2021

  • Finding the Right Words

    The Graduate Writing Initiative supports student writing in a multitude of ways
    Starting graduate school is a huge step. Unlike most undergraduate programs, students will write proposals, dissertations, theses. How can one prepare for such a large shift in writing style? UMKC graduate students can turn to the Graduate Writing Initiative. This grassroots effort was initially proposed by graduate students at the university who desired support with a very new style of writing. Demand for this resource became so high, the university has added a full-time academic staff position to the initiative. Marcus Meade, Ph.D., is the university’s first Graduate Writing Specialist. Meade, originally from the Kansas City area, graduated with a degree in journalism from Northwest Missouri State University before going on to achieve a master’s and doctoral degree in English. He was previously on the faculty of the University of Virginia before joining the UMKC Graduate Writing Initiative. “I was interested in the opportunity to work with students outside the classroom, setting outside writing support that didn't involve grades,” Meade said. “I found that was more holistic and more supportive. I get to focus on graduate writers, who I think are a particularly underserved population.” Through the initiative, one-on-one counseling is available, as well as larger workshops. Students can connect with their peers for mentorship opportunities. The Writing Studio also offers blocks of time for students to have a quiet space to write, uninterrupted. This is a very important service for students who are juggling careers and families on top of their studies. “All the research in supporting graduate students shows that the thing most students need is the ability to carve out time to write,” Meade said. “So, we try and create that for them. We can help them work that into their schedules. They can develop good writing habits, which includes protecting their own writing time.” This somewhat unique service is available to all UMKC graduate students, across any discipline. Meade hopes students continue to utilize this resource so it can keep growing, supporting even more students through graduation. “You’re not born with the ability to write a personal statement, or whatever you need to write,” Meade said. “We have a method for teaching them about that genre, understanding its conventions, practicing within it and tweaking them if they need to. We’re here to help them move into those new genres and find success in them.” Learn more about the Graduate Writing Initiative and the services they provide. The UMKC Writing Studio, The School of Graduate Studies, UMKC Libraries and faculty, staff and graduate writers from departments across campus collaborate to provide these resources. Sep 16, 2021

  • MBA class provides consultant services to real-world firms

    Students and urban small businesses both benefit from program
    In most cases, the pricy services of a professional business consultant are beyond the reach of small businesses. A unique partnership between the UMKC Bloch School of Management and AltCap, however, is bringing valuable consulting services to local entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities. MBA students in a new Bloch class formed teams that functioned like consulting firms and spent a semester working with small business clients of AltCap, a community development financial institution set up to increase the flow of capital to communities and businesses not adequately served by mainstream financial institutions. The clients, participants of AltCap’s NeXt Stage KC business development program, received relevant, actionable recommendations for growth. The students, meanwhile, gained real world experience working as a consulting team. The Business Consulting class concept was developed by Bloch School Dean Brian Klaas. The class was taught by Tony Mendes, Managing Director of the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and Ellen Junger, chief marketing officer at Helzberg Diamonds. Student Dominika Luszcz was part of a team that worked with Parrish & Sons Construction,  an excavating and grading contractor. The students developed a strategic plan for Parrish & Sons with recommendations in areas such as market differentiation, branding, website, social media and development of mission and vision statements. “I was always very interested in consulting and always wanted to learn how the consulting business should be conducted,” Luszcz said. “By working firsthand with a real enterprise, I was able to experience and learn authentic business issues, questions that need to be asked to make the best possible decisions, and dive into a completely new industry.” “As an international student from Poland, I found it fascinating to learn how business is conducted in the USA from every aspect including human resources, marketing, sales, research and development, supply chain management and finally strategic planning to increase revenue and expand sustainable growth.” Parrish & Sons founder and CEO Fahteema Parrish said the student team delivered genuine value. “They brought a fresh set of eyes and ideas on different ways we can improve on our media and marketing displays. They worked diligently and were persistent with getting any information they needed from me,” Parrish said. “I was very impressed with their final presentation.” Zach Lieberman is one of the students who worked with Integrity Capital Management, a firm that works with both rental property owners and tenants to expand affordable rental housing options in the urban core. “There were several different companies that were introduced to us at the beginning of the class. I gravitated towards my selected company because I saw the passion the owners had in their industry,” Lieberman said. “This organization is squarely focused on a small niche to rehab, restore and rent properties in Kansas City. There is an extreme shortage of livable houses in this area and this organization is attempting to turn this blighted and often forgotten area into an oasis of livable space.” Terrell Jolly, founder of Integrity Capital Management, had high praise for the student consultants. “We were blown away with the initial presentation.  We were not expecting so much detail,” Jolly said. “Not only did the team present us with missed opportunities but also with solutions that would meet our needs and budget. They also created a timeline of implementations and steps needed to incorporate. I liked the versatility each of the students brought to the table. They worked well as a team that really helped with implementation strategies.” Luszcz said the team approach was the best part of the experience. “I met a wonderful group of students who became my partners during the class, but also friends who provided a lot of significant expertise to help me become more aware of the professional business environment. The whole class really felt like I was a part of a well-known and respected consulting company.” Lieberman agreed. “Nobody knows everything. A network of people can provide information and insight to help grow an organization. We took the owner’s passion and developed measurable next steps to help his organization grow.” Sep 16, 2021

  • Behind the Scenes of UMKC's New RoosDo Commerical

    What ends up as a 30-second spot involved months of planning, entire day of shooting
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City debuted a new commercial this month showcasing university people creating real change through excellence in learning, research and service. The commercial is a part of the university's new branding and marketing campaign, with the theme RoosDo. The campaign is designed to showcase UMKC people, driven by inclusion, excellence and strong community connections, putting ambition into action. It took months of planning to produce the 60-second commercial, according to Kim West, chief marketing strategist for the UMKC Divison of Strategic Marketing and Communications. "We had many meetings and discussions to meticulously plan how best to showcase all the amazing things we do at UMKC," West said. "While much of this is really fun and exciting to think about, this is serious thought behind each and every shot you see." Here's a look behind the scenes: The day began with shooting at the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center. Photo by Brandon Parigo.  Crews shot a number of students working on projects at the Plaster Center. Photo by Brandon Parigo. The commercial was produced by Trozzolo Communications Group, based in Kansas City. Photo by Brandon Parigo. Assistant Professor Mujahid Abdulrahim's flight simulator was also featured. Photo by Brandon Parigo. It was then time to film a children's music class over at the Conservatory. Photo by Brandon Parigo. Johnson and Interplay were among the final shots of the day. Photo by Brandon Parigo. Crews wrapped for the day at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. Photo by Brandon Parigo Sep 15, 2021

  • UMKC Hosts Roo Talks

    Alumni share their expertise on new series
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City Alumni Association is launching a new town hall-style series called Roo Talks. Roo Talks is a quarterly webinar speaker series presented by the UMKC Alumni Association. The talks will help alumni, and the UMKC community, become better informed on important topics and more aware of the great work our alumni are doing. The speaker series will be held free on Zoom as a webinar to allow alumni and individuals anywhere to attend. “We are excited to launch this new speaker series and highlight our outstanding alumni,” said Kaitlin Woody, interim managing director of Alumni Relations. “The idea of Roo Talks came from wanting to highlight our outstanding alumni and all the different fields they are working in and have an event that was accessible to alumni where they are.” Topics chosen will appeal to a national audience and will feature outstanding UMKC alumni. The first Roo Talk will focus on the impact of the pandemic on performing arts, particularly live theatre. Roo Talks Series First session, Sept. 27: When the Lights Went Out On Broadway. The free Zoom town hall will be at 4 p.m. Advance registration is required. Theatres around the country went dark in March of 2020, but that did not deter UMKC Conservatory alumni from creating great performances. The first Roo Talks discussion with be with UMKC Theatre alumni. You will find out what they have been doing since the pandemic began and how things have changed for them and the industry. Panelists include Charlie Corcoran (MFA, '01), Rocco Disanti (MFA, '08), James Yaegashi (MFA, '98), Donnie Keshawarz (MFA, '98) and Kate R. Mincer (MFA '08). For more information on Roo Talks, contact Woody at zayk@umkc.edu. Sep 14, 2021

  • RoosDo: UMKC Launches New Campaign to Highlight Success Stories

    Alumni, faculty and students driving real community change to be showcased on TV, billboards, social media and more
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City has launched a new branding and marketing campaign to demonstrate how UMKC people are powering our community by making discoveries, serving others and challenging the status quo. The campaign theme is RoosDo, and the content is designed to showcase UMKC people creating real change by delivering excellence in learning, research and service. The campaign demonstrates that UMKC is the place where excellence meets action. UMKC faculty, staff, students and alumni who are making things happen in the real world will be featured in a new TV commercial, on billboards in high traffic areas, print advertisements and digital advertising. The university will be employing both paid advertisements and boosted posts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube, including partnerships with diverse media outlets such as Kansas City Hispanic News, The Call, Dos Mundos and The Kansas City Globe. TV commercial placements include spots during an upcoming Kansas City Chiefs game broadcast. The campaign will also involve a landing page on the UMKC website and branded water bottles, notebooks, pins and clothing. The goal of this campaign is to engage the community by sharing stories of people connected to the city’s largest higher education institution and promote what’s possible with an education from UMKC. The campaign, launched in September, has been produced by Trozzolo Communications Group and the university’s Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications. Their work included engagement with the UMKC Trustees Brand Enhancement committee as well. “Over the years, we have been very successful in raising awareness of the key role that UMKC plays in our community in vital areas such as workforce development, community engagement and bringing tens of millions of federal research dollars into our community,” said Anne Hartung Spenner, vice chancellor for Strategic Marketing and Communications. “With this campaign, we are taking our efforts to the next level by demonstrating what our RoosDo, the depth and breadth of our impact as Kansas City’s university.” “When people see that game-changing innovation, medical breakthrough or social program that improves the community and say — I wonder who did that?  We want them to realize there’s a good chance a UMKC Roo did, because RoosDo,” Spenner added. With an alumni network of more than 135,000 graduates, spanning all 50 states and more tha 60 countries, UMKC is educating future leaders and change makers. From local business owners to national government leaders, UMKC student stories will now be celebrated on a larger scale through this campaign. Sep 13, 2021

  • UMKC Receives $300K to Study Urban Entrepreneurship

    Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation supports Center for Neighborhoods three-year research project
    The Center for Neighborhoods at UMKC received a three-year, $300,000 grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to study the opportunities and challenges that Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs face starting new businesses in urban neighborhoods in Kansas City. “Entrepreneurs and local businesses face a challenging environment for starting new or sustaining businesses in Black and Hispanic communities,” Dina Newman, director of the Center for Neighborhoods, says. “They encounter barriers such as lack of access to capital, inconsistent financing and pre-existing economic challenges related to redlining. We were honored to be invited by the Kauffman Foundation to apply for this funding.” The Kauffman Foundation grant will support a community-focused research process that will examine the place-based challenges that entrepreneurs face due to a legacy of racially biased development restrictions. In addition, the Center will develop new knowledge about entrepreneurship opportunities for Black and Hispanic business owners. “While we know that these entrepreneurs face race-based challenges, what is not as clear is how these challenges are compounded by the perception of their business locations by outside interests, especially financial institutions,” Jacob Wagner, associate professor and director of Urban Planning + Design says. “This study will allow us to research that impact.” The Center will work with neighborhood and community networks to build relationships with Hispanic and Black entrepreneurs and develop a baseline analysis of the place-based challenges they face. The second year of the grant will build on the first with a series of Asset Walks, an interactive and collaborative process in which the research team and local leaders will gather information from local entrepreneurs through informal meetings. The results of the information from the Asset Walks combined with the baseline analysis will provide data for the center to understand which barriers to successful entrepreneurship are individualized, locational or systemic and which are a combination of these components. The results of the study will not be purely academic, but a road map to success in rebuilding urban neighborhoods. “We expect that this research will result in the development of new programs, workshops and training that will strengthen the ability of neighborhood organizations to be catalysts for escalating business development in the urban core,” Newman says. “While we know that these entrepreneurs face race-based challenges, what is not as clear is how these challenges are compounded by the perception of their business locations by outside interests, especially financial institutions. This study will allow us to research that impact.” — Jacob Wagner The Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation based in Kansas City, Mo., that seeks to build inclusive prosperity through a prepared workforce and entrepreneur-focused economic development. The Foundation uses its $3 billion in assets to change conditions, address root causes and break down systemic barriers so that all people – regardless of race, gender or geography – have the opportunity to achieve economic stability, mobility and prosperity. The Center for Neighborhoods is one of six recipients of funding from this community-engaged research request for proposal. “We’re excited to support community engagement in the research process through this grant portfolio,” says Chhaya Kolavalli, senior program officer, Knowledge Creation & Research, Entrepreneurship. “These six projects aim to build equitable, collaborative, solution-driven initiatives between communities and researchers with the potential to advance inclusive prosperity through entrepreneurship.”   The Kauffman Foundation anticipates that findings from this project will provide practical insights and knowledge for communities, entrepreneur support organizations, ecosystem stakeholders, policymakers, researchers and philanthropy into how to develop equitable entrepreneurial ecosystems.   Sep 10, 2021

  • UMKC Professor, Student Among Team Spearheading Historic Research on Apollo Moon Particles

    The research analyzes how moon dust particle shapes reflect light
    A UMKC professor and student are among a team of researchers that have recently published a historic scientific paper measuring the exact shape of 25 dust participles collected from the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. Research by Ahmed Hassan, Ph.D., associate professor of computing and engineer at UMKC, and Somen Baidya, Ph.D., will allow scientists to get one step closer to understanding why and how the moon reflects light. "Our collaborates measured the 3D shapes of each sample," Hassan said. "We can look at those samples and calculate the electromagnetic properties like optical properties, or how they reflect light. By observing the light, we are able to get a better understanding of the optical characteristics of the moon as a whole." The immediate practical application is satellite navigation, which can involve optical images of the moon. Longer-term, understanding properties of the dust will play a key role in creating a habitable living space for long-duration moon missions. The research team also includes scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory and the Space Science Institute. The team's new research method both measures and computationally analyzes how the moon dust particle shapes scatter in the light. The procedure involved stirring the particles into epoxy, which was then dropped over the outside of a tiny straw and mounted on the heads of pins, before being inserted into a special X-ray microscope capable of measuring the 3D shapes of each of the samples. Hassan said the team sends him images of those samples to calculate the electromagnetic properties, such as how much they reflect light. "We observe the light to be able to better understand the optical characteristics of the element," he said. Hassan said the research has been a great way to help students relate to research they are working on. "My main area of research is electromagnetic radiation. I love this field and I'm extremely passionate about it, but sometimes it's hard for students to relate to it because most electromagnetic radiation is invisible. You don't see microwaves or infrared rays reflected from things. This is a great way to correlate electromagnetics with a practical, real-life application that almost everyone is excited about." Baidya, whose primary research for his Ph.D. (which he received this summer) involved studying human cells, said begin involved in the particle research helped expand his understanding of cell makeup. "This research helped my previous studies about cell shapes," Baidya said. "It was a fantastic experience. I feel very lucky to have been able to work on this and contribute." Research on the lunar particles is ongoing, and Hassan said the team has yet to scratch the surface of all the information they want to know. Now that the team has learned the shape of the particles, they are looking into developing ways to calculate the "mechanical and hydrodynamic properties of the dust." "That means if this lunar sand gets into certain fluids, in the future when we maybe have settlements and astronauts there for a longer period of time, how can you filter them? How can you apply electric techniques to filter the lunar dust from the air?" Hassan said. "This is less than one percent of the particles that we have processed and it's only one set of characteristics that we have calculated. We're hoping to compute and study many, many more characteristics." Scientific research aside, both Baidya and Hassan said simply being able to work with the moon particles has been "fantastic." "All of us growing up have those dreams of becoming an astronaut or doing something space-related," Hassan said. "So seeing those samples, it's hard to describe the feeling of seeing those samples and knowing they are from outer space. It's really, really interesting." Sep 10, 2021

  • School of Medicine Alumna Recalls 9/11

    Local media interview Stephanee Evers
    UMKC School of Medicine alumna Stephanee Evers worked on a FEMA urban search and rescue team at ground zero. She now works as an emergency medicine physician at Olathe Health. Read the full story and watch the newscast. Evers was also mentioned in these news stories: Olathe ER doctor reflects on 9/11 recovery efforts at ground zero - Yahoo News 9/11 first responder from Olathe looks back before the 20th anniversary this Saturday - KMBC     Sep 09, 2021

  • Ken Novak Comments on Gun Culture

    The Kansas City Star reports on Missouri gun culture
    “We might think that a kid with a gun is irrational behavior, but in a lot of ways it is actually rational behavior,” said Ken Novak, a professor of criminal justice and criminology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In a culture where “there are so many guns out there, a kid knows they are at risk of becoming a victim of gun violence, so they carry a gun too.” And so it goes. Read the full story. The Kansas City Star article was picked up by these news outlets: MSN Yahoo News Sep 08, 2021

  • Millions in Research Funding Awarded to Computing and Engineering Faculty

    Research ranges from flight simulation to the breakdown of plastics
    Between January 2020 and June 2021, faculty from the School of Computing and Engineering have been awarded $7,549,732 in research funding. Megan Hart, Ph.D., assistant professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, was awarded $262,821 from the Department of Defense for work on unique ways to break down polyfluoroalkyl substances, which are substances utilized for their water and stain repellant properties. "From non-stick coatings, like inside of microwave popcorn bags, to your rain repellent gear and beyond, polyfluoroalkyl substances touch almost every aspect of our lives from food, to water, to air," Hart said. Unlike other hazardous materials, most polyfluoroalkyl substances do not break down using normal water and wastewater treatment techniques, which means that as the substances later break down in soil or water, they can cause harm to humans and animals. "Our research seeks to invent new and unique methods for completely destroying polyfluoroalkyl substances in the water, as well as investigate how they transform over time in soil," Hart said. Assistant Professor Mujahid Abdulrahim, Ph.D., was awarded a combined total of $204,995 over the last year for research on virtually modeling aircraft movement by computer. His goal is to take auto-pilot functionality to new heights without taking flying away from pilots. He wants to make their safety net stronger through developing a computer algorithm that would interpret the actual performance of an aircraft in flight compared to predetermined models on how it should be performing. "I don't want to replace pilots with a computers," Abdulrahim said. "I love the idea of preserving everything that makes airplanes fun to fly, but I also love the idea of coming home to my children after every time I take to the air." Below is a complete list of research funding awarded over the last year and a half. Civil and Mechanical Engineering: $396,899 to John Kevern for KC Urban Renewal Engineering fellows. $600,000 to John Kevern for supplement KC Urban Renewal Engineering fellows $24,998 to Amirfarhang Mehdizadeh for Indian Creek Flood assessment. $13,500 to Antonios Stylianou for the development of computational tools for pre-op planning of periacetabular osteotomies. $188,000 to Travis Fields for graduate fellowships for students engaged in NASA-relevant disciplines. $57,128 to Travis Fields for material processing and automation (partnership with Institute for Material Processing). $33,000 to ZhiQiang Chen for guidelines for response planning, assessment and rapid restoration of service of bridges after extreme events. $110,000 to Zahra Niroobakhsh for tuning the viscoelastic properties of enhanced oil recovery relevant bijels. $60,000 to John Kevern for evaluating the impact of anti-icing solutions on concrete durability. $40,000 to John Kevern for evaluation of non-traditional sidewalk options for reduced long-term cost and improved public accessibility. $262,821 to Megan Hart for validation of UV/TiO2 activated alkaline media for destruction of PFAS in concentrated liquid waste systems. $129,995 to Mujahid Abdulrahim for modeling and simulation architecture to improve research. $60,000 to Mujahid Abdulrahim for FLEXI-Fly: Field-Reconfigurable, Mission-Adaptive eVTOL. $22,500 to Zahra Niroobakshsh and Kun Cheng for 3D printing of next-generation therapeutic microneedles using rapid self-association of surface-active peptide drugs. $30,000 to Ceki Halmen for justifying corrosion durability of reinforced concrete, comparable critical chloride threshold for various reinforcement types. $40,500 to Ceki Halem for the development of instructor resources for the Contractor's Guide to Quality Concrete Construction (fourth edition). $19,900 to Deb Chatterjee for signal and radiating systems design and modeling for app. $15,000 to Mujahid Abdulrahim for UAV-UGV cargo drop. $57,500 to Ceki Halmen for standard critical chloride threshold test variability due to material sources. $129,835 to Thiagarajan Ganesh for load and resistance factor rating methodology recommendations for Missouri bridges. Computer Science and Electrical Engineering: $305,800 to Yugyung Lee for CUE Ethics: Experiential Learning: Bridging Digital Divides in Undergraduate Education of Data Science. $44,200 to Yugyung Lee for supplement: CUE Ethics: Experiential Learning: Bridging Digital Divides in Undergraduate Education of Data Science. $20,000 to Yugyung Lee for supplement #2: CUE Ethics: Experiential Learning: Bridging Digital Divides in Undergraduate Education of Data Science. $18,000 to Baek-Young Choi for Technology Education for Women in Transition: Broadening Participation Through Innovations. $301,413 to Faisal Khan for estimating remaining life and availability of power semiconductor devices using sympathetic string phenomena, dynamic safe operating area theory and ultrasound resonators. $50,000 to Zhu Li for membership renewal for NSF Center for Big Learning. $150,000 to Yugyung Lee for Smart and Connected Communities Planning Grant: Early Community Intervention for Neighborhood Revitalization Using Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technologies. $73,000 to Dianxiang Xu for modeling clinical notes with deep learning transformers.  $42,763 to Yugyung Lee and Brent Never for early community intervention for neighborhood revitalization using AI and emerging technologies. $22,500 to Yugyung Lee, Brent Never and Wang Ye for Communities in Action: Sustainable Science in Cyberinfrastructure. $90,000 to Dianxiang Xu for EAGER: SaTC-EDU: Exploring Visualized and Explainable AI to Improve Students' Learning Experience in Digital Forensics Education at MSCI and HBCUs. $15,000 to Yugyung Lee for gamifying cybersecurity to eliminate alert fatigue. $96,058 to Dianxiang Xu for GenCyber Summer Camps at UMKC. $50,000 to Zhu Li for membership fee for NSF Center for Big Learning. $25,000 to Yugyung Lee for membership to NSF Center for Big Learning. $25,000 to Zhu Li for membership fee for NSF Center for Big Learning. $88,490 to Yugyung Lee for Our Healthy KC Eastside: A community-wide COVID-19 vaccination and health services project to address health inequities. $50,000 to Zhu Li for membership fee for NSF Center for Big Learning. Sep 07, 2021

  • AUPD Professor Weighs-in for KC Star

    Will a pilot program in the infrastructure bill help reshape Kansas City’s inner-loop?
    Jacob Wagner, the director of urban studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said that while the northern and southern parts of the downtown loop merit attention, they are not the roads that left the most damage. Read more. Sep 07, 2021

  • KCTV5 Interviews UMKC Law Professor

    Can private club in Blue Springs use masking exemption?
    UMKC Law Professor Allen Rostron said loopholes like this one tend not to stand up in court. If this scenario ends up in front of a judge, he said a major factor to the case will be proving Rae’s is in fact a private club. Read more. Sep 07, 2021

  • KSHB Interviews Bill Black

    UMKC economics professor says work-life balance contributes to lack of labor
    UMKC associate professor Bill Black disputes the claim that enhanced unemployment benefits are to blame for a worker shortage. Read more. Sep 06, 2021

  • Carl Allen Steps Into Lead Role at UMKC

    KCUR: Meet Carl Allen
    After Bobby Watson's long tenure, Carl Allen is the newly-appointed William D. and Mary Grant Endowed Professor of Jazz Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read more. Sep 03, 2021

  • UMKC to Offer New Bachelor's Degree for Transfer Students

    Bachelor of Applied Science helps those with Associates Degrees advance their skills and job prospects
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City will offer a new degree — Bachelor of Applied Science — starting fall 2022. The University of Missouri System Board of Curators approved the proposed degree unanimously on Thursday. The Bachelor of Applied Science degree is designed for students who have completed an Associate in Applied Science degree. Beth Vonnahme, Ph.D., associate dean of the College of Arts and Science, said those associate degree credits do not easily transfer to many four-year degree programs, which means students wishing to return to higher education for career advancement must often start near the beginning of a four-year program. "The new degree program allows students to use up to 60 hours of their associate degree credits toward the new bachelor's degree, enabling them to enter the workforce with a bachelor's degree in two years. This saves them valuable time and financial resources," Vonnahme said. The new degree curriculum will combine core skills employers are looking for in future employees, such as critical thinking, communications, ethics, teamwork and complex problem-solving skills, with expertise in high-demand fields including business, organizational leadership, healthcare management, data analytics, digital media and digital humanities. "This degree program will grow the pool of potential applicants with the technical experience and key competencies employers need for their workforce," Vonnahme said. "This innovative degree program presents a major opportunity to recruit new students, provides a high-quality educational experience to students who are currently underserved and equips the region's workforce with in-demand education and skills." Sep 02, 2021

  • Alum Has Vivid Memories of 9/11

    UMKC grad served as lead pharmacist, caring for responders at Ground Zero
    Twenty years later, the horrifying events of 9/11 are etched in David Bates’ memory. Bates (B.S./R.Ph. ’93) recently thumbed through a large scrapbook on a desk at his home in Gallup, New Mexico. As the UMKC School of Pharmacy alumnus reminisced about the role he played as lead pharmacist for the emergency response teams at Ground Zero during the early days of the recovery effort, he stopped and pulled out a sheet of paper. “Look at this,” Bates said. “I still have a copy of my deployment orders.” Then a member of the United States Public Health Service in Tsaile, Arizona, Bates was back at UMKC on a recruiting trip for the service when news broke that terrorists had struck in New York City. “By the time I got to campus, things were getting strange,” he said. Finally able to connect by phone with his superiors at the emergency response headquarters, Bates was told to immediately return home to Arizona and await further orders. A week later, when grounded flights were finally restored in the U.S., Bates received the order to report to New York. His assignment would be to requisition supplies and establish a pharmacy in support of the five treatment sites set up for response teams near Ground Zero. “When I got there the pile was still carrying temperatures of 1,200 degrees in places and was still burning big time. All that stuff was still being released in the air. You didn’t know what you were breathing. The ash in the air was everywhere. When you looked and saw the debris fields, they were seven stories high. That was very hard for me." — David Bates Two years earlier, as a member of a disaster response team based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Bates had deployed to Fort Dix Army Base in New Jersey as part of Operation Provide Refuge. During that tour, he provided pharmaceutical care for refugees entering the United States from war-torn Kosovo. “That was my big break because I was working with emergency response people,” Bates said. The experience paved the way for his call to New York in response to 9/11. A military veteran, Bates served as a medic and pharmacy technician with the U.S. Air Force before deciding at age 40 to return to school at UMKC. After earning his pharmacy degree, he joined the U.S. Public Service Corps and fulfilled his desire to work with emergency disaster teams. Nothing he had experienced before compared to what lay before him when he arrived at Ground Zero. Bates looked at the devastation from the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. “When I got there the pile was still carrying temperatures of 1,200 degrees in places and was still burning big time,” he said. “All that stuff was still being released in the air. You didn’t know what you were breathing. The ash in the air was everywhere. When you looked and saw the debris fields, they were seven stories high. That was very hard for me.” Bates established sick call units for responders who had forgotten or run out of their medications for chronic ailments. That was in addition to locating and requisitioning medical supplies to establish a pharmacy that could support the on-site medical clinics, which were seeing 400 to 500 volunteers, military and disaster responders a day. Many of those, Bates said, were soon becoming ill with respiratory issues because of the large amounts of toxic dust in the air. As of June 2021, the World Trade Center Health Program reported more than 3,500 deaths of responders attributed to a variety of illnesses associated with the aftermath of the 9/11 attack. Things became so intense at one point that the chief of U.S. Army medical corps came to Bates one morning with a special request. Cyanide gas was escaping into the air and he needed cyanide antidote kits, stat. Bates quickly called a pharmaceutical provider, AmerisourceBergan, and explained his problem. That afternoon, Bates had the kits in hand. “When the chief medical officer came back and I gave him the kits his response was, ‘I don’t even have the protocols written up for those yet.’ I said, ‘Well you’ve got ’em when you need ’em,’” Bates said. “That made me feel good because it surprised everybody.” What particularly caught Bates’ attention during his time in New York was the enormous outpouring of support from the American people who wanted to help in some way. “There was a tremendous response from Americans,” Bates said. “They sent us all kinds of stuff from their (medicine cabinets). Individuals, companies were all sending things they had and we had to go through all of that and see what was good, what was expired, what hadn’t expired, and see whether we could use it.” In addition, many New York hospitals and other providers had immediately set up small clinics along the city streets. When the federal government took over the recovery efforts, the clinics were abandoned and most everything, including medical supplies, was left behind. It was Bates’ job to confiscate and sort through all of those medications, many of them controlled substances.  “During chaos, things happen,” he said. “It was total chaos at that point. We were just trying to bring a little organization back to the world.” Nearly 10 days after arriving at Ground Zero, Bates had set up and organized a pharmacy on site from scratch for the next wave of responders. Bates then went home to finish up some year-end paperwork before taking a well-deserved vacation to a Florida beach with his wife and family. Now retired from the Public Health Service, Bates is a contract pharmacist working with the Winslow Indian Health Center providing care for the Navajo Indian Nation. His career has sent him on 19 deployments to disaster sites across the country. He says watching the recent U.S. evacuation of Afghanistan “works on you a little bit because you know what started this whole Afghan response from the military action was right where we were on 9/11.” And it’s those events surrounding 9/11 that still stand out as a defining moment in his life. “It helped me be more caring about people who are really in need,” he said. “I got involved in emergency response and kept taking it to a deeper and deeper level. I saw it as a way of helping people who were in desperate need of help. And these people were.” Sep 01, 2021

  • Gary O’Bannon Weighs-in On The Future of Work

    Flatland interviews UMKC professor
    Gary O’Bannon, HR management professor at UMKC, gave insight on the new job market in the face of a pandemic. Read more. Sep 01, 2021

  • Critical Conversations Series Continues

    The University of Missouri-Kansas City Division of Diversity and Inclusion will continue to host a series of critical conversations addressing syst...
    The Fall 2021 Critical Conversations series starts in September with the virtual session, “The Role of Antiracism Work and Healing in Museums.” This event is from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 9. Attendance is free, but registration is required online. A Zoom link will be provided upon registration confirmation. The UMKC community is taking thoughtful action on campus and in our community to ensure lasting and comprehensive reform through Roos Advocate for Community Change, a campus-wide effort announced in June 2020 following the death of George Floyd. Last year’s panel discussions were in a Zoom town hall format and featured UMKC faculty, staff, students and volunteer leaders who represent the topic being discussed. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the first session for this academic year will be virtual. Each discussion aims to enlighten, educate, and explore the causes and potential cures for racism. Further, the university will strive to share actionable steps that can be used to improve racial interactions in the broader community. Panelists for the September Critical Conversations include Rashida Phillips, executive director, American Jazz Museum; Julian Zugazagoitia, director and CEO, The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art; Glenn North, executive director, Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center; Matthew Naylor, president and CEO, National War World I Museum and Memorial; and Anna Marie Tutera, director, Kansas City Museum. Gary O’Bannon, executive-in-residence, UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management, is the moderator. “The Role of Antiracism Work and Healing in Museums,” in collaboration with The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, is the ninth discussion in the Critical Conversations series, sponsored by the office of UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal and the Division of Diversity and Inclusion. Information on past Critical Conversations panels is available online. Aug 31, 2021

  • Public Health Graduates Help a City Get its Health Department Rolling Again

    City of Independence, UMKC help each other as importance of community programs grows
    When the city of Independence, Missouri, wanted to re-institute its Health Department, two recent graduates of the School of Nursing and Health Studies — and an adjunct professor — were there to help.  The process showed the value of the university to its government and community partners, and it gave the graduates full-time jobs in their field of public health. Halie Smith-Griffin, who graduated magna cum laude from the public health program, began helping Independence restore its Health Department during her senior year as her capstone project. And when the city had an opening for a public health specialist, she was a natural for the job. “I chose public health because I wanted to explore more upstream methods to improve the public’s health rather than focusing my efforts on them once they already made it to the hospital,” said Smith-Griffin, an Independence native. “I’m re-establishing community-based programs since the Health Department just re-opened a few months ago after being shut down for a few years.” Another public health graduate, Conner Berens, is from nearby Lee’s Summit and was a familiar face around Independence government. “I have volunteered for the City of Independence Office of Emergency Preparedness since I was a sophomore in high school,” he said. So when there was an opening for a public health response planner, he jumped at the chance. Berens had hoped to find a job relating to public health or emergency management right out of school, and he said UMKC prepared him to do just that. “The public health program put me into the real world, teaching me the principles of research, how to deal with the unexpected, how to develop a health program, and how to be a kind, effective and professional public health practitioner.” Besides their passion for public health and the lessons and experiences gained at UMKC, Smith-Griffin and Berens graduated at an opportune time, when Independence was re-establishing its Health Department. In 2018, Independence chose to stop some department functions that were duplicated by Jackson County, such as those related to vital records and vaccinations, and shifted other functions to different city departments. But with the onset of the pandemic, it made sense for the city of around 125,000 residents to have its own Health Department again. One longtime city administrator tasked with reinstituting the department, Mike Jackson, is an adjunct faculty member with UMKC’s public health program. Jackson has worked for the city about 20 years, holding various posts in environmental health and public works. “So I know about various funding sources, and what the Health Department looked like before and how its functions were reorganized,” he said. Jackson also knew UMKC could be a great resource. “Around 2014 when the nursing school was putting its public health program together, I was asked to design the environmental health course. And then I was asked to teach it,” he said. “For a project in my class, Conner interned with our emergency preparedness and fire department.” Jackson also told Smith-Griffin, whose senior project he had supervised, about the job opening she eventually filled. “But then I got out of the away, removed myself from the hiring process,” Jackson said. “It was her turn to shine, and I didn’t want anyone thinking she didn’t deserve the job.” The re-established Health Department was officially recognized by the state late last year, and Jackson, Smith-Griffin and Berens are busy getting all its functions coordinated and running again. “I am working on two grants right now,” said Smith-Griffin, who has a small child and great interest in child and maternal health. “One is focused on maternal child health and the other is focused specifically on child health.” The Technology, Marketing and Media in Health course, taught by Assistant Professor Dipti Subramaniam, Ph.D., is helping Smith-Griffin create promotional material for the maternal health grant. And she said her Health Program Management class, taught by Assistant Professor Matthew Chrisman, Ph.D., has helped her set up her grants. “I have had to find out who my target population is for my grant, a significant problem they have, and an intervention that could improve their health,” Smith-Griffin said. “I have had to write SMART goals and objectives,” SMART standing for Specific, Measurable, Assignable (or Achievable or Attainable), Realistic (or Relevant) and Time-related (or Time-bound). Berens is working with COVID-19 surveillance and epidemiology, and with updating emergency response plans. “Future tasks include developing plans and partnerships to prepare for public health disasters such as environmental crises, natural disasters, disease outbreaks, bioterrorism and other events that result in a mass medical surge or immediate threat to public health,” he said. During school, Berens also volunteered for the Medical Reserve Corps of Kansas City in response to COVID-19. He said volunteering was a great supplement to his coursework, and he encourages current students to sign up for medical and non-medical opportunities at https://www.mrckc.org. For his part, Jackson has been busy restarting Health Department functions that had reverted to the county, such as vaccine clinics and disease tracking and tracing, and reintegrating other functions that the city retained, such as restaurant health inspections. “I know a student can’t always parlay volunteering or an internship into a fulltime job,” Jackson said, “but Conner and Halie showed us what they could do and really shined. That reflects well on them and on UMKC.”     Aug 30, 2021

  • Roo Welcome Activities Launch the College Experience for New Students

    UMKC students kick off Fall 2021 semester
    It started with moving in to a new campus or off-campus home. It ended with an upbeat ceremony introducing traditions and an official launch of college life. Also in the mix were meetups, brunches, impromptu introductions and organized frivolity, dancing, a pool party, a mechanical bull, soccer with pregame tailgate party and more.  Roo Welcome is the annual rite of passage for new students at UMKC. It involves informal academic preparations, sessions on managing finances, men’s and women’s soccer games and plenty of fun activities. In concludes with Convocation, where new students are welcomed by the Chancellor and Provost, learn the alma mater and fight song and put on their UMKC pins. Here’s a look at scenes from Roo Welcome 2021. It takes a cartload to turn a Residence Hall room into a home Gotta have that favorite pillow The journey begins with a single step Summer scene at Scofield Hall Welcome to Convocation Pre-Convocation games Summer sunshine on the quad KC Roo demonstrating leadership A tailgate feast Game time! Attention to detail matters Catch a wave Headed to the Student Union . . . . . . for a caffeine break Our newest campus icon, the bronze Roo by sculptor Tom Corbin Late Night with the Greeks drew a nighttime crowd Letting the music move you Can he hold on? Sunset over the soccer field Aug 27, 2021

  • What is ISIS-K?

