2021

  • Polsinelli Recognized with Bill French Alumni Service Award

    Trustee’s commitment to UMKC is enduring and multifaceted
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City is honoring Jim Polsinelli (J.D. ’67, H.D. ’13) with its Class of 2020 Bill French Alumni Service Award for his dedication to the university. Jim Polsinelli(J.D. ’67, H.D. ’13) Giving back to the Kansas City community is key to University of Missouri-Kansas City Trustee Jim Polsinelli’s philosophy. Polsinelli leads by example. An active member of the UMKC community, Polsinelli is past chairman of the UMKC Board of Trustees, a member and past president of the Law Foundation board and former board member of the UMKC Foundation.  He has served as past co-chair of the 2018 UMKC Alumni Awards, has been a tireless advocate for the university in Jefferson City and graciously hosts events for students at Polsinelli, the law firm he co-founded in 1972. “It is hard to imagine how anyone who has built the second largest law firm in Kansas City could find the time and tremendous energy he has displayed in several capacities supporting UMKC,” said Leo Morton, chancellor emeritus at UMKC. A dedicated community volunteer even before his retirement in 2018, he has encouraged community involvement by instilling a giving program for his associates at Polsinelli, which reflects his commitment to sharing success. Polsinelli and the firm’s associates have been consistent supporters of UMKC, donating generously to the UMKC Law School, The Kansas City Repertory Theatre, the Henry W. Bloch School of Management, the Entrepreneur of the Year program, the UMKC Conservatory and KCUR.  Join us in honoring Jim Polsinelli and the other Class of 2020 Awardees in our first-ever virtual celebration at 5 p.m. April 16. Go to umkcalumni.com/alumniawards to register for this free event. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. Meet the rest of the 2020 UMKC Alumni Awardees Apr 08, 2021

  • Alumnus’ Impact Will Endure in Kansas City for Generations

    UMKC honors Mark McHenry with Alumni Spotlight Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. UMKC is honoring Mark McHenry (M.P..A. '89) with its Class of 2020 Alumni Spotlight Award. The Spotlight Award recognizes an alumnus whose accomplishments, leadership and public service have caused regional and national attention to be focused on the university and the metropolitan area. Mark McHenry(M.P..A. '89) Mark McHenry retired as director of the City of Kansas City, Missouri’s Parks and Recreation Department at the end of 2018 but the accomplishments from his 44-year career there — including adding 34 parks, six community centers and doubling the size of the Kansas City Zoo — will endure for generations to come. McHenry’s leadership was evident not only in the region, but on a national scale as well. A member of the National Recreation and Parks Association since 1984, he was inducted into the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration in 2004 and served as president of the board in 2018. A perennial ambassador for UMKC, McHenry has lent his expertise to the university as a member of the Department of Public Affairs Advisory Council and helping to develop the executive master of public administration program. He recently joined landscape architecture and planning design firm Ochsner Hare & Hare, the Olsson Studio. He was also appointed to the Missouri Conservation Commission by Gov. Mike Parson for a six-year term. Please discuss a Parks and Recreation project or two that stands out in your mind as particularly rewarding. In the early 1990s, I was given the opportunity to lead a multi-discipline team to provide a complete renovation of the Kansas City Zoo, the first of its kind in the zoo’s history. Not all of the community was supportive of the changes we were making, which presented some unique challenges; this required several meetings and negotiations with key stakeholders. Another high-profile public project was my role as project executive for the renovation and expansion of the Liberty Memorial in Penn Valley Park. Through a large team effort, we identified funds from federal, state, local and private resources. The next step was to design a very complicated restoration project and see it through the equally complicated construction phase. Today the Memorial, now known as the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial, stands as one of the premier military museums in the world. In an interview with the Missouri Times about your appointment to the Missouri Conservation Commission you mentioned being a “voice for urban conservation.” What do you hope to accomplish during your time on the commission? How will you help other urban areas in Missouri embrace nature and conservation? One of the strategic goals of the department is to connect people with nature, which is easier to accomplish in the rural areas of the state because of proximity. While that is more challenging in the urban areas, I believe through expanded programs, services and facilities this challenge can be overcome. How did UMKC prepare you for/contribute to your success? UMKC provided me with a great learning laboratory while working for the city and attending classes. It provided me with class assignments that helped resolve real city problems. About the Alumni Awards Join us in honoring McHenry and the other Class of 2020 Awardees in our first-ever virtual celebration at 5 p.m. April 16. Go to umkcalumni.com/alumniawards to register for this free event. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online.   Meet the rest of the 2020 UMKC Alumni Awardees Apr 07, 2021

  • Emigrant Created Indirect Path to CEO

    Andebrhan Honored for Defying the Odds
    The UMKC Alumni Association is honoring Hagos Andebrhan (B.S.C.E. ’78) with the Class of 2020 Defying the Odds Award. Determined to create a better life for himself and his family, Andebrhan emigrated from Eritrea in 1970. From a one-room household in Eritrea, a country in eastern Africa, to CEO of Taliaferro & Browne, a lead civil engineering firm in Kansas City, Hagos Andebrhan’s hard work and dedication have earned him success in the United States. The youngest of five children, Andebrhan came to the U.S. in 1970 to join an advanced airline pilot training program in Kansas City but ended up meeting his mentor and the founder of Taliaferro & Browne, Will Taliaferro, and changing careers. Hagos Andebrhan(B.S.C.E. ’78) “After high school, I took an exam and was one of thirty students in the entire nation of Ethiopia to be accepted into the Ethiopian Airline Pilot Training Program,” Andebrhan says. “A career in the airlines was not my dream, but it offered the best opportunity to earn a good salary. My desire to help my family financially was paramount.” Andebrhan was focused on his education when the forced unification of Eritria with Ethiopia began in 1962. “I supported the struggle for independence and engaged in student protests,” Andebrhan says. “But I was more focused on my education and was determined to emigrate to the United States to create a better life for me and my family.” But once Andebrhan moved to the United States in 1970 he could not find work as a pilot because of the number of United States pilots who had returned from the Vietnam War. Andebrhan was undeterred in his commitment to building a life in his new homeland. “Being a pilot was a means to an end, not a lifelong ambition,” he says. “Also, my wife was not thrilled with the idea.” Fortunately, Will Taliaferro, who was a partner in Taliaferro & Browne, offered him a job at his engineering firm. Taliaferro became Andebrhan’s mentor. “Mr. Taliaferro introduced me to the engineering profession and encouraged me to pursue engineering as a career. UMKC had an excellent engineering program and I was able to attend while holding a full-time job.” While Andebrhan pursued his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, he worked full-time as a draftsman at Taliaferro & Browne, supporting his wife, children and his family in Eritrea. He does not remember this remarkable juggling act as being a burden. “Necessity is the mother of invention,” he says. “Most importantly, I had the support of a wonderful wife.” He says UMKC had everything he was looking for in a university. “UMKC offered a quality education in an urban setting,” he says. “I had inspiring and encouraging professors and friendly and supportive classmates.” After Will Taliaferro died in 1990, Andebrhan and Leonard Graham, (B.A. ‘74) purchased the company; Andebrhan became CEO in 1992. Under their tenure, the company has been a part of some of Kansas City’s most significant developments including Science City in Union Station, the Kansas City Power and Light District and the new Kansas City Airport terminal. Despite his remarkable accomplishments, Taliaferro’s advice for a successful life is simple. “Life is short. Live it a day at a time.” Join us in honoring Hagos Andebrhan and the other Class of 2020 Awardees in our first-ever virtual celebration at 5 p.m. April 16. Go to umkcalumni.com/alumniawards to register for this free event. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. Apr 06, 2021

  • Bloch’s Master of Finance Stands Apart With New STEM Designation

    Provides graduates a key advantage in the job market
    The UMKC Bloch School of Management is the only school in the region offering the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) designation through its Master of Science in Finance (MSF) degree. The program responds to the emerging trend of STEM-designated programs focused on applying mathematics and statistics to the finance industry. As Kansas City’s business school, Bloch stays current and agile when it comes to industry trends. While several of the school’s courses align in this area – financial mathematics, modeling, advanced statistics – its MSF program is becoming even more quantitative-focused in its curriculum. “We’ve had our eye on this rapidly emerging trend in business schools over the last several years,” said Brian Anderson, PhD, Associate Dean at the Bloch School. “We’re excited to be strengthening our curriculum to best align with changes happening in the financial industry and to strengthen our graduates in a very competitive job market.” Bloch expects its STEM designation to attract local students as well as students from outside the local area who want to work in Kansas City. But its biggest draw may be international students. The designation, which is based on curriculum guidelines defined by the U.S. Department of Education and certified under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, extends how long students here on an F-1 student visa can stay and work in the United States after getting their degree. With a STEM degree, their Optional Practical Training (OPT) can continue up to three years. “This program is very popular among international students,” said Anderson. “We’ve been getting lots of inquiries and students applying. UMKC offers the benefit of completing their education and gaining extended work experience all right here in Kansas City.” With the new designation, Bloch joins an elite group of business schools offering STEM programs, among them the University of Southern California, MIT, the University of Pennsylvania and University of California-Berkley. The school will start promoting its STEM MSF in fall 2021. Anderson says Kansas City has a strong financial sector, making it ideal for students who want to work where the jobs are, accelerate their careers and seek opportunities for growth. “The demand is strong for those with advanced degrees in finance,” he said. “And Bloch’s STEM-designated MSF degree provides the in-demand skills and opportunities needed for their success.” Apr 05, 2021

  • UMKC Going 'Forward'

    KCUR talks to Chancellor Agrawal and Provost Lundgren
    UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal and UMKC Provost Jenny Lundgren were guests on Up to Date. They discussed UMKC Forward. More from KCUR. Apr 05, 2021

  • Here's where local universities rank among nation's top graduate programs

    Kansas City Business Journal lists local universities on the list
    UMKC has ranked programs. Read which programs are included. A subscription may be required. Apr 02, 2021

  • Family’s UMKC History Spans Seven Decades

    Edelman Family to receive UMKC Legacy Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. UMKC is honoring the Edelman Family with the Class of 2020 Legacy Award. Doris Edelman The Edelman Family’s UMKC legacy began when 12-year-old Doris Tager fled Nazi Germany in 1938. Her family traveled to the Netherlands and Cuba before arriving in Kansas City, whose local Jewish community sponsored their voyage. She’d go on to attend Kansas City University (now UMKC) and graduate in 1947 with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and economics. That same year, Doris met her future husband, William Edelman, a fellow Roo who would graduate in 1954 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Doris had a successful career as a stockbroker and was the first female vice president and partner of B.C. Christopher and Company where she worked for more than 20 years. William served patients in the heart of Kansas City as a family physician for more than 50 years before retiring in 2001. William Edelman Their oldest son, Mark (J.D. ’75), founded the Theater League, Inc., a not-for-profit community-based performing arts organization that presented the best of Broadway to Kansas City audiences for 42 years. Youngest son Ron (J.D. ’82) opened one of the region’s most successful law practices — Edelman and Thompson — with James Thompson in 1994. Middle son Alan and his wife, Debbie Sosland-Edelman, great supporters of UMKC, also connect with the university through their son Alexander (J.D. ’12). He started his own firm with two other UMKC alumni and was recognized by the National LGBT Bar Association as one of the “40 Best Attorneys Under 40.” We spoke with Mark, Ron and Alexander about their career paths. Mark Edelman Mark Edelman Not everyone would connect theatre and law degrees. Did you already have a plan for putting your law degree to use in theatre when you began at UMKC? I hoped to become an entertainment lawyer and volunteered (hung out may be a better description) in New York at an office at the Bar Association of the City of New York that provided services for artists. After graduation, I studied for the NY Bar exam; but I got a job running the Bucks County Playhouse in suburban Philadelphia instead. They were impressed I had a law degree. Over the course of your career, you met some famous folks. Any encounters that stand out in your memory? My first presentation in Kansas City—while I was still in law school—involved a student activities-funded presentation of an off-Broadway show called LEMMINGS. After the show, the cast came to my apartment at 44th and Walnut, where my neighbors joined me in welcoming them. Three of the actors there were Chevy Chase, John Belushi and Christopher Guest. The following year, they were all on or writing SNL. What does leaving a legacy mean to you? How does it feel to be sharing this award with your family? While my brother Ron and nephew Alex continue to make great strides on behalf of their clients, I am most proud to share this with my folks, who had to deal with prejudice and near poverty to succeed at KCU. My mother and her family escaped Nazi Germany to find their way first to Cuba and then Kansas City. My father faced anti-Semitism in graduate school elsewhere, but found a more welcoming, inclusive environment in Kansas City. Ron Edelman Ron Edelman You’ve been nationally recognized as a top workers’ compensation lawyer. Why is representing personal injury and workers’ compensation cases important to you? An injury on the job, or an injury caused by the fault of another party, can be financially and emotionally devastating for the victim and their family. To be able to help people in their time of need by making sure that all the bills are [covered], and that they and their family are compensated for their losses, is extremely satisfying. What advice do you have for students who’d like to follow in your footsteps? Don’t listen to anyone else’s advice, including mine. That said, “Follow your heart (and your head).”  Alexander Edelman Alexander Edelman What is your proudest accomplishment? My proudest accomplishment is my role in helping build the law firm Edelman, Liesen & Myers, L.L.P. from the ground up. Within just a few years, we were able to build a practice that fights for individual rights, especially in their employment and in public accommodation, and have helped obtain justice for those who have been discriminated against or mistreated. The firm has continued to grow, and we are able to help even more people, and we’ve been able to help shape the law in a way that clarifies and protects the legal rights of individuals. You were named one of the 40 Best LGBT Attorneys Under 40. How does it feel to have achieved such success before 40? Receiving the recognition from the National LGBT Bar Association was a huge honor. I am very proud to be able to represent the LGBT community, both as a member of the community and by serving clients from the community. I am extremely lucky to have found partners who are also passionate about standing up for the rights of LGBT people as well as others, and thus to have the opportunity to be able to do this kind of work so early in my career. How did UMKC contribute to your success? Most directly, UMKC is where I met my classmates, Sarah Liesen (J.D. ’12) and Katherine Myers (J.D. ’12), who became my law partners, and without whom I could not have had any of the professional success I have achieved. It also provided the solo and small firm incubator, where we got our start. About the Alumni Awards Join us in honoring the Edelman Family and the other Class of 2020 Awardees in our first-ever virtual celebration at 5 p.m. April 16. Go to umkcalumni.com/alumniawards to register for this free event. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online.   Meet the rest of the 2020 UMKC Alumni Awardees Apr 01, 2021

  • Music Professor's Sudden Hearing Loss Restored At NKCH

    KSHB interviewed UMKC Conservatory professor
    This story is about Chris Madden, University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory assistant professor of piano pedagogy. Read the full story and watch the newscast. Apr 01, 2021

  • Temptation Island - Is Blake Eyres a Real Dentist?

    Blake Eyres is a UMKC School of Dentistry alumnus
    Blake Eyres graduated from the UMKC School of Dentistry. This story was covered by Showbiz CheatSheet and ScreenRant. Apr 01, 2021

  • Temptation Island: Is Blake Eyres a Real Dentist?

    Blake Eyres is a UMKC School of Dentistry alumnus
    Blake Eyres graduated from the UMKC School of Dentistry. This story was covered by Showbiz CheatSheet and ScreenRant. Apr 01, 2021

  • Taking Care of Business

    Bonnie Gorman receives School of Computing and Engineering Alumni Achievement Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. UMKC School of Computing and Engineering is honoring Bonnie Gorman (B.S.M.E. ’86), with its Class of 2020 Alumni Achievement Award. Bonnie Gorman(B.S.M.E. ’86) Bonnie Gorman serves as director of modernization and innovation for Olin Winchester, an industry leading ammunition manufacturer and current operating contractor of the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, Missouri. A natural leader, Gorman has held roles of increasing responsibility at Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, including engineering director and manager of manufacturing, quality, safety and facilities. In 2017, she was awarded the Orbital ATK President’s Award for Execution Excellence for restoring a critical operation after a catastrophic event. A longtime supporter of UMKC, she joined the School of Computing and Engineering Alumni Association board in 2015 and helped recruit new members. She continued this work on behalf of the school’s alumni board, stepping in as board president during a time of need and helping to grow its membership. What are the challenges and benefits of your field? The challenges are integrating new technology and continuous improvement efforts into processes (and facilities) that are over 70 years old; identifying and finding time to give engineers assignments that promote growth; and hiring the right engineers that have a passion for their assignments. The benefits are creating the new and different in order to meet business goals; making the manufacturing processes easier on the employees; and experiencing the diversity of opportunities and assignments. How did UMKC prepare you for/contribute to your success? While at UMKC, I made some lifetime friends who had a wide variety of backgrounds, talents, intelligence and experience. With them I learned the importance of diversity and the variety of talent that each individual can and does bring. We helped each other with homework, studied for exams and solved life problems. In short, I learned the extreme value of relationships, trust and friendship that I have carried through all aspects of life. What advice do you have for students who’d like to follow in your footsteps? Push yourself to learn as much as you can – and vow to never quit learning. Get involved in activities that support your continued learning. Be brave and ask questions, even if nobody else seems to have any. Remember the saying that the only dumb question is the one that does not get asked. About the Alumni Awards Join us in honoring Gorman and the other Class of 2020 Awardees in our first-ever virtual celebration at 5 p.m. April 16. Go to umkcalumni.com/alumniawards to register for this free event. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. Meet the rest of the 2020 UMKC Alumni Awardees Mar 31, 2021

  • School of Medicine Rises in U.S. News Rankings

    UMKC in top one-third of U.S. schools for family medicine
    In only the second year that the UMKC School of Medicine has submitted information for the U.S. News and World Report’s Best Graduate Schools rankings, the school again is positioned among the nation’s best medical schools. The school jumped 11 places, to 64th, in the ranking of primary care medical schools, and rose five places, to 83rd, for research medical schools. The school also was recognized in the magazine's new rankings for service in underserved areas, rural medicine and diversity. The magazine requested data from 191 U.S. schools of medicine or osteopathy and received responses from 129. Not all of those were ranked in every area, however, because of insufficient data or less-than-final accreditation. “Our mission to train primary care physicians for the state of Missouri was again recognized by USNWR, as was our growing research enterprise,” said Dean Mary Anne Jackson, a 1978 graduate of the UMKC School of Medicine. “Moving into the top one-third of schools for primary care is quite an accomplishment, and the school’s advances in research reflect our commitment to linking patient care outcomes to our research vision.” Jackson added that the school has seen an increase in the number of research awards and dollars to support efforts in UMKC’s areas of strength such as neurosciences, vision science, maternal fetal health, pediatrics, intervention science, surgical safety and metabolomics. Both the primary care and research rankings are based on a weighted average of several indicators — some quality assessments by academic peers and residency directors, others objective data such as research funding, faculty-student ratios and student test scores. The primary care rankings incorporate two measures of graduates going into primary care. The research rankings include two measures of research productivity. For three new category rankings, the school placed 17th in the percentage of graduates practicing in underserved areas; 65th in the percentage of graduates providing direct patient care in rural areas; and 86th in the diversity rankings. The school recently boosted its emphasis on rural medicine and underserved areas of Missouri by opening a second campus in St. Joseph, and it has been bolstering its diversity and inclusion infrastructure and recruiting. Mar 30, 2021

  • Alumna Is Top Corporate Immigration Attorney

    Mira Mdivani to receive the UMKC School of Law Alumni Achievement Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. UMKC is honoring Mira Mdivani (J.D. ’99) with the School of Law Class of 2020 Alumni Achievement Award. Mira Mdivani (J.D. ’99) Mira Mdivani is one of the nation’s top corporate immigration attorneys, immediate past President of the Kansas Bar Association and has received numerous honors including for her pro bono work. We recently talked to Mdivani about being an immigration attorney and about her volunteer work. For 20 years, you’ve provided pro bono services to immigrant women and children escaping abuse and violence. Why is it important to you to help women and children come to America? My regular area of practice is corporate immigration law including business global mobility and U.S. employer corporate immigration compliance. At the Mdivani Corporate Immigration Law Firm, we provide pro bono services to immigrant women and children who are already in the United States -- the best country in the world -- because our hearts tell us we must. We focus on helping immigrant women and children escaping abuse and violence because they are the most vulnerable segment of our society and we are the best lawyers for the job. We are dedicated to providing the same excellent level of expertise and care to our pro bono clients as our corporate immigration clients. In the U.S., survivors of domestic violence and other violent crimes are treated with dignity and humanity. Our pro bono clients have survived abuse, rape and other violent crimes. They usually are referred to us by our firm’s community partners such as Hope House, New Home and Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault.  How does being an immigrant help you in your role practicing corporate immigration law? There is no civilization and no economic development without migration. Being an immigrant and a businesswoman, I see this very clearly. Bustling economic centers thrive because people from all over the world bring their energy, enthusiasm, expertise and a different point of view to add to the magic mix of economic success and cultural abundance. Also, being an immigrant, I take nothing for granted. As a first-generation U.S. citizen, I love my adopted country, the United States of America, and work hard for my country, state, city and community to thrive.   How did you become involved with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates)? What is the goal of the organization? Friends asking friends! This is one of the most important boards I serve on. CASA provides a very important service to our community. CASA volunteers advocate for the best interests of abused/neglected children removed from their homes for their safety. With the support of the nonprofit’s staff, CASA volunteers work to provide critical information to judges, helping them make the best possible decisions regarding where the children should live and what medical, therapeutic and educational services they need. Children who have a CASA volunteer are far less likely to be re-abused and far more likely to find a safe permanent home. You serve as an adjunct professor for the Law School, a member of the Law Alumni Association Board and Law Foundation Board of Trustees. Why is it important to you to stay involved at UMKC? UMKC is my alma mater.  I am deeply grateful to the UMKC School of Law, my professors and the deans for the excellent education I received and for enabling me to lead a happy, meaningful life. I love being a lawyer. I will continue to give back to my law school and to vigorously support the school, its students and alumni.  About the Alumni Awards Join us in honoring Mdivani and the other Class of 2020 Awardees in our first-ever virtual celebration at 5 p.m. April 16. Go to umkcalumni.com/alumniawards to register for this free event. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. Meet the rest of the 2020 UMKC Alumni Awardees Mar 30, 2021

  • History Major Receives Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship

    Vice President Kamala Harris congratulates Niki Joshi via Zoom
    Niki Joshi (BA ’23) received the 2021 Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship, a competitive award for diverse student leaders to attend a four-week summer study abroad program focused on leadership, intercultural communication and social justice. Joshi will study in Ireland this summer with 13 other fellows from across the United States. Joshi, a UMKC Trustees' Scholar, was hopeful that she’d receive the scholarship, but she knew the selection process was highly competitive. “I knew hundreds of other intelligent and accomplished students were applying and that the competition would be stiff,” she says. “So, receiving the congratulatory phone call was an unexpected and wonderful surprise. I still don’t think the news has really sunk in.” Joshi met the other fellows in her cohort in a congratulatory Zoom meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris, Ambassador Daniel Mullhall, Taoiseach Micheal Martin and Nettie Washington Douglass, chairwoman and co-founder of Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, Frederick Douglass’s great-great-granddaughter and great-granddaughter of Booker T. Washington. “Vice President Harris and Taoiseach Martin were so kind, genuine, supportive and encouraging,” Joshi says. “I left the meeting feeling like I could do anything.” She was grateful, too, to have the time to hear Nettie Washington Douglass speak about Frederick Douglass’s time in Ireland. “It’s fitting that this diverse group of young people will have the opportunity to develop their leadership skills in a place so special to Frederick Douglass,” Douglass said. “The welcome and respect with which Frederick was greeted across his tour of Ireland affected him profoundly. I can think of no better place for future American leaders to gain a global perspective and prepare to be agents of change.” “Vice President Harris and Taoiseach Martin were so kind, genuine, supportive, and encouraging. I left the meeting feeling like I could do anything.” – Niki Joshi “It was an incredible opportunity to learn more about the emotional significance and impact that Douglass’s time in Ireland had on his personal development and activism,” Joshi says.  “I’m deeply humbled and honored to have this chance to follow his journey and walk in his footsteps.” Joshi had planned to study abroad in Scotland with professors and students from the Honors College last summer, but her plans were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While she took the cancellation in stride, she was aware of what she was missing. “I think studying abroad grants a greater sense of clarity and independence,” Joshi says. “But most importantly, I think the experience allows students to test their personal limits by learning how to navigate social and cultural divides through exposure to different languages, values, practices, or traditions. It allows students to return with new knowledge and experiences that prepare them for an increasingly globalized world.” “UMKC’s International Affairs team was delighted to find out one of our students received this prestigious, competitive honor,” says Kate Wozniak, assistant director of UMKC study abroad and exchange. “Niki was chosen from over 500 stellar applicants. The fact that she will be part of the fifth cohort of Frederick Douglass Global Fellows is astounding.” Wozniak believes the program will be intense and transformational for Joshi. “The four-week summer fellowship program in Dublin will focus on leadership, intercultural communication and social justice,” she says. “We fully expect Niki to return as an even stronger advocate for students of color as well as for international education.” During the announcement Vice President Harris shared her perspective on one of the values of the experience of studying abroad. “Like Frederick Douglass in Ireland, you can come as you are and you can leave who you aspire to be.” Joshi’s expectations for the experience are clear. “I aspire to be someone who feels comfortable with the unknown and wholly self-assured despite not knowing what will come next.” Mar 30, 2021

  • Alumna Goes Above and Beyond For Her Students

    UMKC School of Education selects Mary Delac to receive Alumni Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. UMKC is honoring Mary Delac (M.A. '98) with its Class of 2020 Alumni Achievement Award. Mary Delac (M.A. '98) First as a teacher and now as a principal, Mary Delac has been a generous, kind and dedicated supporter of her students for more than 20 years. Today, Delac serves as principal of Our Lady of Hope, a kindergarten through eighth-grade school in Kansas City, Missouri. Going above and beyond her role as principal, Delac has helped some of her students by providing basic necessities in order to succeed. She often spends her spare time attending concerts and sporting events to support her school’s students. Why is it important to you to ensure that students have the items they need at home, too? Students cannot truly thrive in the classroom unless their basic needs for survival are being met. Educating the whole child means when they are hungry, you feed them. If a student has a toothache and no dental insurance, we connect them to Seton Center. If they need a uniform shirt, we find them one. These are my kids. Where does your passion for helping children and families stem from? My passion stems from my belief in the scripture verse from Luke 12:48, “To whom much has been given, much is required.” I was blessed to grow up with a lot of love and positive support from my family and mentors. I am passionate that every student feels important and supported in our school. What legacy do you hope to leave behind with the students you’ve taught? I hope my legacy will be that my students never, ever give up on their dreams. That my students remember that past events or mistakes never determine their future. As good as they are, they can always get better. How did UMKC prepare you for/contribute to your success? I feel UMKC has always been a leader in urban education. I was very fortunate to be part of some of the first cohort groups that were specifically geared to urban schools’ needs. My experience at UMKC formed me as an urban principal and empowered me to always try and look outside the box for ways for my students to succeed. The one great lesson that has stayed with me and influenced the way I run my school came in a question posed by the great professor and educator, Dr. Eugene Eubanks, “Who does the school belong to?” My answer is the school belongs to the students. Even though it has now been 22 years since that class, I still think of that when I make decisions on policies and procedures. I will always advocate for the needs of my students before the needs of adults in the building. What advice do you have for students who’d like to follow in your footsteps? A principal’s job is to take care of people not paper. You have to be relational. You have to be all in because sometimes the job is lonely and overwhelming. Always keep your focus on the students, your mission and stay positive. If you can do that, even when it’s hard, you will not only survive but thrive and so will everyone around you. About the Alumni Awards Join us in honoring Delac and the other Class of 2020 Awardees in our first-ever virtual celebration at 5 p.m. April 16. Go to umkcalumni.com/alumniawards to register for this free event. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. Meet the rest of the 2020 UMKC Alumni Awardees Mar 29, 2021

  • Kansas County Mulls Changing Creek’s Name

    Diane Mutti Burke offers historical insight for local media
    Diane Mutti Burke, chair of the UMKC History Department, said research she and doctoral candidate Deborah Keating conducted makes her confident the story of a Black slave killing himself was the likely origin of the name. Burke has been interviewed by: NBC News The Kansas City Star KSNT New Haven Register Mar 28, 2021

  • School Of Medicine-St. Joseph Looks To Expand After First Class of 20

    The UMKC School of Medicine partnered with Mosaic Life Care and saw an inaugural class this January of 20 students
    The University of Missouri Kansas City School of Medicine has expanded to St. Joseph and the local extension has plans to grow. Read the article. Mar 26, 2021

  • Public Health Research Brings Student, Professor Together

    First-generation college student seizes opportunity; mentor opens even more doors for her
    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. When Maya Baughn heard that the health sciences program was looking for student research assistants, she immediately reached out for more details. She met about the opportunity over Zoom with Amanda Grimes, assistant professor of health sciences, and the two clicked. Given Baughn’s curiosity and positive personality, Grimes said, “I could tell right away she was a great fit for our team!” In high school, Baughn had nurtured her interest in health care by getting involved in health related classes, clubs and organizations. One summer she spent a week at the School of Nursing and Health Studies under the KCHealthTracks program, which exposes high school students to health career options and professional connections. “I just loved it,” Baughn said. Then she took the leap to enroll at UMKC, becoming the first person in her family to go to college. “I felt lost when I first started,” she said. “Since then I have unapologetically grown in my confidence.” Having Grimes as a mentor opened even more doors. “I enjoy watching young people find passions, learn through hands-on experiences and begin to carve out a path to their academic and professional goals.”     —Amanda Grimes Grimes is a principal investigator for the school’s Move More, Get More program, which measures the effects of the fitness activities and nutrition resources that the program brings to middle school students. For Baughn, who is interested in fitness and health advocacy, the research assistant position was perfect and allowed her to work regularly with Grimes. A good mentor, Grimes said, can promote student success by providing a personal champion, “some who is rooting for them when things get challenging”; nominating students for scholarship and grant opportunities; and helping them build their resumes. Baughn will take advantage of one such opportunity in mid-April, presenting results virtually to legislators and others in Jefferson City for the University of Missouri system’s Undergraduate Research Day. “It wasn’t long after Maya became a research assistant that I recognized her natural ability to communicate with people of different ages and backgrounds, even on topics such as research,” Grimes said. “When I saw the opportunity to present at the Capitol, she immediately came to mind. These students are tasked with discussing their research outside the research and academic world, which takes skill.” Baughn, who is on track to graduate in May 2022, is looking forward to that opportunity — and to continued growth with Grimes’ help. “My mentor has helped me grow as a person by providing me opportunities to expand my social network, my research skills and knowledge on many different topics,” Baughn said. “Dr. Grimes has challenged me by exposing me to new areas of research, such as work involving older adults.” Baughn added: “UMKC has solidified my interest in advanced medicine while also exposing me to aspects of health care I never imagined before. I love research and health advocacy. UMKC has allowed me to learn a lot about those two things while studying for my bachelor of health sciences degree.” For her part, Grimes said, “I enjoy watching young people find passions, learn through hands-on experiences and begin to carve out a path to their academic and professional goals. Most of all, they are fun to be around.” Mar 26, 2021

