• 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

  • Campus Updates for Spring Semester

    Modality changes announced for first two weeks
    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. The new semester will begin January 19, as scheduled, but UMKC will conduct face-to-face courses remotely for the first two weeks. Classes will return to their previously scheduled modality on Feb. 1. Exceptions will be made for a small number of classes that require hands-on instruction (such as clinical rotations, music/dance performance) and will still meet in person during that initial two-week period; students enrolled in those classes will be notified directly. More information about adjustments can be found in these FAQs about spring semester. UMKC administration is making this change because there is an elevated concern within the health care community, both locally and nationally, about a potential surge in coronavirus infections as a result of holiday travel and festivities between now and the beginning of the spring semester on Jan. 19. Health officials anticipate that such a surge would put a strain on the area’s health systems. In addition, we want to give the community time to begin the rollout of the new vaccines in our community. During those first two weeks of the semester, the UMKC campus will remain open, continuing normal operations. This includes research laboratories, UMKC Libraries, food services, Swinney Recreation and all other student services from advising to student wellness to financial aid. Campus residence halls will remain open as well.   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.   Health and safety on and off campus Because colder weather and time away from campus are here, 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

  • 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
    Regardless of your financial situation or your family's, it is still recommended for all students to file the FAFSA because it can be the first step in qualifying for grant money as well as other types of need-based financial aid. While the Free Application for Federal Student Aid 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

  • 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