus on listening to women of color; “let me share my experience without you minimizing it by comparing it to your own.” Vargas: At important meetings, “notice who isn’t there. If there are no women of color at the table, speak up. … Ask how do we build a bigger, more inclusive table.” Dace: White women in leadership positions “have to make sure that your replacement does not look like you, and make sure people of color are having the kinds of experiences that make them ready to step in.” Oct 13, 2020

  • Tents Are Just Part of Alumna Leader’s School-Safety Strategy During the Pandemic

    St. Teresa’s Academy President Siabhan May-Washington finds collaboration and compassion are key
    People point to St. Teresa’s Academy President Siabhan May-Washington, Ed.D. as a model of school leadership during the pandemic. May-Washington, B.A. English '88 and M.A. Curriculum and Instruction '91, admits COVID-19 caught her completely by surprise. As students and teachers were preparing for spring break, she was approached by a board member about her plans for the new novel coronavirus. “I had read about the virus and I let him know that we would make plans to ramp up sanitation. He said, ‘I hate to scare you, but you need to be doing more than that.’ It heightened my sense of urgency. Then the very next day, hundreds of universities were sending students home, including my own children at college.” May-Washington immediately convened her administrative team, that includes academic principal Barbara McCormick and principal for student affairs, Liz Baker, Ed.D, to develop a plan to ensure that teachers and students took everything they would need at home – including their computers – so they could continue their work once the break was over. “That was a first foray into the pandemic,” she says. “We did not go back on campus after spring break until this fall.” “Some districts were posting assignments for the week with no human contact. We knew that wasn’t going to work for us.” - Siabahn May-Washington May-Washington was fortunate that she had already established systems for remote learning. “We had developed a system for students to work remotely during snow days, so they were accustomed to the virtual format. Not that they were thrilled about it,” she says with a laugh. “But they were used to that form of learning.” This real-time online instruction worked well for students and teachers last spring. At the same time, May-Washington was gathering information about how other schools were handling the shutdown. “Some districts were posting assignments for the week with no human contact. We knew that wasn’t going to work for us,” she says. “As we approached fall, we knew that to be successful we would need to maintain close contact with our students, not only in class, but also through their group advisory meetings, prayer check-ins and lunch buddy sessions.” May-Washington relied heavily on her administrative team to develop fall programming. “I formed the President’s Visionary Council Team when I started at St. Teresa’s last year. That team is made up of all the directors – development and marketing, college counseling, facilities and development and marketing.” The Visionary Council morphed into the COVID-19 task force. In addition to their input, Jo Weller, B.S. Math ‘93, M.A. Curriculum and Instruction ‘95, who was director of curriculum and instruction, surveyed the students, teachers and parents about their thoughts and concerns. “We determined that learning entirely online did not work well. So, we began to develop a very detailed, robust plan to reopen in the fall,” May-Washington said. “But while I had a cabinet full of research, we realized we needed additional support.” May-Washington contracted with MRI Global, who reviewed their reopening plan and helped the school come up with thresholds and develop alternatives to exclusive online learning. “They talked to our leadership team, but also our parent community and the facilities staff to educate our complete community about the severity of the virus and the steps that we needed to take to have safe learning on campus.” In addition to putting safety measures in place, such as daily health check-ins, social distancing in classrooms and one-way traffic directions, May-Washington had large tents erected on campus. “This gives us the option to have our kids outside learning on campus as much as we can,” she says. “We use them for  lunch, the girls’ advisory group meetings and the teachers have the option to hold classes outside.” While May-Washington could have worked solely with the board of directors to develop a plan, she thinks that letting people have input and involving MRI Global created an environment of collective ownership. “I think it’s important to bring all the stakeholders who are part of the community to weigh in, especially if they are going to be in the trenches. Our teachers were very concerned about mask-wearing policy, physical distancing in the classrooms and what the consequences would be if they were not followed.” Young adults are one of the most challenging demographics when it comes to following preventative guidelines in mitigating the virus. May-Washington says it was critical to let people express their emotions around this during the planning. Their gating guidelines are very conservative and the school did move to hybrid shortly after the semester began. “After the first week of school, we had eight students test positive for the virus,” she says. “While they did not contract the virus at school and had followed all of our safety guidelines, we thought it would be a good time to shift to hybrid to practice the hybrid schedule, but also for peace of mind for our community.” After that week of hybrid learning, students have been on campus full time since. While classes are going smoothly, May-Washington recognizes that students are under increased pressure. St. Teresa’s has had counseling services in place, both for personal and academic concerns. In addition, May-Washington contracted with Sources of Strength, a national program to bring students together to talk about emotional health and as a resource in suicide prevention. “In addition to the counselors and this program, our students’ advisory groups are like a homeroom family. They have lunch together and meet every day. It’s a tremendous support system. And, of course, being a Catholic school, we have a campus ministry department that is very involved.” “I like having my hands on all areas and helping to use my experience and expertise from the classroom for the greater good of the community.” While May-Washington has responsibilities relating to the health of the entire school community, she is also working to balance her own personal responsibilities. She and her husband, Rick Washington, who is a teacher at Allen Village Charter, are juggling their jobs as well household responsibilities and the care of their three children. “He’s a great partner,” she says. “Two of our children are in college, but our youngest is in fifth grade. He’s very involved, which is great when I’m at meetings late in the evening.” This teamwork is critical as May-Washington’s dedication extends beyond St. Teresa’s to the larger Kansas City community. She served on a panel with area public school leaders and is sharing ideas with her fellow area private school administrators at a weekly online meeting. May-Washington started her career as an English teacher and did not foresee moving into administration, but she finds she enjoys responsibilities beyond the classroom. “I like having my hands on all areas and helping to use my experience and expertise from the classroom for the greater good of the community. I didn’t envision doing this type of work, but t’s been a great evolution.” Oct 13, 2020

  • Mayor Discusses Policing in Kansas City

    UMKC Critical Conversation also features student leader and criminology professor
    The fifth in the UMKC Critical Conversations series addressing system racism continued a multi-segment discussion of the future of policing in Kansas City. This session, held on Zoom Oct. 5, featured Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas; Ken Novak, professor of criminology and criminal justice at UMKC; and UMKC Student Government Association President Brandon Henderson. Gary O’Bannon, executive-in-residence at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management, moderated the talk, fielding questions UMKC students submitted to the mayor. The meeting was a continuation of the dialogue that began between Lucas and UMKC students earlier this summer. Many UMKC students and alumni attended the protests on the Country Club Plaza that began in late May after the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis. O’Bannon said that while Floyd’s death was a flashpoint in race relations, Kansas City has its own history of police brutality to confront. Protestors have voiced their concern over the absence of justice for the treatment of Ryan Stokes, Breonna Hill and others as evidence that the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department is systemically racist. Listen to slices of that conversation: Lucas: “One thing I am heartened by about this moment, particularly students, activists and others who have been part of it, is that it is sustained. It has continued to push change for us.” “You have to stop allowing the things that are creating inequalities in our system…if you just change personnel but keep the same rules…you’re going to have all of these problems.” Henderson: “I’m a senior, a Kansas City native and before all of that, I’m a Black man…And so like many young Black people in this city, I’ve decided it’s incumbent on me to protest and show up against the lack of action from our police department and local government, and it is incumbent upon me to help hold our elected officials accountable, which is part of why we’re having this meeting today.” Novak: “The larger question about the defund movement, where do we place our resources to get the biggest bang for our buck? And I think that’s a very healthy conversation to have. That is something that has to happen at the local level because all policing is local.” The UMKC Chancellor’s Office and Division of Diversity and Inclusion host Critical Conversations, which is part of Roos Advocate for Community Change, a campus-wide effort about thoughtful action on campus and in our community to ensure lasting and comprehensive reform. Listen to the whole conversation Oct 12, 2020

  • UMKC Sets Virtual Commencement for December 19

    Dramatic ‘Light Up the Night’ Salute to return
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City will conduct a virtual commencement December 19 to honor students earning degrees from the Kansas City metro’s only public research university. The ceremony will be similar to the university’s first-ever virtual commencement in May. Again, students will receive celebratory packets that will include honor cords, a traditional Roo pin and other surprises. UMKC is again working with friends and supporters across Kansas City to celebrate our Fall semester graduates with another spectacular “Light Up the Night” salute, with iconic Kansas City buildings lit up in vivid Roo blue and gold. “Earning a degree from an accredited research university such as ours is a true achievement, one worthy of celebration,” said Chancellor Mauli Agrawal, Ph.D. “In these times, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, our celebrations must be planned with care. The health and safety of our graduates and their loved ones must remain our highest priority.” In addition to going virtual in December, UMKC announced that it still intends to have an in-person commencement for May and December 2020 grads at some future date – but will postpone setting a date until health and safety conditions permit. Earlier in the year, UMKC had hoped to hold that in-person celebration in December. In a letter to campus, Chancellor Agrawal and Provost Jenny Lundgren said: “Clearly, we do not know when large events will be safe again and cannot realistically set a date at this time.” But they noted that they “firmly believe that every UMKC graduate should have the opportunity to be personally recognized for the degree they’ve worked so hard to earn in the presence of their loved ones and closest friends and fellow graduates.” UMKC leaders worked with students to plan the virtual ceremony last spring and consulted with them again on the decision to stay virtual this fall while continuing to plan for an in-person ceremony once it is safe to hold one. "I support the decision to take December commencement virtual, and I'm looking forward to sending off our UMKC Roos with a meaningful and safe celebration online,” said Brandon Henderson, president of the UMKC Student Government Association. “This decision will undoubtedly leave some students disappointed, but our first priority must always be student safety. This is an extraordinary moment we're living in, and we have to muster the courage to make tough decisions like this if we're going to beat this virus for good." Oct 12, 2020

  • Alumna Focuses Energy on Popular Fashion Event in the Midst of Pandemic Shift

    The show must go on and will go on Friday, Oct. 16, ticket info below
    Celeste Lupercio (B.A. ’95, sociology) graduated from UMKC and began her career working in children’s psychiatric care in Kansas City. Using the extensive skills she’d developed, Lupercio shifted mid-career to event management and is currently the senior director of sales, marketing and events at the College Basketball Experience. The COVID-19 pandemic meant a different kind of transition; this time into fashion. She’s been working from home since the spring, but Lupercio has also focused her energy on the West 18th Street Fashion Show: Summer in Hindsight. This treasured community event airs Friday at Boulevard Drive In. Tell me what transitions you made personally because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The College Basketball Experience closed March 16, and I’ve been working at home since then. It’s challenging though. I am used to being engaged in the community. I’m involved in a lot of volunteer positions – some at the board level. And I feel very lucky to be able to focus on the West 18th Street Fashion Show. How did you make the transition to event planning from social work? I worked as a case management liaison at a psychiatric hospital for children for 18 years. I wasn’t burned out, but I needed a different challenge. A large part of my responsibilities was communication, reorganizing priorities and case management liaison tasks. I thought event planning at a not-for-profit organization would be a good fit for my skills. I did some contract work for a while and then ended up interviewing at The College Basketball Experience. The CEO was kind enough to listen to me and recognized how my skills would apply. I’ve had several promotions since then. It’s been a great experience.   How did you become involved in the 18th Street Fashion Show? Last year the founder, Peregrine Honig, asked me to come on board after I helped manage the patron party. I love the event and thought working on it would be great. Peregrine was studying the Bauhaus movement last year and reading a lot about it. It inspired this year’s theme, Summer in Hindsight. You thought you’d be planning an event outside on 18th street in the Crossroads District. How did the shift to filming the event take place? This is the 20th anniversary of the show. The logistics were in place. No one wanted to cancel the show, so we shifted so we could work to keep everyone healthy. The new plan was to film each designer separately and create a film. We scouted different locations and ended up with 19. Most were willing to participate for free. We shot each designer in a different location over the course of two weeks with nine intense days of shooting. We were fortunate that everyone was on the same page as far as the virus is concerned. We all believe in science. We all wore masks. We worked with a skeleton crew to minimize interaction. A colleague loaned us powerful portable air filters to clean the air on location. Besides being a film, what will make this year’s event stand out? [Singer and musician] Calvin Arsenia, this year’s star, performed last year and received a standing ovation. His energy is so great. After last year’s performance he said, “I want to be musical director next year.” He’s composed music based on what each designer is doing and has helped with editing the movie. It has always been a diverse group of designers, but with the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, we made a point of making sure that every level of the event had diversity – the designers, the producers, the board. The film will debut at the Boulevard Drive-In Theatre on Friday, October 16. What do you think the experience will be like for the viewer? Usually, spectators are physically outside on 18th Street sitting in chairs or standing.  I think it’s possible that this may be a more focused experience for the viewer as they will be in their cars – their own private space. Also, they won’t be standing, or hot. Even people who have gone to the show before will be surprised. No one knows what to expect. I think they will be on the edge of their seats. Besides, we are all missing live performances. This will be closer to that. Is there one showing? It appears the movie can be booked for private events. The film will be shown at the Boulevard Drive-In on the Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. But I do think if an organization wanted to host an event, Boulevard’s owners may be receptive to that. We will have cameras there that night and re-edit the director’s cut that will include behind the scenes footage. We are hoping to submit that version to film festivals. We haven’t done that before, but we will figure it out! This sounds as if it’s been an incredible amount of work at a very challenging time. This has been the most altruistic thing I’ve done. It’s been exhausting, but amazing to work with such dedicated and talented people. The whole experience has been so fulfilling and intense. We will all have to focus on maintaining our emotional health with the lack of all that energy and activity once it is over. Summer in Hindsight will premiere at the Boulevard Drive-In Theatre. To purchase tickets or donate to the organization, visit West 18th Street Fashion Show. Oct 12, 2020

  • For This Kansas Citian, There’s Nothing ‘Unprecedented’ In Messaging Around Trump’s Illness

    Beth Vonnahme weighs-in
    “There are official rules that govern the presidency, and then there are norms that govern the presidency,” explains Beth Vonnahme, a professor of political science at University of Missouri-Kansas City. She says that while Americans generally expect matters of national security to be shrouded in secrecy, “there’s the expectation that we’re given the truth about the president.” Read the full article from KCUR. Oct 11, 2020

  • Kansas City’s Economy Is Rallying. But It Will Take Years To Regain Jobs Lost In COVID

    Bloch School professor talks about economic recovery
    Expanded unemployment benefits and federal aid to small businesses were key to the robust rate of recovery early on, said Nathan Mauck, an associate professor of finance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. So far, the region’s rebound has been rapid, but not complete, he said. Read the full article from the Kansas City Star. A subscription may be required. Oct 11, 2020

  • Congressional Races Put Kansas In National Spotlight, Attract Outside Money

    US House, Senate races garner widespread attention
    “State and congressional polling has been more hit or miss, so there’s a greater degree of uncertainly,” Greg Vonnahme, an associate professor of political science at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said in an KSHB story. Oct 11, 2020

  • Search for UMKC School of Dentistry Dean to Begin

    Looking for strong candidates to lead community asset, research powerhouse
    Provost Jenny Lundgren announced that a national search for the next dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry will get underway in early November. “The UMKC School of Dentistry is a huge asset to the Kansas City community, delivering clinical care to more than 60,000 patients each year,” Lundgren said. “It is also internationally known for its research in dental biomaterials and bone biology. We’re looking for strong candidates who can build on the enormous impact of this more-than-century-old institution and continue to move the dental profession into the future through compassion, education and innovation.” Founded in 1881 as the Kansas City Dental College, the UMKC School of Dentistry is the only public dental school in Missouri and Kansas, and most of the oral health professionals in those states are alumni. The school also has a large alumni base across the ocean in Hawaii that dates back to World War II when much of the U.S. was seized with fear of Americans of Japanese descent; the dean at the time took a different path and welcomed Japanese American students with open arms. In 2016, the school was one of only three schools in the country to be recognized with a Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. The UMKC School of Dentistry is known around the world for its research, consistently winning significant National Institutes of Health grants and attention from media around the country and the globe. Lundgren said the search committee also will be looking for a dean who can build on community engagement and fundraising. In 2019, the school opened a new state-of-the-art simulation lab funded through donor support. The UMKC School of Dentistry is part of the UMKC Health Sciences District, collaborating with the UMKC Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Health Studies and Pharmacy as well as Children’s Mercy, Truman Medical Centers and city, county and state health institutions. Marsha Pyle, who served as dean since 2009, retired in September, and School of Pharmacy Dean Russell Melchert is serving as interim dean until the next dean is hired in the spring with an anticipated start in the summer of 2021. The UM System Talent Fulfillment team is assisting UMKC in the search. Community forums are planned to be held in March or April. Search Committee Joy Roberts, search committee chair, interim dean of the School of Nursing and Health Studies David Suchman, chair of the Rinehart Foundation Ellyce Loveless, student services coordinator Lance Godley, faculty chair, vice chair of restorative clinical sciences John Killip, emeritus faculty, former associate dean of student programs John Cottrell, clinical instructor in behavioral sciences, director of minority and special programs Sarah Dallas, professor of oral and craniofacial science, researcher Julie Sutton, associate professor of hygiene Keerthan Satheesh, associate professor, chair of periodontics Liz Kaz, associate dean for academic affairs, hygiene Connie White, associate dean of clinical programs, community relations Rukevwe Erhenede, third-year student, president of Student National Dental Association/Hispanic Student Dental Association Russell Tabata, Hawaii, Bill French Alumni Service Award recipient Makini King, director of diversity and inclusion initiatives James Wooten, Professor, Department of Medicine (Section of Clinical Pharmacology), School of Medicine, Faculty Senate Andy Goodenow, chief information officer Oct 09, 2020

  • Engineering Assistant Professor Receives Grant Award for Young Investigators

    Zahra Niroobakhsh was one of 75 researchers chosen by the American Chemical Society
    As an urban university, UMKC is growing and expanding in many new research areas, which makes it a great place for young faculty to inspire students and launch groundbreaking research careers. Just a few years into her first academic appointment within the School of Computing and Engineering Zahra Niroobakhsh was recently named one of 75 young faculty to receive a Doctoral New Investigator grant from the American Chemical Society in 2020. Doctoral New Investigator (DNI) grants provide start-up funding for scientists and engineers in the United States who are within the first three years of their first academic appointment at the level of Assistant Professor or the equivalent. The assistant professor, who joined UMKC in 2018, shared details about her research and award. Zahra Niroobakhsh Why did you choose UMKC to launch your career as a researcher? I liked the fact that UMKC has a friendly environment, supportive leaders and many potentials for expanding the research given the opening of the new building, Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center, in our school. What classes do you teach in the School of Computing and Engineering? I teach Engineering Thermodynamics (ME299) for sophomores and three classes for senior undergraduates and graduate students -- Introduction to Biomaterials, Introduction to Soft Materials and Polymers and Advanced Thermodynamics. You’re also leading the niROO PRISM Lab, out of which came (student)  Mahsa’s Droplets as Continents piece up for auction with Science2Art. Can you tell me more about the lab’s ongoing research studies? In the niROO PRISM (Printing and Rheology of Interfacial Soft Materials) Lab, the main theme is to use various liquid/liquid-interfacial systems to investigate the structure-property relation of soft interfacial materials. Currently, one of our focuses is to achieve self-supporting objects by printing liquid into another interactive liquid using our home-built 3D printing system. This work has potential applications related to biological, medical and drug delivery systems. Another focus is using food-grade surfactant systems to remediate oil spill in the ocean in a more sustainable way. That is the research Mahsa’s Science2Art work, which is being auctioned at BioNexus KC, comes from. We’re proud of her. What got you interested in exploring oil and petroleum? My research field overlaps with many environmental areas in the oil and petroleum fields due to the presence of similar interfacial phenomena occurring at the interface of the seawater and crude oil. My research has potential impacts on the oil industry and ultimately more sustainable environment. The DNI grant awards $110,000 over two years for “investigator-initiated, original research.” What are the goals of your proposal? The proposal aims to develop bijels (bi-continuous interfacially jammed gels) that are sponge shaped, bi-continuous emulsions stabilized by nanoparticles made from the relevant components used in the Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR). We will tune the bijels stability and rheological properties so that it delays the transition from soft viscoelastic to rigid solid while it enhances the stability of systems in harsh conditions. The proposed research will provide a fundamental understanding of how bijel emulsion can help to improve recovery efficiency and reduce complications during EOR, which is a worldwide concern. What influenced this project? While conventional oil recovery techniques are only able to recover about a third of oil from their oilfields, a great amount of original oil in place remains trapped in a discontinuous phase of air, brine and oil. Due to the increasing demand for oil in the market and difficulty to find new giant fields, applying enhanced oil recovery technologies are the most viable and economic way to maximize the recovery efficiency of residual oils. What have you discovered so far in your research? Due to new COVID circumstances, the start of the research program is a bit delayed. We’ll start research soon.  Can you describe the achievement of being one of the 75 selected this year? I feel honored to be the recipient of the Doctoral New Investigators by the American Chemical Society; it's a highly competitive and prestigious award, and it certainly gives me the confidence that my research topic has the potential to be expanded in the next few years. The funding will allow me to expand my research areas in this new direction and expand my research group. Looking ahead, what do you hope to accomplish in your work – any cutting-edge discoveries, new research methods, major grant awards you’d like to pursue? I am interested in revisiting the surface sciences that are traditionally applied in detergents and daily care products and using them in new technological advancements like energy storage, and medical and 3D printing applications. I am grateful of the ACS-PRF funds that allow me to obtain preliminary data that could be used for my future career awards. Oct 09, 2020

  • Planting Seeds Through Healthcare and Connections

    Obie Austin has a place in his heart for minority students of all ages
    The “Black Excellence At UMKC” series helps to increase awareness of the representation of diversity and equity on campus and show a visible commitment to the inclusion and recognition of Black faculty and staff. This series celebrates and highlights Black and Roo faculty and staff working behind the scenes and on the frontlines to help our university achieve its mission to promote learning and discovery for all people at UMKC and the greater Kansas City community. Obie Austin, director of Student Health and Wellness, has been schooled by both life and a quality education at UMKC. He revels in the opportunity to take the lessons he’s learned and apply them for the benefit of his family, community and the students he mentors. And he’s still learning himself. Through his daily interactions and work on campus, he’s able to experience and learn about the many diverse people and cultures that exist within the UMKC community. Name: Obie AustinRole: Director, Student Health and WellnessTenure: 18 yearsHometown: Kansas CityUniversity/Alma Mater: Missouri Western State College, UMKC Degree Program: MSN Nursing Why did you choose UMKC as the place to grow your career? I came to UMKC as a student in 1996. Once I finished my program at the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, I was asked to stay on as an adjunct faculty. It sounded like an opportunity and I didn’t think about it much further. It turned out to be a passion. That short introduction to working with students was amazing. It shouldn’t have been because I was heavily involved in SGA as an undergraduate, but I found that I got the same warm and fuzzy feeling from helping people achieve their highest potential as I got from providing care to individuals and families. "I am still fascinated by the body of knowledge I obtained on this very campus and how that continues to grow." What do you enjoy most about working at UMKC? Hands down, I enjoy the opportunity to change lives more than anything else I do.  I understand the power of mentorship.  Even if you don’t have a personal relationship with someone, just having the opportunity to see someone that looks like you succeed is an inspiration itself.  Someone opened a door for me, and I revel at the chance to do that for others. I learn daily. My interactions with others, specifically with others from so many varying cultures are intoxicating. If you’re willing to ask a question, the entire world opens up to you right here on our campus. I want to know why you have your name, what it means, and why your dialect is different from the other person here on campus from the same country. Cook some food and bring it to me so I can close my eyes and imagine being where you are from, why does your whole family have a certain pattern to the clothes they wear and what does it mean, I can go on and on…there’s so much to learn! The campus is perfectly located, gorgeous and filled with young adults that remind me of myself and filled with people that have set out to change lives. Did I say that the power to change lives can be intoxicating? How did you decide this career was right for you? In the late 80s, we were having a nursing shortage and were at the beginning of the HIV epidemic. I worked at KUMC serving water to patients and the nurses asked if I was willing to help them with afterlife learning for their patients. I said sure because what boy wouldn’t want to see a dead person. Watching the nurse provide such respectful care of those patients lit a fuse, and the fire has been burning ever since. I immediately dropped out of engineering school (I had a 1.9 GPA anyway), took a year to get my grades fixed and ran off to nursing school never looking back. I smile daily and love coming to work to do this job. I always wonder what more I can do. I am still fascinated by the body of knowledge I obtained on this very campus and how that continues to grow. Those are great signs that you are where you belong, right? "What’s been unique about managing this pandemic is the fear. Fear is best handled with education, and we do that well here at UMKC." What are the challenges of your career field? You can’t fix everything. The world isn’t fair. I have a special place in my heart for minority students. We often face the trauma that the world and inequality have placed on these students and sometimes four years is not enough to unravel that trauma. It’s often disheartening. You want them to know that they can do anything if they believe it. Some you can inspire to achieve that goal and some you can’t. That’s very personal for me because I’ve been there. I was lucky that someone got to me and planted a seed. They, then, stuck around to water the seed and witness the growth happen. I hope that I am a person that sticks around to pour the water. From a care standpoint, sometimes you want so much for your patients but, for whatever reason, they are unable to get to their goal. That can be tough. Photo taken circa 2018, pre-COVID What are the benefits of your career field? There is nothing better than saving a life. I get to do that in many ways -- providing healthcare, mentorship, education and counseling. It’s a very stable and noble profession with a great deal of flexibility and good compensation that helps me provide a good life for my family. It’s also a well-respected position that brings honor to the African American community. What other roles have you had at UMKC? Student, adjunct faculty, clinical instructor, associate professor, nurse practitioner, administrator, director… mentor You’ve played an integral part in managing the university’s response to COVID-19, especially in tracking and monitoring cases and student health. How have your educational and career experiences equipped you to be able to lead at this time? I’ve had the pleasure of serving our country in both the Army and the Navy. Leading through armed conflict, we learn to be still in chaos, be focused, be decisive and don’t hesitate to provide direction. These lessons follow me everywhere I go. I found these tenants of leadership to be helpful, especially at the beginning of the pandemic when there were so many unknowns and fears. As a healthcare professional, we interact with illness as a normal part of our daily routine. We approach our jobs the same way every day so, in that regard, I felt well-prepared to handle COVID. What’s been unique about managing this pandemic is the fear. Fear is best handled with education, and we do that well here at UMKC.   I’ve also had the pleasure of working with some incredibly talented professionals, including staff and students. We’ve worked hard to keep this campus safe and support each other as we face the challenges of COVID. "We have a lot to offer at UMKC." Having been involved with UMKC in various capacities, you’ve gotten to work and connect with many different people. How do you connect and establish relationships with Black faculty and staff in other units and departments? Race provides a sort of kinship through seemingly shared experiences. I think we all feel a little closer, unconsciously, to people that may have had a shared experience or who may look like we do. There is a familiarity that reminds you of a cousin, aunt or parent that makes the forming of relationships feel a little easier. We are small in numbers on this campus, so it is honestly a little challenging to meet other folks that look like me. I try to just get out and participate where I can. Being involved in campus activities, attending meetings and serving on committees has been extremely helpful to me in building relationships on campus. I often walk the campus just to meet people in general. I have noticed that during the pandemic there are more concentrated efforts to gather as Black faculty and staff. This is very helpful, and I hope it continues. We have a lot to offer at UMKC. You’ve spent much of your career serving in the urban core of Kansas City – whether working or volunteering at clinics or with youth groups. How are you currently involved in the Kansas City community outside of UMKC? COVID has affected everything, even the ability to act and have time to volunteer.  I am currently most active with Rose Brooks Domestic Violence Center serving on their Medical Advisory Board. This is currently the only organized volunteer activity that I am committed to. Individually, I’m actively mentoring about 10 young adults -- four young ladies that are here in nursing school and five young men that are post-high school students trying to figure out what’s next in their journey. I continue to do safe sex and men’s health presentations throughout the community as asked, and I’m actively involved in helping my home church and other faith-based organizations plan how to safely reopen their doors during and after the pandemic. "Someone opened a door for me, and I revel at the chance to do that for others." How do you mentor and give back to students on campus? My focus tends to be on the health professions students. I often offer my services as a mentor or tutor during lunch hours, but I find that my position in student health has given me a platform to reach all students. We have an opportunity to see students in venerable situations whether its illness-related, being homesick, or just lost under the weight of life. Here is where my education takes a back seat and my parenting skills kick in. Our students often need a listening ear and a familiar voice of assurance. As a middle-aged Black person on campus, we often fit the picture of a comforting parent. I try to take advantage of that role as often as possible.  What is one word that best describes you? Resilient. Man, this life has thrown some things at me over the course of my 50-plus years! But my God has always seen me through. I’ve learned that if you have the ability to just stand, you can make it through any storm. So I just stand.  "I hope that I am a person that sticks around to pour the water." What is one piece of advice you’d give a prospective faculty or staff member looking to grow their career at UMKC? Allow yourself to be present here. The students are infectious and make you want to be better at what you do. Many people come and do their job and leave without out interacting with our young folks. They will make your days better if you let them. What is one piece of advice you’d give a student wanting to follow in your footsteps?  Shadow a professional and make a friend that is doing what you want to do. Age does not always define friendship. There’s a lot to be learned from having a strong relationship with someone who has spent a little time in the shoes you want to wear. Oct 09, 2020

  • Spotlight on Latinx Culture at UMKC

    Students and alumni share their stories about the Latinx community and UMKC resources available
    We want to shine a spotlight on the Latinx culture at UMKC during Hispanic Heritage month. Hear firsthand from students, alumni and faculty about their experiences at UMKC and the resources, opportunities, and programs for Latinx students that helped them navigate college. What does a mentorship look like at UMKC? “It’s such a joy. It’s such a rewarding experience. And it’s a way of paying back all the opportunities I have had in life. If I hadn’t had mentors, I wouldn’t have come as far as I have.” - Clara Irazábal-Zurita, Ph.D., mentor “I just know she’s there, that I have someone to go to to ask for guidance and advice. I know I have someone to talk to.” - Aricela Guadalupe “For me being a first-generation college student, none of my family members knew anything about college or knew the struggle or challenges that came with being in college. All of those things were difficult at times for my mother to understand. But having a mentor has helped me tremendously.”-Edith Moreno ‘16 Favorite Spanish/Latinx resources or student organization at UMKC? “I am on the executive board for the Association of Latin American Students (ALAS) and a scholar in the Avanzando Mentoring Program. ALAS has helped me get to know fellow Latinx students on campus and about different Latinx cultures.” -Jonny Gutierrez ‘19 “The Avanzando Program made the transition from high school to college less stressful and more exciting. It also has given me the opportunity to interact with my mentor.” -Edith Moreno B.A. ‘16 Who/what motivates you? “My parents didn’t go to college, but they always stressed the importance of going and finishing. And now I tell my younger sisters and my son ‘I made it, so you have to make it. No ifs, ands or buts.” -Astrid Vega ‘22 “I take pride in [being a first-generation student] because I know my family made a sacrifice to leave their homeland to come here and prosper. My parents were only able to get so far in life because of the lack of resources provided to them; however, I was inculcated with the desire to work hard and be humble, and I can't thank them enough for teaching me those values.” - Roberto Diaz ‘20 “Since migrating to the U.S., my parents have broken their backs to keep my siblings and I financially stable. After working for others for 15 years, my father finally owns his own company (also without a degree, like my grandmother). They’ve inspired me to follow in their footsteps and try to be even more successful than they were, but this time, with a college degree.” - Daphne Posadas ‘21 How do you want to make a difference in the Hispanic/Latinx community? “I am a member and co-founder of the organization Voz Kansas City. We are a new Latinx Organization advocating for and advancing the role the Latinx community plays in the community and within politics.” - Aly Hernandez ‘19 “I got into teaching when I did City Year and Teach for America. Both of those experiences showed me that there are very few Latinx educators in front of black and brown children. Research shows when students have teachers that reflect their identities, they often do better. This motivates me to stay in education.” -Roberto Diaz ‘20 Advice for incoming first-generation Hispanic/Latinx students? “Instead of advice, I would want to congratulate families in general, and Latino families in particular, because they invest a lot in supporting their children to come to college and to do well in college. Keep doing what you’re doing and realize that this is an investment for the long term.”- Clara Irazábal-Zurita, Ph.D. Thoughts on diversity at UMKC? “Another thing I love about UMKC is the diversity. It's great to see people from all different cultures and stories. I realized I haven't met everyone in the entire world, and I want to. UMKC allows students to start becoming the adult they want to be – one who is full of confidence, creativity and compassion.” - Daphne Posadas ‘21 “This might be a bit cliché, but I really admire the diversity at this school. Being Mexican American, I feel extremely welcomed, and it motivates me more because I know I have different kinds of support behind me and that means the world to me.” - Jonny Gutierrez ‘19 Oct 09, 2020

  • ‘Southern Cause’? Missouri’s Confederate Memorial Skips Over The Evils Of Slavery

    Kansas City Star editorial quotes UMKC history professor
    Diane Mutti-Burke, a history professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, was quoted in a Kansas City Star editorial. The quote was from a piece she wrote for the online publication Civil War On The Western Border, "Slavery in western Missouri was often just as brutal as elsewhere in the South." Oct 09, 2020

  • Faith In KC: A Conversation With Professor Gary Ebersole

    Yahoo News picks up KSHB story
    Professor Gary Ebersole of the University of Missouri-Kansas City joined 41 Action News anchor Taylor Hemness to discuss how history can teach us a great deal about how people of faith respond when the world is in peril. Oct 09, 2020

  • Library To Offer Free Writing Classes, Virtual Story Time

    UMKC graduate students will teach classes
    The Kansas City Public Library is partnering with the University of Missouri-Kansas City to offer four new writing classes through the Writers for Readers program. Oct 07, 2020

  • Health Equity Mini-Grants Aim to Jump-Start Collaborative Research

    Funding from institute encourages UMKC community research partnerships. Informational webinar available online; applications due Nov. 12.
    Making access to health care more equal is a tough task, and a pandemic only makes the job tougher. To help, the UMKC Health Equity Institute is trying a new tool — mini-grants to university researchers and their community partners — to boost those efforts.  “We have about $12,000 to $15,000 spend, and we think putting $1,000 to $2,000 in the right places could help eight to 10 projects move forward,” said Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., the director of the institute and a professor in the UMKC School of Medicine. “Sometimes help paying for study participants, software, consultants or other resources can make a real difference.” Though small, the grants could be the seed money — or the Miracle-Gro® — needed to turn ideas into budding projects that encourage and measure the effectiveness of community health efforts. The brief application for the mini-grant program is available now, and institute members are encouraging researchers and community groups to submit their joint applications. An informational webinar on the mini-grants was presented in mid-October and is available online, along with important information such as budget documents and the grant program overview. Applicants will have until Nov. 12 to submit their proposals, after which finalists will be chosen. The finalists then will give short oral presentations Dec. 4 and recipients will be chosen. The institute plans to have the funds available at the beginning of 2021.  “We’re hoping the mini-grants stimulate our researchers to be creative and to collaborate with community partners — or build relationships with new partners,” Berkley-Patton said. “The institute’s steering committee will evaluate the applications, and we hope to have applicants make a brief, but impactful, oral pitch for their proposals Dec. 4 in a virtual presentation akin to “Shark Tank®.”    The idea behind the Health Equity Institute, an initiative Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal started in April 2019, is to partner UMKC researchers with community groups, non-profits and government agencies in underserved areas on projects that aim to improve community health. “We’re hoping the mini-grants stimulate our researchers to be creative and to collaborate with community partners — or build relationships with new partners.” — Jannette Berkley-Patton The institute, for example, is working with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority to evaluate the impact of the city’s now-free bus service on health outcomes. The institute wants to understand whether their recruited residents’ health and overall well-being improve because they walk more and have better access to jobs and health care through the free transit system. The institute has also helped the Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department conduct COVID-19 drive-through testing by coordinating more than 90 student volunteers. The students helped with intake, traffic control and providing COVID-19 information to people seeking testing. The institute also helped with formation of an interfaith ministers’ group, the Clergy Response Network, founded to address COVID-19 inequities in Kansas City’s faith-based settings, and has created a church reopening checklist for clergy. The network recently received 30,000 face masks to distribute to congregations to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Berkley-Patton is a veteran of community-based health research, including studies that engage churches and other community-based organizations’ in efforts to combat health disparity issues such as HIV and other STDs, mental health, obesity and diabetes. “We need more research projects that improve the health of people where they live, play, worship and work, and projects that can be sustained for the long haul after research shows they work,” Berkley-Patton said. “We think these mini-grants can get more projects like these up and running while engaging the community in research efforts that we hope will reduce disparities and improve health in Kansas City’s urban areas.” UMKC researchers from any fields or departments are encouraged to apply as long as the research would involve collaboration with a community partner. UMKC research spans many disciplines, and health care research is fostered by the school's Health Sciences District, which includes the Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Health Studies, and Pharmacy. For more information on the mini-grant program, visit the Health Equity Institute website. Oct 06, 2020

  • Avanzando Provides Support, Mentoring and Community for UMKC Latinx Students

    Program serves 250 UMKC students, many of them first-generation students
    Sometimes it takes a crisis to make things happen. But good things can come from a crisis. That sentiment, shared by Theresa Torres, associate professor in the UMKC Department of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Sexual Studies, defines the evolution of Avanzando. A decade ago, Latinx students at UMKC lacked a sense of belonging on campus and personal relationships with role models in the professional world for them to emulate. To address the crisis, community leaders worked closely to develop Avanzando, a program designed to provide support and resources to Latinx students. It was launched in 2011, initially as a way to support UMKC Hispanic Development Fund Scholarship recipients.  Today, Avanzando communicates to Latinx students that there is a place for them at UMKC. It provides Latinx students academic support, mentoring, resources and connections to help them do well in school, graduate and find success in their careers. “That first year, we started with 27 students and today we serve 250,” said Torres, who has worked with the program since its beginning and currently mentors three students through the program. “Many are first-generation students who need support and someone to answer their questions, give encouragement, help them through the ups and downs of college. We offer the resources and support to stay in school and graduate from school. The mentoring piece really helps with that.” Ivan Ramirez, coordinator for the UMKC Multicultural Student Affairs Department and the Avanzando Latino Mentoring Program, agrees. “The program has proven to be a pillar in a student’s success, having 90 percent retention rates of our participating scholars,” he says. “What you don’t see on paper is the long-lasting mentor-scholar relationships that are built.” “This program helped me get connected with professionals that are Latinx just like me, and that is something that is not easy to do. It has helped me become a leader, but overall, it has helped me become an even better human being.” – Henry Ortega-Hernandez Avanzando mentors are volunteers from the faculty, staff and the community — and there is always a need for more. Most are Latinos, but that is not a requirement. Students are matched to mentors based on common goals and career interests, and meet regularly with mentors throughout their time at UMKC. According to Torres, funding is one of the major barriers for many students, as they often maintain heavy work schedules to fund their college expenses. The Avanzando program partners with the Hispanic Development Fund to support scholarship fundraising efforts for Latinx students. Although Avanzando started as a program to support the Hispanic Development Fund scholars, its reputation now draws students looking for a sense of community and campus support. That was the case for Henry Ortega-Hernandez, a first-generation college student double majoring in criminology and sociology. Ortega-Hernandez admits UMKC wasn’t his first choice – he transferred from Kansas State University due to family issues at home – but says he is very grateful to be a Roo.  “I got involved with Avanzando because I felt alone, I didn't know anyone on campus and felt like I didn't fit in,” he said. “Avanzando felt like home in a way, it didn't make me feel like I was out of place. I would totally recommend this program to every student if I could reach out to all of them.” Through the program, Ortega-Hernandez was connected to a huge community of Latinx students and professionals not only at UMKC, but from the entire city. And he was matched with several mentors that share his professional interests. “This program helped me get connected with professionals that are Latinx just like me, and that is something that is not easy to do,” he said, “It has helped me become a leader, but overall, it has helped me become an even better human being.”  According to Torres, there is a common misconception in the country that most Latinos are immigrants when in fact more than 60 percent are natural-born citizens. In Kansas City, the Latinx population has been part of the community for more than 100 years, including many leaders committed to improving the community, giving back and fighting discrimination. “It’s important for our students to know the history and impact of the Latinx population, and to learn these leaders have backgrounds and interests similar to theirs,” said Torres. And that’s key to Avanzando. “The program is designed specifically to increase the retention and graduation of Latino students,” said Ramirez. “We are intentional in our efforts to increase participation and the sense of belonging to our scholars.” To learn about becoming an Avanzando mentor, contact Ivan Ramirez. Oct 06, 2020