  • UMKC Pharmacy Students a Welcome Addition at Hannibal Free Clinic

    Caring for uninsured adults since the beginning of the COVID pandemic
    Before the coronavirus ever swept across the globe and became a pandemic, UMKC School of Pharmacy student Amelia Godfrey had already decided to go home to Hannibal, Missouri, to do her ambulatory care rotation at the Hannibal Free Clinic. Having grown up in the northeast Missouri community of about 17,000 made famous by Mark Twain, she looked forward to the time when she could return and be a part of giving back to the community. “I've been interested in doing primary care, so I was really excited to come back home for a couple of rotations and be here at the free clinic to help with those patients,” said Godfrey, who spent the month of February working in the clinic. “When COVID hit, you got to play a bigger role. There's a huge need for what they're doing right now and I've seen that in my community.” Godfrey is one of four UMKC pharmacy students who have done month-long rotations serving at Hannibal Free Clinic since the COVID pandemic began. Haley Hurst, the clinic’s pharmacist and one of only four paid staff members, welcomed the help with open arms. “We are mostly a volunteer clinic, run by retired nurses and office staff,” Hurst said. “A lot of them had to stop coming from March 2020 through now because of COVID and these students were really a saving grace for us. It really helped us bridge the gap because we basically lost almost all of our volunteers.” The clinic covers an area of six counties surrounding Hannibal, proving primary care services for uninsured adults from 18 to 64 years old. It serves as many as 400 patients a year with about 100 to 150 of them being part of the patient centered medical home, a program of patients who meet with Hurst and her student pharmacists for additional education and medication management. There is a waiting list to be seen that is based on the level of need. That has only grown throughout the COVID pandemic. Hurst meets with patients referred to the clinic to provide help with issues from diabetes, cholesterol and smoking cessation, to blood pressure issues. “We have been so short on nursing volunteers to help with taking vitals and doing medication reconciliation for our volunteer providers,” Hurst said. “The students have been a humongous help to us.” Lauren Damon, a School of Pharmacy student who worked at the clinic this past August, grew up just eight miles from Hannibal in Palmyra, a small community of only about 3,500 people. “Palmyra is such a small area that there are not a lot of ambulatory care clinics like this around,” she said. “So, it was really interesting to me to see that they have this and that they can reach all the people that really need the help.” Since their time at the Hannibal Free Clinic, both Damon and Godfrey have also taken part in rotations at the Hannibal Regional Hospital, which have included working in the hospital’s vaccine clinic. But they say that it was their time at the free clinic that was particularly eye-opening. Hurst smiles when sharing that both students had the opportunity to experience having to convince a patient to take their medications. Damon and Godfrey said they saw how Hurst and the staff go the extra steps to fully care for their patients. “You can learn what medicine to give a patient for high blood pressure,” Damon said. “But asking them things that you don't think about all the time like can they afford it, do they have transportation to get their medication. You really get a sense of that here, how to look at people as a whole picture instead of just, okay, we're prescribing you this medication and send you out the door.” Godfrey said the clinic provided her the unique opportunity to spend more time talking with her patients about their medications and needs and learning how she could better help them. “This is a free clinic and there are all sorts of things that they connect patients to,” Godfrey said. “There are services for mental health. There are services for dentists and podiatry and all these other things that Haley and the staff are looking to connect these patients to. So now the patient is being taken care of as a whole, rather than just kind of looking at them as somebody who takes a list of medications. I've been on some pretty cool clinic rotations with some pretty cool pharmacists, but this one by far was the most impactful because they are 100 percent all in.” Mar 26, 2021

  • Alumna’s Career Spans the Globe

    Cindy Sensabaugh receives School of Dentistry-Dental Hygiene Alumni Achievement Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. UMKC is honoring Cindy Sensabaugh (M.S.D.A. ’11) with the Class of 2020 Alumni Achievement Award. Cindy Sensabaugh(M.S.D.A. ’11) Sensabaugh has built a career in dental hygiene education that has taken her around the globe. While she manages a team of hygienists for Philips Oral Healthcare who provide continuing education programs for students worldwide, Sensabaugh credits her education and experience as a hygienist with her success in educating her colleagues and clients. After practicing clinically for 10 years, Sensabaugh completed her dental hygiene education masters of science through the UMKC online program. How did UMKC contribute to your success? I learned so much from the program at UMKC that has helped me in each of my roles. I had spent a lot of time around educators prior to starting my master’s degree, but it was very helpful to have formal education on educational methodology and research. Graduating from UMKC with my master’s and completing and publishing my research has given me the opportunity to have been selected as a reviewer for the Journal of Dental Hygiene. For most educators it probably isn’t a big deal, but for me it is.  What is your favorite UMKC memory? Early on, the distance students did come to campus for our “micro teach” projects. Cindy Amyot hosted a party so that we could all get together informally. That is a very fond memory of my time at UMKC. There were many aha! moments learning from fantastic professors. I am very grateful for the chance to learn from some of the very best. Though the research process was laborious, I learned a great deal and am lucky to have had such a wonderful committee (Cindy Amyot, Pam Overman and Tanya Villalpando Mitchell). They are fantastic! What advice do you have for students who’d like to follow in your footsteps? First, I’ve always advocated for being involved, or at the very least, a member of your professional association. Had it not been for my membership, and involvement in the Greater Orlando Dental Hygiene Association, I would not have had my first opportunity to enter the corporate world. Second, advancing your education is always a plus. Most corporate roles require a bachelor’s degree and often a master’s degree is preferred. If that is the goal, then prepare for it by continuing your education. About the Alumni Awards Join us in honoring Sensabaugh and the other Class of 2020 Awardees in our first-ever virtual celebration at 5 p.m. April 16. Go to umkcalumni.com/alumniawards to register for this free event. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. Meet the rest of the 2020 UMKC Alumni Awardees Mar 26, 2021

  • Colleges Ask Students To Stay Vigilant While On Spring Break

    KSHB talks to UMKC students, leaders about spring break
    As spring break kicks off for the University of Missouri-Kansas City, school leaders are asking students to stay vigilant. Obie Austin, director of student health and wellness at UMKC, and two UMKC students were interviewed. Read more and watch the newscast. Mar 26, 2021

  • Former Kansas City Roos golfer pulls off huge upset at Dell Technologies Match Play

    Antoine Rozner is a UMKC Bloch School alumnus
    Antoine Rozner, UMKC Bloch School alumnus and KC Roo’s Golf student-athlete, recently won the Dell Technologies Match Play Championship golf tournament. Read the Kansas City Star article (subscription requiered). After Rozner’s win, Golf Digest wrote a story, as did California Golf News. Mar 25, 2021

  • Broadway Star’s Pride Lecture Calls for Moving Past Labels

    Bryan Terrell Clark shares his life story to encourage others to define themselves and follow their passion
    Broadway star Bryan Terrell Clark shared anecdotes and lessons from his life Tuesday night and encouraged listeners to keep pursuing their best and truest selves on their life journeys. Clark, delivering the 14th annual UMKC Pride Lecture, presented by the UMKC Division of Diversity and Inclusion, covered subjects ranging from hiscovered subjects ranging from his family and sexuality to finding and expressing himself through the arts and public service. Some highlights of his presentation, delivered live over Zoom, and a Q&A that followed: Family life He described his mother as an angel and his father as a dragon, opposites in many ways. “But they both taught me to fly,” Clark said. His mother was a teacher who became a principal, and a Sunday school teacher who became a pastor. His blue-collar father loved his family dearly, Clark said, but ended up involved with drugs, first as a dealer and then as an addict, in and out of rehab many times. His father’s addiction took a big toll on the family, while his mother was always taking care of others, even to the point of neglecting to take care of herself. But Clark said that when he came out to his parents as gay, it was his father who embraced him unconditionally. His father’s lesson: You have to learn to love yourself, completely. Only when his father could truly love himself, Clark said, was he able to make his addiction rehabilitation stick. His mother’s initial reaction to his coming out was “I love you, but …” Her religious beliefs did not allow her to accept his homosexuality. But eventually, Clark said, she came around, apologized and said she loved him no matter what. Arts and service His mother also realized Clark’s passion for artistic expression “before I could talk.” When he heard music or saw something interesting on television, she said, he would bounce happily, immersed in the experience. So singing in the church choir was a must, and going to a high school that encouraged the arts gave him more opportunities to find and express himself. College was a challenge, and he often skipped class to travel to New York for auditions. But when graduate school for drama seemed like the next logical step, he refused to sell himself short. He was advised to not apply to the top schools because they seldom admitted people of color, but he applied anyway and was rewarded with a spot at Yale’s drama school. Another benefit of being at Yale, he said, came when he realized the campus was surrounded by rough neighborhoods filled with young people who desperately needed someone to see them and encourage them. So Clark stayed one summer and organized in the community, giving kids a chance to put on plays and tell their own stories. Such involvement helped him learn about himself, too, and to find his inner resources instead of looking for definition or approval from others, Clark said. Today, his community work continues through inDEFINED, an initiative he helped found to empower young people to erase the constrictive labels in society. Lessons to carry forward Clark’s successes in the arts, including two stints playing George Washington in the Broadway hip-hop hit “Hamilton,” allowed him to keep learning about himself and to share his best self. It helped him greatly, he said, to trust his inner voice, follow his passion and finally quit worrying about how others saw him. Having an internal commitment to yourself is another key, he said. “You just have to be you,” Clark said. “The labels are for someone else to understand you.” Clark also encouraged listeners to be open to new experiences and inspirations, to find something every day that makes them happy, and to try something new every week. Such practices, he said, help put people in the driver’s seat for their own lives and “make you a better partner, make you a better student, make you a better everything.”   Mar 24, 2021

  • Alumnus Research Aims to Improve Environment

    School of Biological and Chemical Sciences selects Carl Hoff to receive Alumni Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. The UMKC School of Biological and Chemical Sciences is honoring Carl D. Hoff (Ph.D. ’77) with its Class of 2020 Alumni Achievement Award. Carl D. Hoff (Ph.D. ’77) Hoff has spent his career energizing students on the subject of chemistry. He’s recently received a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a better way to convert atmospheric nitrogen from a gas into ammonium nitrate – a critical ingredient in the production of fertilizer – that will eliminate toxic by-products, which would have a major impact on the environment. A past recipient of the University of Miami’s Excellence in Teaching Award, scientist Carl Hoff is beloved by students for his innovative and experiential classroom techniques. Hoff has been teaching chemistry for nearly 40 years. While he has a passion for the subject, he understands that it can be a challenging subject for students. What do you enjoy about teaching? I had an advisor who said he could see it in his students’ eyes when they had lost interest. But the opposite is also true. You can see their eyes lift as well. In a difficult problem, sometimes you can see that light of understanding where something real was achieved. How do you make course material engaging for students? No one can take 50 minutes of chemistry. I learned a lot from educators at UMKC. Eckhard Hellmuth once brought in a box of assorted rubber tubing of different colors and lengths. He would reach in and grab a handful and throw it in the air, and then have the class look at it. He would repeat this several times. Each time was different, but somehow the same. It was about statistical mechanics of polymer strands. It was simple. It cost little. I try to do that at the middle of a lecture when students need a break. You’ve received more than $2.5 million in grant funding for your work. What is the focus and goal of your grant from the U.S. Department of Energy? We are looking for a better way to make ammonium nitrate, a key ingredient in fertilizer. The most common method developed by Fritz Haber can lead to a toxic by product that can cause algal blooms and other bad effects when misused. We’re trying to take the waste and convert it into more fertilizer, which will save a lot of money and energy and create a cleaner environment. How did UMKC prepare you for success? UMKC had the advantage of being a small university, where there was close student-faculty contact that wasn’t formalized or mandated. What’s your favorite UMKC memory? I always liked reading the saying on the old Swinney Gymnasium: “Run hard, leap high, throw strongly and endure.” About the Alumni Awards Join us in honoring Hoff and the other Class of 2020 Awardees in our first-ever virtual celebration at 5 p.m. April 16. Go to umkcalumni.com/alumniawards to register for this free event. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. Meet the rest of the 2020 UMKC Alumni Awardees Mar 24, 2021

  • Alumnus Is Champion for Children’s Dental Care

    Nick Rogers to receive the UMKC School of Dentistry Alumni Achievement Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. UMKC is honoring Nick Rogers (D.D.S. ’78) with its Class of 2020 Alumni Achievement Award. Nick Rogers (D.D.S. ’78) Rogers has served the Arkansas City, Kansas, area since 1979. A champion for children’s dental care, he secured grant money for his local Head Start program which expanded access to care for children in the region. On a national scale, he is president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s Foundation. Rogers also devotes time to UMKC as a member of the UMKC School of Dentistry’s Rinehart Foundation board and started a scholarship for dental students. We spoke with him about his dedication to expanding access to dental care. You’re a champion for children’s dental care — securing grant money for programs in your community and serving as president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Foundation. Where does your passion for helping children stem from? Being a dentist in a small community, I see patients of all socio-economic levels and all ages. It became very apparent while I served for 22 years on the local school board that children were often not getting the treatment they needed. This was caused by multiple issues from lack of financial resources and lack of education to lack of availability and awareness. It became my goal to help change that to allow kids to find dental treatment and for parents to understand the need. You recently created a scholarship at the School of Dentistry and serve on the board of the Rinehart Foundation. There are many worthy causes to support, why do you choose to give back to UMKC? Dental school did not come easy for me. I was not accepted on my first application and my goal to graduate debt free meant working part-time jobs. I, like students today, spent many hours studying. I had much help and encouragement from others along the way. Although the dollar amount of the scholarship is not great, I hope that it gives encouragement to students to continue their pursuit to the great profession of dentistry. I would not have made it through without help from others. This scholarship represents my thanks to those that helped me… “paying it forward.” It also represents my desire to help youth fulfill their dreams. What is your favorite UMKC memory? Sneaking a microfiche machine, in the days before computers, out of the library for a group of us to study for a pathology test on a weekend and returning it on Monday. (The youth in the audience will have to “Google” microfiche). About the Alumni Awards Join us in honoring Rogers and the other Class of 2020 Awardees in our first-ever virtual celebration at 5 p.m. April 16. Go to umkcalumni.com/alumniawards to register for this free event. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. Meet the rest of the 2020 UMKC Alumni Awardees Mar 24, 2021

  • Latin Grammy Winner Finds Success Creating Bilingual Music

    Andrés Salguero to receive the UMKC Conservatory Alumni Achievement Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. UMKC is honoring Andrés Mauricio Salguero (G.R.C.T. ’11, D.M.A. ’11) with its Class of 2020 UMKC Conservatory Alumni Achievement Award. Andrés Mauricio Salguero(G.R.C.T. ’11, D.M.A. ’11) Along with his wife and partner, Christina Sanabria, Salguero is co-creator of the Latin Grammy-winning musical group 123 Andrés, a duo that performs music for children and families throughout the United States and Latin America. 123 Andrés has released four acclaimed studio albums, including their Latin Grammy-nominated debut, “Uno, Dos, Tres con Andrés,” Latin Grammy winner “Arriba Abajo,” and the most recent, Latin-Grammy-nominated, “Canta las Letras.” His first children’s book, published by Scholastic, debuted in 2020. We caught up with the composer, performer and multi-instrumentalist recently. Your music teaches English and Spanish. How did you get into educational music? When I was a young child in Bogotá, Colombia, my mom found some workbooks and cassette tapes at a used toy sale. It turned out to be “Inglés Junior,” an English learning course for children created by the BBC. They were a big part of how I learned English as a child and I never forgot them. How does it feel to be helping children communicate better and learn foundational material from your music? Our biggest goal for our music is to connect children and families to celebrate and learn about Latin heritage and Spanish language. We are proud that our songs support children in learning words and phrases in another language and that the underlying messages of multiculturalism, curiosity and friendship stick in their hearts and minds. How did UMKC contribute to your success? I am thankful for Conservatory faculty, who held us to the highest expectations. They fed my drive and nurtured a belief that I could perform at the highest level, whatever my chosen career path would be. UMKC also offered many opportunities that went beyond the traditional coursework. I had several student work opportunities on campus that allowed me to be in different professional environments. What is your proudest accomplishment? Being able to give back. We have used our platform to raise awareness and funds for two amazing organizations that support children and families in need, the Greater DC Diaper Bank and Immigrant Families Together. About the Alumni Awards Join us in honoring Salguero and the other Class of 2020 Awardees in our first-ever virtual celebration at 5 p.m. April 16. Go to umkcalumni.com/alumniawards to register for this free event. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. Meet the rest of the 2020 UMKC Alumni Awardees Mar 23, 2021

  • President of UMKC Men of Color Finds Connection the Key to Success

    Nabil Abas builds community for himself and others
    Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Nabil Abas Anticipated graduation: 2022 Academic program: BA’22 Interpersonal Communications Studies, minor in Sociology Hometown: Mombasa, Kenya Nabil Abas is a first-generation college student. While he works hard to maintain his grades, help his family and volunteer on campus and in his community, he is quick to smile, curious and engaged and determined to achieve success for himself and other people around him. “Being a first-generation college student is extremely important, because I was the first person in my family to go through the college application process,” he says. “I had to find people to assist me in understanding FAFSA, what the college admission processes are and finding the resources that are out there.” While the process was sometimes overwhelming, Abas has seen the benefit of figuring it out extend beyond his own success. “It was overwhelming at times, but I use my experiences to assist my siblings, niece, nephews and community members. It means the world to me that I could be the point person that someone needed so they go after their college dreams!” Abas’s aspirations did not stop at college acceptance. As an interpersonal communications major with a minor in sociology, he combines his interest, his experience and his knowledge from the classroom to help others. “I chose this field of study because I love learning all about the social interactions of people, verbal behaviors and group dynamics,” he says. “My first job was working as an orientation leader. That’s what introduced me to field.” Beyond his positive first impression, Abas has followed the lead of his professors at the College of Arts and Sciences. “They are talented, bright, caring and experienced professors who inspire me to be the same for others in wherever I’m working at. Being around them inspires me to strive to have these qualities when I get into my field.” "It means the world to me that I could be the point person that someone needed so they go after their college dreams!" – Nabil Abas Still, Abas sometimes struggles with balancing school, work and family life. As the oldest sibling in his family, he has a lot of responsibility at home, but he works hard to maintain balance. He’s found it helpful to surround himself with classmates and form study groups with people who have similar passions. “I always enjoy being able to have thoughtful conversations with my classmates on all topics on the table,” he says. “Whether that be state of our education system, social justice issues or how we could bring change to our communities. Those conversations are always the best!” These interests reinforce Abas’s engagement in his role as president for the UMKC Men of Color initiative. “Men of Color was created as a space where men of color and Latino males could come together to create a sense of belonging and hold each other accountable,” he says. “We do that through real-talk conversations with guest speakers, promoting positive images of men of color professionals, social media and cultural enrichment activities.” It was Abas’s work with Men of Color that led to his involvement in the Roos Advocate for Community Change, a campus-wide effort developed to reinforce the university’s commitment to value all individuals for their contribution to the community regardless of race, social or cultural identities. “I’m grateful to Chancellor Agrawal for creating this initiative for conversation and connection,” Abas says. “It’s been great to have conversations between Black students and university leaders like Brandon Martin, Kimberly Johnson and Keichanda Dees-Burnett. We share a mutual passion and dedication to creating a two-way street of communication between students and the university.” "Your capabilities are limitless! This motto has helped me in every stage in my college journey." – Nabil Abas Beyond his work on campus, Abas is heavily involved in volunteering on the weekends. He is the public relations director of Al-huda Youth Group, which helps Muslim youth in the historic northeast Kansas City neighborhoods combat the common issues or barriers that they face. “I was lucky enough to have community leaders in my corner throughout my life, so this group is a way of giving back to my community for all they have done for us and also investing in our future leaders,” he says. Mar 23, 2021

  • UMKC Forward: Investing $65M To Boost Hiring, Enrollment and Job Placement

    Local news outlets cover UMKC Forward plans
    University of Missouri-Kansas City officials on March 18 announced plans to create three new schools and eliminate several existing academic programs. Read the news coverage: Kansas City Star (subscription required) This article included an embedded link to the UMKC Forward video. KCUR Kansas City Business Journal (subscription required) KSHB. This article included quotes from engineers at Burns and McDonnell and Henderson Engineers. Jenny Lundgren, provost and executive vice chancellor, was also interviewed. University News Mar 22, 2021

  • Empathy Helped This Kansas City Student Teacher Build Community In His Online Classroom

    KCUR highlights School of Education alumnus
    Khalil Jones is in his final semester at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and student teaching at East High School in the Kansas City Public Schools. Read more.  Mar 22, 2021

  • Diversity and Inclusion 2021: Mira Mdivani

    Missouri Lawyers Media features Mira Mdivani
    Mira Mdivani is an adjunct professor at the UMKC School of Law and Class of 2020 UMKC School of Law Alumni Achievement Awardee. Read more. Mar 22, 2021

  • At the Heart of the New Economics Lies a Centuries-Old Mystery

    Scott Fullwiler weighs-in on MMT for Bloomberg
    In the mainstream models, even when governments are paying low interest rates and have room to spend, “there’s always this danger” that debt costs could spike and derail their plans, says Scott Fullwiler, an MMT economist and professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read the full article. Mar 22, 2021

  • UMKC Graduates Will Cross the Stage During In-Person Commencement at Kauffman Stadium

    Ceremonies for 2020 and 2021 graduates will be May 15 and 16
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City is pleased to announce that in-person ceremonies honoring its 2020 and 2021 graduates will be hosted on Saturday, May 15, and Sunday, May 16, at Kauffman Stadium.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and safety restrictions in place during 2020, UMKC found creative ways to safely celebrate its graduates: packets of surprise mementos, lighting up Kansas City landmarks Roo blue and gold at night and virtual ceremonies with distinguished guests. In December, Kansas City native and actor Don Cheadle was the speaker. Nonetheless, students communicated their desire to return to in-person commencement as soon as reasonably possible. UMKC leaders worked with community leaders to find a way to make this happen. “During the pandemic, we celebrated the milestone of graduating from our university with all of the pomp and circumstance we could safely create,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “We are happy that now we can return to an in-person event that is more like the traditional ceremony we’ve come to expect – and at the home of our beloved Kansas City Royals. We are grateful that the organization could accommodate our 2020 and 2021 graduates.” Kansas City Royals owner John Sherman said he is delighted to help UMKC graduates celebrate commencement together, at the K. "The last twelve months have been difficult on everyone, including the education community,”  said John Sherman, Chairman and CEO of the Royals. “Students, teachers and administrators throughout our country have worked tirelessly during these uncertain times, so providing this opportunity for UMKC graduates to be celebrated in-person, with their families, is an honor for our organization." UMKC will host four ceremonies in Kauffman Stadium, three dedicated to the class of 2021 and one dedicated to graduates from 2020 who return for the ceremony. Graduates will be able to cross the stage, with COVID-19 restrictions in place. Each graduate will be limited to two guests who can attend the ceremony, so UMKC can observe the city and the stadium’s social distancing guidelines for keeping the public safe during a pandemic. The event also will be livestreamed. UMKC is working diligently with groups across campus to plan this in-person Commencement celebration, including External Relations, Student Affairs and the Student Government Association. Chancellor Agrawal expressed gratitude to the community for helping to make students’ commencement wishes come true. “These in-person ceremonies would not be possible without the many community partners who stepped up with possible solutions,” Agrawal said. “The home of the Royals is a wonderful venue and we look forward to May and the ability to celebrate together with our students and their families.” Mar 19, 2021

  • Celebrating the Legal Legacy of Tiera Farrow in Kansas City

    KSHB features alumna Tiera Farrow during Women's History Month
    Tiera Farrow. She graduated from Kansas City School of Law in 1903 and went on to lead a barrier-breaking career, and life. In 2019, Farrow was inducted into the UMKC Starr Women’s Hall of Fame. Read the article and watch the newscast. Mar 19, 2021

  • With 8,000 Appointments Full, Crews Set Up Arrowhead Stadium Mega Vaccination Site

    UMKC students and faculty volunteer at vaccination event
    Volunteers from the UMKC Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy will also help at the mega vaccination site. Read the story and watch the newscast. Mar 19, 2021

  • 2020, 2021 UMKC Graduates To Be Honored At In-person Kauffman Stadium Commencement

    News of in-person commencement covered by Kansas City media
    The University of Kansas City-Missouri will celebrate its 2020 and 2021 graduates with in-person commencement ceremonies at Kauffman Stadium. Read the news coverage from KSHB, KCTV5 and Fox4KC. Mar 19, 2021

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

    Initiative supports two key missions: public service and workforce readiness
    A centerpiece initiative of the UMKC Forward plan will create the university’s signature Professional Mobility 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. “The escalators are designed to engineer the college experience to support career attainment from undergraduate through professional training,” said Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. The program includes signature student experiences and support programs, such as living-learning student cohorts, an entry-bridge program and advising teams with expertise in specific professions. Scholarships and other forms of financial aid will be part of the program as well. “Professional salaries are a first step to building wealth and escaping generational poverty, and our community needs substantially more educated professionals to meet our regional workforce demand.”–  Chancellor Mauli Agrawal Curriculum in the escalators will include for-credit applied experiences. This could include service learning, internships, or what Agrawal calls a “metromester” – like a semester abroad model, but spent in the city volunteering with a nonprofit, working with a local government agency or interning for a business. The escalators will be open to all admitted students, but is built on research and best practice that support UMKC goals to increase retention and graduation rates of underrepresented, first-generation and Pell-eligible students. The initiative supports two key missions of the university: public service and career readiness. “Professional salaries are a first step to building wealth and escaping generational poverty,” Agrawal said. “And our community needs substantially more educated professionals to meet our regional workforce demand.” Tom Mardikes, professor of theatre and chair of the UMKC Faculty Senate, said the escalators are flexible enough to work well for students who decide to change career paths during their college career. “Many students start at UMKC to discover their major,” he said. “More, however, come with a specific path in mind. Regardless, things always change.  What I like about the Professional Mobility Escalators™ program is that it serves as a visual metaphor for all of us — students, faculty and staff — on how to craft the means to deal creatively with that change.” Karen King, chair of the UMKC Staff Council, said the escalators are a key element of the UMKC Forward goal of “realizing the best UMKC possible — the version of Kansas City’s University which will effectively meet the needs of the whole community.” Staff will play an important role in executing the escalator plan.  She said: “We will be working hand in hand with faculty and administration from the first steps of the escalator, through the student’s college experience and subsequently, to a rewarding career where they step off the escalator with pride.” Initial professional focus areas for the escalators, based on workforce need and personal career opportunity, include healthcare, education, engineering/business and law/justice. Others will be added in the future in response to workforce demand trends. The implementation schedule for Professional Mobility Escalators™ calls for hiring a director in Summer 2021. That director, in collaboration with working groups, will finalize escalators programming over that academic year and prepare for the official launch in Fall Semester 2022. Mar 18, 2021

  • UMKC Forward Introduces New Faculty Development Program

    CAFE is the Center for Advancing Faculty Excellence
    The UMKC Forward initiative introduces a new and expanded faculty support initiative, the Center for Advancing Faculty Excellence, CAFE. CAFE builds on and replaces the Faculty Center for Excellence in Teaching (FaCET). “UMKC has a long tradition of providing valuable teaching support to our faculty through FaCET," said Provost Jenny Lundgren. "CAFE will build on that foundation, offering expanded programming and resources to support all pillars of faculty life: teaching and learning, research and creativity, service and engagement, career progression and leadership development." Tom Mardikes, chair of the UMKC Faculty Senate and Conservatory theatre professor, found the concept encouraging. “The heart of any university is the relationship of the student to the faculty,” Mardikes said. “We are working very hard to identify ways for UMKC to be innovative in its programs and especially in how it connects our students to the city and the region. Investing in our faculty to better secure student success is a winner, and I'm very excited to see how impactful and productive this new approach can be for UMKC.” CAFE will bring all campus-level faculty development and support programming under a single umbrella, said Diane Filion, vice provost for faculty affairs. A unified professional learning calendar, registration and attendance system will make it easy for faculty to find the programming and resources they are most interested in, while also creating infrastructure for evaluating the impact of CAFE programs on faculty and student outcomes, to ensure programming meets faculty needs. “Investing in our faculty to better secure student success is a winner, and I'm very excited to see how impactful and productive this new approach can be for UMKC.” - Tom Mardikes CAFE will be organized around the pillars Lundgren listed, and rather than a single director, a team of pillar leaders working with a faculty advisory board will shape and guide CAFE. Initial programs and resources planned within each pillar as described below. See pillar chart Teaching and Learning Expanded campus-specific instructional support: CAFE will provide enhanced support to UMKC faculty including support for in-person and blended courses with their associated teaching tools and technologies, the Syllabus Generator, hyflex and general classroom technology. Resources and Support for NTT and Adjunct Faculty: CAFE will include a new focused program to support non-tenure track and adjunct faculty specifically, coordinated by the pillar lead and a CAFE faculty fellow. Course evaluations and peer teaching observations: CAFE will provide unit-level consulting and support to expand beyond traditional course evaluations for the assessment of teaching effectiveness, including incorporating formal peer observations of teaching. A new program within CAFE will prepare a group of faculty to provide peer observation and coordinate a service in which units or instructors can request a peer observation and coaching for a class. CAFE will offer the peer reviewers a small stipend for their service. Assessment and analytics for student success: In collaboration with leadership, a CAFE faculty fellow will help design and coordinate tools for program directors, department chairs and deans focused on strengthening ongoing program assessment strategies and using data analytics to evaluate and address curricular barriers to student success. Faculty Learning Communities: In 2019-20, UMKC started bringing together small groups of faculty from across disciplines for peer-led, in-depth learning opportunities on a specific teaching topic. CAFE will continue this program and offer a set of Faculty Learning Communities each year on topics selected and led by faculty. Inclusive Teaching: in partnership with Diversity and Inclusion, CAFE will coordinate workshops, Faculty Learning Communities, and guest speakers focused on inclusive and culturally-responsive teaching strategies. Mini-conference: Teaching: In past years, FaCET provided a one-day conference focused on a variety of teaching topics and typically included an external keynote speaker. CAFE will continue this tradition. Research and Creativity Grant-writing institutes and research mentor program: CAFE will launch a series of initiatives to support faculty research, with the signature program based on the matrix model from the University of Utah. In this model, selected faculty will engage in a yearlong program to facilitate grant writing, fellowship or foundation proposals across all disciplines. The program will provide senior and peer mentors, with extensive and intensive guidance and support for all stages of proposal development from concept to submission. Small grants program for proposal development: Faculty can apply for funding to support proposal development through course reduction, external consultation, pilot testing and supplies. Grant and fellowship proposal pre-submission peer review: Faculty can request a pre-submission peer review of a grant or fellowship proposal by a senior faculty member specifically identified by the Office of Research Services and CAFE pillar lead based on the reviewer’s expertise and experience relative to each proposal. CAFE will offer the peer reviewers a small stipend for the peer review service. Mini-conference: Research: Along with the annual mini-conference on teaching topics, CAFE will design and present a mini-conference focused on timely research topics. Service and Engagement This pillar will have two themes and two co-pillar leaders: high-impact and community-engaged learning led by a CAFE faculty fellow and co-pillar lead, and community-based research and consulting led by a partner from External Relations serving as a co-pillar leader. The pillar leader for high-impact and community-engaged learning will be responsible for leading the programming for faculty on designing community-based learning/service learning courses. A signature proposal involves working with the AmeriCorps VISTA program to establish partnerships at major Kansas City nonprofits for student placements with activities specifically designed for integration into course assignments. The leader also will partner with the Undergraduate Research Council, International Affairs, Student Affairs and others to design and implement programming to support faculty engaged in high-impact teaching practices. The pillar leader for community-based research and consulting will be responsible for designing and implementing programs and services to support and expand opportunities for faculty-community partnerships. Career Progression, Leadership and Faculty Life New faculty orientation and non-tenure track/adjunct support: Leaders from all pillars will contribute to a new, yearlong faculty orientation that will cover all aspects of faculty life: research, teaching, service, engagement and leadership. In addition, there will be a new focused program to support non-tenure track and adjunct faculty specifically, coordinated by the pillar-lead and a CAFE faculty fellow.­­­­­­­­­­­ Early-Career / Pre-Tenure Programming: CAFE will offer programming to support faculty in the years preceding their tenure review. This will include workshops, consultation and resources for pre-tenure faculty: promotion and tenure, creating a path-to-tenure plan, creating the tenure portfolio and making the most of pre-tenure time. Programming and resources will also be provided for department chairs and deans specifically focused on supporting their pre-tenure faculty. Mid-Career Programming: CAFE will offer programming to support the personal and professional growth of midcareer faculty. This will include workshops focused on creating a path-to-promotion plan, exploring professional and academic leadership roles, and other resources specifically designed to connect mid-career faculty to the resources needed to chart a course for the next steps in their post-tenure years. for mid-career faculty. Programming and resources will also be developed for department chairs and deans specifically focused on supporting their mid-career faculty. Programming for Underrepresented NTT/TT Faculty: CAFE will offer focused programming in support of the personal and professional growth of underrepresented faculty, meant to address possible barriers to their success at UMKC. These resources are designed to meet the needs specific to our Black, Indigenous, Asian and Latinx/Hispanic faculty, with a focus on fostering support and belonging and building community. Programming and resources will also be developed for department chairs and deans specifically focused on supporting the success of underrepresented faculty. Programming for Department Chairs: Through collaborations with UM System and multiple campus partners, CAFE will offer programming and resources to support department chairs and the critical roles they play in supporting the success of their faculty, staff and students. Faculty health and wellness: Through collaborations with UM System, UMKC HR, the UMKC Faculty Ombuds and a variety of other partners, CAFE will offer programming to promote faculty health and wellness. Mar 18, 2021