    Rebecca Best offers expertise to media
    Rebecca Best, an associate professor of political science at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said ISIS-K stands to undermine the Taliban and the United States with its attack. What Is ISIS-K? A Look at the Group Responsible for Afghanistan Terror Attack - KMIZ The Revolt of Islamic State-Khorasan - Political Violence at a Glance  Aug 27, 2021

  • Political Science Professor Puts Redistricting into Perspective

    Kansas City Star taps Greg Vonnahme for article about Rep. Emanuel Cleaver
    Greg Vonnahme, a political science professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, was interviewed for this story. Read more. (subscription required) Aug 27, 2021

  • Three Questions with a National Security Expert

    2011 Alumna of the Year Cynthia Watson wraps up career at National War College
    Cynthia Watson (B.A. ’78), the UMKC 2011 Alumna of the Year, has announced her pending retirement after three decades of service at the National War College, where she served as a professor of National Security Strategy, chair of the Department of Security Studies and then dean of Faculty and Academic Programs. As a world-renowned authority on security policy analysis, Watson has directly impacted U.S. foreign policy in everything from civilian-military relations to national security issues. Her students, according to the college, have been “future leaders of the Armed Forces, Department of State and other civilian agencies” being groomed for high-level policy, command and staff responsibilities. As she prepares for retirement in December, Watson corresponded with her alma mater by email to share reflections on her career and thoughts on current affairs: Looking back over your career as an educator and scholar, what would you consider to be the highlights and/or most significant accomplishments? I am proud to show that a UMKC education offered me the privilege of working and studying contemporary issues in several settings around the country. I am especially proud of my three and a half years as Dean of Faculty and Academic Programs, out of 29 overall years, at the National War College where we bring together such a diverse array of students who tackle extraordinarily important yet often intractable problems for the U.S. and our partner nations. I will continue this as Interim Provost of the National Defense University until December 2021. In your view, what is the most significant national security challenge the U.S. must address? We must address our internal divisions in my personal analysis. People overseas no longer see us as a beacon on the hill.  Compromise is NOT a dirty word but is what made us uniquely successful for two hundred years. By no longer doing that, we are allowing our adversaries to rip us apart which will prevent us from sustaining the power of this nation in many ways. What are your favorite memories of your days as a UMKC undergraduate? I have such fond memories of friends who I lost track of over the decades but with whom I have connected on social media. They are awesome people who have gone out to do such marvelous things across the country and in their fields. Aug 26, 2021

  • History of Johnson County Creek Leads To Possible Name Change

    Diane Mutti-Burke weighs-in
    Diane Mutti-Burke, a professor of history at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, was interviewed by local media about the re-naming of the creek. Read the news coverage: Controversial Name, History of Johnson County Creek Leads To Possible Name Change - KSHB “Negro Creek” In Johnson County Likely Renamed After Finding Link To Racial Violence - KCTV5 Aug 26, 2021

  • Center for Neighborhoods Director Leads KC Neighborhood Vaccine Efforts

    Our Healthy KC Eastside interviews Dina Newman
    Dina Newman, director of the UMKC Center for Neighborhoods, discusses the organization's role in Our Healthy KC Eastside, a large-scale, community-based partnership addressing vaccine hesitance and health inequities in vulnerable portions of Jackson County, Mo. Read the full article. Aug 25, 2021

  • Betty Rae’s Debuts New UMKC-inspired Flavor, ‘Roo Blue Swirl’

    Kansas City Media Reports on Roo Blue Swirl
    Betty Rae’s Ice Cream is now scooping “Roo Blue Swirl” in homage to the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Owner Alec Rodgers is a UMKC alum, and said the new mix was a collaborative effort with the university. Read the news coverage: Betty Rae’s Debuts New UMKC-inspired Flavor, ‘Roo Blue Swirl’ - KSHB Iconic KC Ice Cream Shop Debuts New Flavor In Honor of Local University - KCTV5 Aug 25, 2021

  • By Keeping KC Up To Date, Steve Kraske’s Journalism Legacy Is Still Being Written

    The Pitch profiles Steve Kraske
    Steve Kraske is a professor in the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences. He is also the host of KCUR's Up to Date. Read the article. Aug 25, 2021

  • The Coterie Plans Season

    KC Applauds shares performance details with UMKC Theatre students
    Mobile Molièr: UMKC Theatre’s MFA actors bring their riotous romp of a touring show to local schools, performing some of Molière’s most famous and hilarious scenes. Read more. Aug 25, 2021

  • The Evolution of KC Roo

    A hop back through time for a look at the mascot’s changing style
    In 1936, the students at the newly-established University of Kansas City were looking for a mascot that would embody the spirit of their school. The three-year-old university had yet to establish an athletics program, but the debate team was about to begin competing with other universities.  “So, this idea came about that we needed to have a mascot for the university,” said Chris Wolff, the manager of the UMKC Bookstore and a UMKC historian. At the time, the city of Kansas City was abuzz, eagerly anticipating some very exciting news. Across town at the Kansas City Zoo, Jigger the kangaroo, who had arrived just one year before, was pregnant and the whole town was awaiting news of her little one’s arrival. With all the excitement of the joey’s debut, the students were inspired and chose the kangaroo as the new mascot of the debate team. After all, it rhymed with KCU, the colloquial term used by the community for the university, and they knew the unique selection would stand out.  At first, the adoption of the kangaroo mascot was a student-led effort. After the debate team signed on, the yearbook did too, using the kangaroo as part of the front cover. The kangaroo  mascot was nearly lost forever though, when in 1937 the yearbook dropped the kangaroo as its mascot. Not everyone was happy about the change. John Chaney, the president of the KCU Student Council, started the Kangaroo Party of the University of Kansas City with the platform to adopt the kangaroo as the university’s official mascot. In the fall of 1937, Kasey Kangaroo was born. Throughout the years, Kasey has taken on many forms, both from student-created depictions, to official university marketing. Here is a look back at some of the most recognizable iterations. The Disney Roo - 1938 In the early years of the kangaroo mascot, the depiction of the mascot was left to students, with help from a local celebrity. Fresh off his 1937 hit Snow White, KC native and famous animator Walt Disney responded to a request from KCU students to illustrate the cover of the March 1938 edition of the student-published humor magazine, The Kangaroo. Nearly a century later, it’s still perhaps the most well-known version of the KC Roo. Student Roos 1938 - 1968 Over the next couple of decades, students created their own version of KC Roo for various purposes. Some were based on Disney’s version, others were completely unique creations. The First Official Kasey - 1963 For more than 25 years after the kangaroo became the official KCU mascot, KCU did not use a depiction of a Roo in an official capacity. That changed shortly before KCU joined the University of Missouri System and became the University of Missouri–Kansas City, when the university unveiled its first Roo. It was also the first time Kasey is depicted with a pouch, making her a female. When the university merged with the Missouri system, Kasey got a slight makeover to reflect the change. Return of the Student Roos - 1970s-1980s UMKC introduced an athletics program in 1968, but throughout the 70s and early 80s, the university usage of the Roo image declined. Students filled in the gap with their own illustrations of KC Roo playing various sports. The Flying  Roo - 1987 In 1987, UMKC joined the top competition group within the NCAA, Division I. As part of the change, the Roo was updated to be more suitable to athletic competitions. The Boxing Roo - 2005 In the early 2000s, KC Roo tested a tougher look. The Hopping Roo - 2009 In 2009, the second version of the running Roo was unveiled. Fighting Roo - 2019 Today, the Roo takes on a more modern look. Now known as KC Roo, the image you see across campus and at athletic events these days was introduced in 2019. Through the years, KC Roo has been met with both praise and criticism, but there was only one time since her official adoption that she truly faced the threat of extinction. When the university joined the NCAA Division I, there was a referendum to choose a mascot. Students voted to keep the Roo. Asked why he believes KC Roo has stood the test of time, Wolff says his theory goes back to the early years.  “The connection to Walt Disney. That holds weight in people’s minds, gives it historical heft.” Aug 24, 2021

  • Interim Dean Combines Athleticism and Artistry for New Photography Collection

    Kati Toivanen featured by KC Independent
    KC Independent featured Kati Toivanen, interim dean of the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences. Read the full article. Aug 23, 2021

  • Heart of America Shakespeare Festival Teams Up with UMKC for The Tempest

    IN Kansas City magazine highlights UMKC Theatre, Heart of America Shakespeare Festival collaboration
    The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival is teaming up with UMKC Theatre to present The Tempest in the UMKC Spencer Theatre. Read more. Aug 23, 2021

  • Viral Video of US Marine’s Kindness To Kids in Kabul Sparks Emotional Reaction for Local Marine

    KCTV5 interviews School of Law student
    Bryce Graskemper, UMKC School of Law student, was interviewed for this story. Read the story and watch the newscast. Aug 23, 2021

  • Why is Arrowhead the World’s Loudest Stadium? Design Is Only Part of the Answer

    UMKC Theatre professor weighs-in
    When more than 76,000 voices are at a fever pitch, the sound builds and begins moving in sheets, says Tom Mardikes, a University of Missouri-Kansas City professor of sound design. Read The Kansas City Star article. (subscription required) Aug 22, 2021

  • Berkley Establishes Literacy Award for Educators

    Focus on kindergarten through third grade literacy has long-term impact
    Moved by the ramifications of children’s inability to read at grade level by third grade, Kansas City civic leader and dedicated education donor, Bert Berkley, has established an endowed fund of $50,000 to support the Bert Berkley Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Literacy at UMKC. The fund will provide scholarships to individuals and awards to teachers, school administrators and organizations within the field of childhood literacy, and specifically phonics, to encourage and recognize progress in this area. The UMKC School of Education will recognize recipients at the Urban Education Forum. Berkley is committed to early childhood education and the scientific approaches to the study of literacy, including the use of phonics. “I’ve had a particular focus on the importance of reading skills,” Berkley says. “We have many challenges in reading at grade level here in Kansas City as well as nationally. The School of Education at UMKC does an outstanding job of training teachers for the urban classroom. My motivation for the creation of this endowment is that my late wife, Joan, and I have always believed that the power of education is what provides opportunity for young people.” Recipients of the award will demonstrate long-term dedication to teaching reading to students in kindergarten through third grade, achieve significant progress in student reading levels and make effective use of research-based instruction methodologies of teaching reading including the use of phonics. “Bert has been tireless in his support of literacy for children in early education,” Carolyn Barber, interim dean of the School of Education says. “In creating this award, the UMKC School of Education joins with Bert in recognizing outstanding achievement in the field of early childhood literacy.” Establishing strong reading skills by third grade is a determining factor in long-term academic success. “An abundance of research has affirmed the critical importance of early reading achievement,” Nora Peterman, assistant professor of language and literacy, says. “Third-grade reading proficiency is one of the most powerful predictors of a child's continued academic success and of graduating from high school. Educational equity can only be realized when all students have access to excellent, effective literacy instruction in schools.” Berkley is a previous recipient of the Hugh J. Zimmer Award for Excellence in Urban Education. The award recognizes urban educators and urban education supporters from the region who are following the example of passion and commitment to urban young people and their communities set by former UMKC Trustee and UMKC Foundation board member Hugh Zimmer. The Zimmer Award is also announced at the Urban Education Forum. “We are fortunate that the UMKC School of Education has such a stalwart supporter in Bert Berkley,” Mauli Agrawal, chancellor of UMKC says. “His impact on the quality of education in Kansas City is immeasurable. We are honored that he has established this critically important award at UMKC.” A former chair of the UMKC Board of Trustees and recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal, Berkley is the founder of the Local Investment Commission (LINC) , which has nothing to do with stocks and bonds, but everything to do with investing in children and families. LINC provides social services to those in need, including thousands of children. He is a decorated veteran of World War II and Korea, graduated from both Duke University and Harvard Business School and served on many local and national boards. Aug 20, 2021

  • Mental Health on Campus: University Counselors Seeing Fewer Clients, But More Often

    Flatland interviews Arnold Abels
    Arnold Abels, Ph.D., director and clinical coordinator of the UMKC Counseling Center, was interviewed. He said a decrease in clients at UMKC is partially due to licensing that only allows them to serve residents of Missouri or Kansas. Read the full article. Aug 19, 2021

  • Kangaroo Pantry Steps Up to Meet Increased Need

    The pantry ensures no Roo goes without, especially during the pandemic
    The UMKC Kangaroo Pantry has expanded its reach to help more Roos in need as the pandemic has left more hungry. During the 2019-2020 school year, the pantry distributed 9,873 pounds of food. Last school year, their output more than doubled, as they distributed 22,140 pounds. "This is different than anything we've seen. We're seeing more students than we have probably seen in a very long time," Taylor Blackmon, basic needs coordinator said. The pantry has been able to meet the increased need through things like donations and partnerships with companies and organizations such as Hiland Dairy, Whole Foods and Harvesters Community Food Network. Anthony Maly, senior program manager, said financial donations and partnerships have been extremely important to the pantry over the last couple of years. "We really couldn't operate without that financial assistance," Maly said. Opened in 2015, the Kangaroo Pantry provides food assistance for all Roos in need, including students, faculty and staff. Because of donations, within the last year the pantry has seen some new additions, like a refrigerator and freezer that houses fresh produce, meats and free Hiland Dairy products. The pantry has also expanded its offerings to include items such as feminine hygiene products, dog food and baby formula. "We believe that no Roos should go without, and that includes hygiene products, laundry detergent, whatever students, faculty or staff might need to meet their most basic needs. We want to make sure that we can provide that," Maly said. How to receive assistance from the Kangaroo Food Pantry: If you are a UMKC student, faculty or staff member who needs assistance, bring your university ID to the pantry to shop during the pantry's open house hours. Masks or face coverings are required regardless of vaccination status. All Roos are eligible to pick roughly 20 food items per week, but fresh produce does not count toward those 20 items.  While the pantry does place a limit on items, Blackmon said they are willing to work with those who may have increased need for additional items. "We do have some people who are utilizing this service that are shopping for their families and not just going back to their dorm rooms. In those cases, especially if there are children involved, your items won't be counted," Blackmon said. "We believe that no Roos should go without." — Anthony Maly Locations and hours: The Kangaroo Food Pantry's main location can be found at 4825 Troost, Room 103. It's open Tuesday 1:30-5:30 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday 1-5 p.m. and Sunday 3-6 p.m. If you are unable to make any of those hours, Blackmon said appointments can be set up. The main location features a "full client choice model" which means individuals can walk the aisles and 'shop' for the items they want, instead of simply picking up pre-packaged bags of items. In addition to the main campus, and due to increased need, the Kangaroo Food Pantry has also launched two satellite locations. One is in the Health Science District, on the first floor (Room 1-402) of the School of Medicine. It's open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. for students to pick up pre-packaged bags of items. The second satellite pantry is in the UMKC Student Union on the 2nd floor near Jazzman's. The pantry is "shelf-style," meaning students walking by can quickly grab whatever they like without having to "check out," or pre-order. Blackmon said all of the locations are meant to encourage everyone to take advantage of the resources the Kangaroo Food Pantry offers. "This is here for you. There is no stigma here," Blackmon said. How to support the Kangaroo Food Pantry: While the pantry does accept donated non-perishable food, monetary donations are encouraged, as the pantry can stretch a dollar further through partnerships than the average grocery store shopper. If you would like to make a financial contribution, click here. Those interested in volunteering to work at the pantry can sign up here. Another way to support the Kangaroo Pantry is to participate in the upcoming UMKC Virtual 5K which runs from Sept. 25- October 3. Registration is $25 and all proceeds support the pantry. Aug 18, 2021

  • As COVID Booster Shots Become Available, Here’s What Kansas And Missouri Residents Should Know

    Mary Anne Jackson shares insights with media
    Real-world studies that show declines in immunity among vaccinated people make clear the need for additional protection, according to Mary Anne Jackson, infectious disease specialist and dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. Read the article. More news coverage for Mary Anne Jackson Kansas City Health Experts Question Claims In Northland Parents' Lawsuit Over Mask Mandates - KCUR Vaccinated And Confused In Kansas City? How To Decide Whether An Activity Is Safe - KCUR   Aug 18, 2021

  • UMKC Professor Calls on Community to Help Understand Climate Change Effects

    Volunteers from across the metro helped collect data for a national research project
    Dozens of volunteers took their marks across Kansas City on a hot, August day. Their mission: Take an hour-long drive to find out more about how heat is distributed throughout the city. Kansas City is one of about a dozen cities taking part in a nationwide research project funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The goal is to create a map indicating where there are pockets of land that are warmer than surrounding areas. Researchers call these areas urban heat islands. UMKC Earth and Environmental Sciences professor Fengpeng Sun, Ph.D. is leading the Kansas City cohort of the experiment. He said while most people are familiar with how greenhouse gas emissions contribute to global warming, they should also be aware of how land use and land cover change has impacted temperatures. “You think about the Kansas City area compared to 30 years ago. We have more buildings. We have more concrete and more asphalt, we have less trees, less soil,” said Sun. “We want to utilize this project to showcase how the temperature has been distributed across our community.” For the study, volunteers mount a sensor on their cars, which records the air temperature, air humidity and GPS location every second. Then they drive an 80-square-mile loop mapped out in advance. After that, the data is sent back to NOAA, which combines it with satellite data to produce a map that shows where the heat islands are located. The volunteers included UMKC students and faculty, community members and employees of UMKC community partners and the city of Kansas City. Amanda Mercier is an environmental science major. After volunteering for environmental projects around the world for several years, she decided to pursue a degree with hopes to make a larger impact. She said she was eager for a chance to work with Sun and to contribute to research. “As soon as they were letting people back on campus, I think I was one of the first people to sign up for this,” said Mercier. NOAA is expected to return the data in about two or three months. After that, Sun said the research his team collected can be used in a variety of ways to help mitigate the issue of heat islands in Kansas City, from comparing his data to social impact data to helping inform city government decisions. “They are the policy makers. Hopefully my voice, the results that we get, can be heard by them,” said Sun. “It’s very important for them to develop some kind of adaptation strategy and also mitigation strategy. Make sure that your city, that your area is going to be sustainable and, most importantly, it’s going to be resilient enough in a warming world.” It could also help project partner and local non-profit Bridging the Gap with its Master Urban Forest Plan that the city adopted in 2020. “We will eventually be able to see, through this data, where we might want to concentrate more of our tree planting efforts,” said Kristin Riott, the non-profit’s executive director. Most importantly, Sun said, he wants the community to be engaged and to see the results. It is why he invited community volunteers to help collect the data. He even arranged the routes to go by recognizable Kansas City landmarks so that once the results from the research were published, they would be more relatable to the public. “It can give people more of an impression about the data,” said Sun. “Climate change is not something really far away from us. It’s happening. It’s happening in our neighborhood. And we know that we are experiencing more and more heat days, and this is exactly what we want to convey to people. It can happen anywhere. The impact could be different, but it can happen everywhere.”   The data collection led by Sun came just days before the United Nations released an urgent report warning that climate change is widespread, rapid and intensifying; and exactly a week before NOAA announced new data showing July 2021 as the hottest month ever recorded on earth. “We all need to do this together, we’re running out of time,” said Mercier. Aug 16, 2021

  • Hunting for Hot Spots in Kansas City’s Climate

    Fengpeng Sun's research is the focus of media coverage
    The project in this article is coordinated by Fengpeng Sun, a climate scientist and assistant professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The project gathered tens of thousands of data points in one day. The Kansas City effort is part of a larger nationwide campaign to map urban pockets where temperatures can be nearly 10 degrees higher than outlying areas. Hunting for Hot Spots in Kansas City’s Climate - Flatland City Dwellers Swelter In Heat Islands as High Temps Hit Neighborhoods Unequally - National Catholic Reporter  Kansas City Suffers from Severe Urban Heat. Research Now Underway Might Help Leaders Address It. - Kansas Reflector Aug 13, 2021

  • Investigating Criminal Justice Careers

    Students work with community in new field exploration course
    Field experience in the community in your chosen profession is a hallmark of a UMKC education. Thus summer, criminal justice and criminology students worked in a wide range of outreach programs connected to the justice system. Each week brought them to a different community service in the Kansas City area, including law enforcement outreach, addiction recovery and underserved youth, where they could see first-hand how their careers could make an impact. This unique field exploration course was spearheaded by professor and internship coordinator Misty Campbell. “I wanted to provide an opportunity for students to see what everyday tasks are for those working within the justice system and the various roles one can play within different positions,” Campbell said. “Students were able to engage with a fundraising event, community policing, data collection, strategic planning, observe a facilitated training on trauma and learn about the core tenants of a multi-service agency. My goal was to provide a deeper exploration of careers and professional tasks associated within the diversity of justice-oriented professions.” Psychology, criminal justice and honors program student Leah Maass completed the course with a better idea on where she wanted her career to go. “I knew I wanted to work as a paralegal but after spending time at each site, I realized I could also explore a different route while still working with legislation,” Maass said. “This class was an amazing opportunity to immerse myself in the community.”  Leah Maass (second from left) and Jahvon Parker (fourth from left) with their classmates on site at Synergy Criminal justice student Jahvon Parker is ready to graduate at the end of this next semester. The course hasn’t altered his career plans, but he had other reasons to participate. “I knew Misty was a great teacher, so I had to enroll,” Parker said. “I learned a lot of valuable lessons that will benefit me throughout my entire life. It was so real and humbling.” The course served as a true win-win situation: students got first-hand experiences to serve them in their lives and careers and community members benefitted from the students’ work as well. “My hope is that our course showcased to our community partners the various levels of engagement and support our students, and the department, can provide them,” Campbell said. “I also wanted to encourage students to think about how they can support agencies with volunteer and internship roles they’ve not considered before. Our partners are doing phenomenal work, and I want them to feel the tremendous value and respect we hold for them. Part of that, to me, is about showing up and asking how we can serve with them.” Learn more about the criminal justice and criminology department, and the courses they offer, on their website. Aug 12, 2021

  • Ken Novak Comments on KC Homicides

    Novak tells Toriano Porter that Kansas City is on pace to ‘be one of the deadliest’
    Toriano Porter, Kansas City Star reporter, talked to Ken Novak, a professor of criminal justice and criminology at UMKC, for this column. Read the full article. (subscription required) Aug 12, 2021

  • KCUR: New Jackson County Jail Will Push Out Over 100 Mobile Home Residents

    Associate Professor Jacob Wagner weighs in
    Mobile home parks are difficult to find in Kansas City. University of Missouri-Kansas City Associate Professor Jacob Wagner says mobile home parks make up just around 1% of living spaces in the city. Wagner, who teaches Urban Planning and Design, says that mobile homeowners stand to lose a lot in this deal. Read more from KCUR. Aug 12, 2021

  • Two Conservatory Students Highlighted

    The Independent covers upcoming music composition contest
    UMKC Conservatory doctoral student Yunfei Li is among the six Kansas City performing artists selected this summer as winners of the Charlotte Street Foundation’s first annual New Music Composition Competition. Each will produce a brand-new work to be performed by the locally-based Ensemble Mother Russia Industries at a concert on Oct. 2. Tim Harte, the first UMKC Conservatory student admitted with the computer as his “instrument,” formed Ensemble Mother Russia Industries in 2008 as a non-traditional performance ensemble. The Foundation chose Harte to spearhead the process and the performance. Read more. Aug 12, 2021

  • Teen Vogue Interviews UMKC Student

    Mahreen Ansari explains why College Democrats of Missouri cut ties with College Democrats of America
    Mahreen Ansari, University of Missouri-Kansas City student and president of the UMKC College Democrats, was interviewed. She also served as communications director of the College Democrats of Missouri. Read more. Aug 11, 2021

  • The Return of Study Abroad

    Chronicle of Higher Education interviews UMKC Honors student Nikita Joshi
    UMKC Honors student Nikita Joshi received the 2021 Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship, a competitive award for a diverse group of student leaders to attend a four-week summer study abroad program focused on leadership, intercultural communication and social justice. She was part of the group of students at Queen’s University Belfast who were interviewed for this story. Read the full article. Aug 11, 2021

  • What a Department of Justice Investigation Would Mean for the Kansas City Police Department

    The Kansas City Beacon interviews Ken Novak
    Ken Novak, a professor of criminal justice and criminology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said investigations will likely pick up speed under the Biden administration. Read the full article. KCUR picked this story up on Aug. 18. Aug 11, 2021

  • Prizes Now Available as Vaccination Incentives

    Students, employees can win free parking, $500 gift cards
    UMKC is now offering a series of prize drawings as an incentive for students, faculty and staff to become vaccinated against COVID-19. Prizes include free annual parking passes and $500 Visa gift cards. Separate drawings will be conducted for students and employees. To be eligible for the drawings, students and employees must upload an image of their vaccination card to a UMKC database. Students can upload their images by signing in to Pathway. Employees should use the vaccine uploader link available through MyHR. Even if you have previously uploaded vaccination information elsewhere, you must use these links to be eligible for the drawings. Two student drawings and two employee drawings have been scheduled. Each of the four drawings will offer 10 free annual parking passes and 10 $500 Visa gift cards. The first student and employee drawings will take place Sept. 1, and the second pair of drawings on Oct. 15. To be eligible for the first drawing, you must upload your vaccination card before Sept. 1. Those who upload vaccination cards between Sept. 1 and Oct. 15 will be eligible for the second drawing. Aug 10, 2021

  • Vaccinations Required in Health Care Settings

    Faculty, staff, volunteers and students included
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City is now requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all faculty, staff and students who work in clinical settings and have direct contact with patients as part of their UMKC work or training. Students and employees must meet the requirement by Oct. 1, according to a campus letter sent August 10. UMKC students, faculty and staff play a significant role in providing healthcare to greater Kansas City and the state of Missouri. The requirement affects faculty, staff, volunteers and students of the schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Pharmacy and Nursing and Health Studies. In addition, the requirement applies to faculty and students in masters and doctoral training programs in Psychology, Counseling, Counseling Psychology and the School of Social Work engaged in external field education and clinical practica or clinical intervention studies. UMKC faculty, staff, volunteers, and students with patient contact at the University Health Center, UMKC Counseling Center and the Community Counseling and Assessment Clinics are also subject to the requirement. UMKC officials said the vaccination requirement is necessary because COVID has entered a new phase, citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisories that the Delta variant spreads more easily and quickly than other variants, driving higher infection and death rates and putting significant strain on healthcare resources. The university is offering students and employees the opportunity to apply for medical or religious exemptions to the requirement. For all other UMKC students, employees and visitors, masks will continue to be required in classrooms, laboratories, libraries, meeting rooms and other public indoor settings regardless of vaccination status. Individuals who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 will continue to be required to wear masks at all times while on campus, indoors or outdoors. Aug 10, 2021

  • Will A Robot Be Taking Your Job?