  • UMKC Trustees’ Scholar Connection Leads to Mentorship and Friendship

    Dynamic duo share passion for giving back to community
    The heart of UMKC is our campus community. With lots of opportunities, it’s easy to develop student mentorship teams. And these rich relationships—our Dynamic Duos—are some of our best success stories. Debby Ballard and Ruby Rios met during Rios’s interview for the UMKC Trustees’ Scholars program in 2018. Ballard serves as Rios’s well-matched mentor as the computer science major manages online courses, living at home, a focused ambition and a desire to give back. Ballard, president of the Sprint Foundation, is a UMKC Trustee who has deep and broad experience in community development. She serves on several community advisory boards and boards of directors including the Kansas City Girls Preparatory Academy and the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. But in addition, she devotes time and energy into her mentoring relationship with Ruby Rios, ’21. Rios is a UMKC Trustees’ Scholar. At the encouragement of her father, she started coding in fifth grade. While she was in high school, she started two Girls Who Code clubs in Kansas City, which led to her participating in a roundtable discussion with Nobel Peace Prize laurate Malala Yousafzai. Ballard and Rios have sustained their mentoring relationship since the COVID-19 pandemic sent them to work from home in March. Cognizant of the scope of the effects of the disease, both women have recognized what they have lost, but are capitalizing on the lessons this crisis has brought them. Tell me how you met originally. Ballard: I met Ruby during the Trustees’ Scholar interviews. I was on the committee and was impressed with her from day one. I love the fact that she had this technology background, but she also had this passion for philanthropy and for giving back. That's my world. It was a natural fit when you think about it, as I work for a technology company.  But more importantly the role that I play at that company supporting the community is one of the areas that Ruby's interested in. It just made sense. It was a perfect fit. She was at the top of my list. “The biggest advantage is having that person’s insight of, ‘Yes, you can do this. I've done it, and this is how I've done it.”- Ruby Rios Rios: I guess I'll add in a little secret, and I don’t know if she's heard this or not. But after meeting Debby at my interview, I was so impressed by her that when they were setting us up to have the mentor-mentee relationship, I specifically asked if I could be assigned to her as a mentee because she’s so impressive to me. Her previous mentee was graduating, which I consider the second luckiest thing that happened to me in college after getting the scholarship itself. It sounds as if you had an immediate connection. Rios:  I did, even though I was super nervous and anxious. Debby: She was a superstar to all of us. Even if she was nervous, it didn't come across that way. She came across as confident, you know? Ruby’s smart - that goes without saying – but I think she also had a maturity that you don't see that often.  She really has goals and plans and has worked them. A lot of times -- not just young people but all throughout careers -- people will set some goals and set a plan, but they don't work it.  That's like not having one. Did you meet regularly before COVID? Are you meeting now? Ballard: You know, it's sporadic. [Before the shutdown] we met as needed, either for breakfast or lunch. Since, we’ve met a few times by Skype. Rios: She’s introduced me to some of the best eating places in Kansas City – Classic Cup, Seasons 52, Summit Grill. Ballard: We do try to find different places. But I also make a point of bringing her with me if I am going to something where I think she would be interested or have job networking opportunities. Rios: Debby has been one of the sweetest individuals and has invited to some really cool events in Kansas City. I always get a good feeling when I'm with her. When you guys get together, are you mostly, focused on school and career, or are you friends and you talk about family and food? Ballard: We cover a little bit of the personal stuff, because I think it's important to know the whole person. So, we cover that, but I would say we also are very intentional about Ruby. I've had a lot of mentees over the years, and a lot of times they just kind of come and there's no agenda. She always has an agenda. She has great questions, and so we're pretty focused on what she wants to cover during that meeting and what we're going to get out of it. There's always a goal or objective for what we're going to be talking about. This is one of the things that impresses me about her. Ruby, do you have a plan after graduation? Rios: Yes! Of course! “I realized that because of how my schooling was being disrupted by COVID, I had a unique opportunity to be able to really focus on and work towards graduating early.” - Ruby Rios Do you want to share it? Rios: It's a work in progress. I'm still getting all the kinks worked out. Because of the pandemic, I am really able to focus in on being a full-time student. I'm taking some classes that I had previously thought I should spread out with some business classes. I'm taking more difficult classes at the same time because there's not really much else to do. My plan is to graduate this summer. So, you’ll graduate early? Rios: Yes. I realized that because of how my schooling was being disrupted by COVID, I had a unique opportunity to be able to really focus on and work towards graduating early. And then, after COVID, I’ll have the opportunity to go and do the fun stuff that right now I'm not able to do with a little bit more financial backing than I currently have. That sounds really impressive. Ballard: Right, definitely. I think she's amazing. Ruby, what do you think is the advantage of having a mentor? Rios: I think there are a lot of advantages. Debby is amazing, and helps me in so many ways that it would be impossible to list all of them. But I think the biggest one is that I have an example of someone who's entered the career path that interests me. And because of that, I now have the ability to see how I could do that myself. I think a lot of college students feel very lost in terms of how to go about thinking through a career plan and starting the career they want. It's really nice to have somebody who's been down that road who's helping to steer the car. And I’m able to learn a little bit more about adulting and have conversations with a professional person. But the biggest advantage is having that person’s insight of, “Yes, you can do this. I've done it, and this is how I've done it.” “I believe that ‘you have to see it to be it.’ And I think what I have allowed Ruby to do is really see somebody doing the job that she wants, and the work that she wants to be able to do.”- Debby Ballard  Debby, is there an advantage of having a mentee? Ballard: It’s really, really satisfying and for both of us. It's a safe environment for Ruby to really be herself and to ask questions that maybe she wouldn't feel comfortable asking a lot of different people. But I also believe that “you have to see it to be it.” And I think what I have allowed Ruby to do is really see somebody doing the job that she wants, and the work that she wants to be able to do. It gives me the opportunity to help shape her future and to impart any knowledge that I might have. And then it gives me the opportunity to watch her grow into what she wants to be. I think mentoring is important at every stage because it does help you to get to the next step whatever that is. I'm just pleased to be able to be a part and to watch her move to the next step. That's wonderful. Did you have a mentor? Ballard: I have had mentors all throughout my career at Sprint, and really good ones who provided really good advice. It doesn't matter where you are in your career, a mentor is always a good thing. It’s good having people at the table who can speak for you. Ruby, I know that you've been involved with people who are younger than you already but, does your relationship with Debby make you want to be a mentor? Rios: 100%. I've always held the belief that wherever you are in life you need to reach back out and help the people who aren't there yet. And so, I have been a mentor for robotics teams. I'm the coach of my own Junior FIRST Lego League Girl Scout team. So as much as I'm able to – even though I don’t have much wisdom to impart quite yet -- I know that it's important for girls to be able to see that somebody like me in tech exists. They need to know that as a young person, they are as capable -- if not more capable than I am -- of doing some of the very cool things I've had the opportunity to be able to do. Oct 06, 2020

  • Placing More Teachers of Color in Urban Schools

    UMKC School of Education Institute for Urban Education is poised for growth
    The Institute of Urban Education within the UMKC School of Education is committed to improving student success in urban schools. While the UMKC School of Education has been successfully training students for teaching and leadership positions in urban schools for years, their current priority is exponentially expanding the number of graduates who are prepared to meet the unique challenges of teaching in the urban core, challenges that have made life more difficult for students, parents and teachers due to the current COVID-19 pandemic and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement. Community leaders Leo Morton and Jerry Reece are leading the campaign to expand the program’s capabilities and ultimately long-term student success. Morton and Reece, UMKC trustee and chair emeritus of ReeceNichols Real Estate, both attended public schools. Morton grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, in the 1950s and 1960s. “It was totally segregated,” he says. “All my teachers were African American. Given that teaching was one of the best jobs you could have then, they were the best and the brightest and fully engaged.” Patty and Jerry Reece with Institute for Urban Education alumna Reece, a Kansas native, spent his formative years in a small town on the northwestern tip of Washington state. “It was like going to Alaska,” Reece says. “There were no people of color, so I had the opposite experience of Leo.” “It was the same experience!” Morton says. Despite the disparity of their landscapes and the similarities of the uniformity of their classrooms, both men agree that the significance of the messages that children receive about their opportunities for success are universal. “I think the environment in the urban core is a huge influence on what happens in our classrooms,” Morton says. “When you live in an environment where you grow up believing that by the time you’re 25 years old you’re going to be dead or in prison, what value do you see in math and science?” “I’ve heard Leo tell the story about how his dad would tell people that he and his brother were going to be engineers when they grew up,” Reece says. “He set them on the right path.” Leo Morton “I’ve heard people attribute the problem in urban schools to students and parents,” says Morton, UMKC chancellor emeritus and president and chief operating officer of DeBruce Companies. “But when you look for an answer, you need to understand the problem. I can credit my whole career on having the right parents. You’re fortunate if you’re born to parents who really understand what it takes to succeed and can provide the exposure to the right kind of issues. But if a child is in the situation where the parents don’t provide that, the community needs to step in.” Student success Both men agree that the Institute for Urban Education is readying their students for success. The achievements of graduates of the program reinforce that this is the case. Asha Moore (B.A. ’09 Elementary Education, M.A. ’14 Educational Leadership) is the dean of students at the Academy for Integrated Arts in Kansas City. She is a member of the first class of graduates from the Institute for Urban Education program. Moore was born in Florida and attended a predominately Black school in an urban neighborhood where she was excelling academically. When Moore’s family moved to Olathe, Kansas, when she was in fourth grade, she was suddenly in the minority. “It took some adjustment,” Moore says. “I struggled at first and it was a surprise. When I finally talked to my brother, he assured me that I was going to be okay.” Asha Moore with student Moore did make a successful adjustment and decided that she wanted to be a teacher because she wanted to make children feel as if they could prosper anywhere. She enrolled in the School of Education at UMKC, but she did not join Institute for Urban Education until her second year. “Other students encouraged me to join. I had already decided that I was going to teach in an urban school and the scholarship was helpful.” Moore feels the program prepared her for the unique challenges that she’s faced. “When you’re in an urban school, it helps if you can be responsive in your teaching and culturally relevant. We need to meet students where there are and help them think critically.” Moore says her experience at the Institute for Urban Education was a solid foundation for her career. “The staff was great – not just teaching, but wanting us to learn and getting to know us.” “When I decided to be a teacher, I knew I wanted to give students more than I got. Fewer than 10 percent of the kids I went to high school with went to college. I wanted to help kids make it.” – Destiny Flournoy She is still friends with several of the people in her cohort. Destiny Flournoy, B.A. Education ’09, M.A. Education Administration ’17, was part of that first Institute for Urban Education class. “When I decided to be a teacher, I knew I wanted to give students more than I got,” Flournoy says. “Fewer than 10 percent of the kids I went to high school with went to college. I wanted to help kids make it.” Needed now more than ever  The current COVID-19 pandemic and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement have added to the challenges of teaching in general, but in the urban core even more significantly. “Teachers had to change direction so quickly,” says Jennifer Waddell, director of the Institute for Urban Education. “It really put the spotlight on the complexities of teaching and the services that schools provide, including providing meals for students.” Waddell notes that the Institute for Urban Education focuses on teachers’ impact on how students see the world. “How to be racist or not racist, how to be fair or unfair, as well as other issues, are learned behaviors. Children are affected by what they see adults do — particularly teachers. We teach what we call ‘mirrors and windows.’ Their students should be able to see themselves in what they’re learning and they should also be learning about other people and their perspectives.” Waddell says that teachers and schools have a unique opportunity. “Teachers really have the opportunity to help create individuals who can work together and work for the good of everyone,’’ Waddell says. “That’s why it’s important for everyone to have an equitable education, so everyone — regardless of the zip code they were born into — has career opportunities.” Waddell says that Morton’s father was instinctually instilling something that education academics write books about. “We instill in our teachers the need to put supports and strategies in place and to believe that every child can succeed, because there is motivation in knowing that someone believes we can,” Waddell says. “Ideally, we would like to have a significant endowment so we can guarantee scholarships every year. But annual giving also gives us the opportunity to respond to specific needs and emerging priorities.” - Jennifer Waddell Waddell says that the Institute for Urban Education has started a campaign to meet the demand for committed teachers in the urban core and to provide the resources that the school needs to prepare more students. “Ideally, we would like to have a significant endowment so we can guarantee scholarships every year. But annual giving also gives us the opportunity to respond to specific needs and emerging priorities.” Morton and Reece are confident that the community will respond to the opportunity to enhance schools in the urban core. Jennifer Waddell with students “Of all the nonprofits I’m involved with, Institute for Urban Education has the most potential to have the greatest impact, because we have the potential to chip away at the inequities in education by producing teachers of color,” Reece says. “The funds we raise will help close the gap and help these young people succeed.” Morton says that while he and Reece are chairing this recent campaign, they are committed to Institute for Urban Education for the long term. “I don’t have a drive-thru mentality about this,” Morton says. “We are researching and measuring results. We have to have patience and the conviction that we are investing in something that is going to make a difference in the long term. That’s what sets us apart from other programs.”  For more information or to make a contribution to the Institute of Urban Education, please contact Shelly Doucet at doucets@umkcfoundation.org or 816-235-6025   Oct 05, 2020

  • As Occupy-style Protest Enters Fifth Day, UMKC Professor Weighs In On Effectiveness Of Protests

    KSHB quotes Rebecca Best
    Rebecca Best, an associate professor in the Political Science Department at UMKC, was quoted in two KSHB stories about the recent KC City Hall occupation. One story was about the purpose of the protests. The second story was about it being the first of its kind in nearly a decade. Oct 05, 2020

  • A Look What's Next Now That the President Has COVID-19

    Beth Vonnahme shares insight with KCTV5
    “If he’s having mild symptoms, there may be little effect on the governing of the country. If he is having rather serious symptoms, then at some point we have to talk about Mike Pence taking over quite a bit of the duties,” said Beth Vonnahme, associate dean of the College of Arts and Science at UMKC. Read the full article and watch the newscast. Oct 03, 2020

  • Women’s Graduate Assistance Fund Fuels Success

    Every year the UMKC Women’s Council awards grants to enable post-baccalaureate students to pursue opportunities
    Swetha Chintala is working to improve a new photoactivated glucagon delivery method for people with diabetes. Her Women’s Council Graduate Assistance Fund Award is making that process easier. Chintala began working on improving photoactivated insulin and glucagon delivery when she joined the team of Simon Friedman, Ph.D.’s lab in Spring 2016. Their goal is to develop a minimally invasive light-activated artificial pancreas that is able to deliver both insulin and glucagon on demand, eliminating the need for people with diabetes to inject insulin multiple times a day. She received a Women’s Graduate Assistance Fund (GAF) award to further her work last year. “It was a huge relief when I heard from the committee that I received the award, particularly because of the pandemic lockdown,” Chintala says. “I was able to purchase software required to analyze my data. We have recently communicated our work with a scientific journal for publication. After publication, I will also make use of the GAF award to present my work on glucagon administration at a national conference.” Debbie Brooks Debbie Brooks, JD ‘01 is retired assistant dean of the UMKC School of Law, the Women’s Council board of directors president and a GAF donor. She understands the significance of the grants. “I was a GAF recipient,” she says. “I applied for funds to take a prep course for the bar exam and I continue to give back.” Brooks says the fund was established specifically to support women such as herself and Chintala. “You have to remember, when we started [in 1970] women weren’t supported in advanced degrees. They faced prejudice like, ‘Women can’t do math,’ and ‘Women can’t be engineers.” She notes that some of these challenges still exist today. “We are still a patriarchal society. It can be difficult to complete your dream while you have a family. Many of our women students still have primary responsibility for child care. They are expected to be excellent partners, mothers, employees and students.” Brooks has donated to the program since she received her award because she is committed to expanding opportunities for women scholars. Swetha Chintala Students can use funds in many ways to help them achieve their academic goals as long as it’s not tuition, textbooks or software the academic department provides,” Brooks says. “The grants are not restricted to travel expenses or the sciences and professional schools. We receive applicants from the arts. Beyond research and conferences, some of our recipients may to go to other cities to pursue opportunities in theatre or dance.” The committee looks forward to bringing recipients and their families together at the awards ceremony recognizing recipients every year. Just as the pandemic is making students’ research more difficult, it is interfering with plans for this year’s event. “Next year – 2021 -- is the 50th anniversary of the awards. We are a determined group,” Brooks says. “We will find the best way to commemorate the recipients’ accomplishments.” The deadline for Graduate Assistance Funds application is November 2, 2020. To support the UMKC Women’s Council Gradate Assistance Fund, contact Amy Loughman.   Oct 01, 2020

  • Mid-Continent Public Library Allows Kids To Have A Blast With Zoom Chemistry Classes

    Kansas City Star features UMKC student who is a Mad Science instructor
    Andy Chapel, music education student at the UMKC Conservatory, has taught classes with Mad Science since January. Having an insight into how it looks from a student’s perspective has informed his own teaching habits, Chapel said. Read the full article. A subscription may be required. Oct 01, 2020

  • Missouri Gov’s Office: Public Not Entitled To Know If Parson Staffers Tested Positive

    School of Law professor interviewed by Kansas City Star
    “It’s not a covered entity. Therefore, HIPAA doesn’t apply,” said Ann Marie Marciarille, UMKC School of Law professor. Read the full article. A subscription may be required. Oct 01, 2020

  • Blazing Trails for Women in Technology and Engineering

    School of Computing and Engineering alumni and board member received STEMMy awards from Central Exchange
    The 7th annual STEMMy Awards hosted by Central Exchange highlighted a host of women in STEM who are blazing trails and breaking barriers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. In true UMKC fashion, several of this year’s honorees are Roos hailing from the School of Computing and Engineering. Sherry Lumpkins (BACS ’93), owner and principal of Blue Symphony and 2020 Vanguard Award recipient – Enterprising Innovator Lauren Koval (BSCE ‘ 17), engineering manager at McCownGordon Construction – Rising Trendsetter Emily Tilgner, civil and mechanical engineering advisory board member, vice president of engineering services at McCownGordon Construction – Groundbreaking Leadership Our award recipients shared their passions for computer science and engineering, the importance of networking and how they contribute to closing equity gaps in STEM. What sparked your interest in engineering? Lumpkins: I stumbled upon it as a career option. Computers weren’t ubiquitous when I was in high school. I took one class and thought it was interesting but didn’t think about it as a career path until I had an internship in college where I worked on a computer. When I began diving deeper into how computers were made and I found that I wanted to learn more and eventually switched majors from accounting to computer science. Tilgner:  I always loved math and science classes and really loved puzzles and problem-solving.  My parents, who were both educators, helped me explore areas of study that they thought would be a good match. Engineering was a great fit for me. Koval: In junior high school, my advanced algebra teacher, Mrs. Docking, invited a woman engineer into our class to speak to us about her career. Listening to her speak really sparked my interest and from that day I decided I wanted to pursue engineering! How did UMKC prepare you for the career you lead today? Lumpkins: It was there that I decided to pursue a career in STEM, and I absolutely got great fundamentals that equipped me to be able to keep up with the changing pace in computer science. Koval: I had a great deal of support during my time at UMKC! In addition to studying Engineering, I was also a Trustees’ Scholar and played on the Women’s Soccer Team, so I stayed pretty busy. Each of those areas of my life required a lot of time and dedication, but they also provided me with a lot of help and support. I learned to work hard and push myself, and also when to ask for help and guidance. I’m thankful for the life lessons I learned and have carried into my career. "It used to be 'it’s not what you know, but who you know.' I’ve heard a more recent take of this, 'it’s not what you know or who you know, but who knows you.'” - Tilgner Why is it important to mentor and help give back to future engineers? Tilgner: I believe the earlier we can support women in this field, the better the chance for retaining them. Through various experiences mentoring youth and students, I’ve found that just having a trusted advisor, someone to talk to, or just knowing that someone has gone through that same thing, who can understand your point of view, provides support for young women pursuing this career. How do you help to close equity gaps in STEM? Lumpkins: I very intentionally want to use the internship opportunities I have available to address the equity gaps. I can’t solve all the problems in the world, but I can do my tiny piece. When I started the Blue Symphony internship program, I wanted to create an opportunity for underserved groups – students of color and women – and I try to be very instructive to help equip students for experiences they’ll have in their careers. I want to give them skills they can add to their resume. Tilgner: The fact that my engineering team within a construction company is majority female speaks louder than any story I could tell or any metric I could list. To support and nurture women, you have to hire them first and give them a platform in which to shine. In addition to this role, I push for multiple women in my company to be nominated for various awards, leadership programs, and to be recognized for promotions and prestigious projects. We are getting closer to 50% representation in these opportunities, which I believe will help our company come closer to an executive leadership team with the same ratio. I believe it is not enough to only support the women. Creating a dialogue with my male colleagues and industry partners about equal opportunities and representation can exponentially expand the opportunities for everyone. "Seeing women, and Black women, recognized in STEM fields shows little girls that if someone who looks like them can do it, they can do it." - Lumpkins Why is it important to network and make connections as you build your career? Tilgner: It used to be “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” I’ve heard a more recent take of this, “it’s not what you know or who you know, but who knows you.” You can never know what conversation or contact is going to help you along the way. Not every relationship should be viewed as transactional, but why not give yourself every opportunity on the way? Koval: Networking and making connections play a huge part in the success of your career. I was very fortunate to form many connections while at UMKC through my time in the Trustees’ Scholars program, one of which led to my internship and now career at McCownGordon Construction! Forming relationships with people both inside and outside of my company has helped me gain knowledge and make connections that make my job both more rewarding and more fun! It has also allowed me to meet and help others within the same and different industries. It is amazing what a small world it is, once you are willing to put yourself out there and meet new people. "I very intentionally want to use the internship opportunities I have available to address the equity gaps. I can’t solve all the problems in the world, but I can do my tiny piece." - Lumpkins Sherry, what has your journey been like starting and growing a Black/woman-owned technology company in Kansas City? Lumpkins: I think that being an entrepreneur has its own set of struggles, so adding on being a woman and being Black there is three-times the challenge, but those things shouldn’t be prioritized. It’s important to be aware of those things but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. When I walk into a room, I’ve had to figure out how to make people listen to me but those are the cards I’m dealt, and it’s been worth it. Once you’ve proven that you know what you’re talking about, it’s done. Women weren’t always able to pursue careers in STEM, let alone receive credit for their innovation and leadership. What does this recognition mean for you? Tilgner: It is huge, but it is not enough. In the words of Ruth Bader Ginsberg: “When I'm sometimes asked ‘when will there be enough (women on the Supreme Court?)’ and I say, 'when there are nine,' people are shocked. But there'd been nine men, and nobody's ever raised a question about that.”  I would like to get a point where women make up at least an equal percentage, if not more, in STEM fields because why not? Koval: This recognition means so much to me. I am so thankful to all of the women who helped blaze the trail in the STEM fields, and I hope to do the same for those following me. It’s incredible to be recognized, but I really wouldn’t be where I am today without all of the people that helped and supported me throughout my education and thus far in my career. There are too many to name, but I want to say thank you to all of them and I plan to keep pushing on! Lumpkins: This recognition is important. I’ve heard the story so many times where a young woman pursuing STEM is the only one in the classroom. I’ve heard women being inadvertently being chased away. I believe that with STEMMy, and with the Vanguard Awards, it’s a testament for young girls that they can do this. In their formative years, children behave more equally, but that kind of fades away around their middle school years. But seeing women -- and Black women -- recognized in STEM fields shows little girls that if someone who looks like them can do it, they can do it. "  I’m thankful for the life-lessons I learned and have carried into my career." - Koval What advice do you have for students wanting to follow in your footsteps? Tilgner: Ask for advice but listen to yourself – you are going to have to forge your own pathway and it will be as unique as you are. Create a support system not just personally but professionally.  Find people that will be honest with you. Know that you deserve what you want just as much as anyone else but don’t put others down in order to build yourself up. Last but not least, in your way, don’t forget to help those ladies next to and behind you. Lumpkins: Do it! Be aware but not discouraged. Be willing to learn all your life. The STEM field is HUGE, there’s no one kind of field. Don’t assume that because you have different interests you can’t pursue the career you want. Koval:  Work hard, stay motivated even on the tough days, develop as many relationships as possible, and don’t be afraid to ask for help! Something I have to tell myself (probably daily) is that mistakes are going to happen, and as long as I gave it my all, the rest is out of my hands. That’s hard to practice for most of us with an “engineering-mind,” but I find that the people who are most successful in my company and in other companies aren’t afraid to make a mistake because they know they will learn from it and are at least willing to try a new approach when needed. Sep 30, 2020

  • UMKC Vision Researchers Repurpose Technology to Identify Early Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

    Machine used in eye exams could lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment
    Technology used in eye exams called microperimetry could prove to be an effective, non-invasive method of identifying early symptoms of multiple sclerosis. An article recently published by researchers at the UMKC School of Medicine Vision Research Center reports the effective use of microperimetry during routine clinical assessments of multiple sclerosis patients. The article appeared in the research journal BioMed Central Ophthalmology. Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the brain and spinal cord that affects nearly 400,000 people in the United States and more than 2 million throughout the world. There is no known cure for the potentially disabling disease, but treatment can help manage symptoms and speed up recovery from attacks. Therefore, a non-invasive, clinically relevant and cost-effective method of identifying damage early would be invaluable to patients and health care providers. It would enable prompt therapy that may slow the progression of the disease and its ocular manifestations before irreversible damage occurs. The testing method studied by the team of UMKC researchers, students and residents, microperimetry, measures light sensitivity of the center of a patient’s vision and can detect specific areas of decreased sensitivity. It typically takes less than half an hour. Researchers from the school’s Vision Research Center have previously found the technology to be effective in diagnosing early stages of other diseases of the nervous system such as mild cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s. The vision research team of Landon J. Rohowetz, Qui Vu, Lilit Ablabutyan, Sean M. Gratton, Nancy Kunjukunju, Billi S. Wallace and Peter Koulen collaborated to determine subtle changes in visual function related to otherwise undetectable signs of multiple sclerosis. It is the first peer-reviewed study to assess the use of microperimetry, a straightforward and non-invasive vision test, as a tool to detect disease progression in early stage multiple sclerosis patients. “The findings from this study provide a rationale for the use of microperimetry in the clinical assessment of patients with multiple sclerosis,” said Rohowetz, the study’s lead author. “By identifying visual dysfunction associated with multiple sclerosis, we hope physicians and researchers are able to use this technology to ultimately preserve and improve quality of life for patients with this often-disabling disease.” More than 80 percent of the patients with multiple sclerosis show signs of impaired vision and 73 percent of MS patients experience visual impairment within the first 10 years of diagnosis, which is comparable to the prevalence of abnormal or impaired muscle function in the disease. This initial study indicates that light sensitivity measured by microperimetry is lower among multiple sclerosis patients who have otherwise normal vision and no other history of issues with the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. It also revealed a significant correlation between this impaired function and a reduced thickness of the retina in MS patients that is not seen in control subjects. The report says further studies would look to monitor and evaluate ongoing changes in retina sensitivity and thickness as they correlate to a progression of multiple sclerosis. It will also broaden the approach to include MS patients who have a history of optic neuritis, where measurable damage to the optic nerve has already occurred. Sep 30, 2020

  • Prepare For Influenza Season During A Pandemic: Get A Flu Shot

    KCUR taps Mary Anne Jackson for influenza, coronavirus advice
    In two stories this week from KCUR, Mary Anne Jackson, dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, shares her expertise and advice on influenza and coronavirus. Influenza and COVID-19, Get A Flu Shot Sep 30, 2020

  • School of Law Launches Program to Meet Pandemic Needs in Kansas City

    Truman Fellows program provides jobs for recent alumni, legal services for community
    The School of Law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City has launched a new program to provide training for recent graduates to further develop their legal skills in a supervised practice setting, while providing legal services that advance the public interest. The grant-funded Truman Fellows program has created three full-time short-term positions at law-school-affiliated entities that are being filled by May 2020 graduates of the school’s Juris Doctor program. The program was launched to provide opportunities for recent graduates in the midst of the COVID-19 recession while building on the law school’s strong commitment to public service. The funded positions are providing services to people in the community adversely affected by the pandemic. One of the fellows will be working with the school’s Entrepreneurial Legal Services Clinic to provide advice and assistance to small businesses and start-ups that have been adversely impacted by the pandemic. A second fellow will be working in the school’s Self-Help Legal Clinic to help educate those who are facing evictions and other legal problems from the pandemic. The third fellow will work with the UMKC School of Law’s Digital Initiatives team to develop an online system to help those threatened by domestic violence to obtain restraining orders. The program has been launched with a $25,000 grant from the Kansas City Regional Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund. Law school officials are seeking additional grant funds to continue the program. The name of the program honors one of the school’s most illustrious former students, said Jeffrey E. Thomas, associate dean for international affairs and Daniel L. Brenner faculty scholar and professor of law, who helped set up the program. President Harry S. Truman attended the Kansas City School of Law for two years (1923-1925). “We were looking for a name that would connect to the geographic area, public service, and a commitment to justice,” Thomas said, and Truman was an easy choice for the program’s namesake and role model. “This program builds on the UMKC law school’s strong commitment to public service. Last year, the school’s clinician and field placement programs provided more than 38,000 hours of service to the community, and 83 students provided 8,500 hours of pro bono service at 32 sites,” Thomas added. “The Self-Help Clinic provided assistance to 700 clients last year, and the Entrepreneurial Legal Services Clinic provided assistance to dozens of small businesses.” Sep 29, 2020

  • Artists Pages | Kati Toivanen: Chasing Dreams

    KC Studio features UMKC College of Arts and Sciences interim dean and professor of Studio Art
    Kati Toivanen has two passions -- running and photography. She finds numerous parallels between the two. “There’s an art and science to both art and running,” she said. “Running is very physical. It’s also very mental. At the end of the race, it’s really your mind that carries you.” Read the full article. Sep 29, 2020

  • Failure to Shore Up State Budgets May Hit Women’s Wallets Especially Hard

    School of Law professor co-authors article in national publication
    Nancy Levit, associate dean and UMKC School of Law professor, was co-author of an article in The Conversation about state budget shortfalls and the impact on women. Sep 29, 2020

  • Local Political Expert Weighs In On What To Expect In First 2020 Presidential Debate

    Beth Vonnahme continues to led expertise to local media
    “This is not a normal campaign. We don’t have big campaign rallies. We don’t have the in-person campaigning where you’re going door to door, meeting in small groups. That’s been a big problem for the candidates,” Beth Vonnahme said. “So this is really the first time they’ve had a chance to engage on a national stage with each other.” Read the article by Fox4KC or watch the newscast. She was also interviewed by KCUR about local elections in Missouri. Sep 29, 2020

  • Alumni Reflect on Hispanic Heritage Month

    Sharing traditions, resources and what the month means to them
    Each year, we observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. It’s a time of celebration and recognition of the cultures, histories and contributions of the American Hispanic community. Hispanic Heritage Month also includes the independence days of several Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Chile. We recently spoke with three UMKC alumni about their traditions, resources and what the month means to them. Meet our alumni, pictured below from left to right: Veronica Alvidrez (M.S.W. ’11), experience manager, Startland Susana Elizarraraz (B.A. ’15), chief community officer, Latinx Education Collaborative Edgar Palacios (B.M. ’08), president and chief executive officer, Latinx Education Collaborative   What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you personally? Veronica Alvidrez: For me, Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to consciously reengage with my culture. Although my culture is always with me, it is not always at the forefront. This time of year allows me to dig in and reconnect with a big part of what makes me, me. Susana Elizarraraz: It personally gives me an opportunity to reflect on what my current opportunities are and how they are due to the many sacrifices people made before me. This includes my freedom, my opportunity to get an education, my opportunities to have ownership of land and property — all of these were denied from my ancestors at various points in history. Though I appreciate these sacrifices all of the time, Hispanic Heritage Month encourages me to pause, reflect and be grateful for those who came before me that made my life today possible. Edgar Palacios: Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate and elevate the voices and contributions of the Hispanic community. Hispanic/Latinx folks make up 17% of the U.S. population and still are severely underrepresented in positions of influence and decision-making. It's also a time to celebrate various independence days of Latin American countries and honor the sacrifices of our ancestors.  Are there ways you celebrate? Traditions? Alvidrez: We like to celebrate our culture with many carne asadas and gatherings during this time of year. My mother enjoys gathering us for a night of Lotería.  Elizarraraz: Hispanic Heritage Month is a tradition in the United States, so as a family, we didn’t follow any celebrations or traditions particular to the month. However, Mexican Independence Day lands during the month, Sept. 16, and my family recognizes that. As children, we didn’t have much to be able to celebrate, but as an adult, I’ve begun to appreciate my heritage more and recognize the dates that are significant to my identity. My identity has been something that I’ve had to learn more about in my adulthood, so many of the celebrations and traditions held by my people are new to me as well. Recently, it has been important for me to recognize those traditions to give homage to the strength and pride that they showcase.  Palacios: This year, I 've been celebrating by adding the Nicaraguan flag to my Zoom background. It typically gives me the opportunity to share about Hispanic Heritage month and about my Nicaraguan roots.  Are there resources in Kansas City or at UMKC that you recommend for people wanting to connect with the Hispanic community? Alvidrez: Given the current state of our country due to COVID-19, I do not know of any places that one can visit to reconnect. With that said, I do enjoy visiting Café Corazón when I feel the need to fill my cup with our culture and all its color. Elizarraraz: One organization that comes to mind right away is the Hispanic Development Fund and their partnership with UMKC Multicultural Student Affairs with Avanzando. Hispanic Development Fund awards thousands of dollars in scholarships to Latinx students every year. For many students, including myself, having scholarships like these are the determining factor of whether or not college is accessible. Avanzando, led by Iván Ramírez, is the program that derived from HDF at UMKC. It provides mentorship opportunities for the scholarship recipients, which is a life-changing experience as well. In addition, I’d encourage people — especially artists — to check out the Latino Arts Foundation, led by Deanna Muñoz. The Latino Arts Foundation is doing great work in establishing a place for Latinx artists and others, which doesn’t currently exist in Kansas City. Palacios: Kansas City has a rich and diverse Hispanic community. I recommended reaching out the following organizations or institutions: El Centro, Inc., Guadalupe Centers, Hispanic Development Fund, Mattie Rhodes Center, Latinx Education Collaborative, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City, Greater Kansas City Hispanic Collaborative, KC Hispanic News, and Dos Mundos. Sep 28, 2020

  • The Color of Money: Racism in Finance

    Panelists address the history of systemic racism and the struggle in America today
    The Color of Money: Racism in Finance, presented on Sept. 17, was the fourth installment in the Critical Conversations series sponsored by the office of University of Missouri-Kansas City Chancellor Mauli Agrawal and the UMKC Division of Diversity and Inclusion. 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 Lisa Uhrmacher (co-moderator), UMKC Bloch student, IoT and analytics practice lead, Atos Ruben Alonso, president, AltCap Victor Hammonds, director of small business banking, First National Bank of Omaha Nathan Mauck, associate professor of finance, Henry W. Bloch School of Management Nick Richmond, president and CEO, Kansas City Credit Unions Critical Conversations is part of the Roos Advocate for Community Change, UMKC leading thoughtful action on campus and in our community to ensure lasting and comprehensive change. The United States continues to struggle with its history of systemic racism, and that struggle is expressing itself in nearly all areas that make America what it is—the political system, corporate America, entertainment, athletics, social media and the police and criminal justice systems. “The financial services industry has a responsibility in considering their role in this movement both in how we got there and how to work to achieve an equitable and inclusive financial system,” O’Bannon said. Of the systems that contribute to disparities in wealth, he started with employment. “It is impossible to build wealth without steady and rewarding jobs,” O’Bannon said. “But minority unemployment is consistently twice that of whites no matter what the economy.” Education is another system impacted. O’Bannon said Black and Hispanic children’s opportunities and choices are more limited than any other group. Regarding the health care system, O’Bannon said repeated studies have found doctors and medical facilities have unconscious racial biases when it comes to minority patients. The fourth system discussed was housing and redlining, barring Black and brown people from living in certain areas. “It is still present today,” O’Bannon said of redlining. “These systems remain broken and won’t be corrected soon. So perhaps the question today is whether financial services companies and its professionals that run them, will be a part of the solution.” Before the group delved into the role financial institutions have in being part of the solution, Uhrmacher led a discussion on Kansas City’s own history. “We know that wealth is something that’s handed down from generation to generation primarily through home ownership,” Uhrmacher said. “And if you think about it, it’s the way that much of our wealth is transmitted from one generation to the next. For every one dollar that is passed along generationally in a Black family, 10 dollars are passed along in a white family.” In many instances, according to Uhrmacher, the crux of the issue in terms of finance, comes down to home ownership. In her research of Kansas City housing, she found the city wasn’t always segregated. J.C. Nichols was a proponent of the covenant neighborhood concept in Kansas City, a concept that spread nationally. Redlining, which began in the 1920s, was the drawing of red lines on maps indicating where financial institutions would not provide home loans. The practice of redlining effectively segregated Black and white neighborhoods. Mauck presented national trends on all of the systems and discussed wealth inequality from an educator and researcher’s perspective. According to the Institute for Policy Studies, Mauck said the gap in wealth grew between 1983 to 2016, with many drivers of wealth inequality going back to housing. “This gap has been very persistent over time,” Mauck said. Levels of education is also something Mauck has examined. He cited a St. Louis Federal Reserve wealth report regarding college education and the wealth gap as he discussed the disparity in net worth and holding of assets among minorities. He said the gap in financial literacy levels impacts lending and who receives it. Alonso also addressed racist constructs that prevent people of color from accumulating assets. He said lending is based on qualifying borrowers through their personal credit and assets. If the most common form of collateral for lending is real estate, and if there is a subset of the population that can’t get housing because of other discriminatory practices, Alonso said accessing capital is limited. “That is a continual challenge for entrepreneurs of color,” Alonso said, which negatively impacts the number of minority-owned businesses. Compared to white families, he said all other races have lower levels of income and net worth and are less likely to hold assets of any type. In fact, Alonso said 19% of Black families have zero or negative net worth, while only 9% of white households have no wealth. Richmond, as president and CEO of a credit union, said they try to help their customers and will often discuss financial literacy issues. For example, Richmond said there have been generations of Blacks watching their parents and grandparents get money orders to pay their bills. Richmond said he advises customers that it’s better to save the money order fee and get checks. “However, it’s hard to break generations of habits with money,” Richmond said. He would like to see banks partner with schools, school districts and universities in educating community members on financial literacy so they can break the cycle of making bad financial decisions. Hammonds said as a banker he also sees people who can’t get value out of their homes and builders who can’t build houses at a valuable price point in underserved areas. He said gentrification of neighborhoods also makes homes too expensive. “When you’re in an underserved community…you can’t get value out of your home,” Hammonds said. So, what is the financial industry doing to make progress to include communities of color? The panelists agreed that the desire to help and find ways to best serve the people in their communities is how they can make progress. Alonso said Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) are great partners because they don’t have the limitations/regulations on lending rates and terms. These organizations may be good options for minorities. Representation matters. Like most systems that provide the opportunity to build wealth in this country, the underlying cause for a lack of substantive progress may be that leaders and industry decision-makers don’t see the barriers to entry, because they haven’t experienced them. And, unfortunately, the people negatively impacted aren’t represented. While every company in the S&P 500 Index now has a woman on the board, Uhrmacher said the same is not true in terms of racial diversity. An example is that only about 10% of the Russell 3000 Index has ethnically diverse board members. When asked what the industry can do so their boards and leadership teams represent the communities they serve, Hammonds said it is something every company must be intentional about. The key is to start. One of the last topics discussed was the responsibility that should be placed on educational institutions to push the narrative of financial literacy, address income inequality and the racial wealth gap. “Education is a good place to help bring attention to this,” Mauck said. Education can be delivered in a number of different ways including K-12 education, college, community workshops, bank and financial institution education sessions and mentorship. Uhrmacher said investments with traditional institutions and investment managers that promote Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) and socially responsible investing has recently become popular. And while there’s good intentions, she said some say they may actually be inadvertently causing social, economic and environmental harm. She suggested a better option may be to offer both restorative and regenerative investment solutions. “As an organization you have to listen to the voice of your customer,” Hammonds said. “Be sensitive. Cross all of the areas of ESG. Be aware of the social impact your organization can have.” A third session on the future of policing is scheduled for Oct. 5, The Future of Policing in Kansas City: A Conversation with Mayor Quinton Lucas. Watch the discussion in its entirety below and check-in on the original story for the next sessions, which includes A Dialogue Among Women of Color and White Women in Higher Education on Oct. 7. Sep 28, 2020

  • The 2020 Races For The Missouri House Will Drive A Landmark 2021 Legislative Session

    Political science professor provides insight into Missouri House race
    “What makes the Missouri Legislature interesting is there are huge issues, so people should pay attention,” said Beth Vonnahme, assistant professor of political science at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read the article by Lynn Horsley. Sep 27, 2020

  • Employers Compared Notes On Secret Prices At Kansas Hospitals To Boost Their Leverage On Costs