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

    UMKC Forward will benefit workforce readiness
    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. Agrawal noted that higher education has been grappling with change for years, but when COVID-19 hit and added new challenges, he knew UMKC couldn’t wait any longer to create a creative vision for its future. “To thrive in the years to come, we needed to reimagine UMKC, to envision an innovative and financially sustainable future for ourselves,” he said. In response, he launched UMKC Forward in May 2020 as a comprehensive collaboration that included ideas and exploration by a broad-based group of faculty, staff, students and community members.   Their collective work led to UMKC Forward’s five key investments: 1. Student Success UMKC’s signature Professional Mobility Escalators™ program is a unique, trademarked system of personalized support and services unlike anything being offered across the U.S. It is designed to propel students from their academic studies to good-paying careers. “This escalator model that focuses on students that are traditionally underserved is something that universities everywhere need to do a better job of addressing, and I’m very excited to see UMKC be one of the first to do this,” said Mahreen Ansari, president of the Student Government Association and political science major. 2. Faculty Development A new Center for Advancing Faculty Excellence, or CAFE, will feature a comprehensive program of mentoring, development opportunities and resources to support, attract and retain high-quality and engaged faculty. “The heart of any university is the relationship of the student to the faculty,” said Tom Mardikes, chair of the UMKC Faculty Senate and Conservatory theatre professor. “We are working very hard to identify ways for UMKC to be innovative in its programs and especially in how it connects our students to the city and the region. Investing in our faculty to better secure student success is a winner, and I'm very excited to see how impactful and productive this new approach can be for UMKC.” 3. Research Excellence To reach its goal of doubling research expenditures by 2028, UMKC will invest in building up research capacity and infrastructure, identifying high-impact research collaborations, training and mentoring researchers as well as investing in faculty hiring. 4. Career Expansion UMKC will expand TalentLink, adding a robust offering of badges and certificates alongside high-quality professional, online and continuing education opportunities meeting in-demand needs for individuals and the companies they work for. 5. Community Engagement UMKC will leverage its incredibly engaged community partners to create a student and faculty engagement network, increasing opportunities for students and faculty to connect with civic and business partners through internships, service learning and research. Agrawal explained the reasoning behind each of the five investment priorities. “Student Success is our ultimate metric; the fundamental reason we are here. Faculty Development is a key driver of student success and research excellence,” he said. “Research Excellence is essential to our public service mission; it builds available resources through grants and patents; and it is a major attraction for high-achieving new faculty and students. “Workforce Talent Development will help us meet the needs of employers and professionals for lifelong learning, and enhances the quality and capability of our regional workforce. And Community Engagement is integral to meeting our commitment to public service as a state university.” “The goal of the UMKC Forward plan is realizing the best UMKC possible – the version of Kansas City’s university which will effectively meet the needs of the whole community,” said Karen King, chair of the UMKC Staff Council. “The effective implementation of the UMKC Forward plan means long-term success for this institution, present and future students, and the Kansas City metropolitan community.” Notable in this tough fiscal environment is that UMKC Forward plans do not call for large-scale layoffs or reductions in staffing. “The effective implementation of the UMKC Forward plan means long-term success for this institution, present and future students, and the Kansas City metropolitan community.” - Karen King Instead, UMKC Forward will realize the bulk of its funding – $50 million to $60 million over five years – by realigning current spending to these new priorities. Additional money, over time, will come from attracting new research investment and growing philanthropy, including a future capital campaign. UMKC hit record numbers on research dollars and philanthropy in 2020 and aims to continue those trajectories. UMKC also will continue its work to retain current students and attract new students, both important to the university’s fiscal health. Some additional revenue will come from realigning academic units and closing some academic programs, but Provost Jenny Lundgren said those plans are more about positioning UMKC’s academic enterprise for excellence and innovation than about saving money. “When we began to re-imagine the structure of our academic units, our faculty got really creative about the possibilities of developing some new synergies in the classroom and in our research,” Lundgren said. “We wanted our academic structure to reflect our commitment to our students and their needs and to create new ways to foster innovation and collaboration among our faculty in teaching and research.” Starting in fall 2022, UMKC will have three new academic units among its 10 schools: the School of Science, Engineering and Technology; the School of Education and Applied Behavioral Sciences; and the School of Arts, Culture and Social Sciences. Agrawal said the UMKC Forward advances will increase the value UMKC provides for all of its stakeholders. “We will provide an environment of greater overall excellence for students, faculty and staff; solve more problems and create greater opportunities for our community; strengthen our regional workforce; and leave a more powerful legacy for future generations.” Mar 18, 2021

  • Alumna Executive Actively Serves Kansas City Arts Community and UMKC

    Henry W. Bloch School of Management selects Heather Humphrey to receive Alumni Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. The UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management is honoring Heather Humphrey (EMBA ’11) with its Class of 2020 Alumni Achievement Award. Heather Humphrey(EMBA ’11) Heather Humphrey oversees all litigation, regulatory and corporate legal matters at Evergy, which serves 1.6 million customers in Kansas and Missouri. She serves as senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary for the company, which combined Kansas City Power & Light and Westar Energy. An active member of the UMKC and Kansas City communities, she currently serves on the UMKC Board of Trustees and Board of Directors of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. Humphrey previously served on the boards of Starlight Theatre, The Nelson-Atkins Museum’s Business Council and the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey. We caught up with her to talk about her experiences as an executive and in community service. You have a diverse set of responsibilities at Evergy, including overseeing litigation, human resources, facilities and safety. What do you like about having multiple roles? What are the challenges? Over the years, I’ve had the awesome opportunity to be a part of several functions within the company.  The greatest part of that experience is the perspective and insight into the organization and people that is hard to replicate from any single vantage point. There are interesting problems to solve and opportunities for excellence around every corner. When you work with smart and caring people, the challenges really only come from within – time management, disciplined focus and accountability. You’ve been involved with the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Starlight Theatre, Nelson-Atkins Museum and more. Where does your passion for community service stem from?  I didn’t give a whole lot of thought to community service until I moved to Kansas City after law school.  I didn’t know a soul in town but really wanted to connect and get involved. I quickly learned the secret of Kansas City is its cumulative devotion to public service. Once I leaned in a little, I was hooked. And it is true – the personal benefit of giving back is at least 10 times the effort contributed.   There are a many worthy causes to support, why do you choose to give back to UMKC?  I’ve seen firsthand what UMKC has to offer and am reminded every day how business and the community in general can benefit from world-class graduates committed to the region. I just want to help in any way I can. The Board of Trustees has such deep talent and experience, I am honored to be a part of the group and will lend my support in every way possible. How did UMKC prepare you for/contribute to your success?  From the first day of class to the present, I have used and continue to use the knowledge and experience I gained from the UMKC Executive MBA program, both the substance and the relationships. A good part of it, though, is bigger than either of these – in that program, I developed a broader way of thinking. One that can be applied in different ways over and over in life. What advice do you have for students who’d like to follow in your footsteps?  Work hard, keep (or develop) your sense of humor and don’t take yourself too seriously. Opportunities present themselves to people who engage and who seek out and solve problems. Attitude matters – positivity breeds positivity. About the Alumni Awards Join us in honoring Humphrey and the other Class of 2020 Awardees in our first-ever virtual celebration at 5 p.m. April 16. Go to umkcalumni.com/alumniawards to register for this free event. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. Meet the rest of the 2020 UMKC Alumni Awardees Mar 18, 2021

  • A Tax Break for Retirees is Back. Here’s How to Use It — And What To Avoid.

    Washington Post interviews School of Law professor about Qualified Charitable Distributions
    Christopher Hoyt, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law professor, explained the rationale behind some Qualified Charitable Distributions rules for this article. Read the full article. Mar 18, 2021

  • Student Who Immigrated from Ghana Finds Home at Bloch School

    Mentorship and guidance elevate Greg Seaton’s success
    Greg Seton immigrated from Ghana where he’d spent most of his young life in a refugee camp. As he prepares for graduate school, education, hard work and mentorship have been the key to Seton’s growing success. While Seton has found his place in Kansas City, his transition was not an easy one. “My whole family did not come to the United States,” he says. “My mom, sister and my older brother are still in Africa.” He and his father moved in with their family members in Kansas City, and Seton felt lucky to have his cousins and other family members for support. He was in the English as a Second Language program at school, which helped with his transition as well. “There were people interacting from various backgrounds, so I was able to relate to them better,” he says. “Then I was able to branch out from that group. It was a good starting point.” “As I grew older, I realized that I’m a people person. I like to help people. I like to see them succeed, and I also like to lead.” – Gregory Seton Finding his way and making the most of opportunities is a skill that Seton has developed. While he was a student at Cristo Rey High School, an urban school in Kansas City that provides college and career preparation to diverse students with economic need, he developed a mentor/mentee relationship with Bill Thompson his sophomore year. “When I met Greg, he was very quiet,” Thompson says. “He wasn’t involved in many activities, but he had friends and was well-respected and liked. He had a real sense of himself.” Seton shared stories with Thompson about what his life had been like in Africa. “He walked two miles to school and stopped to fish for his family’s dinner on the way home. I don’t know anyone who makes better decisions about his life.” “I don’t know anyone who makes better decisions about his life.”– Bill Thompson When Seton graduated from Cristo Rey, he and Thompson decided to join Big Brothers and Big Sisters. “They provide a lot of help with support and resources,” Seton says. Seton enrolled in Metropolitan Community College and considered schools out of state to complete his degree. “I had a good advisor who told me I should apply for the Bloch Scholarship. She said, ‘Greg, you are a wonderful student. I see that you are trying and I know you have a great future ahead of you. You should apply for the (Henry W.) Bloch Scholars Program.’” Seton received a scholarship and began studying business management. He found that the faculty has been incredibly supportive to his success. “UMKC is awesome,” Seton says. “I can’t interact much on campus just because I work full-time and have a wife and daughter at home. But the people that I’ve met, and the teachers that I have communicated with have all been amazing.” “I’m learning a lot of real-life skills. I’ll be helping people fix problems. This is the right choice and the right degree.”– Gregory Seton Before he came to UMKC, Seton had an interest in engineering, but he realized that management makes more sense for him. “When I was a kid, I was always looking through trash for things I could take apart and see how they worked, which led to my interest in engineering,” he says. “As I grew older, I realized that I’m a people person. I like to help people. I like to see them succeed, and I also like to lead.” He sees the business world as a way to utilize these skills. Thompson says Seton has always knows what he needs to do. “I don’t know anyone who makes better decisions about his life,” says Thompson. “I didn’t envision he’d be where he is now, but his future is right there for him.” Seton seems equally sure of his path to success. “I enjoy the classes I’m taking,” he says. “I’m learning a lot of real-life skills. I’ll be helping people fix problems. This is the right choice and the right degree.”     Mar 18, 2021

  • How I'm Making the Most of My Spring Break

    9 ideas on how to have fun wherever you are without going to the beach
    While life may be different than the years before, it doesn’t mean you can’t relax and take a well-deserved break right at home! There are a lot of alternatives to traveling or gathering for spring break this year.  As concerned citizens and educated students, it is our job to be responsible and reduce the risk of contracting/spreading COVID-19 during our time apart. Here are a few things I plan to do, along with some helpful tips on how to make the most of Spring Break 2021.   1. Instead of going to a beach, you can bring a tropical oasis to your own room or house! Decorate your space with string lights, festive tiki torches, beach balls, and make some fruity mocktails in crazy glasses. My roommate and I love to plan themed nights with different snacks and outfits to match accordingly. It’s way cheaper and safer than going out.  2. Need to get out of the house?  Go on an adventure and take Instagram-worthy pictures of the views around you. If you live in the KC metro area, there are lots of places to visit and check out! Some of my favorite areas are over at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the WWI Memorial by Union Station. Campus also has some neat hidden gems!  3. If you’re a busybody that wants to keep moving, I suggest starting a new craft or hobby.  This is the perfect time to take up running, crocheting, painting, writing, yoga, buy a plant, take a cooking class, learn to play a new instrument, join a student group or organization, volunteer, tutor, and more! Some of my new plants include a monstera my friend recently gifted me and a peace lily my roommate and I named Wall-e. Here’s a picture of them soaking up some indirect sunlight.  4. Deep clean your space! Whether it be your dorm room, house, apartment, or wherever, spring cleaning is a MUST. I cannot stress this enough. On top of needing to stay tidy and sanitary because of the awful virus going around, it also helps clear your mind and keep you focused.  When your space is cluttered, it can be easy for your mind to follow. I know I feel so much better when my area is tidy. Start with something small and have fun with it—blast some of your favorite upbeat tunes and get going! One of my go-to’s is 80’s pop or EDM :) 5. If you must travel, BE SAFE AND BE SMART Remember to always wear your mask, bring travel sanitizer, wash your hands frequently and don’t make a lot of stops. Road-tripping with someone you live with might be your safest bet if you want to get away. Plan out a route with sight-seeing from your vehicle and try to keep your distance if you are around others for scenic views and landmarks of interest.  6. Tackle that task you’ve been putting off for so long! We all have one, whether it be fixing the crooked hanging picture, an errand you’ve been meaning to run, re-organizing, unpacking boxes from a recent move (guilty), re-decorating, re-arranging, etc. Schedule that dentist appointment you’ve been meaning to; resources for students are available at UMKC School of Dentistry with free cleanings and more! Order from that new restaurant you’ve been wanting to try, reach out to an advisor or counselor you’ve been meaning to talk to, run that mile you keep saying you’ll do, ask someone out over the phone or try out a new dating app—do something that you’ve been needing to do or never have—and break the cycle! You’d be surprised how great it feels to accomplish something you’ve been wanting to for a while, no matter how small.   7. Take time to RELAX. Turn off alarms, put phones away and just take time for yourself. Breathe. Sitting in silence and appreciating the little things can do wonders for your mind and help you reset. Lessen your time on social media and strengthen your time with yourself. I personally love to journal and highly suggest starting a gratitude journal. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day; don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.    8. Don’t forget about any assignments and projects assigned or due over break. You don’t want to come back to more stress. Be sure to update your agenda and calendars with due dates and tasks for each of your courses.    9. Finally, prepare to finish the semester strong.   I don’t know about you, but time always seems to fly by in the spring, especially after break. Next thing you know, it will be May! So, keep at it and enjoy the time off while you can. We got this, Roos!  Mar 16, 2021

  • Unvaccinated Seniors Wait In Line With Newly Eligible Missourians

    KCUR interviews Mary Anne Jackson
    “Physician leaders from across our state of Missouri are all on the same bandwagon: we must prioritize our seniors,” says infectious disease specialist Mary Anne Jackson, dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. Read more. A similar story ran in The Pitch. Mar 16, 2021

  • Art and Science Collaborate for Safer Surgeries

    Usually a place of surgical models and data research, this UMKC School of Medicine lab is embracing its artistic side
    The Surgical Innovations Lab at the UMKC School of Medicine, led by Gary Sutkin, M.D., was formed in 2016 to better understand how patient safety may be threatened in the operating room and how to make surgery safer. It approaches this mission with an inter-disciplinary team through a multitude of methodologies, including biomedical engineering, ethnography and now art. A member of Sutkin’s team is Margaret Brommelsiek, Ph.D., associate research professor in the School of Nursing and Health Studies and the School of Medicine. Together, they are collaborating on an art and medicine project called Visual Excavation: Reconstructing Scientific Data into Visual Artifacts. It was designed to extend the lab’s research data through visualization in the form of artist books. Brommelsiek, who is also a practicing artist, developed the images through mining data contained in the lab’s research protocols relating to quality and safety in the operating room, team communication and interprofessional surgical team interactions.  The importance of the artwork is being recognized by the artistic community as a whole. Brommelsiek and Sutkin have created five books consisting of the pieces accompanied with poems written by Sutkin and Brommelsiek. Those books are now included in the library of the National Museum of Women in Art in Washington, D.C. The institution is the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to championing women through the arts. The library’s collection includes 1,000 unique books and limited editions created by women artists in a variety of formats.  “It’s really an honor to be included in their collection and how artists and art can engage in science,” said Brommelsiek. “Hopefully, these books will inspire other future artists to collaborate in fields outside of the arts.”  By going beyond charts and graphs, Brommelsiek’s art provides a visual narrative documenting the lived experiences of the researchers. Conducting ethnographic studies, her research examines the dynamics within the operating room environment, using a humanities-informed lens and identifying parallels between medicine and art. Her finished pieces, which she describes as abstract, use collage as the primary medium to create an essence of the experiences of research processes.  “Margaret’s art and background have really opened up a window in my mind where I view my research differently and even surgery itself,” said Sutkin, who also serves as associate dean of women’s health at the School of Medicine. According to Sutkin, this is the lab’s first foray into true art incorporation. “We’ve been making theoretical models and try to make them visual, but this is a new direction for us.” Much of Sutkin’s research focuses on the use of a trocar, an intimidating surgical instrument used during bladder surgeries where the wrong amount of pressure can lead to dire consequences in female patients. These procedures often require working without visual cues. Through the lab, Sutkin has been able to create a surgical model that mirrors this procedure by mapping pressure used during trocar insertion. An important part of this research was having access to a cadaver. “I wanted to really capture Dr. Sutkin’s visceral experience of the cadaver,” said Brommelsiek. “The textures, the way the surgeon’s hands were crucial, as well as the instrument itself, even the mesh that is used in the surgeries. It’s not literal, but the essence is captured in the imagery.” This project took shape when they received funding through the KU Medical Center Frontiers Trailblazer Awards. The program provides financial support to assist with targeted research in a variety of areas of health care.  We thought it would be interesting to take three aspects of our research that had differing perspectives and extend the research data to a visual form,” said Brommelsiek. “How could we visually see the output of the research process and find meaning through a visual lens of expression?” The backbone of their creative process is conversations around science, but also other fields of shared interest including art, philosophy, literature, films and, of course, health care. It is through this ongoing dialogue that several research protocols have emerged. “We’ll be discussing some of the science in our research but we’ll also touch on film, visual art or novels that have a relationship to what we’re doing,” said Brommelsiek. “It all feeds into our creative process and how our research is developed.” Mar 12, 2021

  • Renowned Alumnus Musician Hosts New Show on KCUR

    Hermon Mehari hopes to engage listeners with old favorites and new discoveries
    Trumpeter Hermon Mehari (BM, ‘10) is launching, “The Session,” a new show on KCUR 89.3 from his home base in Europe. While he has deep roots and high credibility in the jazz world, his show will be a mix of old favorites and new finds. One of Hermon Mehari’s first musical memories is his aunt giving him the Michael Jackson cassette of “HIStory.” “I think my first favorite song was ‘You Are Not Alone.’” While he loved Jackson and grew up listening to a lot of Motown, he did not know he wanted to be a musician until he joined the band in 7th grade. That is when his passion for the trumpet began. “I started playing the trumpet after about a year,” he says. “I fell in love with improvisation and jazz through my classes in school. I hadn’t known anything about jazz before and started buying records and was very purposeful about it. I was reading about the history and learning the stories of the musicians. It naturally grew into an obsession.” He had developed a passion for jazz so deep, that he applied to the top three schools known for their jazz programs. “I was impressed by his spirit and his playing,” - Bobby Watson “I auditioned at all of them. I got scholarships at all of them,” he says. “Then I received a phone call from Bobby Watson. Bobby is legendary and worked with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. When I got his call, I had an Art Blakey and the Messengers CD on my nightstand and I was looking at it as I talked to him on the phone. He said he wanted me to come to UMKC. And I thought, ‘I want to work with someone who cares enough to call me as a result of my audition. I came to UMKC because of Bobby Watson.” Bobby Watson, William D. and Mary Grant/Missouri professor of Jazz Studies, had heard Mehari play at a festival the year before he applied to the UMKC Conservatory. “I was impressed by his spirit and his playing,” Watson says. “I had the chance to talk to him and it was clear he was very industrious. He has a business mind. He’s a natural entrepreneur. Even then he was always hustling, and you have to hustle.” Once he was at UMKC, Mehari found himself surrounded by incredible musicians. “I was immediately in a place with people who not only inspired me, but who took us out on the scene immediately. We were connected to the jazz tradition of Kansas City and the older generation that was there. But we learned from each other. I was inspired by my fellow students then and still am.” Mehari received significant attention for his skills while he was at the Conservatory, including winning the 2008 National Trumpet Competition, but he never considered quitting school to play. “That wasn’t a question for me,” he says. “I was a good student and my parents, who were refugees, would have been so disappointed if had quit school. In our community you don’t do that. I mean, you also don’t become a musician…” After graduation Mehari went to Paris to explore the city and get to know the jazz scene. “I’d been to Europe, but I’d never been to Paris. By the end of 2016 I’d moved there.” As cities in Europe began to shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mehari and a few friends had the opportunity to rent a farmhouse in the French countryside. While he was there, he recorded his latest album, “Change for the Dreamlike.” “I was in a good mental state. I’d written the music and had practiced a lot. I put it out for free on Bandcamp originally, because I knew that a lot of people might not be able to afford it.” “Radio is meant to make you feel good and that’s my mission with what I do musically on the horn. I want people to feel or feel strongly, but most of all to feel good. That’s the beautiful thing about “The Session.” - Hermon Mehari As the pandemic wore on, Mehari began to feel the strain. While he comes Kansas City three or four times a year to perform, he’s been unable to come for the last year. That makes strengthening his connection to home through his new show “The Session” on KCUR 89.3 even sweeter. “Radio is meant to make you feel good and that’s my mission with what I do musically on the horn. I want people to feel or feel strongly, but most of all to feel good. That’s the beautiful thing about “The Session.” Mehari had never thought he’d do a radio show, but he jumped at the opportunity. “We’ll be celebrating Black music, which is really cool and important. But I’m also excited to showcase the diversity within this music. Some people may be familiar with jazz, but maybe they don’t know anything about music from Africa or blues, R&B or hip-hop. I want to stretch the listener. The idea is – check this out. Maybe you’ll like it or maybe you’ll like the next one.” Mehari plans to feature a Kansas City artist in each show as well as new music, obscure music and popular music. “It’s been really fun,” he says. “I love the curation. There’s a fine balance and I am always aware of having a few songs that are familiar to a wide range of people. The greatest compliment I could receive would be, ‘I never thought I’d like ‘X’ music, but now I realize I do.” “The Session” with Hermon Mehari airs Saturdays at 7 p.m. CST on KCUR 89.3. Mar 12, 2021

  • KCUR’s Newest Show Brings The Music That Inspires Jazz Trumpeter Hermon Mehari To Kansas City

    New music show from KCUR: The Session With Hermon Mehari
    Hermon Mehari is a graduate of the UMKC Conservatory. Read more. Mar 12, 2021

  • The Many Faces of COVID-19 Fighters

    Over the months of the pandemic, alumni and faculty in every corner of health care have responded and adapted with courage and continuing creativity.
    When the pandemic hit, nearly every field was affected, from architecture to zoology. In the middle of it all were health -care workers, who faced immense changes while trying to do all they could to stop the spread of the disease and help victims survive and recover. From clinics and classrooms to research labs and executive offices, our UMKC community has worked to stem the spread of a disease unlike any other in modern history. These Roos — along with countless other UMKC students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends — are making a difference in nursing, medicine, dentistry, pharmaceuticals, health system administration and health facilities engineering, just to name a few areas. Meet the COVID fighters Mark Chrisman  (B.S. ’02 and M.S. ’07, School of Computing and Engineering; Ph.D. ’19, Interdisciplinary Studies) Vice president and director of the health care practice at Henderson Engineers, a nationwide firm with 12 offices, including its headquarters in Lenexa, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri Alexander Garza (B.S. ’90, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences) Incident commander of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, chief community health officer of SSM Health system and former chief medical officer for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Gina Mullen (M.D. ’11, School of Medicine) Emergency room physician at Dallas Veterans Administration Hospital and Baylor Medical Center at Uptown Debra Pankau (M.S.N. ’96 and D.N.P. ’16, School of Nursing and Health Studies) Clinical assistant professor at the School of Nursing and Health Studies and family nurse practitioner with Northwest Health Services Janelle Sabo (Pharm.D. ’00, School of Pharmacy) Global leader for Anti-COVID-19 Therapeutics Platform at Eli Lilly and Company Ahmed Zarrough, D.D.S. (Faculty, School of Dentistry) Clinical assistant professor, School of Dentistry, who fielded calls and managed emergency dental cases while the school’s clinics were closed to most patients. A pandemic’s progression Like many members of the community, at the beginning of the pandemic our UMKC COVID-19 fighters didn’t dream we’d be where we are today. Each of our alumni and faculty members shared with us how the pandemic has progressed for them and the challenges they’ve faced along the way. Early 2020 Alexander Garza writes his first situation report on the virus for the 22-hospital SSM Health system. He begins running inventory on his hospital system’s supply of personal protection equipment (PPE). Janelle Sabo gets a call from an Eli Lilly colleague in clinical research in Shanghai. “There's some sort of virus going around,” the researcher said, “and it's really impacting our ability to continue critical clinical trials in China.” Gina Mullen says: “Volume [at the emergency room] was down, because I think people were scared to go to the ER." The atmosphere at her VA hospital changed “to like a ghost town.” March Many of Mark Chrisman's projects are put on hold, and his company assembles a task force to address the emerging pandemic. Garza appears on MSNBC to discuss the uptick in COVID-19 cases in the Midwest. Mullen’s husband, Jim, puts his law career on hold and heads to New York to help with the pandemic response, utilizing his prior training as an emergency room nurse. Mullen picks up night shifts at the VA to help out with the influx of patients. Debra Pankau's classroom teaching shifts online and students’ clinical hours are put on hold. “When our nursing students couldn’t be in clinic anymore, or a classroom for that matter, we turned on a dime, didn’t miss a day,” she says. Sabo is put in charge of the team managing data tracking for COVID-19 tests at Eli Lilly. “We turned one of our parking facilities into one of the largest drive-through testing operations in the country,” she says. Ahmed Zarrough stops seeing all his patients as School of Dentistry clinics close except for the most urgent emergencies. April–May The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force is announced, with Garza giving press briefings six days a week for several weeks. When Mullen’s husband returns to Dallas exhausted, he quarantines in a nearby hotel. “I think that was probably the hardest part,” she says. “Being so close but knowing he couldn't see us.” Afterward, they appear together on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 to discuss their experiences during the pandemic. Zarrough and the rest of the Dental Clinic staff take turns fielding after-hours emergency calls, and since the clinic closed, now every call is “after hours.” Trips into the dental school become almost surreal, “different in almost every way. The school was empty, and I had to make sure security knew I was not an intruder.” June–July Chrisman’s local health care engineering projects begin to move forward with new considerations, like how to keep future viral patients separate from non-infected patients. “We presented different options to dozens of clients,” he says. “Can we convert a room to keep possible COVID patients isolated until we get them into a separate room? Can we convert a waiting room just for these people?” Garza takes on a new title: chief community health officer at SSM Health. His initial sprint to replenish PPE supplies becomes a marathon. His task force begins working to advise school districts on how to reopen classrooms and whether to resume sports programs. Mullen and her colleagues battle a surge in coronavirus cases in the Dallas area. She helps her COVID patients connect with loved ones by using her own phone to FaceTime their families. Pankau routinely fields more than 25 daily lab calls about positive COVID-19 tests. She finds herself personally ensuring her infected patients have groceries and medications while isolating. Sabo begins leading Eli Lilly’s research on drugs to help people recover from COVID-19 or prevent it from developing. September and beyond Chrisman and his team continue to pivot their health care engineering projects as the pandemic shows no signs of letting up. “In 2015 with Ebola, health systems often considered changes but didn’t follow through,” he says. “This time I think we will make improvements and be better prepared if this isn’t the last pandemic we see.” Garza and the St. Louis task force shift focus to planning for how to get the whole region vaccinated efficiently once a vaccine is available, whether that vaccine comes in a matter of weeks, months or even years. As a veteran, Garza reflects that “the similarities between war and a pandemic are eerie.” A new policy provides some relief to both Mullen and her patients: Each patient is allowed one loved one or family member in their room. “I know that I’m going to be dealing with emergencies all day,” she says. “But as I tell all my patients, I know that 90% of them had no idea they were going to end up in an emergency room, so I do whatever I can to help them and reassure them.” Pankau reflects on how the pandemic has changed both her and her field, likely forever. “COVID is a horrible thing, but I think many good things will come of this and already have,” she says. “Our online teaching and testing have improved, and telehealth isn't going to go away, especially as a way to improve rural services.” Despite the increased stakes and urgency the pandemic brought to her work, Sabo feels grateful for the way her company and many others have responded. “One of the things I have appreciated the most is that [Eli] Lilly was willing to think about this pandemic in a super multifaceted way,” she says. “I’ve been fortunate to be involved in so many of these efforts.” As fall classes begin, Zarrough begins to see a new silver lining to the pandemic: the slower pace it requires. “Seeing half as many patients gives us as instructors more time to spend with the students and explain things one on one and demonstrate. What we lose in quantity I think we can make up by improving the quality of the students’ learning experience.”   Mar 11, 2021

  • How Does Battling a Pandemic Compare to Military Combat?

