Top 10 Stories of 2021

A year of investment, innovation and bold initiatives
Students and faculty on escalator headed up

The year 2021 will be remembered as the one in which UMKC created a sharply sloped upward spike in its growth graph, launching strong initiatives with impact that will be felt for years. The year saw the opening of a new high tech research center, the launch of the UMKC Forward reimagination initiative, the unveiling of a new outdoor artwork to serve as a campus rallying point, and much more.

Here are the university’s Top 10 stories of 2021.

UMKC Forward Will Invest More Than $50 Million to $60 Million for Excellence and Achievement

The University of Missouri-Kansas City rolled out its UMKC Forward plan, pledging to invest more than $50 million to $60 million over the next five years in five key investments. Chancellor Mauli Agrawal said the investments are designed to achieve growth and excellence for Kansas City’s university. In addition, the university will spend another $5 million to hire new faculty in key strategic areas over the next three years.

 Students ascending on an escalator

Introducing a Bold New Concept in Higher Education: Professional Career Escalators™

A centerpiece initiative of the UMKC Forward plan will create the university’s signature Professional Career Escalators™ program. This innovative student success initiative includes a unique system of personalized support and services to propel students from their academic studies to good-paying careers. University officials believe the combined features and goals of the program make it unlike anything being offered at any other college or university in the United States.

Exterior of Plaster Center 

UMKC Welcomes Public to $32 Million High-Tech Research Center

The five-story, 57,800 square-foot Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center features 11 state-of-the-art research labs. It is the largest privately-funded capital project in UMKC history, with more than 25 donors.

Student takes selfie in front of Roo statue 

Roo Sculpture by Artist Tom Corbin Settles Into New Home

UMKC students, faculty and staff welcomed the newest UMKC Roo to campus in the first public event since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mahreen Ansari, UMKC Student Government Association president, introduced the Roo sculpture by artist Tom Corbin that stands proudly in the heart of campus on the University Walkway near the Miller Nichols Library and Learning Center. 

graduates gather for group selfie 

Commencement at The K: Unique In Every Way

The university emerged from more than a year of pandemic isolation in spectacular fashion, as the community celebrated the degrees earned by more than 2,300 graduates in a historic two-day commencement celebration at Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals.


UMKC Awarded $5 Million to Fight COVID on the East Side

The Jackson County Legislature has appropriated about $5 million in CARES Act funding to a project led by UMKC to promote and deliver widespread COVID-19 vaccinations and other health services to neighborhoods on Kansas City’s east side, the city’s most socially vulnerable community.


UMKC to Serve as Backbone for $10M National STEM Education Initiative for Students with Disabilities

The university will serve as backbone for a $10 million research effort from the National Science Foundation, or NSF, to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, education among students with disabilities. Auburn University will lead the five-year project while UMKC will "backbone," or guide vision and strategy, support aligned activities, establish shared measurement practices and support the implementation of research, according to the NSF.

TAASU presents award to Chancellor Agrawal 

African American Students Cite Chancellor for Leadership

The African American Student Union (TAASU) surprised Chancellor Mauli Agrawal in his office April 12 with the presentation of the Dr. Joseph Seabrooks Jr. Leadership Award. The award recognizes the service, leadership, professionalism and dedication of a faculty or staff member. TAASU members wanted to let the chancellor know how much they appreciated his leadership during the difficult social justice events of the past year.

Renovation work at Bloch Heritage Hall 

$15.2M Renovation Underway at Bloch Heritage Hall

When completed, the renovation of Bloch Heritage Hall will be more than new carpet and reconfigured classrooms. It will be even more than eye-popping technology, although the reimagined facility that has anchored the Bloch School since its earliest days also will get that. The $15.2 million renovation, expected to welcome students by the Fall 2022 semester, is really about fulfilling its namesake’s unwavering vision of excellence for the school.

Student-faculty interaction in research lab 

RoosDo: UMKC Launches New Campaign to Highlight Success Stories

The university launched a new branding and marketing campaign to demonstrate how UMKC people are powering our community by making discoveries, serving others and challenging the status quo.

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