    Chris Garmon provides insight for KCUR article
    Chris Garmon, assistant professor of Health Administration at Bloch School, has worked on antitrust investigations at the Federal Trade Commission. He said even prices for common services, such as MRI scans, can be maddeningly difficult to compare. Read the full article. Sep 26, 2020

  • Schools Help to Raise Money for Scholarships for Hispanic Students

    UMKC student shares how every donation given through Oct. 15 will be matched by the Hispanic Development Fund
    Daisy Garcia Montoya received support from the Hispanic Development Fund. Now, she’s raising money for scholarships for undocumented students at UMKC as part of HDF’s Cambio Para Cambio campaign or change for change. Read the KSHB story and watch the newscast. Sep 25, 2020

  • UMKC Professor Discusses Breonna Taylor’s Case

    Sean O’Brien provides reaction to KCTV5 and Diverse: Issues in Higher Education
    Sean O’Brien, UMKC School of Law professor, who is part of a team to free the wrongly convicted, says it would be hard to argue what happened was murder, as many upset by the decision say it should be. But he says it is a clear example of why law enforcement tactics should be re-examined. Read the full story and watch the news report. Read continued coverage and an interview with Diverse. Sep 23, 2020

  • 4Star Politics: Breaking Down the Supreme Court Vacancy, Missouri Governor Race

    Fox4KC talks to UMKC School of Law professor about the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the twist it brings to the presidenti...
    David Actenberg said Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the type of judge that we don’t see much of today. Replacing her could bring a big shift in the high court. Read the story and watch the news segment. Sep 23, 2020

  • Revisiting ‘The King of Kings County’

    Whitney Terrell’s 2005 novel inspired by Nichols Company racial covenants speaks to moment
    KC Studio recently interviewed Whitney Terrell, associate professor in the UMKC Creative Writing Program, about his 2005 novel that tells the story of the racial covenants used to build a segregated suburban empire.   Sep 23, 2020

  • Welchert Recognized for Mentoring Efforts

    Biology professor goes the extra mile with student advising
    Effective student advising is more than checking boxes on a worksheet. To honor the significance of advising students, the Missouri Academic Advising Association (MACADA) recognizes achievements in the field. This year, the association honored Tammy Welchert, associate teaching professor, director of academic advising, with the Outstanding Academic Advising Award for Academic Advising Administrator. “Dr. Welchert has been a long-time champion of advising and the MACADA organization, including serving on our MACADA Executive Board as our Liaison Coordinator from 2006-2008, and our Kansas City Representative from 2005-2006,” says Bethany Jordan, MACADA president-elect. Welchert also served as President of MACADA from 2009-2010. Jordan says the nominations and awards serve as a recognition from colleagues who have identified these individuals as champions of advising who strives to make an impact in the field. "Advisors make a difference in the lives of their students every single day.  We empower them to be independent, confident professionals." – Tammy Welchert “Her letters of support spoke volumes about the role she continues to play to improve academic advising on the UMKC campus.” Welchert is living what she learned. She is the product of strong academic advising. “I didn’t start college until five years after I graduated from high school,” Welchert says. “I was married and had a young daughter. In my first term my biology professor, Dr. Albert Gordon, might have recognized me as a non-traditional student and perhaps that caught his eye.  It was a fairly small class and I did well. He would stay in the lab and talk to students before and after class and we got to know each other. He took me under his wing and guided me throughout my undergraduate degree. We still stay in touch and trade Christmas cards to update each other on our lives every year.” Welchert has carried that model of mentoring forward. She sees advisors as students’ success coaches, cheerleaders and parents away from home. “Advisors make a difference in the lives of their students every single day,” she says. “We empower them to be independent, confident professionals.” But beyond being willing to listen, laugh and advise, Welchert aims to inspire students to be happy, confident and prepared for the next steps of their journey. “Our students inspire me every day with the incredible talent they bring,” she says. “Some of them just need someone to believe in them to tip the scale that allows them to bloom.” That someone is often Welchert, who has a box filled with students notes of gratitude that she refers to as her “sunshine file.” “It’s filled with cards and letters from students over the years thanking me for being there for them, for believing in them when they couldn’t believe in themselves. Advisors make a difference in the lives of their students every single day. We empower them to be independent, confident professionals.” Welchert is looking forward to connecting with her colleagues at this year’s MACADA virtual conference. “In my new position as director for academic advising at UMKC there will be more reasons than ever for us to find ways to partner to support our advisors.” “Dr. Welchert has been a long-time champion of advising and the MACADA organization,” Jordan says. “We thank her for all her hard work, and congratulate her on a well-deserved recognition.” Sep 21, 2020

  • Food Security Task Force Recommends Expansions

    Satellite Kangaroo Pantry locations suggested for Volker and Health Sciences campuses
    Since opening five years ago, Kangaroo Food Pantry has given UMKC students, faculty and staff access to food. Then the pandemic hit, and the demand has more than doubled. With the growing need, Chancellor Mauli Agrawal formed a food security task force charged with finding gaps and finding solutions. The group studied best practices at other universities, analyzed campus survey data and held student focus groups. “We made recommendations that are being implemented now and later this semester, but also determined future needs,” said Sue Agrawal, a co-chair of the task force and the chancellor's wife. “We want long-term solutions that make food accessible and convenient for our campus community.” Based on the task force’s recommendations, this fall the Kangaroo Pantry, located at 4825 Troost Ave., room 103, extended its hours of operations from 6 to 12 hours per week, and expanded its offerings to include fresh produce. It also transitioned the pantry to operate as a full client-choice model so clients can shop as they would at a traditional grocery store. The task force recommended that Kangaroo Pantry continue online request/pick-up option for students that was instituted during the COVID-19 pandemic in March, and to consider alternate locations for pick-up to make more convenient for students, such as Student Union. In addition, the group recommended establishing satellite pantry locations this fall on the Volker and Health Sciences District campuses. "Anthony Maly, senior program manager in the Office of Student Involvement, and the Student Affairs team are making good progress and have already implemented several of the recommendations from the task force," said Sheri Gormley, a co-chair of the task force and director of strategic initiatives in the chancellor's office. "To build on this work, the chancellor has recently formed a food security advisory committee to prioritize recommendations from the task force and collaborate closely with our student affairs and student success teams to improve our students’ ability to access food and other basic needs.” The group’s long-term recommendations: Consider moving Volker pantry to more central location on Volker campus. Develop permanent location on Health Sciences District campus. Increase food offerings. Expand operations to 40 hours or more per week. Hire a full-time coordinator. Institute comprehensive volunteer program to run food pantry. Build new community partnerships and resource options for students experiencing food insecurity. Create more food drives for the pantry. Work in collaboration with UMKC Foundation to develop a comprehensive fundraising campaign with plan for outreach to local and national foundations. Create a basic-needs center that would share space with pantry, which could contain school supplies and student resources. Food security task force members are: Sue Agrawal, co-chair, community volunteer  Obie Austin, co-chair, Student Health administrator  Sheri Gormley, co-chair, executive director of strategic initiatives, Chancellor’s Office Debby Ballard,  president of Sprint Foundation and UMKC Trustee  Stefanie Ellison, professor, associate dean for learning initiatives, School of Medicine  Sally Ellis Fletcher,  associate dean for students, School of Nursing and Health Studies Kellee Harris, assistant director, Multicultural Student Affairs  Kimberly Johnson, director of special projects, Chancellor’s Office  Ali Korkmaz,  director of Institutional Research   Anthony Maly,  senior program manager, Office of Student Involvement  Uzziel Hernandez Pecina,  assistant teaching professor, School of Education  Gabriel Rop,  director of programs and operations, Reconciliation Services  Leslie Tracy,  residence hall manager, Residential Life  Katie Wiegand,  graduate student, School of Social Work  Sep 21, 2020

  • The Great Admissions and Enrollment Reset

    Inside Higher Ed publication highlights UMKC work with prospective Latinx students
    Since virtual channels make it possible to provide native-speaking representatives and break down cultural barriers, institutions can use digital platforms to connect with historically underserved groups of first-generation students and their families. A recent opinion article from Inside Her Ed gave UMKC as an example of this. UMKC reaches prospective Latinx students virtually with live remote bilingual chat office hours. Sep 21, 2020

  • Battle To Replace Ginsburg Could Go Either Way, Local Experts Say, Possibly Impact Kansas Senate Race

    Fox4KC interviews UMKC political science professor
    Beth Vonnahme, an associate professor of political science at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said both sides are up for the fight. Read the article on the Fox4KC website. Sep 21, 2020

  • Kansas City Community Reacts to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Death

    Dia Wall, KSHB, talks to U.S. Supreme Court expert at UMKC Law
    David Achtenberg, UMKC School of Law professor, was interviewed for this story. Watch the news segment. Sep 18, 2020

  • Conservatory Piano Faculty Excel in a Digital World

    Conservatory piano faculty find creative ways to stay engaged with students and perform during social distancing
    In a time when a lot of us are feeling disconnected and missing personal interactions, members of the UMKC Conservatory piano faculty have been finding new ways to connect with students and audiences alike. Read the article in KC Studio. Sep 18, 2020

  • UMKC Program Helps Latino Students Keep Moving Forward

    KSHB interviews UMKC Avanzando program director; Race, Ethnic and Gender Studies associate professor; and UMKC Bloch student
    Ivan Ramirez works in the UMKC Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and leads the Avanzando program. Andres Gutierrez interviewed Ramirez; Theresa Torres, an associate professor of Race, Ethnic and Gender Studies at UMKC; and Donovan Castaneda, UMKC Bloch student. Read the full story or watch to the news clip. Sep 17, 2020

  • UMKC Has A New Race, Ethnic, Gender Studies Department

    KCUR reports on a new UMKC department that was driven by student demand.
    Toya Like, associate professor and interim chair, Race, Ethnic and Gender Studies Department at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, was a guest on Up to Date. Sep 17, 2020

  • Take a Campus History Tour

    Chris Wolff shares his research on UMKC through the decades
    Whether you're a new student to campus or a seasoned employee, you're bound to learn something new from this new campus history tour video series. Chris Wolff, general merchandise manager at the UMKC Bookstore, will give a little background to the history of UMKC and help you see campus in a new light. Check out the videos for the campus locales you visit regularly or take your buds and phone along and give yourself a guided walking tour of campus. Once you know the history behind it, you’ll never be able to look at it the same way again. Start with this video below of Volker Campus history. Then check out these videos in the rest of the series:  Scofield Hall Haag Hall Haag Hall - Second Floor Murals Haag Hall - Third Floor Murals Royall Hall Law Building Swinney Center University Playhouse Gateway Sculptures Atterbury Student Success Center and Pierson Auditorium Sep 16, 2020

  • Kangaroo Pantry Aids Roos in Need

    Recent updates to the pantry include fresh produce and client choice model
    Two years ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that 11% of Americans experienced food insecurity. Since COVID-19, that number has doubled. And our UMKC Kangaroo Food Pantry is observing the same uptick in need this year. The Kangaroo Food Pantry strives to provide food assistance for Roos in need, including students, faculty and staff. “We had a lot of issues with COVID,” a recent pantry visitor shared. “A lot of unexpected expenses came up as a result. The Kangaroo Pantry has helped me overcome that.” Anthony Maly, senior program manager, says historically the food pantry was distributing about 500-800 pounds of food per month but from March through August this year, they’ve given out more than 6,000 pounds. Maly estimates the monthly need for food to be around 1,200-1,500 pounds for the duration of the semester and likely into 2021. The pantry opened in 2015, after UMKC staff members learned of students in need of food assistance. Since then, the pantry has seen some changes, including the addition of fresh produce and a new refrigerator and freezer that will soon house meat and dairy items. The pantry has also switched to a “full client choice” model that allows individuals to pick their own food off the shelves. A majority of these changes stem from a food security task force created by Chancellor Agrawal to examine the needs of the campus community. The task force also completed recommendations for long-term expansion of the food pantry that will enable more students, faculty and staff to take advantage of the resources. “We had a lot of issues with COVID. A lot of unexpected expenses came up as a result. The Kangaroo Pantry has helped me overcome that.” — Recent pantry visitor How to receive assistance from the Kangaroo Food Pantry If you are a UMKC student, faculty or staff member who needs food assistance, bring your university ID and you can shop for food during the pantry’s open hours, see below. Masks or face coverings are required and a limited number of individuals can be in the space at one time. Maly says they are frequently sanitizing high-touch surface areas to ensure the pantry is clean and safe for all visitors. Tuesday: 1:30-5:30 p.m.Wednesday and Thursday: 1-5 p.m. 4825 Troost Ave.Room 103Kansas City, MO 64110 Roos are eligible to pick up 20 food items once a week, with a maximum of five proteins. Fresh produce doesn’t count toward the 20 items. If you’re unable to visit the pantry during these times, contact kangaroopantry@umkc.edu for other arrangements. Sam Weis, graduate assistant at the pantry, stocks new food arrivals on the shelves. How to support the Kangaroo Food Pantry  If you’d like to donate food to the pantry consider the most needed items below. Due to COVID-19, the pantry has been unable to hold food drives, but Maly says they are working to coordinate drives for the fall semester. Items currently needed: Canned chicken Mac and cheese Ramen Canned vegetables Monetary donations are important so that additional food can be purchased for the pantry, if you’d like to make a financial contribution click here. Another way to support the Kangaroo Pantry is to participate in the UMKC Virtual 5K, Oct. 4-11. Registration is $25 and all proceeds support the pantry. Learn more about the Kangaroo Pantry Sep 15, 2020

  • Bloch Launchpad, Hispanic Development Fund Create College Entrance Pathway

    Hispanic high school students offered special programming, up to $10,000 in scholarships
    The Hispanic community in Kansas City faces a 17-point college degree attainment gap compared to all other adults in the region. This means getting into and being successful in college can be a tough road ahead for students in this community. The University of Missouri-Kansas City is addressing the issue. In an effort to close this gap, the Launchpad program at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management is teaming up with the Greater Kansas City Hispanic Development Fund to help provide a pathway for Hispanic students and their families as they prepare for college. This partnership brings tailored Launchpad programming – including professional development and leadership skills – and scholarship support to Hispanic students planning to join the Bloch School. These opportunities and more will give students concrete skills to better stand out as they navigate college and prepare for their future careers. Scholarship support ranges up to $10,000 per year, when paired with a UMKC Automatic Scholarship. As these high school students become Bloch Launchpad Scholars, they will continue to benefit by gaining exclusive access to additional coaching, professional development, leadership advising and professional networks – setting them up for a bright future. How to Apply Apply to UMKC and gain admission to study Business (B.B.A.), or Accounting (B.S.A.) no later than Nov. 15, 2021, (for Spring 2021 admission) or April 1, 2021 (for Summer/Fall 2021 admission) Complete the Bloch Launchpad Application by Nov. 15, 2021, (for Spring 2021 admission) or April 1, 2021 (for Summer/Fall 2021 admission) Submit official high school transcripts and ACT/SAT scores (high school students only) or submit official college transcript(s) (transfer students and/or high school students with dual-credit) Sep 15, 2020

  • Jeff Rydberg-Cox Is First Scholar-in-Residence at Linda Hall Library

    Curators’ Distinguished Professor supports Kansas City scholars
    Jeff Rydberg-Cox, Ph.D.,Curators' Distinguished Professor in the UMKC English Languages and Literature Department, is the first-ever Scholar-in-Residence at the Linda Hall Library. Located at 5109 Cherry Street next to the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus, the Linda Hall Library is an independent research library devoted to science, engineering and technology. This newly-established position provides support for scholars in the Kansas City metropolitan area whose research would benefit from sustained engagement with the library’s collections. Jeff Rydberg-Cox, Ph.D. “Linda Hall Library is full of treasures, and it has amazing collections covering science, engineering and technology with a spectacular history of science collection,” said Rydberg-Cox. “I was so happy that the library gave me the opportunity to spend an uninterrupted stretch of time working with their collections.” As scholar-in-residence, Rydberg-Cox used his experience in digital humanities and put it into practice. One way he did that was through lectures, such as the virtual presentation on July 30, “Modeling the Sources and the Topics of Pliny’s Natural History.” Gaius Plinius Secundus, called Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author. He wrote Naturalis Historia, which became an editorial model for later encyclopedias. In the July lecture, Rydberg-Cox discussed the nature of Pliny’s work, how other scholars and editors have tried to make the work more manageable and the ways that network analysis and other quantitative approaches can help people understand the sources that Pliny used. “I am very excited to start developing projects with the students in my digital humanities seminar and my course on methods for digital publications,” said Rydberg-Cox. “I have a long wish list of other works in the History of Science Collection that I would like to study and integrate into my classes, such as a 1522 printed edition of Natural Questions by Seneca the Younger, a near contemporary of Pliny, a 1472 printing of Appian’s history of the Roman civil wars, a 1515 edition of Lucretius’ On the  Nature of Things, and the library’s six editions of Vitruvius’ work on architecture from the 16th and 17th centuries.” Rydberg-Cox started at UMKC during the 2000-2001 academic year. He teaches courses on ancient literature, digital humanities and representations of the ancient world in film. His research is on methodologies for digitizing texts and other materials in the humanities, multispectral analysis of manuscripts and early printed books, statistical analysis of Ancient Greek texts and applying techniques from the field of network analysis to literary texts. Sep 15, 2020

  • UMKC Revamps Its Black Studies Offerings

    The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education reports on the new Race, Ethnic and Gender Studies Department
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City announced it is combining its Black studies, Latin American studies and women’s studies programs into a new academic department. Read the full article. Sep 15, 2020

  • As Officials Tout Operation LeGend's Successes, Some Remain Frustrated, Skeptical In Kansas City

    NBC News taps UMKC professor for comment about Kansas City crime statistics
    Ken Novak, professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology, said that while the statistics are encouraging, crime typically ebbs and flows. Read the article on the NBC News website. Sep 15, 2020

  • The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Driving Food Insecurity Among Young People

    KCUR explores food insecurity, includes college students in discussion
    Anthony Maly, senior program manager at the UMKC Office of Student Involvement, was a guest on Up to Date. Sep 15, 2020

  • Dale Wayne Eaton Will Undergo Mental Evaluation As State of Wyoming Again Seeks His Execution

    UMKC School of Law professor represents Eaton
    Dale Wayne Eaton’s attorney, University of Missouri-Kansas City law professor Sean O’Brien, had argued his client had the right, pursuant to the Fifth, Sixth and 14th amendments to the Constitution, to have a defense lawyer present at any state-ordered competency. The story from the Casper Star Tribune was picked up by The Billings Gazette and The Sidney Herald. Sep 14, 2020

  • Highlights From the First Week of Classes in Fall 2020

    Photos show the new normal at UMKC as classes get underway
    We were excited to welcome our Roos back to campus! The beginning of the fall semester looked different this year, but Roo pride was still felt all throughout UMKC. We welcomed back students with a socially distanced parade, virtual Week of Welcome events and much more. With many safety precautions in place, our students were able to connect with one another and make a strong start to the semester. Here are a few photos that highlight our return to campus.   Sep 11, 2020

  • ‘Surprise’ Bills From Ambulances Deal a Costly Blow, Patients Need More Protection, Researchers Say

    USA Today taps assistant professor
    “You call 911. You need an ambulance. You can’t really shop around for it,” said Christopher Garmon, an assistant professor of Health Administration at the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management who has studied the issue. Read the full article. Sep 11, 2020

  • Tina Niemi's Expertise Is Highlighted in Publication

    National Geographic interviews UMKC College of Arts & Sciences professor
    Tina Niemi, a geologist at the UMKC Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences who was not involved with the Tel Kabri project, agrees that the evidence seems to point to an earthquake, though she says more research is needed to determine exactly where it originated. Read the full article. Sep 11, 2020

  • Environmental Science Student Gains Perspective with NASA

    Grant Verhulst shares his internship experience
    Most Missourians are familiar with the Mark Twain National Forest, and many have even seen it in person. Imagine getting to look at it from space. That is precisely what UMKC Environmental Science student Grant Verhulst spent his summer doing.  How did you first discover the NASA DEVELOP Program? This internship was introduced to me in my environmental science program. My mentor, Dr. Jejung Lee has had two of his former students participate in it as well. It is a great opportunity for students in the environmental sciences field because this program facilitates research projects to address environmental concerns all across the country. What excited you most about conducting environmental research with NASA? I applied directly to a project involving the Mark Twain National Forest. I have always been interested in it, having camped and gone hiking there many times. This internship also gave me a great picture of what my future career could look like. Collaborating with NASA and other environmental agencies is exactly what I hope to be doing someday. I also really enjoyed partnering with my three other research participants on this project. We were a mixed team of undergraduates and graduate students so I gained useful insight into what my next steps could look like as a researcher.  COVID-19 has obviously made a huge impact on in-person experiences. What was it like conducting research remotely all summer? Our main task was to utilize remote sensing using satellites produced by NASA to conduct feasibility studies. We wanted to see if it was possible to identify and track an invasive species of trees with satellite technology. While our research was possible to conduct from home, I did miss the energy that comes from sharing lab space with other researchers and having free flowing ideas and exchanges. Photo by Missouri State Parks What were the biggest benefits of interning for NASA? The networking aspect of the internship was hugely beneficial. I got to speak with a lot of government employees in various agencies and practice having scientific conversations with non-scientists. I also learned how to create a lot of scientific materials like posters, presentations and papers. These are skills that any researcher needs to have. "UMKC is filled with opportunities, especially in the environmental sciences field." – Grant Verhulst How did being at UMKC help you get to this place in your academic career? UMKC is filled with opportunities, especially in the environmental sciences field. There is also a lot of environmental action going on around this region, so opportunities abound. UMKC provides students the opportunity to conduct undergraduate research which I believe helped me get accepted into the DEVELOP program in the first place. "Try everything. Environmental science is such a broad field with so many opportunities. You could get really deep into the science aspects and focus on lab research." – Grant Verhulst What advice would you give to a younger student? Try everything. Environmental science is such a broad field with so many opportunities. You could get really deep into the science aspects and focus on lab research. You could also work on climate justice and public policy or local regulations. If you take opportunities and explore everything you can figure out what you like doing the most. My internship with NASA is a great example of that. I am now one step closer to finding my dream career because of my time in this program. Sep 10, 2020

  • Mechanical Engineering Student’s Art Based on Research Selected for Auction

    Mahsa Yazdani’s ‘Droplets as Continents’ chosen for annual BioNexus KC Science2Art event
    Many of us don’t often view science as art. When we think of art, we see something abstract, something, maybe, with pretty colors, that's nice to look at or think about. That was until the introduction of arts into science, technology, engineering and math fields – STEAM. Mechanical engineering doctoral student Mahsa Yazdani created an artistic digital imaging piece from her research that landed among the 12 featured visual works currently up for sale in the annual BioNexus KC Science2Art auction. Science2Art is a platform for regional scientists to display and describe their research through the visual arts. Each of the images tells a personal research story and poetically captures the fieldwork performed by the scientists and their teams. Yazdani, under the direction of assistant professor Zahra Niroobakhsh, Ph.D., is part of a research team studying if non-toxic food-grade surfactants can be used to prevent environmental damage as a result of crude-oil spills. As the only UMKC student to have their work included in the BioNexus KC art auction, Yazdani shared the inspiration behind her artwork, background on her research and the importance of incorporating art into science. What influenced your interest in engineering? I became interested in engineering while I was working on an application of engineering in biology. I noticed a combination of engineering and biology could affect human life in various ways, specifically by advancing our understanding of the environment and health. What are your primary areas of research? In addition to optimizing emulsions for oil spill remediation, I’m working on creating biomembranes using biocompatible surfactants through microfluidic systems for pharmaceutical applications. How has UMKC helped to inspire and influence your research? UMKC resources are key to my ability to continue several unique projects. Not only does UMKC give me access to other researchers’ scholarly work, but it also allows me to become acquainted with esteemed scientists who inspire me throughout my projects. What do you hope to do with your degree when you graduate? I am an interdisciplinary Ph.D. studying mechanical engineering and pharmaceutical sciences. I have always been interested in research – and becoming an effective researcher – learning new things and investigating. Walking on the edge of science fulfills my passion for solving problems to advance human health. Why is it important to incorporate art into science? I think art functions as a medium to expose people to the amazing, beautiful aspects of engineering. Without that exposure, everyone might not fully grasp how bold and astonishing science really is. Droplets as Continents. Is this work based on an ongoing project? “Droplet as Continents” is currently an ongoing project, and we are still working on that in the PRISM (Printing and Rheology of Interfacial Soft Materials) research group under the supervision of Dr. Zahra Niroobakhsh. What is the inspiration behind your art? When the BP oil spill happened in 2010, a large amount of crude oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico. Several previous studies investigated the effects of this using various toxic surfactants to solve the problem. We are studying the effects of non-toxic surfactants on oil spill remediation. Droplets as Continents is a post-processing image from our preliminary studies, which displays several droplets covered with water in a similar way that continents are separated with water on the surface of the earth. What are you learning from your research? It has been documented that toxic surfactants have been used to amend oil slicks floating on the surface of the water during clean-up activities following an oil spill. As a member of the niROO PRISM Lab supervised by Dr. Niroobakhsh, I am studying the effectiveness of non-toxic food-grade surfactants to improve the effects of a similar environmental disaster. So far, we’ve done several preliminarily studies and hopefully, these non-toxic surfactants are just as effective as toxic ones, only without resulting in additional damage to the environment. You are the first student to have their art included in the Science2Art auction. What does that mean for you? I feel honored to have this special opportunity, and I’m glad that this platform helped me to contribute to fundraising for STEM education in Kansas City. The current bid for Droplets as Continents is $350 on the BioNexus KC website. Images included in Science2Art were submitted by scientists from Columbia, Missouri, to Manhattan, Kansas. All proceeds from the Science2Art auction will be donated to STEAM education in KC. Check out more UMKC Research Sep 10, 2020

  • 'Class of COVID-19' Documentary Capturing Educational History

    UMKC professor, Kansas City filmmaker team up to show experiences and emotions of students, teachers, families.
    What do you do if you’re planning to make a documentary about teaching history in an age of disinformation, but history itself takes a big turn? If you’re Donna Davis, Ph.D., a professor in the UMKC School of Education, you go with the more urgent story: How are the students, teachers and parents of the “Class of COVID-19” reacting to their new reality? “This was supposed to be a small research project,” Davis said, “interviewing maybe four or five teachers about what it means to teach U.S. history with Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and other streams of information constantly feeding into their students’ worlds. I wanted to know how these teachers helped students understand what is fact and what is fiction. “When the pandemic hit, it was clear that the film needed to adapt, adjust and make room for additional conversations.” Fortunately, Davis already had Kansas City filmmaker Jon Brick on board. Davis’ work on the historical and social foundations of education typically appears in scholarly journals and books, but she thought filmed interviews would bring her new project to life. “You’ll see both students and teachers express their real outrage about so much of what is happening.”    — Donna Davis    “I researched several professional directors in the area, and Jon stood out,” Davis said. Brick’s credits include documentaries, original online video, and film and social media content for clients including Yahoo! News, People, Oracle, Getty Film and “60 Minutes.” Most relevant to Davis’s project was Brick’s 2018 documentary, “Uncommon Allies,” which told the extraordinary story of Rosilyn Temple, a Kansas City woman who responded to her son’s murder in 2011 by becoming an activist for reducing violence and improving police-community relations. “Jon’s commitment to telling stories that are founded in social justice was important,” Davis said. “And his background in working closely with the Kansas City Police Department and community members on “Uncommon Allies” made this transition very smooth. We were able to ask very difficult questions of our interview subjects, and they were so very open and willing to share. You’ll see both students and teachers express their real outrage about so much of what is happening.” Now, they have done more than 60 interviews, with more in store as schools and families continue to adapt to the pandemic, the explosion of protests over shootings by police, and other developments.  “This is an unfolding story, and the end hasn’t been written yet, unfortunately,” Davis said. “We continue to collect stories and get a look at just how devastating this has been for so many people.” Davis said she already had learned how much people want to tell their stories and be heard, how powerful the stories of young people are, and how much they want social justice and social change. “This is the Class of COVID-19, all of the participants on a terrible journey who took the time to share their lives with us.” — Donna Davis Though they are staying flexible, Davis and Brick currently are hoping to produce a one-hour documentary by next summer or fall. “As we thought about it, we wanted to capture the initial reaction to the pandemic, the various touch-points along the way, and then, hopefully, a look at the resolution of this nightmare, when a vaccine or solid treatment is in place,” Davis said. “This is the Class of COVID-19—all of the participants on a terrible journey who took the time to share their lives with us.” As for distribution, Brick said, “We’ll submit the film to a number of film festivals as a feature documentary. We’ll work with some distribution partners to get the film out on streaming services such as Netflix, and possibly PBS or other television outlets. We also will do a social impact campaign and use the film for educational purposes.” Davis and Brick are working with the International Documentary Association to gain fiscal sponsorship and 501c3 status, allowing foundations to contribute to the production of the film. They also have a crowdsourcing campaign underway with Indiegogo where anyone can support the project. “People need to know that this is a project designed to illuminate the voices of the pandemic and all that took place during this awful time,” Davis said. “We don’t purport to have all the answers, but the questions are very clear and the emotion is raw.” Sep 09, 2020

  • Training to Counter Unconscious Bias

    Faculty and staff training part of Roos Advocate for Community Change
    UMKC people are taking thoughtful action on campus and in our community to ensure lasting and comprehensive change through Roos Advocate for Community Change, a new campus-wide effort announced in June. It is a significant component of the UMKC response to the tragic death of George Floyd and the vital national conversation on racism it has spawned. Chancellor Mauli Agrawal is leading this effort, working with a broad leadership group of faculty, staff and students. Activity is comprehensive, with intensive work being done across campus. One such example is the commitment for mandatory professional development for all UMKC faculty and staff by the end of this calendar year. Beginning Sept. 16, faculty and staff will be required to attend a virtual session of “Unconscious Bias, Microaggressions, and What to do About Them.” The training will focus on understanding and identifying bias and microaggressions, how to mitigate them and how to respond when you see them carried out by others. The training will offer employees concrete examples of microaggressions, insights on how unconscious bias influences decision-making, interactive conversation and breakout groups. Managers and supervisors will attend similar sessions with an expanded dialogue on how to address microaggressions and bias when it happens. “I’m really excited for this training. We’ve known that it was needed and now is the time to make it mandatory,” says Susan Wilson, Ph.D., vice chancellor of the UMKC Division of Diversity and Inclusion. Training sessions will be conducted via Zoom and last one hour and 15 minutes. There will be 36 sessions offered, with a maximum capacity of 60 people per training. Employees can sign up for the sessions directly through MyLearn. University leadership attended a training earlier this summer with Andrea Hendricks, Ed.D., senior executive director of diversity and inclusion strategy at Cerner. Professional development efforts are just one piece of Roos Advocate for Community Change. Other initiatives include the Critical Conversations series, virtual resource center and Troost to Prospect partnerships. Sep 04, 2020

  • Future of Policing: Part 2

    Kansas City community members continue dialogue around local control, use of force and future reforms.
    The Future of Policing: Part 2 is the third discussion in the series sponsored by Chancellor Mauli Agrawal of the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the university’s Division of Diversity and Inclusion. The second discussion focused on policing in the Critical Conversations series took place on Thursday, Aug. 27, and continued the dialogue around local control, use of force and future reforms. Participating panelists included: Gwendolyn Grant, president and CEO, Urban League of Greater Kansas City Ronald Lindsay, pastor, Concord Fortress of Hope Church Ken Novak, professor, UMKC Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology Deputy Chief Karl Oakman, Kansas City, Missouri Police Gary O’Bannon (co-moderator), executive-in-residence, Henry W. Bloch School of Management Cynthia L. Short, trial lawyer, mitigation specialist and sentencing advocate  Jasmine Ward (co-moderator), third-year student, UMKC School of Law  Local control was top-of-mind since Mayor Lucas recently withdrew a measure allowing voters to weigh in on the issue. Grant cited the move as a wise one, saying that the people of Kansas City were not voting to establish local control or not, but only to have the city council make it a legislative priority. Lindsay added that while the issue of local control is important, Kansas City would be better served by focusing on how we include communities, individuals and neighborhoods into the global policing strategy.  One way to offer community members insight into the police department is transparency, particularly around use-of-force techniques. Novak said that there is no greater disconnect between the police and public than what is considered a reasonable and unreasonable use-of-force. Partly because the public views use-of-force incidents through a larger, historical lens and partly because they don’t have access to or understand the police department’s existing policies and procedures. Some police departments – including Kansas City – make their policies available online to allow for greater transparency. Another element that has been brought up nationally is the idea that police forces have “a few bad apples” and their actions aren’t indicative of the entire department. Unfortunately, as Short pointed out, framing the issue as a few bad apples is misleading to the public. Until everyone holds police accountable, including other officers, the situation will remain the same. Sep 03, 2020

  • UMKC Receives Significant STEM Funding

    Fox4KC covers recent announcement of STEM funding
    The National Science Foundation awarded UMKC $100,000 to support collaborative programming. Read the story from Fox4KC.       Sep 03, 2020

  • Central Exchange Forges Strategic Agreement with UMKC Bloch School

    Collaboration will enhance networking and leadership development for women
    Central Exchange has signed a three-year services agreement with the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at UMKC to further advance development of women by leveraging Bloch School assets to expand the reach, services and programming of Central Exchange. Central Exchange, Kansas City’s community for women leaders, has signed a three-year services agreement with the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The strategic and collaborative agreement will further advance development of women by leveraging Bloch School assets to expand the reach, services and programming of Central Exchange. The school will provide leadership and expertise for program design, delivery, and oversight of operations and events. The agreement was effective as of Sept. 1. The Bloch Executive Education Center will be the new home of Central Exchange. Ann M. Hackett, Ph.D., chief learning and engagement officer for executive education, will lead day-to-day management of Central Exchange. Hackett and other Bloch Executive Education faculty and staff will also work with the Central Exchange board of directors on strategic planning to find ways to expand the reach and enhance the experience of Central Exchange members and corporate partners.  “We are excited about the opportunity to work with Bloch and build on Central Exchange’s legacy through fresh new programming and expanded networking and development opportunities focused on advancing women, both professionally and personally,” said Ellen Fairchild, Central Exchange board chair. “Additionally, this will allow Central Exchange to streamline its overhead and help ensure its financial future. We want the Central Exchange to be here and relevant for the next 40 years.” This year, Central Exchange is celebrating its 40th anniversary of being the premier women’s organization in greater Kansas City. With hundreds of members, Central Exchange represents the largest cross-section of women from throughout the Kansas City area. Members include business owners, entrepreneurs, executives, managers, nonprofit professionals, civic leaders and community volunteers. “This agreement will allow both organizations to build on their long-term community relationships and expertise to accelerate women achieving their full potential,” Hackett said. “It is exciting to think about where Central Exchange can go with the Bloch engine powering its vital mission.” Central Exchange is Kansas City’s community for women leaders. A women-centric organization that empowers and connects women across generations, industries and perspectives, promotes equity for women, ignites confidence in women and cultivates and accelerates women leaders. For more information go to www.centralexchange.org. The Bloch Executive Education Center provides opportunities — including seminars, certificates, and custom programs — to help professionals and the organizations they serve promote innovative insights and business best practices. Sep 02, 2020

  • UMKC Receives Significant STEM Funding

    The National Science Foundation awards $100,000 to support collaborative programming
    The National Science Foundation awarded the University of Missouri-Kansas City $100,000 to support the Integrating STEM Education Research Collaboration for Regional Prosperity. The conference is designed to support researchers in science, technology, engineering and math education (STEM) as they collaborate to develop a regional STEM ecosystem that will identify challenges, opportunities and solutions to impact and educate the STEM workforce. The Integrating STEM conference will focus on professional development in conjunction with bringing together postsecondary faculty and administration, STEM communities and civic leaders to discuss the challenges of attracting and maintaining a diverse student pipeline that leads to graduation and career success, which fuels regional economic development. Alexis Petri, director of faculty support and associate research professor, is the principal investigator for this project. “We think it’s possible that focused professional development on new strategic tools and research driven initiatives will provide increased traction for students and regional prosperity.”- Alexis Petri “Kansas City needs a more robust STEM workforce,” Petri says. “At UMKC, STEM faculty have been addressing this need. However, we believe a regional approach will bring increased urgency and collective impact to educating a skilled STEM workforce that meets employer demands.” According to KC Rising, a business collaborative focused on accelerating regional growth, the Kansas City region outperforms its peers in STEM employment, but fewer students are graduating with STEM-related degrees than four years ago, especially among Black and Hispanic students.  “We think it’s possible that focused professional development on new strategic tools and research driven initiatives will provide increased traction for students and regional prosperity,” Petri says. During the three-day conference, participants will discuss six topics critical to the Greater Kansas City STEM education research ecosystem: Supporting student success in STEM majors by supporting intentionally inclusive educational research theories and practices Transforming the first-year college experience – innovative educational technology and inclusive pedagogies for student learning and retention in STEM Smoothing transitions from two- to four-year institutions – opportunities and challenges for institutional partnerships Using high-impact practices to retain STEM majors and foster interest in STEM careers Building coalition among stakeholders Sustaining a multi-institution ecosystem in the Kansas City region including social and cultural inclusiveness for student success. The conference is designed to encourage diverse viewpoints, the opportunity to engage with experts, and discuss the application of the presented information into real-world settings.  “Through the Integrating STEM education research efforts, UMKC seeks to promote collaboration among postsecondary institutions and community organizations to determine whether application of education research – existing and new – could support systemic, large- scale change,” says Chris Lui, Ph.D., vice chancellor of research. “These efforts ensure that UMKC is a regional stronghold for student learning, faculty and staff development and workforce production.” To receive more information on Integrating STEM, including how to participate in the online conference, please contact Petri at petria@umkc.edu.   Sep 02, 2020

  • Alumnus Entrepreneur Establishes College of Arts and Sciences Scholarship

    Kansas City businessman Albert Gerecht liked helping others succeed
    Albert Gerecht, B.A. ’52, established his business, The Tax Gallery in 1956, one mile from his alma mater. After earning his degree and meeting his wife, Doris, he led a bold life making friends, building his business and supporting the community. Upon his death he bequeathed $400,000 for merit-based scholarships to further his commitment to helping people help themselves.  “Albert was one of kind,” Melanie Zeigler says. “I walked into The Tax Gallery 32 years ago looking for a notary and ended up with a job. It was his idea. You did not tell Albert ‘no.’” Zeigler and Ken Baylie have co-owned The Tax Gallery since 1995 when Gerecht sold them the business. Gerecht told Zeigler that he started the business selling insurance and went door-to-door selling policies. One day, a potential customer said that he couldn’t talk because he was working on his taxes. Gerecht had a quick reply.  “’My wife does taxes,’” Gerecht said. “‘Bring them down!’” The Gerechts started their insurance and tax-preparation business on Troost Avenue, which is considered a racial and economic dividing line in Kansas City. Albert was committed to helping everyone who walked through his door. “Albert loved his customers,” Zeigler says. “A lot of his clients were of color and he knew that they were often charged more at other places than white clients.” “Albert was one of kind,” - Melanie Zeigler In the 1970s, Gerecht sued multiple insurance companies under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, which protects consumers from abuses, for red-lining. “He didn’t win, but that was who he was,” says Albert’s son, Wolfe Gerecht. “He was always willing to do battle.” In addition to his integrity, his family and friends remember him as a garrulous, quick-witted and intelligent man. He confided in them that he felt that because of his Jewish faith he experienced prejudice and mistreatment. As a result, he believed that an unbiased association with all people combined with the power of education could eliminate hatred. Albert’s best friend, Art Kammerlohr, said his gift to UMKC to establish scholarships was intended to foster performance and excellence irrespective of need, but his substantial giving in other areas demonstrated his desire to help those less fortunate, foster education and to promote and support organizations that speak truth to power and protect individual rights. The people who loved Albert remember him as garrulous, quick-witted and hard working. “Albert loved people,” Zeigler says. “He would walk into a restaurant and say, ‘Hello, everybody!’ I learned a lot from him. He was a giving man.” The Albert Gerecht Scholarship will fund five $10,000 scholarships annually until the funds are expended. For more information on scholarships, please contact Scholarships and Financial Aid.   Sep 01, 2020

  • 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 library.umkc.edu. 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 umkc.edu. 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