    To Obie Austin, they’re both a call to service
    In years to come, when you think back on 2020, what moments will stand out? Perhaps you will remember watching the news, as stories about the coronavirus pandemic increased in volume and severity. Maybe you were sent home from work, or you had to help your children navigate online learning. You might have waited in long lines at the grocery store as people stocked up on toilet paper. Or maybe you got the call that a loved one had fallen ill or even died. Obie Austin (M.S.N. ’99), School of Nursing and Health Studies graduate and director of UMKC Student Health and Wellness, knows one moment he’ll never forget. It was late March. Mayor Quinton Lucas had just announced a stay-at-home order for Kansas City, Missouri, closing non-essential businesses and requiring many Kansas Citians to restrict their movement to essential activities like grocery shopping or medical care. As he often does in times of stress or uncertainty, Austin started walking. He walked for nearly three hours, crisscrossing downtown Kansas City. On a sunny, Saturday afternoon — the third day of spring — he saw only three people. Those he did see seemed fearful, like they “didn’t want to breathe the same air” as him. The stay-at-home order didn’t take effect for several days. It didn’t matter “It was an eerie, catastrophic feeling,” he says. “To be in an area that’s the bustling pride of the city, and it was shut down.” It was just one moment in a year that, to Austin, felt increasingly like a science fiction movie. “We are in a war for the health of our world. It’s a call to service.” – Obie Austin  The starting bell Early in the pandemic, Austin couldn’t help but think of the H1N1 pandemic that came to the United States nearly a decade earlier, in the spring of 2009. Very quickly, though, he realized the coronavirus was going to be a wildly different experience. “To me, (H1N1) never became scary,” he says. “This (pandemic) became scary very quickly. I felt like we were living in something we’d only ever read about.” While the virus spread rapidly through places like New York, Texas and California, Austin could often be found in his office reading. He spent countless hours on the CDC website, trying to stay on top of a virus that is, by its nature, nearly impossible to stay on top of. In early February, Austin dealt with his first real pandemic crisis: determining how to support a UMKC student who had recently been in China. Did they need to quarantine? If so, where? How would they get access to basic supplies like food, toiletries and internet? Hours of research, dozens of conversations and a myriad of logistics — all for one student. One quarantine plan. Though the student never developed symptoms, as Austin puts it, “that (first) weekend went on forever.” “That’s the moment that it clicked for me — this is the beginning,” he says. “And it was just a race from that point on.” Once the virus reached the Kansas City area, Austin and his team played an even more integral role in the university’s pandemic response efforts. Their work became all hands on deck, pulling in faculty, staff and even students across campus to help track cases and support students who were infected and exposed. “Things were changing every day ... It was just a whirlwind,” Austin says. “We just thought, ‘This can’t go on forever … I don’t know how we keep this pace going.’ That was a year ago.” Then, the Navy called. They wanted Austin — a combat veteran who served in both the Navy and Army — on the front lines in New York. Immediately, he began preparing his family, his staff and the UMKC COVID-19 task force for the possibility that he would be deployed. He didn’t know when he’d be called up — in a few days, a few weeks or perhaps not at all — adding uncertainty to an already stressful situation. “Everything in me wanted to go,” Austin says, but his obligations at work and at home were also top of mind. “My wife was very scared of me going to New York, and she’s lived through me going away to a combat zone,” he says. “I felt this overwhelming sense of responsibility and guilt at the same time.” In the end, Austin was never deployed. While it was hard to watch fellow health-care workers struggling on the front lines, Austin didn’t yet realize how much he would be needed at home, both personally and professionally. A sprint becomes a marathon As spring turned to summer, it became clear that the pandemic was getting worse, not better. Austin and his team worked around the clock to track cases and support students who needed to quarantine. On team calls, he began to notice the fatigue on his colleagues’ faces. Meanwhile, like everyone else, Austin was feeling the pandemic’s effects in his personal life. He watched as, one by one, his daughter’s high school activities were canceled. Visits to his mother changed drastically, reduced to a masked exchange of groceries and supplies outside her apartment. Outrage following the police killing of George Floyd added to the feeling of unrest. Across the country, people engaged in protests against Floyd’s killing and systemic racism. Blocks from Austin’s office, protesters and police engaged in a nightly standoff, tear gas wafting over a scene that Kansas Citians were more used to seeing in historical documentaries than in their own local newscasts. To Austin, it all seemed to be building to some sort of unknown pressure point. “It’s like the year that just kept giving,” Austin says. “Actually, I’m going to say it was the year that just kept taking — it wasn’t giving anything.” Even 30 years in health care and multiple military deployments couldn't fully prepare him for the experience. And as a former critical-care nurse, he can only imagine what fellow health-care workers on the front lines are going through. “I’ve worked in environments where people die a lot. I understand the toll that even one death can have,” he says. “So imagining all these folks trying to keep people alive and them still dying… I can understand the helplessness and the hopelessness in it.” When asked how battling a pandemic compares with facing actual battles during his military deployments, Austin cites one major similarity: In both the pandemic and military combat, people die without their families holding their hands. “I hope we gain more respect for relationships and the importance of the lives of others…I think we’ll be better. We always are.” – Obie Austin The final push Despite the collective trauma and fatigue caused by the pandemic, Austin says there is still much room for hope. At the time of this interview at the beginning of 2021, millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines were headed to communities across the country. Some of his staff had already been vaccinated, and he planned to get the shot in the coming weeks. To Austin, getting vaccinated is much more than a simple health decision — it’s a natural extension of the military and medical oaths he’s taken. “We are in a war for the health of our world,” he says. “For me, getting the vaccination is a call to service because I feel like I have a duty to make sure this pandemic gets under control.” Though the road to recovery will be long, Austin doesn’t discount the good things that have arisen out of this experience. He’s watched students support their peers who’ve come down with COVID-19. He’s witnessed the outpouring of support for health-care and other essential workers. He’s been able to spend more time with his daughter. When COVID-19 is finally in the rearview, he hopes it will have taught us to take better care of each other. “I hope we gain more respect for relationships and the importance of the lives of others,” he says. “I think we’ll be better. We always are.”   Mar 11, 2021

  • Unstoppable Artists

    Performing arts alumni find new ways to reach audiences during pandemic shutdowns
    It was the perfect Saturday afternoon in September. The sun was shining and the weather was still fine for short sleeves. Violinist and Conservatory alumna Elizabeth Suh Lane (B.M.) and her fellow musicians assembled under the shade of nearby trees to perform a community concert of chamber music ranging from Bach to Piazzolla. A small but inspired crowd, socially distanced and masked as necessary, spread out to enjoy the free, nearly hour-long performance at Southmoreland Park near Kansas City’s iconic The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. COVID-19 may have changed how things are done in the performing arts world, but Suh Lane is just one of many UMKC alumni finding new ways to bring their artistry to audiences. “It has not stopped us,” says Suh Lane, founder and artistic director of the Bach Aria Soloists, which is hosting regular performances in a variety of live and online formats. “We are still performing. ... We’ve just pivoted the way we’re doing it.” “We are seeing a significant increase in performance videos online to keep audiences connected. ... But it doesn’t replace the income needed for organizations to survive. We have to remember to support them through this time.” – Jane Chu (Honorary Doctorate ’10), advisor on the arts for PBS and former chair of the National Endowment for the Arts Conservatory alumni Winston Dynamite Brown (B.F.A. ’04) and his wife Latra Ann Wilson (B.F.A. ’05) started a dance company in New York City — TheDynamitExperience — in 2018. Like many dance companies, when COVID struck Brown and Wilson had to close the doors. They moved back to Kansas City and spent the summer collaborating with other organizations. “If there is a silver lining in this remote creativity, it’s that we’re able to branch out and reach a demographic that we wouldn’t have access to before,” Brown says. “We’re taking it outside to continue working and recording it. We’re just trying to survive this the best we can.” UMKC theatre graduate Miles McMahon (M.F.A. ’96) has also adjusted to continue practicing his craft. The founder and instructor of Kansas City children’s theater company Theatre of the Imagination, McMahon not only took his instruction online, but performed socially distanced drama shows for other camps, many of which included the children of first responders. “I’m an actor with a job during a pandemic,” McMahon says. “It really is about adaptation and I'm learning every day.” That’s the key, says Suh Lane, whose ensemble had been invited to perform in Lincoln, Nebraska, in early 2020. When the pandemic hit, concert organizers asked if they would perform a virtual concert. Suh Lane agreed enthusiastically. “Our musicians feel blessed that we can continue like this and do it safely,” Suh Lane says. “We're still offering live music, and people can be a part of it.” Brown was recently commissioned to work with Adelphi University in New York on a six to seven-week dance project. Most of the work will take place remotely from Kansas City, but he’ll also be able to have two of his dancers assist him. “This is a way for me to continue to create and to help them financially. It’s a way to help my creative community,” he says. McMahon and his students are staying positive as well. Using cell phone cameras, the students created their own silly commercials and short, scripted productions. They’ve become such a hit that Nickelodeon called asking his students for virtual auditions. An internet production company in Australia even purchased one of their scripts. "We sold it for $25, so every kid in that class got $2.50. They were so excited,” McMahon says. “Often, times of great adversity produce great art. And so here we are, the Kansas City theater community, doing our best to keep the performing arts alive during this challenging time.” Mar 11, 2021

  • The Unpredictable Experience of Virtual Learning

    How teachers and students are adjusting to a very new normal
    The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted life as we knew it, caused the world to collectively pause and, eventually, shift to a new normal. Its specific effects, however, are not universal. It has caused varying challenges for people of all generations, social classes and walks of life, especially teachers and children as the shift to online learning brought to light a new set of challenges — and opportunities. We spoke to two of UMKC’s many alumni working to juggle different teaching formats, student needs, technology requirements and more in their classrooms about what the experience has been like — both for them and for their students. Adapting to the new normal For School of Education alumni Marquis Hall (B.A.’16; M.A. ’19) and Deborah Siebern-Dennis (B.A. ’05), the pandemic has created very different realities for their classrooms. Hall teaches at African-Centered College Preparatory Academy, which uses African-based projects to provide a unique cultural education to students in Pre-Kindergarten through 8th grade. Located in the heart of the Kansas City, Missouri School District, the academy was 100% online in Fall 2020 due to COVID-19. Though it’s been difficult for Hall’s students to be separated from their friends and in-person help, he says they’re staying resilient. “They can do anything,” Hall says. “They grew up using technology, so some of these kids can use it better than their teachers!” Siebern-Dennis is a 7th grade science teacher at Bode Middle School in St. Joseph, Missouri, outside Kansas City’s urban core. As of late 2020, her classroom was in a hybrid model, meaning that in any given class period, she was teaching half of her students in person, with the other half tuning in online via Zoom. “The biggest struggle has been to try to find a balance between giving my in-class students the attention they need while also providing my online students the same amount of attention during the same class period,” Siebern-Dennis says. “We are basically running two classrooms at the same time, and I just worry that my students are falling behind.” Deborah Siebern-Dennis (B.A. ’05) is a 7th grade science teacher at Bode Middle School in St. Joseph, Missouri, outside Kansas City’s urban core. As of late 2020, her classroom was in a hybrid model, meaning that in any given class period, she was teaching half of her students in person, with the other half tuning in online via Zoom. Virtual learning for every student Both Siebern-Dennis and Hall agree that a difficult situation becomes even harder when students are facing challenges from food insecurity to access to technology. School districts spent the weeks leading up to the Fall 2020 school year racing to source laptops and internet hotspots to families in need. Yet, for both alumni, it helps that the parent-teacher partnership is better than ever, allowing them to find innovative ways to reach students — whether they’re at home or in the classroom. “We are in such an educational unknown right now that I feel the best way to support our students and families is to make the best out of our 'new normal' and remain as positive as possible,” Siebern-Dennis says. “One thing I’ve learned is that you can’t take an in-person classroom and expect it to work online,” Hall says. “We have the opportunity to get creative in the way we teach.” He’s reinvited his classroom structure and found various ways to incorporate much-needed interaction through morning breakfast, small groups and YouTube videos related to the lesson. Heavily reliant on video creation for science labs, Siebern-Dennis spent the beginning of the school year pre-recording demonstrations and encouraging students to make predictions on what would happen next. Now that her school has shifted to a hybrid model, though, she’s re-strategizing how to engage both online and classroom students in lab activities. Where we go from here So after quite an interesting year, what do our alumni educators hope for the future of education? “I’m hoping we can give our students more flexibility and grace,” says Hall. “In elementary school, we’re way too tied to standards and outcomes. Moving students academically is the goal, but we’ve learned that there’s so much more we need to be doing for them. We need to make sure we’re meeting the whole child.” “Ideally, I want my kids (in person) every day! But I’ve seen that there are kids who learn better virtually,” Siebern-Dennis says. “The more options we have, the more we can help them in the way that they learn best.” Mar 11, 2021

  • Turning Tables in Challenging Times

    Ingenuity and flexibility are key for food and event service businesses to survive the pandemic
    While all businesses have been deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants, bars and their suppliers face the challenge of simultaneously staying afloat financially, keeping people safe and trying to provide their customers the quality and experience that makes dining out or carrying out both respite and an everyday celebration. We spoke to three of the many UMKC alumni working to keep their businesses afloat about the innovations that have kept them in the game. Kasim Hardaway (B.S. ’15, Arts and Sciences) Kansas City food influencer and recipe developer Head of research and development, Cultivare restaurant What was life like for you during the COVID-19 shutdown? The shutdown was indescribable for my professional life. Prior to the onset of COVID-19, I was seeing a sharp upward trajectory across all of my businesses. I was crushing goals, expanding my client base and even starting new ventures. Immediately upon the shutdown, however, all of that came to an abrupt (and scary) end. I lost over 80% of my contracts and work dried up in a snap. How have you pivoted during the pandemic to continue to serve customers? Pivoting during the shutdown was really grounded in being gritty and getting back to basics. I tapped into my network, doubling down on that hustle mentality and extending myself across all my service areas. I put all of my skills to use — collaborating with brands on recipe development, pivoting my food photography to resound with people being at home and offering marketing consulting based on client revenue growth. I’ve always considered myself a jack of all trades. Being able to tap into one service area that was seeing growth and halting on another that wasn’t gaining traction allowed me to remain flexible but in demand in my sphere of business. How do you see your restaurant/bar being different in the future because of the pandemic? With restaurant owners already juggling so much, it is quite a daunting task. While I would love to be optimistic about the reality of the situation, my heart goes out to each and every small, locally-owned concept for the months that lie ahead of us.    Steve Revare (M.A. ’15, Arts and Sciences) Co-founder, Tom’s Town Distilling Co. in Kansas City, Missouri What was life like for you during the COVID-19 shutdown? The early days of the pandemic were chaotic. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who spent entire nights staring at the ceiling. At that point no one knew much about how people transmitted the virus, so we just did what we thought we should do and shut down. It was the day before the city required businesses to close. How have you pivoted during the pandemic to continue to serve customers? Like distilleries across the country, we were able to make hand sanitizer. We donated over a thousand gallons to first responders, prisons and charities across the country and sold enough to keep the lights on until we were able to open back up in June. We were also able to offer four to-go cocktails that highlight our spirits. When we did open back up, we opened outside. We put up tents, rugs, lounge furniture, and actually put together an amazing atmosphere in our parking lot. We were able to fire up some pre-pandemic partnerships with live entertainment. Thankfully, the feedback has been amazing from day one.   How do you see your restaurant/bar being different in the future because of the pandemic? We're planning more partnerships with local restaurants. They are serving our spirits in cocktails to go and in cocktail kits, like the Jack Stack Bloody Mary kit. That's some of the good that I hope comes out of this pandemic: Local companies supporting other local companies. One thing the pandemic has taught me: Even as the world appears to melt down around people, they still like to drink! Our sales at liquor stores have actually increased over last year.   Maria Finn (B.A. ’91, Arts and Sciences) Writer and chef in the San Francisco Bay area What was life like for you during the COVID-19 shutdown? When the shutdown hit, I was chef-in-resident at Stochastic Labs, a residency and incubator for artists, scientists and tech engineers in Berkeley, California, along with writing freelance and crewing on a sailboat. I really enjoyed these jobs, which all ended at the shutdown. How have you pivoted during the pandemic to continue to serve customers? I began a meal delivery service for our local community that had a “No Neighbor Left Behind” program with a friend who is a chef. People could donate to buy meals for those who needed it. We had a lot of seniors who couldn’t leave their homes, a single mother getting cancer treatments and others who we were able to provide meals for. We were also able to support local farmers and fishermen during this time, which made me aware of how vital it is to have a resilient local food system.  How do you see your restaurant/bar being different in the future because of the pandemic? I think we are going to see a lot of creativity when this pandemic lifts. Restaurant people are by nature creative — In 2008, when the economy crashed, what emerged were pop-up food events and food trucks. The overhead is so high in the current restaurant model, and eating out can be prohibitively expensive. The landlords seem to be the only ones doing well with the current model. Emerging restaurants will have lower overhead and more interaction and engagement by the customers. I also do private dinners in people’s homes, and clients have been setting up small tables outside. We have one person serving so only they touch the utensils, and we all wear masks and gloves. Many people haven’t hired a private chef before and say they really prefer it to going to a restaurant.  Mar 11, 2021

  • Roos Advocate Through the Decades

    Alumni and students work toward a more ethnically inclusive and equitable future
    The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police in May 2020 set off international protests and focused a spotlight on the Black Lives Matter movement. But for Black people and people of color, it was another reminder of the urgency and foundational change needed to reach racial equality in the United States — an issue so many UMKC alumni are working to address in their careers, communities, homes and day-to-day lives. We spoke with School of Law alumnus Mark S. Bryant (J.D. ’74), who grew up during the civil rights movement and has spent much of his adult life fighting racism in government, nonprofit work and the private sector. His story sounded very much like the kind of work and activism our alumni and students are doing now — 50 years later. Using Bryant’s experience as a guide, we’ve examined the parallels between then and now and how our UMKC family is making a difference in the lives of people of color. Then and now “The civil rights movement was led by religious and civic leaders and fueled with the energy of young people. The Black Lives Matter movement is led by young people.” — Mark S. Bryant (J.D. ’74) Bryant was born into a segregated Kansas City and as a child was inspired by his parents. His mother was one of the first Black students admitted to the University of Kansas City (now UMKC) School of Education. His father was a dining car waiter on the Kansas City Southern Belle, “one of the best jobs a Black man could have," Bryant recalls. When racial segregation was eased in 1959, Bryant's family was one of the first Black families to move south of 27th Street. At first, Bryant was surrounded by white people in his new school and neighborhood, but soon those teachers and students moved — his introduction to “white flight." He remembers his father discussing politics at the kitchen table and being an early organizer of Freedom, Incorporated, a Kansas City organization that empowers African Americans in the political process. At the time, there were no Black people elected to public office. When Bryant’s father retired, he ran three times against the incumbent state representative for their district. His father never won, and a young Bryant witnessed the pain that it caused. Bryant resolved to get his law degree, enter politics and make his parents proud. Today, Mahreen Ansari (’22) and Daniel Garcia-Roman (’21) are two UMKC students fighting for equal treatment of all individuals — continuing the work Bryant’s father began so many decades ago. Mahreen Ansari  Ansari, a political science and international studies major with a pre-law emphasis, serves as president of the Student Government Association and communications director for the College Democrats of Missouri. She’s also a writer for the UMKC chapter of Her Campus, an online magazine for women in college, and a community organizer with the Sunrise Movement of Kansas City, a climate justice organization. For Ansari, her interest in social justice was really sparked when she left high school, where she’d been surrounded by other BIPOC (Black, indigenous and people of color). “I was lucky enough to have been somewhat sheltered by going to high school in a district mostly filled with other BIPOC,” she says. “But coming to a [predominantly white institution] I had to come face to face with a lot of things.” Even in her earliest activism, Ansari saw a long road ahead to achieve lasting change in the realm of racial and social justice. “It’s going to take a very conscious effort to undo those systems — possibly completely dismantling them — to stop and prevent further harm,” she says. Daniel Garcia-Roman  Garcia-Roman is a studio art major with plans to earn a master's degree for art education and teach in the Kansas City, Missouri, School District. He is also an artist and volunteers with the Kansas/Missouri Dream Alliance, an organization that serves undocumented youth and encourages cultural exploration through visual arts at the Mattie Rhodes Center. Garcia-Roman says his interest in activism started close to home. “My older brother is a DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] recipient, and once he graduated from high school, I realized there are intentional policies in place that hinder his mobility in life,” Garcia-Roman says. “I reflected and found the forces that affected me and the people closest to me were social forces like misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia and racism. And that a small group of people can cause change through activism.” Making a difference “You could name and count them by hand … there were so few Black attorneys that I was a novelty.” — Mark S. Bryant Just as he planned, Bryant became a lawyer and entered public service. After graduating from the UMKC School of Law in 1975, Bryant took a job as assistant public defender. At the time, he says, he was one of very few Black lawyers in Kansas City. That unique role allowed him to participate in organizations like the Council on Education, Citizens Association, Committee for County Progress and Freedom, Incorporated, but it didn’t keep him from experiencing discrimination. “Discrimination was most pronounced during encounters with law enforcement," he says. "It didn’t matter if I was driving, flying or boating. I had more encounters with law enforcement than my counterparts, and it was unpleasant." Bryant served as a Kansas City, Missouri, City Council member from 1983 to 1991 and notably helped resolve decade-long litigation around the Bruce R. Watkins Roadway that had left Kansas City’s 5th district devasted by blight. Today, Bryant is a land use and public law attorney at Rouse Frets White Goss Gentile Rhodes, P.C. He has also worked with Community Builders of Kansas City, a nonprofit that redevelops areas that lack essential services. With Bryant's help, the organization developed an ambulatory health-care facility, multi-family housing, office buildings and a retail shopping center in the vicinity of Blue Parkway and Cleveland Avenue, projects that, according to Bryant, “had a catalytic affect and transformed an area of Kansas City that was sorely in need of redevelopment.” Sandra and Jerren Thornhill Like Bryant, alumna Sandra Thornhill (B.A. ’13, M.P.A. ’17) has served her community in a myriad of ways since graduating from UMKC with both an undergraduate degree in sociology and a Master of Public Administration. She says her young son, Jerren, has been a major source of motivation for her advocacy and racial justice work. Thornhill collaborates with Shirley’s Kitchen Cabinet, a Black women-led, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to amplifying the voices of Black women. She also serves as a community liaison for birth justice advocacy with Uzazi Village, established to decrease maternal and infant health disparities found in the urban core, particularly among African-American women. Recently, Thornhill worked to get the CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act passed in Kansas City, Missouri. Under the CROWN Act, Kansas City employers cannot implement appearance policies that prevent employees from wearing hairstyles or textures traditionally associated with race. This protects employees from being discriminated against for wearing their hair naturally or in styles such as twists or locs. Kansas City was only the second city in the nation to adopt the policy. “The CROWN Act makes a huge difference for a couple of reasons: for pride as a Black person and as a measure of protection for the Black community," Thornhill says. "For a city to recognize its racist past and act to protect its most historically marginalized community — the Black community — this begins to allow one to shake the burden of internalized inferiority in exchange for pride in one's full essence of Blackness." Since childhood, Thornhill has been keenly aware of societal white-washed standards of beauty, often rebelling against them through eccentric expressions of hair and style. Still, Thornhill wondered how her hair would dictate how people treated her at the office. For professional settings, she would sometimes style her hair to mimic white beauty standards.  “The dichotomy I faced was to either embrace my ancestral intuition of beauty, passed down by generations of Black women around me, or to subscribe to society's propaganda in order to climb the corporate ladder," she says.  Latrina Collins  Latrina Collins (B.S. ’93), a UMKC accounting graduate and former director of planning, program development and evaluation at the Full Employment Council, encourages employers to invest in diversity on an internal level, as well “It is imperative that each company have staff dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion,” she says. “It is not enough just to hire people of color, but companies must contribute to helping them succeed in terms of leadership development and working with each employee on a plan for success.” Looking forward “The color of my skin has, in many respects, defined my identity. The color of my skin determined where I could live, the schools I could attend, our family income, where I could go and what I could aspire to be. The color of my skin often defines a person’s first impression of me. When you are a person of color, it affects nearly every aspect of your life.” — Mark S. Bryant Even with decades of time between them, Bryant, Ansari, Garcia-Roman, Thornhill and Collins have shared experiences based strictly on the color of their skin. While they are currently enacting change, they agree there is still much work to be done in bridging the equality gap. “We have to evaluate and change the policies and practices that allow for people to be treated differently in all facets of life — in the workforce, education institutions, criminal justice system, government, health care and so on,” Collins says. “We have to be able to recognize when a system allows for racism, and we have to make those changes immediately.” Despite the lengths still to go, a vast army of supporters, activists and allies — including many members of the UMKC community — is working to affect real change at every level, from grassroots movements to the highest levels of government. “I think that through community organizing and legislation we can begin to try and end systemic racism,” Ansari says. “We need organizations that are built around people and their needs that can advocate for and design a better future for everyone.” As with many movements, change starts on an individual level. Collins believes people should start their own journey with a bit of empathy. “We have to recognize our own unconscious bias," she says. "You might not experience racism yourself, but step into the shoes of those who have experienced it and understand that it does exist."   Mar 11, 2021

  • UMKC Conservatory Student Knows the Score

    Student composition featured in film festivals
    Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Kwan Leung LingAnticipated graduation: 2021Academic program: Master of Music CompositionHometown: Hong Kong, S.A.R. Kwan Leung Ling, is a composer and performer who is exploring the similarity between contemporary Western music and traditional Asiatic music. Ling completed his undergraduate work in California, but applied to UMKC to pursue his master’s degree in music composition. He was the first recipient of the James. A. Rothwell Scholarship at the UMKC Conservatory, which he’s received for the past two years. “Studying at UMKC is a dream for most composers around the world,” Ling says. “We have a world-class composition faculty team.” 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,” Ling says. “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.” "Studying at UMKC is a dream for most composers around the world. We have a world-class composition faculty team.” - Kwan Leung Ling Ling came from a traditional music background in Hong Kong. During his first year in the United States, he immersed himself in Western music. “As a traditional Chinese music instrument performer, I had very little sense of Western music styles,” Ling says. “When I came to the United States, I had two, two-hour commutes. For four hours a day, I immersed myself in Western music. I think that acclimated me to a whole new world of composition.” Ling says the experience of studying at UMKC has helped him to put his talents to the best use. “UMKC is such a warm family for their students,” Ling says. “I get inspired every day by talking with professors and classmates. People at UMKC are very respectful of each other's artworks and giving professional feedback. As a composer and performer, I think this is the best way to learn.” In addition to his solo and duet recordings, Ling has completed two film scores, including the most recent, “24,” an animated film that explores the experience of a man raised in two different cultures. “24” was selected for the Animation Chico Film Festival in California and the Video Art & Experimental Film Festival in New York City last November. The film will screen on March 20 - March 30, 2021 in CINEJOY Virtual Fest.   Mar 10, 2021

  • UMKC Women’s Council Celebrates 50 Years of Graduate Student Success

    More than 2,000 women have received fellowships totaling more than $2 million
    Amiben Ladhawala has been a teacher for 20 years and is working toward her doctorate degree in education. Funding through the UMKC Women’s Council Graduate Assistance Fund will enable Ladhawala to expand her research on how students’ experiences with trauma affect their behavior and ability to learn and the impact it has on teachers. Lawhawala’s two decades of teaching have given her both experience and insight into the effects of trauma on students. “When I was working as a special education teacher in an elementary school, I had so many incidents of students who had experienced trauma,” she says. “I worked hard to be a good teacher, but I didn’t know how to help these students.” Lawhawala wanted to find resources that might help students who experienced trauma and their teachers. “It was almost secondary trauma,” she says. “I would go home thinking about these students, how to help them, resources that might be available. I talked to other teachers, but I just felt helpless.” She understands why some teachers may see these students as acting out or indifferent to learning. But she thinks that most teachers want to do a good job and most want to reach those students and help. Lawhawala received an award through the UMKC Women’s Council Graduate Assistance Fund that will allow her to continue her research and potentially improve the classroom experience of children who have experienced trauma and their teachers. Since its inception in 1971, the UMKC Women’s Council has assisted more than 2,200 women by providing more than $2 million in graduate fellowships. This year, the council awarded more than $95,000 to 70 students. “The UMKC Women’s Council are women supporting women!” Debbie Brooks (JD ’01), president of the council says. “We are proud of our students who remained undaunted by the Covid-19 pandemic and gracefully used their creativity to advance their research. These women did not allow the global disruption to negatively impact their studies.” “The UMKC Women’s Council are women supporting women!” - Debbie Brooks, president of the UMKC Women’s Council Brooks is a former GAF recipient and notes that many of the challenges she faced 20 years ago 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.” The UMKC Women’s Council will celebrate half a century of supporting women in graduate studies and the 2021 awardees and their academic achievements with a virtual reception on March 11. Established in 1971, the UMKC Women’s Council Graduate Assistance Fund fellowships support UMKC women working toward post-baccalaureate degrees with up to $2,000 in funds that furthers their completion of graduation requirements and enriches their educational experiences.  Mar 08, 2021

  • Missouri To Allocate More COVID-19 Vaccines To Pharmacies

    KSHB lists UMKC Pharmacy site for vaccinations
    The UMKC School of Pharmacy in Kansas City will receive the vaccine. Read more and watch the newscast. Mar 06, 2021

  • This Month Women Are Celebrating Women

    Kansas City Star highlights Jannette Berkley-Patton
    The Kansas City Star’s special section, On the Vine, will focus on Women’s History Month in March. In the March 4 edition, The Star included a previous story about Jannette Berkley-Patton, a professor in the School of Medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, about her work and research on the role of Black churches in keeping communities healthy. Read more from The Star. (subscription required) The Missouri Independent and The St. Louis American ran similar stories. Mar 04, 2021