    You might be safe if you have the right skills, according to new Bloch School research.
    Will a robot be replacing you at your job? It will depend on what skills you have, according to Bryan Hong, professor of entrepreneurship and management at the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management.  According to new research conducted by Hong and his coauthors, adding robots to an enterprise increases demand for jobs requiring a bachelor's degree or higher, as well as jobs requiring no postsecondary education. But those with a vocational education or a community college education, as well as managerial roles, weren't so lucky. This conclusion was reached after studying five years of data on businesses in the Canadian economy. Their research is among the first of its kind to show how robots are changing employment, the structure of organizations and other aspects of the workplace. "A lot of people are already getting the sense that this is a new trend, and our data shows that investments in robotics are really taking off," Hong said. "This is a trend that's only going to continue." Hong breaks down the research for us on what it means and how it will affect the future of employment. The main question is, are robots taking our jobs? That's a tough question to answer with a simple 'yes' or 'no.' It's complicated. What we found is there are very different answers depending on who you are inside the company when the robots come in. If you are someone with a bachelor's degree or above, which is one measure of workers with relatively high skills, we see an increase in the number of employees. There's also an increase in what we might call "unskilled" employees or those who have no postsecondary education, doing roles that require very little training. But if you are in a class of jobs that require a vocational degree, like tradespeople who have gone to a two-year college or gotten a certificate, these jobs are being eliminated by the robots. We also see a significant decline in managers. Let's start with the groups that are experiencing increases in employment. Why is there an increase in the group with college degrees and "unskilled workers"? When you buy robots, you need people who have the skills to work with them. For example, robots may have to programmed or you might need to do a lot more design work if robots are producing many different types of products than the factory used to produce. That requires people with the skills to do those things. The increase in unskilled workers is a different story. It turns out that robots aren't good at doing all physical labor tasks — the technology has its limitations. So for these types of tasks, such as loading trucks with inventory, humans are still needed because the robots can't do them well. But these aren't jobs that require a lot of education or training and are also not likely to pay high wages. Why are workers with a community college or vocational education being negatively impacted? The type of work robots are capable of is often what humans with vocational degrees do. For example, it could be welding a passenger door onto the body of a car. Now imagine a robotic arm that will repeatedly do that task, over and over again. That robot can do that same task flawlessly thousands of times a day. Robots can do that, and they don't get tired. They also don't unionize and don't raise the same safety issues that using humans might. So, you can see why a company would look at that and think it's compelling. If I am one of those workers, should I be nervous about these findings? Yes, it's a cause for concern. The issue is that robots increasingly do what these workers can do, and in many cases, do it better. This is also part of a larger story many people have already heard, but not about robots specifically. Many people who lose these jobs are unlikely to move on to higher-paying jobs so often the best-case scenario is that their wages will decline if they are able to find a new job. This raises a much broader set of questions about the increasing inequality we see in our society, and robots may at least be partly responsible for it. What's going on with managers? As of today, robots don't manage people. So we think the reason we see fewer managers speaks to the question of 'what do managers really do.' When we think of managers in companies, we usually think of someone who supervises workers every day. They keep an eye on things and make sure that employees are getting the work done. If you imagine a manager on a factory floor, maybe they also deal with whatever problems come up each day. Now, if we replace over half of the employees with robots on an assembly line, do you need as many managers to make sure that people are doing their jobs? Probably not. But it's also not this simple. One could imagine that the increase in jobs requiring at least a bachelor's degree and unskilled jobs would require more managers to oversee them, but it's clear that even if that is true, the total need for managers still decreases. That might suggest that managing each type of worker requires a different type of management. But that's something that needs more research for us to understand better. What does this mean for the future of some of these jobs? Companies invest in technology because it improves their profitability. If it is more profitable to use robots instead of humans for certain tasks, companies will ultimately move in that direction. If we look at the results of our story, it's clear there are some types of workers who will be negatively affected. We need to think about how to address that as a society. Aug 10, 2021

  • Grappling With Dark Agonies Amid Natural Beauty During Missouri’s Bicentennial

    Flatland interviews UMKC History professor
    “Missouri was born in the midst of controversy about slavery and its extension into the West,” said Diane Mutti Burke, a professor of History at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, who served as a consultant on, “Struggle for Statehood,” a traveling exhibit that is scheduled to be installed in Lee’s Summit in September. Read the full article. Mutti Burke was also interviewed by KCUR about Missouri's Bicentennial. Aug 10, 2021

  • How To Start a Small Business in Kansas City

    Kansas City Star highlights UMKC Innovation Center’s entrepreneur hotline
    From April to October, the University of Missouri-Kansas City Innovation Center’s entrepreneur hotline had a 176% increase in calls asking for assistance, according to the UMKC Innovation Center Impact Report. Of those calls, the center reported a 367% increase in the number of people who reported starting a business. Read the full article. (subscription required) Aug 10, 2021

  • Urban Heat Island Research Aims To Spotlight Disparities and Solutions

    Energy News Network features Fengpeng Sun's research
    A coalition of partners led by University of Missouri-Kansas City researcher Fengpeng Sun gathered the measurements and will now create a map combining tens of thousands of temperature and humidity measurements with a satellite map, allowing them to quickly learn the conditions in a given location. Read the full article. Aug 09, 2021

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

    The university will work hand-in-hand will Auburn University, as well as other colleges across the country, to research ways to increase STEM degre...
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City will backbone a $10 million research effort from the National Science Foundation, or NSF, to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, education among students with disabilities. Auburn University will lead the five-year project while UMKC will "backbone," or guide vision, strategy, support aligned activities, establish shared measurement practices and support the implementation of research, according to the NSF. As the backbone, UMKC will host the portal and website for the project, as well as lead data collection. Alexis Petri, Ed.D., senior director of faculty support at UMKC, said she has already begun working with Overtoun Jenda, Ph.D., whose office at Auburn will be chairing the initiative, to delineate what aspects of the project will be led by UMKC and which by Auburn.  The project's funding will be used to conduct research related to enhancing workforce development opportunities for people with disabilities. Students involved in the research will receive benefits including peer and faculty mentoring, research opportunities and financial support to track which efforts work best to increase the number of students with disabilities entering college and completing a degree in a STEM-related field. Overall, the research project will target three objectives, two focused on students and the other on institutions: Increase the number of students with disabilities completing degrees in STEM. Facilitate the transition of students with disabilities from degree completion into the STEM workforce. Enhance communication among institutions of higher education, industry, government and local communities. The project will encompass 27 universities, with five "hub-leading institutions." Those institutions include UMKC (Midwest Hub), Northern Arizona University (Mountain Hub), Ohio State University (Northeastern Hub), the University of Hawaii-Manoa (Islands Hub) and the University of Washington (West Coast Hub).  The Midwest Hub will initially consist of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Little Priest Tribal College and Wichita State. At least five other colleges and universities are slated to be added within the next year, Petri said. In addition to being the backbone of the organization, UMKC will also undertake a research project with the help of $2.4 million of the grant, which will be distributed over the course of the next five years. UMKC's research will look at student success across critical junctures such as access, entry, progress, completion and transition.  "The idea is to help students have momentum moving across critical junctures like from graduation to employment. Those are times when students are likely to face challenges or barriers to their goals," Petri said. "Knowledge gleaned from the study will be available to (other research institutions) for mid-course adjustments and ultimately to discover how well-known interventions like mentoring, applied in combination with other success programs, lead to innovations that improve degree completion for students with disabilities STEM majors." Research chairs at UMKC will include Jacob Marszalek, Ph.D., professor and Director of Applied Cognitive Brain and Brain Science, Yugyung Lee, Ph.D., professor of computer science, Fengpeng Sun, Ph.D., professor and climate scientist, and Ye Wang, Ph.D., communications professor. The grant began on Aug. 1 and will last until July 31, 2026. Research is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2022. The award is part of the NSF INCLUDES initiative which invests in programs that address diversity, inclusion and participation challenges in STEM at a national scale. The initiative is one of five INCLUDES awards given by the NSF this year. Aug 06, 2021

  • Program Aims To Increase Diversity in KC Urban Education

    Dos Mundos highlights UMKC Institute for Urban Education
    A program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Education is working to increase the number of diverse and “exemplary” teachers in urban schools across the Kansas City area. Called the Institute for Urban Education, the cohort model program prepares students to teach in Kansas City urban schools. Read the full article. Aug 05, 2021

  • Bloch Professor Breaks Down Clutter and How it Accumulates

    Jacqueline Rifkin explains the ordinary in the extraordinary
    Have you ever wondered why you have so many notebooks you’ve never used? Or candles you’ve never lit? Or clothes that you don’t wear? And you can’t seem to part with any of these items?   This phenomenon is known as clutter, an overabundance of possessions. Jacqueline Rifkin, assistant professor at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management, asked herself how this accumulation begins in the first place. “I had a t-shirt that I had bought at a standard retail chain,” Rifkin said. “But in my mind I would wear it on a date night. I would wear it on a job interview. I would wear it to a rehearsal dinner. It was an ordinary t-shirt, but it became this thing that I needed to protect for the perfect occasion—just because I hadn’t worn it previously. I talked to different people, and this resonated with them, too. They said ‘I have a bottle of wine from Trader Joe's, but I've just never opened it. It's been years,’ or ‘I have this cologne that I got for free as an add-on with another purchase, but I haven't touched it because nothing seems special enough.’” Rifkin had this same conversation with her co-author, Jonah Berger of the University of Pennsylvania, and they decided to get to the bottom of why we avoid using ordinary things, treating them as if they are too special to use. Through the six studies, the two found that forgoing using an item makes it seem more special, particularly when someone believes that they were waiting for a later occasion. As the item starts to feel more special, we want to use it less. As time goes on without the item being used, specialness increases further, which leads to even less usage—which Rifkin calls a “specialness spiral.” The item becomes less likely to be used in ordinary occasions, and more likely to be saved for a narrower set of extraordinary occasions. While that may seem harmless, Rifkin shares how holding onto these items and generating clutter can become a maladaptive behavior. “There's been plenty of research suggesting that clutter can be bad for our well-being,” Rifkin said. “It can mess with our ability to get work done. It can mess with our social relationships, and that can cause chronic stress. When it comes to that bottle of wine or the t-shirt, that special situation you are waiting for may never come. Worst case scenario is saving that bottle of wine for so long, it turns into vinegar, or saving the shirt for so long, it goes out of style. You don't even get to enjoy it.” Fortunately, there is a way out. Rifkin suggests the easiest is this: use your stuff.  “One thing that we talked about is pre-committing to usage occasions,” Rifkin said. “If I buy a nice t-shirt, I’ll tell myself ‘I'm going to wear it this weekend.’ Setting a specific occasion or a ‘first possible occasion’ kind of commitment can break the specialness spiral. Hopefully, we’re harnessing the knowledge that can help us avoid clutter accumulation, avoid wasting time and money on possessions, and allow ourselves to actually use these things. Wearing that shirt after a few iterations of deciding not to can feel really good.” Learn more about Rifkin’s findings on how clutter accumulates by reading her article in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research. Aug 04, 2021

  • First Gen UMKC Student Doubles Down

    Krithika Selvarajoo takes challenges in stride
    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. Krithika Selvarajoo (Krit)Anticipated graduation year: 2021UMKC degree program: B.A. in English and Chemistry; Honors ProgramHometown: Singapore   Why did you choose UMKC? Coming from a city, I knew I wanted a college experience where I would be able to explore a new city during my down time. I thought Kansas City was the perfect place for me to have that experience and smoothly transition to college. Also, I loved the diversity that UMKC offers and knew it would provide me with endless opportunities to meet new people. Why did you choose your field of study? I've always been passionate about both the arts and sciences, which led me to pursue degrees in English and chemistry. Instead of being dichotomies, I knew the fields of English and chemistry would complement, if not overlap, each other and provide me with an education that would help me continue to develop into a well-rounded individual. What are the benefits of the program? Both degrees have allowed me to explore the intersection between science and literature while developing skills that pertain to both of those fields. For example, I've learned the importance of paying close attention to details with both lab data and literary prose. How has your college program inspired you? I've been inspired to pave my own path for my future self. I was initially hesitant on majoring in two subjects. But after my first semester as a double major student, I realized I have never been happier. From that moment, I knew the importance of paving my own path. Everyone's journey is different in their own way. Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself? I've learned that stepping out of your comfort zone is important to grow as an individual. During my sophomore year, none of the student organizations at the time caught my interest. Rather than not being involved, I decided to start a Her Campus chapter here at UMKC. It was out of my comfort zone, especially since I had to build an organization from the ground up and go through various interviews and edit tests with Her Campus Media, but I am glad I took a leap of faith. Creating a community that empowers women on campus while providing them an outlet to express their voices has been such a fulfilling experience. It allows me to not only grow as a leader, but as an individual as well. "My experience at UMKC significantly improved when I started to put myself out there and meet new people." — Krit Selvarajoo Are you a first-generation college student? If so, what does that mean to you? Yes, it is something I am proud of. Being the first one in my family to attend college comes with its own challenges. It can be isolating not having someone in my family to talk to about these challenges, but that's what friends are for! Who/What do you admire most at UMKC and why? I love the diversity that UMKC offers. Different experiences and backgrounds add so much more life to campus, and I feel like I always end up learning something new when I meet someone. Do you have any scholarships? What do they mean to you? Yes, I was nominated by the English Department to receive the Chancellor's Non-Resident Award, which covers a portion of my tuition. Receiving this award motivated me to do better and make not just myself proud, but the English Department proud as well. This summer, I also received the Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunity (SUROP) Award, and I received a tuition award and funding for the research I currently conduct with Dr. [Mohammad] Rafiee. The SUROP grant allowed me to gain immense research experience, particularly related to electrochemistry, and I know that the skills I've learned will be useful in the future. What other extracurricular activities are you involved in at UMKC? As campus correspondent for Her Campus at UMKC, I get to oversee the chapter and write and edit articles. This has provided me a creative outlet during stressful semesters. I contribute to bi-weekly newsletters for Students for Justice, where I serve as the current events chair. I was Press Secretary for the Student Government Association which significantly enhanced my college experience. "Both my degrees have allowed me to explore the intersection between science and literature while developing skills pertaining to both of those fields."  Creating content such as what classes to take at UMKC to educate oneself on BIPOC culture has taught me the importance of social advocacy. Writing various student newsletters, some with campus updates,  has deepened my love for UMKC and the opportunities it offers to all students. I have worked at the Writing Studio as a consultant for over two years, which has allowed me to meet a diverse group of students. Since writing consists of elements of vulnerability, I ensure that I create a safe space for writers by establishing connections with them. Establishing relationships with students as I watch them grow as writers and individuals has been the most fulfilling part of the job. What do you hope to take from your experiences at UMKC into your professional career? The importance of establishing relationships and connecting with new people. My experience at UMKC significantly improved when I started to put myself out there and meet new people. There's always something to learn about each person you meet. I hope my professional career provides me with the platform to build relationships with others. Aug 04, 2021

  • UMKC Alum Courtney Frerichs Becomes Second U.S. Woman To Medal in Olympic Steeplechase

    Local, national media celebrate Courtney Frerichs
    Courtney Frerichs, UMKC alumna, won silver in the Olympic women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase final Wednesday at the Japan National Stadium in Tokyo, finishing in a season-best 9 minutes, 4.79 seconds to become just the second American woman to finish on the podium in the event at the Games. This story was covered by The Kansas City, Star (subscription required), KMBC, KSHB, KCUR and Fox4KC. More headlines: Why Olympic Silver Medalist Courtney Frerichs Felt She Won Even Before Starting Race - The Kansas City Star, picked up by Yahoo News. Aug 04, 2021

  • Prescription for Faulty Communication in Operating Rooms: Be Explicit, Not Polite

    UMKC professor's research is featured
    Research by a University of Kansas linguist and University of Missouri-Kansas City physicians pointed to the potential medical harm of ambiguous communication in operating rooms that also complicated the training of surgeons. “We make the point in the paper that surgery is too precise to not use precise language,” said Gary Sutkin, a professor at the UMKC School of Medicine. Read more. This story was picked up by The Missouri Independent. Aug 04, 2021

  • KCUR And Kansas News Service Partners Win More Than A Dozen 2021 KAB Awards

    KCUR reporters receive awards
    Reporters from KCUR and across the collaborative Kansas News Service received numerous awards in the 2021 Station Awards for Excellence in Broadcasting, conducted annually by the Kansas Association of Broadcasters. KCUR is a service of the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read the full article. Aug 04, 2021

  • Sherman and Sunderland Gifts Amplify Education Program Success

    Foundation support accelerates Institute for Urban Education growth, progress
    Despite the challenges of the last year, the University of Missouri-Kansas City Institute for Urban Education (IUE) in the School of Education is successfully affecting student success and teacher retention through its programming in urban schools, thanks in part to significant and steady support from major donors. “We have very high expectations and high levels of support for our students,” Jennifer Waddell, Ph. D., director, Institute for Urban Education and Sprint Foundation Endowed Professor in Urban Education says. “Major gifts from the Sherman Family Foundation and the Sunderland Foundation – who also have high expectations in a very positive way – demonstrate their belief in the program, which is very reaffirming.” The Sherman Family Foundation has been a longtime, consistent supporter and advocate of IUE. While there are many organizations that work toward advancing education and bolstering opportunity in underserved communities, Joseph Allen, a director at the foundation, says the IUE meets all the criteria for the Sherman Family Foundation board. “These two donors’ gifts are important because when the boards of the Sherman Family Foundation and the Sunderland Foundation invest in us, it demonstrates a belief in us and the work we are doing.”  — Jennifer Waddell “We have three career educators on our board,” he says. “We know how important classroom teachers are. We are aware of how difficult it is to close the gaps in academic markers and graduation rates for students in the urban core. Hope is often the backbone of philanthropy. The Sherman Foundation board wants to invest in programs that have a certain degree of promise in addition to hope. We want to see that the proposed solution can move the needle.” Allen says Waddell was instrumental in the Sherman Foundation board making their commitment for support. “One thing we knew for sure was that IUE had a strong, dedicated leader in Jennifer.” In addition to program leadership, the long-term research component of the IUE program has been critical to the Sherman Foundation support. “Sometimes we say ‘no’ to people who do great work,” he says. With each opportunity we ask ourselves, ‘Does the organization or project deliver solid preliminary or proven results?’ We like to be able to see data that supports the programming. The IUE research reflects the program’s success.” This success was due in part to the newly minted “Grow Your Own” program, which awards scholarships to high school students in urban areas who are interested in returning to teach in their alma maters. For Fall 2021, IUE awarded 42 new scholarships, despite dramatic national declines in teacher preparation over the last ten years, which were accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, more than 60 aspiring teachers will be part of the IUE in 2021-2022, the largest enrollment in the program’s history. “When we talk to the young people in our ‘Grow Your Own’ program they say they want to be teachers because they want to make a difference,” Waddell says. “Our enrollment is almost double what we thought it would be. We are thrilled to have the Sherman Foundation and the Sunderland Foundation as partners in this success.”  The Sunderland Foundation is a significant UMKC funder, donating more than $15 million for building improvements in the last couple of years. But a change in their guidelines – funding had been restricted to capital expenses - allowed the foundation to support UMKC in different ways. “Working with IUE gives us the opportunity to support needed scholarships for students from the urban core, who will return to the urban core to teach.”  — Kent Sunderland “Our main mission is still construction,” Kent Sunderland, president of the Sunderland Foundation, says. “But as the makeup of our board of directors shifted – six of the nine board members are now millennials – we began looking for ways to make a bigger impact with social justice initiatives.” As Sunderland was looking for opportunities to meet the community’s needs, he contacted Leo Morton, former UMKC Chancellor, and Jerry Reece, UMKC Trustee. “Jerry and Leo are committed to the success of the IUE initiative and outlined the value of the program,” Sunderland says. “Working with the IUE gives us the opportunity to support needed scholarships for students from the urban core, who will return to the urban core to teach. In addition, we were encouraged by the research that supports the program – that students of color in urban schools perform better with teachers of color who understand their environment.” “These two donors’ gifts are important because when the boards of the Sherman Family Foundation and the Sunderland Foundation invest in us, it demonstrates a belief in us and the work we are doing,” Waddell says. “With these gifts, we hear them ask, ’How can we help make this happen because we believe in your program?’” Waddell notes that while national enrollment in teacher preparation is down dramatically – and has been declining over the last ten years – the IUE has met their enrollment goals for the year. “The 2021 class will be the largest in our history,” Waddell says. “If these graduates stay in their positions, that’s success.” Allen says. “Waddell’s teachers are well-prepared and do stay – 90% of the IUE’s graduates are still in the classroom.” Carolyn Barber, interim dean, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation/Missouri Endowed Faculty Chair and professor, recognizes the significance of the Sherman Family Foundation and the Sunderland Foundation gifts. “We are excited and honored by both the financial support and philosophical conviction of the Sherman Family Foundation and the Sunderland Foundation,” Barber says. “Both organizations are pillars of Kansas City’s philanthropic community. Having them in our corner is more than a financial win, it reinforces the credibility of the program and allows us to exponentially expand student opportunity.” Aug 02, 2021

  • Tasty Options Abound On and Near UMKC Campuses

    Find your favorites, from macchiatos to mochi donuts
    Dining options at both the Health Sciences and Volker campuses include on-campus opportunities and plenty of private businesses close by; new purveyors and new offerings offer fresh options for returnees as well as newbies. Volker Campus In the main campus dining hall in the Atterbury Student Success Center on the Volker campus, new executive chef Charles Tibbs will offer an exciting new menu with more diversity and choices daily. The hall serves students on campus meal plans, and is also open to all students, faculty and staff. Something new this year in the Student Union: a rotating pop-up concept offering new cuisine choices every 45-60 days throughout the academic year. First up at the start of the semester will be Impossible and Bodacious Burgers, offering beef burgers as well as plant-based burgers from Impossible™ that are 100% vegan. Every burger is cooked to order, with the freshest toppings and signature sauces. Returning to the Student Union are Baja Fresh Express, Chick-fil-A and Jazzman’s Café. Other returning Volker favorites include Starbucks Café in the Atterbury Student Success Center, the Robot Café in Miller Nichols Library and Einstein Bros. Bagels in Royall Hall. The Smart Market on the bottom floor of Oak Hall allows students with meal plans to use a meal swipe for food items once daily up to $12. The store is open to the public and offers a variety of freshly made salads, sandwiches and snacks as well as pre-packaged and microwaveable foods, household items and sundries. Health Sciences Campus The Hospital Hill Café, on the main floor of the Health Sciences Building, is open for breakfast and lunch and offers a salad bar, sushi and this year is adding rotating hot menu items.  There is also a Subway shop on Charlotte Street in the Health Sciences parking garage building. Off-campus, Volker Area Several longtime Kansas City favorites are within easy reach of the Volker Campus. These include classic Kansas City barbecue from Gates Bar-B-Q, 1325 Emanuel Cleaver II Blvd., a fixture for generations;  Andre’s, 5018 Main St., run by a third generation of Swiss-trained chocolate-makers, known for classic European meals and pastries; Go Chicken Go, 5101 Troost, a local favorite for fried chicken; and The Peanut, a classic ultra-casual bar and grill famous for hot wings and BLT sandwiches. Other options to the east include: Urban Café KC, 5500 Troost, breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch focused on organic, seasonal, healthy cuisine Blackhole Bakery, 5531 Troost, classic French pastries and donuts, including brioche cinnamon rolls and Mochi donuts Fannie’s West African Cuisine, 4105 Troost, unique breakfast items such as rice bread and sardine patties, and classic African lunch and dinner dishes such as Jollof Rice, Fufu, Attieke, Banku and Kenkey Gaels Public House and Sports, 5424 Troost Ave., a sports bar and pub scheduled for a late August-early September opening and promising a “Northwestern European vibe” combining offerings such as Stout Meatballs and German Bierocks with classic fare such as burgers and pizza. To the west, 51st Street offers four options long popular among the campus community: Pizza 51, 5060 Oak St., offering giant slices, plus salads and sandwiches; Kin Lin Chinese restaurant, 314 E. 51st St. (try the pickled vegetable entrees); Crow’s Coffee, 304 E. 51st St., offering fresh pastries and breakfast burritos along with classic coffee drinks; and Whole Foods Market, offering self-serve salad and hot food bars. A few blocks further west lies the South Plaza dining strip along Main Street, extending from 51st Street north to 48th Street. Options along the strip include: Osteria il Centro, dinner-only Italian restaurant with an extensive wine list Minsky’s, pizza eggtc., breakfast and lunch Blu Hwy, a new restaurant offering creative interpretations of classic American cuisine, was scheduled for a mid-August opening Mission Taco Joint Third Street Social, a popular Lee’s Summit restaurant and bar that opened a second location this summer Planet Sub Prime Sushi Spin Neapolitan Pizza Duck and Roll, Hong Kong-style Cantonese food, specializing in Beijing Duck pancakes Banksia, Australian Bakehouse and Café, eclectic menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner items including Australian entrée pies and sausage rolls The Mixx, specializing in unique salads Chipotle Nekter Juice Bar, freshly made juice, smoothies and handcrafted acai bowls Yogurtini, frozen yogurt Stock Hill, a high-end steakhouse   Off-campus, Health Sciences Area Options close to campus include one of the city’s most acclaimed fine-dining restaurants, the Antler Room, 2506 Holmes St., offering a rotating menu of small plates influenced by Mediterranean, East Asian and Midwestern traditions. Right next door is Teocali Mexican Restaurant and Cantina, 2512 Holmes St., a great gathering place with plenty of room indoors and out. Vested Beacon Hill Coffee, 2501 Troost Ave., is known for the 1950s-vintage Airstream camper inside the shop. Jul 30, 2021

  • Summer Internship Program Opens High Schoolers’ Eyes to Pharmacy Research

    Program introduces students to the role pharmacists play in improving people's health and well-being
    Karla Perez stood, bursting with excitement, in one of the UMKC School of Pharmacy’s research laboratories. “I’m wearing a lab coat at 16, which is not something that typical 16-year-olds get to do,” she said. “I’m getting to work in a lab with experienced people and learn from their experience and their backgrounds.” Perez is one of four Kansas City area high school students who participated in a new six-week summer research internship program at the School of Pharmacy. The internship is supported by a Walgreens grant the school received to provide programs for the underserved and underrepresented population of greater Kansas City. Shelly Janasz, director of student affairs, said the ultimate goal of the program is to give the students a basic idea of pharmacy, pharmacy research and drug development, as well as how pharmacists affect people’s health and well-being. The students also learned about the various career paths available to pharmacists, by talking with individuals working in the field. In addition, participants met with current students and staff and learned about the school’s admission requirements. Guided by graduate faculty members, the students learned to apply hands-on laboratory and research methods and protocols to develop a research project. They presented their findings with a poster presentation at the culmination of the program.  High school students Shun’nya Taylor and Ashley Rodriguez work together in a School of Pharmacy research lab. “We wound up with a wonderful group of four students,” Janasz said. “They were very enthusiastic.” Gerald Wyckoff, Ph.D., director of research and graduate studies, said he hopes their experiences will continue to pique their future interests in health professions.  “We’re excited to have such eager students in our labs working on real projects,” he said. “Our hope is that they continue their education in a way that will have an impact, not only on them, but on the health and welfare of folks throughout the region.” Along with Perez, participants Ashley Rodriguez and Shun’nya Taylor are juniors at Allen Village High School. Participant Dana Assaf is a junior at Ruskin High School. All four were paired with a graduate pharmacy faculty member conducting bench research. The program introduced them to working with tools of the trade such as plate readers, a mass spectrometer and different microscopes. They also learned about working in a liquid handling station, as well as computer-based study and research. William Guthiel, Ph.D., a research professor studying antibiotics, said the internship gave the students a taste of the many different aspects of research. “One of the things I want the students to experience is how all the things they’re learning that seem so abstract all work together,” Guthiel said. “This experience shows them how physics ties in with chemistry, how chemistry ties in with biology, how biology ties in with math. All those skills merge with the others and in order to do this kind of research, you really need to have some skills in each of those areas.” Dana Assaf works on a research presentation during a summer internship at the School of Pharmacy. Assaf said she had read about cancer cells in her high school biology class, but the program gave her a much deeper understanding of what she was studying. “Here, I actually worked with the cells and grew the cells in one experiment,” she said. “I had read and heard about using drugs to attack cancer cells but had never seen it before. We made medicine and used the drugs to see the effect they have on cancer. That really stood out because you can take a drug and feel better, but you don’t know what it’s doing to your body. We were actually seeing how it works in your body and what it does.” Perez said that working in a research lab and getting first-hand experience of pharmacy research were experiences she plans to share with her classmates. “When you think of pharmacy, you think of Walgreens,” she said. “You think of your typical community pharmacy and this is nothing like that. This is research into why things are what they are and how they are. I think that was the most fun for me.” Jul 29, 2021

  • Check Out These Attractions Close to the UMKC Volker Campus

    Unique Kansas City experiences just a hop away
    The beauty of UMKC is the small town feel in the heart of the big city. There are a variety of places for Roos to study, relax and play within walking distance of campus. The Harry Wiggins Trolley Track Trail This six-mile trail is only one block west of campus. It follows the route of the city’s original streetcar: The County Club line. Some of the tracks are still visible. You can take a stroll or a bike ride just for the exercise or check out the variety of shops and restaurants along the trail. If you need a bike, you can’t go wrong with Revolve KC. They’re close to campus and do a lot of good work in our community.   Jacob L. Loose Park  Further west on 51st street, Loose Park is as historical as it is beautiful. The land was the site of a major Civil War conflict: the Battle of Westport. One and a half of the 75 acres are dedicated to a rose garden, featuring almost 130 varieties. Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden This beautiful spot, just across Brush Creek, features bronze statues by local artist Tom Corbin and rotating floral displays. It’s open year-round, so you’re sure to see something new every time you visit. Find a moment of peace on one of their many benches or explore the orangery and say hi to the resident cat. Art Course Mini Golf On your way to the Nelson-Atkins Museum, check out the artist-designed mini golf courses located in the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park. Each course is an interpretation of an art piece on display at the museum. The new course this year, inspired by Radcliffe Bailey’s Mound Magician, was made in honor of the 100th anniversary of Negro League Baseball and the Kansas City Monarchs. 18th and Vine District Speaking of Negro League Baseball and Kansas City history, you must check out the 18th and Vine district, close to our Health Sciences campus. You can visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, the American Jazz Museum, grab some delicious BBQ, and listen to some wonderful live music all in one trip. The National Museum of Toys / Miniatures We’d be remiss not to mention this fun experience on campus! The Toy/Miniature museum hosts the world’s largest collection of fine-scale miniatures and one of the largest collections of historic toys available for public viewing. Admission is free for UMKC students, faculty and staff with your school ID. These are just a start, so get on out and see what our great city has to offer. Jul 28, 2021

  • Former UMKC Student Creates Scholarship for Women

    Inspired by her grandmother, Bobbie Jasmer created a legacy of learning
    Carol “Bobbie” Jasmer learned to appreciate education and philanthropy at the knee of her grandmother, Francesca Esacamilla. Esacamilla sparked Jasmer’s intellectual curiosity and her generosity. As a young woman Esacamilla had moved from Mexico to San Antonio, Texas with her husband and started a successful bakery. “My abuelita was such an inspiration,” Jasmer says using the Spanish word for grandmother. “She was a grand and generous lady. She donated day old bread from her bakery and gave it to the convent, orphanages and schools. She was so tiny - 4 feet 11 inches – that she had to sit on pillows when she drove, so she could see out the car window.” To honor her, Jasmer has made a planned gift to establish the Las Hermanas Mexicanas Scholarship fund for women students at UMKC, with a preference for students with an interest in Mexican history or culture. Jasmer wants her grandmother to be remembered and the scholarship will be a powerful tribute. “She was very brave and gutsy,” Jasmer says of her mother’s mother. “She had eight children, two of whom died, and thirty grandchildren. Her family was her life.” "The faculty at the university were the most beautiful and gracious souls. They demanded the best of me and expanded my mind.”  — Bobbie Jasmer Jasmer remembers “Tita” – as her grandchildren called her – as brave and compassionate, with an ability to see people beyond the surface. She encouraged her grandchildren to surround themselves with people who knew where they were going.  Jasmer found a community of people at UMKC who fit her grandmother’s requirements, and she is grateful for the university’s influence. "The faculty at the university were the most beautiful and gracious souls,” Jasmer says. “They demanded the best of me and expanded my mind.” Jasmer wanted to honor her experience at UMKC and further the opportunity for education through a scholarship for women students. Shelly Doucet, UMKC Foundation senior director of development, recognizes the significance of Jasmer’s gift, both as a legacy and as an opportunity for future students. “We’re honored that Bobbie would entrust us with her gift in honor of her experience at UMKC and her grandmother’s memory,” Doucet says. “We’re certain the future scholarship recipients will be grateful for her foresight and thoughtful planning.” Jasmer sees this as a continuation of her grandmother’s legacy. “I believe you receive when you give,” she says. “I want to help cultivate a pearl out of grain of sand.” Jul 28, 2021

  • 5 Top Spots to Hang Out on the UMKC Campus

    Students and alumni share their favorites
    Whether it’s to study, relax or catch up with friends, students need a good place to hang out. Fortunately, UMKC has no shortage of good spots. Whether you need quiet, food or awe-inspiring views, these students and alumni can give you the lowdown on their favorite places on campus! 1. Student Union Rooftop “I like the Student Union. There is a great view of the campus and it's a nice place to relax and people watch between classes.” - Alea Roberts (Health Sciences, ’22) “The Student Union for studying, food and the rooftop viewing of KC.” - Anna Lillig (Health Sciences, ’19)  2. Student Union Offices “I spend a lot of time in the Student Union. I either go to our organization space to study or to the Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) office just to hang out!” - Jonny Gutierrez (History, ’19) “The Multicultural Student Association office. It’s a fun place to hang out with a diverse group of interesting people.” - Brandon Henderson (Political Science, ’21)   3. School of Dentistry Student Commons “The UMKC School of Dentistry sign is an iconic spot to take photos with your classmates on milestone days like your first day of school, last day of class or white coat ceremony.” - Molly Petrie (Doctor of Dental Surgery, ’22)  4. Linda Hall Library Grounds “By the Linda Hall Library. I walk through this area when I’m leaving the Student Union and heading to the quad. I love the big trees and the benches. It’s very peaceful over there, which can be hard to find sometimes.” - Kiarra Brown-Edwards (Communication Studies, ’19) 5. Miller Nichols Library and Learning Center “I love a good study session on the first floor of the Miller Nichols Library. Easy printing, access to the Robot cafe, relatively quiet and I usually bump into a friend or two!” - Bryce Miller (Master's in Health Professions Education, ’20) Jul 27, 2021

  • New UMKC Scholarship to Help Female Students Explore STEM Fields

    The scholarship will provide support for women pursuing careers in science, computing
    A UMKC alumnus and his wife have established a new scholarship to support female students studying computing or engineering. Nick and Soumya Simha have established "The Nick and Soumy Scholarship" to support women looking to pursue a degree in STEM-related fields at UMKC. "We both believe that education is a gateway to a brighter future," Nick Simha said. "But the issue was, how do we help that along? What can we do?" The engineering field is flooded with men, Simha said, and encouraging more women to get involved in STEM fields is beneficial for everyone. "A lot of products are designed by men for women," he said. "If we get more women into the field, they can actually make things more accessible. I can see so many benefits to getting more women into engineering." Souyma Simha said the two have always encouraged their own teenage daughter to pursue an interest in STEM. "We wanted to do whatever we could to extend some of that support," she said. The couple was inspired to establish the scholarship after meeting Kevin Truman, Dean of the School of Computing and Engineering, and "seeing the new energy he brings." "We'd been donating a little amount of the university every year, but when I saw him I thought, 'this is somebody who is going to put this money to good use,'" Simha said.  Truman said he is "so grateful to Nick and Soumya for their donation." "Their support is deeply appreciated by me and the School of Computing and Engineering. Their passion to help young women pursue their dreams, which is demonstrated through this scholarship, is evident. At the UMKC SCE, we are committed to recruiting and retaining talented female students. This scholarship will help guarantee those gifted, hardworking female students have the financial resources they need to complete their STEM education," Truman said. After graduating with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering in India, Nick began looking for schools to pursue a master's degree in the United States. That search led him to UMKC in 1991. The Simha family. "I looked at a lot of schools but one of the things that attracted me to UMKC was at the time there was a big telecommunications focus in Kansas City and UMKC was one of the schools that offered a specialty in it," Simha said. "(UMKC) also gave me a scholarship, which helped us make the decision." A UMKC education gave Nick confidence in his field, he said, through hands-on work experience and internship opportunities.  "Attending the same classes as those already working in the industry helps you get a better understanding of the real-world application of what we were learning," Simha said. After graduating and spending a handful of years working in the Kansas City area, Nick was recruited to Silicon Valley, where the two currently live with their daughter. He now works for Amazon and Soumya is in real estate. The two fully paid off their scholarship pledge this year, with a gift of appreciated stock. Additionally, the two are now members of the Robert H. Flarsheim Society, as they have included a gift provision in their estate plans to support the scholarship. "What we hope is more girls get into engineering and it turns into a very normal choice. Many times people are not afforded the same opportunities. For example, let's look at investment bankers. They are not necessarily smarter than the rest of the population, but they had an opportunity to study finance. A lot of girls don't know about the benefits of engineering," Simha said. "You can do engineering, you can go into sales, you can do marketing. That engineering degree opens all of those doors for you." Jul 27, 2021

  • Remote Learning Report Card

    Flatland interviews vice provost for curriculum and assessment and alumni
    Flatland interviewed Kim McNeley, UMKC vice provost for curriculum and assessment; and Adriana Velarde and Ally Elder, UMKC spring 2021 graduates. Read the full article. Jul 27, 2021

  • 5 Ways To Get Your Kids To Wear Masks

    Gail Robertson Weighs-In for CNN
    Parents could also consider turning mask-wearing into a game, suggested Gail Robertson, a child psychologist at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. “Because we have this association in our culture with (public health) being scary — having (face coverings) as a part of play is essential,” said Robertson, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. The CNN story was picked up by CNN Philippines and KIMT. Jul 27, 2021

  • Are We Living in an MMT World?