  • Stressed? Help and Healthy Resources Are Available

    An interview with the UMKC counseling director about coping with COVID-19
    The strain of starting a new school year combined with the personal and global effects of the coronavirus pandemic may be unavoidable. But there are resources available to help manage stress and anxiety. Arnie Abels, Ph.D., director of Counseling, Health, Testing and Disability Services at UMKC, suggests strengthening your assets may help you manage your emotional needs. “One thing to remember is that every experience is individual,” Abels said. “For some people, the continued isolation is a huge blow. Those folks may need to be creative – trying new activities or using Zoom or online activities – to stay connected to other students, friends and family. For others, the physical constraints may be more challenging. Especially at the beginning of a new academic year, they may need to figure out how to get enough sleep, the best way to exercise and create a routine. Others’ primary concerns may be financial as they try to find jobs and possibly change living situations. All of this is valid. Each of us needs to understand that all of these things are important and manage our own individual emotional needs.” “One thing to remember is that every experience is individual.” - Arnie Abels He notes that returning students may be feeling completely differently than freshmen. “For first-time college students, adjusting to everything new can be exciting and challenging,” Abels said. “Returning students may be frustrated and disappointed that campus life is still disrupted.” Noticing an increase of posts on social media related to alcohol and drugs, Abels cautions about turning to substances for relief. “First, smoking cigarettes or cannabis creates vulnerability in your lungs, which we all need to avoid,” he said. “We don’t judge, but we want to encourage people to make healthy choices. There’s nothing wrong with having a drink – if you’re of legal age – but drinking to excess can create difficult situations with difficult consequences, especially if you are using it to avoid feelings.” There are healthier ways to deal with stress. “Getting enough sleep is very important,” Abels said. “One of the things that may help with this is regular exercise. Eating healthy will feel better. But not everything needs to be productive. Along with online exercise videos, Swinney Rec is offering a video-gaming competition. That could be a great escape as well.” Abels encourages people to take the opportunity to see how we can grow and become better individually and as a group. “Personally, I’m writing letters to the people I care about. It’s a creative process for me and it allows me to let people know in a way that may be out of the ordinary and maybe more special than an email or text.” Mental Health Resources Personal counseling Counseling Services provides several opportunities for students. Walk-in crisis hours for any student weekdays at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Most group meetings are available on-line and counseling appointments are telehealth as well. Mind Body Connection will be reopening with limited services as soon as student staff workers are hired. Movement Matters Fitness classes available on campus, Instagram stories and Esports including PS4 and X-Box Fifa and Madden Help at Your Fingertips The Sanvello app provides on-demand help for stress, anxiety and depression, including videos for coping with COVID-19. Additional Resources Roos for Mental Health has additional resources, including the recordings of their topical lunch-n-learns. Disability Services is open from 8:30 a.m. to  5 p.m. Monday through Friday, but the office is encouraging virtual visits. To set up an Accommodations Plan or address questions about accommodated exams or notetaking, details are available on the site. The Employee Assistance Program has a wide range of resources related to both work and life, including tools for coping with COVID-19. The Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255 (TALK.) Aug 21, 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 Student Health and Wellness and UMKC Central All other students preferred virtual sessions by appointment Exception: walk-in preferred for Student Health and 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

  • Two NEH Grants to Aid High-Tech Humanities Research

    Use of digital photography, computer analysis and cataloging bring historical texts alive for modern researchers.
    UMKC researchers’ 21st century methods for analyzing records from the Middle Ages and the 17th century have received a $400,000-plus boost from two grants by the National Endowment for the Humanities.   One grant, for $324,317, goes to a team led by Jeffrey Rydberg-Cox and Virginia Blanton, both curators’ distinguished professors in English; Nathan Oyler, associate professor of chemistry; Zhu Li, associate professor of computer science and director of the Center for Big Learning; and Yugi Lee, professor of computer science. Their project, titled “Unlocking the Mysteries of a Medieval Chant Book with Multispectral Imaging,” furthers their work with a new method for analyzing early modern manuscripts and print materials. It draws upon special collections held by UMKC, the Linda Hall Library and the University of Kansas. A sophisticated camera Oyler built is able to capture a wide spectrum of colors in Medieval manuscripts, including some the human eye cannot see, giving the other professors and the graduate students on their team the ability to extract more information from the texts. They hope the method eventually could be used widely by graduate students in their research, and by smaller libraries to analyze their own collections. The team has been working on the project since 2014 and first published on it in 2015. Rydberg-Cox said the new grant will help finance refinements in the multispectral imaging equipment and support two graduate students on the team for three years. Blanton said the team was gratified to have national funding affirm its work, and grateful to the UM system for funding at an earlier stage that helped get the project going. “These NEH grants are very competitive, so it’s exciting to receive one and build on the support UMKC has given us. It shows we are headed in the right direction.”    — Viviana Grieco The other grant, for $100,000, goes to a project of Viviana Grieco, associate professor of history and Latin American and Latinx studies, and Praveen Rao, who taught computer science at UMKC before moving to MU-Columbia earlier this year. Their project, titled “A Knowledge Graph for Managing and Analyzing Spanish American Notary Records,” aims to unlock thousands of notary records from Argentina. The records, from the 17th century, were written in a script that can be difficult to decipher, Grieco said, even after years of study. Making the texts digital and developing a system for reading them will make them accessible to researchers. And although notary records may sound dry, Grieco pointed out that “they touch on every aspect of life and how a society is organized. Wills, contracts, dowries and other records can tell us about trade, poverty and other economic, social and political arrangements.” Like the other grant winners’ project, their work crosses disciplines to get a deeper look at the past. Grieco and Rao met while organizing a UM System summit on bringing technology and the humanities together, and it has been a fruitful collaboration. Using “big data” techniques such as deep learning and scalable knowledge management, Rao said, will make it possible for researchers without substantial technical backgrounds to quickly search and access thousands of records for information relevant to whatever aspect of history and society they are researching. “It brings the humanities into the digital age,” he said. Grieco said their project, just a year and a half old, also got an early boost from seed money from UMKC. “These NEH grants are very competitive, so it’s very exciting to receive one and build on the support UMKC has given us,” Grieco said. “It shows we are headed in the right direction.” The awards for UMKC were two of four that went to Missouri institutions from the NEH, and were among  238 grants totaling $30 million. The other Missouri projects will benefit the St. Louis Botanical Garden and an MU-Columbia project making a volume 18th-century engraved prints and essays available digitally. A full list of the 238 grants by geographic location is available here.    Jul 30, 2020

  • Pat Tillman Scholar and Veteran Aims To Become School Administrator

    Roberto Diaz advocates for underserved and underrepresented children
    Get to know our people and you'll know what UMKC is all about. Name: Roberto DiazHometown: Pomona, CaliforniaUndergraduate University: California State University, Long BeachUMKC degree program: Education SpecialistAnticipated graduation year: Fall 2020 Growing up in a single-parent home in Pomona, California, Roberto Diaz resisted the influence of gang violence by getting involved in community education programs like the ones he aspires to someday lead. After joining the Marine Corps Reserve his sophomore year of college, which he said taught him discipline and perseverance, he gained transferrable skills that he applies to his journey to becoming a school administrator. Why did you choose UMKC? I was teaching in Chicago when I was recruited by Teach for America to come work in Kansas City. From there I joined Kansas City Plus, which is a two-year principal certification program for educators. They have a partnership with the School of Education, so I was able to apply to the education specialist degree program. Why did you choose your field of study? I got into teaching when I did City Year and Teach for America. Both of those experiences showed me that there are very few Latinx educators in front of black and brown children. Research shows when students have teachers that reflect their identities, they often do better. This motivates me to stay in education. I currently work at Operation Breakthrough as an education manager and lead instructional coach and hope to someday lead a similar organization in the future. "I'm grateful to be a part of so many elite veterans and represent Kansas City." What do you enjoy most about teaching? Inside every person, there is this inner child that we often neglect due to pressures from adulthood and society. As an early childhood educator, I try to tap into that inner child when I engage with children. I enjoy seeing them light up when they learn something new; it's a unique feeling that not many people get to experience. What are the challenges of your career field? I think a challenge for me is trying to advocate for early childhood education when most programs are geared toward K-12. I have to find a way to translate a lot of content through an early childhood lens. Having an undergraduate degree in political science helps me understand the more systemic issues in education like funding, teacher retention, lack of resources, achievement gap, etc. I can understand from a macro level how systemic issues trickle down into the classroom. What are the benefits of the program? I get to influence education for the most underserved children in Kansas City. When campus reopens, I’m looking forward to being in class. Are you a first-generation college student? If so, what does that mean to you? Yes, and I take pride in that because I know my family made a sacrifice to leave their homeland to come here and prosper. My parents were only able to get so far in life because of the lack of resources provided to them; however, I was inculcated with the desire to work hard and be humble, and I can't thank them enough for teaching me those values. Who/What do you admire most at UMKC? The different resources it provides students. It’s a great school that challenges its students. What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor? This isn’t necessarily a piece of advice, but a quote from one of my professors, Arthur Jacob, that had a profound impact on me: He said, “I do not respect a school that turns children away.” What he was saying is that schools should not pick and choose the children they accept because they want their data to be the best. It made me reconsider my position on charter schools. What about the other children? Where will they go? “Having an undergraduate degree in political science helps me understand the more systemic issues in education.” You were recently awarded the Pat Tillman scholarship for veterans. What does it mean to you to have been one of only 60 students, and the only student from the University of Missouri System, to receive the scholarship? I learned about the scholarship two weeks before the deadline, and it captivated my attention based on the information I had about who Pat Tillman was. Soon after I submitted my application, COVID hit. That gave me a lot of downtime to read more about Pat Tillman and I was amazed. The program supports veterans who are pursuing programs that impact people’s lives. I’m grateful to be a part of so many elite veterans and represent Kansas City. What’s has your class experience been like during the pandemic? It’s impacted my education but not too much. I think it’s been difficult knowing that I am missing out on real dialogue in the classroom. We can still interact on Zoom but, in person, the interaction is more organic. When campus reopens, I’m looking forward to being in class. As an undergraduate, I used to dread going to class but now that it’s online, I realize there’s nothing like having that in-person human connection. How has your work been impacted by COVID? When COVID first happened, we closed for a little while but then we opened back up. We’ve been open since May, but we do our best to adhere to health and safety guidelines. From an administrator’s standpoint, the dilemma of virtual versus classroom learning a hard call to make because you wonder where the kids will go -- their parents need to go to work and the kids need to eat. I trust my school leader, Mary Esselman, and I know she is making the best decisions for everyone. What do you hope to take from your experiences at UMKC into your professional career? I remember when I got to Kansas City, I was perplexed about the segregation that exists here. Living on Troost, a street known to historically be the dividing line between black and white folks over the course of many years, I experience this division daily. Kansas City has been ranked as one of the most racially segregated cities in America and, in some respects, it remains that way. Segregation existed in LA and Chicago, but it wasn’t as obvious as it is in Kansas City. Here, you can cross one street and literally be somewhere else. I hope to use this experience to inform my decisions as a school leader later down the road. Jul 30, 2020

  • UMKC Bloch Student Donates Business Proceeds

    Black Lives Matter movement inspired Harper Zimlich to use her business to spread awareness
    Sophomore Harper Zimlich found a way to use her side hustle as a fundraiser for an organization that is making a difference in her community. Harper Zimlich Zimlich, a business administration major and and Bloch Launchpad student, has been selling baked good since she was in middle school. Her business, Harper’s Homemade, really took off when she began high school. Typically, she runs her business on an order and pick-up basis out of her home, but this summer she began selling at the Topeka Farmer’s Market. Topeka is her hometown. “This was a great way to gain exposure for my business within my community,” Zimlich said. At the June 6 Topeka Farmer’s Market, Zimlich sold sugar cookies and cupcakes as a fundraiser for the YWCA of Northeast Kansas. She donated $363, which was the total sales from that day. Zimlich chose the YWCA because its mission as an organization aligns with her values.  “The organization as a whole works to eliminate racism while empowering young women directly in the Topeka community, which I feel a personal connection to being a female small business owner," she says. "I have been very moved by the Black Lives Matter movement, and I felt the best way I could do my part would be to use my platform to spread awareness. My hopes with this act would be to bring attention to the movement and give others an opportunity to do their part by donating and continue to educate themselves on the matter. I believe small acts within your own community can inspire some of the biggest change!”  Zimlich said running Harper’s Homemade has taught her many valuable skills and has given her a look into what running a business is like. “I figure, by the time I graduate, I can take what I have learned and put it towards my existing business, or pursue a different career that will further develop my skills while still operating Harper’s Homemade as a side hustle.” You can find Harper’s Homemade on Instagram, @harperzhomemade. Orders can be placed through her Instagram account.     Jul 30, 2020

  • Curators Combine Roles of President, Mizzou Chancellor

    Council of Chancellors will represent all four universities
    Mun Choi will serve as both president of the University of Missouri System and Chancellor of the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, under a new system governing structure approved July 28 by the University of Missouri Board of Curators. The Columbia campus is one of four universities that make up the System, along with the University of Missouri-Kansas City, University of Missouri-St. Louis and Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla. The new structure will also include a Council of Chancellors, consisting of the chancellors of all four universities, that will meet monthly to “confer, address mutual challenges and opportunities and exchange information,” according to the board resolution.  “I respect the decision of the Board of Curators and appreciate the fact that they are willing to ask hard questions regarding the governing structure of the University of Missouri System,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “It is clear that the board recognizes the lasting significance of any changes to this structure and the potential impacts on each individual campus. Through the ongoing process approved by the board, we must ensure that the entire UM System flourishes and UMKC can thrive and continue to be the vibrant and vital urban resource of teaching, research and service that Kansas City depends on.”  The board also directed the Council of Chancellors to explore the role and services of the UM System, the role of the president, the role of the chancellors and the scope of the Council and how it should function. The council will provide ongoing updates and recommendations to the board within 120 days. Agrawal says he will call on the UMKC community for guidance and input into the questions the board has asked the council to explore. In addition, he looks forward to introducing the two curators who will be appointed as a UMKC-specific advisory committee to the Board of Curators. He wants those two curators to understand the unique needs of UMKC and to hear from a diverse group of campus-specific voices. Julia Brncic, chair of the Board of Curators, said the new governance structure “offers the best way to ensure continued academic and research excellence across the UM System while providing a more cost-effective model during this unprecedented budget crisis and beyond.” “The combined role preserves the strength of our individual universities and will not result in a one-university model,” Brncic said. Jul 29, 2020

  • Biology Student Launches STEMology Podcast

    Alynah Adams created a niche for students pursuing science, technology, engineering and math degrees
      Alynah Adams ‘20 Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri High school: Liberty North High School Degree program: B.S. Biology, minor Chemistry Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Alynah Adams has explored a few areas that intrigued her academically, but with her interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics – and with her sights set on the medical field – she decided to create a podcast for other students like her. “Science students like to talk science, but there’s not always a space to do that,” says Adams, who is majoring in biology at UMKC. “I was talking about this with some of my friends one day and thought, ‘Someone should start a podcast.’ And then I thought, ‘Why not me?’” Once she had the concept in mind, she started coming up with potential names. Her friends were her focus group. “I sent about 30 friends 10 podcast names,” she says. “Within a day they helped me settle on ‘STEMology: The Young Scientists Survival Guide.’” Adams’ parents had encouraged her to try different things. She played college volleyball in Nebraska for two years before transferring to UMKC. At one point she considered a journalism degree, but her focus kept coming back to a career in the medical field. These two interests peacefully coexist on STEMology. “Science students like to talk science, but there’s not always a space to do that.”-Alynah Adams While her interview subjects have a common interest, their backgrounds and focus are different. “Mostly, I try to choose based on what people are studying in school now and their future plans,” Adams says. “But I reach out to my professional network, too.” Close to home, Adams has interviewed Tammy Welchert, associate teaching professor, director of student affairs and academic advising in the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, on information high school students should know that will help on the first day of college classes and beyond. In a recent episode, Adams interviewed one of her mentors, David Tung, Ph.D. of BioMed Valley Discoveries, on the importance of developing mentoring relationships. In the interview, Tung outlines elements of a beneficial mentoring relationship that goes beyond a resume entry. He sees a real advantage in making interviews like Adams’ available for interested students. “I was an engineer by training before I went into drug discovery research,” Tung says. “There were a lot of encounters in this vocation that surprised and shocked me. I feel that while everyone is trying to get more minorities and females into the STEM world, no one has actually provided an honest picture of how life is really like.   “I’ve always known what I wanted to do. My compass has always pointed North." - Alynah Adams Having the intellect to survive in this business is only part of the story. Having the aptitude to endure and excel is something that is seldom addressed. In all these conversations, the words 'happiness' and 'fulfillment' were never mentioned. Alynah has always wanted to share her experiences and help others.” Adams worked with Tung on a research project for a family in England who needed information on Sengers Syndrome, a rare mitochondrial autoimmune disorder from which their son was suffering. “Only 44 people in the world have this condition,” Adams says. “I was able to find information on what might help mitigate the symptoms and what won’t. I put it in presentation form and we presented it to the family and their team of medical professionals. It was amazing for me to able to directly affect their lives.” Adams’ parents have encouraged her to explore opportunities in health care that go beyond being a physician. “I’ve thought about being a pharmacist and a few different specialties,” she says. “But it’s always been about health care. I may be an anomaly, but I’ve always known what I wanted to do. My compass has always pointed north." Jul 29, 2020

  • Donor and Student Strike a Chord

    Conservatory donor supports programs and people
    The strongest relationships sometimes build over time. Marylou Turner’s exposure to music began as a child in a small town in Kansas, but she has become a stalwart supporter of the UMKC Conservatory and its students. Turner has been a Conservatory donor and member of the Women’s Committee for the UMKC Conservatory, which supports scholarships, for 27 years. She served as the council’s president for six years, serves on the board of the UMKC Friends of the Conservatory and co-chaired Crescendo, the Conservatory’s largest fundraiser, in 2019. Despite her dedication, her early exposure to music was limited. “I grew up in Albert, Kansas,” Turner says. “I heard music mostly at church and school. It was a rural community so there were lots of opportunities to perform in school and other activities. My teacher was very into music, but not classical. It was during World War II, so we were exposed to hit songs mostly.” Eventually, Turner’s parents bought a piano and she and her sister learned to play. “I played the snare drum and bassoon in high school and the bassoon in college. That was the beginning of my exposure to classical music.” Turner married her late husband, John Turner, who was her high school sweetheart, and they moved to Kansas City after their college graduation. Turner started teaching school and her husband began his work as an interior designer. “There was a salesman at my husband’s office who bought season tickets to everything, but he rarely went. He usually gave them away. We were able to go the symphony and the opera for free.” Turner taught for seven years before returning to school at UMKC to achieve her Master of Arts in Education. She did not return to the classroom, but decided instead to tutor and began dedicated herself to volunteering, primarily in the arts. “I’ve met a lot of wonderful people who I may have never had the opportunity to meet.” One of Turner’s fortuitous meetings was with Conservatory student Chase Shumsky who studied saxophone performance. Shumsky was the recipient of the endowed scholarship that Turner established with her late husband. They were seated next to one another at the annual Conservatory brunch for donors and scholars. “We became acquainted at the brunch, but we’ve met many times,” Turner says. “We talk about his hopes and dreams. I’m always interested in his aspirations.” Shumsky received his news about receiving his scholarship in an email, but he did not anticipate that he would become friends with the donor, who is several decades his senior. “When I first found out I received a scholarship, my reaction was, ‘Where do I sign?’ I overlooked the clause in the contract that outlined the requirement to attend the annual scholarship brunch to meet the person generous enough to support the Conservatory and its students.” “The best part of being Marylou's friend is that she took the time and effort to actually get to know me as a person.”- Chase Shumsky Shumsky admits that while he understood the importance of scholarship funding – he would not have been able to attend the Conservatory without it - he did not understand how significant this relationship would become. Turner attended Shumsky’s solo, quartet and band performances. She had dinner with him and his parents after his senior recital. “The best part of being Marylou's friend is that she took the time and effort to actually get to know me as a person,” Shumsky says. “She is an amazing conversationalist, and for a good amount of time as her scholarship student, I was not. This leads to probably one of my favorite traits about Marylou. She is strong and persistent in the most kind and generous way possible. These traits are present not only in how she developed a meaningful relationship with me but how she fights in the Kansas City community as a supporter for the arts and for arts education.” While Turner enjoys developing these relationships with students, she’s aware that they may not go on to professional careers. She does not see that as failure. “I learned the bassoon, but never played it again after school,” Turner says. “But when I hear or see another musician, I understand the dedication that went into it. Not every student will pursue a lifetime occupation of performance, but the discipline and work ethic benefit them in other areas.” “I enjoy talking to people about giving. I couldn’t ask for myself, but I can ask for a cause that I believe in and I enjoy encouraging others to contribute.”-Marylou Turner Turner’s perspective, experience and financial support have been a constant pillar of support to the Conservatory’s endeavors. “I love raising money!” she says. “I enjoy talking to people about giving. I couldn’t ask for myself, but I can ask for a cause that I believe in and I enjoy encouraging others to contribute.” Diane Petrella, dean of the UMKC Conservatory, appreciates and applauds Turner’s commitment. “Marylou is one of our most passionate and dedicated patrons,” Diane Petrella, dean of the UMKC Conservatory says. “She is a force to be reckoned with in every sense. She leads by example, holds everyone to the same high standards she exhibits and her steadfast commitment to the organizations in which she serves is profound. In every situation, from chairing Crescendo to tracking the scholarship funds for the Women’s Committee, Marylou’s attention to detail, perseverance, intellect, and humor inspire us all to give more of our time, talents and resources. She has made a tremendous impact on the Conservatory and its students, and we look forward to our continued collaboration.” Turner has no intention of slowing down. Even the COVID-19 outbreak has not kept her from her passion. “The arts have a special place that is very important to me. Of course, I’ve stayed involved in my volunteer work.” Lifetime of Leading the Arts Marylou Turner has dedicated her time, energy and resources to the arts for nearly 50 years. Her contribution to the UMKC Conservatory as a leader, donor and friend is exemplary. Member of the Women’s Committee since 1993 Instituted the Women’s Committee endowed scholarship program, which is responsible for 23 endowed scholarships valued at over $1.4 million Serves as a board member of the UMKC Friends of the Conservatory, and is a member of the 20/20 Scholarship campaign which has raised over $900,000 toward 20 new scholarships Recognized by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Kansas City Chapter with the 2020 Spirit of Philanthropy Award Jul 29, 2020

  • New Ensemble Caters to Marginalized Communities

    UMKC Conservatory grad, UMKC Bloch student featured by KC Studio
      “Music changed my life in positive ways only. And I wanted to be able to provide that while also significantly offering help,” said founder and artistic director Flor Lizbeth Cruz Longoria. Cruz, a flutist. She graduated with a master’s degree from the UMKC Conservatory in May and is completing a graduate certificate in nonprofit management and innovation from the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management. Read the full article. Jul 28, 2020

  • Student Emergency Fund Assists Nearly 100 Students

    Yahoo News picked up KSHB story about emergency funding for students
      “We created this emergency fund back when we went into quarantine,” said Logan P. Cheney, director of Annual Giving for the UMKC Foundation. “Students could apply for it to pay their bills, to help pay for rent. If a lot of students had to basically up and leave their apartment or quit their job, this was a way to help kids out.” Check out the KSHB story that was picked up by Yahoo News. Jul 27, 2020

  • Bringing An Artist’s Spirituality to the Practice of Medicine

    Bill Tammeus, Flatland KC, calls Nancy Tilson-Mallett a rare combination - a physician and an artist
      In science classes, Nancy Tilson-Mallett, M.D., says students are taught “that there’s got to be a right answer. In art class, I teach them that sometimes there are right answers but there are also shades of gray and ambiguity.” Tilson-Mallett has been teaching a class at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine called “Medicine and Art.” Read more. Jul 26, 2020

  • UMKC Extends Operations of BkMk Press

    Publisher will complete literary projects that are in progress
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City will extend operations of its publishing house, BkMk Press, in order to complete literary projects that are in progress. Kati Toivanen, interim dean of the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences, said the extension has been funded by donors for a limited time that will will allow BkMk to publish these works in the professional quality the press is known for. “This will also give us additional time to seek another home for the press or to identify a more self-sustaining funding structure,” Toivanen said. “Published literary works contribute to our culture, expand our understanding of the world and enrich our lives. We welcome any support, ideas and partnerships that would allow the tradition of this distinguished press to continue.” Public higher education has been facing budget constraints in recent years that have been further challenged by the coronavirus pandemic. These pressures compelled UMKC to reduce funding for the literary entity that includes both BkMk Press and New Letters magazine, in order to focus available resources on academic programs and student success services. New Letters will continue its operations and will be run out of the Department of English with faculty leadership and student support. Jul 24, 2020

  • UMKC Center for Neighborhoods Launches New Website to Address Digital Equity in Kansas City

    Provides access for organizations that cannot afford web design, hosting
    The Center for Neighborhoods at the University of Missouri-Kansas City has launched a new website designed to highlight the work of Kansas City, Missouri, neighborhoods and to address the issue of digital equity. The Center for Neighborhoods is housed in the Department of Architecture, Urban Planning + Design, part of the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences. Director Dina Newman said many urban neighborhoods, with volunteer leaders and limited financial capital, are impacted by unequal access to information, connectivity and data. Too often, they must endure the racial and economic disparities associated with the “digital divide.” The new website, cfn.umkc.edu, provides an interactive digital resource hub for Kansas City neighborhoods. This platform features up-to-date contact information and meeting times for neighborhood organizations and HOAs (homeowners’ associations) that have participated in the center’s 12-week Neighborhood Leadership Training session since 2016. Additional features include a calendar of events, critical information from partner organizations including pertinent information from City Hall, the popular weekly update “News You Can Use” and a short film from the Center for Neighborhoods’ First State of the Neighborhood Address. Newman said the website provides access and a platform for those organizations that might not be able to afford the fees associated with web design, hosting and maintenance. “The website creates an opportunity for Center for Neighborhoods to expand socially in our increasingly digital world,” Newman said. “These mediums are a tool for people and organizations to connect with each other and share valuable information to those who need it the most.” As a follow-up step, the Center for Neighborhoods plans to take a more expansive role in popular social media platforms. “Our goal is lifting up the communities we serve.” Jul 24, 2020

  • Brandon Martin to Co-Chair New Alliance

    Kansas City Star, CBS Sports reports on Black AD Alliance
    The Black AD Alliance includes 16 Black athletic directors in Division I, which includes Kansas City Athletics Director Brandon Martin as co-chair. Read the full KC Star article. Read CBS Sports. Jul 24, 2020

  • BioNexus KC Awards UMKC Researcher

    Kansas City Business Journal covers research grants
    Timothy Cox, Endowed Professor in Musculoskeletal Tissues at the UMKC School of Dentistry, is studying genetic differences in embryonic facial tissue to see how they affect the development of cleft lip and cleft palate. It is among the most common birth defects, affecting one in 700 live births globally. Read more. Jul 24, 2020

  • UMKC Student Volunteers Step Up to Help With COVID-19 Testing

    More than 80 students helped the Kansas City Health Department in providing COVID-19 tests
    Earlier this spring, the Kansas City Missouri Health Department received federal funding to provide COVID-19 testing. What the department lacked was the manpower to support the many testing sites across the city. It didn’t take long for the UMKC Health Sciences Campus to fill the void. More than 80 students from the schools of dentistry, medicine and pharmacy answered the call for helpers. In May and June, they volunteered 28 three-hour blocks of time at 18 testing locations through the greater Kansas City area. Many of those were at schools and churches. “This is a great example of a long-running collaboration with the health department,” said Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., director of the Health Equity Institute. “Especially since our students could help expand their capacity to conduct testing in communities hard hit by COVID-19.” Stefanie Ellison, M.D., associate dean for learning initiatives at the School of Medicine, said students across the campus were eager to help. “In 24 hours, I gave a group of students the chance to communicate the need across social media sites and get the word out,” Ellison said. “They stepped up to fill in the volunteer spots.” The testing was offered at federally qualified health centers such as the KC Care Clinic, Swope Health and the Samuel Rogers Health Center. Carole Bowe Thompson, project director for the Health Equity Institute, helped organize the volunteer efforts. While workers at the testing centers did the actual COVID-19 testing, Thompson said the students worked in a supporting role, handling patient check-in and registration, providing patient education, labeling and securing specimen tubes and even directing car and walk up traffic up to the test sites. “They did the pre-screening, going over COVID-19 symptoms and collecting health and other important intake information,” Thompson said. “The testing centers didn’t have the support they needed for taking care of traffic. They needed the students to help direct traffic.” Many of the students said the experience helped them realize the importance of working with other health care providers and how community outreach can play a large role in public health. “I learned that I am in a prime position to assist those in need,” said Rico Beuford, a sixth-year medical student. “I don't necessarily need a medical degree to open up access to health care resources to vulnerable communities. I think it's important for each us to realize how much we can impact those who are on the periphery of society and that are largely neglected by it.” Sixth-year med student Emma Connelly was one of those who helped with the screening process, taking basic patient information and asking those being tested if they had experienced symptoms or been exposed to anyone with the coronavirus. “Being a medical student, I am not technically on the front lines, so I thought this would be a small way to help out,” Connelly said. “I felt that it was important to help out no matter how small the task was. And if I could help prevent at least one COVID-19 positive individual from spreading it to their family or friends, it was totally worth the effort.” Ellison said students found a wide variety of other ways to help those in need as well. Some spent time simply talking online with senior center residents to keep them company and help them feel less isolated. Students volunteered to tutor and check on grade school students who were suddenly faced with online school while their parents had to work. Others found their green thumbs to help with gardening, harvesting and distributing produce, while some provided babysitting for health care workers. “I am so overwhelmed by our students’ efforts to help out,” Ellison said. Thompson said she hoped the volunteer efforts would continue through the summer and pick up steam when students returned to campus for the fall semester. “There will be plenty more opportunities,” she said. “The health department is not going to stop doing testing.” Jul 23, 2020

  • Law Librarian Named Unsung Legal Hero

    Missouri Lawyers Media recognizes Ayyoub Ajmi
    Ayyoub Ajmi, associate director of the Leon E. Bloch Law Library and director of Digital Communications and Learning Initiatives at the UMKC School of Law, was named a 2020 Unsung Legal Hero in Information Technology. Jul 23, 2020

  • What Are You Most Excited About in Returning to Campus?

    Roos share what they’re looking forward to this fall
    It’s definitely been a minute since most of us have visited campus in person. Come August, it will have been five months ‑ nearly half a year! Yes, the world has changed, and classrooms will be modified so we can safely maintain social distancing. While the physical space will be a little different, it’s our campus community that we’re most excited to see. We talked to a few Roos about what they’ve been anticipating the most this fall. 1. Week of Welcome “Not just for incoming students or current students, but EVERYONE! I think we all have shared this difficult time together and no matter what this fall looks like, it’s going to be great to welcome everyone back to the new school year.” -Hope Romero, music therapy ’ 21 2. Helping others “I want to help other students, whether it’s by giving tours or with classwork. Since all of this (the pandemic) started, my professors have been super helpful to me.” -Hannah Shackles, communications ’ 21 3. Familiarity “I'm coming back home, back to a daily routine, to see the faces of my friends and professors and just walk on campus again like I used to!” -Jose Mendoza, vocal performance and composition ’23 4. Student organizations “I’m definitely looking forward to getting more involved with my organizations and my senior year.” -Krithika Selvarajoo, chemistry and English ‘21 5. Theatre “It’s hard to do theatre online. Yes, in my theater classes, we’ll have to wear masks like everyone else does. This time away has made me realize how social my job is and how social the field I’m going into is.” -Michelle Lawson, theatre and history ’ 21 Jul 22, 2020

  • 5 Ways to Get Your Kids to Wear Masks

    CNN interviewed School of Medicine assistant professor of pediatrics
    Gail Robertson provided tips for parents. Read more.   Jul 22, 2020

  • Conservatory Finds Ideal Leader

    Diane Petrella was interviewed by The Independent on going from interim dean to full-time dean
      Paul Horsley talked to Diane Helfers Petrella, the first woman to head the UMKC Conservatory in its 110-year history. Read the full article.   Jul 22, 2020

  • Alumnus Reflects on His Super Bowl Experience

    Steven St. John shares some of his favorite moments from SBLIV
    Steven St. John (B.A. ’96) has been a fixture on the Kansas City sports scene since 1999 and a lifelong Chiefs fan. As host of the popular sports morning show “Border Patrol” on 810 WHB, he was in Miami, Florida, covering Super Bowl LIV and celebrating KC’s win in person. He recently shared some of his favorite moments with us and how things have changed since February. What was your most memorable moment from the Super Bowl? Wow. Such a tough question to answer. Waking into the stadium, realizing that I was actually at the Super Bowl and the Chiefs were playing in the game. That was mind-blowing. I loved watching the Chiefs run out of the tunnel during the pre-game festivities. That was so cool.  Also, screaming at Goldie Hawn to the point she was visibly startled. (I meant Goldie no harm. You see, I’m a Goldie Hawn fan, so when I saw her, I naturally screamed “Goldie!” Sometimes I forget the power of my booming voice and the sheer volume of my cry clearly caught Goldie off guard.) All of these are wonderful memories. But, nothing compares to the moment when Damien Williams scampered into the end zone and secured the biggest Chiefs victory of my life. I still get chills when I relive that moment in my mind. What did you think of the halftime show? I thought the halftime show was wonderful. Jennifer Lopez and Shakira are two of the most electric live performers in the world and they were on stage together! It was such an exciting experience to be inside the stadium while they shared the stage. The lights, colors, music, sounds and emotion all overwhelmed my senses. It really was a magical experience. And, when you mixed in the tremendous anticipation for the 2nd half of Super Bowl LIV, it was a perfect recipe for one of the most enjoyable nights of my life. Steven St. John, left, interviewing during 810WHB's Super Bowl coverage in Miami. What are your predictions for the next season? The Chiefs will repeat as Super Bowl champions and Patrick Mahomes will win another Super Bowl MVP. Biggest play of the game? Jet. Chip. Wasp. That is all. Under the radar MVP? Most people will say Damien Williams or Chris Jones. But, I will say me. I absolutely deserve some type of award for successfully composing myself in time to conduct post-game player interviews just minutes after watching my beloved Chiefs win their first Super Bowl of my lifetime. I wept quietly on my way down to the locker room, thinking about all the past heartbreak in the life of a Chiefs fan. They were some of the happiest tears I’ve ever cried. "I absolutely deserve some type of award for successfully composing myself in time to conduct post-game player interviews just minutes after watching my beloved Chiefs win their first Super Bowl of my lifetime."—Steven St. John, B.A. '96 How do you feel about the Patrick Mahomes contract?  He's worth every penny and more. Imagine if I would have told you a few years ago that the Chiefs were finally going to draft a QB in the first round. And, that QB would win the NFL MVP in his second season. Then, in his third season, he'd win the Super Bowl MVP and lead the Chiefs to their first championship in 50 years. 50 years! And, along the way, he'd become KC's most beloved athlete because he was as great off the field as he was on the field. He'd be involved in the community to a level that helped him develop an unparalleled connection with the city. And, he'd also become the best player in the NFL, the face of the league and one of the most recognizable and respected sports figures in the world. And, all the while, he'd continue to represent KC and spread unadulterated joy throughout the city, at a time when it was desperately needed. In other words, I think it was a good deal.  What do you think about the plans for the upcoming season amid COVID-19? Along with everyone else, I really don't know what's going to happen. Things are far too unpredictable to make any type of educated prediction and feel confident about it. I'm cautiously optimistic, but I've learned to brace for the worst and hope for the best. But, if any league can make it happen, it’s the NFL.  How has the pandemic affected the way you work? I've been very lucky to be able to work from home. I've broadcast my show from my house the last few months and that's worked well for me. I have a heart condition that I need to protect, so working from home has allowed me to take a cautious approach while trying to keep my family healthy. And, when we do leave the house, we've done our best to wear masks and practice social distancing.  Jul 21, 2020

  • Making Data Science Relevant to Society

    Interdisciplinary UMKC faculty influence a new storytelling approach to teaching the subject
    Data science education is challenged with attracting minority students from various socio-economic backgrounds. However, recent advances in artificial intelligence and deep learning create an urgent need for a qualified data science workforce that can perform critical functions in a variety of domains and aspects of human society from journalism to health communication to advertising to educational resources for underserved populations. Enter the Open Collaborative Experiential Learning in Artificial Intelligence (OCEL.AI) project with a unique solution to address this need. “We’re trying to change the reality and culture of data science education.” - Yugi Lee, computer science professor, School of Computing and Engineering   Led by a multi-disciplinary team of faculty at the University of Missouri-Kansas City – Yugyung (Yugi) Lee, professor of computer science; Ye Wang, associate professor of communication studies; and Alexis Petri, senior director of faculty support – OCEL.AI received a $350,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to make data science more relevant to minority students. The OCEL.AI project is an open knowledge network and collaborative partnership with the University of Florida, Eastern Michigan University and Essex County College that supports postsecondary instructors who teach underserved populations (Data Science) + Journalism and strategic communications within their existing institutional structures. This storytelling approach maps a story onto data to transform artificial intelligence models and then extracts knowledge that can help solve societal issues. The group expects to see increased interest, self-efficacy and motivation in studying data science among both computer science and non-computer science majors – particularly female, Black and Hispanic students. “Most computer scientists like to dive right into data to solve problems without thinking about the stories behind the data, so this project is a transformative approach to teaching the subject,” said Lee, who serves as the principal investigator for OCEL.AI. “We’re trying to change the reality and culture of data science education.” Storytelling is used to create cases – personas if used in marketing, also called user stories in data science – that guide users through the process of machine learning. Wang said each user story contains the core fundamentals of storytelling taught in communications studies: who, what, when, where, why and how. “We’re taking a ‘so what?’ approach to big data. What problems can we observe? How does this change a user’s life?” Wang said. The machine-learning experience is guided by theoretical frameworks – also called the use cases –  so rather than taking the traditional approach to machine learning to build models, Wang is helping teach computer science students the fundamentals of journalism to determine which data helps tell a story. Students can then input that data in machine learning applications, which also helps ensure outcomes are fair and unbiased because developers are no longer applying a singular context – typically the majority – in machine learning. Groups from each of the partnering universities are currently working to test this model on sample stories to answer unique questions like “where can I buy a used car as a college freshman?” or “the community economic approach to COVID-19.” Computer science students from UMKC recently participated in a Hack-A-Thon and applied use cases to develop a mobile application to help parents find after school learning resources in Kansas City, based on budget, student gender, age and transportation needs. The storytelling approach has inspired students and faculty from the four partnering universities to learn more about data science’s role in society. OCEL.AI will host a virtual workshop in August and invite faculty and students to learn about this new teaching approach and how to apply it and plans to invite student participants to try it in upcoming projects. Petri is working with Lee and Wang to develop a new curriculum for teachers to implement this model into their courses. Petri will also conduct a user study to help inform improvements to the new model. “When you’re trying to implement a new learning model, you don’t always get it right the first time,”  Lee said. Jul 21, 2020

  • Disaster Informatics to the Rescue

    Harnessing the power of AI to aid disaster relief
    Imagine you’re receiving multiple calls about dangerous levels of floodwater damage, and your job is to prioritize relief efforts. Now imagine you have a statistical map telling you exactly where the damage will be worst. Creating solutions for real-world disaster-relief situations is the primary focus of the research of ZhiQiang Chen, Ph.D., associate professor of civil and mechanical engineering. Chen is part of a growing field of research that he refers to as “disaster informatics.” That is, harnessing the power of cuttingedge technology and using it to respond to natural disasters. His research is part of a much larger collaboration between several entities, including the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, University of Indiana, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, ImageCat in California and Pacific Disaster Center in Hawaii. Chen’s piece of the puzzle has to do with artificial intelligence (AI)-based computing of remote sensing data for global flood-hazard monitoring and damage assessment. His ultimate goal is to develop a program that automatically creates 3D renderings that clearly show damage and provide decision-makers with stats about damage levels in real time. “When I first started this research, it was a very small field,” Chen says. “However, the increased frequency and severity of natural disasters is attracting more people to this field.” Currently, images of disaster areas are typically taken by satellite, but Chen imagines drones being used more regularly. In theory, a drone could fly over a damaged area, collect an image and either process the image with an edge computing system or send the data to a ground center to be processed. Then a 3D rendering would be sent directly to first responders to help them quickly prioritize areas with the greatest damage. Chen’s first opportunity to test his research’s potential was in the aftermath of the 2019 tornado in Jefferson City, Missouri, through support from the Structural Extreme Events Reconnaissance (StEER) program of the National Science Foundation. In the days following the tornado, he and his team flew a drone over an apartment complex to collect images of the damage. He then processed the data and produced two images: one was an orthomosaic image — stitched together from multiple images — and the other was a digital surface model, showing the volume change of each structure. These final products were then fed to an AI-based model to determine the extent of the damage to each of the buildings in the apartment complex. In Jefferson City, Chen used only one drone, but during the 2017 total solar eclipse, he was able to test the use of multiple drones. Local law enforcement officers and emergency responders in St. Joseph, Missouri, had expressed concern over traffic congestion. With a group of about 20 residents and a total of 10 drones, Chen and his team collected images and funneled them to a single location for processing. Local officials received the final outputs on iPads and used the images to assess traffic throughout the day. “With this experience, we confirmed the notion of community-based, connected remote sensing where citizen scientists can participate in disaster response and provide key input to first responders,” he says. "When I first started this research, it was a very small field. However, the increased frequency and severity of natural disasters is attracting more people to this field." — Zhiqiang Chen, Ph.D. While it is exciting to see the potential of Chen’s research, there is one major obstacle to overcome. Aviation regulations require approval to fly in order to maintain safe and open airspaces for other aircraft like medical helicopters. Currently, there are not many ways for helicopters and other aircraft to identify a flying drone in their airspace. The new Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Remote Identification Program may soon resolve this issue, opening up the civilian market for use in projects like this. Another equally important challenge is the nature of disaster response in general. With so many social factors at work, the application may not be straightforward. Chen stated that at a certain point this research will have to become interdisciplinary in order to study social implications and how they affect implementation. “For me, the greatest success would be to see my research being used to make a difference and help people when they need it most,” Chen says. “The possibility that my research could someday become a regular part of disaster relief is what fuels my passion for this work.” Jul 20, 2020