  • We Must Remove Barriers to People of Color Going To College

    UMKC Forward highlighted in Kansas City Business Journal guest column
    This guest column by Ramon Murguia is focused on UMKC Forward. Read the full article. Subscription required. Mar 04, 2021

  • HIV Researchers Find Rare Group Of 'Elite Controllers’ Who Could Be A Key To Unlocking New Treatments

    Two national media outlets report on research conducted by UMKC professor
    Carole McArthur, a professor of oral and craniofacial sciences at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and director of residency research in pathology at the Truman Medical Center, said every new HIV discovery is “another piece in the evolutionary jigsaw puzzle.” Yahoo News and Fox News. Mar 03, 2021

  • College Campuses In Kansas And Missouri Are Reopening

    The Beacon looks at higher education employees and where they rank on states’ vaccine priority schedules
    This story is about the goal for universities in Kansas and Missouri professors to offer in-person classes, but higher education employees are low on states’ vaccine priority schedules. The reporter interviewed faculty at multiple universities, including Tom Mardikes, a theater professor at UMKC and chair of the UMKC faculty senate. Mardikes said he thinks UMKC has done a good job of keeping students and teachers safe with protective and sanitizing equipment and distancing measures. In one class, he teaches 25 students in a room designed for 150. Read the full article.  Mar 03, 2021

  • Nursing Students Give Vaccine Rollout a Shot in the Arm

    More than 200 are lending much-needed help to efforts around the Kansas City area
    When Sally Ellis Fletcher went to get the COVID-19 vaccine, she recognized some of the people administering the shots as students from the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies, where Fletcher is the associate dean for students. And when it was her turn, Ellis Fletcher was happy that a UMKC nursing student was giving her the vaccine.  “This is a powerful point in our history, and these students have a historic role,” Ellis Fletcher said. “Thirty or 50 years from now, when people ask, they will be able to say they were a part of this.”  Ellis Fletcher, who got her vaccine doses at Truman Medical Center in the Health Sciences District, is just one of the hundreds whose inoculations will have been possible in part because of UMKC nursing students.  James Spence, director of the bachelor of science in nursing program, said the school’s roughly 225 BSN students all would contribute to the vaccination efforts at some time.  “Thirty or 50 years from now, when people ask, they will be able to say they were a part of this.” — Sally Ellis Fletcher, associate dean for students   “Whether it’s with paperwork, parking or actually giving the vaccinations, every one of our students will help,” said Spence. “As the vaccinations ramp up, sites need the extra hands. Our students get course credit and valuable experience in the field, practicing some of the fundamentals. It’s a win for everybody.”  Besides the TMC facility near the school, students help at TMC’s Lakewood location and at North Kansas City Hospital. About 15 students with the volunteer Medical Reserve Corps have worked all over the metropolitan area, Spence said, and a TMC outreach group has had students help at churches, YMCA’s and other Kansas City locations.  Ellis Fletcher added, “This is the first time for these vaccines, and for any vaccines with this type of chemical structure. For our students to be part of such an effort, and during a pandemic, has taken a whole network of faculty and staff, along with the hospitals and other partners. Our students are making a real difference.”    Mar 01, 2021

  • What The Kansas City Metro Could Be Facing From Climate Change

    KCUR interviewed UMKC professor about Kansas City's recent cold snap
    Fengpeng Sun, assistant professor in the UMKC Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, was a guest on Up to Date. Mar 01, 2021

  • How This Kansas City Researcher Is Putting Her Faith In Black Churches During COVID

    Kansas City Star features Jannette Berkley-Patton's community work
    Jannette Berkley-Patton, a professor in the School of Medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, knew this new virus would pummel a population struggling with persistently high rates of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses. Read the article. (subscription required) Feb 28, 2021

  • KC Scholars Student Thrives Through Connection

    Adriana Suarez says UMKC community is key to success
    Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Adriana Suarez Anticipated graduation: Spring 2023 Academic program:  Honors College, Bachelor of Business Administration-Nonprofit Management, minors in Sociology and Latinx and Latin American Studies Hometown:  Kansas City, Kansas Adriana Suarez started her freshman year living in the dorm, studying, working and hanging out with friends. Soon, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic began turning everything upside down. Suarez lost her job and moved out of the dorm and in with her sister and was going to school online. Despite the turmoil, she’s focused and committed to finding her way through this challenging time with success. Why did you choose UMKC? I grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, and was familiar with UMKC because of the prestige and exposure of the school. It was only when I was awarded a scholarship through KC Scholars that I seriously considered attending the university. One of the main reasons I was attracted to UMKC was the diversity on campus compared to other campuses in the area. "One of the main reasons I was attracted to UMKC was the diversity on campus compared to other campuses in the area." - Adriana Suarez Why did you choose your field of study? Business degrees are very versatile, and I hope I can apply my knowledge of history and the culture of the Latinx community to further develop the Latino voice of the KC metro area.   When I entered college, I joined the Latinx Student Union where I was given the opportunity to listen to speakers present on important topics within the Latinx community. These events led me to discover my own passion for helping others and our growing Latino community. What are the challenges of the program? The biggest challenge is finding the intersectionality of each program. I must find ways in which each program can build upon the other to open opportunities to connect with the community not only as a student but also as a community member. The most important part about combining these programs includes adaptability -- I must be able to learn to adapt to changes in the environment that require me to learn skills that aren’t necessarily taught in school. What are the benefits of the program? The programs at UMKC are very versatile, and I feel as though I am able to make them my own. I have the chance to explore the business world while also discovering the cultural aspects of my community. The part I am most excited about is studying abroad for the next full academic year. I hope that this experience will challenge me to learn new cultural perspectives in the business world as well as the real world. How has your college program inspired you? I feel inspired to do more to help our community. Especially during moments of need like now where we need to lean on our community for support. I feel more inspired than ever to create change that will leave a legacy. "I have the chance to explore the business world while also discovering cultural aspects of my community." Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself? The college experience has definitely built my sense of independence. Realizing what it takes to be an adult, I have discovered a growing sense of responsibility. Every day I aspire to grow as a person. Attending college has allowed me to grow not only academically, but also creatively. I recently started a small handmade jewelry Instagram account called Xotu Jewelry. A lot of my work is inspired by the Wixárika better known as the Huichol. They are one of the few indigenous tribes in Mexico that have been able to preserve their traditions, while also finding new ways to express their vision of the world through art.  What do you admire most at UMKC? The thing that I admire most about UMKC is the support system that it has provided me and other students. From faculty and advisors to friends, UMKC does not lack people who want to help. I have had the chance to work with amazing staff and meet people who I know will -- and have already -- made an impact on my life. What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor? Seek advice from only those people who are in the position that you want to be in. What extracurricular activities are you involved in at UMKC? I am currently a work-study student at the Multicultural Student Affairs Office on campus. I serve as the project liaison on the Enactus Fundraising Committee and the SAFC Representative on the Bloch School Student Association Committee. I am also a Peer Academic Leader with the UMKC PAL Program where I mentor and support students through their first years at the UMKC. I am planning on studying abroad in Ireland (Fall 2021) and South Korea (Spring 2022). I participate in various programs on campus such as the Latino Student Union, the Avanzando Mentoring Program as well as the Association of Latino Professionals for America. Do you have any scholarships?  KC Scholars has provided me the opportunity to attend school at the university level. KC Scholars gave me something set in stone when other parts of my life weren’t going so well. I am forever grateful for the opportunity. "The thing that I admire most about UMKC is the support system that it has provided me and other students. From faculty and advisors to friends, UMKC does not lack people who want to help." I am also a Hispanic Development Fund Scholarship recipient. When I was awarded the Hispanic Development Fund Scholarship, I knew that I was entering a “familia” - a family and community of Hispanic community members that cared for the wellbeing of each other and bettering the future. I was awarded the 2020 Sherman and Irene Dreiseszun Scholarship through UMKC, and the Truman Foundation which will, in the future, contribute to my plans for studying abroad. What do you hope to take from your experiences at UMKC into your professional career? I hope that being active on campus through diverse programs will allow me to engage more in the community. I believe these experiences are great for opening doors in the future. Feb 26, 2021

  • U.S. Near Authorization Of New COVID-19 Vaccine

    MSN interviews professor of pediatrics
    Panel member Jay Portnoy, professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, said the race was on to stop the pandemic before new virus variants cause further disease. Read more. Feb 26, 2021

  • Sarah Morris Named New General Manager Of KCUR And Classical KC

    She takes over after serving as interim general manager for the last 15 months.
    Sarah Morris has been at UMKC since 2004. She takes over as KCUR’s and Classical KC’s general manager after serving as interim general manager for the last 15 months. Read more. Feb 26, 2021

  • Former Student Government Association President Takes Healthy Step out of the Limelight

    Brandon Henderson chose self-care during stressful period
    Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about.  Brandon Henderson Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri High School: North Kansas City High School UMKC degree program: Political Science Anticipated graduation year: December 2021  Brandon Henderson was on a roll. He ran for UMKC Student Government Association (SGA) president last spring because he wanted to serve the student body and help lead through the COVID-19 crisis. In addition, he was interested in politics and wanted to part of the process to help correct issues that have affected society for generations: systemic racism, police brutality, mass incarceration. While he is still devoted to those issues, he decided to take a step back from his position last December. It was not an easy decision, but he’s finding a new definition of success. "Last Fall I was sprinting. I was trying to do everything and be everything." - Brandon Henderson “Last fall I was sprinting. I was trying to do everything and be everything,” Henderson says. “For a while it was working. I was doing it. I was going to three different events a week and organizing activities through SGA – like the Critical Conservations event with Mayor Quinton Lucas.” Henderson was committed to his position. “I felt as though any minute I wasn’t spending doing something for students was a minute wasted.” Henderson found he was making less time for personal needs – eating well, sleeping, exercise and school work. “That's part of the job of being an elected official. You don’t want to disappoint people, and I think I went into it trying to do everything possible not to do that. Then I began to realize that I'm not Superman. I can't fix everything.” Henderson’s challenge became not being able to say, “No.” “I kind of rigged the game against myself,” he says. “There was no way I could meet the expectations I’d set for myself, so when I didn’t it just reinforced my negative feelings.” He found himself thinking that it would be nice to step away from the office, but he didn’t think he could do that. He felt determined to stick it out. “Then I reminded myself that [former Missouri state legislator and Missouri Secretary of State] Jason Kander, who is someone I look up to, stepped away from his bid for Kansas City mayor because he needed to focus on treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. And I thought, ‘If he can walk away from that, why can’t walk away from this?’” Henderson knew that he could have gone through the motions and finished his term. “But our students deserved somebody in the role who could give 100%.” “I feel like I’m living my life in the moment. I can be present and appreciate what is happening.” Mahreen Ansari, (BA ’22) who was the SGA vice president at the time, agreed to assume the role of president. Calling the SGA officers to tell them each one personally was difficult, but Henderson was relieved once he had spoken to everyone. After resigning, Henderson sought help at the Counseling Center. “It took a little while to get in, but I met with a counselor and they have so many resources for self-wellness. I would recommend them. I’ve heard from other students that they feel the same stress and anxiety I did. I was worried that I was letting people down, but instead other people saw themselves in me, which is reassuring.” Henderson is sleeping better, eating better, exercising more and doing better in school. He has two semesters left and is focusing on finishing strong. “I feel like I’m living my life in the moment. I can be present and appreciate what is happening.”     Feb 25, 2021

  • Why Have Some States Fared Better Than Others With Vaccine Distribution?

    NBC News interviews Mary Anne Jackson
    Mary Anne Jackson, a pediatric infectious diseases expert and dean of the medical school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said state and local officials would need to do more to convince people in several groups that the vaccines are safe and effective. Read the NBC News story, which was picked up by Yahoo News. Feb 24, 2021

  • UMKC Researcher Finds That Black Churches Play Key Role In Keeping Communities Healthy

    Kansas City Star highlight's Jannette Berkley-Patton’s research
    UMKC professor Jannette Berkley-Patton’s research reveals the importance of having Black churches involved in keeping communities healthy. Pastors, she says, are trusted sources of information. Read the full story. Feb 24, 2021

  • 'Grateful for Everything': VFW Helping Veteran Live American Dream

    Bloch School student shares his story with KMBC
    Abdurahim Sharif is a VFW scholarship recipient living a life of service. He is a student at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at UMKC. Read the article and watch the newscast. Feb 24, 2021

  • Political Science Professor Weighs-In

    KMBC interviews Beth Vonnahme
    “For a lot of folks who join more of these more radical or alternative groups, or believe in conspiracy theories, a lot of it comes back to that notion that, they really want to belong to something that’s bigger than themselves,” said Beth Vonnahme, associate professor, department of political science at University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read the story and watch the newscast. Feb 23, 2021

  • Alumnus Buys Betty Rae's

    The Kansas City Business Journal and Fox4KC talked to Alex Rodgers
    Alex Rodgers graduated from UMKC Bloch School last year with a bachelor's of business administration and a double major in finance and entrepreneurship. Read the Kansas City Business Journal article. Read the Fox4KC story and watch the newscast. Feb 23, 2021

  • Celebrated Dancer, Former Ballerina at the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Joins the Faculty at UMKC Conservatory

    KC Studio features Karen Brown
    Karen Brown is an assistant professor of dance at the UMKC Conservatory. Read the article. Feb 23, 2021

  • Lawrence School District Selects KCMO Leader As New LHS Principal

    UMKC doctoral student is chosen
    Jessica Bassett is currently working to complete her doctorate in education at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read the article from the Lawrence Journal-World. (subscription required) Feb 22, 2021

  • Missouri Professor Discusses Limits Of Federal Eviction Moratorium

    Sociology professor quoted in MSN article
    Michelle Smirnova, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, told Hill.TV that many Americans still risk becoming homeless during the coronavirus pandemic despite a federal moratorium. Read the full article. Feb 21, 2021

  • UMKC School of Dentistry Provides Free Pediatric Dental Exams

    Helping children under 3 receive a healthy start
    Taking care of children’s teeth and gums right from the start is a vital part of overall health, so the UMKC School of Dentistry offers a free examination for children under 3 years of age.  The school also for years has participated in Children’s Dental Health Month, an educational effort every February by the American Dental Association. “We offer the free initial exams year-round in our pediatric clinic,” said Brenda Bohaty, D.D.S., chair of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry. “That exam is recommended by the time a child is 12 months old, or when the first tooth starts appearing.” The UMKC pediatric clinic gives young patients a bright, welcoming atmosphere and top-notch care supervised by Bohaty and other faculty. And it gives students important experiences that they will need as they train to become general dentists. “We emphasize the importance of the age 1 visit in training all of our students,” Bohaty said. “The benefits of dental health for overall health can’t be overemphasized.” Tooth decay is the most prevalent disease of childhood, occurring four times as frequently as asthma, but in almost all cases is preventable. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, in the recent second edition of its State of Little Teeth Report, notes that children’s tooth decay is down in the past four years, but nearly half of children ages 6 to 11 and more than half of children ages 12 to 19 in the U.S. still are affected by tooth decay. And among older children, the decay affects permanent teeth. Besides starting checkups by age 1, the academy recommends having a parent or other caregiver brush with a child for at least two minutes twice a day, limiting sugary drinks and snacks and paying attention to toothaches at any age. “We want every child to have a healthy start,” Bohaty said, “and we hope parents take advantage of our free initial checkups for children under 3.” Call 816-235-2145 for an appointment in the pediatric clinic Feb 19, 2021

  • Alumnus Channels History and Storytelling into Poetry and Community Progress

    Glenn North is executive director of Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center
    Glenn North (MFA '20), the first poet laureate of the 18th and Vine district and executive director of the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center, wrote a poem based on Rudyard Kipling’s “If” for his cousin, Don Cheadle, to read in his UMKC commencement speech. While this may have introduced people to his work, he has a long history writing – and reading – his poetry in the community. “Don and I talked about ideas for his speech,” North says. “He asked me if I had something that fit. I didn’t, but there’s so much wisdom in Kipling’s ‘If.” My grandmother gave me the poem when I was young. I still use it as a beacon.” Often in his career as a poet, North has responded to images or concepts – some provided from friends as prompts – to create his poems. The painting, “Lynch Family” by Joseph Hirsch, with its bold, mottled cobalt blue background, features a Black woman holding her baby against her shoulder in one hand – his hand raised and wrapped around a rattle – while her face rests in her other hand. It’s a striking image of innocence and despair. Glenn North at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Center exhibit of "Eight Days in April: the Story of the 1968 Uprising."   North feels empathy is an important component of being a writer. “I never felt the latitude to write about a daffodil,” North says. “I’ve felt a responsibility to respond to the triumphs and the tragedies of the Black experience.” Along those lines, while North participated in leading classes and youth poetry workshops and was grateful for the work and experience, he began to feel as if he needed to focus his attention on writing for himself. “I was frequently writing for hire, and I was fortunate to be able to generate revenue, but it’s a different process. I had to start saying, ‘no.’ At that point I needed to exercise my voice.” “I never felt the latitude to write about a daffodil,” North says. “I’ve felt a responsibility to respond to the tragedy of the Black experience.” - Glenn North He found connection with other Black poets through a fellowship with Cave Canem. The organization’s founder, Cornelius Eady and Toi Derricote, created the annual workshop for emerging Black poets and pairs them with veteran writers and provides book-publishing opportunities. “That’s where I found my writing community,” North says. “’Cave Canem’ is a Latin phrase which translates as ‘Beware the Dog!’ The organization’s mission is to protect the interests of Black poets as fiercely as a dog protects its owner’s property. In so doing, more Black poets will be added to the canon of literature.” Following the Black Lives Matter demonstrations last year and the revelation that the extent of what some believed was a fringe white supremacy movement was far more prevalent and organized than many people understood. “I view last year as a cleansing of sorts. If you want clean clothes, you can’t just put them in the washing machine soap and water, you need an agitator. Last summer’s uprising and unrest was necessary for reform. I hate the way it happened, but it brought attention to how Black people are treated by the police.” “As someone who loves language, I believe some of the terminology we use has helped to change attitudes,” he says. “For instance, if you call a white person racist, they will vehemently resist that label, but if you talk to them about white privilege, they begin to understand that privilege is connected to a racist power structure. At that point, their eyes begin to open. Then we can begin to move toward progress and equity.” Beyond his poetry, North is engaged in the community through his role as executive director of the Bruce W. Watkins Heritage Center. He’s focused on raising the center’s visibility and expanding its role in the community.   For Black History Month, the center will host an exhibit, Eight Days in April: The Story of the 1968 Uprising in Kansas City, in partnership with the LaBudde Special Collections at the University of Missouri-Kansas City library and the Prospect Business Owners Associaton. “There’s a lot going on behind the scenes,” North says. “By 2022, we will roll out new programs that will engage the community in a meaningful way.” North wants the community center to help heal racial trauma. “A couple of years ago, communities were removing monuments to systemic racism. These monuments say a lot about who we are. “I view last year as a cleansing of sorts. If you want clean clothes, you can’t just put them in soap and water. You have to agitate.” - Glenn North In Germany, there are no statues of Nazis statues or flags with swastikas waving around, but there are stumbling stones outside the houses where Jewish people were taken. We need to ask, ‘What do we allow to represent who we are?’ and study that.” As a member of the Community Remembrance Project, one of North’s current projects is the re-installation of the Levi Harrington Memorial in Case Park in Kansas City. Harrington was a victim of lynching. In 1882, he was falsely accused of shooting a police officer. He was abducted from police custody and hung from the Bluff Street Bridge. He was one of at least 60 victims of racial terror lynching in Missouri. “The same brand of hate that led to the lynching of Mr. Harrington was on display the night the perpetrators vandalized the marker” North says. “The work I do at the center and the work I do as a poet is an effort to combat racism in all its manifestations.” Feb 19, 2021

  • Critical Conversations: Politics and the State of Black and Brown America

    A discussion about how communities of color can gain and deploy influence
    Local political and community leaders participated in a virtual panel discussion, “Politics and the State of Black and Brown America.” The event Feb. 18 was the seventh 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 campus-wide effort announced in June. The Critical Conversations are part of that initiative. The goal of each discussion is to enlighten, educate and explore the causes and potential cures for racism. Panelists for the Politics session included: Tom Carignan, Overland Park City Council member Irene Caudillo, president and CEO of El Centro Kelvin Simmons, co-founder of the Nexus Group, a full-service government affairs firm Beth Vonnahme, associate professor of political science and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at UMKC Gary O'Bannon (moderator), executive-in-residence, Henry W. Bloch School of Management Charisma Sewell (co-moderator), UMKC political science major Excerpts from the conversation are below. View the recording of the conversation. Job opportunities for people of color in the private sector Caudillo: It has been proven that if you have diverse staff, it improves decision-making and enhances growth. In the private sector, the representation isn’t there. Even in the public sector we still don’t see us in leadership positions … What we truly seek are opportunities in companies that are breaking down the barriers leading to those leadership positions. Simmons: The private sector traditionally has to be pushed into moving. If they’re not pushed, it’s business as usual. Advocacy for change Simmons: Decades ago, there was a large grassroots movement to pressure investment funds to divest from investments in South Africa to protest apartheid. We ae seeing something similar today with the MeToo movement and the Black Lives Matter movement. Grassroots movements can be effective as long as they are large enough, have the right message and have the courage to protest. Carignan: With the technology and communication capabilities we have today, it is easier to organize a movement to push corporations to change. Are we lacking a central leader like Martin Luther King Jr.? Carignan: Hispanics come from 20 different countries with all kinds of different political and social structures. Our population is so diverse that it’s difficult to find that central leader. Simmons: In the African American community, drawing from our biblical culture, Moses was our figure, the one who delivered us. We grew up understanding that there was a deliverer … We’re shifting today to where social media moves people and the voice of people in a very significant way. “What we truly seek are opportunities in companies that are breaking down the barriers leading to those leadership positions.” - Irene Caudillo Tax abatements for developers Simmons: These incentives were created to address blight and to create job opportunities in distressed communities. It has become something vastly different from what it was intended to do. Government-sanctioned voter suppression Vonnahme: There are ways that individual voters can work against these initiatives. One is to act through state legislatures. One thing they benefit from is low public attention; it’s easy to pass policies when no one is paying attention. Ballot initiatives can also be used in some states to expand voter access. The courts are able to come in to defend the 15th amendment requirement for fair and equal voting. You also can mobilize grass-roots efforts to help people meet the requirements. Suffrage is the ultimate right in a democracy. This is something we should all be concerned about. It does give me a little bit of hope that a lot of this has been coming to light ... the best defense is informed, involved community groups. Caudillo: Community-level activity played a vital role in last election. We have to continue to educate the community, get people registered, get them to the polls. Strategies that can lead to desired political outcomes Caudillo: Holding the people who represent us accountable. Civic engagement beyond the vote is really important. Vonnahme: Policy success comes from electoral success. Recruitment, funding and voter mobilization are all vital. Electoral success comes from good candidates with resources. Carignan: Build relationships with elected officials. Become a resource for them. Never go alone – you want them to know you have people behind you. “Suffrage is the ultimate right in a democracy. This is something we should all be concerned about.” - Beth Vonnahme   Police reform Vonnahme: You can have policy change imposed from above; leadership change is another means. Culture shifts are really important but really hard to impose. They require fundamental shifts in membership, or for the membership to undergo fundamental change. This one is the most effective but the hardest to bring about.   Simmons: The role of police unions is very powerful. Under union contracts, police officers have certain protections the average citizen does not have. It allows cases to be handled differently than if a citizen did the same thing. Carignan: In Overland Park, a citizen panel signs off on police department promotions and demotions. A separate civilian review board reviews complaints. The digital divide Caudillo: The gap continues to widen. The same people who lack digital resources are also more likely to struggle with food insecurity, and to be essential workers exposed to COVID. When virtual learning was introduced at the onset of the pandemic, the resources were not there in communities of color. Political and civic education Caudillo: We’ve lost the civics education we used to have. Our organization is stepping in to do those things now, like taking kids to the capitol, letting them see the legislature in action. On college campuses, we have to have mobilization. Vonnahme: We teach a sanitized form of politics. We don’t explain the nuance behind politics. We have to talk about politics and civics in a more realistic way – talk not just about compromise, but also about conflict. Building trust in the coronavirus vaccine Caudillo: Throughout history transparency just wasn’t there, so there is mistrust in the system overall. When it comes to health care, we’ve got to listen to the community, find out what those issues are, what those concerns are, and use the people who have already established trust in the communities of color, like pastors and community organizations. Feb 19, 2021

  • Children’s Opens Research Tower, Continuing Hospital Hill Economic Boom

    Chancellor Mauli Agrawal weighs-in on Health Sciences District development
    “The UMKC Health Sciences District is truly a center for patient care, research, teaching and learning in the heart of the Kansas City area,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. Read more. Feb 19, 2021

  • UMKC Libraries Exhibit Remembers the Eight Days Surrounding Martin Luther King Jr. Assassination

    Missouri Humanities Council grant supports opening program
    The UMKC Foundation, in partnership with the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center and Museum and Prospect Business Association, has received a $2,020 grant from the Missouri Humanities Council in support of the opening event for the exhibit “Eight Days in April: The Story of the 1968 Kansas City Uprising.” The free, virtual opening is scheduled for 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 18. Reservations for the opening can be made online. The opening event will feature a panel discussion about the eight days surrounding the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in April 1968 and how the impact of those days continues to shape Kansas City today. The discussion will be moderated by Dia Wall, KSHB anchor and reporter; and features panelists Jason Cooley, community initiative officer for the Chief of Police, Kansas City Police Department; Delia Gillis, professor of History and Africana Studies program coordinator, University of Central Missouri; Don Maxwell, Revitalize Prospect; Glenn Rice, journalist, Kansas City Star; and Susan Wilson, recently retired vice chancellor for UMKC Division of Diversity and Inclusion. The exhibit, “Eight Days in April: The Story of the 1968 Uprising in Kansas City,” draws upon historical materials from the UMKC LaBudde Special Collections and Marr Sound Archives. The exhibit is currently available as a digital exhibit through the UMKC Libraries’ website and will be available to view in person at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center and Museum, 3700 Blue Parkway, when it is safe to open to the public. The digital exhibit includes an opportunity for community members to participate in a survey about renaming the 1968 Riot Collection. The Missouri Humanities Council is the only statewide agency in Missouri devoted exclusively to humanities education for citizens of all ages. It has served as a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities since 1971. Feb 17, 2021

  • Health Equity Grants to Aid Eight Research Projects

    Community groups, UMKC researchers collaborate on public health efforts
    The UMKC Health Equity Institute has chosen eight collaborative research projects to benefit from “mini-grants” of $1,700 to $2,200. Each project pairs a community organization and a UMKC researcher to explore ways to improve health care access for underserved communities. The research topics in this first round of grants include COVID-19 effects on family resilience and easing the trauma of shooting victims. The community partners range from a tenants’ organization and the Kansas City Housing Authority to Children’s Mercy and Truman Medical Centers. “One goal with these mini-grants is to encourage the kind of research that results in sustainable initiatives, instead of efforts that can fade away after a big grant runs out,” said Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., a professor in the School of Medicine. Berkley-Patton, the director of the Health Equity Institute, a UMKC initiative launched by Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal, added: “We received some great proposals from teams that include strong community partners. We also assigned research mentors to any grant recipients who didn’t already have an expert researcher on board.” Here are descriptions of the projects receiving the mini-grants, along with their UMKC affiliated partner and community partner. Refugees Raising Black Boys in the U.S. To explore parental strategies of Congolese, Sudanese and Somali refugee parents raising sons in a racially hostile climate. The UMKC partner is Johanna Nilsson, Ph.D., professor of psychology. The community partner is Sarah Payton with Jewish Vocational Services. A Qualitative Analysis of Patient Feedback on Early Mental Health Intervention for Nonfatal Shooting Victims To conduct interviews with victims and tailor treatment approaches to better serve the needs of predominantly Black patients, whose voices have been historically underrepresented in the development of treatment approaches and care decisionmaking. The UMKC partner is Joah Williams, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology. The community partner is Rosemary Friend with Truman Medical Centers. A Pediatric Health and Community Partnership to Improve Family Resilience During the Coronavirus Pandemic and Beyond To measure the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on trauma exposure and the physical, mental and emotional well-being of children and families from underserved communities in the Kansas City metropolitan area. This study will help inform the development of interventions to increase resilience in families during the COVID pandemic and beyond. The UMKC partner is Andrea Bradley-Ewing, who holds master’s degrees in public administration and psychology and is director of community engaged research at Children’s Mercy. The community partner is Gerald Douglas, director of resident services at the Kansas City Housing Authority. Pastors’ Spouses Study To explore the impact of COVID-19 on churches and pastors' spouses and develop strategies and tools to support them as they support their churches and communities. The UMKC partner is LaVerne Berkel, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Education. The community partner is Nordia Ikner with the Linwood Boulevard SDA Temple. Increase Health Equity by Improving Neighborhood Routes to Schools and Parks To increase physical activity by Central Middle School students through built environment improvements to better connect the neighborhood to the school and Central Park. This project will allow students to have a voice in this collaborative process among schools, city services, non-profit organizations and researchers. The UMKC partner is Amanda Grimes, assistant professor of nursing and health studies. The community partner is Laura Steele, education director at BikeWalkKC. Fruit and Veggie Connect To explore the feasibility to connect fresh produce from a community garden to families with young children who are enrolled in a home visiting program. The UMKC partner is Laura Plencer, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics. The community partner is Sommer Rose, research program manager at Children’s Mercy Hospital. What Do We Want? Housing! When Do We Want It? Now! To analyze how Kansas City Tenants — a grassroots organization with the goal of organizing to ensure that everyone has a safe, healthy, accessible and affordable home in Kansas City, Missouri — was able to rapidly develop a robust membership base and gain traction among city, state and national government officials. To also identify where the organization has yet to make inroads and why, and how it is addressing new challenges brought about by the 2020 pandemic, which is aggravating the housing crisis. The UMKC partner is Michelle Smirnova, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and an associate faculty member in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. The community partner is Tara Raghuveer, founding director of KC Tenants. Green Team Toolkit The Green Team Toolkit brings local youth together with neighborhood residents to improve their parks, trails, and vacant lots. The project seeks to develop a process where neighborhood residents and youth can work together to create a plan to improve the natural and built environment in their community. The UMKC partner is Panayiotis Manolakos with the Department of Economics. The community partner is Brenda Brinkhous-Hatch with the Groundwork Northeast Revitalization Group (Groundwork NRG).   Feb 17, 2021