    UMKC Economics professor tells Bloomberg Business why not
    Scott Fullwiler, an MMT economist and professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, says the COVID-19 crisis has shot down one common argument against deficit spending (used by Democrats to oppose former President Donald Trump’s tax cuts): that it risks leaving the government short of funds, so that “in the next crisis you might not be able to respond.” Read more. Jul 23, 2021

  • UMKC Theatre, Coterie Theatre Delight Audience

    Dragons Love Tacos, best-selling children’s book, comes to life on outdoor stage
    After more than a year without in-person live performances, The Coterie Theatre presents Dragons Love Tacos, written by Ernie Nolan and based on the book by Adam Rubin. The live, outdoor performance is directed by Stephanie Roberts, UMKC Theatre associate professor of Physical Theatre. Performances are in Crown Center’s Entertainment Pavilion, 2425 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo., through Aug. 8. This all-ages show features a cast of 10 students from UMKC Theatre performing as the 306 Theatre Troupe. They will use their extensive dance and clown training to help bring the dragons to life. The show is a stage adaptation of the family classic book, Dragons Love Tacos. Roberts and two UMKC students shared their thoughts about the show and being on stage again. Stephanie Roberts (Director) How does it feel to direct a live show again? It was such a relief and joy to be back in rehearsal with more than a few people in a room together! Because we were all vaccinated, the actors were able to have close contact and really engage in physical theatre in a way that they haven’t for over a year. What was your favorite part of this show? One of my favorite parts was seeing the actors, my students, apply all that they’ve been learning for the last two years. They brought so much play and creative input to the show; it made my job easy. My other favorite part of the show is seeing the children’s reactions in the audience. I love that they participate: answering questions that the actors ask them, or sometimes just spontaneously jumping out of their seats and dancing when they hear the music! What makes children’s theatre special? Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) can be many different things--adaptations of classics, devised theatre, community-based, educational, activism. I think some common threads are its capacity to foster empathy and self-awareness in young people, as well as providing a space for joy, wonder and play--for both children and adults. Why did you decide to direct this play? Jeff Church came to 306 Theatre Troupe and me with a couple options of plays. When the project was coming together, I was in the middle of teaching Clown to some of the grad actors in the cast. Since my specialty is physical theatre and comedy, they thought I was a good fit--and I’m thrilled that they asked! What is unique about outdoor theater? Because the show is competing with so many elements--cars, airplanes, sirens, fountain-- actors, directors and designers all need to know how to sustain the audience’s attention. Body-mics, of course, help, but there is still a need to be highly specific and larger-than-life, while still finding the truth in whatever story you’re telling. Why should someone see the show? In this time, when everyone is emerging from the pandemic, this is the perfect, celebratory experience. The design is whimsical and spectacular, and I see both kids and adults laughing and dancing. I even have one friend (in his sixties) who said he shed a tear at the end. Michael Oakes (Man in Suit) What was your favorite part of the show? My favorite part of the show was the first week of rehearsals where Stephanie just let us work and roll with the ideas that we had. It was fun to watch all the dragons create their unique personalities and characters from their instincts. It was adorable to watch the relationship between Leroy and The Boy form in organic ways because of just trying ideas in rehearsal. It was great to throw things at the wall as Man in Suit and see what stuck. Even with the book and script giving a strong foundation, it really feels like we built something special from the ground up with this show.  What inspires you? I'm inspired by seeing actors enjoy the work they're in and the audience feeling that joy and reciprocating it. People with authentic joy and passion in what they do fills me with an electricity that I cannot explain. Energy and joy are contagious. Seeing someone talk about or do something they truly and honestly love makes my soul happy to its core. I want to know everyone's passion because that's the core of what makes someone who they are, what they love. I'm inspired by that.  Why did you choose UMKC? I chose UMKC because of the professors and the city. My undergrad professor went to UMKC as well and always talked about Kansas City with a deep love. He spoke very highly of everyone who taught in the program as well. And after one conversation with the faculty, I knew this was a place that would help me grow. There was an emphasis on letting actors be themselves rather than creating a generic "UMKC actor." They said they would let us be us. And they have! I've found out more about myself and my art aesthetic from here than I think I would anywhere else because of the great people I've got to work with and who support Michael being Michael always.  Why should someone see the show? It's a blast. After a "lost year" this is the time to go out and have some fun. It's an opportunity to sit outside and laugh, dance, yell along and just have an hour of enjoyment. Plus, it puts tacos on the brain. Which is always good. It felt like in the past year fun has been hard to find. For at least an hour, there's a fun place people can go. A place where dragons are real, people come through TVs and a boat full of tacos isn't an outrageous idea. A truly joyous place.  Do you have a favorite dragon? I can't pick a favorite dragon. I love them all so much! They're who truly make Man in Suit look good. Would people want to see "Man in Suit Love Tacos"? Nah. The dragons are the stars, and all of them deserve it equally. I love them all. This is the most fun I've had in a play process in years. Everyone in the cast and crew worked so hard to make this happen. I hope everyone in KC sees this show. It's very near and dear to my heart.  Aidan Callaghan (Production Assistant) What was your favorite part of the show? My favorite part of the show is probably the dragons’ entrance sequence. The actors all have such unique characterizations and it’s just really fun to watch.  What inspires you? I am inspired by people who have drive. People who know what they want and are driven enough to take real steps to achieve them.  Why did you choose UMKC? I chose UMKC initially because I was doing pre-pharmacy with the intent to apply to pharmacy school and follow that career path. But I didn’t enjoy it, and theatre was the only path that I knew was a good fit for me, so I stayed at UMKC and joined the theatre program.  Why should someone see the show? People should come see this show if they are looking for a brief getaway from the woes of the world. This is a very fun light-hearted show that harkens back to everyone’s childhood where dragons and tacos were as real and as exciting as anything could be.  Do you have a favorite dragon? While I love all of our dragons very much, if I had to pick, I think I would pick Blue Dragon because of its very endearing personality.  Tickets are $12 for youth under 18, students and seniors 60 and older; $15 for adults; and $5.50 to $8 for groups over 20. After the Saturday night performances, audiences have a chance to get their picture taken with a dragon after the show. Tickets can be purchased from The Coterie Box Office by calling 816-474-6552 or online. Jul 22, 2021

  • UMKC School of Dentistry Will Offer COVID Vaccinations Beginning July 26

    Vaccine effort targets low-income and underserved living in Kansas City’s east side
    The UMKC School of Dentistry will collaborate with the School of Pharmacy to begin offering free COVID-19 vaccinations to patients visiting its dental clinics beginning July 26. Melanie Simmer-Beck, Ph.D., R.D.H, chair of the dental school’s Department of Dental Public Health and Behavioral Sciences, said the project brings the two schools together to provide a community-based public health service. The program is one of many UMKC efforts supported by a $5 million CARES grant from Jackson County to encourage low-income and underserved populations in Kansas City’s east side to receive the COVID vaccine. “We felt it was important to offer vaccinations to School of Dentistry patients to be acting within the spirit of what this grant was intended to do,” Simmer-Beck said. More than 1,000 of the dental clinic’s patients come from areas of Kansas City identified as part of the grant’s target audience with the intent of addressing vaccine hesitancy and health equities. Operating under COVID restrictions during the previous year, the dental clinics serviced more than 1,750 patient appointments and saw 576 individual patients who live in those targeted areas. When at full capacity, the dental school’s clinics serve more than 2,200 patients a week and are the largest provider of dental services in the states of Missouri and Kansas. Simmer-Beck said patients will be notified of the vaccine option when receiving appointment reminders by phone. Student dental providers working in the clinics will also ask their patients if they are interested in receiving the vaccine if they haven’t already done so and obtain the necessary signed consent forms. Patient appointments in the clinics are scheduled Monday through Friday at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. The School of Pharmacy will initially have certified student and faculty vaccinators on call and available during clinic hours to come to the dental school and administer the shots when requested.  “This is the first time that pharmacy students will be providing a service to School of Dentistry patients,” Simmer-Beck said. “It’s a great opportunity for pharmacy, dental and dental hygiene students to collaborate and learn from one another in a real-world setting.” UMKC’s pharmacy students and faculty volunteers have played a large role in statewide vaccination efforts since the full-scale rollout of vaccines in January. By March, they had administered more that 17,500 doses of the vaccines at sites throughout Missouri. Cameron Lindsey, chair of the pharmacy school’s Division of Pharmacy Practice and Administration, said the program will provide patients the ease of being vaccinated without having to see another care provider. “We have the vaccine and know the logistics of how to mix and store it,” she said. “We’ll help get the dental school get up to speed with the process and model that for them. It’s a team effort. It doesn’t matter who gives the shot. There’s a community need and, interprofessionally, we’re combining our resources to get the vaccine where it’s needed.” Simmer-Beck said that Russ Melchert, dean of the School of Pharmacy, was instrumental in helping get the dental clinic vaccine program started. Melchert has served as interim dean of the dental school since last September. “Having Dr. Melchert serve as the interim School of Dentistry dean helped move this notion forward,” she said. “His knowledge about the resources at both schools helped us bring together the right people in a timely manner.” Melchert said the program is a great opportunity for the two schools to work together to increase access to the vaccines. “Pharmacy and dentistry are two of the most accessible health care professions for most people in this country and putting them together creates synergistic opportunities to help people live healthier lives,” he said. “Our students have already had a huge impact in providing COVID vaccinations and this creates another great chance for the community to see what great students, staff, and faculty we have at UMKC.” As an added incentive for dental patients to receive the COVID vaccine, those who return for their second dose will receive a free battery-operated power toothbrush. “Even if we give just one or two vaccines a day, that’s better than where we were before,” Simmer-Beck said. Jul 22, 2021

  • New Financial Wellness Center to Serve Students

    Get some tips and meet the coordinator
    Living on your own, buying a car and graduating college have a couple things in common: they’re all common goals for students and they all require good money management. Fortunately, UMKC will open a Financial Wellness Center this fall that can help students reach all their financial goals. We sat down with Financial Wellness Coordinator Anna Zimmerman for the full breakdown on what you can expect from this new service. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What brought you to become the financial wellness coordinator here at UMKC? I'm originally from Topeka, Kansas, and personal finance has always been a big passion of mine. After working in New York for a couple of years, I knew that I wanted to come back to the Midwest. I love Kansas City, and so I jumped when I saw an opportunity to come to UMKC. They were looking to start a new Financial Wellness Center. I’ve been following a lot of the trends across the country, and more and more schools have been starting programs like these. I was just really excited by the opportunity to build something from the ground up and be there to support students as they're establishing their own financial habits. Answer any questions that they might have. What is the Financial Wellness Center? What benefit do you hope it will give students here? The Financial Wellness Center at UMKC has three primary services. Our first service is one-on-one financial coaching. We meet with students individually to support them and answer any questions that they might have, whether that's how to build a budget, understanding student loans, saving to purchase a car or move out on their own. We can help students navigate all of those decisions with individualized support. The second service we offer is providing workshops and presentations. This fall, we have 13 different workshops on topics ranging from applying for scholarships and budgeting to credit cards and student loans. We also do presentations by request. Over this last summer I've worked with physicians’ assistants on Hospital Hill and the Summer Bridge Scholars, so a wide range of students. We also provide digital resources on our website: templates for budgeting and short videos that help break down some of the common questions that we get from students around topics like credit and student loans. How does this differ from similar programs at other universities? I interviewed over 100 different individuals on the UMKC campus and reached out to 15 different universities with financial wellness programs to find out what worked and what didn’t work. That means we’re able to customize and focus our services to specifically support UMKC students. I'm so excited that UMKC is choosing to invest in this resource. It’s so empowering for students. It's not a one-template-fits-all approach. We sit down with the student and figure out what their specific goals are and how can we support meeting them. It's stressful to be a student. You're managing your course load. You're managing your social relationships. Many students are managing work. Those are all the same skills you need to manage your finances. We just are adding that little bit of information so that students feel confident to do so. And why is financial wellness important for college students, in a broad sense? We know that financial wellness has an impact on every other facet of an individual's well-being. If students are stressed about finances, chances are their academic performance is going to dip. They're not going to be able to spend the time and energy focused on their social relationships, and that’s going to have a severe emotional toll. We want to provide a lot of the support up front in order to help students avoid that emotional stress and manage their finances well while they're in school. It’s really empowering for students. A lot of them are on their own for the first time or they're making these lifelong decisions about student loans, which is one of the biggest investments that they'll make. We’re supporting them through these decisions and helping set them up for success, not just while they're at UMKC, but for their life. These are skills that they're taking with them and they're going to be using every day. What’s the number one financial wellness tip you want to give to students? My first tip for students would be to sit down and make a budget: see how much money you have coming in and how much money you have going out. Make sure you're giving every dollar a job. You want your money to work for you, whether that's paying for your tuition and fees, time with friends, time for selfcare or hobbies. Make sure that every dollar has a job, and make sure that you're setting time and money aside for your savings as well, so you can support your future goals.    Learn more about the Financial Wellness Center Jul 22, 2021

  • Healthline Taps Christopher Garmon

    Bloch School assistant professor of health administration discusses the term "surprise medical bill"
    “Here, the term ‘surprise medical bill’ is used to refer to out-of-network balance bills that occur in which the patient was not expecting them or had no control over them,” said Christopher Garmon, Ph.D., assistant professor of health administration at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read more. Jul 22, 2021

  • KSHB Interviews Allen Rostron

    Law professor discusses Kansas City police budget, city's violent crime problem
    Allen Rostron, William R. Jacques Constitutional Law Scholar and Professor of Law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, was interviewed for this story. Read the story and watch the newscast. Jul 22, 2021

  • Sean O'Brien On CBS News Sunday Morning

    School of Law professor weighs-in on why wrongly-convicted people are still imprisoned in Missouri
    Sean O’Brien, a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said, “I do know that the Attorney General’s office, for a long time, has had a practice of opposing every case regardless of its merit. They think that their duty is to defend every judgment, no matter the justice of it.” Read the article and watch the news clip. Jul 18, 2021

  • A Bridge To a New Future

    The Kansas City Business Journal highlights UMKC Professional Mobility Escalator Program
    A new program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Professional Mobility Escalators, soon will begin taking applications for student assistance that will extend through professional school. Jennifer Lundgren, UMKC provost and executive vice chancellor; and Mako Miller, director of the UMKC Professional Mobility Escalators, were interviewed about the new program. Amanda Malone, UMKC senior, is part of the KC Scholars Program and was interviewed for this story. Read more. Jul 16, 2021

  • UMKC Professor: Solution To Affordable Housing Is Restoring Older Apartment Buildings

    Jacob Wagner tells city officials that tearing down and building new would be less cost-effective
    A professor at the University of Missouri - Kansas City said he believes the answer is right in front of us. "There's about 45,000 of those units throughout Kansas City, Missouri," said Jacob Wagner, of Urban Planning and Design at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read the full article and watch the newscast. Jul 16, 2021

  • UMKC Professor Addresses KC Hiring Struggles

    KSHB interviews William Black
    “People are saying no, why would I take that job and risk COVID for a pittance when I can get more money in a different job and minimal risk of COVID and it’s better in terms of child care and such,” William Black, associate professor of Economics and Law at UMKC said. Read more. Jul 16, 2021

  • Future UMKC Student Is Featured

    Nathan Wilcox, future UMKC student, was interviewed by KCTV5
    The camp is meant to inspire and empower children with visual impairments, showing them nothing is impossible. That inspiration is something 18-year-old Nathan Wilcox has felt his whole life. Despite being blind in one eye, he will enroll at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in the fall and has dreams of becoming a civil rights attorney. Read the full story and watch the newscast. Jul 14, 2021

  • $15.2M Renovation Underway at Bloch Heritage Hall

    The renovation of Bloch Heritage Hall moves a thriving business school into the future
    When completed, the renovation of Bloch Heritage Hall will be more than new carpet and reconfigured classrooms. It will be even more than eye-popping technology, although the reimagined facility that has anchored the Bloch School since its earliest days also will get that. The $15.2 million renovation, expected to welcome students by the Fall 2022 semester, is really about fulfilling its namesake’s unwavering vision of excellence for the school. For more than three decades, Henry W. Bloch, who died in 2019, faithfully invested in the business school with his time and money because he believed that having a top business school in Kansas City was key to the city’s success. “The Bloch School was Henry’s pride and joy,” said David Miles, president of the Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation, a lead funder of the renovation project. “In a city this size, with the number of businesses and entrepreneurs we have, he believed there had to be an outlet and a location for you to receive high quality business knowledge and also a place where professionals could network and connect.” The Bloch Foundation’s $8 million contribution to the Bloch Heritage Hall renovation project was already well in the works before Bloch died. Miles said Bloch saw the potential of this renovation project to propel the Bloch School to new heights. “Henry was excited about this project,” Miles said. The Sunderland foundation joined the Bloch Family Foundation as a lead donor for the Heritage Hall renovation project. In addition, six-figure gifts were received from the William T. Kemper Foundation, Mike Plunkett, Nathaniel Hagedorn, Jim Stowers and the Capitol Federal Foundation. The project also had generous support from well over a dozen alumni, community members and friends of the school, said Jay Wilson of the UMKC Foundation. Kent Sunderland, chairman of the Sunderland Foundation and chair of the UMKC Foundation, said their gift was motivated in large part by respect for Henry Bloch and the Bloch family. But Sunderland noted the gift also was predicated on his shared belief in the project’s potential to improve the business school. That in turn will help UMKC and Kansas City, he said. “That’s what we want UMKC to be,” Sunderland said, "A place people can go and (then) apply their talents to businesses here in Kansas City.” For Brian Klaas, Bloch School dean, the link between the renovation of Bloch Heritage Hall and that aspiration is just as clear. The project will give the Bloch School the infrastructure it needs to better support students, improve student retention and recruit more students to meet enrollment goals. “It’s really driven by a desire to fundamentally alter the student experience,” Klaas said. Interior rendering of the Bloch Heritage Hall renovation. The Project Bloch Heritage Hall is an amalgamation of the historic Shields Mansion, an estate built in the early years of the 20th century for grain magnate Edwin W. Shields, and a sprawling addition the university completed in 1986 with a $1 million contribution from Henry Bloch. The building, with its plentiful classrooms and offices, served as the school’s primary home until 2013 when the business school expanded its footprint to include Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. While Bloch Heritage Hall has continued to serve as an important piece of the Bloch School’s infrastructure, the building has not always kept up with the changing nature of education. In addition to needing better technology and differently arranged classrooms, the building’s largest deficit had become its lack of a central common entrance or student gathering area. “If a parent walked in the front door and wanted to talk to someone about the school, there’s no one to talk to. No place to go,” said Miles. Similarly, students had to walk through a maze of hallways to find various student service offices. Nothing was centralized or clear. The renovated Bloch Heritage Hall will change all that by creating a main entrance off Cherry Street, which will feature a new student services hub. All of those previously hard-to-find student resources, including undergraduate advising, the career center, recruiting, tutoring, and student clubs, will reside there. In the design created by PGAV Architects, square footage for the hub will be created by filling in two floors of an atrium — the centerpiece of the 1986 addition. On the first floor immediately below that hub, newly created floor space will be dedicated to an open common area where students can mingle and meet. The idea, said Klaas, is to help students connect with school resources and their classmates so they stay in school, graduate, and move into successful careers.  “What we’ve learned is that students need a sense of connection, and they need prompts and nudges,” he said. “We want to create an energy and a sense that this is where great things are happening.”   Demand for Flexibility Another major goal of the renovation is to make the learning environment as flexible as students demand. This includes equipping classrooms with technology to make logging into class remotely effectively the same as attending in person. As part of the “RooFlex” learning experience, video screens and cameras will be installed in the front and back of many classrooms so professors can see virtual students just as they see in-person students, and students can glimpse all their classmates, either in person or online. One classroom will include a wall of monitors, so professors can simultaneously see every student gathered remotely as if they are seated before them. While COVID-19 accelerated the need for virtual learning, the demand was already there among many students, said Sidne Ward, associate dean of the Bloch School who serves as the school’s liaison on the renovation project. She expects it will only increase once the pandemic fades away. “Our students are working full time. They might be traveling,” Ward said. “They might be in the classroom sometimes, but there might be a time when they’re sitting in Chicago in a hotel room.” Other students are juggling children with work and school and having the option to take classes remotely — at least part of the time — may be the only way they can pursue a business degree. The renovated classrooms will give students the ability to have as much remote learning as they need, while still providing a top-notch campus environment. The improvements will put Bloch ahead of many business schools around the country. “Some very impressive schools are making these kinds of investments, but it’s not commonplace,” Klaas said. Ultimately, he hopes the changes in the learning environment the renovation will give the Bloch School the ability to attract more students and meet its goal to double in size by 2029. Over the last three years, enrollment has grown by 15 percent to include about 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The Shields esidence in the 1920s. A Linked School In addition to improving technology to enable better virtual learning, the expanded Bloch Heritage Hall will get redesigned classroom spaces, including additional small rooms where students can gather to meet on projects, and some additional larger classroom spaces, which have been in short supply at the school. One of those larger classrooms will be added underground and include a corridor to physically link Bloch Heritage Hall to its neighbor, Bloch Executive Hall. Boosters of the project promise that the two buildings will be linked in more ways than just a corridor, however. The Heritage Hall makeover will maintain design elements that respect the architectural style of the century-old Shields Mansion. But the completed project will also infuse Heritage Hall with the 21st century sophistication that Executive Hall is known for. When supporters and dignitaries gather to cut the ribbon and ceremonially open the new building on July 30, 2022, the anniversary of Henry Bloch’s 100th birthday, Klaas is confident that the completed project will achieve one of the Bloch School’s ongoing aspirations. The newly linked, modern campus will be something that Henry Bloch would be proud of. “Henry was about the Bloch School supporting the needs of Kansas City,” said Klaas. “He was about the Bloch School helping Kansas City be prosperous, healthy and strong. What this building is going to do is help us provide better educational opportunities to more students. That in turn is going to support employers, making them more successful by building the talent pool in Kansas City.” Jul 13, 2021

  • A Deferred Dream Internship Now a Reality

    Delayed by COVID, Bloch student Courtney Collins heads East to work with leading cosmetics company.
    Courtney Collins’ plans all changed on Friday the 13th. After studying in Malaga, Spain for the Spring 2020 semester, she would head to New York City to do her marketing internship with the Estée Lauder Companies, working with the Jo Malone London perfume brand. It’s a dream she said was inspired by her aunt who was a long-time executive for the cosmetics company and also a desire to live and work in the Big Apple. But on Friday, March 13, the semester in Spain was cancelled and Collins headed back to Kansas City. Her internship was pushed back a year. She’s one of many Bloch students who because of the pandemic had their internship plans change. According of Tess Surprenant, director of the Bloch Career Center, about 25% of internships were delayed after an offer was made. Further, many companies shut down recruiting activities just as students were in the process of interviewing. For those that held internships, about 80-90% were held remotely. Prior to COVID-19, remote internships were a rarity and that meant a substantial pivot for students and companies. As she waited for 2021, Collins re-evaluated what she wants to do with her profession, and with the help of the Bloch Career Center, taking stock of her future. “I talked with Maggie (Reyland) and Tess (Surprenant) a lot in how it looks for job placement in (the cosmetics) industry. Is it the end of it?” Collins said. “A lot of things have shifted.” What also has shifted was how the internship was going to work, logistically. She will be one of 140 interns, out of an applicant pool of 7,000.  Instead of an abbreviated six-week, remote internship, Collins decided to wait until this summer and do the full 10-week internship. Because Estée Lauder is keeping their offices closed until October 2021, it means another mostly remote internship. “What I wanted with the in-person internship was the in-person networking and building relationships,” Collins said. “How can I do that over Zoom? How can I stand out over a video? I‘ve listened to career panelist with the Bloch marketing advisory board and they all say it’s the same, just online. You can still make those connections.” Surprenant said she’s been impressed with the student’s resiliency. “Since all the employers were interviewing virtually, it means that students had to learn new tips and techniques for this format,” Surprenant said. That included learning to navigate virtual career fairs and networking meetings. “Now more than ever, in a tight job market, it is often these types of connections that help a student distinguish themselves,” she said. Collins’ goal with the internship is still the same: get a full-time role at Estée Lauder and move to New York. She’s confident that she can immerse herself into the re-invention of the workforce and city, post-pandemic. “I think it’s exciting. We’re starting from scratch with more resources, technology-wise,” she said. “For business and entrepreneurship students here at Bloch, the sky is the limit with what we can do and where we can do it.” Jul 13, 2021

  • Two New Deans Appointed

    Will lead School of Dentistry, Student Affairs
    Jennifer Lundgren, Ph.D., UMKC provost and executive vice chancellor, has announced the appointment of two new deans at the university. Steven E. Haas, D.M.D., J.D., MBA, will be the new dean of the School of Dentistry; Michele D. Smith, Ph.D., will be the new vice provost of Student Affairs/dean of students. Smith currently serves as dean of students and assistant vice president for Student Affairs at Missouri State University in Springfield. She is also an associate professor in the Department of Counseling, Leadership and Special Education at MSU, where she teaches in the Master of Science program for Student Affairs in Higher Education. She holds master’s and doctoral degrees in Higher Education from Ohio University in Athens. Her research focuses on the experiences of African American student and faculty success, particularly African American women and African American women in athletic administration. “She will be a wonderful bridge between student affairs and our academic programs and faculty, bringing experience from both university perspectives,” Lundgren said. “She brings a holistic perspective of university life to her role at UMKC and will complement and advance the already exceptional work of the Student Affairs division and teams.” She will begin her UMKC duties on Aug. 2. Haas comes to UMKC from the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry in Lincoln, where he serves as associate dean for clinical affairs and interim chair of the Department of Adult Restorative Dentistry. He received his D.M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, his J.D. from Touro College Law Center in Huntington, New York, and his MBA from the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Florida. He will begin his tenure on Aug. 16. Haas has deep knowledge of dental education accreditation and compliance, as well as innovative clinical educational practices, Lundgren said. “He values science and research and the importance of evidence-based clinical decision-making,” Lundgren said. “Steven is committed to improving the experiences of under-represented students, faculty, staff and patients in the School of Dentistry and in advancing the university’s goals of increasing diversity among our faculty and staff.” According to Lundgren, Haas will focus on improving diverse representation and inclusivity within the school; growing research; interprofessional collaboration; and innovation and advancement in the clinical practices and in community outreach, particularly with communities of color and other under-represented communities in the greater Kansas City region. Jul 12, 2021

  • UMKC Forward Updates

    Growing our excellence and financial stability
    Launched in May 2020, UMKC Forward is a comprehensive and collaborative plan to achieve growth and excellence for Kansas City’s university. The program includes ideas and exploration by a broad-based group of faculty, staff, students and community members. In March, UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal rolled out the UMKC Forward plan, which included investments in five key areas: Student Success, Faculty Development, Research Excellence, Career Expansion and Community Engagement. University work groups have been busy and share the following updates. Student Success: Professional Mobility Escalators The 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. Mako Miller, M.A.Ed, will lead the PME. Miller, who started her new role on July 6, will be working on all aspects of program development and engaging with the faculty working groups to learn about current practices and where program development is needed. The process will continue through the academic year in preparation for the official launch in the fall 2022 semester. The hiring of an assistant director of Career Preparedness position was approved. A search will begin in the fall 2021 semester. This position will be involved in the development of one of the five core PME experiences, career guidance and development. Faculty Development: Center for Advancing Faculty Excellence 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. Three of four appointments have been made for leading the pillars: Molly Mead, Teaching and Learning; Alexis Petri, Research and Creativity; and Lorie Holt, Career Progression, Leadership and Faculty Life. The appointment of a lead for the Service and Engagement pillar is in progress. Research Excellence To reach the 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. UMKC has planned for and budgeted to hiring new positions in FY22: Graduate Fellow to provide logistic support for large scaled interdisciplinary grants. Faculty Fellows to provide narrative writing bootcamp in summer and each semester. Pre-Award staff member. Post-Award staff member. Research compliance staff member. 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. UMKC is currently recruiting for a director of TalentLink. $250,000 in Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funds have been allocated to TalentLink. New Academic Structure Starting in fall 2022, UMKC will have three new academic units among its 10 schools: the School of Science and Engineering; the School of Humanities and Social Sciences; and the School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences. Jen Salvo, Allen Rostron and Mark Nichols have been named faculty facilitators of the work groups. Summer preparation work includes Resource Investment Model (RIM)/budget modeling and the creation of FAQ documents for faculty, staff and students related to scholarships, fees and advising, degree requirements and more. A fall check in is scheduled for the week of Aug. 16. Jul 12, 2021

  • Cuban-Americans Gather in Solidarity Protest in Kansas City, as Cubans Demand Freedoms

    KCTV5 interviews UMKC assistant professor of Art History, Latinx and Latin American Studies
    Joseph R. Hartman, assistant professor of Art History, Latinx and Latin American Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, has studied Cuba’s history. He said the country, which was predominantly a tobacco and sugar economy, has been greatly impacted by the pandemic now that it’s more of a tourist economy. Read the full story and watch the newscast. Jul 12, 2021

  • Catch Up On These Campus Changes That Have Happened Over The Last Year

    Been a while since you've been to campus? Brush up on these changes.
    Construction or relocation, several UMKC buildings have seen updates over the last year. With virtual learning dominating 2020, here are some campus changes students might have missed: Bloch Heritage Hall Construction Construction is ongoing at Bloch Heritage Hall, the original home of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. The Bloch School received funding from both the Bloch Family Foundation and the Sunderland Foundation in 2019 for the renovations and technology updates at Heritage Hall.  The renovations and technology updates will help support advanced teaching methods and anticipated enrollment growth, bringing this essential space in line with the university's commitment to providing students with tools for their success. While the state-of-the-art Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation opened in 2013, Heritage Hall had previously not received any upgrades since 1986. Heritage Hall incorporates the original Tudor-style Shields Mansion, built at the turn of the 20th century and an addition was completed in 1986. Updates to Heritage Hall are slated to be completed this school year. Miller Nichols Library Construction Construction on the third floor of Miller Nichols Library is underway. The library is receiving upgrades for a digital humanities and digital scholarship center, in preparation for the relocation of the State Historical Society of Missouri, which is currently housed in Newcomb Hall.  University Libraries also received funding from the Sunderland Foundation and the Bloch Family Foundation in 2019 for the renovations. Beyond being a resource for students and faculty, the Miller Nichols Library is a recognized resource for both historical and enthusiasts and professional researchers. The At Ease Zone and Student Veteran Support Service Office was previously located in the Atterbury Student Success Center. Photo by Brandon Parigo At Ease Zone and Student Veteran Support Office Relocation The At Ease Zone and Student Veteran Support Services Office is now located in Room 310 of the UMKC Student Union. The offices were previously located in the Atterbury Student Success Center. "The At Ease Zone moving into the Student Union is going to be a great fit for serving our student veterans," said Eric Gormly, assistant director of UMKC Student Veteran Support Services. "With the resources, activities and student organizations provided in this building, it should go a long way to help our student veterans feel like they are part of the Roo community." Last month, Military Times ranked UMKC 70th in the country for being a 'best school' for military veterans, out of 366 colleges and universities reviewed. The publication mentioned the Student Veteran Support Services Office and the At Ease Zone and noted the university "values the qualities and strengths this student population brings to campus and the community." Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center While construction on the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center, or Plaster Center, was completed and opened to students last fall, the center is still placing its finishing touches on the Innovation Studio. Located on the second floor of the research center, the Innovation Studio will support research, innovation and entrepreneurship for the UMKC and Kansas City community, as members of the local engineering community will have access to the studio's resources. The newest editions feature an augmented and virtual reality showroom and lab, a 3D printing lab and a fabrication studio that builds prototypes. The studio also features woodworking, metalwork, welding and laser cutting capabilities. The studio is open to students now but is expected to be open to the public starting this fall.  Jul 09, 2021

  • Breaking Down Barriers While Learning a New City and Profession

    L.A. transplant Coco Ndipagbor, with help from an LGBTQIA scholarship, led her class in nursing school
    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. Coco Ndipagbor '21 Academic program: Pre-licensure BSN, School of Nursing and Health Studies Hometown: Long Beach, California   Coco Ndipagbor describes herself as fearless and resilient, and it’s easy to see why. After earning a bachelor’s degree in global health from the University of Southern California, she could have stayed close to home and pursued a master’s in public health. Instead, she moved to a new city halfway across the country and distinguished herself as a leader in her class at the School of Nursing and Health Studies, becoming president of the Student Nursing Association chapter at UMKC. She will return to the Los Angeles area in the fall, where a fulltime job as an intensive care nurse waits for her. To help finance nursing school, Ndipagbor applied for every scholarship UMKC had to offer. She landed a few, but one was especially meaningful: the LGBTQIA Leadership Scholarship. What did you get from being an LGBTQIA Scholar? The scholarship provided a chance to exemplify queer leadership. It was the first time that being Out and Proud funded part of my education. I also wanted to show queer UMKC students of color that they belong here. I joined the LGBTQIA Health District Alliance because I do believe that showing my pride will validate my patients and peers that I am here for them. LGBTQIA issues are important because I love who I am and the community I represent, and I aim to create a space where we can feel safe. My little brother is a trans child, and I have had to step up big time to ensure his safety in a world that shows him otherwise. I want to uplift and empower queer youth because many of us grew up in families where the blasphemy of our existence prevented us from receiving the love and support we deserved. The LGBTQIA community is underrepresented in the world of health care, and I want to be a part of a generation of providers that changes that. I intend to use my experience here in Kansas City to grow and thrive.  Why did you choose nursing? I have been caring for people my whole life, and being able to do that as my profession brings me joy. I also love teaching people how to advocate for their health. I wanted to diversify my education and my choices, too, and there are so many paths to pursue in nursing. I’m interested in anesthesia, and I knew UMKC had a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist program, which could bring me back here in a few years. "The LGBTQIA community is underrepresented in the world of health care, and I want to be a part of a generation of providers that changes that." — Coco Ndipagbor What did you learn about yourself at UMKC? I have learned that I am fearless. I moved across the country to a place that I had never visited or known. I took the bus every day in the rain, cold or snow, and I worked 50 hours a week and still came up short financially. But I did not stop. I could not quit after coming so far, and I would do it all over again. What do you admire most about UMKC? I admire the dedication that many professors and administrators have for students. Once they found out that I was in KC alone, they opened their hearts and became my support system. It kept me going.  What is the best advice you received from a professor? There is always something more to learn. Study to become a better nurse, not to pass a test. Always go with your gut, even if it goes against the grain. Anything you will miss about Kansas City and UMKC? I will miss the low cost of living, the clean streets and the nice Kansas Citians I encounter every day. I will miss the friends and family I made while at UMKC.     Jul 09, 2021

  • Reviews: Dragons Love Tacos Runs Through August 8 at Coterie Theatre

    Reviews are in for Coterie Theatre production with UMKC students, faculty
    Stephanie Roberts, UMKC associate professor, directs the cast of student actors from the UMKC Theatre Department performing as 306 Theatre Troupe. Read more. Dragons Love Tacos Runs Through August 8 at Coterie Theatre - Broadway World - July 6 Dragons Love Tacos Warms a Coterie Crowd - The Pitch - July 8 Review: Dragons Love Tacos at The Coterie - Kansas City Parent Magazine - July 13 Jul 06, 2021