  • Student Emergency Fund Success

    Support for emergency funding keeps more than 90 students afloat
    As the UMKC community began to feel the impact of COVID-19, individual donations to the Student Emergency Fund made a significant difference for students in need. From fellow students who started crowdfunding projects, to staff members and community donors, UMKC supporters contributed over $70,000 to the UMKC Student Emergency Fund to help students not only stay in school, but pay for housing, food, utilities and other emergency needs. “We recognize that the effects of COVID-19 are not only physical, but economic. We are grateful to those who were able to step up and lend a hand.” - Jenny Lundgren “Based on the demand, we were relieved to be able to provide critical assistance to our students in need,” said UMKC Provost Jenny Lundgren. “We recognize that the effects of COVID-19 are not only physical, but economic. We are grateful to those who were able to step up and lend a hand.” Victor is studying electrical and computer engineering. He believes having a college degree will provide a solid foundation for him to build a successful career. Emergency aid kept him on track for completing the academic year and building a brighter future.  “With this act of kindness, I am one step closer in achieving my educational and career goals,” he said. “I plan to always give back to the community as a professional and successful engineer.” Some students faced broader challenges than solely their academic ones. Denise is raising her children alone while pursuing her graduate degree. “I had fallen behind on everything,” she said. “I am ever grateful for the blessing that you have bestowed on me.” "We are grateful for those donors who support this fund at every level." - Lisa Baronio While the current crisis will eventually pass, the need for emergency funds will always exist. UMKC Foundation President Lisa Baronio is confident that the community will continue to support students on their paths to graduation. “We always make the distinction that our donors are supporting people who are working to improve their lives and our communities as a whole,” Baronio says. “But these emergency funds are critical to keeping students in school, and we will always have students for whom relatively small amounts can make the difference between graduating and not being able to continue their education due to small financial constraints. We are grateful for those donors who support this fund at every level.” UMKC Emergency Fund Availability The UMKC Foundation continues to accept donations to the UMKC Student Emergency Fund to assist students.   Donate for Students In Need  If you are a student who needs assistance, please access UMKC resources.  Student Emergency Resources  Jul 16, 2020

  • Upgrading Auto-pilot to Save-a-Pilot

    Researcher looks to computer modeling to enhance aviation safety
    Assistant professor Mujahid Abdulrahim’s passion for flying once led him to devise a way to commute to work in his personal plane. That passion also drives his research on helping pilots and passengers get home safely. Modeling the movements of aircraft is the backbone of his research at the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering. Abdulrahim’s specialty is in autonomous aircraft development, but he stresses that autonomy isn’t just drones – it is everywhere in aviation. He wants to take auto-pilot functionality to a new level, not to take flying away from pilots, but to make their safety net stronger.  “I don’t want to replace pilots with computers,” Abdulrahim says. “I love the idea of preserving everything that makes airplanes fun to fly, but I also love the idea of coming home to my children after every time I take to the air.“ A self-described “air safety geek,” Abdulrahim is working on a computer algorithm that would interpret the equations of motion for each individual aircraft with predetermined models on how it should be performing. At any given time, moving the elevator stick of an airplane results in a specific response, and this technology would try to determine whether the flight matched the expected motion for that specific aircraft. He’s also interested in the human element of these models. That’s why he’s looking to study how pilots learn and how they react to certain aviation situations. He’s especially interested in studying how pilots react when they’re at the edges of the flight envelope – the term “pushing the envelope” comes from testing the operating limits of an aircraft. Abdulrahim’s goal is to incorporate pilot behavior into these models, to help indicate when the pilot could use assistance. He compares this supervisory system to lane-change warnings in modern automobiles: to detect an irregular driving pattern and let the driver know. One area that will play a big part in this supervisory system is something called “task saturation.” According to Abdulrahim, it’s a concept that’s not limited to pilots. “If you’re taking notes and someone asks you to solve a math question while also jumping on one foot and reciting the alphabet – you’ll eventually hit your task saturation point,” he says. “From there you’ll stop receiving inputs and only focus on one thing at a time, and you probably aren’t going to do that one thing very well.” In aviation, this can happen to any size of aircraft, but is more common when pilots of small airplanes fly into bad weather. For example, a pilot can be talking to air traffic control while scanning for other aircraft, with limited visibility and high winds affecting air speed – suddenly that pilot has hit saturation. With Abdulrahim’s supervisory system, a model can be built to monitor the flying skills a pilot shows as they fly – how well they hold airspeed, how well they hold altitude. If those skills suddenly take a turn for the worse, the system can intervene to improve safety. Abdulrahim sees far-reaching potential for his modeling technology. He’s looking at replacing or enhancing aircrafts’ airspeed sensor – the only aircraft sensor exposed to the elements and thus more susceptible to being corrupted mid-flight. There are also ridesharing companies looking at autonomous aviation as the future of people transport. Abdulrahim is looking at how his models could help make that a reality. His passion for flying will continue to drive his research into safer skies so everyone in flight – pilot and passenger – can keep coming home to their families. Jul 16, 2020

  • Economics Professor Writes Opinion Piece

    The Kansas City Star publishes an article by Linwood Tauheed
    Linwood Tauheed, UMKC associate professor of economics, recently had an article about policing published by The Kansas City Star. Jul 16, 2020

  • UMKC Health Equity Institute Works to Halt COVID-19 Pandemic in KC

    Charlie Keegan, KSHB, talked to Jannette Berkley-Patton and volunteers at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site
    The UMKC Health Equity Institute facilitated volunteer efforts at a recent drive-thru COVID-19 testing site. The institute is a group, which was formed four years ago, focused on identifying health care problems and offering solutions led by Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D.. Read Keegan's story about the testing site and the Health Equity Institute. Jul 16, 2020

  • PPE Sold in Campus Vending Machines

    Local media cover safety measures taken at UMKC.
      UMKC students, faculty and staff will be able to purchase personal protective equipment in campus vending machines this fall. Local media outlets talked to UMKC administrators about the offerings. Read more from KSHB.   Jul 15, 2020

  • What Does Defund the Police Mean?

    UMKC Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology Ken Novak provides insight to The Beacon
      In addition to violent crime, police officers are often the first responders to nonviolent incidents, like individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. Ken Novak, UMKC professor of criminal justice and criminology, was recently asked by The Beacon if police officers are in the best position to respond to somebody who's having a mental health crisis. Jul 15, 2020

  • UMKC Nursing and Health Studies Accredited for Another Decade

    The nursing school's programs continue to meet or exceed national standards.
    The UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies’ national accreditation has been renewed for 10 years, through June 2029. Joy Roberts, interim dean, said, "This full accreditation means that the school’s BSN, MSN, DNP and post-MSN certificate programs meet or exceed standards accepted by nursing education programs throughout the country. This gold standard of approval indicates the high quality of our nursing education." The school received the good news from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, a national accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The commission reviews undergraduate, graduate and residency programs in nursing under a voluntary, self-regulatory peer review. Jul 14, 2020

  • UMKC Statement on International Student Visa Issue

    Statement from University of Missouri-Kansas City Chancellor Mauli Agrawal and Provost Jenny Lundgren
    International students have long been an integral part of our campus community. They teach as well as learn, sharing information about their home countries and their cultural traditions. We welcome today’s news that puts their fears about visa issues and online courses to rest and look forward to continuing this rich and rewarding shared experience when we return to campus in August. Jul 14, 2020

  • Safety Modifications for Classrooms and Offices

    Shields and rearranged furniture are among the changes
    No surprise, but classrooms and offices will look slightly different this fall due to safety precautions because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We talked to Michael Graves, director of UMKC facilities operations, to find out about building modifications for in-person interactions. "We're following CDC guidelines to help keep our students, faculty and staff safe," Graves said. Classroom modifications Following those guidelines, UMKC is using 25 percent capacity in classroom spaces. To accomplish this, Graves' teams are moving furniture and taping off seats in auditoriums. “The goal is for each student to have a 6-foot perimeter,” Graves said. Faculty instructors in lecture spaces can wear clear face masks — vs. cloth masks — to promote more accessible learning. The transparent plastic material allows others to read lips and facial expressions more easily. Desk shields A desk at the School of Dentistry will have a shield to provide a barrier between patients and employees. For extra safeguarding on the Health Sciences and Volker campuses, front desks and counters that don’t provide enough physical distancing will have plexi shields. If you’ve been to the grocery store recently, you’ve probably seen shields in the checkout aisle as a barrier between cashiers and customers. Office precautions Departments throughout UMKC are making sure staff are sufficiently distanced from others. For example, Graves' team is building clear desk shields in between cubicles that are not 6 feet from others. Common spaces Floor markers are being added to areas where lines form to help remind everyone to keep a 6-foot distance from others. And seating is being separated 6 feet away from other seating. Ventilation During depopulation, all HVAC systems continued to operate at reduced levels to maintain adequate air quality and prevent adverse environmental conditions. An increased amount of fresh air has been introduced into spaces. All buildings have now experienced multiple air changes. Appropriate filters are being utilized based on each system’s design specifications and are being maintained regularly to provide continual air filtration.  UMKC buildings are designed to meet building code ventilation requirements, based on ASHRAE standards. Those standards include a set number of air changes per hour (ACH). All of those rates are calculated to provide good air quality for the maximum total occupancy allowed in the space. Since spaces are rarely filled to maximum occupancy, the buildings are almost always over ventilated during normal operations. In addition, our Energy Group will continue introducing as much additional fresh air into those air changes as is practical, based on each system’s capabilities, outside air conditions, and financial stewardship. School of Dentistry Clinic Scheduling has changed to shorten wait times and reduce patient loads in the waiting area, where easily disinfected and well-spaced plastic chairs have replaced cloth-covered ones.  In the clinic, 30 aerosol suctioning units are being added to quickly remove water droplets a patient expels during dental or hygiene work. A bipolar ionization filtration system, which kills viruses, has been added to the heating and air-conditioning system. Jul 13, 2020

  • Asthma Sufferers May Breathe Easier

    UMKC researchers are working on the technology behind a noninvasive device that would monitor for symptoms
    Professor Masud Chowdhury, Ph.D., and his postdoctoral fellow, Mahrukh Khan, Ph.D., are in the beginning phases of developing a new approach that would detect the severity of asthma at different stages without subjecting patients to invasive measures. Their work is somewhat personal. Chowdhury has a child with asthma and has experienced the anxiety of identifying and treating asthma attacks. Khan went through the difficulty of trying to diagnose a young child with a persistent cough. “My son suffered from the time he was a year old until he was four. My daughter, who is five years old, had to go to the emergency room twice last year,” Chowdhury says. “Now I know firsthand the severity of the condition. We carry two types of nebulizers.” Khan has experienced similar challenges. “My daughter was having problems breathing when she was very young,” Khan says. “Her daycare teacher mentioned that asthma was very common here in Kansas City and that may be the cause. It was so alarming for me. I did a lot of research.” Asthma is a chronic condition that inflames and narrows the airways of the lungs. This narrowing creates symptoms such as shortness of breath, a persistent cough and a feeling of tightness in the chest. Some people can easily manage their asthma, but it can be extremely serious for others. Every day ten Americans die from asthma, and many of these deaths are preventable with treatment. Adults generally monitor their own breathing, and when situations escalate can use a nebulizer — or inhaler — to deliver medication directly to the lungs. Monitoring children with asthma can be a particularly stressful responsibility, as children don’t always recognize symptoms until they escalate. “This can be a big hurdle in monitoring, because parents cannot always determine if children need to be taken to the hospital or treated,” Khan says. “If we develop a low-profile wireless monitoring device, we can improve the accuracy of monitoring and help parents and other caregivers make better decisions.” Currently, people with asthma monitor symptoms with a peak flow meter. The device looks like a kazoo, with a gauge that measures how well air is flowing. To achieve an accurate reading, the patient needs to close their lips tightly around the mouthpiece, keep their tongue away from the opening and blow as hard as possible. That physical maneuvering is often difficult with young children and older adults. Detection of an impending attack can be tricky — sometimes even for doctors. A wireless system could relieve the asthma sufferer and their caregivers from being in a constant state of alert. It could also send notifications to patients, caregivers and health- care providers in real time. “If a child or older person is having an asthma attack away from caregivers, we can integrate a warning system they can use within the monitor,” Chowdhury says. “It could be programmed to notify the doctor and the family if the patient is unable to respond.” The research is focused on detecting the concentration of mucus and water content in the lungs and bronchial system. To make the system effective, Khan and Chowdhury would need to expose the device to existing information so it can “learn.” “We would have to train the system with microwave images of healthy lungs and bronchial systems and then images of different levels of asthma so that it can recognize the severity of the condition,” Chowdhury says. This data collection may not be as far-fetched as it seems. The technology has been in use in the medical field for years and is currently in place for monitoring blood glucose without collecting blood samples through needle pricks. Kahn is also developing electromagnetic wave-based technology that can be used for detection of breast cancer. The doctors view this as a long-term project because of the prototype development. The initial phase — collecting data, testing information-gathering methods and developing and testing the resulting device — will take a few years, but Kahn and Chowdhury are dedicated to its completion, both professionally and personally. “When you witness an asthma attack firsthand, it’s very scary — especially if it’s a young child,” Chowdhury says. “We are hoping to use this evolving technology to identify reliable early detection so patients can receive early and effective treatment. This will provide peace of mind for asthma sufferers and their caregivers.” Jul 13, 2020

  • The Future of Stormwater Management Runs Through Kansas City

    UMKC School of Computing and Engineering Professor John Kevern tells Medium about his stormwater research
    John Kevern, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, is the inaugural director of the new Center for Urban Stormwater Research. The center is a research consortium focused on tackling urban flooding in Kansas City. Read the full article in Medium.     Jul 13, 2020

  • School of Medicine Dean Answers Coronavirus Questions

    Mary Anne Jackson was a guest on KCUR's Up to Date
    Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., has been providing expert advice on coronavirus and COVID-19. Most recently, Jackson participated in a Q&A session with KCUR. You can listen to the full interview on KCUR. Jul 10, 2020

  • UMKC Institute for Data Education, Analytics and Science Results Featured by Local Media

    The Kansas City Star, KMBC, The Pitch produced stories about the data analysis conducted by the new institute
    The coordinator of the new institute, Brent Never, associate professor at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management, conducted an analysis of the recipients of the Paycheck Protection Program loans tied to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Read more from The Kansas City Star, KMBC and The Pitch. Jul 10, 2020

  • Recent Grad Helps Mayor Engage Latinx Community

    Aly Hernandez's background sparked her passion for public service
    Prior to joining Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas’ office, UMKC Honors College graduate Aly Hernandez (B.A. ’19) worked on his election campaign as well as efforts for U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II and the Jorge Flores campaign for Wyandotte County Commissioner. Aly Hernandez(B.A. '19 with University Honors) Now, as external affairs manager, she is helping connect Mayor Lucas with the Latino community. “Aly is a vital member of the Mayor’s Office, bringing to work each day her creative ideas, passion for change and positive mentality. Never does Aly forget why she chose a career in public service—which is to increase opportunities for the community she’s from. Aly has been an important liaison between my office and the Latinx community throughout Kansas City, especially during this uncertain period of COVID-19, and we appreciate her tremendously,” said Mayor Quinton Lucas. We spoke with Hernandez recently about her role in city government, her love of learning new languages, and what fuels her passion. Tell us about your role in Mayor Lucas’ office. I assist the Mayor by providing recommendations for city boards and commissions, brief him on current events and information prior to events and meetings, create social media posts and act as our onsite field coordinator for various community and office events. Recently, I began acting as our communications liaison with local Spanish media and have translated various interviews, speeches, and statements for Mayor Lucas. How do you keep the Latinx community engaged with the Mayor and vice versa? COVID-19 is a great example of how we have kept our community engaged with the Mayor and vice versa. Our office has continued to provide Spanish language translations for our Spanish-speaking community almost immediately as it has been shared. We’ve kept a weekly Spanish radio spot and have been increasing Spanish interviews for the Mayor. I’ve also increased the number of Latino community events he attends and panels and townhalls he participates in. What is VozKC? Why is it important? I am a member and co-founder of the organization Voz Kansas City. We are a new Latinx Organization advocating for and advancing the role the Latinx community plays in the community and within politics. Our goal is to support political candidates whose interests align with ours and increase the number of Latinx candidates in our elections. We also support equity education initiatives and are heavily focused on the immigration debate in our country.  VozKC is important because the Latinx community is the largest growing electorate, meaning that our voting potential and voting power will continue to grow in the years to come. Thus, it is crucial to have organizations like VozKC to work on Get Out The Vote campaigns and be involved in the policy making process. It is also important to have representation in all political offices “I want to help people in the way my family would have wanted to be helped when we first moved to the city.” —Aly Hernandez, B.A. '19 Have you attended any of the Black Lives Matter protests with Mayor Lucas? Do you brief him on the events? Has there been any policy instituted as a result?  I have attended Black Lives Matter Protests with and without the Mayor. I keep him up-to-date on any major things that may arise, but I am also there as a supporter for BLM. The Mayor is currently working on a few initiatives that resulted from the protests such as introducing an ordinance directing the City Manager to examine any city ordinances that have negative racial/bias language and directly affect people of color along with working with the Board of Police Commissioners and forming the Public Safety Study Group.  What are the challenges of your job? The benefits? The most challenging part of my job would be how quickly your day can change. Sometimes we go into the office with an idea of our plan for the day and then something changes which impacts our entire day. We just have to be comfortable with never knowing what each day might bring. The most rewarding part of the job would be how fast or quickly something can get passed by the council and almost immediately help people. It’s amazing how much non-partisan local governments can do without polarizing political views interfering with day-to-day Mayor and Council operations. Aly Hernandez, left, with U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II at a previous fundraising event. Where does your interest in politics and public service stem from? My interest in politics and public service has to come from seeing my family, friends, and neighbors live difficult lives. My parents and I are immigrants. I grew up undocumented in the northeast part of the city and am a product of public schools. I grew up hearing my classmates say that college wasn’t even in their minds, much less graduation. I’ve seen, and experienced myself, how families who have homes often struggle just to pay their utilities or struggle to provide basic services for their families. I want to help people in the way my family would have wanted to be helped when we first moved to the city.  What advice do you have for students who want to pursue a career in politics or public service? Sometimes change doesn’t happen immediately. It can take a long time, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t any less worthwhile to continue the effort. Patience is important in this field, but the relief in seeing the project through is like no other. “Sometimes change doesn’t happen immediately. It can take a long time, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t any less worthwhile to continue the effort.” —Aly Hernandez, B.A. ’19 What brought you to UMKC? I knew I wanted to be close to home and within a city that could provide me with many internship opportunities and scholarships. I found that at UMKC, and I also found my niche there as well. I think UMKC was big enough for me to get the large university experience, but small enough where I could get to know my professors and be involved on campus. Why did you choose your majors of criminal justice and French? I knew I wanted to get into politics and Criminal Justice fit perfectly with what I wanted to do. By focusing on crime, I’m able to apply those skills here in the office as needed as well. I’m currently getting a master of public administration in urban policy and my background in criminal justice helps me understand policy making and research that my professors often discuss in our classes. I also love learning languages, and French was always something I wanted to take when I was in high school but was never able to take since they only offered Spanish. I hope to learn another language soon. What is something you learned about yourself at UMKC? I learned that I should take care of myself as much as I am determined to help others. I never really paid much attention to self-care until I went to UMKC. I appreciate all the efforts they made to help us relax and have fun apart from just studying all day. Self-care really stuck with me even after undergrad. Why did you and your family come to the United States? My mom left Mexico to give us a better opportunity in life. She grew up poor and wanted more opportunities for my sister and I. She left her life behind and crossed the border like millions of others did to join my grandparents in Texas. She didn’t see her mother for 17 years until she received her green card. She made a huge sacrifice, and I will always be appreciative of it. Jul 09, 2020

  • Tackling Racism in the Workforce

    Panelists call for action on multiple fronts to drive change
    How do we drive change to address systemic racism in the workplace? Use your voice, use your vote and use your purchasing power. That was one of the primary messages emerging from the first of a series of “Critical Conversations” panel discussions sponsored by Chancellor Mauli Agrawal of the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the university’s Division of Diversity and Inclusion. Panelists discussed how racism – often unconscious but no less real – remains pervasive in the American workplace, despite years of training programs and volumes of legislation. In order to continue the anti-racist momentum arising in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, panelists said people of color, and their white allies, must use multiple avenues of leverage to drive ongoing awareness and action. More than 600 people tuned in. Participating panelists included: Gary O'Bannon (Moderator), Executive in Residence, Henry W. Bloch School of Management and former Director of Human Resources, City of Kansas City, Mo.  Clyde McQueen, President and Chief Executive Officer, Full Employment Council Uzo Nwonwu, Corporate Legal Counsel, UMB Bank Jeffrey J. Simon, Office Managing Partner, Husch Blackwell LLP A'yanna Tomlin, UMKC student, studying Business Administration  Racism in the workplace is rarely overt or obvious, Nwonwu said, and it is often sanctioned by “facially neutral” language: a policy or standard that does not mention race, but has the net effect of favoring white people and exploiting disadvantages that are more prevalent or powerful among people of color. Simon said an example would be a standard that favors the connections that white males have to power structure networks, such as minimum revenue generation standards for partnerships in a law firm. It can also be subtle, McQueen said. When people of color are not acknowledged or recognized in group interaction, they sometimes lose confidence and become withdrawn. “They take themselves out of the game,” he said. Tomlin said people of color often feel pressured to practice “respectability politics” in the workplace: “Putting on an act, a face, to make the other people in the room more comfortable.” Government and business policies also play a powerful role in workplace racism, panelists agreed. Those policies, for example, drive many of the best job opportunities well outside of the urban core, out of reach of underfunded public transit systems that people of color depend on. Too often, workplace diversity programming is a check-the-box exercise with little impact on entrenched company culture. Panelist offered several strategies for moving past that barrier. McQueen said organizations must commit to monitoring progress and reporting improvement – or the lack thereof – in an honest and transparent manner. “Build cultural competency into job descriptions and performance reviews,” he said. “If you’re not getting it done in-house, you need to bring in an outside expert,” Nwonwu said. “Outside forces can infuse new ideas into the conversation but change has to come from inside.” When progress fails to happen, Nwonwu said, people have to decide to either confront it, or look for better opportunities elsewhere. Simon said that applies not just to those who experience workplace racism, but also those who witness it. People of color cannot bear the burden alone, “The white power structure that built the structure of systemic racism has to be a part of tearing it down,” he said. ”It takes leadership, and a sincere, heartfelt belief that it’s part of who we are and what we believe in. And to have the courage to look at ourselves and say, here is where we are not doing a good job.” Tomlin said companies need deeds to match their words. “A lot of these companies issued statements of solidarity with Black Lives Matter, but then I look at their all-white executive board. You have to practice what you preach.” McQueen urged people to do the research they need to use their power of the purse effectively, doing business with organizations that have demonstrated a genuine commitment to addressing systemic racism. That applies to both personal consumption and business relationships within their organizations. “Use your voice, use your vote and use your purchasing power,” he said. Jul 09, 2020

  • UMKC Analysis Finds Few Pandemic Loans Went to Women, Minorities

    Fox4KC interviewed Brent Never about his analysis of federal data on the Paycheck Protection Program
      Brent Never, coordinator of the new UMKC Institute for Data Education, Analytics and Science, conducted an analysis of the Paycheck Protection Program loans. The analysis and found only 341 of 4,677 went to minority- or women-owned firms. Read the full story from Fox4KC. Jul 09, 2020

  • UMKC Data Analysis: Federal COVID Loan Program Eluded Minorities, Women in KC

    Only 341 of 4,677 Paycheck Protection Program loans went to minority- or women-owned firms
    A $650 billion federal loan program created to address the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic failed to reach large numbers of women, Black, Hispanic or Asian people in the Kansas City region, according to an analysis by the new UMKC Institute for Data Education, Analytics and Science (IDEAS). The coordinator of the new institute is Brent Never, associate professor at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. Never conducted an analysis after the Small Business Administration on Monday released information about the recipients of the Paycheck Protection Program loans tied to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Never’s analysis found that the program made 4,677 loans of $150,000 or more in the Kansas City region to small businesses or 501(c)(3) public charities with up to 500 employees. Of those loans: 24 went to African American/Black-owned firms; 34 went to Hispanic-owned firms; 33 went to Asian-owned firms; 250 went to women-owned firms. The vision for IDEAS is positioning UMKC as the top option for data science training in the region, building on the university’s strengths in biomedical informatics, big data analytics, image analysis, digital humanities and geospatial analysis. Jul 08, 2020

  • Beams of Light to Treat Diabetes: UMKC Invention Gets Federal Funding Boost

    Pharmacy researcher awarded $1.5 million NIH grant to refine innovation
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy has been awarded a $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue work on an important advancement to help treat the tens of millions of people who have diabetes. The lifetime burden of constantly checking blood sugar and injecting insulin is significant. UMKC research has developed a way of delivering insulin to diabetics that eliminates pumps and most injections. “We’re aiming to improve the lives of diabetics all over the world,” said UMKC pharmacy professor Simon Friedman, the principal investigator on the grant. Normally, diabetics must inject themselves with insulin numerous times per day to enable the body to absorb blood sugar. The amount of insulin needed and timing vary with what an individual eats and their activity level. With blood glucose continuously varying, the insulin requirement parallels the amount of glucose in the blood. The only clinically-used method to permit continuously variable delivery of therapeutic proteins like insulin is a pump. But they do so at a high cost:  a physical connection to the outside of the patient, where the drug reservoir resides, and the inside of the patient, where drug absorption will ultimately take place. This connection in insulin pumps is a cannula — or needle — which can be dislodged, crimped, snagged, infected and most importantly, rapidly gets biofouled from moisture after implantation. This leads to variable and unpredictable delivery.  For several years, Friedman and his lab associates have been developing a method in which a single injection of a material called a PAD (photo-activated depot) can take the place of multiple normal insulin injections and allow for minute-by-minute automatic updating of insulin release. The material is injected into the skin like insulin, but lies dormant until a beam of light stimulates release of insulin, in response to blood sugar information. The new grant will help make the technology more reliable for someone to use and easier to manage.  “With the improvements, we anticipate creating a new and revolutionary approach to continuously variable protein delivery, one that minimizes invasiveness and maximizes the close matching of therapeutic with patient requirements,” Friedman said. Karen Kover, associate professor of pediatrics at the UMKC School of Medicine and Children’s Mercy, has been an integral member of the research team for years, and Friedman is grateful for her collaboration. Reviewers of the grant application praised the work, and Friedman, who has won previous NIH funding, said this was his highest rated grant award. “We are grateful for the enthusiastic response from the NIH study section, given the very competitive nature of funding at this time during the pandemic,” said UMKC Vice Chancellor for Research Chris Liu. The project is supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the NIH. In people with type 1 diabetes, the pancreas no longer makes insulin. Patients need insulin to process sugar from meals. People with type 2 diabetes make insulin, but their bodies don’t respond well to it. At first the pancreas produces extra insulin to make up for it. But over time it isn’t able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep blood sugar at normal levels. About 34.2 million children and adults in the U.S. — 10.5% of the population — have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 25 percent use insulin shots. About 86 million people ages 20 and older in the U.S. have prediabetes. Complications from diabetes include heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, nervous system damage and amputation. People with diabetes risk more serious complications from COVID-19 than others who do not have the disease. “Through research at UMKC, we strive to improve the health of not just our community but our entire population,” said Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “We are proud of Dr. Friedman and his team’s innovation, which could significantly benefit people around the world.” Jul 08, 2020

  • Cameron High School Graduate Named UMKC Trustees' Scholar

    Kansas City's university awards seven for 2020
    Aubrey Brown, a spring 2020 Cameron High School graduate, has been named a University of Missouri-Kansas City Trustees’ Scholar.  When Brown begins business administration studies at UMKC in the fall, she will receive a scholarship valued at $60,000 over four years. Her award is supported by the UMKC Board of Trustees, the founder of the scholarship program. An annual member of the Principal’s Honor Roll and academic letter recipient, Brown was president of National Honor Society, vice president of DECA, co-captain of the pom squad, president of the chamber choir and member of the drama club. She was also a member of the Northwest Missouri All-District Choir and volunteered with Meals on Wheels through the Cameron Regional Hospital. Brown consistently played lead roles in school theater productions, received the Rising Star award for her involvement in arts at school and was named Best Female Vocalist in the Cameron High School choir two years in a row. Brown won first place in the Northwest Missouri District 1 Hospitality and Tourism Operations Research DECA competition. In the essay submitted to the Trustees’ Scholars selection committee, Brown shares why she plans to pursue a degree in business and marketing. “I love all of the opportunities the marketing field offers for creativity and variety; you have the potential to be doing something new and imaginative every day. I enjoy getting to organize and design fun flyers and videos for events. Through projects I have done for DECA, I have made a few flyers with online programs. I have even made a flyer for a girl who organized a fashion show for our community last summer.” The Trustees’ Scholarship provides educational fees and on-campus room and board for the first two years. In the third and fourth years, the package provides educational fees and $2,000 for room and board. Each Trustees’ Scholar also receives $500 toward books each year. To qualify as Trustees’ Scholars, students must meet at least two of the following three criteria: score a minimum ACT Composite of 30, rank in the top five percent of the graduating class, or have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or more in a 17-class core curriculum. Trustees’ Scholars must enroll full-time, be seeking an undergraduate degree and commit to living on campus for the first two years. The UMKC Trustees’ Scholars Program is unique in that it aligns students closely with corporate sponsors, who give students access to their professional knowledge and experience, insight into the inner workings of the company or institution they represent, and a strong mentor relationship throughout the college experience. Students have opportunities to network and find internships or jobs through the Trustees and their connections in the community. The UMKC Board of Trustees is a non-profit organization established by civic and community leaders to support the University. Members advocate on the University's behalf, provide community feedback and forge partnerships to help the University achieve its strategic priorities and financial objectives. Jul 07, 2020

  • Joplin High School Graduate Named UMKC Trustees' Scholar

    Kansas City's university awards seven for 2020
    Lily Dang, a spring 2020 Joplin High School graduate, has been named a University of Missouri-Kansas City Trustees’ Scholar.  When Dang begins biology studies at UMKC in the fall, she will receive a scholarship valued at $60,000 over four years. Her award is supported by the UMKC Board of Trustees, the founder of the scholarship program. Active in the Future Business Leaders of America, Dang was vice president of membership and a senior representative in addition to being a member of student council and Key Club. She volunteered at St. Peter’s Outreach House preparing and serving food to the hungry and held the position of secretary with Messengers of Christ, a group responsible for educating youth about faith and their Vietnamese heritage. During her final two years at Joplin High School, Dang was a member of the National Honor Society, National English Honor Society and National Technical Honor Society. In the essay submitted to the Trustees’ Scholars selection committee, Dang explains why she wants to pursue a career in medicine. “Growing up, I’ve always been so curious about why and how things work. When it comes to understanding life, especially the human body, it makes my heart skip a beat. There are so many questions that I ponder about. Why is life the way it is? Why are people the way they are? All these thoughts fascinate me.” The Trustees’ Scholarship provides educational fees and on-campus room and board for the first two years. In the third and fourth years, the package provides educational fees and $2,000 for room and board. Each Trustees’ Scholar also receives $500 toward books each year. To qualify as Trustees’ Scholars, students must meet at least two of the following three criteria: score a minimum ACT Composite of 30, rank in the top five percent of the graduating class, or have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or more in a 17-class core curriculum. Trustees’ Scholars must enroll full-time, be seeking an undergraduate degree and commit to living on campus for the first two years. The UMKC Trustees’ Scholars Program is unique in that it aligns students closely with corporate sponsors, who give students access to their professional knowledge and experience, insight into the inner workings of the company or institution they represent, and a strong mentor relationship throughout the college experience. Students have opportunities to network and find internships or jobs through the Trustees and their connections in the community.  The UMKC Board of Trustees is a non-profit organization established by civic and community leaders to support the University. Members advocate on the University's behalf, provide community feedback and forge partnerships to help the University achieve its strategic priorities and financial objectives. Jul 07, 2020

  • Olathe South High School Graduate Named UMKC Trustees' Scholar

    Kansas City's university awards seven for 2020
    Whitney Schweiger, a spring 2020 Olathe South High School graduate, has been named a University of Missouri-Kansas City Trustees’ Scholar. When Schweiger begins music education studies at UMKC in the fall, she will receive a scholarship valued at $60,000 over four years. Her award is supported by the UMKC Board of Trustees, the founder of the scholarship program. A Kansas Honor Scholar, Schweiger was a member of the National Honor Society, Fountain City Youth Brass Band and Tri-M Music Honor Society. She was a drum major of the Olathe South Band, received the Terry James Social Science Award and was also a nominee for the Wellesley College Book Award. Schweiger served as president of United Sound, a club that teaches students with special needs how to play an instrument, and volunteered with Harvesters and as a writing center tutor at Olathe South. In the essay submitted to the Trustees’ Scholars selection committee, Schweiger explains the importance of leadership.  “Leadership has taught me how to connect with others, work as a team, and make decisions for the good of a whole. These lessons are important to all people in everyday life, which is why I believe that it is important for everybody to know how to be a leader.” The Trustees’ Scholarship provides educational fees and on-campus room and board for the first two years. In the third and fourth years, the package provides educational fees and $2,000 for room and board. Each Trustees’ Scholar also receives $500 toward books each year. To qualify as Trustees’ Scholars, students must meet at least two of the following three criteria: score a minimum ACT Composite of 30, rank in the top five percent of the graduating class, or have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or more in a 17-class core curriculum. Trustees’ Scholars must enroll full-time, be seeking an undergraduate degree and commit to living on campus for the first two years. The UMKC Trustees’ Scholars Program is unique in that it aligns students closely with corporate sponsors, who give students access to their professional knowledge and experience, insight into the inner workings of the company or institution they represent, and a strong mentor relationship throughout the college experience. Students have opportunities to network and find internships or jobs through the Trustees and their connections in the community. The UMKC Board of Trustees is a non-profit organization established by civic and community leaders to support the University. Members advocate on the University's behalf, provide community feedback and forge partnerships to help the University achieve its strategic priorities and financial objectives. Jul 07, 2020

  • Park Hill High School Graduate Named UMKC Trustees' Scholar

    Kansas City's university awards seven in 2020
    Grace Yu, a spring 2020 Park Hill High School graduate, has been named a University of Missouri-Kansas City Trustees’ Scholar. When Yu begins accounting studies at UMKC in the fall, she will receive a scholarship valued at $60,000 over four years. Her award is supported by the UMKC Board of Trustees, the founder of the scholarship program. Yu was a section leader in the marching band and as co-captain, led her team to the Varsity Tennis Co-Conference Championship title in 2019. Yu was an AP Scholar of Distinction at Park Hill High School and also graduated in 2017 from the Chinese School of Greater Kansas City where she placed first in a speech competition. In 2016, Yu’s piano performance earned high marks at the MSHSAA District Solo and Ensemble Festival and allowed her to advance to the state festival where she received the highest rating. Yu served on the leadership committee for the Trojan Mentors program at Park Hill, as a teaching assistant at the Chinese School of Greater Kansas City and traveled with the Youth Summer Mission Project to host Vacation Bible School on a Native American reservation in Arizona. Recently, she organized a book drive for Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City where she collected and donated 159 books for children in need. In the essay submitted to the Trustees’ Scholars selection committee, Yu shared her career goals. “I plan to pursue a master’s degree in accounting to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), followed by a Juris Doctorate degree to become a tax attorney. My interest in both these fields comes from how much I enjoy maximizing the use of my money, in my case, to contribute to a greater cause.” The Trustees’ Scholarship provides educational fees and on-campus room and board for the first two years. In the third and fourth years, the package provides educational fees and $2,000 for room and board. Each Trustees’ Scholar also receives $500 toward books each year. To qualify as Trustees’ Scholars, students must meet at least two of the following three criteria: score a minimum ACT Composite of 30, rank in the top five percent of the graduating class, or have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or more in a 17-class core curriculum. Trustees’ Scholars must enroll full-time, be seeking an undergraduate degree and commit to living on campus for the first two years. The UMKC Trustees’ Scholars Program is unique in that it aligns students closely with corporate sponsors, who give students access to their professional knowledge and experience, insight into the inner workings of the company or institution they represent, and a strong mentor relationship throughout the college experience. Students have opportunities to network and find internships or jobs through the Trustees and their connections in the community. The UMKC Board of Trustees is a non-profit organization established by civic and community leaders to support the University. Members advocate on the University's behalf, provide community feedback and forge partnerships to help the University achieve its strategic priorities and financial objectives. Jul 07, 2020

  • Clinton High School Graduate Named UMKC Trustees' Scholar

    Kansas City's university awards seven in 2020
    Madelyn Bremer, a spring 2020 Clinton High School graduate, has been named a University of Missouri-Kansas City Trustees’ Scholar. When Bremer begins political science studies at UMKC in the fall, she will receive a scholarship valued at $60,000 over four years. Her award is supported by the UMKC Board of Trustees, the founder of the scholarship program. In addition to academic excellence, Bremer held a variety of leadership positions in the Future Business Leaders of America, including chapter president and north central region vice president. She was the Student Council Senior Class president, the National Honor Society chapter secretary/treasurer, a student body delegate in the Student Activities Leadership Team and volunteered as a tutor as well as worked part-time at Cook Auction Company. In the essay submitted to the Trustees’ Scholars selection committee, Bremer shares why she plans to pursue a career in law after receiving her political science degree. “I believe the law is the base of our society, and I want to help people at its foundation. I know that I can best accomplish this as a human rights attorney, where I hope to work on cases that will improve the lives of the people around me. With this career, I can incorporate my passion for social justice and the skills I will gain to make an impact that matters.”  The Trustees’ Scholarship provides educational fees and on-campus room and board for the first two years. In the third and fourth years, the package provides educational fees and $2,000 for room and board. Each Trustees’ Scholar also receives $500 toward books each year. To qualify as Trustees’ Scholars, students must meet at least two of the following three criteria: score a minimum ACT Composite of 30, rank in the top five percent of the graduating class, or have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or more in a 17-class core curriculum. Trustees’ Scholars must enroll full-time, be seeking an undergraduate degree and commit to living on campus for the first two years. The UMKC Trustees’ Scholars Program is unique in that it aligns students closely with corporate sponsors, who give students access to their professional knowledge and experience, insight into the inner workings of the company or institution they represent, and a strong mentor relationship throughout the college experience. Students have opportunities to network and find internships or jobs through the Trustees and their connections in the community. The UMKC Board of Trustees is a non-profit organization established by civic and community leaders to support the University. Members advocate on the University's behalf, provide community feedback and forge partnerships to help the University achieve its strategic priorities and financial objectives. Jul 07, 2020