  • Honoring a Dedicated Teacher

    Jason Martin was renowned for commitment to students
    Jason Martin was an associate professor in the Department of Communications Studies, known for his dedication to helping students succeed. Martin (1977-2021) joined UMKC in 2011, earning promotion to associate professor with tenure in 2020. He taught courses in interpersonal and public communication. His research on intercultural and cross-cultural communication appeared in peer-reviewed journals and books, and he shared his work at regional, national and international conferences.  “Jason spoke from the heart when engaging students. He always had time for students and spent long hours in his office mentoring, motivating and inspiring,” said colleague Peter Morello, associate professor of journalism. “Whenever I stopped by Jason’s office to ask if he wanted to grab lunch or coffee, he was either with a student or he’d say, ‘No man, I am waiting for a student.’ His commitment to students was resolute and his contributions promise to be long-lasting.” Communications Studies is a department of the College of Arts and Sciences. Interim Dean Kati Toivanen said Martin’s death is “a tremendous loss for our entire UMKC community, as his presence and work embodied a spirit of kindness and generosity that touched many of us.” Martin chaired the Academic Review Subcommittee for UMKC’s Intercollegiate Athletics Committee, was a member of the IAC Executive Council, served on UMKC’s Access to Success Delivery Team and was a member of the 2014-2015 University of Missouri Faculty Scholars Program. He was also active in the community, including his devoted service to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Kansas City. He earned two undergraduate degrees and a Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky. "Jason and I both started at UMKC during the Fall 2011 semester. Over nearly a decade I came to know him as a dedicated scholar, caring instructor and good friend,” said colleague Steven Melling, assistant teaching professor of communications studies. “He had an impact on everyone he met, and inspired many students to do their best in the classroom and beyond."  Donations for a campus memorial for Martin can be made at this link. Feb 17, 2021

  • Bestselling Author Says ‘Racist’ is a Diagnosis, Not an Attack

    Ibram X. Kendi delivers 2021 Martin Luther King Lecture
    Imagine a doctor sitting down with you and telling you that you have cancer. Because that information makes you feel bad, is it an attack? Or is it the first step in a journey toward healing? Now, replace the word “cancer” with “racist,” and try to think about it the same way. That was the complex and nuanced message shared by author Ibram X. Kendi in the 2021 Martin Luther King Lecture, sponsored by the Division of Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Kendi, the author of numerous books including “How to Be an Antiracist,” said that “racist” and “antiracist” are not fixed categories; people move in and out of the categories based on their thoughts and actions. “To be antiracist is to actually admit to times when you are being racist,” Kendi said. When people are confronted with knowledge that their statements or actions are racist, he said, they should view that message as a diagnosis, not an attack – a message from someone who wants them to get treatment and help. “They should realize that to be antiracist is to accept that diagnosis, to accept that when you supported a policy that specifically repressed Black wealth, that is a racist policy,” he said. The 2021 lecture was delivered in a question-and-answer format, in a dialogue between Kendi and Mikah Thompson, J.D., associate professor in the UMKC School of Law. The wide-ranging discussion covered topics ranging from antiracism to the coronavirus pandemic and the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Kendi also said it is important to differentiate between the terms “racist” and “racism.” While individual thoughts, statements and actions can be racist, “racism is fundamentally institutional, fundamentally systemic, fundamentally structural. Individuals do not practice racism. Institutions do.” Whether an individual is behaving in a racist manner is a question of whether those actions are upholding the structure of racism, Kendi said. “As individuals, we are either upholding, or challenging, the system of white supremacy and racism. Are we as individuals resisting this system, or are we upholding it?” An example of racist thinking that went largely unnoticed, Kendi said, was the reaction by many to statistics showing that infections and deaths from the coronavirus were significantly higher among people of color. “The immediate response was, ‘what are those people doing wrong?’ The antiracial response is, ‘what policies and practices, historic and current, are leading to those disparities?’ Blacks are dying at higher rates, not because of having more preexisting conditions or not taking the pandemic seriously enough. It was less access to health insurance; it was that Blacks are more likely to be working in situations where they are not able to work from home,” he said. “Even middle-income Black folks are more likely to live in neighborhoods with higher levels of air and water pollution.” Kendi said denial of racism was widespread as people reacted to the Jan. 6 insurrection. “Americans say, ‘This is not who we are. There are not attempted coups in the United States of America.’ People who say that have not read American history, in which there was coup attempt after coup attempt after coup attempt during Reconstruction. They deny this country was founded on both racism and freedom. They want to say it was just founded on freedom.” Americans need to recognize the racist roots that drove the insurrection, Kendi said. “If you do not acknowledge that white supremacists are the greatest domestic terrorist threat of our time, will elected officials have the will and the resources to respond to the threat?” he asked. “People can’t accept that the most dangerous faces in America are white.”  Kendi is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University and the founding director of the B.U. Center for Antiracist Research. He is the author of many books including “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction, making him the youngest-ever winner of that award. In 2020, Time magazine named Kendi one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Beginning with the Rosa Parks Lecture on Social Justice and Activism in 2007 and annually since 2009 with the Martin Luther King Lecture Series, the Division of Diversity and Inclusion honors these individuals’ tremendous contributions to furthering civil rights by bringing national thought leaders to campus, who provide insight and advocacy to current civil rights issues of education, economic and justice system inequalities. Feb 16, 2021

  • Community Leaders Tackle Urban Real Estate Abandonment and Vacancy in Kansas City and St. Louis

    The UniverCities Exchange panel discussion is a continuing collaborative of UMKC and UMSL
    The large numbers of urban real estate left vacant or abandoned is a problem facing the Kansas City and St. Louis metropolitan areas. Academic and community leaders from the two cities gathered on Feb. 10 to tackle the matter in the latest segment of UniverCities Exchange, a collaborative between the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. In the 90-minute program, the panel outlined the issue of vacant and abandoned properties and discussed cutting-edge prevention and mitigation strategies to address the problem. Sarah Fenske, host of St. Louis on the Air, served as moderator. The session’s panelists included: Brent Never, UMKC associate professor of Public Affairs and coordinator of the UMKC Institute of Data Education, Analytics and Science (IDEAS) Peter Hoffman (J.D. ’12), managing attorney, Neighborhood Vacancy Initiative, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri Nailah R. M’Biti (M.P.A. '15), chief real estate development officer, Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council, Kansas City Sundy Whiteside, board president, Saint Louis Association of Community Organizations Geoff Jolley, executive director, LISC (Local Initiatives Support Coporation) Greater Kansas City Ruben Alonso III, president, AltCap, Kansas City Neal Richardson, president, Dream Builders for Equity, St. Louis Here are some highlights of the panel’s conversation regarding these problems facing Kansas City and St. Louis and how communities are addressing them. “When you live on a block with several vacant houses there is a sense of insecurity, because of the fact that there are not eyes on the street, so it can be perceived as being very unsafe. The other thing that happens is neighborhoods with a lot of vacant homes also become very disconnected in terms of the residents with one another, especially if you're on a block where there may only be three houses that actually have people who live in the house”. ‑ Nailah R. M’Biti “Land Bank houses are one way that we have tried to move properties from being vacant into being filled with families, adding to neighborhoods. One major issue is what's called a clouded title. A very quick example. Your family sells a house but maybe the transfer with the family members wasn't so clear and you have a clouded title, meaning is not so clear who owns that house, who is in custody. A large percentage of our houses that are vacant and abandoned are because of this clouded title problem.” - Brent Never “As we've had this historical disinvestment, particularly in our communities of color, we have pulled that wealth and those assets out of the Black entity. We must be intentional and keep reinvesting and being sure that we're providing opportunities in the same communities for people to then build that wealth.” - Geoff Jolley “It's not just providing the capital, but it is really a question of how do you engage the community, the neighborhood, and empower that neighborhood and build that capacity so that they can really be very involved and engaged in the process of rebuilding and bringing cohesion back to their community”. - Ruben Alonso III “The same neighborhoods that suffer from disinvestment and high vacancy rates are also the same neighborhoods with the highest poverty rates, the highest crime rates. We're looking at 12,000 vacant properties that are privately owned in the city of St. Louis. It's an enormous problem that has gone on for way too long. Just the sheer volume, I think, is probably the biggest challenge we face, and being able to bring in enough resources to meet that challenge.” - Peter Hoffman “The city of St. Louis has the third highest vacant property rate in the country. About 65 percent of the African American population lives in high concentrations of vacancies versus only 19 percent of Caucasians. And there's a greater impact on these high concentrations of vacancies. They created lower property values, higher rates of drug and gun crimes and illegal dumping, poorer environmental health, lower quality of life and really a lost sense of community pride.” - Sundy Whiteside “We engage with the neighborhood associations and work to identify (nuisance) properties and build them with the youth that live there. Ultimately, this creates the inventory for homebuyers to have a safe place that they feel confident was constructed for them and created for them to be engaged. As we bring these vacant properties that have been sitting vacant for generations back onto the market, it is going to be creating housing stock that is safe and affordable for the communities to begin to start to rebuild and transform.” - Neal Richardson UniverCities Exchange began in fall 2020 during the UM System Extension and Engagement Month with a discussion of health disparities faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of these conversations is to foster a connection for future collaboration across Missouri. View the full UniverCities Exchange discussion below:   Feb 12, 2021

  • Kansas City Woman Is Trailblazer For African Americans In Dentistry

    KSHB interviews UMKC dental student
    Shonte’ Reed, is a first-year dental student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City; and Anne Lambert Johnson, a dentist, mentor, philanthropist and pioneer in Kansas City, is Reed’s mentor. Johnson is the first African American dentist in Kansas City and has been practicing for 47 years. Read the article and watch the newscast. Feb 12, 2021

  • Family Surprises Matriarch with 93rd Birthday Gift to Beloved UMKC Program

    Introducing the SPARK Flossie Pack Center for Lifelong Learning
    Flossie Pack’s children wanted to surprise her for her 93rd birthday. She did not expect them to donate $600,000 to support the lifelong learning center that she loves, which will bear her name. “Our family started talking in early September about what my mom’s passions were and how we could honor her for her 93rd birthday,” Jay Pack says. “Our daughters – her granddaughters – reminded us how much she loved SPARK.” SPARK is the Senior Peers Actively Renewing Knowledge program that operates on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus. The organization offers regular classes, book groups and tours for retirees who have a passion for learning. Flossie Pack, front left, at SPARK pre-COVID-19 “When I heard my mom was taking classes through SPARK I thought, ‘how cool!’” says Dee Pack, Flossie’s other son. “She has always been so articulate, well-read and interested in the arts. When I went to college and majored in music, she started piano lessons.”        One of the first classes that Flossie took at SPARK was basic computer skills. “I didn’t know anything about computers, so I just signed up,” Flossie says. “Now my mom Facetimes with her granddaughters all the time, which is what led to the idea,” Jay Pack says. "Our family started talking in early September about what my mom’s passions were and how we could honor her for her 93rd birthday.” - Jay Pack Pack contacted a lifelong friend and UMKC supporter, Ann Baum, for her advice. She recommended that Pack contact Lisa Baronio, president of the UMKC Foundation, to find out how they could help grow the organization. “The Pack family’s devotion to honoring their mother and their vision and commitment to enhance lifelong learning is inspiring,” Baronio says. “We were excited to work together to envision a broader scope of program content and delivery in order to reach more seniors in the community.”  Last March, as SPARK was scheduled to begin its spring quarter, the COVID-19 pandemic transformed its programming in a dramatic way. “Clearly we are a vulnerable population,” says SPARK Coordinator Bill Webb. “We wondered about going online, but had no idea how or even if we could. Some members said there was no way they would try.” It was not an easy transition for some of SPARK’s 200 members. Ultimately, the members’ enduring commitment and curiosity led to a solution. “We heard about holding classes on Zoom,” Webb says. “One of our instructors volunteered to give a class on classical music in May, and that worked!” A recent SPARK outting This unexpected challenge and the resulting solution paved the way for SPARK members to embrace new technology and envision the advantages of the updates that the Pack gift will provide. “UMKC values lifelong learning and is proud to partner with programs offering lifelong learning opportunities to seniors in our community,” says Diane Filion, vice provost for faculty affairs. “The Emeritus College, the Cockefair Chair and SPARK are all part of that commitment. SPARK currently provides a lot of programming on a tiny budget generated by membership and course fees.They are a volunteer-based organization with a part-time office manager and a small classroom in a university-owned building on Troost. They have worried about their future financial security.” The Pack family not only wanted to foster financial security for SPARK, they wanted to provide resources to expand the program. “There’s a real bond between the students and the instructors,” Jay Pack says. “We wanted to provide funding to take the program to the next level through outreach and upgrading the technology and physical space.” “When I heard my mom was taking classes through SPARK I thought, “How cool!”  - Dee Pack The gift provides funding for marketing and operational support, advertising, printing and mailing of catalogs, website development, as well as office and technology support to enhance SPARK’s ability to offer its courses via Zoom or other technologies that will allow participation by members unable to attend in person. On her birthday, SPARK prepared a plaque with the new name of the center – The SPARK Flossie Pack Center for Lifelong Learning – and shared it with Flossie on Zoom. Her whole family, including her seven granddaughters, were present. “She didn’t want credit or for the center to be named for her,” Jay Pack says. “But we are a close family. Everyone looks up to her, and it was great to see how much it meant to her.” Flossie says after her first class about computers, she began to explore many different subjects including the Middle East and Western Civilization. “The classes are so informational and I absorb so much,” she says. “And there’s no exam! A lot of us are repeat students.” Dee Pack says the gift is a good fit because it honors his mother’s passion for learning. “She was, and remains, so excited about her experiences at SPARK,” he says. “I hope I’m still passionate about learning at her age. We’re lucky to have a program that keeps people engaged, active, curious and informed.” Flossie says she had no idea the gift was in the works. “I was very pleased when they told me,” she says. “I mean, how many robes and scarves does one need?” Feb 10, 2021

  • Jamila Jefferson-Jones Weighs-In

    Kansas City Star's Toriano Porter writes about Mahomes wig
    “Our bodies are not costumes,” University of Missouri-Kansas City law professor Jamila Jefferson-Jones said. Read the full article. (subscription required) Feb 10, 2021

  • Conservatory Celebrates New Scholarships

    Volunteer-led 20 / 20 campaign exceeds goals
    The UMKC Conservatory is celebrating the creation of 27 new endowed scholarships. Thanks to a volunteer committee which triumphed during challenging times, students who may not have been able to join the ranks of Conservatory students and alumni will now have their chance. The Friends of the Conservatory initiated the concept of the 20 / 20 campaign in July of 2018. Their plan – to create 20 new endowed scholarships, each of which required a commitment of $25,000 or more, by the end of 2020 -- was ambitious. Long-time supporter Don Dagenais agreed to be the committee’s chair. “I agreed to chair the campaign because I believe in what the Conservatory is doing and how critical scholarships are. I volunteered out of love for the organization and what it does for the future of music.” “I thought we’d exceed the goal, but to exceed the goal by as much as we did was significant and it’s thanks to the donors, the committee and the staff.” - Don Dagenais From the beginning, Dagenais thought creating 20 new scholarships in 18 months was reasonable. “I thought we might actually do better. Once we met and put together a plan that allowed groups of people to contribute to a scholarship, I was very optimistic.” Michael Henry, a longtime Conservatory supporter and Friends of the Conservatory board member, was one of the first volunteers to recruit friends and colleagues to create a scholarship in choral conducting in honor of Kansas City-based Grammy award winner Charles Bruffy, MM’88, artistic director of the Kansas City Chorale and chorus director of the Kansas City Symphony. “We wanted the campaign to support new students, but also to tell a story of alumni,” Henry says. “I’m uncomfortable asking friends for money, but for this – because we support the arts and because the campaign focused on stories of people – it was personal. It was a gift of joy.” Marylou Turner and Michael Henry Henry and long-time Conservatory supporter and volunteer, Marylou Turner, who were the 2018 Crescendo co-chairs, announced the scholarship at the 2018 patrons’ party for the event. “I’ll never forget it,” Bruffy says. “I was overwhelmed – stunned, grateful and shocked – by the generosity of my friends. But more importantly, I understand the importance of scholarships. Everyone deserves the opportunity to realize their personal worth and aptitude. In our world, scholarships make that happen.” “I understand the importance of scholarships. Everyone deserves the opportunity to realize their personal worth and aptitude. In our world, scholarships make that happen.” - Charles Bruffy Even with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 20 / 20 campaign committee, in conjunction with the Friends of the Conservatory, Jazz Friends and the Women’s Committee for the Conservatory surpassed its goal. Their efforts resulted in individual, group, honorary, memorial and estate gifts that established 27 new scholarships. These gifts, totaling more than $1.2 million, support students in music performance, music therapy, music education, jazz, theatre and dance. “I hoped we’d be successful,” Dagenais says. “I thought we’d exceed the goal, but to exceed by as much as we did was significant and we extend our thanks to the donors, the committee and the staff.” Feb 10, 2021

  • Tenant Activists Upend U.S. Eviction Courts

    98.8 The River interviews UMKC Ph.D. student
    Jordan Ayala, an eviction researcher and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, was interviewed. Ayala analyzed the court filings. Read more. Feb 07, 2021

  • Coronavirus In Tampa And Kansas City: A Comparison Of Cases And Codes

    Tampa Bay Times interviews Mary Anne Jackson
    In Kansas City, cases are the lowest they’ve been since October, said Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, an infectious disease expert and dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. Read the full article. Feb 05, 2021

  • Meet Jackson Mahomes: The MVP of TikTok—And Super Bowl QB Patrick Mahomes’ Brother

    Yahoo Entertainment writes about UMKC student
    Jackson Mahomes is a UMKC student. Read the article. Feb 05, 2021

  • New Entrepreneurship Grant Program Open to Students, Faculty and Staff

    Kauffman Foundation donates $400,000 to stimulate on-campus innovation
    Students, faculty and staff from all UMKC academic units, centers, institutes and other programs are eligible to apply for grants to fund projects designed to expand entrepreneurial activities at UMKC. Thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, UMKC has launched a new Entrepreneurship Innovation Grant (EIG) program. A total pool of $400,000 is available for grants over the next two years to support a broad variety of initiatives in entrepreneurship including curriculum development, technology commercialization, school and department initiatives, community service, engagement and ecosystem building. Collaboration among groups is highly recommended.  The first application period for the Entrepreneurship Innovation Grant is now open. Proposals must be submitted no later than 11:59 p.m. Sunday, February 28. The program, and the Kauffman grant that funds it, are the product of a joint effort by the UMKC Innovation Center, the Regnier Institute at the UMKC Bloch School of Management and the UMKC School of Law to help increase entrepreneurial activities and opportunities across UMKC.  “UMKC hosts an impressive array of entrepreneurial programs and services that reach deep into the university and the community to develop new ideas and talent that respond to the challenges of our region and help to shape its future. With this grant program, we are now providing direct incentives to stimulate even more collaboration and growth,” said Maria Meyers, executive director of the UMKC Innovation Center. “Converting UMKC skills, ideas and innovations into real-world applications and markets will drive better, more inclusive futures that will help us address and solve today's and tomorrow's challenges.”   Feb 04, 2021

  • A Place to Sleep: Tenants Seek Homes After Being Displaced

    Flatland KC interviews Jacob Wagner
    Jacob Wagner, associate professor of urban studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said evictions are a poorly understood factor in neighborhood decline. Read more. Feb 04, 2021

  • Five Questions About Surprise Medical Bills

    Christopher Garmon of the Bloch School is a nationally recognized expert
    Christopher Garmon, assistant professor of health administration in the Bloch School of Management, has done extensive research on medical billing, with a focus on how insured patients often are shocked by huge bills from out-of-network providers. The issue was partially addressed by federal legislation passed in late December. Once this surprise medical bill legislation goes into effect in 2022, most out-of-network providers will no longer bill patients directly. Instead, providers and insurers must negotiate how much the insurer will cover. If they can’t agree, an independent arbitrator would step in.  This was the kind of federal-level legislation Garmon and other experts have been advocating for years. He sat down with UMKC Today to share eye-popping examples of the kinds of situations the new legislation will affect. How do you define “surprise medical bills” in the context of your research? My research (and recent federal and state legislative efforts) have focused on surprise medical bills from an out-of-network provider that the patient did not expect and could not reasonably avoid. For example, if you go to an emergency room of a hospital in your health plan’s network, the expectation is that all of the care received at that hospital will be in-network. However, the emergency room physicians may be out-of-network even though the hospital itself is in-network. Because there is no contract between the out-of-network physician and your health plan, there is no agreed-upon price for the physician’s services. The physician can charge whatever amount she thinks is reasonable and the insurance company can reimburse whatever amount it thinks is fair. These two amounts are often far apart and the physician may bill the patient directly for the balance. It is this “balance bill” from the out-of-network doctor, often for hundreds or thousands of dollars, that places a devastating burden on the patient. What are the health-care situations in which surprise bills are most likely? Most of the research suggests that roughly 20 percent of emergency room cases lead to surprise out-of-network bills, although some recent research indicates that it may be even higher. Roughly 10 percent of newborn deliveries may involve a surprise medical bill (for example, when the hospital and obstetrician are both in-network, but the anesthesiologist administering the epidural is out-of-network). One area where surprise out-of-network medical bills are common is ambulance service. Roughly 50 percent of ambulance cases involve an out-of-network ambulance. In other words, if you have an emergency and call 911 needing an ambulance, it’s basically a flip of a coin whether that ambulance is in your health plan’s network or not. It is important to note that the federal legislation passed in December will not protect patients from out-of-network ground ambulance bills. In general, the more severe the injury or complexity of treatment, the more likely a patient is to receive care from an out-of-network provider. Can you share one of the worst examples of exorbitant surprise medical billing that you’ve come across? One of the most egregious cases was documented by Elisabeth Rosenthal for the New York Times who described the experience of a man who underwent an elective neck surgery. He made sure the hospital and surgeon were both in his health plan’s network when scheduling the surgery. He even made sure the anesthesiologist on call the day of his surgery would be in-network. However, during the surgery, another surgeon was called in to assist. This assistant surgeon was out-of-network and he received a bill from this surgeon for more than $110,000. This extreme case highlights that, without legal protections, there is no way to guarantee that a patient can avoid a surprise out-of-network medical bill even in elective situations and even when the patient takes every precaution to avoid them. What can people do to protect themselves from surprise medical bills? First, it is important to point out that those covered by Medicare (including Medicare Advantage plans), Medicaid and Tricare are legally protected from surprise out-of-network medical bills. For those with private insurance, it depends on where you live and the type of health plan you have. Unfortunately, until the new legislation goes into effect, there are many patients who are vulnerable to surprise out-of-network bills regardless of what they do to prevent it. Some states have protections against surprise out-of-network billing. Missouri recently implemented a law protecting patients from surprise out-of-network medical bills, but only for emergency services. In addition, state protections from surprise billing only apply to patients covered by health plans that are regulated by the state. Many people who receive their health insurance through their employer have health plans that are regulated by the federal Department of Labor. State protections against surprise billing do not apply to them. What needs to happen next? Given the lack of protections for patients with federally-regulated health plans, there was a strong consensus that a federal solution was needed. Still, the recent federal legislation does not offer complete protection for patients. While it protects patients from air ambulance bills, ground ambulances are excluded, so patients are still vulnerable to bills from out-of-network ground ambulances. Future federal legislation should protect patients from ambulance surprise bills. Feb 03, 2021

  • Emerging Media Mogul Makes Her Mark In Kansas City

    Shae Perry, B.A ’19, is carving out her own career path as a community engagement and media mogul
    When Shae Perry makes it big, we can say “we knew her when…” The recent graduate, known by many as ShaeFromTheLou – her entertainment moniker – established a love for media early in her collegiate career and credits her faculty and staff mentors for helping to cultivate her potential. As she uses her entrepreneurial experiences to carve out her own path as a media mogul and community advocate, her impact and influence span across highway 70 between Kansas City and her St. Louis, Missouri, hometown. We sat down with Shae to find out how things are going for the recent Communications Studies graduate. Name: Shae PerryUMKC degree program: Communications Studies, emphasis in film and mediaGraduation year: December 2019Hometown: Saint Louis "I learned that with a plan and execution, I could accomplish almost anything." Tell us about your current position. I'm currently a brand ambassador for Big Brothers Big Sisters KC. My role consists of connecting with leaders in our surrounding communities and finding ways to make beneficial collaborations. On weeknights and weekends, I'm an on-air radio personality on KPRS Hot 103 Jamz – FM station 103.3. My entertainment name is Deona HuSTLe. KPRS is the oldest, continually Black family-owned radio station in the United States. Both of my roles put me in more spaces to engage with the community. I’ve had the opportunity to do interviews and spread the word about our mission. It’s dual beneficial. The competition is tough in entertainment. How’d you stand out and land the role at KPRS? I had been consistently reaching out to KPRS for years trying to get my foot in the door. Every chance I got, I went to visit the station and make sure they knew my face. Angela Elam, one of my Communications Studies professors and the producer and host of New Letters On Air, encouraged me to attend a Missouri Broadcast Association Radio Camp where I received certification in radio marketing.  I believe attending the camp to learn more about radio helped better equip me for my job at KPRS. After the growth experienced in Kansas City during college, I was determined to start my professional career here. St. Louis will always be home, though. What brought you to UMKC? A college recruiter visited my high school during my senior year. When I toured UMKC for orientation, I found out one of my group leaders was from my hometown, graduated from my high school and played basketball there under the same coach I did. Our similarities were a coincidence, but it helped me feel at home. Not to mention, my parents enjoyed the visit and my mother was really in love; so that was an easy “yes!” What was your favorite thing about UMKC? The UMKC campus was a perfect size for me to immerse myself in a variety of campus activities and in the classroom without feeling unheard. The student-to-faculty ratio was great for comprehending coursework and receiving extra help. The university also had various resources and groups to connect with, including the MSA Village, where I spent much of my time meeting peers and other leaders. "The saying, 'it's not what you know, it’s who you know' rings true in my life, both in school and in my career." Who was the most influential faculty or staff member at UMKC? This is tough because there were so many, but there are two people I must mention who were influential in my younger years. During new student orientation, I selected all the courses I’d take for my freshmen year, one of which was radio production. My advisor informed me that the professor typically only allowed upperclassmen and I’d probably be rejected. Luckily, Professor Angela Elam accepted my enrollment in the course and I really enjoyed learning about radio. Angela was also the advisor for K-Roo, the student radio station, and helped me get more involved to eventually become president my junior and senior years. While I was learning radio, I took a couple of video production classes taught by Professor Kevin Mullin. I found a real love for creating and editing in that class and Kevin always went above and beyond in answering my many questions. Both Angela and Kevin were, and still are, great mentors to me and I appreciate them. How did you choose your field of study? I stayed open-minded throughout my four years. I took a variety of courses and hosted many campus events and parties. In 2017, I started my own videography and entertainment company, SFTL Entertainment. In 2018, Roo Athletics and the Office of Student Involvement asked me to emcee some of the men’s and women’s sports games. I had the opportunity in 2019 to write and direct my first short film and cast other UMKC students. Through all of this, I was still active as president of K-Roo. All of these activities helped me find my path in communications. What’s the influence behind SFTL? I started going by ShaeFromTheLou my senior year of high school. My school was very close to Ferguson, and when the unfortunate death of Michael Brown occurred, we halted classes for a few days due to protests. I and three other seniors banded together to help the Black-owned businesses in our community. When MSNBC wanted to do a story on us, I didn’t think my name on social media worked well. I wanted something catchy that still paid homage to my city, so ShaeFromTheLou. Any creative content I produce, I use SFTL. When I’m on the radio it’s Deona HuSTLe. Deona is my middle name and I believe the word hustle is one of the words that best describe me. Wow! You have a lot going on. How do manage your time? I haven’t had a break yet since I started working. I enjoy both of my jobs, so it doesn’t technically feel like work because it’s fun and I’m helping other people. However, I do want to make sure that I’m leveling up in both my business and personal lives, so I try to implement self-care and remind myself to take a day off if I’m stressed out. What are the challenges of your field? Communication, in general, is a broad field, there’s so much you can do in the industry. The most difficult part of that, for me, can be finding your niche. Even today I continue to find different things that interest me. What are the benefits? It’s such a fun field, especially for film and media, which is what my degree is in. I’ve had the opportunity to interview celebrities and get behind the scenes access at events; it’s definitely a timeless industry. The other benefit of communications is the ability to be creative, there’s nothing like seeing your vision come to life. What did you learn about yourself while you were here? I learned that I not only had an interest in being in front of the camera, I also had an interest in being behind it. I’ve organized community events and lead the student radio station and they both pushed me to become a better person. I learned that with a plan and execution, I could accomplish almost anything. "The student-to-faculty ratio was great for comprehending coursework and receiving extra help." How did UMKC help you reach your current position? Connections and experience. The saying, “it's not what you know, it’s who you know” rings true in my life both in school and in my career. Many of the opportunities I’ve been given are due to faculty and staff members mentioning my name in important rooms. Carla Wilson was one of those staff members who always supported my aspiration by connecting me with other leaders and her positive reference went a long way. UMKC also gave me a lot of experience. Whenever I saw an opportunity, I took it. I hosted the Union Programming Board’s annual talent show, the K-Roo weekly radio show, organized campus events and more. I even had a chance to emcee KC Roos basketball games. All of those opportunities gave me a different perspective and most importantly experience. What are your goals for the future? My list of goals is lengthy, but I have a few key areas I want to focus on these next couple of years. I am interested in doing more public speaking engagements. I want to do public speaking to help young people know the work involved in achieving success. I'll be speaking at a workshop for teen girls in March about career planning. I premiered my first short film last year titled “Court-side Reality,” and I enjoyed it so much that I want to write more YouTube series and films. I also enjoyed my time as the emcee for KC Roos basketball games and hope to emcee for more college or professional sports events. Finally, one of my long-term goals is to own a television and radio network and give others like myself a platform to be creative and be heard! I love bringing people together and all these goals help me do that in a creative way. What is your advice for a student entering UMKC? Stay open-minded and engage with your peers and faculty and staff members. Many of my connections came from being at events and networking. College is what you make it; be intentional about applying yourself and ask questions. Also, you won’t know you're skilled in something if you don’t at least try. I have tried things and failed, but I can at least say that I tried and learned how to do them correctly next time. Don’t shy away from opportunities because you are afraid to fail or afraid of what others will say. It’s all a part of learning yourself. Go for it, ask a lot of questions. It shows that you’re assertive. Feb 03, 2021

  • As Vaccine Rollout Expands, Black Americans Still Left Behind

    Kansas City media cover School of Medicine panel discussion
    Bridgette Jones from Children’s Mercy, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, moderated a panel of several local experts on Feb. 4. Jannette Berkley-Patton with the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine also was on the panel. Read the Kansas City Star story. (subscription may be required). Read the KSHB story and watch the newscast. Feb 03, 2021

  • Kansas City Children Know Something About The Chiefs Kingdom That Many Adults Don't

    College of Arts & Sciences student discusses fellowship with Arrowhead Art Collection
    “There’s a wide range of media, which is something that should be applauded. That’s kind of hard to do in a stadium,” says Meghan Dohogne, a Ph.D. student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, who has been working with the collection on a fellowship basis for about a year and a half. Read more from KCUR. Feb 03, 2021