  • UMKC GLAMA Curator Lends Expertise

    The Kansas City Star taps Stuart Hinds
    Queer bars have been a part of Kansas City’s culture for decades, though they didn’t begin to gain visibility in Kansas City until the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, said Stuart Hinds, curator of the Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America at UMKC. Read the article. (subscription required) Jul 05, 2021

  • UMKC Receives Honors for Being Veteran Friendly

    Military Times, Military Friendly® recognize UMKC
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City has received two honors for being a veteran-friendly campus. Military Times ranked UMKC No. 70 in the United States for being a best school for military veterans, out of 366 colleges and universities reviewed. According to the publication “2021 Best for Vets: Colleges,” “UMKC is the largest comprehensive, fully accredited university in the Kansas City area and has a 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio, which means professors know their students' names and take mentorship seriously.” The publication mentioned the new UMKC Student Veteran Support Services office and At Ease Zone (Veterans Center) through which UMKC serves the student veteran and military population. The publication noted a UMKC statement that the university “values the qualities and strengths this student population brings to campus and the community, and has top-down support to ensure we are implementing best practices to show maximum support for the overall success of our student veterans.” UMKC was also designated a 2021-2022 Military Friendly School. Military Friendly® is the “standard that measures an organization’s commitment, effort and success in creating sustainable and meaningful opportunity for the military community.” Eric Gormly, assistant director for Student Veteran Support Services; and Debbie Kacirek, UMKC VA Certifying Official Student Veteran Support Services, are in the UMKC Student Veteran Support Services office. Photo by John Carmody. “These two distinguished rankings go a long way as far as seeing how we match up to other institutions across the country,” said Eric Gormly, assistant director, UMKC Student Veteran Support Services. “With us not being on campus for most of this past year, I am excited for the student veterans to see just how welcoming the UMKC campus has become. Although many factors play into the ranking systems for student veteran programming, one crucial piece is having a one-stop shop for student veterans to seek out resources, build community, and make their presence on campus known, which we have in the new At Ease Zone in the Student Union. The top-down support has helped to achieve many goals that were envisioned that ultimately contribute to not only the academic success, but the all-around student success for these transitioning service members.” The At Ease Zone and Student Veteran Support Services Office are located in Room 310 of the UMKC Student Union. More information about UMKC programs for veterans can be found online. Jul 02, 2021

  • How Blistering Dissents Help Some Americans Trust the Supreme Court

    UMKC associate professor of political science co-authors Washington Post article
    Benjamin Woodson, associate professor of political science at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, with a focus on political psychology and public opinion toward the judiciary, was a co-author of this article. Read the full article. Jul 02, 2021

  • UMKC Economics, Law Associate Professor Weighs-In On Food Prices

    William Black talks to KSHB about Fourth of July cookout costs
    “You can have a meal that’s much much cheaper than 60 bucks and feed 10 people,” William Black, associate professor of Economics and Law at UMKC said. Read the article and watch the newscast. Jul 02, 2021

  • Bloch School Professor Talks About Hospital Data

    KCUR interviews Chris Garmon
    “It would be really nice to know what the prices are,” said Chris Garmon, Assistant Professor of Health Administration at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management who previously worked on antitrust investigations at the Federal Trade Commission. Read more from KCUR. Jul 01, 2021

  • 5 Favorite Spots Roos Eat

    Ready to go out? Our students have suggestions on where to go
    Kansas City has always been a food town, but COVID-19 has kept most of us dining on our cook-at-home favorites and carryout. As we are able to get out more safely, here are a few UMKC students’ favorite spots to eat. Paleterías Tropicana  “My absolute favorite spot to eat in Kansas City is Paleterías Tropicana.” – Adriana Suarez '23, business administration Since 2003, Paleterias Tropicana has served homemade authentic Mexican ice cream. From its original location on Kansas City’s westside, there are now five locations in the metropolitan area. While lime, mango and banana are safe bets, hibiscus, pineapple chile and tamarind with chile will delight the adventurous eater. Town Topic “I enjoy getting a burger and pie from Town Topic with my friends. We like taking our burgers and pies to go so that we can enjoy our food while overlooking the Kansas City skyline near the World War I Memorial.” – Emily Wesley '21, biology Town Topic is a Kansas City tradition. Open 24 hours a day with three locations – two of which are basically around the corner from one another – this is a go-to for smash burgers and breakfast for both locals and newbies. Wings Cafe “Wings Café is one of the best places in the city for chicken wings by far. Go there and tell me I’m wrong.” ­– Brandon Henderson '21, political science Convenient to both campuses, Wings Café, a family-owned restaurant in Westport, serves bare wings, boneless wings and breaded wings, but their selection doesn’t stop there. Fish, shrimp and chicken are also options as well as the opportunity to mix things up with a “combo.” Tiki Taco “Go! You’ll thank me later.” – Jonaie Johnson '22, business administration Tiki Taco bills itself as “your chill neighborhood taco shop dishing out yummy California-style Mexican fast food.” “Chill” is the key word as Tiki Taco has a cool laid-back vibe. Plenty of options for vegetarians, too, with creative tacos featuring jackfruit or mushrooms along with more standard options of avocado and “mean” bean. Chai Shai “My favorite so far has been Chai Shai. My roommate wanted me to try Pakastani food for the first time, and she took me there.” – Marlena Long '25, medicine  Tucked into a quiet neighborhood just south of the Volker campus, Chai Shai offers a variety of dishes that often lend themselves to sharing. Spices such as cumin, cardamom, star anise and turmeric delight – but do not overwhelm – the senses. Jul 01, 2021

  • UMKC Master Plan Could Return Student Housing To Site of Razed Apartment Complex

    Local news about UMKC Master Plan
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City plans to build apartments along the extended streetcar route, which is slated to be finished in 2025. Read the news articles: Kansas City Business Journal - June 30, 2021 (subscription required) Flatland - June 30, 2021 Jun 30, 2021

  • What We're Looking Forward to in Returning to Campus

    UMKC students excited about returning to pre-pandemic life
    After spending the last year distanced, virtual or masked we're looking forward to returning to normal campus life in the fall. Here's what a few of our fellow Roos had to say. Being back on campus "I'm looking forward to finally being back on campus and interacting with my fellow Roos!" -Krithika Selvarajoo '21   Karl Manoza and other students pictured at an event promoting mental health awareness held by the student organization Asian Students in America. In-person events "I'm most excited about attending in-person events that organizations host throughout the year. I remember my freshman year in 2019: events were so much fun, and I met some amazing friends along the way. I am part of many student organizations on campus and I really enjoy being involved in the UMKC community and participating in a multitude of events." -Karl Manoza '23  Marcus Thieu and two other students celebrate UMKC Commitment Day. Photo by Brandon Parigo Walking to class "As simple as it sounds, I've missed the ability to enjoy the fresh air while walking around campus. Walking between campus buildings is a basic luxury I've missed after spending this last year on Zoom." -Marcu Thieu '22 Feeling connected "When I'm in-person for school, I feel so strongly connected to my community. I look forward to getting that feeling of connection back! I look forward to sitting with small study groups in the library in-between classes and coffee dates with my friends on campus." -Kylie Bias '23 Meeting old friends, making new "I cannot wait to study with my friends at the library. Every time I am there, I run into someone old and someone new. We start by catching up or sharing what we are studying. Then, that turns into a minutes-long conversation with not much studying but that's what college is about — meeting people from all over." -Ansel Herrera-Garcia '23 Jun 28, 2021

  • Churning Out Achievement: Bloch Alumnus Becomes Betty Rae's Owner

    UMKC alumnus purchases popular local business
    Roos are, in fact, everywhere. Sometimes, they’re in our own backyard making cool treats in the summer heat. Alec Rodgers (’20) graduated from the Henry W. Bloch School of Management in Entrepreneurship and Finance and shortly thereafter found himself owning a Kansas City staple for ice cream: Betty Rae’s. We caught up with Alec for the full scoop on how his UMKC education prepared him for such sweet success. What is your history with Betty Rae’s? What led you to become the owner? It was junior year. I realized I’d be graduating the next year and wished I had a more fun job; enjoyed life a bit more. I was doing 60 hours a week, 18 credit hours. It was a lot. My mom went to a shaved-ice truck up north, and they were serving Betty Rae’s ice cream. She brought it home and said “The lady there said they might be hiring.” I said “Well, that sounds like a fun job.” David, then the part-owner, posted a photo of the new wallpaper that day, in the River Market location. I thought it was awesome wallpaper. I knew, whoever that was, I wanted to work for him. I met him the next day, and within the first month I could tell it was so different there. It felt like a family. I was going there to do homework and hang out; making waffle batter at 9 in the morning, just to be there. Everybody wanted to do that, too. I wanted to stay here the rest of my life and scoop ice cream, but I was studying finance and entrepreneurship. I graduated, started working for another company, and in February David and Mary approached me about buying the shop. I immediately said yes and put my two weeks in. It’s been fun. Alec and the wallpaper that started it all. What’s your UMKC story? I actually started at Mizzou. The campus is beautiful. My friends there were amazing. It just wasn’t the culture I wanted, and I quickly realized that. After three weeks, I told my parents “I think I’m going to come home at semester and go to UMKC.” That was a big step for me, personally. So, I came to Kansas City to start at UMKC and loved it. Coming back here was the best decision I ever made. Sophomore year, I moved to England for six months, serving with youth there. It was a lot of fun. I took classes online while doing that, which again was the total opposite of what I thought I wanted to do. I was going to be done in four years, maybe three. Anything that got in the way of that was a distraction. And again, it was one of the best decisions I made. I learned a lot about myself and about people. I came back junior year and finished out here. Were you involved in any extra-curricular activities? Enactus was my main extra-curricular. I loved it. Working at the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation kept me busy, but it also kept me involved in so many things here on campus and in the city. I would help with the Venture Hub and a few other services Regnier provided. Betty Rae scoopers hard at work. How did your UMKC education prepare you for your career? Well, the thing I hated the most was group projects. Seriously. I knew I’d get stuck with the work of someone else the night before because they aren’t ready. Expectations wouldn’t match. Some peoples' were way up here and others were down here. That said, those experiences have served me more than anything else. Plus, getting to make connections here in Kansas City, going to school here and staying here, you foster a lot of relationships that I wouldn’t have had staying at Columbia. That’s been a huge advantage. The professors here were and are amazing. I still talk to them. I just texted one yesterday. I feel like that’s hard to find, because on a larger campus, you’re a number, which makes sense. They can’t be close to everyone. Here you’re in class of 25-40 people. You know the professor, and they know you. You get to learn from them not only as an instructor, but a person, too. It was awesome. One more hard-hitting question: What is the best ice cream flavor? We have rotating flavors and we have stationary flavors. My favorite rotating flavor, my favorite flavor of them all, is the Joe’s Burnt Ends. Stationary, I have to go for Goat Cheese, Apricot and Candied Walnut. Alec shows off his favorite flavor of ice cream, featuring Joe's KC's burnt ends. Jun 28, 2021

  • Did You Know That Colorado Has an Active Volcano in the Rockies?

    Assistant professor of geosciences lends her expertise
    “Because of the position of Dotsero being on the edge of the Colorado Plateau, there’s a possibility for future eruptions, but it’s much lower than in places like the Caribbean, where we know that magma is being made at depth regularly,” Alison Graettinger, assistant professor of geosciences at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, told Denver7. Jun 25, 2021

  • The Hollywood Reporter Gives UMKC Theatre Another Top Ranking

    Master of fine arts program consistently recognized as one of the best performing arts schools
    The Hollywood Reporter’s recent rankings have the University of Missouri-Kansas City Theatre graduate program among the top 25 in the U.S. for top dramatic and performing arts schools for the second year in a row. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the publication consulted with academics, influencers and alums to rank the top 25 master of fine arts acting programs. In the article, the publication ranked UMKC 23rd, up one spot from last year, and highlighted UMKC for bringing theatre, music and dance departments under one roof: the UMKC Conservatory. For the fourth year in a row, The Hollywood Reporter has also included UMKC Theatre in its list of Top 10 Costume Design schools. UMKC Theatre offers a single comprehensive M.F.A. degree in costume design and technology, which has been key to its success. Students learn many skills including drawing, painting, sketching and learning how to construct a garment with techniques in fabric manipulation, millinery, tailoring and pattern drafting. “This is a true testament to the long history of the program, the work the of the tremendous faculty, staff, students and alumni have been able to do over the years.,” said Ken Martin, Patricia McIlrath Endowed professor of Theatre and chair of UMKC Theatre. “As we move forward, grow and change, we expect to build on our reputation of excellence, and to continue to help bring young artists into the world of acting, design, management and technology.” Martin was named chair of the UMKC Theatre Department when it merged with the Conservatory in 2019. The merger was a natural alignment: the two programs share a long history of collaboration, a physical space, a teaching model featuring intensive hands-on training for students while they gain analytical skills taught by professional performing artists, a professional-school focus, a strong national reputation, a spirit of civic engagement and a supportive philanthropic audience. In addition to its on-campus partnership with Kansas City Repertory Theatre, this year the program continues to partner with Unicorn Theatre, Coterie Theatre and Kansas City Actors Theatre, featuring MFA and Bachelor of Arts acting students in major professional roles.  Alumni include Nick Gehlfuss of “Chicago Med,” Patrick DuLaney of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” on Broadway and Toccara Cash of Broadway’s “The Play That Goes Wrong” and “Half Me, Half You” at London’s West End. Jun 24, 2021

  • Courtney Frerichs Is Back In The Olympics

    Local media celebrate UMKC alumna's return to Olympics
    Courtney Frerichs. UMKC alumna from Nixa, Missouri, qualified for her second straight Olympics in her signature event, the 3,000-meter steeplechase, late Thursday at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon. Read more from The Kansas City Star, which was picked up by the Marietta Daily Journal. More headlines: Naive and Scared No More, UMKC’s Courtney Frerichs Poised to Medal at Tokyo Olympics - The Kansas City Star (subscription required) Nearly A Dozen Kansas City Area Athletes Will Compete At Tokyo Olympics - Fox4KC UMKC Alumna Courtney Frerichs Qualifies for 2020 Tokyo Olympics - KSHB Jun 24, 2021

  • Conservatory Students Are Apprentice Artists for Lyric Opera

    Kansas City performing arts media highlights UMKC Conservatory students in Apprentice Artist Program for the 2021-2022 season
    The artists for the Apprentice Artist Program for the 2021-2022 season include UMKC students Soprano Amy Stuart-Flunker and Mezzo-Soprano Katarina Galagaza. Read the story in The Pitch. This was also covered by KC Applauds. Jun 24, 2021

  • Students, Community Members Honored For LGBTQIA Advocacy, Support

    UMKC celebrates 17th annual Lavender Graduation and Pride Awards
    Students, faculty, staff and alumni were honored during the University of Missouri-Kansas City 17th annual Lavender Graduation and Pride Awards Celebration. “While this year has certainly been unconventional, it’s all the more reason for us to celebrate the accomplishments our incredible students have,” Kari Jo Freudigmann said in her welcome address. Freudigmann is the assistant director for LGBTQIA Programs and Services in the Office of Student Involvement. The department organizes the annual banquet, which took place virtually on May 5 this year due to COVID-19. “At its foundation, the Lavender Graduation ceremony celebrates the achievements of graduates across the spectrum of sexual and gender diversity,” Freudigmann said. The event celebrates LGBTQIA graduates and Pride Award recipients. The awards recognize members of the UMKC community who have contributed to the betterment of the LGBTQIA community through education, support, programming or activism. “These recipients have demonstrated not only a commitment to LGBTQIA equality, but represent a challenge for us to continually do better as a community, fulfilling our commitment to social justice,” Freudigmann said. Kole Keeney (B.S. Computer Science ‘21) was the celebration’s keynote speaker. Keeney said when he was introduced to UMKC’s LGBTQIA programs and services four years ago, he “had no idea the opportunities it would lead to.” “When I first came out as trans(gender) in my small town, I was afraid I was doomed to a life of hardship and loneliness, but once I set foot in the rainbow lounge, I realized that life still had the potential to be the exact opposite — to be filled with love, acceptance and most importantly, rainbows,” Keeney said during his speech. “Always remember that you make the world a better place, not in spite of who you are, but because of who you are.” Outstanding Faculty & Staff Award, recognizes LGBTQIA, or allied facility and staff, who have contributed to a positive campus climate for LGBTQIA individuals. Alberto Villamandos, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Foreign Languages and Literature Department. Villamandos has changed the curriculum of undergraduate and graduate Spanish classes to include more queer people of color in readings. He also has open conversations in the classroom about intersex, lesbian, gay and bisexual liberation. Jim Wanser Award, recognizes individuals who have volunteered hours of service to the UMKC LGBTQIA community or greater Kansas City LGBTQIA community. Bridget Wray is the publicity chair of the Sexuality and Gender Alliance Council and has provided leadership both on campus and in the greater Kansas City community. She helped develop Kansas City’s first LGBTQIA job fair, which featured over 25 employers and had over 300 attendees. “Always remember that you make the world a better place, not in spite of who you are, but because of who you are.” — Kole Keeney Outstanding Alumni Award, recognizes one UMKC alumnus who works toward fostering an inclusive community at UMKC, or in the community in which they live and work. Samantha Ruggles holds a nonprofit management degree from UMKC and is the former Executive Director of the Kansas City Center for Inclusion. During her time at KCCI, she turned Kansas City’s only queer center into a well-known establishment. Under her leadership, KCCI was able to build community partners, host multiple weekly events and host queer proms. Collaborative Excellence Award, recognizes departments or campus organizations whose collaborative efforts have resulted in important resources and services for LGBTQIA students, faculty, staff or community members. Kim Kushner and the New Student and Family Program in the Office of Student Involvement. Even in the last year amid COVID restrictions, Kushner and her office connected LGBTQIA students with campus resources. She has done this through numerous tabling events in the Student Union, as well as through The First Semester Experience. LGBTQIA Student of the Year, recognizes one student for outstanding leadership, dedication and service within the university of in the community. Elise Byers (’21), a School of Education graduate, served as Secretary of the Sexuality and Gender Alliance Council. The organization, which she previously served as Vice President, works to foster an environment of respect and appreciation around issues of diversity, including race, gender, ethnicity, social justice, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. She was described by her nominator as “an advocate both inside and outside of the classroom.“It’s really nice to celebrate this and feel loved and safe, to feel comfortable and just proud,” Byers said. “I really loved being a part of UMKC and all of the queer groups on campus, which have been so welcoming and exciting to be a part of.” All graduates were given a lavender stole to wear at commencement, which took place the weekend of May 15-16.   Jun 23, 2021

  • International Alumni Serve on Sustainability Research Panel

    Experts in mobility, climate and food waste share their knowledge
    Three UMKC alumni who work at high levels in the sustainability field around the globe participated in the 10th Annual Sustainability Research Symposium this year. The guest speaker panel featured College of Arts and Sciences alumni Rebecca Karbaumer (’06), James Mitchell (’13) and Penny Harrell (‘16). Karbaumer is the mobility director for the City of Bremen, Germany and a promoter of mobility across the European Union. She is responsible for implementing Bremen’s Car-Sharing Action Plan and coordinating the Interreg North Sea Region project about shared mobility called SHARE-North. Mitchell, a director at the Center for Climate-Aligned Finance and a principal at the Rocky Mountain Institute, is from London, England. He led the development of the Poseidon Principles, which launched in June 2019 as the first global climate-alignment agreement for financial institutions. Harrell is a local graduate serving in the Environmental Protection Agency. Food waste is her specialty, and she organizes the Sustainable Food Management Summit at Wichita State University. 99 students submitted projects for the symposium. Those projects can still be viewed online. Jun 23, 2021

  • Things To Do Around Kansas City: Monster Jam, Styx And Return Of Children’s Theater

    Kansas City Star includes the performance “Dragons Love Tacos” by the Coterie and performed by UMKC Theatre’s 306 Theatre Troupe
    The Coterie will present “Dragons Love Tacos,” performed by UMKC Theatre’s 306 Theatre Troupe, outside in the Crown Center Square’s Entertainment Pavilion, opening at 10 a.m. June 30 and running through Aug. 8. Tickets ($12-$15) and more information are available at thecoterie.org. Read more. (subscription required) Jun 23, 2021

  • Professor's Heat Mapping Project to Show Who Suffers Most in Kansas City Heat

    The Kansas City Star talked to Fengpeng Sun, UMKC Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences assistant professor
    Summer heat can be deadly and some populations are at more risk because of their location.  “We want to show and study how the excessive warming pattern is distributed across our backyard in the KC metro area,” said Fengpeng Sun, assistant professor with the University of Missouri-Kansas City Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, which is leading the campaign to find out where those heat islands exist in Kansas City. Read the full story. Watch the video. (subscription required) Jun 23, 2021

  • UMKC Med School’s New St. Joe Campus Recognized for Vaccine Efforts

    Entire class of UMKC med students has been certified and volunteered to give COVID vaccines.
    It didn’t take long for the inaugural class at the UMKC School of Medicine’s new St. Joseph campus to make an impact on rural medicine. January, as the COVID vaccines were ramping up, the entire class of 20 UMKC medicine students at Mosaic Life Care in St. Joseph took up the charge to become fully vaccinated vaccinators themselves. For their efforts, the Patterson Family Foundation, a Kansas City family-led foundation promoting rural health care, awarded the school and Mosaic a $15,000 gift to use in recognition and support of their rural medicine vaccination efforts. “A lot of individuals as well as the medical centers they work for really put a lot of resources, time and energy into getting the (rural) population vaccinated,” said Steve Waldman, M.D., dean of the school’s St. Joseph campus. “This is a very gracious gesture from the Patterson Family Foundation in recognition of the Mosaic-UMKC School of Medicine partnership and our efforts working in tandem to get the rural community vaccinated.” The School of Medicine opened the St. Joseph campus in January in an effort to address the need for more rural physicians. Waldman said nobody realized just how quickly the effort would begin paying dividends. UMKC students at Mosaic were only weeks into their medical school training when they became certified to administer vaccines and joined the volunteer effort to reach rural patients. They even administered shots to members of the school’s faculty as part of their vaccine training.   “The vision of the St. Joseph campus to increase additional rural health care providers was achieved and it occurred just a few weeks into the start of classes,” Waldman said. “In partnership with Mosaic Life Care, 100 percent of our students were trained as vaccinators and 100 percent of them volunteered to administer COVID vaccines. We didn’t have to wait four years for our students to start giving back. It happened immediately." Davin Turner, D.O., chief medical officer at Mosaic Life Care, said: “The students from UMKC School of Medicine were an amazing resource for Mosaic and their contribution was invaluable. We were honored to work side by side with the students as they assisted with our vaccination efforts. We could not have administered the more than 47,000 first and second doses without their tireless efforts. To have them part of our Mosaic community has been an immediate benefit, and we can’t thank them enough. We are grateful others such as the Patterson Family Foundation recognized their efforts as well.” The gift from the Patterson Foundation will be used to reward and recognize those who gave their time and in some cases took the risk early on to volunteer before being fully vaccinated. Waldman said part of the funds would also go to training additional vaccinators. “Hopefully they’ll never be needed, but we’re excited about being a lot more prepared,” he said. Jun 22, 2021

  • Liberty Hospital Launches Cutting Edge Breast Care Center In Northland

    Fox4KC reports on new breast care center led by UMKC alumna
    Amy Patel, medical director of the new Breast Care Center at Liberty Hospital, is a UMKC School of Medicine alumna and assistant professor of radiology. Read the story and watch the newscast. Jun 22, 2021

  • 35 Fellows Chosen For Cleveland Institute Of Music Future Of Music Faculty Fellowship

    UMKC Conservatory student is one of 35 fellows mentioned in Broadway World article
    Mark Bonner Jr., graduate assistant and doctoral candidate at the UMKC Conservatory, clinician and arranger, was chosen as a fellow for the 2021 Future of Music Faculty Fellowship Program. Jun 22, 2021

  • No, COVID Shots Won’t Give You Shingles. Here’s what causes it, what you need to know

    David Bamberger, UMKC professor of medicine, weighs-in on vaccine and shingles
    People often feel the pain before the rash breaks out, said David Bamberger, professor of medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and chief of infectious diseases at Truman Medical Centers/University Health. The Kansas City Star story was picked up by MSN Canada. Jun 21, 2021

  • Missouri’s Medicaid Expansion Hearing Scheduled For Monday

    KSHB taps Allen Rostron, School of Law professor
    “So a lawsuit has been filed saying you need to follow through on what the Missouri voters ordered you to do,” Allen Rostron, a law professor at UMKC, said. “They set the direction for this and you have to follow their instruction. The state, the attorney general’s argument, is basically saying, ‘no we don’t have to because it’s up to us to make the decision about the appropriation of money to pay for it.’” Read the story and watch the newscast. Jun 20, 2021

  • The World’s 25 Best Drama Schools, Ranked

    The Hollywood Reporter again ranks UMKC Theatre
    UMKC Theatre was No. 23 on the list. Jun 19, 2021

  • Building A Network To Support NextGen Missouri Manufacturing

    Missouri Ag Connection interviewed Dean Kevin Truman about roundtable events aimed at strengthening Missouri’s manufacturing sector
    Missouri manufacturers, chambers of commerce and business and economic development organizations will team up with University of Missouri System researchers over the next 18 months in a series of roundtable events across the state aimed at strengthening Missouri’s manufacturing sector. The roundtable effort recognizes that these smaller manufacturers can have an outsized impact on the overall economic health of smaller, rural communities, said Kevin Truman, dean of the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering and a member of the core Consortium grant team. Read the full article. Jun 18, 2021

  • Alumna Provides ‘Battle Cry’ for Voices of Color

    Physician Maria Uloko, M.D. (’15), a graduate of the School of Medicine, produces a popular podcast spotlighting people of color succeeding in STEM...
    At first, Maria Uloko (’15) was proud of the looks of surprise, joy and comfort on the faces of people of color when she walked into a hospital room, and the patients saw a physician who looked like them. Soon, however, she began to question a society that still views Black physicians and scientists as an anomaly. The situation made her angry, but after the murder of George Floyd last year, her anger hardened into resolve. She had been thinking about starting a podcast to highlight the achievements of people of color in STEM fields, but that summer, “someday” turned into “now.” She launched “Battle Cry,” a podcast highlighting leaders of color in science, technology, engineering and medicine. On the podcast Twitter page, she proclaims, “We are here, we persevere, we resist then repeat.” Today, Uloko practices urology at San Diego Sexual Medicine. Here are excerpts from a recent conversation with her. When did you launch Battle Cry and why? I started Battle Cry in the Summer of 2020 in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder. I had always had the idea of creating a storytelling podcast that tells the stories of BIPOC (Black, indigenous and people of color) in STEM and who they were. Often in these spaces, our voices and narratives are drowned out to fit into an institution that historically excluded us. With the rigorous training schedule of a surgical resident, it always felt more like a future project that I would do later in life. But after that horrific event, the urgency of creating something to reclaim my voice was pronounced. So, I just dove in and stopped worrying about perfection because the mission was so much greater than the need for perfection. Why is spotlighting people of color working in STEM important to you? I am the first of many in spaces that were never intended for me. I was the first woman from UMKC School of Medicine to match into the competitive field of genitourinary surgery (urology), the first Black class president there and the first Black woman to graduate from the University of Minnesota urology department. I wear those titles with a mixture of pride and pure exhaustion. I lead with my race and identity because it is something I cannot separate myself from – nor would I want to. It is the first thing patients see when I enter a room and is oftentimes what defines our interaction. During my medical training, I started noticing that every time I walked into a room of a patient of color, I would get a look of surprise, joy, comfort and elation radiating from their faces. For many of them, this was the first time they were getting care from someone that looked like them and shared their unique background and experience. These moments initially filled me with such pride that I could give back to my people in such a meaningful way. But then as the years went on, that pride turned into anger, resentment and sorrow. How was it that my 75-year-old patient had never had a Black physician? Why did I keep hearing “I never knew I could be a doctor” by numerous children, teens, and adults in this day and age when there is so much information and technology at our fingertips? I was angry at a system that told Black and brown children they could not be whatever they wanted. I was resentful that these people could have been my colleagues if they had been supported or they had someone who believed that they could and showed them the way. And I was full of sorrow at so much lost potential to improve health care and save lives within Black, brown and lower socioeconomic communities. How was it that they did not realize that they not only DESERVED to be treated by people that understand them, but it could actually save their lives? There are numerous studies showing that patients of color treated by providers of color have better outcomes and survival. These encounters broke my heart, but with heartbreak comes action. The words – “I never knew we could be doctors” – replayed over and over in my head. These children weren’t being exposed to people that looked like them in the STEM fields. I lead with my race and identity because it is something I cannot separate myself from – nor would I want to. It is the first thing patients see when I enter a room and is oftentimes what defines our interaction. You typically go beyond career-oriented stories to portray your subjects as people, not just scientists. Why is that important to you? I've always loved narrative storytelling. Stories define us, shape us, control us and make us. I think there is immense power when people share their story and what makes them, "them." It wasn't until college/medical school that I finally began hearing stories of other BIPOC doing such cool things, usually through podcasts. But finding people interested in STEM was still difficult. I knew that if I was going to do the hard work of anti-racism work and sustain my mental and emotional health, I wanted to do it through storytelling. I wanted to create a platform where I could give the microphone to these voices who have had to fight to get to where they were. I wanted our collective voices and stories to be a roaring and deafening battle cry, that we will not be silenced nor stop fighting. Hence the name, Battle Cry. Stories define us, shape us, control us and make us. I think there is immense power when people share their story and what makes them, "them." How has Battle Cry been received? I am shocked by the popularity of the podcast. I honestly kept making the episodes as a form of healing during a really traumatic and ugly moment in our nation’s history. My goal was that if I could just expose one person to know they can do anything, all the time and commitment was worth it. I did not think this would be heard in six continents and making top podcast lists in several countries. It goes to show that people are more than ready for these stories. I wanted our collective voices and stories to be a roaring and deafening battle cry, that we will not be silenced nor stop fighting. Hence the name, Battle Cry. Did your experiences at UMKC influence your decision to launch the podcast, or influence its content? In what ways? UMKC SOM is a very diverse place, and it was the first place where I felt celebrated for my differences, which was very affirming. The confidence of knowing who I am as a person and what my unique background attributed to my success is something I will always be grateful for. But even in this diverse place, I still had several encounters at UMKC that were frankly racist and shone the light on the disparities in health care and representation, which started my exploration of the historical context of why these disparities exist. Tell us a little about your current medical practice: I am a urologic surgeon in San Diego specializing in comprehensive sexual health including male and female sexual dysfunction and transgender care. Jun 17, 2021

  • Alumna Talks About Life as a Work-From-Home Pharmacist

    Katherine Lurk reflects on the opportunities that abound for School of Pharmacy graduates
    A work-from-home pharmacist, Katherine Lurk (’10) supports TrestleTree clients across the country with drug education and medication therapy designed to drive behavioral changes toward improved health and lower costs. With her clinical expertise, she also plays an important role on the company’s business development team. How would you describe your current job as a pharmacist? For the past 5-plus years, I have served TrestleTree in a clinical capacity, supporting a National Health Plan. As a pharmacist, I support client members with medication therapy management and solutions for drug and disease related concerns. I maintain active pharmacist licensure in 46 states plus Washington, D.C. That enables me to work directly with members in all parts of the United States. Additionally, I provide consultative support to the client's team of nurse case managers and for internal team of Health Coaches. I have also recently joined the business development team, bringing my clinical expertise and knowledge of TrestleTree's in-depth training and model for health transformation to new clients. My ongoing goal in this role is to build relationships and promote business expansion with large employer groups and benefit consultants to create behavior change and sustainable health improvements for individuals and families across the country. What does a typical day look like in your role? Typically, I provide clinical support to health coaching participants directly through telephone interactions and indirectly via phone and email communication with TrestleTree Health Coaches and nurse case managers. I also work with the business development team seeking new opportunities for business growth, providing presentations for potential clients, developing and implementing a marketing strategy, and learning the inner workings of business operations. It has been a very humbling, yet exciting, experience to employ my clinical expertise in the business world.  What do you most enjoy about your particular job? I enjoy my team and the leadership at TrestleTree. From the top down, this company is infused with goodness, kindness and compassion. And, we practice what we preach. We believe everyone deserves the opportunity to live in good health. TrestleTree has a mission to create sustainable change for individuals in all walks of life. Why did you decide on Pharmacy as a career choice? Growing up, I discovered a love for science, particularly chemistry. I chose pharmacy because of the diversity in career opportunities, along with the ability to develop a career that aligned with my life goals. I wanted to create a fulfilling, professional career with work-life balance that enabled me to enjoy my family, too. What were your plans as a pharmacist when you started school? Initially, I had a passion for oncology. I wanted to be an oncology specialty pharmacist providing expertise in this complex field, especially around medication management. After completing my first year of residency, my plans changed and propelled me into a completely different area of practice.   How do you see the roles of pharmacists continuing to evolve in the future? Opportunities for pharmacists continue to expand beyond traditional roles. Pharmacists possess a unique skill set that can be applied in research and business-driven roles along with clinical and industry specializations. With a recent transition to the business side, I have experienced first-hand the value of clinical knowledge and experience when sharing the inner workings of a company focused on improving health and optimizing clinical outcomes. What would be your best advice for someone thinking about a career in pharmacy? Keep an open mind and always look for unique opportunities. Be mindful of pivot points in your journey, the key decisions that will determine your path and the direction of your life. Embrace leadership roles early and throughout your education and develop relationships with instructors and peers.   Why should someone pick the UMKC School of Pharmacy? UMKC offers a strong pharmacy education with many opportunities for students to explore their interests and develop their passions. It is also incredibly unique that the School of Pharmacy is located on Hospital Hill with the medical, dental and nursing schools creating a collaborative environment for learning and a team approach to clinical practice. How did your time at the UMKC School of Pharmacy help prepare you for your current role as a pharmacist? UMKC's rigorous academics provided me strong clinical skills and knowledge that I built upon during residency and years of clinical practice. I also embraced leadership opportunities in various organizations and worked closely with faculty and staff. These relationships proved to be valuable for referrals into internships and residency programs, and many of them remain part of my pharmacy network today. What do you do outside of work for fun? I enjoy spending time with family and friends, nice dinners, summers on the water, and watching my kids play the sports they love. Being a mom is the best and I'm grateful for a career that provides a balance between family and work. Jun 16, 2021

  • Nursing Professor Helps Shape KC’s New Health Improvement Plan

    Joseph Lightner says plan aims to counter racism and its effects before they lead to chronic illness
    Kansas City has a new, ambitious Community Health Improvement Plan addressing the underlying causes of poor health in the city, thanks in part to Joseph Lightner, an assistant professor in the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies. Mayor Quinton Lucas appointed Lightner to the Kansas City Health Commission in spring of 2020, and he was co-chair of its committee that drew up the new plan. Cities revise their Community Health Improvement Plans, CHIPS for short, every five years as part of their national accreditation. “The city’s plan drawn up in 2016 was innovative by focusing on social determinants of health — including homelessness, inadequate school finance, lack of transportation and access to health care — instead of the chronic health conditions that result,” said Lightner. He worked for the Kansas City Health Department as its liaison to the Health Commission before he joined the UMKC faculty in 2018. “This 2022-2027 plan takes that one step further, acknowledging the systemic racism that’s underneath so many of the conditions that lead to poor health,” he said. “Kansas City is really a leader in focusing upstream at these causes, to try to solve the problem before it becomes the chronic diseases.” That focus is needed, the plan says, as Kansas City has been identified as the fifth most racially and economically segregated city in the United States. Lightner, who has a master’s in public health and a doctorate in kinesiology, said the plan detailed goals for the city in six areas: public health infrastructure; safe and affordable housing; well-financed and trauma-informed education; violence prevention; implementation of Medicaid expansion; and equitable access to COVID-19 testing, vaccination and treatment resources. “Even in a pandemic, most people die of chronic health conditions and the diseases they lead to, whether it’s obesity, diabetes, hypertension or something else related.” — Joseph Lightner, assistant professor The pandemic showed the need for more public health capacity, Lightner said, especially in underserved areas. The plan notes that Missouri ranks 49th for state public health spending, making local and federal financing all the more important. The city does a good job with its own resources and attracting federal money, Lightner said, “but we need more.” The plan starts by noting that the life-expectancy gap between ZIP codes with mainly white populations and those with mainly Black residents is wide, 18.2 years between the best and worst ZIP codes, and only grew wider from 2016 to 2019. Though Kansas City’s health challenges are big, Lightner said the new plan’s goals could make a difference in the lives of thousands of residents. The plan was approved by the City Council, and resolutions and ordinances to advance several of the goals have already been introduced. “Even in a pandemic, most people die of chronic health conditions and the diseases they lead to, whether it’s obesity, diabetes, hypertension or something else related,” Lightner said. “And people with these conditions, in poor health already, fare the worst from COVID.” Lightner’s experience includes helping launch the nursing school’s undergraduate public health curriculum and getting students involved in innovative research that brings fitness and nutrition programs to area schools. He hopes his work on the Health Commission will further improve how the city tackles its health challenges. “Working in the community is so important for our faculty,” he said, “to use our research to improve people’s lives and support the Kansas City community.” Jun 16, 2021

  • 2 Kansas City Area Colleges to Require COVID Vaccine, Others ‘Strongly Recommend’ It

    KCTV5 reports on Kansas City area colleges' requirements for COVID vaccine
    Many area colleges are strongly recommending, yet not requiring the vaccine; Ottawa University, Mizzou, UMKC, UCM, Park University, Pittsburg State, MCC , KCKCC, JCCC and Benedictine College. Read the full article and watch the newscast.  Jun 15, 2021

  • Tom Corbin Is the Kansas City Sculptor Behind the Roo Statue Recently Unveiled On the University of Missouri-Kansas City Campus.