  • Ladue Horton Watkins High School Graduate Named UMKC Trustees' Scholar

    Kansas City's university awards seven in 2020
    Isabella del Cid, a spring 2020 Ladue Horton Watkins High School graduate, has been named a University of Missouri-Kansas City Trustees’ Scholar. When del Cid begins health sciences studies at UMKC in the fall, she will receive a scholarship valued at $60,000 over four years. Her award is supported by the UMKC Board of Trustees, the founder of the scholarship program. She was secretary of Health Occupations Students of America, vice president of the Make-A-Wish Club and co-captain of the volleyball team. A mainstay on the honor roll throughout high school, del Cid received the AP Scholar Award, Ram Pride Award and was a member of the National Honor Society. She was also named to the Ladue All-Academic Team for volleyball and received All-Conference honorable mentions in 2018-2019 and 2019-2020.  Del Cid volunteered with the Ladue Special Olympics tournaments and at St. Luke’s Hospital as a courier and served as a camp counselor at King’s Kids Camp. In the essay submitted to the Trustees’ Scholars selection committee, del Cid shares how being a camp counselor affirmed her passion for helping others.  “The servitude that I show at camp has grown in my daily life. I have an intense drive to help others, and that passion consequently boosts my confidence in my abilities. I’m able to lead people confidently by putting their needs first and helping them grow personally.” The Trustees’ Scholarship provides educational fees and on-campus room and board for the first two years. In the third and fourth years, the package provides educational fees and $2,000 for room and board. Each Trustees’ Scholar also receives $500 toward books each year. To qualify as Trustees’ Scholars, students must meet at least two of the following three criteria: score a minimum ACT Composite of 30, rank in the top five percent of the graduating class, or have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or more in a 17-class core curriculum. Trustees’ Scholars must enroll full-time, be seeking an undergraduate degree and commit to living on campus for the first two years. The UMKC Trustees’ Scholars Program is unique in that it aligns students closely with corporate sponsors, who give students access to their professional knowledge and experience, insight into the inner workings of the company or institution they represent, and a strong mentor relationship throughout the college experience. Students have opportunities to network and find internships or jobs through the Trustees and their connections in the community. The UMKC Board of Trustees is a non-profit organization established by civic and community leaders to support the University. Members advocate on the University's behalf, provide community feedback and forge partnerships to help the University achieve its strategic priorities and financial objectives. Jul 07, 2020

  • Ruskin High School Graduate Named UMKC Trustees' Scholar

    Kansas City's university awards seven in 2020
    Mouada Allan, a spring 2020 Ruskin High School graduate, has been named a University of Missouri-Kansas City Trustees’ Scholar.  When Allan begins biology studies at UMKC in the fall, she will receive a scholarship valued at $60,000 over four years. Her award is supported by the UMKC Board of Trustees, the founder of the scholarship program. Allan, who is already a Certified Nursing Assistant and plans to become a doctor, was co-president of the National Honor Society, vice-president of Health Occupations Students of America and served as a student representative on the Superintendent’s Council in addition to being captain of the soccer team. A mainstay on the honor roll throughout high school, Allan interned with the First Hand Foundation at Cerner and volunteered in the long-term care wing at Truman Medical Center during the summers of 2017 and 2018. In the essay submitted to the Trustees’ Scholars selection committee, Allan shares why she values tact in a leader. “As a Muslim female in the United States, I tend to receive many stares and comments from others who aren’t fully informed about Islam. Hence, I communicate with them tactfully to ensure that I can convey my opinion without offending the other person or their views … If tact wasn't used in situations like this, where two people have different viewpoints, then a dispute may break out. On the other hand, when tact is used, both sides can voice their views and opinions on the topic to understand each other peacefully.” The Trustees’ Scholarship provides educational fees and on-campus room and board for the first two years. In the third and fourth years, the package provides educational fees and $2,000 for room and board. Each Trustees’ Scholar also receives $500 toward books each year. To qualify as Trustees’ Scholars, students must meet at least two of the following three criteria: score a minimum ACT Composite of 30, rank in the top five percent of the graduating class, or have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or more in a 17-class core curriculum. Trustees’ Scholars must enroll full-time, be seeking an undergraduate degree and commit to living on campus for the first two years. The UMKC Trustees’ Scholars Program is unique in that it aligns students closely with corporate sponsors, who give students access to their professional knowledge and experience, insight into the inner workings of the company or institution they represent, and a strong mentor relationship throughout the college experience. Students have opportunities to network and find internships or jobs through the Trustees and their connections in the community. The UMKC Board of Trustees is a non-profit organization established by civic and community leaders to support the University. Members advocate on the University's behalf, provide community feedback and forge partnerships to help the University achieve its strategic priorities and financial objectives. Jul 07, 2020

  • Faculty Receive UM System President’s Awards

    The 2020 recipients include Richard Delaware and Sarah Pilgrim
    Each year, the highly competitive UM System President’s Awards recognize faculty who have made exceptional contributions in advancing the mission of the University. The awards are presented on behalf of President Mun Choi to faculty members across the four universities of the UM System. President’s Award recipients will be recognized at a Board of Curators meeting on their university campus, as well as at a faculty awards event hosted at their home institution. This year, two UMKC faculty, Richard Delaware and Sarah Pilgrim, were among the 13 awardees recognized across the UM System. President’s Award for Innovative Teaching Richard Delaware, Ph.D. Richard Delaware, Ph.D., Teaching Professor of Mathematics and Statistics, UMKC In Delaware’s own words: “We must encourage our students to reason actively, not blindly master mathematical tools, and to trust to their own innate originality. Mathematics is a quintessentially human endeavor.” Delaware teaches mathematics courses that integrate history, writing, immersion and active learning principles. His students have published dozens of expository mathematics publications and won numerous national and local writing awards. In his classes, students engage with the subject by working together on mathematical proofs and posting them on online learning platforms. He also has created YouTube-based courses that can supplement high school and college lectures. Importantly, his methods of educating middle school mathematics teaching majors inspire them to re-create empowering education experiences for their future students. Delaware’s innovative teaching encourages students to take ownership of their learning and apply creativity to all aspects of life. President’s Award for Intercampus Collaboration Sarah Pilgrim, Ph.D. Sarah Pilgrim, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, UMKC Ginny Ramseyer Winter, Ph.D., MU The Inter-Campus Collaboration Award recognizes faculty who engage in activities that foster collaboration across two or more universities of the University of Missouri System. At UMKC, Sarah Pilgrim, Ph.D., focuses on the sexual health and decision-making of adolescents in foster care. At MU, Ginny Ramseyer Winter, Ph.D., investigates body image and health disparities. She created the Center for Body Image Research & Policy with the help of MU colleagues; and faculty from other universities, including Pilgrim, are affiliated. The collaboration includes departmental affiliations with Psychology at Penn State Abington, Textile and Apparel Management at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Social Work at Washburn University, Social Work at the University of Arkansas, Public Health at the University of Missouri-Columbia and the College of Engineering at the University of Missouri-Columbia. The range of collaborators and their departments speaks to both Ramseyer Winter and Pilgrim’s dedication to interdisciplinary partnerships. Their work examines body image and sexual health among Missouri foster youth and utilizes mobile technology to provide foster parents with the knowledge and skills necessary to help decrease sexual health disparities. Importantly, this study would not be possible without intercampus collaboration. Ramseyer Winter and Pilgrim’s sincere desire to better the lives of underserved youth is energizing for all those involved. This collaborative project will go a long way to assisting the most vulnerable young Missourians by disseminating critical public health information. Jul 07, 2020

  • UMKC Researcher Tests Masks

    KSHB talked to Steven Siegel about his research on mask misconceptions
    Steve Siegel, senior research design engineer with the Department of Physics and Astronomy, told McKenzie Nelson that false information compelled him to conduct his own research on masks. Find out more by reading the story online. Jul 07, 2020

  • Scholarship Honors Renowned UMKC Professor

    Henry Frankel was admired for his research and personal connection
    The recent death of Henry R. Frankel, Ph.D., who was known as “Hank” to his friends, has left a void for those who knew him. Passionate and enthusiastic about his family, his research and his students during his 43-year career at UMKC, Frankel’s legacy will continue to enhance the university through a new scholarship. “Hank Frankel is the most accomplished and influential scholar the philosophy department at UMKC has ever had,” says Bruce Bubacz, Ph.D., Frankel’s friend and colleague. “His extraordinarily complete and extensive research into the controversy over the acceptance of continental drift and plate tectonics must be examined and understood by anyone who is studying that subject.” Frankel devoted much of his professional life to studying the theory of continental drift, which was initially received with skepticism. “Hank Frankel is the most accomplished and influential scholar the philosophy department at UMKC has ever had.” - Bruce Bubacz, Ph.D. “In 2012, Cambridge University Press published his four-volume work, ‘Continental Drift Controversy: Wegener and the Early Debate,’” Bubacz says. “It was the culmination of a distinguished 40-year research career and has brought recognition to our university among philosophers and historians of science as well as Earth scientists and physicists.” Frankel called the work a “romance,” referring to its emotion, imagination, heroism, mystery and adventure. The volumes are considered the definitive work on continental drift and plate tectonics in the field of Earth science. Bubacz notes that the verification that the continents were not stationary was revolutionary. “The plate tectonics revolution changed Earth science as profoundly as the Copernican revolution changed astronomy and the Darwinian revolution changed biology,” he says. Beyond Frankel’s groundbreaking work, he was a remarkable human being. Bubacz says that he was one of the first professors to “flip the classroom” by posting his notes online and devoting class time to discussion and debate. His family remembers that his passion for teaching and his excitement about science and philosophy were obvious to his students. "He could be loud and enthusiastic when teaching, walking back and forth in front of the class, talking excitedly.” - Johanna Comes, Frankel’s daughter “He could be loud and enthusiastic when teaching, walking back and forth in front of the class, talking excitedly,” says Johanna Comes, Frankel’s daughter. “It was as if he hoped that through his genuine excitement for the subject, his students would become genuinely excited for the material also. And his delight for teaching wasn’t just with college students. One year, he came to my grade school class to give a talk about basic logic. He brought logic workbooks for the kids and he worked through some problems with us. I don't know if he inspired any kids to become future philosophers, but it was cool that he took time to do that." Comes says that her father expected students to work hard, but he genuinely wanted them to succeed. She remembers that he committed himself to working with students who struggled with the subject matter as long as he could see they were trying. Her sister, Nora Frankel, agrees. “My dad always wanted his students to succeed,” she says. “I think his dedication to education was apparent in not only the way he treated his students, but also how he was an educator at home, both with me and my sister and his granddaughters.” Paula Frankel, Frankel’s wife of 50 years, witnessed his extra efforts to help students who were interested in undergraduate or graduate degrees in philosophy. She and her children are proud that the Henry R. Frankel Scholarship in philosophy will recognize his efforts. “In a way, this scholarship is just a continuation of that help,” she says. “I think he, and I know his family, are proud to have this established in his name.” Henry Frankel signed his correspondence, “Joy, Hank.” The Henry Frankel Scholarship in philosophy will continue the sentiment of his parting wish for future scholars in the field.   For more information about scholarships, please contact Financial Aid and Scholarships. Jul 06, 2020

  • Classical Music Is Back On the Radio In Kansas City for the First Time In Eight Years

    KCUR officially launches 91.9 Classical KC
    Kansas City has not had a classical music station since KXTR went off the air more than eight years ago. Classical KC will operate out of the same space at 4825 Troost in Kansas City, in a building owned by the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read more. Jul 06, 2020

  • UMKC School of Medicine Professor Dispels Mask Myth

    The Kansas City Star gets advice from Michael Moncure about the Kansas City COVID-19 mask orders and exemptions
    The Kansas City Star interviewed Michael Moncure about an internet myth that diabetics who wear a mask risk spiking their blood sugar. A Kansas City Star subscription is required to read the full article. Jul 06, 2020

  • Classical KC News Makes National, Local Headlines

    Media coverage includes Yahoo Finance
    KCUR public radio, the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a host of Kansas City’s charitable foundations are bringing classical radio to Kansas City. The announcement made local and national headlines including Yahoo Finance, Broadway World and The Kansas City Star.   Jul 06, 2020

  • UMKC Bloch School Professor Weighs In on Retention of Patrick Mahomes

    KCTV5 interviewed Brent Never
    Brent Never, Henry W. Bloch School of Management at UMKC associate professor, said the Chiefs aren’t the only people who should be excited to see this photo securing the champion quarterback as a Kansas City fixture for an additional ten years. Read more. Jul 06, 2020

  • Classical KC: A New Music Platform for Kansas City

    KCUR creates second radio station to provide 24/7 classical service
    At a time when we most need it, classical radio has returned to Kansas City. 91.9 Classical KC began broadcasting June 30 and is now operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The music service also can be streamed through a new website at classicalkc.org. The station is an enterprise of KCUR 89.3, Kansas City’s public radio station, which purchased the signal at 91.9 FM from William Jewell College in late June. KCUR is an editorially independent community service of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which holds its broadcasting license. Adding a second radio station to its portfolio fits well with KCUR’s history of supporting Kansas City’s rich arts culture, said Sarah Morris, interim general manager. “We see Classical KC as a cultural institution in the making,” Morris said. “Over time, we want the new station to be Kansas City’s ambassador for all things classical, and this is a fundamental step in that direction.” Morris pointed out that the purchase of the station would not have been possible without the generous support of several key funders in Kansas City. “We are supremely grateful to those wonderful funding partners who enthusiastically agreed to make initial investments in this vital project,” Morris said. For the past 20 years, Kansas City has been one of the few metropolitan areas of its size without a full-time classical music radio station. But, with the launch of the new music platform, KCUR intends to do more than simply play classical compositions. “Classical KC will not only be a major asset to our world-renowned UMKC Conservatory, but to our entire Kansas City community at a time when the spirit of music is needed more than ever.” - UMKC Chanellor Mauli Agrawal 91.9 Classical KC will be a local service with a focus on Kansas City, its arts institutions, its home-grown musicians, its audiences and its schools. The new station will act as an ambassador for the classical community and will partner with area arts organizations such as the UMKC Conservatory, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City and the Kansas City Symphony to promote their work. Danny Beckley, executive director of the Kansas City Symphony, said he looks forward to working with the staff at Classical KC to develop innovative ways to share classical music with as broad an audience as possible. “We must democratize this music just as the ‘foodie’ movement has democratized our cultural taste buds,” Beckley said. “If we could commit to a collaborative partnership unburdened by more traditional siloed models of radio and orchestra, I believe such an effort could be transformational for Kansas City’s appetite for classical music.” Even before the purchase of 91.9 FM, William Jewell College and KCUR have enjoyed a longtime relationship that has included collaborative events involving the college’s Harriman-Jewell performing arts series. The launch of the new station allows that partnership to continue to flourish, says Elizabeth MacLeod Walls, president of William Jewell College.  “William Jewell College has a proud history as a supporter of the arts, from helping grow aspiring performers on our campus to bringing the best artists to Kansas City through the Harriman-Jewell Series. We believe music inspires creative thought, and this new station is a valuable addition to our culturally rich city.” “We see Classical KC as a cultural institution in the making. Over time, we want the new station to be Kansas City’s ambassador for all things classical, and this is a fundamental step in that direction.” - KCUR Interim General Manager Sarah Morris Stephen Steigman, KCUR’s longtime chief of broadcast operations, will lead Classical KC as its director. Over the next three years, the new station plans to expand its dedicated staff, including announcers, a social media/digital editor, a membership director and a community outreach coordinator. Steigman reiterated the importance of bringing Classical KC to life at this time. “While concert stages are dark, we can help classical arts organizations and musicians remain in front of their audiences at a time when they need to be in front of their audiences,” he said. “I’m looking forward especially to working with Kansas City’s musicians and organizations to find innovative ways to reach audiences through the broadcast of small-scale performances, living room concerts, interactive interviews and the airing of great archival content,” Steigman said, adding that classicalkc.org will provide a choice platform from which to share the work of local performing arts organizations, including performances and works by UMKC Conservatory faculty and students. While most commercial classical stations in the country have gone out of business in the past two decades — including KXTR in Kansas City — classical music is flourishing on public radio. More than 11 million listeners in the U.S. tune in to classical music on 71 public radio stations nationwide. “While concert stages are dark, we can help classical arts organizations and musicians remain in front of their audiences at a time when they need to be in front of their audiences.” - Classical KC Director Stephen Steigman The new station will be operated by KCUR as a community service of the UMKC, and will reinforce the university’s long-standing commitment to the arts in Kansas City. Classical KC will be funded exclusively by private donors, partner marketing and a membership program modeled after the one that helps sustain KCUR. No state or tuition money will be involved in this enterprise, Morris said. Although the new station’s signal is located in Independence, Missouri, it will be run out of KCUR’s offices at UMKC. “We are thrilled by this new partnership and celebration of the arts,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “Classical KC will not only be a major asset to our world-renowned UMKC Conservatory, but to our entire Kansas City community at a time when the spirit of music is needed more than ever.” About KCUR KCUR 89.3 is a public radio service deeply rooted in the Kansas City metro area since 1957. It is the flagship NPR station in Kansas City, connecting people to ideas and to each other through news reporting, thoughtful conversation and vibrant expressions of arts and culture. The station serves the public by reporting on and sharing information about local governments, politics, education, health care, arts and culture through the voices of the people living those stories. It spotlights the creative works of artists, musicians and innovators who make the world and our community more vibrant. It brings people together through events intended to inspire and engage. The station is operated as an editorially independent community service of the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), which holds the station's broadcast license. The station broadcasts 24 hours a day in a 90-mile radius of Kansas City. Its audio stream, archived local programming and podcasts are available at kcur.org. The station leads three public media collaborations: Harvest Public Media, the Kansas News Service and America Amplified, a national project for the 2020 election year. Jul 05, 2020

  • Campus Vending Machines Sell Personal Protective Equipment

    All details considered in preparing for fall
    Under our new normal with COVID-19, no detail is too small to be considered when it comes to preparing for the safety of all on campus. Even the vending machines. This fall, there are two vending machines dedicated to personal protective equipment, commonly known as PPE. One will be at Royall Hall, near Einstein Brothers, on the Volker Campus. The other will be inside the Health Sciences Building on the Health Sciences Campus. “We are very fortunate to have a partnership with a local vending company that was fully prepared to address the personal safety and welfare of our students and the campus community during these unprecedented times,” said Jody Jeffries, manager of Student Union Operations and Student Auxiliary Services. The vending machines will offer: Ear-loop masks Hand sanitizer Disinfecting, antimicrobial wipes Disposable non-latex gloves Kits with a mix of items  Most items cost between $1 and $4 to keep them more affordable than what you’d buy in most stores, Jeffries said. Regular vending machines that sell snack items on both campuses also will be stocked with some PPE items. Jul 02, 2020

  • 'A Bridge to the Stars' Mentors Help Former Student

    Fox4KC highlights contributions made to Jayden Francois
      Three years ago, Jayden Francois joined the UMKC “A Bridge to the Stars” program. It aims to teach high school students in the urban core, or who are under-represented, about STEM. One month ago, Jayden’s father, was murdered after a protest near the Plaza. Now, faculty and student mentors in the Bridge to the Stars program are showing support to Jayden and are helping him reach for the stars. Read the story by Fox4KC. Jul 01, 2020

  • Michael Pritchett’s New Book Featured

    KCUR interviewed Pritchett about his novella "Tania the Revolutionary"
    Michael Pritchett’s new work of fiction is the third book for this University of Missouri-Kansas City associate professor of English. Read more from KCUR. Jun 30, 2020

  • Economics Associate Professor Co-Authors Article

    Scott Fullwiler co-writes article on fiscal deficits and central bank financing
      In the June 30 issue of The Business Times, UMKC Economics Associate Professor Scott Fullwiler addresses reasons to not fear fiscal deficits and central bank financing. Read the article. Jun 30, 2020

  • UMKC Launches Critical Conversations Series

    Town halls about systemic racism draw hundreds
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City Division of Diversity and Inclusion will hold a series of critical conversations addressing systemic racism in the United States. UMKC people are taking thoughtful action on campus and in our community to ensure lasting and comprehensive change through Roos Advocate for Community Change, a new campus-wide effort announced in June. The Critical Conversations are part of that initiative. The panel discussions will be in a Zoom town hall-format and will feature UMKC faculty, staff, students and volunteer leaders who represent the topic being discussed. The sessions are free, but pre-registration is required online. Recent incidents regarding the death of George Floyd have sparked a global movement that highlights the dysfunction that permeates most aspects of people’s lives. Regardless of race, every person is impacted by racism; however, overwhelmingly most have not engaged the topic head on. The goal of each discussion will be to enlighten, to educate and to explore the causes and potential cures for racism. Further, the university will strive to share actionable steps that can be used to improve racial interactions in the broader community.  ­­­­ Future topics include police reform, Blacks in higher education at primarily white institutions, addiction as a public health issue, racism in banking and racism in housing. The town hall sessions are open to UMKC faculty, staff, students, volunteer leaders, community partners and the community at-large. For more information, please email umkcchancellor@umkc.edu. Notes on Critical Conversations First session, July 8: Systemic Racism in the Workforce  Panelists include: Clyde McQueen, President and Chief Executive Officer, Full Employment Council; Uzo Nwonwu, Corporate Legal Counsel, UMB Bank; Jeffrey J. Simon, Office Managing Partner, Husch Blackwell LLP; A'yanna Tomlin, UMKC student, studying Business Administration; Gary O'Bannon (moderator), executive-in-residence, Henry W. Bloch School of Management and former Director of Human Resources, City of Kansas City, Mo.  Second session, July 30: The Future of Policing, Part 1 Panelists include: Jean Peters Baker, Jackson County prosecutor; Emanuel Cleaver III, senior pastor of St. James United Methodist Church; Damon Daniel, president of the AdHoc Group Against Crime; Toya Like, associate professor, UMKC Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology; Gary O'Bannon (co-moderator),executive-in-residence, Henry W. Bloch School of Management and former Director of Human Resources, City of Kansas City, Mo.; Jasmine Ward (co-moderator), third-year student at the UMKC School of Law. Third session, Aug. 27: The Future of Policing, Part 2 Panelists include: Gwendolyn Grant, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City; Ronald Lindsay, pastor of the Concord Fortress of Hope Church; Ken Novak, professor in the UMKC Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology; Deputy Chief Karl Oakman, Kansas City, Missouri Police; Gary O'Bannon (co-moderator), executive-in-residence, Henry W. Bloch School of Management; Cynthia L. Short, trial lawyer, mitigation specialist and sentencing advocate; Jasmine Ward (co-moderator) third-year student at the UMKC School of Law. Fourth session, Sept. 17: The Color of Money, Racism in Finance Panelists include: Ruben Alonso, president, AltCap; Victor Hammonds, director of small business banking, 1st National Bank of Omaha; Nathan Mauck, associate professor of finanace, Henry W. Bloch School of Management; Gary O'Bannon (co-moderator), executive-in-residence, Henry W. Bloch School of Management; Nick Richmond, president and CEO, Kansas City Credit Union; Lisa Uhrmacher (co-moderator), IoT and analytics practice lead, Atos.  Fifth session, Oct. 5: The Future of Policing in Kansas City, A Conversation with Mayor Quinton Lucas Participants include Mayor Quinton Lucas; Brandon Henderson, president of the UMKC Student Government Assocation; Ken Novak, professor in the UMKC Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology; Gary O'Bannon (moderator), executive-in-residence, Henry W. Bloch School of Management. Hosted by the UMKC Student Government Association. Sixth session, Oct. 7: A Dialogue Among Women of Color and White Women in Higher Education Panelists include: Karen Lee Ashcraft, professor, College of Media, Communication, and Information at University of Colorado Boulder; Karen L. Dace, vice chancellor, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; Lona Davenport (co-moderator), senior diversity program coordinator, UMKC Division of Diversity and Inclusion; Christine Grant, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, former associate dean of faculty advancement, North Carolina State University; Jennifer Laflam, professor and director of Center for Teaching and Learning at American River College; Tamica Lige (co-moderator), program coordinator, Students Training in Academia, Health, and Research (STAHR); Shani Barrax Moore, director of diversity and inclusion, University of North Texas; Julia Vargas, director, Center for Service Learning, Rockhurst University.   Jun 29, 2020

  • Political Science Professor Emeritus Quoted by National Media

    Max Skidmore was again tapped for commentary
    The Portland Press Herald recently reprinted a Washington Post article quoting UMKC Professor Emeritus Max Skidmore. Skidmore is the author of a book on presidential leadership during health crises.  Jun 27, 2020

  • Henry Bloch’s Legacy: Free Tuition to Aid Recovery from Pandemic Recession

    Local, national media outlets share details about the new scholarship
    The scholarship, announced on June 24, provides first-semester grad school tuition for adults hit by the COVID-19 recession. This story was picked up by more than 65 sources, including Business Insider, Yahoo Finance and The Kansas City Business Journal. Jun 26, 2020

  • School of Dentistry Nurse Served in NYC at Height of Pandemic

    Desire to help other nurses led her to the epicenter of COVID-19 cases
    What could cause a nurse to leave family and safety behind to work at a New York City hospital filled with COVID-19 patients, many of them destined to die on her watch? “I really wanted to help my fellow nurses,” said Hanna Bates-Crosby, RN, who works at the UMKC School of Dentistry and is trained as an emergency room nurse. “I went with my sister, who’s also a nurse, because we knew the nurses and doctors in New York were struggling, drowning in patients. I didn’t know how I could ethically not go and use my skills to help them.” Bates-Crosby and her sister, who is trained in intensive care, were among the first of thousands of nurses from across the country who went to New York to help. They arrived March 26, just after a week in which the number of COVID-19 patients in New York City had increased tenfold. “It truly was a war zone,” said Bates-Crosby, who worked the 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift for seven straight days at one of the hardest-hit hospitals in Queens. “A trauma bay designed for four patients would have eight or 10 patients in it, and one nurse, because that was all we had. Another room meant for a few heart attack patients would have a dozen COVID patients and two nurses.” On one of her shifts, 30 people died. “Those people who don’t believe they were loading bodies into semi-trailers need to believe it,” she said. “It happened.” Away from the emergency room, on the regular hospital floors, “it was still practically all COVID patients, and if someone came in with something else, within a couple of days they could have COVID. There was no way to separate and protect the non-COVID patients,” she said. “But we went in knowing it wasn’t going to be normal nursing. We were going to see a lot of death, and not be able to do much for many of the patients. It was hard, being there for a patient and sedating them and putting them on a ventilator, knowing the odds of them coming off were not good.” She remembered one patient in particular. Making a rectangle around her eyes with her hands, to represent her hospital mask and other protective gear, Bates-Crosby said, “Knowing my face, this much of my face, was probably going to be the last face he saw — that was hard.” “It was hard, being there for a patient and sedating them and putting them on a ventilator, knowing the odds of them coming off were not good.” Hanna Bates-Crosby But the difficult experiences were worth it, she said, to do what she could to support her colleagues. “One doctor asked me where I was from, because I sounded different,” she said. “She couldn’t believe I had come all the way from Kansas City to help them.” Since returning, she said, “I have dreams sometimes where I’m in that emergency room. And I’m a very auditory person, so for a while I would wake up and hear ventilator alarms going off. But I was only there a week, so I’m doing all right. I worry about the nurses who are still there, getting COVID or just being exhausted.” When she and her sister returned to Kansas City, they still had to quarantine in a motel for two weeks. “That was hard, too. My husband was really good about it, bringing food and clothes, but he said, ‘It’s like you’re back, but you’re not really back.’ ” When quarantine was over, she finished coursework that added a bachelor’s in nursing degree to her RN, and in August she will start classes toward becoming a nurse practitioner. Bates-Crosby also picks up shifts administering infusion therapy in people’s homes. But she’s most looking forward to working again at the School of Dentistry as its clinics reopen, she hopes in July. “I really miss the students,” Bates-Crosby said. “It will be good to be back.” Jun 25, 2020

  • Tenacity Pays Off for Bloch Student Who Landed a Competitive Internship

    New York investment firm adds UMKC student to its Ivy League lineup
    Eduardo Avendano, a rising senior in the Henry W. Bloch School of Management, is chasing a dream. “I want to achieve big things,” Avendano says. He is off to a good start. Avendano, who is majoring in business administration in finance, is a native of Brazil. Attending UMKC was the first step on the path toward a long-term goal. “I decided to come to the U.S. for college so I could chase my goal of building my career closer to the biggest players in the financial market.” Last fall, he interviewed with more than 30 companies in the United States for a summer internship. Avendano knew that the large New York-based firms usually hire interns from Ivy League colleges. He was undaunted. “I want to achieve big things.”- Eduardo Avendano “I understood that the easiest way for the firms to sort so many people applying for the same position was to separate people by school,” he says. “I had so many automated emails saying I did not get the job.” To change the outcome, he decided to change his approach. “Not only was I applying through the websites, I started cold calling, adding connections through LinkedIn and sending emails.” Using this method, he applied for 30 jobs and secured one interview at Ares Management Corporation. “Out of more than 3,000 applicants, 100 people were selected for a phone interview. I told my story and clinched the in-person interview in New York two weeks later.” Besides Avendano, four other candidates received an invitation to interview in person. “You can probably guess their backgrounds. Two were from Wharton [School of the University of Pennsylvania], one was from Brown University, one from Cornell University. And then there was me.” Avendano was not intimidated. “Even though there were more than 3,000 candidates, the moment I had the phone interview I knew would get the job.” He was able to visit the company before the escalation of the COVID-19 outbreak. The energy of New York City did not disappoint. “I stayed in a hotel overlooking Central Park. I love the energy of the city. When I looked down from the 42nd floor, I knew I was making the right decision." While the outbreak of COVID-19 has upset some of his plans, Avendano has remained positive even as he has been working at home in Kansas City. “It’s still very exciting,” he says. “We are supposed be in the office in the next few weeks.” "Even though there were more than 3,000 candidates, the moment I had the phone interview, I knew I would get the job." Avendano would encourage anyone with a similar dream to be as tenacious as he was. “I wanted to be where the best players in the market are. I knew some of the other candidates had more choices, but I knew I had the qualities to be as successful as they could.” He recommends being tenacious in the search, even if something seems like a long-shot. “It’s not an easy thing, but anyone can do it,” he says. “Just because you keep hearing ‘no’ doesn’t mean you’re not capable. You just better be prepared for the next ‘yes.’” Jun 25, 2020

  • Another Helping Hand from the Bloch Family: Free Tuition

    New scholarship provides first-semester grad school tuition for adults hit by COVID-19 recession
    Kansas City working professionals facing career setbacks due to the COVID-19-related recession can get a helping hand toward a fresh start, in the generous tradition of the late Henry W. Bloch: free fall tuition for the first semester for graduate school programs at his namesake school of management at UMKC. Henry Bloch never wavered in his support for Kansas City, or in championing the people of his hometown. Following his example, the UMKC Bloch School of Management and the Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation are helping Kansas Citians affected by COVID-19 begin the next step in their careers and lives. One of the first scholarship programs in the nation aimed specifically at working professionals suffering financial hardship due to the coronavirus recession, the Bloch Helping Hand Scholarship provides awardees free tuition for their first semester in a Bloch graduate program and immediate access to the Bloch School’s career and entrepreneurship resources.  “We know what Dad would do in this difficult time; he would seek out unique ways to help those most in need.” said his son, Tom Bloch, chairman of the Bloch Family Foundation. “With this program, the school that bears his name is honoring his generous spirit to help those who have suffered unprecedented hardship and uncertainty by providing a pathway forward and upward through education.” Helping Hand Scholarships are available to people living in the greater Kansas City designated market area who have suffered job loss, furloughs, or other financial hardships as a result of the pandemic. Applications are available at this link and must be submitted by August 1. “Support for working professionals who have experienced job loss or other financial hardships due to the coronavirus recession is a critical unmet need,” said Brian Klaas, dean of the Bloch School. “Providing scholarship support during these challenging times is a fitting legacy of Henry Bloch’s lifetime of leadership and service, and we are grateful to the Bloch Family Foundation for working to address an important need within this community.” The Bloch Helping Hand Scholarship is funded by grant from the Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation and is designed to help approximately 100 students restart their careers. The Henry W. Bloch School of Management, “Kansas City’s Business School,” emphasizes programs that link Bloch students and faculty with business partners throughout greater Kansas City. For students, these strong connections offer opportunities to learn from leaders in many of Kansas City’s most successful organizations. The Bloch School full menu of resources includes career coaches, entrepreneurship mentors, social media skills builders and deep connections to Kansas City’s business community, providing opportunities for internships, full-time jobs, mentoring and project-based learning. Apply for the scholarship Jun 24, 2020

  • Making a Difference in Women’s Global Health

    Physician mentor David John helps med student Faith Mueller toward her goal
    The heart of UMKC is our campus community. With lots of opportunities, it’s easy to develop mentorship teams. And these rich relationships — our Dynamic Duos — are some of our best success stories. Faith Mueller wants to become an obstetrician/gynecologist and change the world. David John, M.D., believes she will and is mentoring her on that path. When each talks about the other, it’s clear that their inspiration is mutual. “Early on, I became enveloped in the world of women’s liberation,” said Mueller, who is entering her last year of the UMKC School of Medicine’s six-year B.A./M.D. program. “I started reading stories of female genital mutilation, of sexual violence, of the pregnancy circumstances in areas of instability. These were stories that I could not shake, and I knew I had found my vocation.” Faith Mueller When she graduates, Mueller plans to find a role in women’s global health after serving her OB/GYN residency. John, a member of the six-year program’s original graduating class in 1977, had a long career in rheumatology in Hawaii and returned to UMKC three years ago to teach and mentor students as a docent, the teaching physician for a small “docent unit” of medical students. He and Mueller met when she joined his docent unit. “Our students are all bright and uniquely talented,” John said, “but it is rare to have a student like Faith Mueller. In addition to exceptional capabilities, Faith has the drive and the initiative, the passion, to do great things in her career. I hope to live long enough to see her early accomplishments to improve the health of women at a global level.” “Dr. John … approaches medicine with an empathy that is sustainable and rooted in ideas of equality. He stands for a world that is better for the people he serves.” — Faith Mueller Her drive to get started in medicine as soon as possible led Mueller to UMKC, where she could get her M.D. two years sooner than at other universities. But in John, who as a young man envisioned being a professor of English literature, she found a mentor who also emphasized the humanities and appreciated her desire to help others. “Dr. John is unwaveringly kind and takes the effort to see the humanity in everyone, no matter how they come to him,” Mueller said. “He approaches medicine with an empathy that is sustainable and rooted in ideas of equality. He stands for a world that is better for the people he serves.” David John Her mentor’s personality and commitment also make learning medicine less daunting. “I know I can always ask questions, whether about patient care, navigating the medical field, or life in general,” Mueller said. In turn, John said, Mueller and his other students have inspired and renewed him. “I had become intellectually complacent, emotionally placid, professionally successful but somehow not complete,” John said. “When I was a medical student here in the 1970s, certain docents showed me what it really means to wear the mantle of the physician within society. I viewed it as a great gift. This knowledge kept me true to the profession; it kept me grateful that my purpose was to help people suffer less and live healthier. When I decided it was my turn to give back, life got exciting again.  “Faith has the drive and the initiative, the passion, to do great things in her career. I hope to live long enough to see her early accomplishments to improve the health of women at a global level.”— David John “As Faith’s mentor, I feel my major purpose is to be a sounding board and a cheerleader. Her accomplishments are her own; she created her own goals. Mueller said she appreciates his support: “Dr. John inspires me to live boldly. I feel like I can ‘go for the gold’ knowing that I have someone within the faculty who will have my back and advocate for my success.” The med school’s docent system gave Mueller her opportunity to find a mentor, but she encourages other students to actively seek out mentors if a mentor relationship doesn’t develop naturally. “Keep your mind open for who would be a good mentor,” she said. “They don’t have to be in your field or occupation. Find someone that helps you grow as a person. Look for someone who inspires you.”  Jun 24, 2020

  • Bloch School Professor Interviewed by KSHB

    Scott Helm explains the impacts of JC Nichols’ policies and practices
    KSHB interviewed a number of local experts for their recent story about the renaming of the JC Nichols Fountain. Scott Helm, professor at the UMKC Bloch School of Management, was one of the individuals interviewed. Read more and watch the news clip.   Jun 24, 2020

  • Hollywood Reporter Ranks UMKC Theatre in Top 25 Again

    Master of Fine Arts program consistently recognized as one of the best performing arts schools
    The Hollywood Reporter’s recent rankings have the University of Missouri-Kansas City Theatre graduate program at No. 24 out of 25 for the world’s top dramatic and performing arts schools, making this the second year in a row in the Top 25. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the publication consulted with academics, influencers and alums to rank the top 25 Master of Fine Arts acting programs. In the article, the Hollywood Reporter highlighted UMKC for bringing theater, music and dance departments under one roof: the UMKC Conservatory. UMKC Theatre was also ranked in the Top 25 by the Hollywood Reporter last year at No 20. For the third year in a row, Hollywood Reporter has also included UMKC Theatre in its national list of Top 10 Costume Design schools. UMKC Theatre offers a single comprehensive M.F.A. degree in costume design and technology, which has been key to its success. Students learn many skills including drawing, painting, sketching and learning how to construct a garment with techniques in fabric manipulation, millinery, tailoring and pattern drafting. “The history of UMKC Theatre has been one of excellence,” said Ken Martin, Patricia McIlrath Endowed professor of Theatre and chair of UMKC Theatre. “A high quality, forward thinking faculty, coupled with a regional professional theatre on campus, results in a world class training. We are proud to be mentioned alongside these other programs, and look forward to building on the traditions and quality already established.” As well as merging with the UMKC Conservatory in 2019, Martin was named chair of the UMKC Theatre Department. The merger was a natural alignment: the two programs share a long history of collaboration, a physical space, a conservatory model of teaching where students receive intensive hands-on training while gaining analytical skills taught by professional performing artists, a professional-school focus, a strong national reputation, a spirit of civic engagement and a supportive philanthropic audience. UMKC Theatre continues to make the entire city an artistic campus. In addition to its on-campus partnership with Kansas City Repertory Theatre, this year the program continues to partner with Unicorn Theatre, Coterie Theatre and Kansas City Actors Theatre, featuring MFA and Bachelor of Arts acting students in major professional roles.  Alumni include Nick Gehlfuss of “Chicago Med,” Patrick DuLaney of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway” and Toccara Cash of Broadway’s “The Play That Goes Wrong” and “Half Me, Half You” at London’s West End.   Jun 23, 2020

  • UMKC Edits Its Writing Style to Capitalize ‘Black’

    Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications updates reference to Black faculty, staff and students in UMKC style guide
    Listening to feedback from members of our campus community, the UMKC Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications (MCom) changed its writing style guidelines to capitalize the ‘B’ in Black in reference to Black people, history and culture. To capitalize or not to capitalize Black has been an ongoing discussion in cultural, academic and journalistic circles for many years. As the Black Lives Matter movement nationally has heated up that discussion, the UMKC marketing and communications staff, took note. And decided to make a change. The Associated Press (AP) Style Guide, the bible of writing and editing rules for most news and communications organizations, including MCom, has long called for lowercase “black” when referring to Black people, history and culture. However, newspapers, journals, TV news programs and many companies have slowly begun the shift to capitalizing that reference over the years, more so in recent weeks. The AP announced its decision to change its longtime standard on June 19, also known as Juneteenth, the day commemorating the official end to slavery in the United States. UMKC Law Professor Jamila Jefferson pointed out that trend, in a recent interview with MCom about some of her research. MCom conducted some quick research and took the pulse of staff members. People noted some key developments: Many large newsgathering organizations across the country -- USA Today, the LA Times, CNN, The AP and NBC, to name a few – have made the decision to capitalize. Several journalists and scholars have called for AP to change its style guide in recent years. They announced the change on Friday, June 19. This week, the influential National Association of Black Journalists announced that its plans to update its own guidelines. “Many on our staff cited excellent reasons to make this shift,” said Anne Spenner, vice chancellor of Strategic Marketing and Communications. “Given our university’s desire to listen, learn and lead when it comes to matters of diversity and inclusion on our campus, this change makes sense for UMKC.” Learn about the values of UMKC Jun 23, 2020