  • Nontraditional Student Has His Eye on the Ball

    Matthew Ramsey finds success in education
    Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Matthew RamseyAnticipated graduation: Spring 2021Academic program: Bachelor of Liberal Arts, School of Education and College of Arts and SciencesHometown: Kansas City, Missouri  Matthew Ramsey is married with two young children. He has a job, coaches youth basketball and is pursuing his teaching certificate. With his quiet and easy-going nature, he makes it look easy – even when it’s not. Ramsey has had to take breaks from his education, but he has always been determined to finish. He enjoys working with kids, so teaching and coaching seem like a perfect fit. “I’ve always worked with younger students,” Ramsey says. “I helped take care of my younger family members and this is my fourteenth season coaching high school basketball.” Ramsey attended programs at other schools, and there were times when he didn’t know if he would be able to graduate. “With a family of my own to provide for and work obligations, I had almost given up hope of completing my degree,” Ramsay says. When Ramsey visited UMKC he realized it was a good fit. "With a family of my own to provide for and work obligations, I had almost given up hope of completing my degree." – Matthew Ramsey “The campus is beautiful and they have a wide variety of class schedules which favored me as a non-traditional student,” he says. “It works for me because it is centrally located in the Kansas City area and is easily accessible and the proximity to my home made it an easy commute.” Ramsey enrolled in UMKC determined to graduate. “I’ve found the program to be great in preparing future teachers. I have always felt welcome and accepted, which is something I cannot say for other institutions I attended.   All of the staff are kind and helpful. And the advisors’ office is one of my favorite spots on campus. They have been great.” “Raising a family, working and going to school – it’s a lot. But this program inspired me to go after my dreams.”  Ramsey is a Hazel Browne Williams Scholarship recipient. Williams earned her master’s degree in 1929 and became an associate professor of the UMKC School of Education in 1958. She was the first full-time Black professor at UMKC and the first Black professor given emeritus status at the university in 1976. While Ramsey’s tenaciousness matches Williams’s, he says getting closer to graduation would have been much harder without the scholarship. Ramsey says he has learned a lot about himself while he’s been in the program. “Raising a family, working and going to school – it’s a lot. But this program inspired me to go after my dreams.” “It’s forced me to reexamine my perspectives and reflect on my own background and bias,” he says. “But I’ve learned that no matter how many setbacks I have suffered – or no matter how many challenges are placed in my path – as long as I work hard and believe, anything is possible.” Feb 02, 2021

  • Black Opera Meets Its Moment

    KC Studio highlights manuscript stored in UMKC LaBudde Special Collections
    For every performance of “Porgy and Bess,” an unknowable quantity of Black operas languishes in manuscript form, like John Duncan’s “Gideon and Eliza,” stored in the UMKC LaBudde Special Collections. Read the full article. Feb 02, 2021

  • COVID-19 Vaccine Answers From the UMKC Health Sciences Deans

    Updates on developments and distribution
    UMKC is one of the fortunate few universities in the U.S. to have its health professions schools clustered on one campus, and its medical, nursing, pharmacy and dental faculty and students have been on the front lines fighting this pandemic since the beginning.  This Q & A round table with the UMKC Health Sciences Campus deans will be updated often with the latest information about the COVID-19 vaccine, its effects, distribution and developments. Mary Anne Jackson, dean of the School of Medicine; Russ Melchert, dean of the School of Pharmacy and interim dean of the School of Dentistry; and Joy Roberts, interim dean of the School of Nursing and Health Studies, are involved in leading vaccination efforts for our campus and Kansas City area communities. After you get the vaccine, should you still follow social distancing guidelines? Should you still quarantine if you’re exposed to someone who’s tested positive for COVID-19? Jackson: Yes, you should still mask and socially distance. The CDC just came out with new guidelines on quarantining. You do not need to if it's been two weeks or longer after your second dose. Currently, there are two companies that have two-dose vaccines, Moderna and Pfizer. How are they being distributed? Jackson: States are distributing, and there is no clarity on how many doses each site is given. It is in a tiered system, with frontline workers receiving in the first tier. (Here are the tiered vaccination distribution plans for Missouri and Kansas). Roberts: Distribution of the vaccine from the federal government to the states has been a tremendous challenge. Once the supply is large enough and is rapidly distributed to the states, the benefit to Americans will be clearly visible.  Melchert: We are preparing and beginning to plan how we might more broadly impact our communities and especially those in Phase 1A, Phase 1B Tier 1 and Tier 2 who are currently eligible. Teaming with our regional and state partners to leverage our assets with theirs is essential to efficiently reach those who are eligible to receive the vaccine. To that end, we need to get vaccine and we are trying. It is really difficult right now with the short supply and high demand. However, I suppose the high demand is a good thing because the more folks who get vaccinated, the more likely we are to achieve “community immunity.” Tell us about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Jackson: The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has a good safety and effectiveness profile, a single dosage and no cold chain issues (they don’t require the ultra-cold storage like the current vaccines do), which makes this vaccine a potential game changer if we can get a large supply. Why is it important for seniors to get vaccinated? Jackson: Compared to a 30 year old, anyone 65 and older has a 100 times increased risk of dying from COVID, anyone 75 and older has a 1,000 times greater risk of dying and anyone 85 or older has a 10,000 greater risk of dying. The vaccine supply is likely going to increase in the coming weeks: Pfizer has promised 200 million doses by end of March, Moderna 100 million doses and Johnson & Johnson an initial 20 million and then 60 million by end of April. All good news. With the Johnson & Johnson vaccine access at pharmacies, seniors know how to navigate - this is where they get their flu shot - and should increase access and uptake. How should people sign up for the vaccine? Jackson: The best strategy is to register in multiple places, with your county, and with your primary-care physician on their websites (In Missouri, here are the Jackson, Clay and Platte county sites; in Kansas, here are the Johnson and Wyandotte county sites). What is getting the vaccine like? Roberts: The vaccine injection was done by the very skilled registered nurses at Truman Medical Center. The injection was not any more painful than any other shot, however the muscle was later sore for about 8 hours. After that, there were no issues. Our partners at TMC are operating a very well organized vaccination clinic providing expert nursing care and safety measures.  How effective is the vaccine? Jackson: Both the Moderna and Pfizer have high rates of effectiveness, including against the UK B117 variant (a newer mutation believed to be more infectious) and has some coverage against the more mutated South African strain. It cannot give the infection, none of the vaccines contain live virus. It won’t change your DNA – it uses small amounts of messenger RNA that guides your body to make the antibodies, then breaks down; it cannot enter your DNA. It won’t cause infertility; there is no link to miscarriages or infertility. Still, those who are pregnant should consult with their physician. How has UMKC helped the community with the vaccine? Melchert: The School of Pharmacy has an army of student pharmacists and faculty pharmacists who are certified and very experienced with providing vaccinations, including the wonderful work they do every year to provide influenza vaccines for the UMKC community. Many of our students and faculty are also participating with many of our partner organizations in Kansas City, Columbia, Springfield and around the state. Dr. Cameron Lindsey and her team are partnering with the Medical Research Corp of Kansas City, the Greater Kansas City Dental Society, the Missouri Dental Association, KC CARE Health Center and others to offer a clinic in February for local area health practitioners, especially dental practitioners, pharmacists, nurses and emergency medical technicians and others in Phase 1A who have not otherwise had an opportunity to get vaccinated. Keeping our health care providers protected will increase capacity to serve those needing services. Roberts: The School of Nursing and Health Studies has students and faculty who are educated and skilled vaccinators, ready to assist in the immunization effort as soon as mass vaccination sites have enough vaccine available. Our students have had the option to volunteer as COVID testers and as vaccinators at various sites in the metro area, including at the UMKC Student Health Center. Jackson: Besides being vaccinators, we provide information about the vaccine at forums. The School of Medicine hosted “COVID Vaccine: Fact or Fiction,” a virtual community-wide forum with school faculty and alumni physicians on Feb. 4.  Give us your final thoughts about the vaccine. Roberts: The COVID 19 pandemic has been a colossal challenge to the United States. The rapid creation of a safe, effective vaccine is nothing short of miraculous. This vaccine needs to be distributed as quickly as possible to all Americans, utilizing every trained vaccinator from registered nurses to pharmacists to physicians, while at the same time being shared globally. It will take immunizing the global population to end this pandemic.  Jackson: There are no restrictions on who can receive. The oldest and those with immune-compromising conditions may not have immune response that is as good as those who are younger and healthier, but there is no downside to the vaccine. Melchert: The vaccine is a huge step for us to combat COVID. The more informed we can be about the safety of the vaccine, the more people can benefit from the protection it provides. However, keeping each other safe, even with the vaccine, includes continuing to be vigilant with wearing masks, washing hands, social distancing and remaining at home when you have symptoms. Jan 28, 2021

  • Expand Your Options for Success With the Bachelor of Liberal Arts Degree

    Students and alumni share their stories
    Students face many challenges when making college decisions. For many, one of the biggest is deciding on a program of study. They want and need a program that is affordable and flexible and will prepare them for a great job after graduation. The Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree at the University of Missouri-Kansas City College of Arts and Sciences is designed for those who seek scientific literacy, an understanding of social sciences and an appreciation of the humanities but do not wish to commit themselves to a specialty. UMKC B.L.A. students gain maximum course flexibility and a tailor-made program providing an alternative to a traditional Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Sciences degree program. The B.L.A. program also is a good option for individuals who want to return to college and finish their degrees. “The B.L.A. is a popular and great choice for these students as it is the most flexible program we offer in terms of transfer credits and ease of course scheduling,” said Emma Casey, UMKC College of Arts and Sciences manager of Recruitment and Outreach. “With our current world situation, I am seeing an influx in non-traditional, adult and transfer students applying to return to finish their degrees.” A liberal arts program helps students become well-rounded in a variety of subjects and helps students acquire knowledge and skills about a variety of subjects and careers. Students learn a wide range of skills that prepare them for a variety of professions that can include account executive, analyst, business development manager, copywriter, communication specialist, physician, health care professional, entrepreneur, human relations specialist, journalist, lawyer, legislative assistant, nonprofit director, policy analyst, professor or public relations manager. The UMKC degree is particularly beneficial to students who matriculate into the six-year medical program and pursue the combined B.L.A./M.D. degrees and those applying to UMKC School of Law through the early-entry law program. A dedicated B.L.A. advisor is provided in the professional advising office. Students also can work with the specific departmental advisor in a chosen minor and can seek out any of the college’s advisors as they determine the focal points of their studies. Meet some students and a graduate. Vickie Goods  "I wantedto show themyou nevergive upon your dreams." When you enrolled at UMKC, were you new to college or were you returning to finish a degree? I returned as an adult learner. I took a 3-year hiatus from my academic journey. I've been pursuing my bachelor's degree since I was 19. I enrolled at UMKC in 2018. Why did you decide to finish the degree? I continue my academic pursuit to be a role model for my two adult children, Ashley 28 and Jordan 21. I wanted to show them you never give up on your dreams. It's never too late to start over and create a new beginning. My initial goal was to graduate with a business administration degree, but life took me on a different path. Why did you choose UMKC? I submitted applications to several universities in the local KC metro area. I wanted to have the full college campus experience that I experienced when I first began my journey. I felt more connected with UMKC. I like the diversity and I knew this is where I should attend. Why did you choose a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree? "I didn't choose a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree, it chose me. I had earned college credits from previous universities." The accumulation of those credits happily aligned me in the Liberal Arts department.  What are your career/job plans? When I close this chapter of personal achievement, I plan to enroll in a graduate program to obtain a degree in social work, counseling or Christian leadership. I plan to spend the first few years after graduation working as a school counselor or entry-level nonprofit position. I look forward to a future where I can use my tools and resources to serve others. When will you graduate? May 2021 What do you want people to know about getting or finishing a college degree? Be patient. Embrace the journey. Seek assistance and utilize resources that's available to you. It's okay not to be okay at times, just don't give up on yourself! What do you want people to know about UMKC? The faculty, staff, instructors and advisors want you to succeed. Speak up and tap into the resources.  What do you want people to know about you and any challenges you have had? I endured many detours and realignments upon my journey. I graciously accepted each challenge of womanhood. Once I gathered all my broken pieces, I created a mosaic of self-love, strength and joy. Remember to take time for yourself as you set goals. Focus on the progress and never be anxious about the accomplishments. Don't be afraid or ashamed to hit the reset button whenever necessary. Trust yourself, enjoy and embrace the journey; you will arrive at your destination at the right time. Rebecca Overbey "UMKC provideda programthat other schoolsdid not,which wouldallow meto completemy degreefaster thanthe other schools." When you enrolled at UMKC, were you new to college or were you returning to finish a degree? I returned to UMKC to finish my degree. With the B.L.A. program, I am able to continue my career path and achieve my goal of completing a degree. The program I previously studied was different than the one I am pursuing now.  Why did you choose UMKC? I did look at other schools; however, UMKC provided a program that other schools did not, which would allow me to complete my degree faster than the other schools. Why did you choose a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree? The B.L.A. program accepted all of my credits from other schools I have attended.  What are your career/job plans? I currently have a job that I enjoy and getting a bachelor’s degree will provide me the opportunity to further my career with my company.   When will you graduate? Aiming for fall 2021 What do you want people to know about getting or finishing a college degree? It was certainly a challenge getting back into the swing of school, but I feel that I have more motivation to earn my degree than I have in the past. I would tell others that not every person’s college path looks the same and it’s the end result that matters the most. Your timeline is your own. What do you want people to know about UMKC? I have attended a few schools and what makes UMKC different are the professors.  All of my professors have cared about me as an individual, which is something I was missing at the other schools I attended. What do you want people to know about you and any challenges you have had? While completing my degree in my early 20s, I went through an entire semester of classes with a case of mono that went undiagnosed until the semester was over. Not only did this ruin my motivation to continue with school, but it made me feel as though earning a degree was unattainable. My confidence in my intelligence was broken. I decided at that time to focus on my career and I have worked hard to get to where I am within my company today. I have always said that I would consider finishing my bachelor’s degree if it was required for future career advancement. So, to give myself potentially more opportunities, I started taking classes, just one at a time, to rebuild the self-confidence I had once lost. Not only have I gained that confidence back, but I feel more confident in my job as well. My college career has been anything but traditional and I don’t think I would change the direction it has taken me.    Jessica Keith "The Bachelorof Liberal Artsdegree wasperfect forsomeone asintellectually curiousand indecisiveas me." When you enrolled at UMKC, were you new to college or were you returning to finish a degree? I transferred to UMKC as a sophomore, still unsure of what I truly wanted to major in. I entered as a criminal justice and criminology major before switching to English, then sociology and finally to the B.L.A. Why did you choose UMKC? I initially chose K-State for the scholarships they offered. When I decided to move back to my hometown of Kansas City, UMKC was my first choice. I had visited UMKC in junior high for a writing program, and remembered loving the campus. The urban environment was a welcome change from the rural campus I was used to. Why did you choose a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree? The Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree was perfect for someone as intellectually curious and indecisive as me. "I changed my major a whopping seven times between both schools I attended, which left me with many credits across the liberal arts but few toward any specific degree.  I loved that I could combine coursework in my many areas of interest to build the B.L.A. degree." What are your career/job plans? The breadth of the B.L.A. and the many skills I learned in my courses enabled me to work as a test prep tutor for two years, which I absolutely loved. From there, I began working in education administration, which led me back to UMKC, where I now serve as the senior executive assistant in the College of Arts and Science dean’s office. When did you graduate? December of 2016. What do you want people to know about getting or finishing a college degree? While future job prospects are an important consideration, a college degree has so much more to offer. The skills you gain, people you meet, perspectives you learn and experiences you find and create will bring fulfillment and growth to your life no matter what you end up doing with your degree. And it probably won’t be what you planned! What do you want people to know about UMKC? UMKC is a place where people care about you as a person, not a number. There are so many unique opportunities on campus and in the local community, so you can really explore and find your passion. What do you want people to know about you and any challenges you have had? Life will get in the way of education. Whether it’s work, or family, or health, or a global pandemic, the important thing to remember is why you are working so hard toward your degree. As a first-generation college graduate and the oldest of six siblings, I was motivated to prove to myself and my family that success is possible when we stretch. But a degree isn’t the end. Keep learning and stretching and pushing past the growing pains, and opportunities will come your way. Jan 27, 2021

  • AMC Stock Soars After Reddit Users' Effort To Help Struggling Movie Theater Chain

    Bloch associate professor weighs in for KMBC
    “Just the speed at which it happened and the magnitude at which it happened certainly would make me nervous that it’s not here to last,” said UMKC associate professor of finance Nathan Mauck. Read the full story and watch the newscast. Jan 27, 2021

  • Grant Helps Take the Lead Out of KC Homes

    HUD funding for UMKC in partnership with Children’s Mercy and city
    The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded $700,000 to the University of Missouri-Kansas City to explore and evaluate best practices for identifying and removing lead paint hazards from Kansas City homes. The grant is in partnership with the Kansas City, Missouri Health Department's Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program and Lead Safe KC Project, which helps remove lead paint hazards in homes of families with young children; and Children’s Mercy Environmental Health Program, which has assessed more than 1,400 homes for environmental risks and supports allergen research. Homes that were built before 1978 might contain lead paint, which could put residents, especially young children and pregnant women, at risk for lead poisoning. Lead poisoning can cause speech delays, brain damage and other health effects. Using Kansas City and Children’s Mercy data, the UMKC Center for Economic Information will perform a comparative impact analysis of the specific lead hazard control treatments used in the intervention in terms of blood-lead levels and social costs. “The goal will be to develop a data-driven quality improvement evaluation model that HUD-sponsored lead-hazard control programs will be able to use in the management and performance evaluation of their own programs,” said Doug Bowles, Ph.D., director of the UMKC Center for Economic Information, co-principal investigator on the grant. “An additional goal will be to develop a data-driven, housing-based index that lead-hazard control programs can use to select the homes most in need of lead-based hazard remediation,” said Steve Simon, Ph.D., of the School of Medicine and co-principal investigator on the grant. The study will examine data from the Kansas City Health Department, comparing lead poisoning information with home repair strategies to determine the most effective, sustainable and cost-efficient methods of protecting families. Jan 27, 2021

  • UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies Earns Ninth Consecutive Top Program Ranking

    U.S. News & World Report evaluates online graduate programs
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Nursing and Health Studies ranked No. 23 among the nation’s best online graduate nursing programs of 2021 by U.S. News & World Report, giving it at least a Top 30 ranking for the ninth year in a row. The UMKC ranking, released Jan. 26, is the highest of any university in Missouri or Kansas. UMKC climbed three spots from last year’s No. 26 ranking. The UMKC School of Health Studies takes pride in the continuing recognition of its online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program as one of the best in the nation, said Joy Roberts, interim dean. This past year, it has meant more than ever. “The pandemic has demonstrated the value and the need for high-quality online nursing education,” Roberts said. “Our May and December 2020 online MSN graduates went right to work on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19 in hospitals locally, regionally and nationally.” The UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies is a pioneer in distance-learning programs, offering online advanced degree programs since 2002. The programs offer busy professionals a high-quality but convenient way to further their careers and meet the needs of an evolving health care system. Online students are expected to participate in online discussions as if they are present in the classroom. Technology offers two-way communication in real time via multiple modes. Students also experience on-site learning through summer institutes where they are required to attend clinical training or dissertation work sessions, and deliver presentations to classmates and faculty. UMKC offers a variety of online graduate nursing tracks, including Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and other options: Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGNP) Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP) Nurse Educator (NE) Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) Primary Care and Acute-Care (AC PNP) Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) Ph.D. Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) U.S. News began ranking online education in 2012. The categories include faculty credentials and training; student engagement; admissions selectivity; peer reputation; and student services and technology. U.S. News began their data comparisons with more than 550 institutions that had accredited graduate degree programs in nursing. Among the ones that replied, more than 194 said they offered online graduate nursing programs. The number of online nursing programs is continually growing nationwide. Jan 26, 2021

  • Alumna Advocates for Black Businesses While Building her Own

    Bloch grad and former basketball player is a Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce vice president
    Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Jade Tinner ‘12 Academic program: Business Administration -- Marketing, Henry W. Bloch School of ManagementHometown: Canyon, Texas Jade Tinner runs her public relations firm, JTBE INK, while serving as vice president of community investment for the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce. Tell us about your current position. I’m currently the vice president of community investment for the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce. In my position, I develop and implement strategic plans to ensure that communications, programming and corporate relations are effective and support the mission and goals of the DBCC and deepen the organization’s impact in the community.  Was it solely basketball that brought you to UMKC? What else appealed to you about campus or the experience? Basketball introduced me to UMKC, but the campus and coaching staff is what influenced my decision to commit to UMKC. I also loved the fact that It was far away from my hometown. I was ready to experience something new. What was your favorite thing about UMKC? The opportunity to be involved in other activities outside of sports. During my time I served as the treasurer of The African American Student Union, won the Miss Black & Gold pageant and am a member of Delta Sigma Pi. How did you choose your field of study? I always knew I was going to own something, and I needed to learn all I could about business and all of its functions. Marketing seemed to make the most sense for me as a creative. What are the challenges of your field? The main challenge in the marketing field is the broad overgeneralized definition of “marketing.” With technology changing daily, new marketing trends emerge as soon as you learn the last one. But the challenge of competing with yourself daily to be better than the day before is exciting. What are the benefits? Marketing at this time is the era of digital everything. For a creative like myself, this gives us the opportunity to really step outside of the norm, (because what is normal now?), think outside the box and explore, test and improve new and existing marketing efforts. Has the discipline of being an athlete helped you in any way as far as digging in and getting through this challenging time? Absolutely. I always say that basketball was my first love and my first teacher. It taught me to really buckle down and work hard on myself to be in the best shape possible or  –  in the best headspace possible  –  to accomplish everything going on. Off the court, I still have to make sure that I'm taking care of myself and I'm taking care of business. Tell me a little bit about the business. What are you working on, how did it evolve and how is it working out? It’s a lot like college. I always say I was so used to being busy, especially playing basketball and being involved in other organizations on campus. I was always going. That's the still the space I operate in.  I want to be busy. I want to be doing something. I want to be helping people. "The main challenge in the marketing field is the broad overgeneralized definition of 'marketing.'" - Jade Tinner As the vice president of community investment for the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce, we advocate for the creation, growth and general welfare of Black-owned businesses in the North Texas region. I was on the board of directors before taking the full-time role as marketing director. I started the One Unified Resource Foundation  –  or OUR Foundation. The biggest initiative is mentorship for young men ages 12 to 18. We're actually getting ready to implement the program in a local high school here in Texas. It seems that the combination of philanthropy and business is part of your mission. Has giving back always been something that you've been interested in doing even before you were working? I think it just comes naturally and I feel like it’s what we're supposed to do -- or at least what I'm supposed to do. Did you see that in your family or your community growing up?   Some of the giving back was a learned behavior. And then some of it is just seeing how hard my mother worked, my grandmother worked and my great grandparents worked. They instilled that in me. Also, my grandpa always said “Never, never let someone go hungry.” So, I love feeding people whether I’m cooking at home or it's going out to eat. I love to provide an experience, whether it's through one of our organizations’ events helping these young boys, or it's an event or program through the chamber. In your opinion what are the most important areas a business owner should be focused on right now. And is it different for Black owned business than it is for business in general? There aren’t differences on what the focus needs to be, but there are differences in the way we have access to capital. I think the main focus for 2021 is obtaining enough financial capital to sustain the business. How are you going to obtain that? Are you applying for government relief funding? What is your relationship with your financial institution? One of the major differences for Black-owned businesses or minority-owned business is the lack of relationships with their financial institutions. A lot of people in the United States discovered that when the first round of relief funding happened. "I want to be busy. I want to be doing something. I want to be helping people." Another really big takeaway from 2020 is that business owners should focus on being virtually and digitally present. And we need to plan long-term. There is no timeframe of when this could be over. So, how is your business going to sustain? And then once this is “over,” business is going to look totally different. So, you need to know how your business is going to be able to stay up with the new technologies and how services are provided. Do you have predictions on how it's going to look different? The pandemic has changed so many things. For example, we know there's money that can be saved because now we know that people can work from home effectively. In addition, a lot of new businesses have been created within the year because people lost their jobs and they had to figure out ways to stay alive. They may have turned their side hustles into their full-time means of income. We've seen a lot of new businesses like this coming to the chamber. You have posted on social media about the focus on women creating wealth. Why is that a priority for you? Specifically for me and in the chamber, I've worked in male-dominated industries. Most of us do, and, being an athlete, I always dealt with assumptions like the idea of boys being better at handling the ball than girls. I want that kind of mindset to change. I’m responsible for corporate partnerships and external communication at the chamber. I wanted to see what our history was in these areas and women’s names are very, very scarce.  It’s been one of my focal points as a part of the staff to recognize that Black women are making contributions to our community and our business community. "I always dealt with assumptions like the idea of boys being better at handling the ball than girls. I want that kind of mindset to change." Right now, Black women are the number one leading demographic in the state of Texas for new startups. So, it's amazing that there is a need to bring this to people’s attention. Still, the average revenue for these businesses is around $40,000. Imagine $40,000 being your sole means of income and the capital to fund your business. So, it's very important to feed financial capital into these businesses as well as social capital, because networking with like-minded people – like-minded business owners – that you can partner with and collaborate with is part of our focus. What are your goals for the future? To change the world! Within that there are some milestones to accomplish all for the betterment of our communities.  Learn more about Jade What is one word that best describes you? Blessed Do you have a motto you live by? Let’s get LIT (Live Intentional Today)! Treat others how you want to be treated! Were you a first person in your family to attend college? I am not the first to attend college, but am the first to graduate from college. I’m the manifestation of all of the hard work my mom, grandmother, and great grandparents put in. What did you learn about yourself while you were here? I learned that I am definitely a city girl! Being in Kansas City opened my mind to all of the possibilities that are out there in the U.S. and across the world. I also learned how to be an adult, overcome obstacles and persevere through hard times. What’s your favorite place in Kansas City? My favorite place in Kansas City is the Jazz District. So much history and culture in one concentrated area. What is your advice for a student entering UMKC? Find a mentor, find your group of friends, get involved, save your money and enjoy your entire experience.   Jan 25, 2021

  • COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ

    Mary Anne Jackson, School of Medicine dean, was a guest on KBIA.
    Like most of its area counterparts, the Unified Government Public Health Department is struggling to navigate the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. Until we all have been inoculated, the dean of the UMKC School of Medicine says now is "not the time for us to let down our guard." As a new coronavirus strain gains traction in the U.S., it's important to continue following guidelines to prevent spreading the disease. Listen to the podcast. Jan 25, 2021

  • From Health Care to the Culture of Care

    Sally Ellis Fletcher shares her passion for nursing, education and social justice
    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. Sally Ellis Fletcher developed her passion for education, nursing and social justice when she was just a child. She’d dissect grasshoppers and demonstrate to her toys what she was doing. As a teenager, she worked in an infirmary and enjoyed caring for the students. Having grown up in a family that was active in social justice, she was leading her first workshop by the age of 14. So, her current role as associate dean for students at the School of Nursing and Health Studies is a natural blend of the causes she cares most about. In our newest Black Excellence At UMKC feature, Ellis Fletcher shares how she combines her servant leadership and career experiences to help inspire future care providers. "While I’m not working directly in health care, the principles of patient care are still at the core of what I do." Name: Sally Ellis Fletcher Job Function: School of Nursing and Health Studies, associate dean for studentsTenure: 2015Hometown: Kansas City, MissouriUndergraduate University: Avila University (College)Graduate University:UMKC Master of Science, Nursing, Women’s Health CareUMKC Post-Master, Nurse Practitioner, Women’s Health CareUniversity of Rochester, Rochester, New York, Ph.D., Dissertation - Entrepreneurship in Nursing Why did you choose UMKC as the place to grow your career? The mission and vision of UMKC align with my personal values, especially the six core values of the School of Nursing and Health Studies: respect, inclusion and diversity, integrity, excellence, innovation and health. These values give each member of the School of Nursing and Health Studies community an equal foundation, or starting point, to learn, grow, develop and launch their dreams into the world. What do you enjoy most about working at UMKC? The students that come to UMKC trust us to guide them toward achieving their dreams. Students come through our doors with a dream for their lives and we have a big part in helping them get there. Everyone’s role is important in helping launch students into the next phase of their lives. As a nurse, you’re educated and prepared to work with everybody in the health-care system. You’re not isolated; you have to be a spiderweb. You have to think about public health, rehab, critical care, etc. So, while I’m not working directly in health care, the principles of patient care are still at the core of what I do. I transfer my nursing skills into academia. Nurses think globally, and about resources, patients/consumers will need to achieve their optimal health. When I’m helping students, I think globally about the resources available, and what needs to happen for them to succeed. I’m still functioning as a nurse, but now I’m an academic administrator in nursing education. "There’s a saying, 'nobody cares what you know, until they know that you care.' I try to always care." What are the challenges of your career field? There are never enough student scholarships. I have a vision that every student entering the School of Nursing and Health Studies would be part of a “pay it forward program.” Each student would receive 50 to 70 percent of their tuition in scholarships, with the stipulation they participate in paying it forward through recruitment, community service and post-graduation financial investment in future students. Don’t laugh, but I think about how I’d pitch this idea to Dolly Parton, Oprah and Stedman, Malinda and Bill Gates, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, or anyone else who would listen. What are the benefits of your career field? I see the future of healthcare through the potential of every student. It is truly exciting!  How do you connect and establish relationships with Black faculty and staff in other units and departments? My position keeps me very busy and, like most of us, our schedules are frequently double, or triple booked. So, I’m not always able to attend certain functions or group gatherings. Yet, humans have this magnetic power to bond together through common experiences. When serving on committees or sitting in meetings, you’re drawn to someone, friendships are created and you support one another long term. I serve on various committees and I always try to speak on behalf of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). I’m frequently asking, “have we considered the student perspective? Have we considered DEI?” What is your primary research focus? Cultural sensibility in health care. I published a book about this at a time when people were discussing “cultural competence.” I didn’t feel that was a good term. The book explores how nurses and healthcare workers can provide proactive culturally sensible care to patients/consumers. The vignettes in the book come from some of my own experiences and experiences that others have shared with me; hopefully, they can help people see and work through their biases, prejudices and stereotypes. "I see the future of healthcare through the potential of every student. It is truly exciting!" How are you involved in the Kansas City community? I’m honored to serve on the board of Newhouse, a Kansas City shelter for individuals experiencing domestic violence. Our doors are open to women and their children, as well as men and their children. We have a new CEO that is innovatively leading the shelter to break the cycle of domestic violence. Describe your mentoring relationships with students. I always tell students that “I’m here.” I try to tear down the walls and just be real. If something happens with a student, I try to get to the root of the issue by asking more questions and listening to them and their life experiences.  There’s a saying, “nobody cares what you know until they know that you care.” I try to always care. What is one word that best describes you? A “realistic optimist.” I know, that’s two words. I see life as a glass half full, and I choose to believe the best is possible. Yet, I am very realistic.  What is one piece of advice you’d give a student wanting to follow in your footsteps? Don’t follow my footsteps, create your own path. You have talents and life experiences that make you wonderfully special to do greater things than what I do. Jan 22, 2021