    A KCUR conversation with the artist of the Corbin Roo
    In addition to the kangaroo, Tom Corbin just finished work on a bronze life-size statue of President Harry S. Truman that will eventually find its home in Washington, D.C.  Jun 15, 2021

  • Miller to Lead Professional Mobility Escalator Program

    Signature new program provides unique system of personalized support to help students graduate career-ready
    Mako Miller, M.A.Ed, an experienced educational professional with an extensive background in career development, has been named director of the Professional Mobility Escalator program, the university’s signature new program providing a unique system of personalized support and services to propel students from their educational aspirations to good-paying careers. The escalator program, a centerpiece initiative of the UMKC Forward plan, will launch in Fall Semester 2022. Miller comes to UMKC from Kauffman Scholars, where she has served as Career Services Manager for the last four years. She is past president of the Missouri Career Development Association, current president of the Kansas Association of Colleges and Employers and co-founder of Young Professionals of Color-Kansas City. She holds degrees from UMKC and Kansas State University, and has served on the UMKC School of Education Alumni Association Board of Directors. Her role at Kauffman Scholars has included planning and implementing comprehensive career development experiences for college students, while developing ongoing relationships with Kansas City-area employers to facilitate connections with students. “Mako comes to this position with a strong network of connections in the Kansas City community,” said Kristi Holsinger, Ph.D., senior vice provost for student success. “Her innovative thinking and enthusiasm will allow her to be a strategic, collaborative leader and a strong contributor to UMKC’s Culture of Care. The escalators will be open to all admitted students, but the program 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. At Kauffman Scholars, Miller created Roundtable Represent, a program that intentionally recruits professionals of color to connect and network with students to discuss issues around diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace and build relationships that allow students to see people who look like them in professional settings. The initiative supports two key missions of the university: student success and community engagement. It will include applied learning experiences in the community, mentorship, support for admission to advanced professional education, and leadership training.  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 program components are shaped by empirical evidence on the most effective contributors to student success in higher education. Each escalator will be created in alignment with the academic discipline and provide meaningful and ongoing experiences in the following areas: Career Discovery, Guidance & Development Mentoring and Assessment with Student Support Referrals Applied Learning Experience (such as internship, job shadowing, service learning) Professional Access Preparation (such as test prep, personal statement, interviews, letters of recommendation, timelines) Leadership Development Credential (focusing on inclusive excellence, attaining durable/essential skills) Jun 14, 2021

  • Crossing the Bridge From Campus to Career

    Meet five recent UMKC graduates who went straight from campus to the first stage of a rewarding career
    More than 2,300 UMKC students participated in commencement exercises at Kauffman Stadium in May, and many of them went straight from campus to ballpark to the first stage of a rewarding career. Meet four members of the UMKC Class of 2021 – and one who returned to celebrate her 2020 graduation in a pandemic-delayed ceremony. Courtney Collins ’21 Henry W. Bloch School of Management Where will you be working, and what excites you about this opportunity to launch a career? I will be doing the Estee Lauder summer internship. There are about 100 interns from across the country that are placed on teams. Estee Launder has 25 to 30 brands in everything from cosmetics to skincare to fragrances. I will be the marketing intern for two of the luxury fragrance brands. Some of my responsibilities will include working with budding influencers and learning and reviewing customer insights. I’m excited to put what I have learned at UMKC into practice and hopefully have a full-time offer by the end of summer. How did your UMKC education make this possible? I made a ton of great connections through the Bloch School. I completed a full-time internship with SkillPath in Kansas City. I was also on executive boards for both a business fraternity and a social sorority. Those helped to really round out my experiences on campus and helped me develop skills that were easily translatable in interview situations. In the spring of 2020 I completed a study abroad program in Spain where I was able to take an international marketing class. My professors abroad were super helpful in giving insight on the international marketing industry, so that helped open up a door for me that I could pursue. Courtney Collins   What are your long-term career goals? I had this running joke with my friends, because UMKC has so many specific programs like pre-law and pre-med, I would tell people that I’m pre-CEO. It’s what I would love to do, be a leader of a group or an organization. It’s truly humbling to be in those positions. I would also love to be a brand manager or do something in the creative field. But in the long run I would love to potentially start my own company. "Because UMKC has so many specific programs like pre-law and pre-med, I would tell people that I’m pre-CEO." — Courtney Collins   Jacob Furry ’21 Conservatory Where will you be working, and what excites you about this opportunity to launch a career? I'll be teaching K-5 general music at Welborn Elementary School in Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools. I'm looking forward to applying what I've learned during my time at UMKC to my own classroom this fall! I'll be teaching music to more than 500 kids at Welborn, which seems a bit daunting, admittedly, but I'm confident it will be very fulfilling. It's inspiring how much KCKPS supports the arts, and I'm excited to start my career within that community. How did your UMKC education make this possible, in terms of classes, extracurriculars, internships, service-learning opportunities, networking opportunities, etc.? The thoroughness of the curriculum in the music education program at UMKC and the overwhelming support I've received from the faculty has allowed me to approach my first year of teaching with confidence. I know I don't have all the answers, and that I'll undoubtedly struggle as a first-year teacher, but UMKC has given me mentors and colleagues that I can always lean on for support. Jacob Furry at Welborn Elementary School   One of my favorite things about the music education program at UMKC is the large amount of time pre-service teachers are able to spend in real classrooms. During my time at UMKC, I had observation/student teaching placements in four schools across three districts in the KC metro area, ranging K-12. These placements offered a wide breadth of experiences working with many different kinds of students, allowing me to figure out exactly what I enjoyed doing the most. I landed on teaching elementary music! "I had an amazing experience with undergraduate research while a student at UMKC, and I was even able to present my work at a national music education conference this year." — Jacob Furry What are your long-term career goals? I definitely plan on going back to school in the future. I had an amazing experience with undergraduate research while a student at UMKC, and I was even able to present my work at a national music education conference this year. I've found that education is a very dynamic field. We're always learning new and better ways to help students succeed, and I loved being able to make a small contribution to that evolving knowledge base through my own research. After I get some real-world teaching experience under my belt, I'd love to do more of that.   Tami Greenberg ’20 Henry W. Bloch School of Management Greenberg has served as CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City for six years, and will continue in that role after earning an Executive Master of Business Administration degree. Where will you be working, and what excites you about this opportunity to enhance your career? I undertook the Executive MBA journey not to “launch” my career, but to enhance and strengthen it.  I am excited about demonstrating in my daily role the things I learned in the program, including leadership, strategy, business acumen, financial management, advocacy, marketing, innovation, influence and persuasion. Tami Greenberg, third from left in front row, with her EMBA cohort at commencement   How did your UMKC education make this possible? I enjoyed how we moved through in a cohort learning model. Our group became very close, and we learned not just from our professors and classes, but also from one another. I believe strongly that “sharp knives make each other sharper,” and I am grateful for all the “sharp knives” I got to know through my UMKC executive education. And I would be remiss if I did not mention all the extraordinary guest speakers – I felt lucky to have such access to the leaders who visited our program. One of the promises of the EMBA at UMKC is “you learn something on Saturday, that you put into practice the following Monday.” I found that to be true while I was actively in the program, and it continues to be true now. What are your long-term career goals? It is an honor and privilege to keep families close to their seriously ill children. With three Ronald McDonald Houses and a Ronald Family Room here in Kansas City, we serve 87 families with sick kids every night. My long-term career goals are to be the best possible leader for this organization, to ensure that we are delivering our mission with excellence and care, and to maintain the highest possible business standards in leading this team and this work.   Fiona Isiavwe ’21 Henry W. Bloch School of Management Tell me how you found the job opportunity with Deloitte, what is your title there and what excites you about this opportunity to launch your career?  I will be starting off as an audit assistant with Deloitte. I was on the executive board of four student organizations, serving part-time as a Supplemental Instruction Leader and enrolled in 15 credit hours, while maintaining a 4.0 cumulative GPA when a national recruiter with Deloitte reached out to me via Handshake. Deloitte is filled with some of the brightest minds across the globe. I am excited to be able to work alongside such incredibly talented people, learn and continually challenge myself, and have fun during the process!  How did your UMKC education make this possible, in terms of classes, extracurriculars, internships, service learning opportunities, networking opportunities, etc.?   I remember when I was first scouted by my recruiter, she remarked that my Handshake profile had stood out to her from the others. My access to Handshake was provided through the UMKC Bloch career services department. My academic achievements were a testament to the academic resources available at UMKC. At the Bloch school, I was surrounded by faculty who believed in me and took the time to mentor and encourage me. Fiona Isiavwe   In addition, the academic resources available like Supplemental Instruction, the tutoring center, writing studio and labs were of huge help to my academic success and I found the networking opportunities organized by the Bloch school to be worthwhile. I remember always leaving feeling ignited upon listening to the experiences of Bloch alumni and guests. Their stories made me feel like my dreams were valid, possible, and attainable. "I want others to see that their hopes and dreams are valid, possible, and attainable." — Fiona Isiavwe   What are your long-term career goals?  I am grateful for this opportunity and hope to work my way up, gaining as much insight as I can along the way. I hope to venture into special projects back home in Nigeria and across the globe, give back and be a testament to those in positions where I once was. I want others to see that their hopes and dreams are valid, possible, and attainable.     Emma Stark ’21 School of Nursing and Health Studies Stark will be working at North Kansas City Hospital as a nurse technician until she takes her Nursing Licensure Exam and will then start her role as a critical care nurse. Where will you be working and what excites you about this opportunity to launch a career? I will be working at North Kansas City Hospital as a critical care float nurse, working in the hospital’s various intensive care units as well as the emergency department. I am excited to continue working on the front lines serving the greater Kansas City area. Nursing is an ever-changing and growing career field and I am excited to continue learning every day.  How did your UMKC education make this possible? UMKC opened many doors for me within my field. I was provided almost double the clinical hours of many other programs and this allowed me to develop connections with many leaders within the nursing profession. UMKC also made sure I was able to experience different nursing settings and hospitals so I could determine my passion.  My first-ever clinical placement is actually how I discovered North Kansas City Hospital and fell in love with their mission.  What are your long-term career goals? I know I want to pursue higher education. I want to help reform the health care system in our country and make health care more accessible to the entire population. I have a passion for helping people and I specifically want to make a difference in impoverished and underserved communities. Jun 14, 2021

  • Pandemic Schooling Was Tough, But This Kansas City Student Teacher Wouldn’t Change A Thing

    KCUR features UMKC School of Education alumnus Khalil Jones
    Khalil Jones spent most of the year teaching English Language Arts to his East High School students from his bedroom. He recently graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read more from KCUR. Jun 14, 2021

  • Overland Park Holocaust Survivor Shares Story As Reminder of Horrors of Hate

    KSHB features Judy Jacobs, UMKC alumnus and 2016 Defying the Odds Alumni Association Award winner
    Judy Jacobs received an MBA and a Ph.D. from UMKC. Jacobs received the 2016 Defying the Odds Award from the UMKC Alumni Association. Read the story and watch the newcast. Jun 14, 2021

  • Mentoring Tomorrow’s Rural Pharmacists

    Dynamic duo at Columbia campus cares for farmers
    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. Growing up in a farm family, Kelly Cochran’s passion is spreading the message that rural healthcare needs to be a top priority in Missouri and throughout the U.S. “We need to take care of the people who are feeding us,” says Cochran, a clinical associate professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy in Columbia, Missouri. “Farmers often don’t have healthcare close by, and it’s challenging for them to take the time off to see a provider.” So Cochran and her pharmacy students deliver health care to farmers. They’re part of Pharm to Farm, a statewide outreach program of the Missouri AgrAbility Project, that helps farmers identify medical risks through their local pharmacist. In many rural Missouri areas, pharmacists fill healthcare gaps and are the first face farmers see for their health and safety. “This program has inspired me to be more outgoing. Through my experiences, I feel that I am gaining communications skills that will help me as a pharmacist.” - Cassidy Jones Cassidy Jones (PharmD '22) chose the UMKC School of Pharmacy campus in Columbia, Missouri, because it is near the rural community she plans to work in. The UMKC School of Pharmacy faculty-student teams conduct health screenings at farms and events. With Cochran’s mentorship, Cassidy Jones (PharmD ’22) planned the UMKC School of Pharmacy screening at the Great Plains Growers Conference at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri. It meant scheduling shifts for students to conduct health assessments including taking blood pressure and asking questions about medication — not an easy task because it was a volunteer duty three hours from the Columbia campus and an hour away from the Kansas City location. Students from the Springfield campus work at events, too, but since this one was nearly five hours away during a break, they sat this one out. “I started planning this event shortly after the semester began in August,” says Jones, who grew up on a small farm in Auxvasse, Missouri, about 30 minutes from Columbia. Because Jones shows horses, it was important for her to be close to home for her studies, which is why she chose the UMKC School of Pharmacy campus at the University of Missouri in Columbia. After she graduates, she hopes to work as a pharmacist in Mexico, Missouri, surrounded by farms nearby. “This program has inspired me to be more outgoing,” Jones says. “I am usually very shy, but in the future, I will need to have the confidence to counsel patients, consult with physicians and be a leader in the pharmacy. Through my experiences, I feel that I am gaining communications skills that will help me as a pharmacist.” Cochran enjoys mentoring students like Jones. “We need to take care of the people who are feeding us. Farmers often don’t have healthcare close by, and it’s challenging for them to take the time off to see a provider.” - Kelly Cochran Kelly Cochran, at left, grew up on a farm, and is passionate about teaching pharmacy students such as Cassidy Jones, at right, about rural healthcare. “My favorite part is seeing students find success in their future career paths,” she says. “In particular, when they recognize their roles as servant leaders and advocates for health and medication safety among the rural communities they will serve.” At the growers conference, Jones lugged in a rolling cart filled with boxes of supplies and pamphlets that filled the trunk of the car she shared with Cochran on the drive from Columbia. One leaflet was called “Standing Tall to Prevent Falls,” the most frequent accident to occur on farms. Another was “Better Sleep for the Farmer Stuck Counting Sheep” about sleep hygiene — a study found that farmers who slept less than normal experienced 7.4 times higher risk of having balance issues, which could lead to poor work or an injury. Jones and others set up wayfinding signs to the UMKC School of Pharmacy health-screening area, tucked away from the flow of the conference to give farmers and growers privacy. “You might want to walk around and let people know we’re here,” Cochran suggested to Jones. “They’ll probably respond to students better than a faculty member like me.” Soon after Jones launched her recruiting mission, men and women trickled in. “I haven’t been to a doctor in eight years,” says Matthew Shoop, a row-crop farmer from Platte County. After his screening, he says health screenings are needed for farmers like him. Stress, among others things, is common because of the unpredictability that goes hand in hand with the career. “If not for this screening, I don’t know when I would have been seen.” “My favorite part is seeing students find success in their future career paths. In particular, when they recognize their roles as servant leaders and advocates for health and medication safety among the rural communities they will serve.” - Kelly Cochran Cassidy Jones, a pharmacy student at left, spent months preparing for a health screening at a growers conference in St. Joseph, Missouri. The Need for Rural Health Care in Missouri By the Numbers 98 of 101 Rural counties in Missouri are considered primary care Health Professional Shortages Areas. 2- to 4-fold Medicine can increase risk of injury while using farm equipment. 10+ Miles that many of Missouri’s residents live from the nearest drugstore. Many rural residents live even farther from primary-care doctors and specialists. Health of Farmers Common issues Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes are more prevalent in rural areas. Incontinence, sleep deprivation, pain and heart disease increase the rate of farm accidents. Medicines often cause dizziness, confusion, drowsiness, blurred vision, lightheadedness and gait problems — increasing injuries on farms. Farmers’ stoic nature often prevents sharing health concerns with family members and friends. UMKC School of Pharmacy care through Pharm to Farm faculty and students They help farmers identify medicines that might be of risk to them. They talk about ways to improve safety on the farm. They conduct health screenings. They work with pharmacists raised in non-rural areas to teach them about farm values: independence, pride, thrift, skepticism and a strong work ethic. They also talk about safety barriers in rural settings such as long work hours and seasonal deadlines. Jun 12, 2021

  • Faculty Donation Establishes Endowment for Gay and Lesbian Archives

    UMKC professor’s gift increases collection security, longevity
    When Linda E. Mitchell, Ph.D., professor of history and the Martha Jane Phillips Starr Missouri Distinguished Endowed Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at UMKC, began to think about estate planning, she decided to create an endowment fund for the Gay and Lesbian Archives of Mid-America (GLAMA.)  Mitchell’s academic career has focused on women’s, gender and sexuality studies, mostly in reference to the history of women and families in the Middle Ages. The combination of her research in medieval studies and gender and sexuality revealed that historically, gender has never been seen as simply a binary, despite what some people may think. “This is what happens when you study history,” she says. “Situations were often more complicated than people try to make them.” Because of her mentoring of students in history and women’s, gender and sexuality studies, Mitchell was familiar with GLAMA’s mission to collect, preserve and make accessible materials that are part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities’ history in the Kansas City region. GLAMA is housed in the LaBudde Special Collections at the Miller Nichols Library, and Mitchell has worked closely with Stuart Hinds, curator of special collections, on developing research projects for students in the archival collections housed at La Budde, including those that form part of GLAMA. In addition to her professional interest, Mitchell’s connection to the collection is personal. “My brother and his husband are two of the most important people in my life,” Mitchell says. “As I began making plans for my estate, I wanted to support GLAMA in their honor. I contacted Stuart to see if the archives had an endowed fund.” Close-up of AIDS Memorial Quilt display Kansas City Municipal Auditorium, 1991 Hinds confirmed that GLAMA did not have an endowment, and Mitchell decided to create the Bill Mitchell and Jeff Halpern Endowment for GLAMA. “I felt that establishing this endowment was tremendously important,” Mitchell says. “We are seeing even now attempts to erase and denigrate the history of underrepresented groups—such as women and people who do not identify themselves in binary-gendered ways—and this fund can provide some security for the collection.” Hinds recognizes the importance in compiling the documentation of the LGBTQIA community in Kansas City that reflects a history that was previously left out of the traditional local historical narrative.   “The value inside the community really centers around preservation,” Hinds says. These stories, photographs and materials are preserved, and they're given a long-term home so they don't disappear. Over the years many donors have told me that one of the reasons they were interested in donating is because they were concerned that their family might not see the value in these memorabilia and throw it away.” "Kansas City is lucky to have GLAMA. The archives improve the national perception of the city." — Linda E. Mitchell While the loss of personal stories is concerning, the significance of preservation is inclusion on a broader scale. “We're really at a moment where we're trying to incorporate a much wider variety of stories in the American historical narrative, some of which aren't very pleasant,” Hinds says. “It's the job of these kinds of archives to broaden that inclusion so historians can accomplish the work that they are trying to achieve.” “Kansas City is lucky to have GLAMA,” Mitchell says. “The archives improve the national perception of the city. It’s not only barbecue and football. We live in one of the most culturally rich and complex cities in the country. GLAMA is a great component of that diversity.” Jun 11, 2021

  • High School Students Get Their Month in Court

    UMKC Law faculty and alumni play major role in effort to attract urban youth to careers in law
    Throughout the month of June, lawyers, judges and law professors are working with urban high school students to introduce them to the legal system and pique their interest in legal careers. UMKC School of law faculty and alumni are playing a major role.  The program is called the Student Law Academy, and it is sponsored by the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Foundation and PREP-KC, an organization that works with urban school districts in the Kansas City metro to help young people explore their futures.  During the month-long program, high school students will participate in information/mentoring sessions with lawyers, judges and professors on topics such as the Life Cycle of a Lawsuit, Persuasive Public Speaking, Negotiating Styles, TV vs. Reality and School Speech and the First Amendment. “Participating in the Student Law Academy is just one example of our commitment to engage with and serve the community,” said Lorie Paldino, assistant director of Law Admissions for the UMKC School of Law. “Through this program, we are building bridges connecting the community, the legal profession and our students, faculty and alumni to each other, providing valuable opportunities for access, knowledge and networking.” UMKC School of Law faculty leading Academy sessions include Sean O’Brien, Mikah K. Thompson and Daniel B. Weddle. Among the many UMKC alumni participating are Dana Tippin Cutler and Keith A. Cutler, Tim Dollar, Jolie Justus, Sherri Wattenbarger, Michelle Wimes and the Hon. J. Dale Youngs. “The Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Foundation values diversity in the legal profession. Our Student Law Academy program allows our local legal community to take active steps to provide underserved high school students, who would not otherwise have the opportunity, meaningful exposure to different careers within the legal profession,” said Jill M. Katz, 2021 foundation president. “One goal of the academy is to help students create connections with lawyers and judges. These connections are crucial for students as they explore what their futures hold.” Jun 10, 2021

  • A Kansas City Writer With Schizophrenia Hopes Poetry Helps 'Extract The Beauty From The Ugly'

    UMKC student Alexej Savreux has rereleased a collection of poetry that runs the gamut from broken hearts to complex physics theory.
    Alexej Savreux is currently a year into a graduate degree in theater tech at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and recently became a sponsored poet at Poetry for Personal Power. The position uses poetry and art to uplift and support people in need, particularly those with mental health diagnoses. Read the story from KCUR. Jun 10, 2021

  • UMKC Alum Courtney Frerichs Feeling Confident for Olympic trials

    KSHB reports on Courtney Frerichs' Olympic Trials run
    UMKC alum Courtney Frerichs is hoping to get a second shot at an Olympic gold medal during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Read the article and watch the newscast. Jun 10, 2021

  • Millions of Americans are Vulnerable To Surprise Medical Billing

    Yahoo Finance consults with UMKC Bloch Assistant Professor of Health Administration Christopher Garmon
    “You go to an emergency room that’s in your health plan’s network, but you’re treated by a physician there that’s not in your network, or you schedule a surgery and your surgeon’s in network but then it turns out the anesthesiologist is out of network,” Christopher Garmon, assistant professor of health administration at University of Missouri-Kansas City, told Yahoo Finance. Jun 10, 2021

  • Federal Unemployment Benefits Ending in Missouri

    Nathan Mauck weighs-in for KCTV5
    “I think there are multiple reasons why folks are staying out of the workplace,” said UMKC Associate Professor of Finance Nathan Mauck. Mauck believes some unemployed people have been reluctant to look for work because they fear catching the virus. Read the full article and watch the newscast. Jun 10, 2021

  • As Consumer Prices Spike, Kansas City-Area Economist Suggests Avoiding 3 Certain Markets

    KSHB taps William Black for story about consumer prices
    While spiking demand and limited supply is driving up prices, William Black, associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said inflation is not happening everywhere. Read the article and watch the newscast. Jun 10, 2021

  • Study Ranks States on Safety During COVID-19 Pandemic. How did Missouri and Kansas do?

    UMKC's Jenifer Allsworth weighs-in for Flatland article
    Jenifer Allsworth, an epidemiologist and professor at University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, said that had the study been done a few months ago, the states’ rankings would have been more closely aligned. But vaccination rates in Kansas have gone up while infection rates have gone down in recent weeks. Read the article. Jun 09, 2021

  • Women of Color’s Persistence Puts the ‘Still’ in ‘Still We Rise’

    Keynote speaker for Leadership Conference Donna Brazile evokes past leaders to inspire continued action
    Donna Brazile, in the keynote address for this year’s Women of Color Leadership Conference, praised women of color for refusing to give up or give in to the forces trying to hold them back. Brazile, a longtime Democratic Party leader, also encouraged the members of her virtual audience to keep using their voices to further the dream of a just, inclusive America. In an address rich in cultural, historical and culinary references, Brazile said America was strengthened by its diversity and needed to include everyone to be at its best. She said women of color put the “Still” in this year’s conference theme, “Still We Rise.” And she likened women of color to the roux in gumbo, binding everything together and giving the dish spice and body. Without the roux, she said, there’s no gumbo. “It’s just soup.” Brazile also paid homage to Kansas City, saying its communities of color had made vital contributions to American culture, from barbecue to “Charlie Parker’s saxophone.” And she praised the Black entrepreneurs who turned the 18th and Vine area into a vital district long ago, including the Gem Theater and the stadium for the Kansas City Monarchs of Negro Leagues Baseball fame. She also remarked on the Kansas City community’s courage a century ago and wondered how its members must have felt when they learned of the massacre that occurred not so far away in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She marveled at 107-year-old Viola Fletcher, a survivor who as a 7-year-old fled the Tulsa massacre with her family. In the past, Brazile said, she has been inspired by seeing Fletcher testify before Congress and believing in a promising future for all Americans. On Tuesday, Brazile said, she was inspired to see Fletcher with President Biden in Tulsa at the ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the tragedy. Brazile also drew on words that have encouraged her, including: “It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.” — Madeline Albright, former secretary of state “Our role is to dream a better world and to work courageously to make that dream possible.” — Isabel Allende, author and activist “Don’t doubt what you know.” — Kerry Washington, actress and producer And in her own words, Brazile summed up, “Together, we are strong, powerful and daring to make a positive difference.” Also on the program for the day were panel discussions on mental health and on solidarity among women of color; Danielle Metz, a former prison inmate whose humanitarian efforts include helping incarcerated girls and women; and ballerina Karen Brown, who spoke on the importance of movement for good health and led an interactive session.  Jun 07, 2021

  • Kansas City In 1960s Gay Rights History

    KCUR talks to Stuart Hinds
    Stuart Hinds, curator of Special Collections and Archives at UMKC and curator of the Gay and Lesbian Archives of Mid America, was a guest on Up to Date.  Jun 05, 2021

  • How Can You Celebrate Pride Month In Kansas City?

    Kansas City Star features event with Stuart Hinds, curator of Special Collections & Archives at the University of Missouri-Kansas City; and Austin ...
    The Mid-Continent Public Library will host an online discussion about the history of LGBTQ activism in Kansas City with Stuart Hinds, curator of Special Collections & Archives at the University of Missouri-Kansas City; and Austin Williams, director of the award-winning documentary The Ordinance Project. Hinds said the event is important because it brings awareness to civil right struggles and forgotten history. Read the Kansas City Star article, which was picked up by MSN. Jun 04, 2021

  • Volunteer's $1.2 Million Gift Ensures Student Support

    Endowment benefits UMKC Conservatory and the Women’s Council Graduate Assistance Fund
    The late Caroline McBride French was an enthusiastic UMKC Conservatory donor and volunteer. A successful attorney in Kansas City, French was active on the Friends of the UMKC Conservatory board, a fervent supporter of Crescendo, the Conservatory’s signature fundraiser and a member of the UMKC Women’s Committee for the UMKC Conservatory. “Music was her primary love,” says Don Dagenais, a longtime Conservatory supporter. “She had a great business sense and made very sophisticated investments. As a woman attorney in her day, she must have been quite a barrier breaker.” Her business acumen and her love for the arts resulted in a generous gift to support academic assistance for students at UMKC. Her estate gift of $800,000 will establish The Caroline McBride French Endowed Scholarship Fund of the UMKC Conservatory. An additional $460,000 will support the William L. and Caroline M. French Graduate Assistance Fund (GAF) named award through the UMKC Women’s Council. “We are grateful for Mrs. French’s support. Endowed scholarships like this one ensure that we are able to bring more talented students into our programs.” - Diane Petrella “We are grateful for Mrs. French’s support,” says Diane Petrella, dean of the UMKC Conservatory. “Endowed scholarships like this one ensure that we are able to bring more talented students into our programs. For many of them, scholarships are the essential piece of the puzzle that makes pursuing a degree in the arts a possibility.” As an attorney, French would have been aware of the need to support women in advanced degrees. The Women’s Council Graduate Assistance Fund has provided short-term assistance to more than 2,200 women graduate students since its inception in 1970. “Every time we receive a major gift like this one from Caroline French, we know it will help countless number of women complete their research, travel to perform or present at an academic conference or afford other expenses that may otherwise stand between them and an advanced degree,” says Debbie Brooks, J.D., president of the UMKC Women’s Council board of directors. “We are fortunate that Caroline had the foresight to provide these women that opportunity.” Jun 03, 2021

  • Missouri Feels the Pain of Drug Dependency and Overdose More than Most States

    Flatland interviews professor Heather Lyons-Burney
    To pharmacist and University of Missouri-Kansas City professor Heather Lyons-Burney, one of the largest roadblocks to recovery is the stigma around addiction. Read more. Jun 03, 2021

  • Ask The Experts: Best Credit Cards Sign-Up Bonuses

    UMKC faculty provide financial insight for Ask the Experts blog with WalletHub
    Ask The Experts: Best Credit Cards Sign-Up Bonuses - Jeff Johnson, assistant professor of Marketing, Henry W. Bloch School of Management at UMKC Ask The Experts: Best No Credit Check Credit Cards - Judith Popper, clinical professor, UMKC School of Law      Jun 03, 2021

  • They Say Kansas City Is A UFO Hot Spot. Will Pentagon Report Help You Believe Them?