  • Alumna Shepherds Late Brother’s Case to Supreme Court Victory

    Melissa Zarda (B.A. ’02, M.A. ’07) stepped in to advocate for equal protection in workplace discrimination
    Don Zarda worked at a skydiving company in Long Island, New York where he would accompany customers on tandem jumps. In an effort to make a female customer more comfortable, he mentioned that he was gay. Following the jump, the customer’s boyfriend complained and Don was fired. He sued and pursued the case, Zarda v. Altitude Express, through the courts until his death BASE jumping in 2014. His sister, Melissa Zarda, who had been at his side during the years following his dismissal, took up the mantle that recently resulted in a Supreme Court ruling that sexual orientation falls within Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that determined people could not be discriminated against based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Melissa never wavered in her commitment to advocate for her brother and the LGBTQ community. "This case was so important to my brother that we owed it to him to pursue it in his honor,” Melissa says. “I heard from people all over the world who had been fired for nothing more than being themselves at work. People lost their paychecks, the ability to provide for themselves and their families, their health insurance and more.” Don Zarda BASE jumping from a tower in Kuala Lumpur Before Don filed his case, Melissa was not aware how common LGBTQ discrimination was in the workplace. “I was totally ignorant of the plight of LGBTQ people in the workplace,” she says. “I assumed federal protections were already in place under Title VII and couldn't be challenged.” While she was active and supportive in Don’s case, her role changed after his death. Despite her drive to achieve his dream of the courts supporting LBGTQ equality, her devotion to her brother and her conviction that workplace equality was essential, she was not confident that they would win. “I hate to say it, but there were times that I worried that we’d lose and I thought that would be tragic.” As she watched the oral arguments during the Supreme Court hearing, she began to gain hope. “I noticed during oral arguments that (Associate Supreme Court Justice) Neil Gorsuch was really engaged,” Melissa said. “He was asking questions and paying attention and taking the time to listen to both sides. Also, we were represented by the best of the best. Our attorney was Pam Karlan, co-director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at Stanford, and we were also supported by a talented team at the ACLU.” Melissa Zarda addresses the press after the verdict Despite her years of work and devotion to her brother’s cause and the strength of their team, Melissa was overwhelmed when the verdict was in their favor. “My heart was racing. I can’t really put it into words. My brother had been dealing with this case for a few years already before he died and it took a huge toll on him,” she says. ”I took over along with his partner, Bill (Moore), in 2014. We hit many snags along the way, but we kept going. It has been a long journey, and to see it all end at the highest court with a fair ruling was euphoric.” Melissa felt as if Don were with her when she heard the news. “I feel he was looking down on us and that he was proud that we didn’t give up,” she says. “He would have been wearing his biggest smile and would have given me one of his bear hugs that I miss so much.” Rather than resting, Melissa is taking advantage of the momentum of the decision to pursue further LBGTQ protection. Don Zarda and his partner Bill Moore “I think it’s important to push Congress to pass the Equality Act to fully protect LGBTQ people — and all people — from discrimination in all contexts covered by federal civil rights law. The reality is that many LGBTQ people face harassment and mistreatment in their daily lives. LGBTQ people of color — particularly Black transgender women — face even higher rates of discrimination and too often violence. LGBTQ people should be protected from discrimination across all areas of life, including health care, education, housing and more. The Equality Act would address that discrimination. We need to pass it now.” Jun 23, 2020

  • Brothers’ Scholarship Honors Mother’s Emigrant Experience

    Family with strong UMKC ties furthers future success
    Doris Edelman fled Germany with her family when she was a teenager as violence began to build against Jewish citizens. She instilled the value of education into her three sons, Mark, Alan and Ron, who have established an endowed scholarship in her name.  “My mother was the principal influence in our lives,” Mark Edelman, J.D. ’75, says of he and his brothers Ron, J.D. ’82 and Alan. “She was German, so there were certain cultural imperatives that worked their way into our home. Her expectations for us were high.” Doris Edelman’s family left Germany in 1938 following Kristallnacht, or “the night of the broken glass,” in which paramilitary troops demolished synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses and buildings. The event was a precursor to the rise of the Nazi party and the “final solution” to eliminate the Jewish race. Doris’ family sailed to Cuba on the S.S. Rotterdam, one of the last ships bringing refugees from Europe that was allowed to dock in the Americas. “They were in Cuba for a year and a half before they moved to Kansas City,” Edelman says. Edelman’s grandfather had owned a men’s clothing store with its own workroom in Germany. A cousin sponsored the family’s immigration to the United States and Brand and Puritz, a Kansas City Garment District manufacturer, offered his grandfather a job. “My mother was the principal influence in our lives.” - Mark Edelman Eventually, Doris Edelman enrolled in Kansas City University and earned degrees in Spanish and economics in 1947. Her husband, William, earned a psychology degree from the university in 1954 while supporting the family as a practicing physician. “My mother was a very bright woman,” Edelman says. “After she graduated KCU, she translated overseas cables for Butler Manufacturing. She became the first woman vice president and partner at B. C. Christopher & Co., a securities and brokerage firm. She loved going to work and being a part of that business.” In addition to work, education was very important to Doris. “I wanted to be a filmmaker,” Edelman says. “She did not think that was very serious. She said, ‘Mark, you can always be a filmmaker if you go to law school, but you can’t be a lawyer if you go to film school.’ I forgot to say ‘I don’t want to be a lawyer.’ So I ended up in law school at UMKC, which turned out to be a great foundation for my career.” Edelman’s connection to the university began years before law school. “My parents took advantage of all the things an urban campus like UMKC can provide to the city,” he says. “My love of the theater grew from my experiences of going to the Missouri Rep while in high school.” “When my brothers and I began to think about what we could do to honor her memory, we decided that a scholarship that would enable refugees like my mother to have an education was the best thing to do.”- Mark Edelman Edelman founded the Theater League, Inc., a not-for-profit performing arts organization that presented the best of Broadway to Kansas City audiences for 42 years. He built the Quality Hill Playhouse and produces 12th Street Jump, a syndicated public radio show hosted on KCUR-FM 89.3, another UMKC institution. His brother Ron and Alan’s son Alex also attended UMKC law school. The family will be recognized with the 2020 Legacy Award at the UMKC Alumni Awards ceremony which will take place in spring of 2021. Their deep and broad connection to the university contributed to honoring Doris Edelman with a scholarship. “When my brothers and I thought about how we could best honor her memory, we decided on a scholarship that would enable refugees like her to get a college education,” Edelman says. “I think she’d like that. She was proud of us and I think she’d be proud of our association with the university.”   For more information about scholarships, please contact Financial Aid and Scholarships. Jun 23, 2020

  • Startland News Features Success of FEC Coding Academy

    Coding academy is backed by the Full Employment Council and the University of Missouri-Kansas City
    The UMKC School of Computing and Engineering and Full Employment Council created this partnership to deliver a 21st century workforce in Kansas City. Read the Startland News story. Jun 23, 2020

  • Concrete for a Changing Climate

    How a UMKC researcher is paving the way for sustainability
    Our global temperature is on the rise, oceans are warming and extreme weather events have been steadily increasing. According to NASA, “the current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely (greater than 95% probability) to be the result of human activity."  Kevern with students makingconcrete in an SCE lab. Luckily, humans from the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering are developing ways to make their respective areas of expertise more environmentally friendly. John Kevern, Ph.D., professor and civil and mechanical engineering department chair, has been working with SCE alumni as well as Kansas City architects, builders and concrete companies to increase the amount of pervious concrete used around the city. Pervious or permeable concrete is a porous mixture of cement, water and coarse aggregate. The beauty of the lumpy, holey concrete that has the consistency of a rice cake is that it serves as pavement and stormwater mitigator in one. It can also help prevent floods, control erosion, allow groundwater recharge and improve water quality through filtration. Bonus: Pervious concrete doesn’t freeze over like normal pavement. It’s less slippery since the water has a smaller surface area to freeze on. A recent $55,000 EAGER grant – which support exploratory work in early stages with opportunity for high risk-high reward – from the National Science Foundation allowed Kevern and SCE students to experiment with de-icing and slip and fall.  “For society, from an equity and access perspective, any surface where we can reduce the chance of a slip and fall makes both a safer surface and allows us to use less de-icing agents like salt. Salt is not only bad for the environment but it also reduces the lifecycle of concrete,” Kevern said of his NSF research. Kevern, who is a member of the advisory group for the American Public Works Association’s Sustainable Stormwater Task Force, is also researching a greener way to produce the cement used in concrete by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide emitted throughout the process. Using recycled ingredients — like the byproducts of coal burning power plants or iron and steel production — in the cement mix drastically lowers CO2 emissions. Kevern ran the numbers on CO2 in Kansas City and found that the city used 2.5 million cubic yards of concrete in 2018, which equals 663,375 tons of CO2. The average Kansas City vehicle is responsible for 10.690 pounds of CO2 each year. That means that if you use a mix of concrete that’s made of 35% recycled byproducts, the CO2 reduction would be equivalent to taking 42,000 cars off the road. Increase to 50% recycled byproducts, and the equivalent is 60,000 vehicles. “The production of cement for concrete is somewhere around 8-10% of the human-produced carbon dioxide in our atmosphere — there are many other things that are more but it’s not insignificant — anything we can do to replace cement and reduce the CO2 footprint of our concrete is helpful from a climate change perspective,” Kevern said.  Concrete and Beyond The increased greenhouse gases can also account for an increase in extreme weather changes. In Kansas City, stormwater and flooding have raised an early challenge. "Building physical models is nearly a lost art. When computers came around, everyone thought they’d take the place of physical models, but unfortunately they aren’t able to predict flooding as accurately.”—John Kevern, Ph.D., UMKC professor and civil and mechanical engineering department chair Kevern regularly works with KC Water, the city department responsible for accessibility and quality of water services around the city, including School of Computing and Engineering alumni like Tom Kimes (B.S.C.E. ’87), manager of stormwater engineering, and Jose Lopez (B.S.C.E. ’15), watershed planner. KC Water recently installed several different types of concrete, including contracting Kevern to install pervious concrete, in the parking lot of their offices to test the long-term benefits of each. Kimes and Lopez are also working on a way to combat the longstanding stormwater and sewer issues that have plagued the city for years and will be exacerbated by the added rainfall that climate change brings. After several years of repeated flooding from nearby Indian Creek, the City of Kansas City, Missouri, bought the land and demolished the strip mall that stood at 103rd Street and Wornall Road. The mall was home to Coach’s Bar & Grill, where two employees had to be rescued from the roof by firefighters during severe flooding in 2017. Kevern (left) regularly partners with SCE alumni at KC Water to examine stormwater and sewer issues that have affected the Kansas City area for years. Here he is pictured with watershed planner Jose Lopez (B.S.C.E. ’15, center) and manager of stormwater engineering Tom Kimes (B.S.C.E. ’87, right) with a model they are constructing inside the KC Water building to identify various flood risks and ways to combat them. Now, the city, along with KC Water and the Army Corps of Engineers, are building a 70 feet long by 25 feet wide physical model of the area inside a building downtown, to better identify the flood risks and how to combat them. It’s an innovative approach. Kimes says not many places are able to produce physical models and having two experts in the city — UMKC adjunct professor Don Baker and associate professor Jerry Richardson — is especially valuable. Lopez has been working on the model since its inception – he started working on the scaling for the project while still a student at UMKC. “Instead of something to be protected from, I’d like to see us embrace rivers as the valuable parts of our ecosystem that they are.”—Tom Kimes, B.S.C.E. ’87 Kevern agrees, “Building physical models is nearly a lost art. When computers came around, everyone thought they’d take the place of physical models, but unfortunately they aren’t able to predict flooding as accurately. I’d estimate there are less than a handful of places that have people with the knowledge and technique needed to build physical models.” That’s not to say computers are totally out of the picture. Lopez says they will “flood the model several times to get the flow patterns, then make the computer model reflect those.” Once the research on flooding is done, the area will become a park complete with pervious concrete, green space and information about Indian Creek. Focusing on Stormwater Research In May, Kevern and the School of Computing and Engineering will team up with KC Water and several other stakeholders – including FEMA, Unified Government of Wyandotte County and the Army Corps of Engineers – to launch the Center for Urban Stormwater Research. The first project the center will focus on is a FEMA grant exploring ways to educate the public about the risks of flooding. Kimes hopes that Kansas City is able to manage stormwater in a way that leads the nation and turns the city’s “wild rivers” into community assets even with added rainfall. “Instead of something to be protected from, I’d like to see us embrace rivers as the valuable parts of our ecosystem that they are,” Kimes says. Jun 22, 2020

  • 7 Campus Living and Dining Changes This Fall

    Residential Life and Dining Services take extra precautions due to the pandemic
    One of the most rewarding and memorable parts of the college experience is living on campus and forming friendships with other students. Considering that importance with the pandemic top of mind, here are seven steps UMKC is taking at the beginning of the fall semester with campus housing and dining services to ensure students have a fun but safe place to live, learn and grow. 1. Guest policy Guests will be limited to residents from the same building, caretakers and those assisting with move in and move out only. Roommates and suitemates must establish their own visitation rules for their room/apartment. 2. Room configuration Furniture will be arranged to maximize distance between individuals. Additionally, beds may not be bunked to ensure adequate distance is being maintained. However, lofting will still be allowed in Oak Street Residence Hall. 3. Community spaces Study and community lounges will be closed at the beginning of the semester. Kitchens will remain locked but available for use by checking out a key at the building’s front desk; cleaning supplies for residents will be provided with the expectation that they clean up after each use. Elevators will be limited to two people to allow for physical distancing. Lobbies, access doors, laundry rooms and public restrooms will have additional cleanings. 4. Equipment checkout Front desk services are limited to essential operations to reduce traffic flow. Board games, kitchenware, sports items, pool cues and other items are temporarily suspended. 5. Dining service Service at all locations, both residential dining and retail dining, will be either directly served or pre-packaged. There will be no self-service. On-premise dining will be limited to 50% of seating capacity at all locations. 6. Modified dining hours Dining Center hours will be modified to allow for more frequent cleaning and disinfection of the dining area between meal periods, while offering longer periods of time for students to access the full breakfast, lunch and dinner offerings. 7. New app A new app will allow students to place orders, complete secure payment using their dining plan or payment card information and schedule pick-up times at all locations, which are moving toward contactless entry and transactions. FreedomPay at all locations currently accepts Apple Pay and Google Pay. As the pandemic situation evolves, university leaders will make certain best practices are in place so students have a safe living and learning environment. Jun 22, 2020

  • Media Again Looks to UMKC Professor for Perspective

    The Kansas City Star calls on UMKC Criminal Justice and Criminology Professor Ken Novak
    Ken Novak weighs in on whether the public should have a voice in determining whether police departments allow the use of neck restraints during less-than-lethal encounters. Read more from The Kansas City Star. (subscription required) Jun 22, 2020

  • My Life During COVID: Provost Jenny Lundgren

    Checking in to see how our UMKC community is managing the highs and lows of sheltering in place
    UMKC Provost Jenny Lundgren is sheltering in place with her 5-year-old daughter, 10-year-old son, her husband and their dog. As life takes steps back toward “normal,” their household is beginning to resemble pre-COVID activity.  “My husband goes to work each day and my daughter is back at daycare, so during the day it’s me, my son and our dog,” Lundgren says. “My son spends most of his day playing [the online game] Roblox with his friends, but that will change in July when camps start up. Thankfully!” Everyone in the Lundgren house is doing his and her share to keep things running smoothly. “I work best when the house is organized and clean, so that’s been my contribution” she says. “My son has weekly chores and my husband does most of the cooking. We both love to work outside in the yard, so we are doing that together when we have a chance.” "The work day doesn’t have a starting and stopping place like it used to." - Jenny Lundgren Even while sheltering in place, home has looked very similar for her family, except the dining room became her office. “My actual office at home has poor Wi-Fi, so I’ve spent most days in the dining room.  That worked well when I was simultaneously home schooling my 4th grade son.” While Lundgren and her family have managed to blend work and home, it can be challenging. “The work day doesn’t have a starting and stopping place like it used to,” she says. Still, the family is finding a way to take breaks and find joy. “We get to the lake every once in a while, and have the opportunity to spend some time in nature,” Lundgren says. “I love hearing my daughter say, ‘This is the best day of my life!’ I’m reminded that you don’t need exciting vacations to make your kids happy.” What are you reading? I wish I were reading more than just emails! I try to practice Spanish on the Duolingo app every day, so that – and emails - are the bulk of my current reading. I just ordered Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, and I’m looking forward to reading that. What are you watching? Bloodline on Netflix What are you eating? The only consistent food in my diet is a daily iced coffee with cream and sugar! Jun 21, 2020

  • KSHB Taps UMKC History Professor for

    Diane Mutti-Burke explains the significance of Juneteenth and emancipation proclamation
    “The emancipation proclamation actually didn’t free any enslaved people," said Diane Mutti-Burke. "Lincoln basically said to the southern states that he was turning the army into an army of liberation and, anywhere that the Union Army went from that point forward, they would liberate people." Read more and watch the story on KSHB's website. Jun 20, 2020

  • Juneteenth Celebrates Black Americans’ Resistance and Resiliency

    Three questions with Diane Mutti-Burke, professor and chair of History
    June 19 is celebrated throughout the United States as Juneteenth, commemorating the end of slavery in this country. Diane Mutti-Burke, professor and chair of the Department of History, is a historian of the American South and the Civil War with a particular interest in the history of slavery, women and the Missouri/Kansas border region. She discussed the history, meaning and the importance of Juneteenth. Juneteenth recognizes a specific event in Galveston, Texas – the notification of Black people there that slavery had ended. Why is it considered a national holiday? The Juneteenth holiday celebrates the official end of slavery in the state of Texas on June 19, 1865. President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, but it did not immediately free any enslaved people. The order explicitly did not apply to border states like Missouri or areas of the South already under the Union army’s control. Although the Civil War formally ended on April 9, 1865 when Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, there were still Confederate forces in the field, including in the West. Texas had remained relatively protected during the war because of its great distance from the fighting. This geographic isolation created a situation in which many enslaved Texans were unaware of the end of the war or their freedom. Union troops finally entered the state in early June 1865, and in Galveston on June 19, Major General Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3, an emancipation order informing people of their freedom. Since the Emancipation Proclamation was a wartime military order, Abraham Lincoln and Congressional Republicans decided a constitutional amendment was necessary to permanently secure people’s freedom. The Thirteenth Amendment was ratified on December 6, 1865, legally ending slavery in the United States. In the decades after the Civil War, African American communities throughout the U.S. organized Emancipation Day celebrations to commemorate their liberation from slavery. Many celebrated on January 1, the date of the Emancipation Proclamation, but in some states, they commemorated dates that were specific to their location, such as June 19 in Texas, known as “Juneteenth.” Juneteenth became a Texas state holiday in 1979. Black Texans migrated to other parts of the United States, bringing the Juneteenth celebration to their new communities. In recent years, Juneteenth has become an informal national holiday celebrating African American heritage throughout the United States. “Juneteenth allows us to celebrate Black Americans’ resistance and resiliency as they fought – and continue to fight – to rectify four centuries of racial discrimination and economic and social injustice.” Diane Mutti-Burke What can you tell us about how emancipation took place in this region?  When most Americans think about emancipation they focus on the legal or military acts that occurred on specific dates, such as Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation or the Thirteenth Amendment. I would encourage people instead to think about emancipation as a process – one that was as much driven by enslaved people themselves as it was by white emancipators.   Missouri’s border location and politically divided population (with white Missourians supporting both the Union and the Confederacy) resulted in a violent armed conflict between Union military forces and Confederate guerrillas, which actively engaged the civilian population.  Many of Missouri’s 115,000 enslaved people took advantage of the chaos of the state’s internal civil war and struck a blow for their own freedom, running away to nearby Union military encampments or to the bordering free states of Kansas, Illinois, and Iowa. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation explicitly did not apply to the border states. But over time, enslaved men, women and children continued to flood into Union military camps, forcing officers to increase protections for those who sought their aid and eventually to authorize their freedom. Many recognized that Black Missourians greatly aided the Union war effort through their labor and the information that they provided about the activities of secessionists and guerrillas, many of whom were their former owners.  Eventually, the Union army enlisted Black men to fight and Missouri men joined in large numbers.  Black men fully understood that their enlistment would ensure their freedom and might result in the freedom of their family members as well. On January 11, 1865, Missouri’s Republican-controlled state Constitutional Convention freed enslaved people in the state through an emancipation ordinance, which predated the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment by three weeks. What are the important lessons that Americans should take from the Juneteenth celebration? The Juneteenth holiday provides a wonderful opportunity for both reflection and celebration.  The commemoration allows Americans to reflect on the United States’ long and tragic history of slavery, segregation, racial injustice and systemic inequality. It is important that we learn about and reckon with the many painful and destructive legacies of this devastating history and how it affects us still today. This is an uncomfortable and difficult history to process and study but it is imperative that we wrestle with it. Too often people respond to issues of race as being outdated and irrelevant because slavery and legal segregation ended “so long ago,” but understanding the legacies of slavery, white supremacy and the challenges and pain that the Black community continues to encounter in the face of ongoing systemic racism and inequalities illustrate the importance of this history. At the same time, Juneteenth allows us to celebrate Black Americans’ resistance and resiliency as they fought – and continue to fight – to rectify four centuries of racial discrimination and economic and social injustice. Equally essential, the Juneteenth holiday provides a venue to acknowledge, appreciate and celebrate the profound contributions that Black Americans have made to the economic, social, political and cultural foundations of the United States. I encourage everyone to spend today in contemplation and celebration of the long history of the Black freedom struggle and the central role that Black Americans have played in building this nation, while also reflecting on how much farther we must travel along the road toward justice and equality in order to achieve America’s promise of a more perfect union.  Jun 19, 2020

  • UMKC School of Medicine Satellite Campus Receives Media Coverage

    Local media outlets covered the news about the new satellite campus for the UMKC School of Medicine
    Read some of the media coverage of the satellite campus in St. Joseph. Kansas City Business Journal, KCUR,  Jun 19, 2020

  • Alumnus Stars in Hit Netflix Show

    Frank Oakley III draws on his theatre training in role on "Sweet Magnolias"
    We caught up with Frank Oakley III (B.A. ’14) a theatre performance grad who is part of "Sweet Magnolias" on Netflix. He spoke with us about what he's learned in the acting biz, his favorite UMKC memory and what’s next. Frank Oakley III, B.A. '14Photo credit: Mike Senior How does it feel to be part of “Sweet Magnolias,” one of the most popular shows on Netflix right now? It honestly still hasn’t fully hit me yet! “Sweet Magnolias” was released on Tuesday, May 19, and the very next day we were #5 in the U.S. We kept climbing up the ranks, and by that Sunday were #1 on the world’s largest streaming platform! After holding down that spot for a few days, I think that’s when things started hitting me. To say the very least, it’s surreal to be a part of a show that so many people connected with, supported, and loved so much to get us to that point in less than a week!  Was Harlan Bixby, in "Sweet Magnolias," your first recurring role on a series? What did you learn from the experience? Yes, it was my first recurring role on a series. I’ve learned so much from filming the first season, but the two biggest things came from the callback room and being on set.  First, I learned that you really can’t go off of how you feel you did in the audition/callback room, because it isn’t always true. I felt like I was completely bombing my callback audition — and in front of some major players in the process! I psyched myself out by getting into my head too much, but once I was able to relax, I feel like I did much better. Then, the filming process just really affirmed how valuable my training from UMKC is. I was able to do my job, play with other seasoned actors and adapt to any changes made during the process in a quick manner.  The takeaway in both lessons: it’s all about your mental game. From the audition to working on set, you have to trust your training, trust the process and keep a strong mental game.   What are the challenges of being an actor? The benefits?  Some of the more universal challenges I’ve found as an actor are getting established, creating a name for yourself, defining what your brand is and booking work. For the most part, we as actors can have some control over those challenges, with the exception of the seemingly most important one — booking. That said, I’ve found that once I was able to define what my brand was for me, set up boundaries, and was willing to stand firm on what I mapped out, everything followed suit. The benefits (besides booking work) are doing work that you’re proud of and believe in and getting to collaborate with some amazing people to create and play! I know it sounds like an artsy-fartsy thing to say, but man, it is real and rewarding. To be a part of a larger picture or body of work, and to share that with both fellow artists/creators and the audience, is truly a blessing and privilege. Oakley, pictured right, with Justin Bruening in episode four of "Sweet Magnolias." Still courtesy of Netflix. What brought you to UMKC? It is truly a long story, but in an attempt to condense a bit: one audacious prayer, teachers and mentors believing in me, and the kindness and support of people. At the beginning of 2011, I was sitting in contemplation in my dorm room at my first college, trying to figure out whether or not I’d be truly satisfied with a career in broadcast journalism. A thought sparked in my mind: maybe acting. I reached out to my high school debate/forensics coach, Ms. Michelle Lee, about possibly trying out acting. She sprang into action and shared with me a bucket of resources — everything from colleges with awesome theatre programs to prestigious theatre summer camps. After some research, I was considering transferring to UMKC and auditioning for the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp.  While waiting to see if I got accepted, I auditioned for the camp. And I got in with a partial scholarship! I couldn’t afford to pay the remaining balance, so Ms. Lee helped me sell candy bars. I knew this was a really hard hump to overcome, so I prayed “God, if this is something I supposed to do with my life, help provide a way for me to attend this camp. If I’m able to go, then I know this is what you have for me to do with my life.” As it got really close to time to go, I was told that the rest of what I couldn’t earn from selling candy bars was covered, and that I’m heading to camp. Later in life I found out that Ms. Lee and Melinda McCrary (director of education and community programs at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre) funded the rest. Once I got that confirmation of being able to go, and getting accepted into UMKC, that was all I needed to know. It was off to UMKC with purpose and a mission! Oakley pictured with his future wife, Anna, in the production of Three Sisters at UMKC in 2013. Photo Credit: Brian Paulette. Do you have a favorite memory from UMKC? Cheesy, yes, but true: meeting my wife, Anna Oakley! (She was Anna Day at that time, B.A. '15). We met and worked together for the first time on a show “Cover of Life” in November of 2012. But our relationship actually started to bloom while we were doing a show together “Three Sisters” in October of 2013. Hands down, favorite memory. What advice do you have for students entering UMKC? I actually have three pieces of advice. And honestly these are for everyone, no matter what your life path is. I say these a lot, but it’s something that is extremely imperative to grasp and understand from the beginning. It will save you a lot of time, frustration, and darkness: You are always enough, no matter what! Don’t give up, what is for you is for you. Regardless of the circumstances or odds. Don’t find your identity in your craft. Your worth is in who you are, and not what you do!  What other projects are you working on? Where else can we catch your performances?  As of now, there isn’t anything I’m working on, due to the pandemic. However, I will be in an episode of a series called The Underground Railroad. It is an upcoming American historical fiction drama limited series directed by Barry Jenkins. The series is set to premier on Amazon Video in the near future. I’ve had the privilege to be a part of some really amazing and special projects, and almost all of them can be found online. Feel free to go to my website at www.frankoakleythethird.com to check them out! Jun 18, 2020

  • UMKC School of Medicine Approved to Expand Its Program in Missouri

    New campus in St. Joseph in partnership with Mosaic Life Care will increase rural health care
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine plans to expand its program to St. Joseph, Missouri, to address the state’s rural physician shortage. The University of Missouri System Board of Curators approved the proposal on Thursday. UMKC received a $7 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to start the new program in January 2021. HRSA, the primary federal agency for improving access to health-care services for people who are uninsured, isolated or medically vulnerable, will pay out the grant over four years. “We are thrilled we will be able to address a critical health-care need in Missouri,” said Chancellor Mauli Agrawal, Ph.D. “This will enable more patients throughout the state to get better access to high-quality medical treatment.” The need is great in the United States – the American Association of Medical Colleges projects a shortage of nearly 122,000 physicians by 2032, with primary-care physicians making up almost half of this shortage. And the need is especially great in Missouri: the state has 250 primary-care health professional  shortage areas, including 109 of its 114 counties. It ranks No. 40 among U.S. states in terms of health. “The disparities in care in rural areas result in higher rates of death, disability and chronic disease for rural Americans. Expansion of our medical school to the northwestern region of our state will serve to bridge this gap, knowing that students training in rural programs are three times as likely to remain in practice in those areas.” - UMKC School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne Jackson “Missouri is facing a physician shortage in the next five years, creating major challenges for rural communities,” said U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Missouri). “As chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that funds the Department of Health and Human Services, I started the Medical Student Education Program to ensure resources were specifically targeted toward improving access to care where it’s needed most. I am glad to see the University of Missouri-Kansas City focusing efforts on addressing that challenge by training more physicians to practice medicine in rural and underserved areas. This is great news for UMKC and the St. Joseph community.” Typically, physicians remain in the areas where they go to medical school, and 80 percent of UMKC School of Medicine students are from Missouri and the surrounding counties, said Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., dean of the school. “The disparities in care in rural areas result in higher rates of death, disability and chronic disease for rural Americans. Expansion of our medical school to the northwestern region of our state will serve to bridge this gap, knowing that students training in rural programs are three times as likely to remain in practice in those areas.”  While the UMKC School of Medicine is known for its innovative six-year B.A./M.D. program that admits students directly from high school, it will offer a four-year M.D. program in St. Joseph open to students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree. This M.D. track option has been part of the school tradition since opening its doors almost 50 years ago. ”I am glad to see the University of Missouri- Kansas City focusing efforts on addressing that challenge by training more physicians to practice medicine in rural and underserved areas. This is great news for UMKC and the St. Joseph community.” - U.S. Senator Roy Blunt The new program in St. Joseph will expand the UMKC School of Medicine M.D. program by adding 20 students in St. Joseph to each cohort of about 100 students in Kansas City, said Steven Waldman, M.D., J.D., program director and principal investigator on the grant, and vice dean and chair of Humanities at the UMKC School of Medicine. The co-investigators on the grant are Michael Wacker, Ph.D., associate dean of academic affairs, and Paula Monaghan-Nichols, Ph.D., associate dean of research administration, both from the UMKC School of Medicine. The four-year program eventually will allow the UMKC School of Medicine to train 80 additional medical students. In addition to the grant, the expansion is possible because of a partnership with Mosaic Life Care, located in St. Joseph. Mosaic is one of the largest private rural primary-care networks in the U.S. and a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network. Students will be able to learn and train in Mosaic’s rural healthcare network. “The receipt of this federal grant, as well as the partnership, will allow the UMKC School of Medicine to expand our mission of training superlative physicians and health-care professionals to care for our most vulnerable populations,” Waldman said. “The addition of the UMKC School of Medicine’s St. Joseph campus will greatly enrich rural health-care education for our students.” Other partners: Truman Medical Centers, the primary teaching hospital for the school, has a mission dedicated to providing public health and specialty services for those with financial, health or insurance issues that limit access to care in Kansas City. Students, residents and faculty who are based at Truman in Kansas City will be able to learn and teach at Mosaic in St. Joseph and collaborate on care for patients. UMKC Health Sciences District is a partnership of a dozen health-care entities including four UMKC health professions schools. This further expands the district’s reach into rural health care. UMKC STAHR (Students in Training, in Academia, Health and Research) Partnership Program is committed to increasing the number of students from educationally and/or economically disadvantaged backgrounds who are prepared to enter, persist and graduate from a UMKC health sciences degree program. STAHR serves as a mentorship resource to students. UMKC has a successful track record of creating rural health education programs in Missouri. The UMKC School of Pharmacy includes satellite campuses at the University of Missouri in Columbia and Missouri State University in Springfield. Jun 18, 2020

  • Making A Difference For Future Generations

    Education senior Daishanae Crittenden incorporates her passion for teaching into her activism
    School of Education senior Daishanae Crittenden has a clear idea of how she wants to structure her future classroom – as a team. Her passion for teaching and her want to help shape the lives of her students fuels her activism in the community. Though she’s only had practicum teaching experience so far, she’s already hard at work showing her future students that she’s advocating for them not just through their academics, but also through social justice. This is her story. Why did you choose to attend UMKC? I knew I wanted to get out of St. Louis, but I didn’t want to go too far because I wanted to be able to come back and visit my mom. My mom is like my best friend. She’s one of my biggest supporters. Kansas City is similar to St. Louis – just a little smaller; and UMKC isn’t small but it isn’t too large either. Plus, in the School of Education, the classes are smaller. I was able to get out and work in the field and get practicum teaching experience earlier than I would at a larger school.  "I want my future students to see that I did this, that I’m fighting for them. We have to fight for things to be better for future generations." What drives your passion for wanting to be a teacher? Growing up all my teachers told me I would become a teacher. My mom was a teacher for many years. She instilled the value of education in me. I’m also the oldest of five; I have four younger brothers, so teaching kind of came naturally. I denied it for a long time but eventually, I accepted it. I love kids. I don’t care what grade I teach; I just know that I want to teach children and be a part of shaping their lives. What other student activities are you involved in at UMKC? Being in education doesn’t give you a lot of free time because I’m doing practicum work in the schools. I was part of the student government at the School of Education, and then I also participate in NAACP and The African American Student Union when I do have time. "Our protest was about unity. It was about all of us being on the same team; we are fighting for the same cause." Speaking of which, tell me about the large protest you were a part of organizing in St. Louis. That was so exciting. I still can’t believe I did that. It was me and three friends I went to school with. It was right after the murder of George Floyd. I remember waking up one day to a bunch of texts in our group chat and we were all talking about how we need to do something. We couldn’t just sit by and do nothing, and there hadn’t been anything organized by women in our city and we need to hear women’s voices too. So we came up with the idea to have a protest. I was kind of nervous about it because I’ve never organized a protest before. Wow! I wouldn’t have guessed that. From the media coverage and feedback, it seemed really organized. How long did it take you to organize? We pulled it off in like 8 days, so there were a lot of long nights. We made the flyer and posted it and, with all of our connections, people started sharing it on Facebook. We had eight speakers, including an educator, a Pride representative, a speaker from the first Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson, Cori Bush, who was a campaign surrogate for Senator Bernie Sanders, and a local pastor. We had a lot of people who wanted to speak but those are the ones we chose. How did you narrow down your choices for speakers? Each of the speakers were vetted. We shared a Google Form for potential speakers to complete and let us know what they wanted to talk about, and then we did Zoom interviews with the people we were interested in hearing from. We also sent follow-up letters to let everyone know whether or not they were selected. During the protest, we strategically placed our speakers in a certain order. The first group of speakers spoke prior to the march at City Hall to inspire and motivate the protestors, and the second group of speakers spoke at the downtown St. Louis Police Department to further discuss the deeper systemic issues within our country and why we are fighting this fight. Some people already had scripts written and submitted them with the Google Form, but we asked for final copies of everyone’s script closer to the event because you just never know what someone will get on the mic and say. We didn’t want any surprises, and we didn’t want anyone to say anything that might incite violence. The attention to detail is impressive. How were you able to ensure it remained peaceful the entire time? We really made sure everyone knew that it was going to be peaceful. We couldn’t say that enough. We included that in everything we put out. And people who know me know that I don’t like violence or drama. It’s all about how you present yourself to the public, so people know that’s not what I’m about. More importantly – and I know not everyone is religious – but I have faith in my God and He had us. We marched from downtown City Hall to the police headquarters without any problems. We didn’t want to agitate the officers and meet anger with anger, but we did make sure we had someone there to read everyone their rights before we started walking. People also donated bail funds in case we had to get anyone out of jail. Our protest was about unity. It was about all of us being on the same team; we are fighting for the same cause. "Growing up all my teachers told me I would become a teacher. My mom was a teacher for many years. She instilled the value of education in me." Circling back to teaching, how do you apply the lessons you’ve learned at the School of Education to your activism? In education, you learn to work with people from different backgrounds but with similar interests and outlooks. We did that with the protest, and I want my classroom to be structured like that. I want my students and me to work together and win together, and I never want them to feel like they can’t come and talk to me. I want my future students to see that I did this, that I’m fighting for them. We have to fight for things to be better for future generations. Protest organizers left to right: Bersabeh Mesfin, Natasha Jain-Poster, Brooke Jones, and Daishane Crittenden Lastly, what has this experience taught you? I learned that I am capable of leading a crowd. Nearly 5,000 people showed up and we led them. I also learned that it’s OK to be flexible and wing things. You can’t micromanage a protest, just like you can’t micromanage a classroom. You have to just take things one step at a time. Half the people that showed up were allies, which goes to show that skin color is an excuse. So is age. We had babies walking with us! This protest was all-inclusive. We tried to make sure everyone was represented and felt that Black lives matter, Black trans lives matter…Black people matter. We had an ASL interpreter signing everything, as well, to make sure the deaf community knew what we were saying. It was an amazing experience; I still can’t believe I did that. People have been asking when we’re going to plan another one and we keep saying we need a minute to breathe. This took a lot out of us. It’ll have to be in the next month or so, though, because we all attend different universities across the country, and we’ll have to go back to school soon. Of course, I’m at UMKC, one of the girls goes to Xavier University, which is an HBCU in Louisiana; one attends the University of Miami and one attends the University of California-Irvine. Had it not been for COVID, we wouldn’t have been able to pull this off. We just all happened to be home because the universities closed. Jun 18, 2020

  • UMKC Receives First Federal Research Support to Directly Combat COVID-19

    The National Science Foundation awards UMKC nearly $200,000
    For scientists to develop a successful vaccine to fight COVID-19, they must understand the structure of a virus and how it attacks human cells. The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded UMKC researcher Wai-Yim Ching, Ph.D., $199,640 to identify the cell structure of components of the virus. This is the university’s first national grant directly for COVID-19 research. “In early March, I was reading a paper published in a science magazine about the virus’s structure,” says Ching, who is a Curator’s Distinguished Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. “I thought I might be able to do some calculations.” Within two weeks, he had some credible preliminary results. About the same time, NSF made a special call for requests. He submitted his early finding in a five-page proposal that he developed with his assistant, Puja Adhikari, Ph.D., a recent UMKC graduate and postdoctoral fellow.   “Within five weeks, we had a decision,” Ching says. “That’s very fast – and we were very happy.” Understanding the structure of the virus through large-scale computer modeling will pave the way for highly efficient vaccine development and antiviral drug design, potentially at a lower cost. To identify accurate data on the structure of the virus, Ching will work with Adhikari, undergraduate students and external collaborators. “The support of the Office of Research Services and Research Support Services was significant. It would have been difficult to submit our request so quickly without them,” Ching says. Vice Chancellor for Research Chris Liu, Ph.D., says the research targets the structure and properties of a crucial COVID-19 protein using large-scale computational modeling and is exactly the type of research that the UMKC and the upcoming NextGen Data Science and Analytics Innovation Center (dSAIC) are designed to address. “Dr. Ching will be providing critical data that could advance the development of a COVID-19 vaccine,” Liu says. “We are excited that his research will contribute to unlocking the complexities of the virus’s structure.” Chancellor Mauli Agrawal sees the NSF’s support of Ching’s research as a harbinger of the growing success of the UMKC research enterprise. “We are equipped to provide cutting-edge research by analyzing massive amounts of data, thanks to the research infrastructure development including the upcoming dSAIC. The center will continue to meet current and future demands from the public and private sector and develop solutions for our most critical challenges.” Ching is already immersed in the research. “This research is very important,” Ching says. “We need to roll up our sleeves and get working. There is no time to waste.” Jun 17, 2020

  • Three UMKC Faculty Named Presidential Engagement Fellows

    Selections based on demonstrated research excellence and ability to communicate
    Three members of the University of Missouri-Kansas City faculty were among the 15 2020-21 Presidential Engagement Fellows introduced today by University of Missouri System President Mun Choi. The announcement came at the University of Missouri Board of Curators meeting. Presidential Engagement Fellows represent the UM System and share their research discoveries and expert knowledge with Missouri citizens in every county.  This year’s UMKC Fellows are: Jamila Jefferson-Jones, associate professor, School of Law Jefferson-Jones teaches courses in Property, Real Estate Transactions and Professional Responsibility. Her scholarship reflects her intellectual interest in theories of property and ownership as well as in property and wealth attainment by communities and groups on the margins of society. Her recent work has three strands: the interplay between and among sex, race, status and property; the intersection of property and criminal justice theory; and the regulation of the housing sector of the sharing economy. She is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, where she was an executive editor of the Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review and delivered the graduate English oration at the university’s 346th commencement. Joey Lightner, assistant professor, School of Nursing and Health Studies Lightner is director of the Bachelor of Science in Public Health Program at the school. The program combines urban-focused coursework in health policy, health and wellness, health program development and population health outcomes, to prepare students for a wide variety of careers in public health. His research is focused on increasing physical activity for large populations. His current projects attempt to understand how to improve social relationships that may lead to improvements in physical activity behavior. Joan McDowd, professor and chair of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences. McDowd serves as director and advisor for Gerontology programs. Her research interests are in cognitive aging, particularly in attention and memory processes. Although primarily interested in healthy aging, she also applies methods from cognitive psychology to understanding cognition in stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease as well as in severe mental illness. She was awarded the 2017 President’s Award for Community Engagement, which recognizes faculty who are involved in exemplary engagement activities such as volunteerism, service-learning, educational programming and outreach. “The Presidential Engagement Fellows are among our best scholars and are widely respected by their peers," Choi said. "This group also demonstrates the breadth and depth of the expertise among our faculty. I’m excited as we welcome them. This is yet another example of our commitment to serving the state of Missouri and improving the lives of our fellow citizens.”  Faculty members were selected based on their demonstrated excellence and their ability to communicate their research to the public. Bookings for the new class of speakers will begin in August. For more information, please visit: www.umsystem.edu/forms/pef-speaking-request-form. Jun 17, 2020

  • Common Diabetes Medication Can Open Patients to Adverse Pulmonary Effects, Worsen COVID-19