  • The Coterie Teams With UMKC For New Production

    Arts publications promote UMKC Theatre production
    The Coterie and UMKC Theatre present BRAINSTORM: The Inside Life of the Teenage Mind, a virtual co-production that combines theatre, scientific research, and the true personal experiences of local teens to create a fun and thought-provoking performance offering a unique look at why the teen mind works the way it does. Read the article by KC Applauds. A story about this performance also appeared in The Pitch, KC Live Theater and KC Studio. Jan 21, 2021

  • It’s Never Too Late to Graduate

    Crankstart Scholarships are designed for nontraditional students
    Not all students take a direct path from college initiation to graduation. Sometimes circumstances intercede that require degree-seekers to take a break, but that does not mean they do not have a viable path to graduation. Vickie Goods is currently pursuing a liberal arts degree and is planning on graduating in May. It wasn’t long ago that she did not think a college degree was within her grasp. “I’d gone to college in Louisiana briefly and when I moved to Kansas City, I wanted to finish my degree.” Goods was recently divorced and a single mother. She attended a private university and exhausted her Pell Grants, but despite her efforts wasn’t able to finish. “Nothing seemed to be working out, but I was determined,” Goods says. “I was working with a woman at the Full Employment Council, and I broke down. I just felt I couldn’t get over this hump in my life, and that I really wanted to finish college.” The woman helping her told her she had options. “She said, ‘I know someone who can help.’” Goods contacted KC Degrees and received information about KC Scholars and the Crankstart Foundation Reentry Scholarships at UMKC. She was able to enroll and is planning on graduating in May 2021. “I’m so excited. Everything has been so up and down, and so many people are struggling. I’m so grateful.” “We want people to know that there are resources designed specifically for returning students.” – Katie Anton Goods is not alone in her struggle or her relief. Jessica Mason, B.A. philosophy ’20, graduated in December. Like Goods, Mason had gaps in her academic career because of economic issues and family obligations. “Katie Anton told me about the Crankstart Scholarships.” Anton is director of scholarships for the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences. “We see so many students who have worked extremely hard and feel as if graduation is out of reach because of the expense,” Anton says. “We want people to know that there are resources designed specifically for returning students. There’s always a path to graduation.” With Anton’s advice, Mason made the decision to finish her degree. “The advice I give is that you should keep an open mind and do not be intimidated by having classmates younger than you.” – Jessica Mason “The scholarship helped tremendously, especially in these times,” Mason says. “It allowed me to help pay for daycare for my youngest as well as provide little amenities that I had not foreseen such as parking passes and other fees that I encountered.” Mason has encouraged several people who were considering returning to school that they should. “The advice I give is that you should keep an open mind, and do not be intimidated by having classmates younger than you,” Mason says. “Also, try and involve yourself in groups, lectures and the experience as whole because it goes very fast.”  For more information on the Crankstart Scholarships and other paths to graduation, please contact UMKC Financial Aid and Scholarships. Jan 20, 2021

  • Johnson County Native Gets ‘Once-in-a-Lifetime’ Inauguration Job As Joe Biden’s Stand-in

    Conservatory grad featured by Shawnee Mission Post
    Kevin Cerovich grew up in the Kansas City area and attended UMKC, earning a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Trombone. Read more. Jan 20, 2021

  • Inauguration Day Is A Teachable Moment, But Not All Kansas City Schools Let Students Watch Live

    KCUR taps School of Education consultant
    “Districts are clamping down on some of the political rhetoric,” said Brett Coffman, who taught social studies for 17 years in Raytown and Liberty schools and now works as a consultant for the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Education. “I think that’s going to continue. There will be teachers that push back on that. I know that they are already.” Read more from KCUR. Jan 20, 2021

  • Mahomes' Playoff Outlook

    KCUR taps Chi-Ming Huang
    Chi-Ming Huang, professor, UMKC School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, was a guest on Up to Date. Jan 20, 2021

  • Nursing School Class Examines COVID-19, From Emergence to Vaccines

    Public health course combines underlying science and the challenges of pandemic response.
    Designing a course from scratch is no easy task. And when the subject matter is changing constantly, you have a real challenge on your hands. But that’s what two assistant professors at the School of Nursing and Health Studies, Joseph Lightner and Sharon White-Lewis, did for the fall 2020 semester. “When we realized this was a pandemic and something the world knew little about, those of us in public health said, ‘Someone should teach a course about this.’ And then we realized ‘someone’ was us,” said Lightner, who holds a master’s in public health and a doctorate in kinesiology and leads the nursing school’s bachelor of public health degree program. So he and White-Lewis, whose expertise includes disaster preparedness and response, designed a comprehensive course on the COVID-19 pandemic. It covered a lot of ground, from the history of the 1918 flu pandemic to what the coronavirus is, how it spreads and how it acts in a body, to COVID-19 treatments and vaccines, contact tracing and the country’s emergency preparedness and response in the first nine months of the pandemic. Teaching about an unfolding pandemic also was a new challenge. White-Lewis said they frequently reacted to developments, quickly gathering reliable information and incorporating it into lectures and exercises. From left, Assistant Professors Joseph Lightner and Sharon White-Lewis taught the course to 37 students including Lejla Skender and Denise Dean. Everyone in the class took an online Johns Hopkins University course to become certified contract tracers. They also worked in teams to try to determine who brought COVID to the White House reception for Supreme Court nominee Amy Barrett Cohen. “That was a fascinating exercise,” said Denise Dean, a senior working on a health sciences degree with a concentration in public health. “We worked in teams with data on everyone in attendance: when they showed symptoms, when they tested positive and had tested negative, and other activities they had engaged in. We had numbered photos, too, to show which people were close to each other.” Dean, who has done research projects of her own and is an undergraduate research assistant, added, “We had learned in lectures when people are most contagious in relation to when they show symptoms, which helped us narrow the possible carriers.” Lightner said the teams were able to determine three people in attendance who were the most likely to have brought the virus to that group of key government officials, though with this virus it could have been someone else who showed no symptoms. “That’s another thing the students learned: Public health can be messy and complicated,” Lightner said. Your final: What do you do when a pandemic strikes? The final exam was a drill on responding to a pandemic, said White-Lewis, who advised those who drew up the Kansas City area’s vaccine distribution plan and leads the area’s nine-county Medical Reserve Corps, a network of medical and public health volunteers. Lejle Skender, a senior biology major considering medical school, said, “It was great to learn how all the parts of the medical system need to work together — who’s doing what behind the scenes to make sure people and materials are available in the right places.” Dean added: “And we learned what happens when there’s an emergency and a good plan isn’t in place.” The course had wide appeal, drawing 37 students, including nursing graduate students and undergraduates from majors including nursing, pre-pharmacy, public health, health sciences and biology. That student mix provided some challenges, Lightener said, “because we had to make sure the undergrads had enough of the basic sciences to understand when we got into the etiology, epidemiology and pathology of the virus and the disease.” It also gave students access to dozens of other perspectives, especially on discussion boards that White-Lewis posted. “The class was a big jumble of backgrounds and majors, but we all had the goal of learning about this virus and how that knowledge could benefit us in our careers,” Skender said. “We all learned from each other because, for example, some of us started with more science knowledge to share, and the graduate student nurses gave us a lot of information from their perspective as nurses.” She added, “If the course is taught again, I would recommend it to anyone interested in a health care career.” “That’s another thing the students learned: Public health can be messy and complicated.”   — Assistant Professor Joseph Lightner White-Lewis, who earned her doctorate in nursing from UMKC in 2018, said the student discussions were valuable and enriching but often difficult. “In the module on vaccines we did a discussion where they had to take 10 of their family and friends and decide who gets the five vaccine doses available and who could die,” White-Lewis said. “For me, it was really hard hearing from students who had family members who have died of COVID, and how they wished that everyone would take the virus much more seriously.” Lightner said that it would be great to offer the course again, but that that did not seem possible without more resources dedicated to it. “It was great to develop the course and fit it in somehow last fall,” he said. “But Dr. White-Lewis and I both are research faculty who have to do our own research. I’m director of our public health degree program, and she teaches graduate research and has her emergency response and other duties.”   Whether the course can be taught again, Lightner said, “I think it’s clear this information is vital. However well the vaccines do, the evidence is mounting that practitioners are going to be dealing with COVID and its long-term effects for years to come.”   Jan 19, 2021

  • Music Schools Struggle To Diversify

    Columbia Missourian wrote about the music programs at UM System schools
    UMKC has the most degrees awarded annually among three UM System campuses that have music major programs, with about 500. Over the past decade, Black students have represented 4% of the graduates, and that number was no better in 2019. But its white population earning degrees is down to 65% in 2019, the lowest during the past 10 years. Read the full article. Jan 17, 2021

  • Patrick Mahomes Has A Little Extra Work Before He’s Eligible To Play In AFC Title Game Sunday

    Fox4KC interviews Margaret Gibson
    “You can kind of see that when he came up that he definitely wasn’t jumping back and ready to go,” Margaret Gibson, associate professor at UMKC School of Medicine, said. “He was a little bit wobbly and had to have some assistance.” Read the article and watch the newscast. Jan 17, 2021

  • UMKC Faculty Weigh-In

    Media tap UMKC professors when covering KC businesses' political spending on Josh Hawley
    “It’s not insignificant,” Greg Vonnahme, chairman of the political science department at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said of company donations. “But a majority of their money is going to come from individual donors.” - Kansas City Star (subscription required) Jan 17, 2021

  • Local Creative Arts Are Getting Creative

    The Pitch reports on ways Kansas City arts organizations are partnering with others, including UMKC, during the pandemic
    Kansas City Lyric Opera created a series focused on local partnerships called New Visions. It includes an eight-part digital history of opera, presented by musicologists from UMKC and KU and featuring art from the Nelson-Atkins Museum. Read more. Jan 15, 2021

  • KC Business Survey: Entrepreneurs Increasingly Confident In Full Recovery From Pandemic

    Local media report on the survey, which KCSourceLink helped conduct
    “By nature, entrepreneurs and small business owners are problem solvers — they rise to a challenge — and 2020 certainly doled out more than its fair share,” said Maria Meyers, executive director of the UMKC Innovation Center and founder of KCSourceLink, which helped lead the survey. - Startland News Maria Meyers, executive director of the UMKC Innovation Center and Founder of SourceLink, said entrepreneurs and small business owners are naturals at solving problems and quickly did so when faced with all the challenges 2020 had to offer. - Kansas City Pitch     Jan 15, 2021

  • Free COVID-19 Testing For Students, Faculty and Staff

    Drive-up, rapid-diagnostic tests available by appointment
    Rapid COVID-19 testing is available free to all students, faculty and staff, whether or not they are experiencing symptoms.Testing takes place in a convenient drive-up clinic that allows those being tested to stay in their vehicles. The test involves anterior nose swabbing, much less discomforting than interior nose swabbing. Results take about 15 minutes. The free tests are antigen tests that detect specific proteins from the virus. Location 4825 Troost Ave.  Appointments required Appointments are available in 30-minute blocks from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and range through May 28. Schedule your time below.    March 29-April 2 April 5-9 April 12-16 April 19-23 April 26-30 May 3-7 May 10-14 May 17-21 May 24-28 Contact Student Health and Wellness, studenthealth@umkc.edu or 816-235-6124. Note If vehice transportation to the clinic is not available, alternative arrangements can be made. Jan 14, 2021

  • Free Dental Cleaning at UMKC

    Help yourself by helping dental hygiene students with their exams
    Haven’t had a dental cleaning in a few years? The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry dental hygiene students are screening patients for their clinical licensing exam, which includes a free dental cleaning. Qualifications: You must have No braces. Most teeth present. No dental cleanings in the past two to four years. No need for immediate dental services such as extraction. All day available April 30. Sign up: Call 816-508-5858 and leave a voicemail, or email umkcdhboards2021@gmail.com and include full name, phone number with area code and date of birth. Scheduling an appointment is required before coming in. When/where: Screenings will be held Tuesday through Friday starting Jan. 19 through the end of April at the UMKC School of Dentistry, 650 E. 25th St., Kansas City. COVID-19 precautions: To ensure safety, the UMKC School of Dentistry is following current guidelines from the CDC, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the American Dental Association and the American Dental Hygienists’ Association. The UMKC School of Dentistry delivers clinical care to more than 60,000 patients each year in the Kansas City area. Jan 13, 2021

  • Kansas City Theater Spotlights Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson And Other Motown Music

    UMKC Theatre's virtual co-production is featured
    “Brainstorm: The Inside Life of the Teenage Mind,” a virtual co-production of the Coterie Theatre and UMKC Theatre, will be available Jan. 19 through Feb. 7. Get more information from the Kansas City Star. This story was picked up by MSN Entertainment. Jan 13, 2021

  • UMKC Developing New Master Plan for Campuses

    Comprehensive, long-range vision for university’s physical environment
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City is embarking on a campus master planning process. A master plan is a long-range vision for the physical environment of the university’s two campuses. The plan will be designed to support the university’s goals, the role it plays in Kansas City’s future and the needs and desires of the university’s valued neighbors. Elements to be studied and refined in the process include student housing, green space, classroom and laboratory design, space utilization and support for the student life experience. The plan will take into account the realities of the university’s financial situation, and focus initially on maximizing the efficient use of existing buildings and spaces. The plan will also look to the future and chart a course for expansion into key growth areas such as student housing as resources become available. The existing UMKC Master Plan, created in 2014, needs to be updated to reflect new conditions. First and foremost, the master plan must be guided by, and serve the goals of, the 2018-2028 UMKC Strategic Plan. It will take into account that the streetcar will extend to our campus, further connecting us to the city. In addition, factors such as the UMKC Forward process and our short- and long-term needs for student services, academic programming and community engagement, must be taken into account. UMKC is working with the firm Ayers Saint Gross to create a collaborative process designed to build consensus. A working group representing a wide array of UMKC stakeholders has been assembled and began working with ASG professionals in November 2020 to assess existing conditions. The entire campus community will have opportunities to participate and be heard. UMKC has developed a Master Plan website where we will to share updates and alert the campus community to future opportunities for participation and input. The goal is to produce a recommended plan for consideration by the Board of Curators at the board meeting in June. “Our mission of teaching, research and service is constant, but the means we employ to deliver on that mission must adapt to changing conditions,” Agrawal said in a letter to campus. “This master plan process is an opportunity for our community to come together to decide how our physical environment and footprint must adapt to provide maximum support for that mission.” Jan 12, 2021

  • UMKC School of Pharmacy: Where Opportunities Abound

    As the world becomes more aware of the growing skill sets of today’s pharmacists, the roles they play in health care will continue to evolve and ex...
    Janelle Sabo, Pharm.D., R.Ph., M.B.A., is a 2000 graduate of the UMKC School of Pharmacy. An executive leader in clinical research design, development and delivery, she serves as the global head of clinical innovation, system and clinical supply chain at Eli Lilly and Company. She has accountability for the overall development, registration and launch of anti-COVID-19 therapeutics across the globe. What do you most enjoy about your job?  In my role, I leverage virtually every aspect of my education, including physics, calculus and the full pharmacy curriculum. The key difference is that I am not evaluating known information and data, but helping design and deliver critical information to inform health care professionals how a new treatment may be useful and practically utilized in a given disease state.  What does a typical day look like in your role?  My typical day involves four key focus areas: Portfolio and clinical research design and delivery, development and scaling of critical capabilities to enable clinical research, developing people, and external engagement with industry groups, vendors, regulators and other key partners. Why did you decide on pharmacy as a career choice?  I have loved science since I was young and wanted to help people. While I considered being a doctor, I was quickly drawn to the way medications can fundamentally improve and/or cure those who need help the most. I wanted there to be more options, especially in unmet medical therapeutic areas and pediatrics. How do you see the role of pharmacists evolving in the future? There is a world of roles beyond the traditional pharmacy that is growing. I have pharmacists in virtually every aspect of my organization – from data to clinical investigational pharmacy, from mobile and decentralized research to investigator training, from clinical trial design to clinical trial development and delivery. The pharmacy curriculum combined with in-clinic experience is invaluable in drug development. It opens many opportunities. What do you do outside of work for fun?  I enjoy time with my family and friends, traveling both domestically and internationally, hiking, and time by the pool in the summers. What is your best advice for someone thinking about a career in pharmacy?  Pharmacy is not just what you see today behind the counter or in the hospital. There are many opportunities in industry, academia, research, consulting and related industries. These broader opportunities require a solid foundation academically and exploration early in your schooling as internships, externships and exposure will increase your ability to pursue them post residency or fellowship. Why would you encourage someone to pick the UMKC School of Pharmacy?  UMKC has been well-ranked for more than 30 years, with a strong history of producing excellent graduates that have gone on to be leaders in their field. UMKC graduates have been successful in a variety of pharmacy settings and blazed new career paths. The masters and Ph.D. programs are solid with excellent scientist who care deeply about their areas of research. How did your time at the UMKC School of Pharmacy prepare you for your current role?  UMKC School of Pharmacy provided me organizational leadership opportunities, and supported and recommended me for critical internships in the summers. It also provided me an excellent academic and clinical foundation to build from as I launched into my career in clinical research and drug development. Jan 12, 2021

  • 8 Ways Heroic Local Doctors Have Gone Above And Beyond During The Pandemic

    Kansas City Magazine features three UMKC faculty
    Barbara Pahud, M.D.; Steve Waldman, M.D.; and Mary Anne Jackson, M.D.; were featured in this article. Jan 12, 2021

  • Story Behind Viral Picture Of Man Holding Confederate Flag Inside U.S. Capitol

    History Department Chair weighs-in with KCTV5
    Chester Owens Jr. said when he saw the image of the man holding a confederate flag inside the U.S. Capitol building, he immediately thought of his grandfather who was born into slavery. Other historians also took note of the historical irony on social media. Diane Mutti Burke, professor and chair of the Department of History at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said she caught wind of the photograph online. Read the full article and watch the newscast. Jan 12, 2021

  • More Patients Use Crowdsourced Fundraising Campaigns To Cover Healthcare Costs

    National media cover research by UMKC School of Medicine faculty
    At least two national publications, US News & World Report and MDalert, wrote about a study by UMKC School of Medicine faculty John Spertus, senior author; and Suveen Angraal, study author. The research looked at the role of fundraising sites such as GoFundMe has played in crowdsourcing funds for medical costs over the past several years.   Jan 12, 2021

  • Trump’s Business Prospects Just Got Dimmer As Wall Street Backs Away From Tarnished Brand

    CNBC interviews Bill Black
    “Presumably he’ll do what he’s done at least five times in his career, which is strategic bankruptcy,” said William Black, associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read more. Jan 12, 2021

  • College Students Found Mental Health To Be A Major Issue In 2020

    Two UMKC students were guests on KCUR
    Brandon Henderson, a senior at UMKC and former Student Government Association president; and Gracie Wrinkle, a senior at UMKC and former sorority president of Alpha Delta Pi, were guests on Up to Date. Listen to the podcast on the KCUR website. Jan 12, 2021

  • Kansas City Organization Focuses On Latinx Representation In Education

    Northeast News consults with Ivan Ramirez
    Ivan Ramirez, coordinator of the Avanzando Mentoring Program, a mentoring program for Latinx students at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said that for students thinking about joining the education field, being a part of LEC is a must. Read more. Jan 12, 2021

  • Are Cities A Safe Place To Live During A Pandemic?

    Bdnews24 talked to public health researchers including Jenifer Allsworth at UMKC
    Cities also tend to offer a larger variety of social support services, said Jenifer Allsworth, a public health researcher at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, including various child care and public transportation options. Read the full article. Jan 09, 2021

  • AAP Issues New Guidelines for Diagnosing, Managing Eating Disorders

    Medscape quotes Laurie L. Hornberger
    In a separate interview with Pediatric News, Laurie L. Hornberger, MD, MPH, associate professor of pediatrics, University of Missouri-Kansas City, explained that eating disorders occur across the spectrum of races, ethnicities, sexes and socioeconomic statuses, so “getting caught up in that stereotype can cause you to overlook kids with significant problems.” Hornberger is lead author of a new clinical report on eating disorders in children and adolescents prepared by the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Adolescence. Read the Medscape article. Jan 08, 2021

  • Human Mobility and the Spread of COVID-19

    Computer science professor Yusuf Sarwar Uddin worked on this award-winning data analysis project
    While we know that human mobility is among the leading causes of COVID-19 spread, the extent of the relationship remains unclear. School of Computing and Engineering Assistant Professor Yusuf Sarwar Uddin and two teammates from the Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS) at the University of California, Irvine – including his wife Dr. Rezwana Rafiq – say that information is important to know if policymakers want to make informed decisions on how to limit the spread. The team was one of seven novel data science projects that received cash awards from leading enterprise artificial intelligence software provider, C3.ai. The C3.ai COVID-19 Grand Challenge represents an opportunity to inform decision makers at the local, state and federal levels and transform the way the world confronts this pandemic. A total of $200,000 in cash prizes was awarded to these research teams. The UMKC/UC Irvine team received $12,500 as one of the four third-place winners. About the research While we know measures like physical distance and mask wearing are already ongoing mandates recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the extent of the relationship between human mobility and the virus spread remain unclear, at least in quantitative sense. Using U.S. county-level data from multiple sources during the first pandemic wave in May 2020, Uddin and team built a latent structural regression model to identify the causal relationships between human mobility indicators (trips, distance traveled, staying at home and social distancing) and COVID-19 spread to inform how policymakers should act. Though the team did not provide an official recommendation, they are continuing to develop the model in meaningful ways using data analysis and artificial intelligence to make informed decisions. View the presentation Jan 07, 2021

  • Computing and Engineering Professor Named Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors

    Reza Derakhshani developed EyeVerify technology
    Reza Derakhshani, professor in the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering, has been named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. Derakhshani is best known for leading the development of a biometric technology that makes the eye the only password needed to secure smartphones and mobile devices. The product is known as Eyeprint and was commercialized by the Kansas City-based startup EyeVerify. EyeVerify was acquired by Ant Financial Services Group in 2016 for a reported $100 million. The company is maintaining its headquarters in Kansas City and has been doing business as ZOLOZ since 2017. Derakhshani continues consulting as EyeVerify’s chief scientist while maintaining his faculty position at UMKC. At UMKC, Derakhshani heads the Computational Intelligence and Bio-Identification Technologies Laboratory (CIBIT). The lab’s research focus is ocular and vascular biometrics, mobile security, anti-spoofing and machine learning. CIBIT is also engaged in developing related novel hardware platforms for computational imaging schemes as related to biometrics, in addition to human-computer interaction. The 2020 Class of Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors will be inducted at the NAI 10th annual meeting in June 2021. UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal nominated Derakhshani as an NAI Fellow. The National Academy of Inventors is a member organization comprising U.S. and international universities, and governmental and nonprofit research institutes, with more than 4,000 individual inventor members and fellows spanning more than 250 institutions worldwide. Jan 06, 2021

  • Honoring An Architectural Leader

    Professor Theodore H. Seligson was respected throughout the region
    Theodore “Ted” Seligson (1930-2021) was a professor of architecture at UMKC for 30 years. A Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, Seligson was a true Renaissance man: architect, urban and interior designer, professor, fine art consultant and curator. In his spare time, he was a semi-professional violin player, reader of hieroglyphics, historic preservation activist, antiquarian, lover of comics, compulsive teacher and raconteur, according to his obituary in the Kansas City Star. Friends, colleagues, students and former students shared memories of him. “Ted Seligson was a unique and thoughtful professor who truly cared about his students and their success,” said Jacob A. Wagner, associate professor, director of UMKC Urban Studies. “He taught in Architecture and Urban Design, but he could have easily taught Art History and Archaeology. As a professional architect he worked for Kivett and Myers before starting his own firm. The buildings he designed and worked to save as a preservationist still shape the city today.” Seligson graduated from Shawnee Mission North High School and Washington University, where he also worked as a visiting professor for 30 years. His work received many local and national awards and is highlighted by such projects as Temple B’nai Jehudah, Bartle Hall Convention Center, Missouri Public Service building, Fire Station No. 30, several UMB bank buildings, Maple Woods Community College, Seaboard Corporation offices and many striking residences. “Ted Seligson was a kind and thoughtful educator, committed to developing students and their individual visions,” said Kati Toivanen, interim dean, UMKC College of Arts and Sciences. “He generously shared his wide range of professional experiences and benefited generations of our students. He will be greatly missed.” Students left tributes on Linkedin: “I was lucky enough to have him as a professor for my studio's class. His observations and teachings in the AUPD department at UMKC were incredibly valued and his insight will be deeply missed.” “Ted touched so many lives, he was truly the best teacher I ever had.” “He influenced so many and was a great teacher. I loved listening to all his stories and lessons. ‘Did you know it can rain up?’” “The passing of a Titan. So many good memories.” Counseling services are available for students, faculty and staff through UMKC Counseling Services. Seligson is survived by a legion of friends, peers, clients and students who admired him. He was a member of Temple B’nai Jehudah. A private ceremony was conducted at Rose Hill Cemetery. Memorials may be sent to the Seligson Fund c/o UMKC Foundation at 5115 Oak, AC202 Kansas City, Mo, 64112. Seligson held a fundamental belief that every person has the ability to make our community and country a better place to live. The Seligson Fund will continue to foster his legacy through public lectures and scholarships for architects and urban planning students at UMKC. Jan 06, 2021

  • COVID Means Higher Education Must Adapt. UMKC Is Taking The Lead To Reimagine Its Future

    Marc Hill mentioned the UMKC Forward initiative in his Kansas City Star opinion piece
    This op-ed column from the Kansas City Star mentions the UMKC Forward program, which seeks to focus the university on its strengths that tomorrow’s workforce will require. (subscription required) Jan 06, 2021

  • The Big Student Debt Questions That Biden Will Have To Answer

    Economics professor's study on loan forgiveness provides insight
    “You’re not getting it paid off now, and you probably never will,” says Scott Fullwiler, an economics professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and co-author of a landmark 2018 study on loan forgiveness. Read the full article from Bloomberg Business. Jan 06, 2021

  • Media Turn To UMKC Professors

    Political Science and School of Law professors weigh in on Electoral College, Capitol riots, impeachment, 25th Amendment
    Local media outlets have interviewed UMKC Department of Political Science and UMKC School of Law professors this week about the Electoral College and riots at the U.S. Capitol. We've gathered those headlines: UMKC professor calls storming of US Capitol unprecedented - KMBC - Beth Vonnahme U.S. Capitol riots 'almost entirely unprecedented,' UMKC professor says - KSHB and picked up by Yahoo News - Rebecca Best U.S. Capitol has never seen chaos quite like this - Fox4KC - Rebecca Best What's next following the assault on the Capitol? - KCTV5 - Greg Vonnahme Few consequences for angry white men — what if Black rioters attempted a Capitol coup? - Kansas City Star - Jamila Jefferson-Jones Impeachment, 25th Amendment: Explained by UMKC constitutional law scholar - KCTV5 - Allen Rostron UMKC professor explains 25th Amendment as calls grow for Trump’s removal - KSHB - Greg Vonnahme       Jan 06, 2021

  • Ted Seligson, One Of Kansas City’s Leading Architects Of 20th Century, Dies From COVID

    Kansas City Star reports celebration of life
    This was from the Kansas City Star Opinion Page: “He was devoted to improving Kansas City and a big advocate for urbanism in Kansas City,” said Michael Frisch, department chair for architecture, urban planning and design at UMKC. (subscription required) Jan 06, 2021

  • UMKC Professor Weighs In On Electoral College Vote Objections

    KSHB interviews Beth Vonnahme
    Beth Vonnahme, associate professor of American politics at UMKC, said Wednesday’s ceremony will be unusual. Read the story and watch the newscast on KSHB. This story was picked up by Yahoo News. Jan 05, 2021

  • Why Senator Hawley Is Objecting To Electoral College Votes

    KCUR taps Edward Cantu
    Edward Cantu, associate professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, was a guest on Up to Date. As this story unfolds, more UMKC faculty are interviewed about Josh Hawley and blowback from his objections and the Capitol riots. Debra Leiter on KSHB, Allen Rostron on Fox4KC.  Jan 05, 2021

  • UMKC School of Pharmacy: Where Opportunities Abound

    UMKC School of Pharmacy alumna, Janelle Sabo, shares insight on the ever-changing field of health care and pharmaceuticals with a look inside her p...
    As the world becomes more aware of the growing skill sets of today’s pharmacists, the roles they play in health care will continue to evolve and expand. Our UMKC School of Pharmacy graduates are working in a vast array of health care fields. Janelle Sabo, Pharm.D., R.Ph., M.B.A., is a 2000 graduate of the UMKC School of Pharmacy. An executive leader in clinical research design, development and delivery, she serves as the global head of clinical innovation, system and clinical supply chain at Eli Lilly and Company. She is accountability for the overall development, registration and launch of anti-COVID-19 therapeutics across the globe. What do you most enjoy about your job? In my role, I leverage virtually every aspect of my education, including physics, calculus and the full pharmacy curriculum. The key difference is that I am not evaluating known information and data, but helping design and deliver critical information to inform health care professionals how a new treatment may be useful and practically utilized in a given disease state.  What does a typical day look like in your role?  My typical day involves four key focus areas: Portfolio and clinical research design and delivery, development and scaling of critical capabilities to enable clinical research, developing people, and external engagement with industry groups, vendors, regulators and other key partners. Why did you decide on pharmacy as a career choice?  I have loved science since I was young and wanted to help people. While I considered being a doctor, I was quickly drawn to the way medications can fundamentally improve and/or cure those who need help the most. I wanted there to be more options, especially in unmet medical therapeutic areas and pediatrics. How do you see the role of pharmacists evolving in the future? There is a world of roles beyond the traditional pharmacy that is growing. I have pharmacists in virtually every aspect of my organization – from data to clinical investigational pharmacy, from mobile and decentralized research to investigator training, from clinical trial design to clinical trial development and delivery. The pharmacy curriculum combined with in-clinic experience is invaluable in drug development. It opens many opportunities. What do you do outside of work for fun?  I enjoy time with my family and friends, traveling both domestically and internationally, hiking, and time by the pool in the summers. What is your best advice for someone thinking about a career in pharmacy?  Pharmacy is not just what you see today behind the counter or in the hospital. There are many opportunities in industry, academia, research, consulting and related industries. These broader opportunities require a solid foundation academically and exploration early in your schooling as internships, externships and exposure will increase your ability to pursue them post residency or fellowship. Why would you encourage someone to pick the UMKC School of Pharmacy?  UMKC has been well-ranked for more than 30 years, with a strong history of producing excellent graduates that have gone on to be leaders in their field. UMKC graduates have been successful in a variety of pharmacy settings and blazed new career paths. The masters and Ph.D. programs are solid with excellent scientist who care deeply about their areas of research. How did your time at the UMKC School of Pharmacy prepare you for your current role?  UMKC School of Pharmacy provided me organizational leadership opportunities, and supported and recommended me for critical internships in the summers. It also provided me an excellent academic and clinical foundation to build from as I launched into my career in clinical research and drug development. Dec 17, 2020