    Read what UMKC's Daniel McIntosh tells the Kansas City Star
    Daniel McIntosh, chairman of the department of physics and astronomy at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, hasn’t heard any of his science colleagues mention the Pentagon report. Read the full article. Subscription required. Jun 03, 2021

  • Alumni U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids and Nancy Mays Collaborate on Children’s Book

    ‘Sharice’s Big Voice’ tells the tale of a non-traditional student
    As Nancy Mays (MFA ’17) volunteered for U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids’s (BBA ’07) campaign, Davids mentioned that she had always wanted to write a children’s book. “She wasn’t thinking about herself,” Mays says. “She had a vision for a series of books that would introduce kids to civic responsibility with stories of how to do your part. But Sharice has such a great personal story. I thought we should start there.” While Mays knew a lot about Davids’s life growing up with a single mother, she was interested in what she was like as a child. She interviewed Crystal Herriage (BA ’17), Davids’s mother, and went through old pictures with her for background information. With both women’s stories in hand, Mays, who is a professional writer and writing instructor, began to develop the narrative arc of the book. “It was different writing a children’s book,” she says. “You really have to scale back your language, and that was more challenging than I thought it would be. You have fewer number of words on a page, and have to consider the type of words. But you still need to develop the voice, include all the information that is important to the editors and be true to the person’s story. It was a fun challenge.” “We wanted to tell the story in a way that would show kids that life didn’t need to follow a script.” - Nancy Mays Mays and Davids, who is Native American and a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, also agreed it was important to find an indigenous artist to create the illustrations. “We really wanted the illustrations in ‘Sharice’s Big Voice; A Native Kid Becomes a Congresswoman’ to capture the energy and vibrancy of Sharice’s childhood and Joshua [Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley] has really done that,” Mays says. “He was open to the collaborative process. There’s an illustration where Sharice is going to start campaigning an,d he drew it with her at the front of a group of people. Sharice asked him to redraw it. She said, ‘That’s not my style of leadership.’ And it made sense to him. He drew it again with her in the middle of the group.” Similarly, the first sentence of the book mentions Davids’s mother, who raised Davids on her own. It’s accompanied by an illustration of the two of them together on election night surrounded by other people. “When I received my first copy of the book, I showed it to my mom,” Davids says. “She knew what stories would be in the book, but when she opened it to the first page she said, ‘Oh! I’m in here.’ And it was interesting because the story of my life is so informed by the type of person she is – her supportive nature, her big heart and her fortitude. She’s is both the toughest and most kind and gentle person I know. It didn’t cross my mind to have it play out any other way.” Herriage said it felt special that her daughter would include her in the book. “Children see certain memories with different eyes than adults,” she says. “When she showed my promotion ceremony to Sergeant First Class in the Army in the book, I was so happy that we both saw it as a special family moment years later.” Herriage thinks Davids revealing that she was a “chatterbox” as a child, who learned to listen as well as talk, may be helpful for her readers.   Nancy Mays “A lot of children will see themselves, and that they can be happy with their own traits, which others may not find as endearing at the time,” Herriage says.  Beyond the strength of Davids’s relationship with her mother, one of the elements of her story that Mays thought was essential to the book was dichotomy of skills that make children successful in school, and skills that make people successful in life. “Sharice is very friendly and really loves people,” Mays says. “But when she was a kid, that meant she would get in trouble for talking in school.” Mays and Davids thought children would be able to relate to the challenge of sitting still and being quiet. “Another thing we loved about her story is that it took her a long time to finish her undergraduate degree from UMKC, but she did it,” Mays says. Davids worked her way through school as a manager of a fast-food restaurant where her mother also worked. “Sharice and I were both first generation students,” Mays says. “People don’t always realize that this is a very different experience. She and I connected over that.” Herriage did graduate from UMKC in 2017, 10 years after her daughter graduated. “Now Sharice refers to herself as a former first-generation college graduate,” Mays says with a laugh. “We wanted to tell the story in a way that would show kids that life didn’t need to follow a script.” - Nancy Mays Both Mays and Davids agreed that the book needed to end with the story of election night. “This story isn’t about being elected to Congress,” Mays says. “That was Sharice’s dream. We wanted to tell the story in a way that would show kids that life didn’t need to follow a script. It’s much more a message of, ‘I’m going to show you how I got to where I am, and maybe that will help you figure out where you’re going – no matter what it is you want to do.’” Rep. Sharice Davids Davids recognizes that it matters for children to see diversity in the characters in their books. “I wasn’t conscious as a child that there were no characters in books that looked like me, but as an adult I learned that only 1% of characters in books that are native or indigenous people,” she says. “I think that books like “Sharice’s Big Voice” featuring these diverse characters is important. But I also think it’s interesting that we call it ‘diversity.’ Because it’s not uncommon to be raised by a single mom, or to be an Army brat, or to work while you’re in school.” Davids says she hopes that someone reading her book – a child or adult - will see that the most important thing for people to do is recognize they can try lots of different things. “A child might read this and say, ‘I want to work with animals,’ or ‘I want to learn magic tricks.’ I wanted to show that you can try lots of different things and that's okay, because all of us have a different path.” Jun 01, 2021

  • Confronting Our Past (and Present) in Holocaust Exhibit at Union Station

    Flatland interviews Andrew Bergerson, UMKC history professor, about exhibition
    One of the people who will be part of the related speakers’ series with the exhibit, Andrew Bergerson, who teaches history at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, emphasized that very point when we talked about the coming exhibit recently. Read more. May 30, 2021

  • New Home For Artists Opens In Former Police Building On Kansas City’s East Side

    UMKC Gallery of Art director is part of a three-person panel coordinating the application process, about creating a space at Agnes Arts for artists...
    Artist Davin Watne has taught classes at the University of Missouri-Kansas City since 2002, and he also runs the UMKC Gallery of Art. He’s collaborated with Paul Migliazzo on several art studio projects, including Agnes Arts — where he’s already moved into a studio. He is part of a three-person panel coordinating the application process, about creating a space at Agnes Arts for artists to read books or look through magazines. Read more. May 29, 2021

  • New Student President Values Connection and Opportunity

    Tim Nguyen finds inspiration in faculty and fellow students alike
    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. Tim Nguyen Hometown: Lee’s Summit, MO High School: Lee’s Summit West High School Academic program: Biology B.S (Pre-Dental) and Chemistry B.A Anticipated graduation year: May 2022  Why did you choose UMKC? I chose UMKC because it became my home away from home. The people I have met at UMKC and in Kansas City are some of the most impactful individuals who have helped me achieve my academic and professional endeavors. Why did you choose your field of study? I chose to study and work towards a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Chemistry to prepare me for dental school with a business minor. What are the benefits of the program? One benefit of the program is that everybody knows everybody else as a biology and/or chemistry major. You are able to form a close community with others. There will be nobody else that will be as supportive towards your success than some of the people you will meet during your time at UMKC. How has your college program inspired you? My college program has inspired me to learn from faculty, advisors and upperclassmen who are wiser, smarter and more hard working than me so I can continue to grow. I see them as mentors and role models and I want to embrace and embody their good qualities. "There will be nobody else that will be as supportive towards your success than some of the people you will meet during your time at UMKC." Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself? I have learned I can do anything, but I cannot do everything. Motivation comes and goes sometimes, but passion lasts forever. I’ve learned to grow comfortable in the uncomfortable. My mentality is to live life giving 110% day in and day out. Are you a first-generation college student? If so, what does that mean to you? No, my parents were born in Vietnam, but had some college here in America. My mom went to a small college and my dad had some community college and then transferred. I am the first in my family and extended family to be born in the United States and to go to college. I have nothing but respect for my parents as they left Vietnam by boat to come to America, escaping the Communists there. I want to make the most of my life here as I would not have the life and opportunities here if my parents never risked their lives leaving Vietnam. Who do you admire most at UMKC? I met Joseph Allen during Biology Bootcamp my freshman year and have never heard anything negative said about him during my time at UMKC. He is approachable - a role model - and I view him as a one of many mentors. His humility and his presence radiate with others. He was an individual that everybody knew, and he never had to introduce himself in a room. "I seize opportunities that I can learn from." What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor? “Be on time and ready to play.” What extracurricular activities are you involved in at UMKC? This fall semester I’ll serve as president for the UMKC Student Government Association. I will be an assistant coordinator for Academic Support and Mentoring Supplemental Instruction in the fall as well as leading the Biology Honors Discussion Group, which I’ve led for the past two years. I’ve led Biology 108 with Dr. Benevides for three semesters, general chemistry my second semester of college, Organic Chemistry as a TA for Dr. Kilway this past fall and spring semester. I will be working with Residential Life, and I also enjoyed putting in time with intramurals, such as soccer and volleyball when I started college at UMKC.   Do you have any scholarships? What do they mean to you? The UMKC Trustees’ Scholarship has given me the blessing to expose myself to all the opportunities UMKC has to offer and the networking connections of individuals in the community wanting to see me succeed. Receiving this monetary scholarship has tremendously reduced the financial burden for my family, giving me peace of mind. It will allow me to continue to pursue my professional and academic aspirations, and I am truly grateful. This generous financial support has given me more time to really serve students at UMKC through being able to be as involved I can. “During these internships, I learned, “If you see it, you can be it.” Have you had an internship/job shadow? What did you learn during your internship?  After my freshman year I was a Bluford Scholar in the Bluford Healthcare Leadership Institute (BHLI.)  After my sophomore year, I spent a week with a program piloted by BHLI and partnered with the Stowers Institute right across from UMKC. During these internships, I learned, “If you see it, you can be it.” This summer, I will be doing Phase 2 of the program. What do you hope to take from your experiences at UMKC into your professional career? I hope to take lessons which will prepare me to embrace all the setbacks that I may encounter and obstacles I must confront. I truly feel that UMKC has given me the culture and energy to give 110% in every task in front of me. I want to maximize what I’m given to be a difference maker, a catalyst for change and someone for my community, not just in it for what my professional career may have in store for me. What is one word that best describes you and why? Intentional. I seize opportunities that I can learn from. These invaluable opportunities may be labor-intensive, hard, rare and sometimes definitely not easy. However, all of them are worth it. I love to listen to others and be open minded so I can lead better and become better. Some of the best ideas have come from listening to other students’ voices that helped me make an idea reality. May 27, 2021

  • After a School Year During the Pandemic, It's Graduation Season

    Provost Jenny Lundgren talks about 2021 commencement
    During a third of the radio hour (beginning at 6 minutes 15 seconds), UMKC Provost and Professor Jenny Lundgren discusses the pandemic, how the campus operated and in-person commencement at Kauffman Stadium. Hear the recording. May 27, 2021

  • Critical Race Theory Roils Kansas And Missouri Politics. Here’s What It Is And Is Not

    Kansas City Star taps UMKC English professor who studies Black literacy
    Antonio Byrd, an English professor at UMKC who studies Black literacy, described critical race theory as a way to illuminate the role of racism in a society that doesn’t tend to think racism is a major problem. By considering the impact of racism, Byrd said, steps can be taken to fix it. Read the article in the Kansas City Star. (subscription required) May 26, 2021

  • Park Hill Senior Achieves Her Dream Through KC Scholars Program

    Adriana Gonzalez will attend UMKC
    KC Scholars 2021 award winner, Adriana Gonzalez, Park Hill High School, Parkville, plans on attending UMKC, and first learned of being awarded the scholarship when she opened her email and read the letter informing her of her win. Read the article. May 26, 2021

  • 2021 Regnier Venture Creation Challenge Awards Announced

    Annual pitch competition provides critical startup funding and experience
    The Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management has selected winners in the annual Venture Creation Challenge pitch competition. “Each year we are amazed and invigorated by the energy and innovation of the entrepreneurs who are a part of the Regnier Venture Creation Challenge,” said Jeffrey S. Hornsby, executive director of the Regnier Institute. “In both the private and the nonprofit sectors, these leaders are changing the way we do business, support communities and create opportunities. We are grateful for their passion and the volunteers who take on the task of judging these outstanding business plans.” The Regnier Venture Creation Challenge is a University of Missouri-Kansas City business plan and pitch competition promoting entrepreneurship. The Regnier Institute received more than 75 applications from 12 different high schools, colleges, universities and the E-Scholars program from the Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska region. More than $65,000 in prizes that were awarded at this year’s competition were made possible through donations from Bob Regnier and Regnier family, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City and David Block and the Block family. During the competition, mentors, advisors and community partners volunteer to serve as judges throughout the competition. “The real benefit of the competition – beyond the monetary support – is the wealth of feedback that participants receive from our volunteers,” said Bob Regnier, naming benefactor and founder, executive chairman and CEO of the Bank of Blue Valley. “Those experienced perspectives can be invaluable to the success of these emerging ventures.” Innovation Awards Splitsy, $15,000 Splitsy is a patent-pending mobile application that allows peers to automatically split payments for shared bills. Woodie Goodies, $10,000 Woodie Goodies buys used books in bulk from major thrift-store chain warehouses and resells to retailers. All children's books are donated to low-income schools. Relay Trade Solutions E-Scholars, $5,000 Relay Trade Solutions connects shippers, carriers, origins and destinations for seamless order to delivery, which saves up to 50% on back office costs and streamlines payment. Honorable Mention Awards Outstanding High School Entrepreneur, $2,000 Freescholars.com freescholars.com is a marketplace that connects businesses, nonprofits and academics with high-achieving high school students for various services, which allows student to explore career interests, acquire real-world experience and enrich their college applications. Outstanding Undergraduate Venture, $2,000 Vamose -  Iowa State University The patent-pending Vamose Gym Bag attaches to a backpack to enable students to avoid carrying an extra bag with them throughout the day. Oustanding Creative Enterprise, $2,000 KeySpark - UMKC KeySpark is a collaborative learning community of 7th-12th grade saxophonists that offers online music classes taught by experts in the field, an extensive resource library and a forum for students in areas where private instructors and musical opportunities are limited. Outstanding Social Venture, $2,000 Cultura En Tus Manos - UMKC Cultura En Tus Manos is an open online marketplace dedicated to helping artisans in Mexico market their products in the United States, allowing them to expand their customer base and easily export their products. Our platform differs from similar online marketplaces as we provide the artisans with personalized educational resources that allow them to develop effective marketing strategies to expand their online businesses while developing a cultural exchange through a meaningful connection with consumers. BlueKC Healthcare Innovation Award 1st place, $15,000 CartilaGen, Inc., - University of Iowa CartilaGen produces an injectable small-molecule drug suspended in a hydrogel vehicle that has been proven effective in preventing the onset of post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA). BlueKC Healthcare Innovation Award 2nd Place, $10,000 RollOut  - Missouri University of Science and Technology RollOut is a muscle roller and recovery product manufacturer that started in a dorm room and now partners with local businesses and online retailers. Community Business Award James and Rae Block Community Business Award, $2,500 Kufukaa, LLC Kufukaa is a Kansas City-based small business that creates sustainable apparel at the intersection of kitchenware and home essentials which are handmade in Kansas City. This premium collection of sustainable apron lines fills a long-standing market gap in Kansas City's culinary scene. The Regnier Venture Creation Challenge is a University of Missouri-Kansas City business plan and pitch competition promoting entrepreneurship. The Regnier Institute received more than 75 applications from 12 different high schools, colleges, universities and the E-Scholars program from the Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska region. More than $65,000 in prizes that were awarded at this year’s competition were made possible through donations from Bob Regnier and Regnier family, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City and David Block and the Block family.   May 25, 2021

  • Conservatory Alumnus: Life As A Composer

    Christopher Hart’s music career goes down many paths
    Where does a small-town Iowa boy go when he wants to be an opera singer? He goes to the big city for training. Christopher Hart (M.A. '90) came to UMKC to study with Norman Abelson at the UMKC Conservatory. After graduation, he spent a few years in Oklahoma. Then “life happened” and Hart followed the calling of a small town and moved to McComb, Mississippi. For the past 12 years, Hart has served as the minister of music, media and arts for Centenary United Methodist Church. His background in music education was useful last year as he, along with the entire world, had to navigate through the pandemic. When in-person events decreased in numbers or came to a halt, Hart had to get creative. “We learned how to livestream,” Hart said. “It has been a big learning curve over the past year. It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve learned how to adapt to it. The church never closed.” Throughout the pandemic, Hart said the church held in-person and livestream services. Although attendance has picked up in the last few weeks, Hart said they will continue to offer a livestream because people like having that option. Hart said they brought the choir back in March with a few people in the balcony. “They’re having a good time up there,” Hart said. Hart has written dozens of songs. One he wrote six years ago, “In the Cross,” won best Christian song in the Dallas Songwriters Christian songwriters’ contest. The song, and a few others, can be found on iTunes. He has also written scores for four feature films with a fifth that will be released at the end of the year. Hart’s current project, 12 Westerns in 12 Months, is a collaboration with friend, filmmaker and actor Travis Mills. He said the project has been fun and challenging because the deadlines are constant. To write the score for each movie, Hart read the scripts and received music ideas from the director, often in the form of temporary music. He said the process has been fun. “Composing is like putting a puzzle together,” Hart said. Between 2020 and 2021, Hart composed the soundtracks for "Bastard's Crossing," "She Was the Deputy's Wife," “The Bank Robbery” and "Counting Bullets." “Bastard's Crossing” garnered several film festival awards, the most recent being Best Mississippi Feature Film at the Oxford, Mississippi Film Festival. The movies will all be available on DVD, Amazon and Amazon Prime. Hart garnered a Festival Director’s Choice Best Score for “Counting Bullets.”  Being a songwriter is not easy and doesn’t make a lot of money, so Hart created his own publishing company called Ten Minutes to Anywhere. The company name came out of his move to Mississippi. “You can get anywhere in this town in 10 minutes,” he said. “It is nice.” Even though being a composer and songwriter is more of a side gig, it is rewarding. His advice to someone considering a career as a composer is to keep writing. “Write music every day,” Hart said. “Learn as much as you can about your craft. Study different composers. Don’t study just one genre. Be flexible. Study other people. Learn about the instruments. Learn about orchestral techniques. Learn about software and virtual instruments.” And speaking of side gigs, Hart has also been performing onstage for more than 40 years and has become an experienced background actor. “It’s fun being in the movies,” he said. “It’s a lot of work. It’s harder than you imagine.” With a variety of projects at hand, Hart stays grounded and has turned projects down. “I care about what I do,” Hart said. “I want what I do to be the best that can happen. I want to stay true to myself.” For now, Hart is for hire as a composer and actor. His studio is in his home. “As I get closer to retirement age,” he said. “I know I can do it from anywhere.” And by it, Hart doesn’t only mean acting and composing. During the pandemic, Hart said he was concerned about losing his ability to sing high notes, so he’s been taking voice lessons. He’s ready to audition again. This opera singer is ready for his next role. You can find Christopher Hart Film Composer on Facebook and see his acting credits on his IMDb page. They include The Wilderness Road, Tales of the Natchez Trace, Texas Red, Breaking News in Yuba County, Bastard’s Crossing, One Night in Miami, four episodes of NCIS New Orleans, two episodes of On Becoming a God in Central Florida, The Highwaymen. May 25, 2021

  • KSHB Interviews Allen Rostron

    Kansas City-area law professors are weighing in on a possible legal battle between the city and the Board of Police Commissioners
    Allen Rostron, law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said the situation is a novel one. Read the full story. May 25, 2021

  • In Kansas City, A Wave of Evictions Could Push Gun Violence to New Extremes This Year

    Kansas City Star taps Ken Novak from UMKC
    “Were it (moratorium on evictions) to be lifted, especially all at once, and there was a flood of evictions or foreclosures, that just creates more housing and shelter instability,” said Ken Novak, a professor of criminology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read the full article. (subscription required) This story was picked up by The Pitch. May 23, 2021

  • Bloch School Alumnus Taps Entrepreneurial Spirit to Write Children’s Book

    Pandemic free time prompted Jaspreet Singh to create underrepresented characters
    Jaspreet Singh graduated from the Henry W. Bloch School of Management in December 2015 with an eye toward the sky. His dream was of an airline industry career on the business side and an interest in designing experiences for travelers on the personal side. Since graduation, this 2015 Student Entrepreneur of the Year has been traveling around the world with his job at United Airlines accomplishing many of his goals. When we wrote about Singh before graduation, he said college inspired him to push himself and to be the best version of himself that he can be. “It has motivated me to expand my network and get out of my comfort zone and focus on personal and professional goals,” he said. So, we decided to check in with Singh and see how far he’s pushed himself. It turns out, that he’s been accomplishing quite a bit in spite of the travel restrictions caused by the pandemic. He wrote a children’s book, Aya and Avi's Airplane Adventure. He's also been named by Tripadvisor as one of eight Asian-American influencers to follow. Singh is an award-winning airline industry passenger experience professional with experience across product marketing, pricing and revenue management, e-commerce and digital marketing. Writing the book was separate from his job. His goal is to inspire the next generation of aviators through diversity and representation by allowing the kids of today to see themselves represented in aviation. “The idea for the book was born as a quarantine side project in my free time and took me about a year to do,” Singh said. Professionally, Singh said the pandemic forced him to use the entrepreneurial mindset instilled in him during his studies and in his day-to-day life by learning how to pivot and think more innovatively. “Times within the aviation and travel sector were tough, but this required a shift in thinking and prioritization to operate like a start up.” Personally, Singh said the pandemic allowed him to reprioritize and be grateful for all of the experiences, friends and family that have led him to this point and the value of being your true authentic self every day. “It’s also allowed me to reflect on personal goals and ways to give back, which is one of the reasons I started writing this book – to help give back to the future of aviation by inspiring the next generation of aviators.” A study done by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center found that nine times more children’s books were written annually about talking animals than featuring an LGBTQ character; and three times more books than with Asian American Pacific Islander characters, according to Singh. He said books with talking animals accounted for more books than all underrepresented minority groups combined.   “Growing up I never saw anyone like myself represented in children’s books and always wished I had something I could relate to,” Singh said. “Ultimately instead of waiting around for someone to write it, I decided to go ahead and just do it! I wanted to write a book that captured my lifelong interest of aviation with diversity and representation of characters from many backgrounds and ethnicities, including LGBTQ characters.” The book is currently available on Amazon. Singh partnered with a third party to complete the illustrations. He has also secured a charity partnership through an organization named Rainbow Railroad where a portion of profits from every book sold are donated to help LGBT individuals living in fear of persecution, torture or murder, find a path to safety to start a new life. May 21, 2021

  • Working for Youth Initiative Needs More Employers, Donors to Support KC Teen Internships

    UMKC alumni share college internship experiences with Fox4KC
    University of Missouri-Kansas City graduate Daisy Garcia Montoya just finished an internship at City Hall in the communications department. UMKC alumna Aly Hernandez, external affairs manager for City Hall, was also interviewed for this story. Read more. May 21, 2021

  • Our Healthy KC Eastside To Focus On Vaccine Outreach And Distribution

    KCUR interviews Jannette Berkley-Patton
    Jannette Berkley-Patton, professor at the UMKC School of Medicine and director of the university’s Community Health Research Group, was a guest on Up to Date. Read more from KCUR. May 20, 2021

  • St. Joseph Museums Welcome Interns

    St. Joseph newspaper features UMKC History student's internship
    Solveig Klarin, who is pursuing a master’s degree in history at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said she is interested in the education and interpretation aspect. Read the full story. May 19, 2021

  • Olathe Students Prepare To Take AP Tests After A Year Of Pandemic School

    KCUR taps Associate Vice Provost Kim McNeley
    UMKC Associate Vice Provost Kim McNeley said AP courses and exams provide foundational skills for college-level courses. She said it’s important the college standards that evaluate student’s learning be consistent and maintained, even during a pandemic. Read the article from KCUR. May 18, 2021

  • Dangerous And Disinvested: Kansas City's Struggle To Fix Hundreds Of Blighted Buildings

    College of Arts and Sciences faculty provide insight for KCUR story on blighted buildings
    Erik Olsen, professor and chair of the economics department at the University of Missouri-Kansas City; and Erin Royals, neighborhood outreach and research coordinator at the Center for Neighborhoods at UMKC, were interviewed for this story. Read the story from KCUR. May 18, 2021

  • Hearing is His Life

    UMKC piano professor battles – and overcomes – his sudden hearing loss.
    As assistant professor of piano pedagogy at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory, the ability to hear is critical to Chris Madden. Each day, he listens intently to his students play and perform works on the piano, helping to fine tune their skills. His listens to the notes with detail and for clarity, providing valuable feedback in their learning process. He also enjoys listening to his own playing of the piano, which he picked up at the age of 13.  “Starting at that age is relatively late compared to my colleagues,” said Madden. “No one in my family was particularly musical, but piano was something I wanted to do. I even paid for my own lessons to start out!”  But last fall, Madden woke up one morning not able to hear out of one of his ears.  “I thought it was a clogged ear from congestion,” said Madden, who didn’t think much of it at the time. But that changed a few days later. “I was biking downtown and couldn’t hear a city bus passing by me on my left side. I knew something was very wrong.”  Doctors diagnosed his condition as idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing, commonly known as sudden deafness. “I was devastated,” said Madden. “The first thing I thought of was how am I going to teach like this?” said Madden. “I just started at UMKC two years ago and then something like this happens.”  His type of hearing loss is rare – about 1 in 5,000 are diagnosed each year according to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Doctors believed Madden’s case was caused by a virus. His physician prescribed steroid treatments and shots, along with sharing the odds that only 10 percent of people regain their full sense of hearing.  “My doctor kept emphasizing with this diagnosis, every day counts,” said Madden. “With each person I talked to, I’d say, ‘I don’t know if you can get me in today, but here’s what I do for a living. I work at a conservatory and hearing is my life.’” Researching his treatment options, he connected with North Kansas City Hospital and its hyperbaric oxygen therapy, called HBOT. The treatment involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized environment. It’s a well-established treatment for scuba divers suffering decompression sickness, but has also been effective in treating hard-to-heal wounds and other health conditions such as sudden hearing loss. Within 24 hours of calling NKCH, Madden was undergoing treatment. For 20 days, he received a two-hour-long HBOT treatment. He compared the chamber to an MRI tube, with one distinct difference. “The chamber is pressurized to 65 feet below sea level so my ears were popping quite a bit adjusting to that.” Slowly – and fortunately – Madden’s hearing started to return. It wasn’t immediate, but by the end of his treatment, all hearing tests were back to normal. “My cell phone is finally back to the lowest volume,” said Madden. “When my students play the piano now, I sit there and think it’s just nice to hear normal sounds again, because it wasn’t like that for a few weeks there.” – Chris Madden “When my students play the piano now, I sit there and think it’s just nice to hear normal sounds again,” said Madden. “Because it wasn’t like that for a few weeks there.” Madden credits his recovery to the combination of his steroid therapy and HBOT, along with his ability to get treatment so quickly. And he encourages others to act fast when facing urgent changes in your health – something he also emphasized when sharing his story with KSHB TV-41 and North Kansas City Hospital. “You really have to advocate for yourself,” he said. “If it feels urgent, go straight to the doctor and say, ‘This is an emergency!’” May 17, 2021

  • Commencement at The K: Unique In Every Way

    Historic setting at Kauffman Stadium marks emergence from isolation
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City emerged from more than a year of pandemic isolation in spectacular fashion, as the community celebrated the degrees earned by more than 2,300 graduates in a historic two-day commencement celebration at Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals. Kansas City’s university partnered with Kansas City’s beloved baseball team to create an unprecedented pandemic coming-out party in true major-league fashion, complete with the giant CrownVision screen broadcasting each individual graduate larger than life to all guests in the stadium. In addition to the Class of 2021, UMKC invited graduates from the Class of 2020 to return to their alma mater to celebrate their own achievements in person, an opportunity they had missed because of the risks of COVID-19 at its worst.  It was a celebration of not just academic accomplishment, but of perseverance through multiple significant challenges. “Considering the unique challenges you overcame to get here, it is very fair to say that the classes of 2020 and 2021 are major league in every respect.” - Chancellor Mauli Agrawal Kauffman Stadium was full of UMKC at The K details on CrownVision and other screens, including #RoyalRoos #Classof2021RooStrong #Classof2020RooStrong Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications “Considering the unique challenges you overcame to get here, it is very fair to say that the classes of 2020 and 2021 are major league in every respect,” said Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “From the great recession that arose when most of you were children; to the unprecedented global pandemic from which we are beginning to emerge, you have been challenged like few graduating classes before. You are here today because you refused to be defeated by those challenges.” Graduates in the Saturday ceremonies celebrated under overcast skies but stayed dry. Sunday's ceremonies brought rain, but it failed to dampen the spirits of the graduates or the guests who cheered them. UMKC Conservatory theatre majors wore red noses. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications UMKC graduates enjoyed the #RoyalRoos surroundings. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications Celebrating in the rain! Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications UMKC Provost Jennifer Lundgren acted as grand marshal of the ceremony. "We are so grateful to John Sherman and the Kansas City Royals for giving us this opportunity to celebrate in the majestic Kauffman Stadium," Lundgren said. "We certainly feel at home surrounded by blue and gold." UMKC alumna Mary Daly, Ph.D., president and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, delivered a commencement address that also focused on the unique situation of the two graduating classes. “The pandemic has torn away the trappings of our normal lives,” she said. “Some of the revelations have been hard. Disparities, divisions, hate, a sense that there is too little for all of us and that we must each fight for our fair share. But we’ve also seen brightness, generosity, vulnerability.” Because of their pandemic experience, she said the graduates “bring something critical, beyond your degrees and programs. You bring lived experience.” “In you lies the power to demand something different,” she concluded. “The tragedy of the pandemic can be your strength, your superpower … I guarantee you this: If you do that, our children’s children will read about you. They’ll wonder how those heroes changed the world.”  Graduating students stood waiting to cross the stage. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications The joy of graduation in a ballpark. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications UMKC School of Dentistry has graduated generations of Hawaiian alumni, thus the leis! Photo by John Carmody, Strategic Marketing and Communications Cheering from the stands. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications Grad caps were especially creative at Commencement at The K. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications Student-Athlete Brandon McKissick crossed the stage. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications “We are so grateful to John Sherman and the Kansas City Royals for giving us this opportunity to celebrate in the majestic Kauffman Stadium. We certainly feel at home surrounded by blue and gold.” - Provost Jennifer Lundgren The stage was set in front of home plate. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications Grad cap. Check. Umbrella. Check. Smiling selfie. Check, check, check. Photo by John Carmody, Strategic Marketing and Communications Chancellor Mauli Agrawal and graduates smiled in the rain of the May 16 ceremonies. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications Even the rain tarp celebrated UMKC at The K. Photo by John Carmody, Strategic Marketing and Communications “The tragedy of the pandemic can be your strength, your superpower … I guarantee you this: If you do that, our children’s children will read about you. They’ll wonder how those heroes changed the world.” - Mary Daly Graduates line up to cross the stage at Kauffman Stadium. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications Hugging, finally. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications Congratulations, UMKC graduates! #RoyalRoos #Classof2020RooStrong #Classof2021RooStrong Photo by John Carmody, Strategic Marketing and Communications May 16, 2021

  • UMKC Commencement at The K

    Local media report on historic two-day commencement celebration
    UMKC Classes of 2021 and 2020 gathered at Kauffman Stadium to accept their diplomas on Saturday and Sunday. Read the news coverage: Kauffman Stadium serves as location for UMKC commencement ceremonies - KCTV5 A little rain wasn’t going to dampen the spirits of these UMKC graduates - Fox4KC   May 16, 2021

  • Stop Asian Hate Leans Into Legacy of Civil Rights to Spark Movement, Dismantle Racism

    Kansas City Star interviews Toya Like, UMKC associate professor of criminal justice and criminology
    “We’ve always seen social movements happen we just didn’t have a term for it, and movements for justice and equality and shared space, and shared resources,” said Toya Like, associate professor of criminal justice and criminology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read the article in the Kansas City Star. (subscription required) May 16, 2021

  • Kevin Strickland Is Innocent, Officials Say. Can That Free Him From Missouri Prison?