    School of Pharmacy’s Emma Stafford is the lead author of the article in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association
    A drug routinely used in treating type-2 diabetes could also make those patients more susceptible to complications from COVID-19 says a report written by a UMKC School of Pharmacy researcher. The article published in late May in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association says the drug, captopril, was found to produce a statistically significant higher rate of pulmonary adverse drug effects compared to other drugs in its class. Emma Stafford, Pharm.D., is the lead author of the article. Stafford worked with a group of data scientists from a collaborative known as 1Data to comb through a large source of information from national and international databases. 1Data is a partnership between UMKC and Kansas State University that has developed a platform for sharing human and animal health research data. Stafford and her 1Data colleagues evaluated all adverse drug effects reported to the Food and Drug Administration for diabetic patients taking common front-line drugs known as ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors and ARBs (angiotensin-II receptor blockers). “They were able to actually delineate diabetic patients that were taking these medications,” Stafford said. “Because pulmonary side effects are so common and so prevalent in COVID-19 patients, we were trying to ascertain if captopril, which is the oldest ACE inhibitor, might worsen someone with pulmonary issues from this disease.” Stafford concluded in the article that going forward, pharmacists and clinicians must consider the specific adverse event profile of specific medications, particularly captopril, and how that might affect infections and other acute disease states that could alter pulmonary function, such as COVID-19. ACE inhibitors are known to upregulate the ACE2 enzyme that is responsible for cellular entry of SARS-CoV-2. Stafford likened the effects of using captopril to a door that opens a path for the coronavirus to enter the body. “By taking this medication, instead of having one door, you now have 20,” she said. “So, you can see that can put patients at risk.” At the same time, Stafford said captopril also helps create a molecule that can help protect people infected with the COVID-19 virus. “It's a really fine line and I think a lot of research is trying to toe that line and figure out which way is more predominant; is it protective or is it putting patients at risk,” Stafford said. “That was what we wanted to look at in the data. But I do think it’s early to tell exactly what effect it will have.” Stafford is already working with a physician-researcher at the UMKC School of Medicine to look specifically at patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus and whether those on ACE inhibitors and ARBs fare worse than others not using the medications. “These drugs are being taken for a reason,” Stafford said. “If we can help delineate these specific drugs that are a problem, it can eliminate much the confusion amongst clinicians and patients.”   Jun 16, 2020

  • “Living While Black” and the Law

    Five Questions With Jamila Jefferson-Jones
    Cell phone videos in recent years have captured multiple incidents in which white people have threatened African Americans with calls to police in situations in which no laws are being broken. The case of a white woman walking her dog in New York’s Central Park threatening a black man in this manner was the latest example of a phenomenon that has been called “Living While Black.” Jamila Jefferson-Jones, associate professor of law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, recently co-authored an article, "#LivingWhileBlack: Blackness as Nuisance," published by American University Law Review. She was subsequently interviewed for a New York Times article on the phenomenon. Jefferson-Jones recently discussed the phenomenon with UMKC Today. Can you explain the “Living While Black” phenomenon in layman’s terms? The hashtag #LivingWhileBlack first appeared as a social media hashtag to mobilize attention to incidents where white people called the police on Black people for engaging in non-criminal/everyday activities such as shopping, using the sidewalk, swimming in community pools, studying in university common rooms or sitting in a Starbucks. While the term “Living While Black” had been previously used to describe the fraught conditions of navigating racist encounters for Black people, the hashtag brought this term into the nation’s common lexicon.  It is a play on an older term, “Driving While Black,” which euphemistically describes the violence of racial profiling of Black drivers by law enforcement. What does it mean for a public space to be “racialized”? A public space is “racialized” when it is ascribed a racial identity or character that includes some and excludes others on the basis of race. Those spaces can be neighborhoods, public parks, avenues/boulevards, or sidewalks, among other spaces. Spaces are racialized by the people who use and lay claim to them, irrespective of whether those spaces are legally designated as public or private. The idea is that a claim is wrongfully staked to shared space in the name of racial exclusion based in notions of white supremacy.    What role has cellphone technology played in making Living While Black a “genre”? Is the net impact on black Americans positive or negative — i.e., easier for racists to call police quickly, but also a capacity for victims/bystanders to collect video evidence? Cellphone technology has put high-quality video production and distribution in the hands of the masses. Everyone is able to use this ostensibly objective medium to validate their witness to abuses — whether to the circumstances prompting false 911 calls or to police violence. The ubiquity of cellphones does make it easier for racists to call the police quickly, but I think this is outweighed by the benefits that victims and bystanders are able to reap. Cellphone video corroborates what had previously been dismissed as unreliable. Explain how the vocabulary and word usage of 911 callers is key to revealing their true racial intent — i.e., “you don’t belong here.” In our law review article, we examined video recordings and transcripts of 911 calls from 2018 and 2019. Our research highlighted language that either explicitly called for exclusion of the victim based on his or her race or that employed racially coded language (“dog whistles”) to call for the removal or expulsion of Black people from shared space. In one instance, where a white graduate student called Yale’s campus police on a Black graduate student who was napping in their dormitory’s common room, both the white graduate student and the police relied on the language of “belonging” to question the Black student’s presence in the building. The implication was that someone like her could not possibly belong in such a Yale dorm. Last month, when Amy Cooper called 911 on a Black birdwatcher in New York City’s Central Park, she deployed racist ideas about Black men to communicate to the dispatcher that he was a threat. In fact, before she called 911, she told Mr. Cooper that she was going to leverage racist ideas to summon police. Her intention was to signal to the dispatcher that Christian Cooper’s race alone made him a threat worthy of swift police response. What are the potential legislative or procedural remedies that could reduce the incidence of #LivingWhileBlack events? Some cities and states have enacted laws that punish perpetrators of #LivingWhileBlack abuses. Last year, the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan passed a human rights ordinance that prohibits crime reporting based, among other things, on an individual’s actual or perceived color or race.  Such biased crime reporting may result in prosecution for a municipal civil infraction and is punishable by a modest fine in addition to costs, damages, expenses and sanctions. Also last year, Oregon enacted legislation that allows targets of #LivingWhileBlack calls to sue those who initiate such calls for civil damages up to $250. In the wake of the recent incident in Central Park, a bill that was introduced two years ago in the New York State Assembly has gained new life. It is already illegal in New York to make a false 911 call; if this new bill is passed, it will make it a hate crime to call 911 and make a false accusation of criminal activity based on race, gender or religion. In addition to statutory remedies, there have been calls to better train 911 dispatchers so that they ask questions aimed at rooting out bias rather than unquestioningly sending officers to the scene. Finally, police must also be better-trained to respond to instances that may be #LivingWhileBlack occurrences — and to better protect the victims of such false reporting. Jun 16, 2020

  • Social Justice Through Education

    UMKC School of Education’s Institute for Urban Education offers guidance on creating culturally inclusive classroom environments
    In the current racial climate and unrest facing America today, and as schools continue to explore how classrooms will be structured post-COVID-19, Jennifer Waddell, director of the UMKC School of Education’s Institute for Urban Education, said the preparation of teachers has become increasingly critical in uplifting our society and promoting educational equity and justice. “Racism and oppression are both learned and practiced throughout societal institutions, including schools and, in particular, through the socialization of children and youth,” Waddell said in a statement following the recent deaths of black men and women due to racism and systemic injustice. “Teachers help children and youth interpret, make sense of, and view the world around them. Therefore, it is critical that they understand the power they yield, as well as, their influence and the importance of implementing a culturally responsive and anti-racist curriculum. It is also our duty as educators to identify and eradicate racist policies and practices within educational systems and communities. Institute for Urban Education faculty and staff shared their thoughts on how teachers can do their part to develop inclusive classroom curricula and ensure their classrooms are a safe space for black students. "It's important to understand yourself first," said associate director Bradley Poos. "It's more than just reading books; you have to be willing to do self-examination and allow yourself to be vulnerable and recognize your unconscious biases." Poos said that while the institute trains teachers to foster inclusive classroom environments, they are also committed to increasing the number of students of color who want to be teachers. “Teachers are trained to be the expert voice in the classroom and focus on the curriculum on the shelf, but there’s a need to engage the curriculum of self.” - Jennifer Fergerson, program coordinator, Institute for Urban Education “Studies show that students who have a teacher that looks like them at an early age are 17% more likely to go to college,” Poos said. “The percentage of likelihood increases to 35% if they have two. That’s why we ensure we're able to recruit and retain teachers of color.” At the Institute for Urban Education, faculty and staff view education as a form of social justice. There is only 5 percent of teachers of color statewide in Kansas and Missouri and, according to Poos, that’s not unintentional. “Black teachers were pushed out after the Brown vs. Board of Education decision and we haven’t recovered,” he said. “When we integrated schools, we accounted for students, but we didn’t account for teachers. We’re making a push to help undo that.” “Studies show that students who have a teacher that looks like them at an early age are 17% more likely to go to college.” - Bradley Poos, associate director, Institute for Urban Education Program coordinator Jennifer Fergerson said that one reason oppression continues to be so prevalent is that we haven’t learned how to listen to one another. Learning to listen and engage in discourse starts in school. “Teachers are trained to be the expert voice in the classroom and focus on the curriculum on the shelf, but there’s a need to engage the curriculum of self,” Fergerson said. She said teachers have to create student voice in the classroom, especially in areas like social studies and literature. It’s up to teachers to ensure they use supplemental material to ensure multiple voices are presented and give students the opportunity to analyze from different perspectives. “Students are the experts on their identities and their lives,” Ferguson said. “They should be a part of setting norms in the classroom. They want to learn, and they want respect.” Institute for Urban Education staff suggests: Incorporating room meetings to give students an opportunity to share and be a part of creating classroom norms Implementing an 80/20 rule – 80% student and 20% teacher – to ensure teachers are doing more listening and moderating discussion among students, allowing them to learn from one another and give voice to necessary conversations One-on-one conferences with students to check in on their success and build relationships, Studying and really getting to know students’ names Building authentic relationships with students’ families, letting them see teachers as human Waddell said this work isn’t just for teachers in schools with predominantly black student bodies; predominantly white schools need to do this work as well – in some ways, more importantly. “Teachers help children and youth interpret, make sense of, and view the world around them. Therefore, it is critical that they understand the power they yield, as well as, their influence and the importance of implementing a culturally responsive and anti-racist curriculum." - Jennifer Waddell, director, Institute for Urban Education The Institute for Urban Education plans to continue doing its part by fostering important conversations with its future teachers, its partners and the community. This fall, the institute is launching its Grow-Your-Own program, a teacher pipeline program for future Institute for Urban Education students and teachers in local K-12 schools. Its goal is to recruit more teachers of color, especially males, who view education as a social-justice profession and want to remain in Kansas City to pursue their careers. Beginning July 8, the institute will host a free weekly webinar series, Voices in Education, to share resources with local teachers and continue the conversation surrounding the need for diversity, equity and inclusion in education. Classes will take place at 1 p.m. each Wednesday and cover topics like anti-racist classroom practices, promoting student voices, tech tools for the classroom and remote learning and more. Follow the UMKC School of Education on social media for upcoming registration details.  The mission of UMKC School of Education’s Institute for Urban Education is to prepare and support exemplary teachers for richly diverse schools in Kansas City. Jun 15, 2020

  • Forbes Draws on UMKC School of Law Professor's Expertise

    Nancy Levit, an employment law scholar and associate dean at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, was interviewed by Forbes about ...
    The ruling is “historic, long overdue, and offers some hope that many of our fellow citizens can now feel more secure at work,” noted Nancy Levit. Read the full Forbes article. Jun 15, 2020

  • 3 Reasons Why I Want to Return to College This Fall – No Matter What That Looks Like

    Even in uncertain times, it’s a decision I am confident about
    COVID-19 is continuing to change the way our world is functioning. However, one thing that has remained a constant throughout this global pandemic is my determination to complete my degree as soon as possible. It is important to acknowledge that although COVID-19 momentarily caused the world to be at standstill, our goals and dreams will not wait for anyone. Here are some reasons why I am eager to go back to school in the fall. 1. There are still things I need to learn for my career. Growing up, I always loved learning about new things. Academics has played a significant role in my life and has taught me so much about the world we live in. I cannot imagine taking a break from my college experience because I know learning plays an important role in my everyday life and will in my future career as well. I already have my classes picked out for the fall semester and am looking forward to continue to learn more about everything, from American literature to Physics. 2. I still want to make a difference on campus. A huge part of my college experience has been defined by being involved in various organizations. I would definitely like to continue to be a part of these organizations and contribute as much as I can. I am very excited and despite the uncertainty, I cannot wait to contribute my efforts and ideas towards the organizations I am currently involved in, which include Her Campus at UMKC and the UMKC Student Government Association (UMKC SGA). Also, I am currently a writing consultant at the UMKC Writing Studio. Working on campus has been a significant part of my college experience. The UMKC Writing Studio is one of the places where I can truly express and develop my passion for writing while helping my peers. I definitely want to go back to school in the fall so that I am able to continue working there – whether that is in person or online. 3. UMKC continues to help me grow as a leader. UMKC has been the place that has allowed me to grow not just academically, but holistically as well. I have become a more well-rounded person with various leadership qualities under my belt due to the experiences UMKC has offered me. I cannot imagine taking a break from my undergraduate academics as this would mean that I would not have many opportunities to continue to grow as a person. Knowing that UMKC is #RooReady has definitely alleviated my anxiety surrounding going back to campus in the fall. I’m encouraged about the steps the university is taking to ensure students are safe while getting a high-quality education. Krithika Selvarajoo is a senior double majoring in English and Chemistry, and an orientation leader. Upon graduation in 2021, she plans to further her studies to potentially work in a health care setting. Jun 11, 2020

  • Recommended Works by African American Writers

    Recommended reading by University Libraries and English Department to build empathy and understanding
    In support of the Black community in Kansas City, nationwide, and all over the world, here are resources for recommended reading. University Libraries Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee has compiled a list of resources to help those support racial justice and as well as a reading list. Gloria Tibbs, organizational development coordinator for University Libraries, is the founder of the African American Read-In at UMKC. She was recognized by the White House in 2013 as a "Champion of Change." Her recommendations include The Venus Hottentot by Elizabeth Alexander, An expanded edition of Movement in Black by Pat Parker and Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. Broadcasting from UMKC since 1977, the literary radio show New Letters on the Air has long been known for its diversity of voices among writers of poetry, fiction, essays, plays and more. Producer and host of New Letters, Angela Elam recommends listening to recordings in their extensive archives such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Terrance Hayes, Audre Lorde, Stanley Banks and Stephanie Powell Watts. Imaginative storytelling has the narrative power to build greater empathy within and among readers. The English Department offers the following list of recommended creative works by African American writers: Hadara Bar-Nadav, professor and director of Creative Writing, recommends:  Gwendolyn Brooks’ Selected Poems Virginia Blanton, Curators’ Distinguished Professor, recommends:  Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes were Watching God Britta Bletscher, M.A. student and graduate teaching assistant, recommends:  Alice Walker’s The Color Purple Crystal Doss, associate teaching professor, recommends:  Toni Morrison’s Beloved Madison Clay, M.A. student, recommends:  Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give  Ande Davis, Ph.D. candidate, recommends:  Kwanza Osajyefo, Tim Smith, Jamal Igle, and Khary Randolph’s BLACK Laurie Ellinghausen, professor and interim chair, recommends:  Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man Robert Farnsworth, emeritus faculty, recommends:  Richard Wright’s Native Son Thomas Ferrel, instructor and director of the Writing Studio, recommends:  Alice Walker’s To Hell with Dying Jane Greer, Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor, recommends:  Nella Larsen’s Quicksand Emily Grover, instructor, recommends:  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah Christie Hodgen, professor and editor of New Letters, recommends:  James Baldwin’s “Notes of a Native Son” Sheila Honig, lecturer, recommends:  James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues”  Ben Jasnow, instructor, recommends:  Frederick Douglass’ Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave Sarah Beth Mundy, instructor:  recommends:  Chinua Achebe’s A Man of the People Ashley Pendleton, M.A. student and graduate teaching assistant, recommends:  Nic Stone’s Dear Martin Jennifer Phegley, professor, recommends:  Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad Robert Stewart, former editor of New Letters, recommends:  Tim Seibles’ One Turn Around the Sun Jun 11, 2020

  • Cleaning on Campus

    University taking precautions during pandemic
    UMKC has been working hard to follow the latest recommendations and precautions to keep our students, faculty and staff safe on campus as we continue to deal with COVID-19. We spoke to Michael Graves, director of facilities operations at UMKC, to give us the information we’ve all wanted to know as we get ready to return to campus. What are we doing to keep university facilities clean? While buildings have been closed, Campus Facilities Management has remained on site performing enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of facilities at both Volker and Health Sciences campuses. They are using procedures recommended by the CDC and products approved by the EPA as effective against COVID-19. We’re continuing to follow those protocols as a part of daily cleaning and disinfecting services.  High-touch points like handrails, door handles and light switches are receiving increased cleaning. Most of that daily cleaning occurs overnight and during the early morning hours so that buildings are ready to be used the next day. Is hand sanitizer being used on campus? Where are the dispensers? Yes, hand sanitizer dispensers are stationed at every building entrance as well as other high-traffic areas. Our team will refill these daily. If you see a dispensing station that has been damaged or needs service, please call Campus Facilities Management at 816-235-1354. What will be different about buildings when we return to campus? Elevator capacities are being reduced to two-person occupancy to accommodate social distancing. New signage encourages occupants to face away from each other while in the elevator. Water fountains are being taken off-line to prevent use. Bottle fillers will remain operational. Acrylic “Plexiglas” type screens are being installed at reception desks, service counters and other spaces where close interaction for prolonged periods is common and social distancing is not practical. These are generally custom-made and may be requested by individual units as needed. Breakrooms, lunchrooms, open shared spaces and gathering areas will be closed or significantly limited in use to avoid social gatherings. They may still be used for food and drink preparation and consumption (one at a time, or multiple people as long as 6-foot social distancing can be maintained). Users should disinfect any shared appliances after use including copiers, fax machines, microwaves and coffeemakers. There will be cleaning supplies nearby. Tell us about the new signs on campus. Signage is being placed around campus identifying sanitizer dispensers, promoting hand hygiene and social distancing practices, revising occupancy limits and more. It’s part of the university’s “Keep Every Roo Safe” campaign. Do the buildings’ heating and air conditioning systems provide fresh air to the spaces? Yes, UMKC buildings are designed to meet building code ventilation requirements that are based on the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards. Those standards require a set number of air changes in every space per hour, based on the size and type of area. Those air changes include a certain percentage of outside air. All of those amounts are calculated to provide good air quality for the maximum occupancy allowed in the space. Since spaces are rarely filled to maximum occupancy, the buildings are almost always over-ventilated during normal operations. What will Campus Facilities Management do if there’s a suspected case of COVID-19 on campus? After any suspected case of COVID-19 on campus is communicated to campus leadership, Campus Facilities Management immediately will help vacate spaces that are potentially affected and close them so that others do not enter. Following CDC guidelines, the area will remain closed for at least 24 hours, before being thoroughly disinfected using an EPA- and CDC-approved process. We want to make sure we maintain a safe environment for students to learn, and for our faculty and staff to teach and work. Jun 11, 2020

  • Pandemic Presents Unique Scheduling Challenge

    Faculty, staff tackle ‘big lift’ to meet demand
    How’s this for a Rubik’s cube-level puzzle challenge? UMKC typically schedules more than 5,800 courses a week. Now we have to limit all of our classrooms to only 25% of capacity due to COVID-19. There is some extra meeting space available, but not nearly enough to consequentially meet what is essentially a four-fold increase in demand for classroom space. What do we do? Ask UMKC Registrar Amy Cole. She and her team are doing it. To maintain recommended social distancing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the university is mandating that classroom population be limited to 25% of capacity for the fall semester. That key element of the #RooReady challenge landed in the lap of the Registrar’s office. To make it work, Cole and her team are converting event spaces including Pierson Auditorium and the fourth floor of the Student Union into classroom space, while exploring “every nook and cranny” of almost every building on both campuses to make sure students and faculty can socially distance while having a great in-classroom experience. The team is working with each of the schools to expand online and hybrid class offerings, and offer more evening and early-morning sections of popular classes. “It’s a big lift, and we’re still at it,” Cole said. “We’re still finding spaces that can be converted to classrooms, figuring out a safe capacity for them and working them into the schedule. The goal is to give as many students as possible as much of what they want as possible. It’s time consuming, but we have a great team of dedicated people committed to getting it done.” Other members of the UMKC community are hard at work as well in order to meet this unique challenge. Faculty are undergoing summer training to create format flexible courses. This means that while they are planning to teach in-person, they will have a Plan B to take classes online if the COVID environment makes that necessary. Those plans will be communicated clearly to students in the syllabus at the beginning of the semester to minimize surprises or disruptions during the semester. Instructors will have new flexible attendance policy guidelines to meet the unique demands of attending class during a pandemic, including guidelines for those with underlying health conditions or other situations. Those guidelines will be clearly laid out in the syllabus. Students requesting COVID-related academic accommodations should contact Scott Laurent at (816) 235-5696 or by email at laurentr@umkc.edu.  UMKC also is making increasing use of “hybrid” courses for the fall, which include a combination of online and in-classroom sessions. For example, the course readings and online lectures are completed outside of class and students meet in person for smaller discussion groups or lab sections. The university is expanding online offerings of both “synchronous” courses, which are conducted in real time with ongoing interaction among students and instructors; and “asynchronous” courses, which allow students to access the material at times of their own choosing. Even for fully online courses, faculty are preparing them so that there are opportunities for small group, virtual break-out sessions allowing students to have safe, meaningful engagement with other students and the faculty. “We are looking at scheduling some sections as early as 7 a.m., or on weekends,” Cole added. “Some students may prefer an online course meeting at a more convenient hour.” Classes involving internships, service learning, and clinical rotations/practica will have to be set up, and communicated, on an individual basis. “We’re trying to provide as much flexibility as we can while sticking to that 25% capacity limit,” Cole said. “UMKC wants to provide all of our students with an engaging and meaningful college experience despite the challenges presented by the pandemic.” Jun 11, 2020

  • Roo is KC’s Sportswoman of Year for 2020

    Ericka Mattingly played during the 2019-20 women’s basketball season and was featured in The Kansas City Star
    On June 12, she received the Spire Sportswoman of the Year Award from the Kansas City Sports Commission. Read more about her in the article from the Kansas City Star. Jun 10, 2020

  • Pride Awards Recognize Leaders in LGBTQIA+ Community

    Annual program honors accomplishments by students, faculty, alumni and more
    The annual UMKC Pride Awards recognize outstanding individuals in the community who have contributed to the betterment of the LGBTQIA+ community through education, support, programming or activism. These awards honor those who have contributed in the areas of service and outreach, establishing a safer and more welcoming environment at UMKC. “This year, our office was blown away by the nominations and the quality of awards candidates,” said Kari Jo Freudigmann, assistant director, LGBTQIA Programs and Services. “There are many change-makers on campus and in our local community, and we want to be sure they know that their work and efforts do not go unnoticed.” The full list of 2020 awards includes: Note: The text under the names of each award recipient are excerpts from the nomination packets. Outstanding Faculty/Staff: Tamica L. Lige Recognizes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, or ally faculty or staff who contribute to a positive campus climate for LGBTQIA individuals. “Plenty can talk, plan or imagine: Tamica Lige gets to work. Under Ms. Lige’s leadership, an organization on UMKC’s Hospital Hill with an established history expanded its mission to include the needs of LGBTQIA+ people.” “Tamica Lige scheduled sessions with healthcare providers at institutions with which UMKC has partnerships in order for us to learn more about the needs of transgender patients and their struggles navigating healthcare systems.” Jim Wanser Award: Mark T Sawkin Named for the faculty member, advisor and guiding force to the UMKC LGBT Initiative and its development into the LGBT Office, this award recognizes an individual who has volunteered hours of service to the UMKC LGBTQIA community or the greater Kansas City LGBTQIA community. “Dr. Sawkin is heavily involved in the UMKC STAHR program that focuses on ways in which we can increase program retention for students that come from underserved backgrounds. One way in which he has done this is by eliminating barriers, and helping all his students, including myself, feel accepted.” Rising Star Award: Jager “Jay” Wirth Recognizes one area high school student whose leadership and service have resulted in a tangible gain for LGBTQIA students (such as Gay/Straight Alliance), or whose energies have created a more friendly, inclusive environment at their high school.   “Jager helped to found the GSA at our high school two years ago, as before there wasn’t really a safe space for students in the LGBTQIA community to go and be supported by peers and faculty as well. Jager saw a need, and he made it happen.” Outstanding Alumni Award: Taryn Hodison Recognizes one UMKC Alum who works toward fostering an inclusive community, at UMKC or in the community in which they live and work. “She has a gift of being able to provide a space in which those identifying as LGBTQIA+ feel safe, seen and heard, something many have never felt.” “Taryn has a special interest in transgender youth, especially in providing them with education, fellowship, connection and acceptance. She has hopes of developing a program that will benefit Kansas City youth that can also be taught and implemented nationally.” Graduate/Professional Student of the Year Award: Luke R. Allen Recognizes one student for outstanding leadership, dedication and service within the university, or in the community, that has resulted in new or revitalized resources, services, or programs for the LGBTQIA community.  “Luke is especially interested in topics related to sexual and gender diversity, including LGBTQ youth, counseling effectiveness, and culturally relevant counseling approaches with these populations. Luke developed a study that explored the extra-familial sources of support for transgender and gender nonconforming youth.” Undergraduate Student of the Year Award: Kristen Garcia Recognizes one student for outstanding leadership, dedication, and service within the University, or in the community, that has resulted in new or revitalized resources, services, or programs for the LGBTQIA community.  “I met Kristen for the first time at the 2019 Masqueerade event after she personally reached out by email to invite me. As a queer individual who never got the chance to go to homecoming and Prom, that night truly meant the world to me. That night happened because of the endless work Kristen put into it.” Collaborative Excellence Award: Central United Methodist Church – Sally Haynes and Maggie Holley Recognizes departments whose collaborative efforts have resulted in new or improved resources and services for LGBTQIA students, faculty, staff or community members.  “Rev. Dr. Sally Haynes from Central Methodist Church works endlessly for the students at UMKC. She has committed to ensuring her church to be inclusive and affirming of all gender and sexual identities. She put up flags and posters to tell the community that the church is on the LGBT+ side and that the community is welcome.” “With the help of Maggie Holley reaching out to the LGBTQIA Programs & Services office, she organized a UMC Community Dinner where students from UMKC were welcomed in the church to discuss LGBT+ concerns, goals and get to know students.” Jun 09, 2020

  • COVID-19 Research by the Numbers

    Math and statistics students began studying the potential spread in January
    Before many people were aware of the COVID-19 virus and its potential for broad infection, UMKC students were building predictive models of its possible spread. Majid Bani-Yaghoub, Ph.D. (known as Dr. Bani), associate professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, focuses on mathematical modeling in several areas of study including health and biomedicine. He had been following the scientific reports of the new virus in China and incorporated it into his Graduate Differential Equations class. “I was following the news in January, and I knew modeling and analysis of the virus would be a good fit with this course,” he says. “Our work is continuing. We have three different groups using epidemiology, math and statistical models and numerical simulations to see how the virus is affected by policy.” In addition to following the progress of COVID-19, they are using optimal control theory, to predict the best way to minimize spread. “Analyzing which combination of control measures gives us the best result and provides a good understanding of how to stop the spread of the virus,” Bani says. Hope Mertz, MS ‘20, Science and Mathematics, studied the spread of COVID-19 for her research project. She was not that familiar with the virus when she enrolled. “I had just started hearing about what was happening in China, so when Dr. Bani started talking about the project, my partner [Kodi Kuhlmann] and I jumped at the chance to work on something so pertinent.” At the time, it appeared that the virus was only spreading in a small part of China. Bani shared the website for research articles at John Hopkins University and Mertz began to think that virus was spreading further and faster than reported. “We modeled the spread from Wuhan City to New York City via their main travel hubs,” Mertz says. “We could see that the reported number of cases was a huge understatement. I could not force my model to give me numbers as small as what was being reported.” Besides the student projects, research on COVID-19 has yielded successful collaborations with other faculty members. Using existing resources through the UMKC Institute for Data Education, Analytics and Science, Bani has recently started research on drug repurposing with Bi-Botti Celestin Youan at the School of Pharmacy and Liana Sega, also in the Mathematics and Statistics Department in the College of Arts and Sciences. “There are millions of untested drugs,” he says. “We can use predictive modeling, machine learning techniques and some abstract areas of mathematics such as persistent homology to explore how we could use an existing drug as a solution for the problem.” While he is certain of the quality of his team’s work, Bani cannot predict the likelihood of another surge. "We could see that the reported number of cases was a huge understatement. I could not force my model to give me numbers as small as what was being reported.”- Hope Mertz “Math models are as accurate as the data,” he says. “From what we see so far, we hope that there’s a down trend, but we are not 100% sure about the data.” Bani says we will know more once more businesses are open and more people are out. “The spread could be really rapid, and we should follow the CDC guidelines to prevent the second wave,” he says. “We are relying on each individual. This is proven epidemiology – each person can make a difference.” He notes that the basic reproduction number is an essential threshold value. If the average number of newly infected people caused by an infected individual is less than one, then the virus will die out. “Social distancing and mask wearing are effective in preventing virus transmission,” he says. “We need to get used to these measures.” Along with the other projects, Mertz and Kuhlmann’s modeling approach and research results were presented at the UMKC Sixth Annual Math & Stat Research Day on April 17. Jun 08, 2020

  • Film Studies Faculty Featured in The Kansas City Star

    Mitch Brian, associate teaching professor at UMKC, is Kevin Willmott’s former screenwriting partner
    Brian was recently interviewed by the Kansas City Star about Willmott's latest film and going to the movie theater. Jun 08, 2020

  • The Best 25 College Drama Programs Around the World

    Hollywood Reporter ranks UMKC Theatre in Top 25
    The Hollywood Reporter surveys alums, academics and industry pros for its annual list of the top acting schools. Read why the publication ranked UMKC Theatre. Jun 08, 2020

  • UMKC Health Professions Students Gather for White Coats for Black Lives

    The Kansas City Star featured Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy students who showed peaceful solidarity
    Approximately 150 healthcare workers and students gathered at the UMKC Health Sciences campus on June 6 to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement and demonstrators fighting for racial equality and an end to police brutality. Read more from the Kansas City Star. Jun 06, 2020

  • A Man Who Spent 23 Years In Prison After Being Wrongfully Convicted Has Gone Viral on TikTok

    School of Law professor on Ricky Kidd legal team
    Sean O’Brien, UMKC School of Law professor, worked to free Ricky Kidd, a man who was wrongfully convicted and sent to prison. The story was covered nationally at the time of the ruling and recently made headlines again, this time on BuzzFeed. Jun 05, 2020

  • Turning Class into a Podcast

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

  • My Life During COVID: Brandon Martin

    Checking in to see how our UMKC community is managing the highs and lows of sheltering in place
    UMKC Athletic Director Brandon Martin is off the court, off the field and home with his wife, two daughters and son. He’s been home with his family more than ever before — and finding that he loves it. “It’s really going great,” Martin says. “We are having a ton of family time and I’m just so grateful that my family is all here and safe.” He and his wife, Rosemary, who works in human resources at Metropolitan Community College, are both working at home in their basement and home office. His oldest daughter is home from her first year of college. “She came home from Arizona State University with straight As,” he said. “We were just thrilled”. His younger daughter and son were both going to school remotely. “They were going to school in their bedrooms and basically living on their iPads.” The Martins are all pitching in and helping each other out, and they are taking a lot of family walks. “I love it,” he says. “I’ve been home more now than I’ve ever been before. Balance has always been tough for me, but I feel like the ratio is good right now and it makes me feel fulfilled. We had a great Mother’s Day. I couldn’t stop thinking about what it would be like if my wife weren’t here. It just filled me with so much gratitude.” Still, Martin is aware of the suddenness of his athletes’ season ending and he understands the loss they are feeling. “I have a great respect for the resilience of our athletes and coaches. Their seasons ended so abruptly. I really appreciate how willing they were to take the appropriate directions. They were all patient, focused and centered.” Despite his positive perspective, Martin struggles with the ambiguity of what will come next. “I am trying to crystallize what the ‘new normal’ is going to be. My life — my job — are never going to be the same. In my life and my career, so much of it is about competing. Now we’re competing against the unknown, but I know we’re going to get through this.” What are you reading? “Laws of Human Nature” by Robert Greene “How Champions Think: In Sports and in Life” by Bob Rotella and Bob Cullen “Daily Stoic” by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman “Managing from the Heart” by Hyler Bracey, Jack Rosenblum, Aubrey Sanford and Roy Trueblood What are you watching? “The Last Dance.” It’s epic and it’s great family time for us. I love educating my kids about the greatness of Michael Jordan. “Billions.” What are you eating? I love to cook, and I’ve started posting on Instagram with the hashtag thecookingad. I just made Baja fish tacos. Jun 04, 2020

  • A Life-Long Love of Teaching

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

  • On a Mission to Bridge the Health Care Gap

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

  • Criminology Professor Talks on KCUR About George Floyd and Nationwide Protests

    As protesters and police clash in cities from coast to coast, Kansas City discusses a way forward
    Ken Novak, professor of criminal justice and criminology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, was a guest on KCUR's Up to Date. Jun 03, 2020

  • UMKC Criminal Justice Professor Provides Commentary

    Ken Novak, UMKC professor of criminal justice and criminology, was a guest on KCUR's Up to Date.
    The June 2 show was devoted to hearing what listeners have to say about the situation, which included a journalist, faith leader and criminal justice expert. Listen to the segment online. Jun 02, 2020

  • Alumna Becomes New Museum Director

    The Kansas City Star featured Mary McMurray
    ‘Johnson County Museum tells the story of suburbia.’ Its new director embraces history. Read the story here. Jun 01, 2020

  • Professor in Associated Press Article Weighs in on Homicide Spike in Kansas City

    Police report 68 homicides so far this year, compared to 56 in the same period a year ago
    Ken Novak, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, offered this perspective: Kansas City’s per capita homicide rate last year was about 30 deaths per 100,000 residents. Read the full article from the Associated Press. Jun 01, 2020

  • Political Science Professor Emeritus Weighs in on National Political Scene

    Max Skidmore has been providing local and national media interviews
    Max Skidmore, author of a book on presidential leadership during health crises, was quoted in an article by the Washington Post e-Replica Newspapers in Education. Jun 01, 2020

  • Study Featured in Healthline

    Studies Explore the Question: ‘Has My Insulin Gone Bad?’
    The experts who led this study included Dr. Alan Carter of the non-profit MRI Global research group and a pharmacy professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and Dr. Lutz Heinemann, a San Diego-based expert on insulin and emerging biosimilars. Read the story here. May 31, 2020

  • Student Body President Featured in the KC Star

    Brandon Henderson, new UMKC student body president was interviewed about his experience at local protests
    ‘It could’ve been me’: Why one Kansas City student attended protest for black lives. Read the story here. May 31, 2020

  • Political Science Professor Offers Insight into the Pandemic

    Max Skidmore, political scientist at UMKC shares insights on politics and pandemics with multiple publications.
    Read the MSN article: Trump tightens grip on coronavirus information as he pushes to restart the economy Read The Philadelphia Inquirer article: Trump’s push to reopen Pennsylvania adds 2020 politics to a heated coronavirus debate Read The Deseret News article: How the pandemic might have been different if this wasn’t an election year Read The Washington Post article: Trump’s baseless claim persists Read The Washington Post article: President inflames rather than soothes May 30, 2020

  • Professor Interviewed by the Associated Press

    Ken Novak, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, offered this perspective on rising homicide rates
    Homicides spike in Kansas City; on possible record pace. Read the story here. May 30, 2020

  • 14 COVID-19 Myths and Misconceptions

    Dean of UMKC School of Medicine separates facts from fiction
    Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, is an infectious disease expert. Also an alumna from the UMKC School of Medicine’s innovative six-year B.A./M.D. program, she served as one of six physicians statewide advising Missouri Governor Mike Parson about COVID-19, and was recently named senior advisor of public health in a five-member volunteer group on how Jackson County should spend its $122 million in CARES Act funding. On numerous media appearances, Jackson has answered questions about evidence-based practices in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Here are just a few examples she’s dispelled of legend and lore about COVID-19: 1. A chiropractor has been publicizing an IV vitamin C product as a possible treatment for COVID-19. Anything to that? Jackson: While there is biologic plausibility based on the hypothesis that when an individual suffers a severe infection, vitamin C which is necessary for cellular and tissue function, is depleted, there is no scientific evidence to support the use of vitamin C in the management of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. There is no data to support its use as prophylaxis that would be given in a chiropractor’s office. One study registered at clinicaltrials.gov, will investigate the use of IV vitamin C in SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia patients in China using a randomized control trial protocol. The randomized control trial using a standard control group receiving placebo vs. the treatment group excludes bias and allows the outcome variable to be clear. This is especially important for COVID-19 where we know many cases spontaneously improve.  There have been two recently published studies that are “open label” (no control group) to study the use of vitamin C in non-SARS-CoV-2 infections where individuals suffered from shock and acute respiratory distress syndrome. Neither showed clear evidence of benefit. What is interesting is that anti-vaxxers appear to be circulating information on social media to drive the unproven messaging around vitamin C. For treatment of disease, trust a well-trained healthcare professional who practices evidence-based medicine and has extensive clinical experience. 2. Does heat kill the coronavirus? For example, the sun? A hot bath? Drinking hot water? Jackson: There is no evidence of a benefit to flushing the virus from your system by drinking hot water or taking a hot bath. Drinking water will keep one hydrated and that is recommended for all. The concept that heat can affect the virus is one worth discussing. The virus that causes COVID-19 is an enveloped virus, and enveloped viruses do generally demonstrate sensitivity to temperature and therefore may be more likely to appear or disappear during certain seasons related to temperature. Research on other enveloped viruses suggests that this oily outer coat makes the viruses more susceptible to heat than those that do not have one. In colder conditions, the oily coat hardens into a rubber-like state, much like fat from cooked meat will harden as it cools, to protect the virus for longer when it is outside the body. Many viruses wax and wane in seasons. Influenza typically arrives with the colder winter months. So does norovirus and RSV. Measles cases drop during the summer in temperate climates, and increase when schools are in session. But we have no information about how the virus that causes COVID-19 will change with the seasons. For one thing, pandemic viruses often don’t follow the same seasonal patterns seen in more normal outbreaks. Spanish flu, for example, peaked in the summer, while the typical seasonal flu peaks occur during the winter. Even if COVID-19 does show some seasonal variability, it likely will persist to some degree and not totally disappear in the summer. A dip in cases will bring benefits, however. If it decreases in the summer, it is likely to re-emerge again in the fall. But there will be fewer susceptible individuals at that point, too, so potentially fewer cases-depending on how much of the population remains susceptible after the first wave. 3. If there has been a day of rain followed by sunshine, is playground equipment safe from COVID-19? 4. Jackson: As the weather warms, people will want to be outdoors and I’ve seen more people in our community outdoor walking and running in neighborhoods and in areas of parks and trails. It’s important to be outside to keep healthy, physically and mentally. And I especially like that I’ve seen families outside with their kids, who need to be active especially since they have no school and can’t be out with friends. CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) have been emphasizing that to control the COVID-19 epidemic, we must “flatten the curve” — that is, reduce the amount of transmission of the virus. We know that one proven way to accomplish this is by physical distancing — keeping six feet or more from other individuals and taking precautions to wash hands, refrain from being in enclosed spaces with other people, disinfect surfaces and other precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. But do not take the kids to public playgrounds—you’ll find that all are cordoned off so that equipment can’t be accessed. Not only would open play areas encourage the kind of close contact we are trying to limit, but also, contaminated surfaces have been found to have detectable virus—including plastic and stainless steel. The duration that virus could exist on wood is not clearly known. There is no good evidence that following rain and with a day of sunshine, the playground is safe. There is no present guidance from CDC on how best to manage these spaces, including recommended cleaning and disinfection for outdoor equipment to prevent transmission of the coronavirus. Bottom line: Avoid the playground (and play dates) for kids while you are social distancing unless it is the playground in your own backyard for your family. 4. Should you consider deliberately exposing yourself to inoculate yourself?  Jackson: In the past, some parents participated in “chickenpox parties” to intentionally expose their unvaccinated children to a child with chickenpox in hopes that they would get the disease. CDC strongly recommends against hosting or participating in these events because serious complications and even death can follow infection and one cannot predict how severe the disease will be. Now the same bad idea has emerged related to COVID-19. On March 24, it was announced that an individual in Kentucky tested positive for the novel coronavirus after they attended a "coronavirus party" for people in their 20s. Young people are less at risk of developing serious complications of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, but they may still require hospitalization for serious symptoms. And even someone who only contracts a mild case of the disease can spread it to vulnerable people. We need to wait for the vaccine—and until then continue social distancing. 5. Can livestock pass COVID-19 on through our food supply? Jackson: There are some food products that can be contamina