    Sean O’Brien, UMKC School of Law professor, gives interviews to Kansas City media
    “We thought that we opened an avenue for innocent prisoners,” said Sean O’Brien, a University of Missouri-Kansas City law professor who represented Joseph Amrine. “And then comes Rodney Lincoln.” Read the news coverage: Lawyers set up fundraiser for Kevin Strickland, say they’re confident he will be freed - Kansas  City Star (subscription requied) Missouri Supreme Court won’t hear Kevin Strickland’s case. He’s innocent, prosecutors say - Kansas City Star (subscription required) The Jackson County Prosecutor Says Kevin Strickland Is Innocent. Why Is He Still Behind Bars? - KCUR Kevin Strickland is innocent, officials say. Can that free him from Missouri prison? - Kansas City Star (subscription required) May 16, 2021

  • Entrepreneurship Innovation Grants Accelerate UMKC Programs

    First round of funding from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation supports seven initiatives
    The UMKC Entrepreneurship Innovation Grant Program announced its first seven grant recipients this week. These recipients were awarded a total of $250,000 to develop new ways of approaching community challenges. The Entrepreneurship Innovation Grant Program is 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 increase entrepreneurial activities across UMKC. “This grant program was designed to create direct incentives to stimulate additional collaboration and growth on campus,” says Laura Moore, program coordinator for the Regnier Institute. “One of the real advantages of this program is that – in addition to the funding – we offer support programs to recipients to accelerate their success.” "This grant program was designed to create direct incentives to stimulate additional collaboration and growth on campus." – Laura Moore This year the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation donated $400,000 to stimulate on-campus innovation through entrepreneurial initiatives over the next two years. Twenty-one organizations responded to the call for proposals in February. Kansas City Explores Earth and Environment (KC E3) is one of this round’s recipients. An initiative from the Earth and Environmental Sciences department, this program provides support to students of color to pursue STEM degrees and enter the workforce. Participants will partner with high school students from the Kansas City Teen Summit (KCTS) community program to use STEM expertise to explore plans to tackle local environmental hazards and develop solutions for urban climate change. The program would have looked very different without the grant funding. “We would have had minimal activities if the program were run by myself and two graduate students,” Alison Graettinger, assistant professor of geosciences, says. “Funding will allow us to achieve a solid UMKC peer mentor to KCTS student ratio and provide additional equipment so student participants don’t have to share. This will enable stronger engagement and genuine practice collecting and managing real world data. We will also be able to bring Black business owners in the environmental sector to come talk to the KCTS students.” Angela Cottrell, Ed.D, director of research and institute programs, says the funding was equally critical for her team at From Seed to Table to research education and infrastructure investment as she develops a training program for military veterans to receive workforce development and hands-on experience learning urban architecture. “Without this funding the project would not have existed. Based on this funding our research team will receive an additional $600,000 award from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture program. This will extend the project for three years and allow us to provide more military veteran participation.” May 14, 2021

  • Six Months In, COVID Vaccination Rates For Black Missourians Remain Far Below State Average

    Media outlets report on COVID vaccination rates for Black Missourians
    Jannette Berkley–Patton, a professor and community health researcher at the University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Medicine, says that without additional measures to boost vaccination rates in Missouri, African Americans as well as the community at large will remain at risk from the virus. Read more of the latest news coverage. Kansas City COVID-19 Daily Briefing for May 21 - KCUR KCUR All Things Considered Study aimed at increasing COVID-19 testing in churches moves forward - KSHB May 14, 2021

  • Fitting for Robes

    Two UMKC Law alumni receive significant judicial appointments
    This story originally appeared in Res Ipsa, the UMKC School of Law alumni magazine. To learn more, read the full issue or visit the School of Law website. Melissa Taylor Standridge (J.D. ’93) Justice, Kansas Supreme Court Melissa Taylor Standridge Justice Standridge had been a Kansas Court of Appeals judge since 2008. An adoptive  and foster parent, she has a long history of volunteer work and activism on behalf of foster and adopted families. Standridge and her husband, retired Missouri Judge Richard Standridge (J.D. ’80), have six children, including four who were adopted. She has received numerous awards during her career. Among them are the Sandra Day O’Connor Award for Professional Service from the American Inns of Court, the Carol Foreman Medal of Civility from the Kansas Women Attorneys Association and the Diversity Award from the Kansas Bar Association. She was one of the ten original committee members of the Kansas Bar Association Diversity Committee. While in law school, Standridge served as editor-in-chief of the UMKC Law Review, Chief Justice of the Moot Court Board and the only student member of the Faculty Hiring Committee. Before graduating from UMKC cum laude, she served as a research assistant for then-professor Ellen Suni, now dean emerita, who Standridge says was an influential role model and mentor. “A smile inevitably appears on my face when I think about the friends I made and the memories we shared, through both the painless and the more painful aspects of law school.” - Melissa Taylor Standridge  “Through her actions, I learned the importance of adhering to the rule of law, the value of a healthy work ethic and the necessity for excellence in every aspect of practice,” Standridge says. “But the most significant value she exhibited for me was her commitment to justice, fairness and inclusion.” One of her most treasured memories of law school, she says, was her daily interaction with classmates. “A smile inevitably appears on my face when I think about the friends I made and the memories we shared, through both the painless and the more painful aspects of law school.”   Brian Gaddy (J.D. ’94) Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court for the Western District Of Missouri Judge Gaddy focused primarily on criminal law during a 26-year career in private practice. He accepted W. Brian Gaddy numerous Criminal Justice Act appointments to represent indigent defendants in federal court and was appointed as learned counsel in seven federal capital murder cases, avoiding the death penalty in all seven. In law school, he served as a research assistant to Curator’s Professor Nancy Levit and won the Ralph S. Latshaw Award as outstanding student tin criminal law courses. He graduated with distinction in 1994. Gaddy has served on the UMKC   Law Foundation Board of Trustees since 2013. He currently serves as both vice president of the board and chair of the Resources and Leadership Committee. “I have always felt the education and experience I had at UMKC not only   helped me to become a better lawyer, but it helped me become a better person. My law school experience truly changed my outlook on the world,” Gaddy says. He credits Levit in particular. “Professor Levit has been supportive of my career ever since law school. She understands the peaks and the valleys of being a criminal defense lawyer.” Gaddy sees his new role as a natural fit. “I have always felt the education and experience I had at UMKC not only helped me to become a better lawyer, but it helped me become a better person. My law school experience truly changed my outlook on the world.” - W. Brian Gaddy “My career was spent primarily in federal courts, so a federal magistrate judge position felt like home to me,” he says. “I was also positively influenced by numerous federal judges that I appeared in front of during my legal career. Many of them served as positive role models for me, and several served as mentors.” He believes his career-long commitment to public service will influence his work on the bench. “I have represented literally hundreds of indigent defendants in the criminal justice system,” Gaddy says. “I have represented homeless clients and victims of abuse through my work with the Volunteer Attorney Project. These experiences certainly shaped me as a lawyer and will serve me well as a new magistrate judge.” May 13, 2021

  • School of Medicine Recognizes First I-Ph.D. graduate

    Jeremy Provance interprets data points to tell stories of people’s health
    Jeremy Provance was always interested in both health care and computers but wasn’t sure how to fit them together. The UMKC School of Medicine provided his answer. This month, Provance will be the first Ph.D. graduate from the medical school earning an interdisciplinary doctorate in biomedical and health informatics. He describes the field as taking the enormous amount of health data that is generated every day and “making sense of all of those data points and telling the story about what is happening with our health.” Provance didn’t know bioinformatics and data science existed until he found them as part of UMKC’s interdisciplinary Ph.D. program. The program allows students to work across disciplines to develop an individual academic plan geared to their specific interest. Through collaboration with UMKC’s School of Graduate Studies, the School of Medicine started offering bioinformatics as a co-discipline in 2014 and as a primary discipline in 2017. Studying this emphasis, students like Provance primarily focus on biomedical data and knowledge, using that information in problem solving and decision making to develop technology and processes that will shape the future of health care. Provance earned his master’s degree in bioinformatics at the School of Medicine in 2017.  He then continued in the I-Ph.D. program where he found several appealing factors during his studies, including the school’s quality of faculty, research opportunities and interdisciplinary aspect.  “My mentors were so critical to my success, and the faculty were such excellent people both in and out of the classroom. And bioinformatics is a such broad discipline – you can specialize in many different areas.” - Jeremy Provance “My mentors were so critical to my success, and the faculty were such excellent people both in and out of the classroom,” he said. “And bioinformatics is a such broad discipline – you can specialize in many different areas.” Provance’s studies focused primarily on cardiovascular outcomes research through the Mid America Heart Institute at Saint Luke’s Hospital.  Fostering collaborations with area institutions and corporations and across disciplinary boundaries are the program’s strengths, according to Jenifer Allsworth, Ph.D., and the bioinformatics department vice chair. “Through these partnerships, our students work with and alongside people from different organizations and backgrounds. We are training students to have the skills to best contribute in a rapidly evolving field.”  Provance says his overall goal is to understand “what we do well as individuals, doctors and health systems, and to encourage those practices and to identify areas for improvement to change them for the better.” Soon, he’ll be doing just that at the Yale School of Medicine, where he’s accepted a research position with its Vascular Medicine Outcomes Group. “I would not have been successful without the guidance of my research advisor, Dr. Kim Smolderen, and my dissertation chair, Dr. John Spertus. And certainly there are so many others – brilliant researchers, administrators, clinicians, fellow students and more – that helped me find my way through this program,” he said. Though he was familiar with bioinformatics through his master’s degree, Provance says it’s hard to anticipate doctoral work until you are going through it. His advice to others considering the I-Ph.D. program? Find a strong mentor and understand the importance of collaboration and networking. “It makes all the difference when you are identifying the path forward,” he said. And though it was four years of hard work, overall, Provance says he’d do it all again. “But I’m glad I don’t have to!” May 13, 2021

  • 2021 Dean of Students Honor Recipients

    Eleven students recognized for scholastic performance, community leadership and service
    Graduating students who have excelled in both academic achievement and service may be nominated as a Dean of Students Honor Recipient.  “Every semester, it is our pleasure to host a breakfast in celebration of the accomplishments of the Dean of Students Honor Recipients.  While this semester has been a bit different, we wanted to continue this tradition by virtually celebrating your achievements,” shared Co-Interim Dean of Students Keichanda Dees-Burnett. [watch the video] This program recognizes the exceptional students who maintain high scholastic performance while actively participating in University and community leadership and service activities outside of the classroom. “You are an exceptional group of people.  Despite the demands of family, work and studies, you made time to give back to the community.  When you saw a need, you worked to fill it.  You are humanitarians, leaders and philanthropists and you should rightfully be proud of yourselves,” said Co-Interim Dean of Students Todd Wells. [watch the video] Congratulations! Saniya “Sunny” Ablatt – School of Medicine [watch the video] Nominated by Stefanie Ellison [watch the video] Mojtaba Mark Abnos – School of Biological and Chemical Sciences [watch the video] Nominated by Kathleen Kilway [watch the video] Abdulmajeed Baba Ahmed – School of Computing and Engineering [watch the video] Nominated by Katie Garey [watch the video] Charles Burke – School of Medicine Nominated by Krisana West [watch the video] Sarah Duggan – School of Law [watch the video] Nominated by Sean O’Brien [watch the video] Varsha Muthukumar – School of Medicine [watch the video] Nominated by Brent McCoy [watch the video] Isabella Nair – School of Medicine [watch the video] Nominated by Brent McCoy [watch the video] Ginikachukwu Osude – School of Medicine [watch the video] Nominated by Katie Garey [watch the video] Saloni Patel – School of Pharmacy [watch the video] Nominated by Cameron Lindsey [watch the video] Daphne Posadas – Bloch School of Management [watch the video] Nominated by Katie Garey [watch the video] Emily Rackers – Conservatory and Honors College [watch the video] Nominated by Lynne O’Dell [watch the video] May 13, 2021

  • Forecast Downpour Won’t Dampen Mood for UMKC Commencement at The K

    KCTV5 interviews UMKC students about Commencement
    Potentially heavy rain this weekend could pour down on several college graduation ceremonies, including UMKC’s commencement at Kauffman Stadium. Under sunny skies Thursday, lawn games acted as a small scale year-end celebration for a group of UMKC’s academic tutors, but the big celebration is this weekend. Read the article and watch the newscast. May 13, 2021

  • Younger Kids Can Now Get COVID Vaccine

    School of Medicine associate professor weighs-in for Kansas City Star
    “I think there’s a variation of response around COVID vaccination in general, but especially when it comes to children and parents thinking about the safety of their children,” said Bridgette Jones, pediatrician at Children’s Mercy and associate professor, department of pediatrics at University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. Read the full story from the Kansas City Star. (subscription required) May 13, 2021

  • Three to Receive Gold Award for Humanistic Care

    Standouts in health outreach during the pandemic will be recognized by national foundation
    Three members of the UMKC health care community have been recognized by the university as 2021 Gold Foundation Champions of Humanistic Care. They will be among those from across the country honored at a virtual gala June 10, where three national honorees, including Anthony Fauci, M.D., will also be recognized. The winners, all nominated by the UMKC School of Medicine and its dean, Mary Anne Jackson, M.D.: Bridgette L. Jones, M.D., M.S.C.R., associate professor of pediatrics; assistant academic dean in the medical school’s Office of Student Affairs; allergy, asthma and immunology specialist at Children’s Mercy Obie Austin, F.N.P., M.S.N., UMKC Student Health and Wellness director and UMKC School of Nursing alum Pam Bean, R.N., B.S.N., M.H.S.A., M.B.A., Truman Medical Centers/University Health vice president for practice management and ambulatory care Sharing vital information Jones was commended for working to ensure humanistic care for patients, providing COVID-19 education along with other trusted messengers and sharing her voice to eliminate health inequities for those most affected by the pandemic. Her activities included working with a medical student leader to distribute masks to medical centers and communities in need, and collaborating with a faculty colleague to launch a fund-raising campaign to support Children’s Mercy employees who had unexpected financial need during the pandemic. She also discussed COVID-19 with community teenagers to answer their questions and was the host and moderator of a panel discussion with other trusted physicians and faculty focused on COVID-19 disease and vaccination in the Black community of Kansas City. “Over the past year the pandemic has brought so much grief, sorrow, loss and pain to so many individuals, communities and our entire world,” Jones said. “I have been blessed to have my calling and purpose as a physician and as a human being to be a helper. I am blessed and privileged to be able to use my knowledge, skills and my voice to advocate and speak up for those who are most often thought of last or not thought of at all.” Caring and collaborating Austin, the longtime director of student health services for the university, was praised as “one of our true heroes over the past year” for his leadership in fostering a culture of care and service. He was commended for quickly learning about COVID-19 and continuing to say up on the latest information so he could be a trusted source for the broader UMKC community and as a member of the university’s Coronavirus Planning Team. “Providing care never takes the back seat,” Austin said. “I learned that from so many beautiful souls that poured into me as a student here at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s School of Nursing and Health Studies, and it has been an honor to give back to the community educators making a difference in the Kansas City community.” Austin, a commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves, reflected on the past year. “This war on COVID has tested our resiliency, fueled our compassion for others and most definitely our ability to see each other in an equal light fighting together as one people to save our humanity,” he said. Rapid response throughout pandemic Bean was praised for her efforts that kept Truman Medical Centers, a vital member of the UMKC Health Sciences District and a key affiliate for the School of Medicine, on top of the pandemic. Her nomination for the award said Bean “could not have been replaced in the early, uncertain days of the pandemic.” She helped design the protocols that enabled TMC to initially provide more than 100,000 COVID-19 vaccines, and her quick work allowed TMC to be the first medical center in the metro area to vaccinate its staff. “Providers worked quickly, and with compassion, to match the cruel reality of patients dying without family by their bedside,” Bean said. “Patients turned to providers for emotional support, and I am proud of my team for answering that need while offering high-quality, comprehensive care.” The Arnold P. Gold Foundation is dedicated to the proposition that health care will be dramatically improved by placing the interests, values and dignity of all people at the core of teaching and practice. In addition to Fauci, this year’s national Gold Awards will honor Wayne Riley, M.D., president of SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University and head of the Board of Trustees of the New York Academy of Medicine, and Eric Topol, M.D., founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute and professor of molecular medicine at the Scripps Research Institute.   May 11, 2021

  • FDA Authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for Younger Teens

    USA Today, more media outlets, interview Barbara Pahud about vaccine
    Barbara Pahud, an infectious disease pediatrician at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, said she’s thrilled that the nation can add vaccinated teens to its list of accomplishments. Read the USA Today article. Read more from the Lansing State Journal and Wisconsin Rapids Tribune. May 11, 2021

  • Could Kansas and Missouri See Gas Shortage?

    Fox4KC interviews UMKC Bloch professor
    Stephen Pruitt, Arvin Gottlieb/Missouri Endowed Chair of Business Economics and Finance at the UMKC Block School, was interviewed for this article. Read the full article. May 11, 2021

  • Missouri to End Extra Federal Unemployment Aid Early

    Nathan Mauck weighs-in on Missouri unemployment benefit news
    Business owners do believe part of the reason why they can’t hire enough staff is increased unemployment benefits, but not the only reason. UMKC Associate Professor of Finance Nathan Mauck agrees with business owners. Read the news articles: Missouri to end extra federal unemployment aid early - KCTV5 Local restaurant staff weigh in on end to COVID unemployment benefits - KCTV5   May 11, 2021

  • Nursing Shortage Aggravated by the Pandemic

    KSHB talks to dean of the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies about nursing shortage and pandemic
    “The educational needs of the nursing profession and the need for nursing care that exists in the U.S. continues to push a feeling of responsibility and pressure on nursing educational institutions,” said Joy Roberts, dean of the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies. Watch the newscast and read the article. May 11, 2021

  • Carefully Crafted Ads Mold the Beauty Standard, Impact Perceptions While Driving Big Business

    Fox4KC taps UMKC Provost Jenny Lundgren
    Jenny Lundgren, provost and professor of psychology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, says while ads churn the economy, the “image” they oftentimes promote can affect our perception of beauty. Read more. May 11, 2021

  • Kansas City Metro Employers Search for New Hires

    Bloch School professors lend expertise to media
    As Kansas City starts to open back up from the pandemic, employers across Kansas City are finding it difficult to hire enough employees. When looking for experts to explain the problem, many reporters look to the economics and finance professors at UMKC. Here are some of the recent stories: KCTV5 with UMKC Bloch School associate professor of finance Nathan Mauck KCUR with UMKC Bloch School professor of Executive Education Ann Hackett KSHB with UMKC Bloch School Arvin Gottlieb/Missouri Endowed Chair of Business Economics and Finance Stephen Pruitt May 10, 2021

  • Jackson County Executive endorses 'Our Healthy KC Eastside' project

    Local media announces efforts, which will be led by Jannette Berkley-Patton
    Efforts will be led by Jannette Berkley-Patton, Director of the UMKC Health Equity Institute, and the project will run from June 1 until Nov. 31. Read the articles: Jackson County Executive endorses 'Our Healthy KC Eastside' project - KSHB Jackson County OKs $5 million to improve low COVID-19 vaccination rates on East Side - Kansas City Star (subscription required) Jackson County spending millions in relief funding to vaccinate people in 6 zip codes - Fox4KC New initiative will focus on building COVID-19 vaccine confidence in east Kansas City - Fox4KC Jackson County will use federal funds to help vaccinate inner-city residents - KMBC Jackson County meets for $5 million vaccine hesitancy proposal - KCTV5 UMKC-led project seeks to increase vaccination intake on KC’s eastern side - KCTV5 Jackson County Legislature Unanimously Approves “Our Healthy KC Eastside” Project - Lee's Summit Tribune Jackson County OKs $5 Million To Ramp Up COVID Vaccinations On Kansas City’s East Side - KCUR UMKC Awarded $5 Million to Fight COVID on Kansas City’s East Side - The Community Voice May 10, 2021

  • UMKC Health Sciences Students Play Major Role in COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

    Meet the medical, nursing, pharmacy and dental students who are helping
    At the University of Missouri-Kansas City, students from the four Health Sciences Campus schools have been busy in the COVID-19 vaccination effort, volunteering thousands of hours of service. Third-year medical student Nikki Seraji said she recognizes that nurses and pharmacists often bear the brunt of the work of actually administering vaccines. So, when Stefanie Ellison, M.D., UMKC School of Medicine associate dean for learning initiatives, asked for medical student volunteers to become certified vaccinators, Seraji jumped at the opportunity. “I’m studying the medical field and going to be doing this for a living and felt like I couldn’t help out enough,” she said. “When the opportunity to volunteer (as a vaccinator) came in in mid-January, I wanted to take advantage.”  Ellison said that 66 UMKC medical students from years one through six have been trained and certified to give vaccines. The students give vaccinations daily at the Truman Medical Center COVID-19 vaccination center at the University Health 2 building. They’ve helped with the School of Pharmacy’s campus vaccine clinic, assisted in vaccination events at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium, the Kansas City Zoo, Hallmark and the Missouri Cerner campus among other events and clinics. At the school’s new St. Joseph Campus, Steve Waldman, M.D., campus dean, said all of his students have been certified as vaccinators and have given vaccines at the St. Joseph Mosaic Life Care vaccination center. Many, he said, have participated in other community vaccination outreach events as well. Ellison said she works daily to partner the School of Medicine with vaccine clinics and events across Kansas City. “Our students are so wonderful that when TMC has a busy day, I can email or text our students to help in a pinch and three to five students show up to help,” she said. Students at the School of Pharmacy are trained and certified to give vaccines during the second year of their curriculum. As of mid-March, pharmacy students and faculty had volunteered 4,400 volunteer hours to administer more than 17,500 doses of vaccines at 36 events throughout the state. Jane Beyer, a third-year pharmacy student, said she began helping administer COVID vaccines in December as soon as they were available. “It is exciting that as student pharmacists we are able to get out there and really help the community and be part of the solution to COVID-19” she said. “It's a very rewarding feeling to be part of the vaccine efforts in Kansas City.” Medical student Seraji echoed that thought and admitted being a bit anxious when she was learning to administer a shot. With the help of the nurses who trained her, she was able to quickly adapt. Now she volunteers as a vaccinator at least once a week as her class schedule allows. “I was definitely anxious when I was getting certified but I did maybe 20 or 30 (shots) the first time I was on my own and you get into a routine,” she said. “I’m trying to think how many that I’ve vaccinated. I don’t know but it’s definitely more than 80 or 90.” Next door on the UMKC Health Sciences campus, nursing student Ciera Ayala got involved when the vaccination efforts were made an option for her clinical rotations. In fact, she has been part of eight vaccination events, most of them at Truman.   When she was vaccinated, Ayala said, she felt relief and “like there was a light at the end of the tunnel.” Now she is happy to share that feeling with all the people she inoculates.   “I find it very gratifying,” Ayala said. “I got to be a part of history, and it felt really good to be a part of the efforts to end this pandemic. It was also relieving, but also a little overwhelming, when we would have a line of hundreds of people for hours and hours ready to get their vaccine. It makes me happy that people are trusting in science!”  Ayala doesn’t remember any particular vaccine recipients, but she said, “it just felt really good when people were appreciative of our efforts.  “Health care workers don’t often get the recognition that is deserved, so when people recognized how hard we were working, it felt amazing.” From the School of Dentistry, 119 third-and fourth-year students bolstered the ranks of student vaccinators after they were trained in early April. They already knew how to give the more involved injections needed to numb dental patients but had to learn the quicker technique for vaccines. They were trained by Meghan Wendland, D.D.S., M.P.H., an assistant professor in the dental school, with help from faculty at the School of Nursing and Health Studies. They quickly joined in at Truman and at events for their fellow UMKC students. One dental student, Tiara Fry, said she was “a little nervous” the first few times she gave the shot, “but once I got comfortable with it, it was great! It felt amazing to be a part of diminishing the spread of a virus during a pandemic.” Fry said she sympathized with people who were skeptical or fearful but hoped to share the relief she felt when she was vaccinated. “I knew it was for a great purpose to do my part in protecting myself and those around me,” she said. “I felt for those who were extremely afraid of needles. Many would tell me right before I gave the injection, so I tried my best to make them feel as comfortable as possible.” Beyer said that working with the vaccine effort has made her a valuable resource to friends and family, helping them stay up to date on the latest information and vaccine availabilities. “It's interesting that people have a lot of different responses to getting the vaccine,” she said. “There's kind of a split. Some people, I think, feel obligated to get the vaccine and are kind of nervous. But there's also the other half that just give sigh a sigh of relief after they get the vaccine. They're wanting to protect themselves and also all their loved ones.” Beyer estimated that she has participated in at least 10 vaccine clinics since December and only wished she had time to do more. She said that at one mass event she participated in, more than 800 people were vaccinated. “We wish we could be there all the time helping,” she said. “With school, it’s hard to dedicate all your time going out and vaccinating. Without all the volunteers, who knows where we would have been on this vaccine rollout schedule.” May 10, 2021

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

    Jackson County approves CARES Act funding to promote vaccinations and other preventive care
    The Jackson County Legislature has appropriated about $5 million in CARES Act funding to a project led by the University of Missouri-Kansas City to promote and deliver widespread COVID-19 vaccinations and other health services to neighborhoods on Kansas City’s east side, the city’s most socially vulnerable community. Our Healthy KC Eastside (OHKCE) has been developed through a community-engaged process that included input from 10 meetings with community stakeholders across the east side. Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., professor in the UMKC School of Medicine and director of the university’s Health Equity Institute, is leading the project. The project’s primary goals are to address vaccine hesitancy and health inequities in portions of Jackson County identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as having exceedingly high socially vulnerable index scores. The project will run from June 1 until Nov. 31. “We are eager for the opportunity to partner with Jackson County on this project, and address health disparities related to COVID,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “Thanks to Dr. Jannette Berkley-Patton and her research, we have a clear understanding of the challenges and opportunities ahead of us - and the critical relationships that will ensure the program’s success.” The COVID-19 education, communication and vaccination project will work with partners including Truman Medical Centers, the Kansas City Health Department and the Black Health Care Coalition. Other UMKC partners include the schools of Pharmacy, Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing and Health Sciences; Center for Neighborhoods, Multicultural Student Services Center and Roos Advocating for Community Change. To reach people in the community, the project will engage with more than 120 community leaders and liaisons in east side neighborhoods, including businesses, churches, neighborhood associations and youth organizations. According to the university’s funding proposal,  the east side has experienced some of the highest rates of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths in Jackson County while low vaccination rates persist. COVID-19 has also contributed to a drastic reduction in use of preventive health services. May 10, 2021

  • #RooReady for In-Person Classes and Experiences

    UMKC to have full-capacity Fall 2021 semester
    With the incidence of COVID remaining low on campus and more and more people getting vaccinated, the University of Missouri-Kansas City is #RooReady to return to full-capacity, in-person classes and activities for the Fall 2021 semester. “We are excited to reach the point of being able to plan for a ‘normal’ fall,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “Of course, we will continue to consult with the health experts on the UMKC Health Sciences Campus and our city’s health partners and follow their advice. But we are confident that we will be able to safely resume in-person, full-capacity classes and campus life.” Agrawal praised the campus community for its diligence and resilience after COVID-19 prompted a pivot to online classes in March 2020. Since then, thousands of UMKC faculty and staff have worked to make the campus safe while continuing in-person classes and activities following stringent safety measures. That work and compliance with precautions — including mask wearing, free COVID testing and multiple campus vaccination events — have helped the university prevent further spread of the disease among the campus community. For fall semester: Residence halls and food service will resume normal operations. Lounge areas and common spaces will be reopened so students, faculty and staff can meet in person. Dining halls and other food venues will resume a full array of offerings and return to normal hours. A new monthly pop-up restaurant will be at the Student Union. Classes, events and activities including the nearly 300 student organizations will meet in person. Convocation, the official start to the academic year, will be in person and will kick off several weeks of special in-person student activities and events known as RooWelcome. Our Division I Kansas City Roos are planning a full slate of regular season contests in the fall. “Although this has been an unprecedented semester, I have no doubt in my mind that the UMKC community will persevere,” said UMKC Student Government Association President Tim Nguyen. “As UMKC Roos, kangaroos cannot move backwards; only forward. We will take it one step at a time as we transition and continue towards the post-pandemic and fall semester soon upon us.” Provost Jenny Lundgren said faculty and staff at UMKC are ready to welcome students back. “As our campus remains safe, we are excited to prepare for a return to in-person learning and activities,” said Lundgren. “No matter what the fall brings, we will ensure that we are ready to give our students a unique and rewarding experience.” May 06, 2021

  • Access to Justice

    School of Law designs Internet portal to simplify how victims of domestic violence get court protection in Kansas
    This story originally appeared in Res Ipsa, the UMKC School of Law alumni magazine. To learn more, read the full issue or visit the School of Law website. Before COVID-19 changed everything, Kansas court officials knew they needed to change how victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault applied for court-ordered protection in the state. Johnson County District Court Judge Keven M.P. O’Grady says the process of seeking an Order of Protection in Kansas was time consuming. Before a judge could consider a request, vulnerable applicants had to wade through pages of legalese-filled paperwork and file it in person with a county clerk. “It was quite a process,” O’Grady says. “It was not uncommon for people to need two, three, four hours.” But when a worldwide pandemic shut down courthouses across the state last spring, filing in person was no longer an option. Making updates to the Order of Protection system moved from necessary to imperative on the state judiciary’s priority list. Partnering to Protect Kansans O’Grady had already been in discussions with the UMKC School of Law about using technology to make the process easier. Once courthouses closed down, the project moved to a fast track. “We were really worried about victims of domestic violence having access,” says O’Grady. Using federal COVID-19 grant funding, the Kansas court system contracted with the Law School to develop an online filing system. Instead of having applicants print out forms and deliver them in person, the state wanted to allow victims to seek help through a computer or smartphone. And, perhaps most importantly, the entire process needed to be easy to understand. The result, to be rolled out across the state by the end of February, is the Kansas Protection Order Portal, or KS POP. It is already up and running in Johnson, Riley and Harvey counties. “Now people don’t even need to go to a clerk” to file a petition, says Staci Pratt, who serves as director of public services at the Leon E. Bloch Law Library and oversees the school’s self-help clinic. “I think that’s fundamental to creating equal access to justice before the law.” In plain language, the KS POP explains exactly who is eligible for a protection order and what it takes to apply. The site also gives information about locally available advocates who can support a victim through the process. If victims decide to move forward, KS POP takes them through a simple, guided interview. They answer questions, and the portal uses that information to populate a form, which is then submitted to the proper county court jurisdiction. Last fall, as a small team at the Law School went to work on designing the portal, it quickly became clear that creating the computer platform to support the system wasn’t the hard part, says Ayyoub Ajmi, associate director and digital communication and learning initiatives librarian at the Leon E. Bloch Law Library. “This was not a technology problem,” he says. “This was really a legal problem and a process problem.” Among other things, the Law School had to convince different jurisdictions to accept the common form that the portal generates based on interview questions. The portal also needed to identify a victim’s individual circumstances, which could require varying information. Andrew Watts (J.D. ’20), a recent UMKC Law graduate who worked on the project for three months as a Truman Fellow, says it was important to understand exactly what information jurisdictions needed to move ahead with a petition, while also making the questions as clear as possible. “One of the goals was to simplify the process completely,” he says. So far, that effort to simplify things has greatly reduced the amount of time required to file a petition, literally trimming hours from the process. What may have taken an entire day could now be completed in less than an hour, Ajmi says. Making Safety a Priority While making the process simpler was one goal, portal designers also knew they needed to take great care to make sure that vulnerable victims using the portal remained safe. For this reason, the site features a single button that a victim can touch to immediately exit the portal if they fear being detected by their abuser. And every step of the way, the KS POP provides users with information about local advocates available to help them on the ground in their community. Marilyn Harp, executive director of Kansas Legal Services, says having that information is vital, since most victims benefit from having an advocate at their side to navigate legal and safety consequences that will arise with going to court. The convenience the portal affords is good news for Kansans facing domestic or sexual abuse, Harp says. But survivors should know that getting an advocate’s assistance is still an important part of the process. Often the most dangerous time for a survivor is when they leave their abuser, Harp says. Having an advocate who can help think through consequences and safety procedures can be critical. Harp thanked the UMKC team for clearly conveying that message through the portal. “They were sensitive to make this not only a user-friendly process, but also a survivor-friendly process that recognizes all the aspects of safety for the survivors,” she says. May 05, 2021

  • Making the Case Online

    How current law students are making it work in a pandemic
    This story originally appeared in Res Ipsa, the UMKC School of Law alumni magazine. To learn more, read the full issue or visit the School of Law website. When our current 3L students graduate, they will have spent half of their law school careers online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We caught up with 3L students Alyson Englander, Timothy Randolph and Trevor Cunningham to hear how they’re navigating their final year — virtually. Why did you choose UMKC for your legal studies? Trevor Cunningham: It was an incredible value proposition with a great proximity to the Kansas City legal market. Alyson Englander: I chose UMKC for its reputation for being a collaborative, welcoming environment that supports non-traditional students like myself. Timothy Randolph: I chose UMKC because it offered a part-time program. I was also working in Johnson County and wanted to be local. Timothy Randolph Are you currently a clerk or intern in a law office? Cunningham: I’m currently clerking at Parman and Easterday in Overland Park, Kansas. I spend most of my time drafting documents, corresponding with legal advisors and circuit clerks and researching legal issues. Englander: While I’m not currently clerking, I have worked for the Missouri Attorney General’s office, as well as several firms during law school. Randolph: I worked in the Johnson County Prosecutor’s office for about five to six years before I decided to stop working and focus on finishing school. Has the pandemic impacted the job market for new lawyers? Cunningham: Most of us are fairly realistic about the ways in which the pandemic has made firms take an honest look at their ability to hire new associates. However, I truly believe that this 3L class is an incredibly bright and resilient group of individuals. I have little doubt that they’re going to find work even in this difficult job market. Alyson Englander and her daughter How did you manage the shift to online classes? Englander: The biggest challenges, for me, were balancing classes while my husband was also suddenly working from home and our 18-month-old daughter’s daycare was closed. I found myself having to switch my camera off often and text friends in my classes to see if I had missed anything important while tending to my family. For a few weeks, my peers and I were also very anxious about the format of our final exams and grading that semester. We were relieved when the law school ultimately decided to make all classes pass/fail. I found myself having to switch my camera off often and text friends in my classes to see if I had missed anything important while tending to my family. - Alyson Englander Randolph: My mentality, initially, was “it’s not much different because we’re sitting in class like we normally do,” but the tough part was peer interaction. Now, when you log off you have to chase down classmates to debrief after class. You get energy from your peers and being able to set up study sessions on the spot. There’s nothing personable about your laptop. Has this experience created any additional opportunities or challenges in your personal life? Cunningham: I suppose I’m like everyone else in that I have good days and not as good days. The pandemic has reminded me that it’s OK to take time for myself. By the same token, the pandemic has also caused some of my relationships to fracture. I attribute it mostly to the fact that so many things related to COVID have been so intensely politicized. I feel really sad that public health has been made into a political issue. The pandemic has reminded me that it’s OK to take time for myself.  - Trevor Cunningham Randolph: One thing I miss about being on campus is overhearing peers talking about opportunities or communication you may have missed. You get so many emails a day, it’s easy to miss something, but when you hear peers saying “oh, did you do this,” or “are you going to that,” it’s kind of like a reminder. What’s next for you after law school? Cunningham: Upon graduating, I hope to pursue an opportunity to practice in the areas of Business and Estate planning in the KC Metropolitan area. Englander: I hope to pursue a public service-oriented practice, but specifically I hope to work in immigration law. Randolph: I haven’t quite ironed out exactly what I want to do after graduation. My initial plan was to work as a prosecutor and become a JAG (Judge Advocate General) officer with the Kansas Army National Guard, however I’ve recently found an interest in business law and business development. I love the idea of being in-house counsel for a few small businesses in the area and also be able help a startup business who might want to seek private equity funding. I’ve grown to love tax law and I’ve slightly considered possibly pursuing a LL.M. in Taxation. May 05, 2021

  • Bridging the Gap

    UMKC Law community steps up to support students in need
    This story originally appeared in Res Ipsa, the UMKC School of Law alumni magazine. To learn more, read the full issue or visit the School of Law website. During the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting crisis, the UMKC School of Law responded by providing emergency support for students through the Students First Fund — an example of collegial assistance that is not unusual for students or alumni of the Law School. The Students First Fund began with an email campaign to law alumni. The firm of Davis, Bethune & Jones, LLC agreed to match all donations through June 30, 2020. With the match, alumni contributed more than $18,000. The annual appeal at the end of 2020 supported the Students First Fund as well, and the Jack and Helyn Miller Foundation gifted a $10,000 challenge grant to support the fund while encouraging law alumni to make a year-end gift to help even more students. Tom Jones (J.D. ’88) and his partners Scott Bethune (J.D. ’88) and Grant Davis (J.D. ’87) say they established the match because they know how challenging being a student in law school can be. “We remember how hard it was for us to be students — the time, the sacrifice, the money,” Jones says. “Being a student has historically been a financial hardship – not only on students, but on the people surrounding the student. Sometimes we forget how people are struggling to get by.” Ashley Swanson-Hoye, who administers the fund, encounters students with these challenges regularly. She says the Students First Fund was established to help those students who are experiencing a financial shortfall with immediate needs such as rent, utility bills, childcare and groceries. Payouts are considered an emergency loan, which students can pay back in a set amount of time with no interest. Swanson-Hoye also works with students to see if she can connect them with additional resources, such as counseling or long-term financial assistance. In addition, Swanson-Hoye makes sure that the students know about the UMKC Student Emergency Fund, the Roo Pantry and other community services that may be able to provide long-term help. She says the Law School leadership and administration anticipated that students would have greater need. “Some students or their partners worked in the restaurant industry part-time and lost their jobs,” she says. “The unexpected loss hit them hard, so the emergency fund helped them make it.” The one thing students seeking emergency funds had in common, she says, was their reaction when they discovered it was available. “Relief! They have all been so grateful that we had funds that can be used to help them with immediate needs,” she says. Fortunately, there are still funds available. “We continue to have requests and we want students who are facing emergency situations to reach out and use the funds,” she says. “Our goal is to support our students holistically. The emergency fund is just one piece of that.” This community environment is one reason the firm of Davis, Bethune & Jones continues to support student success in many forms. “My partners and I have enormous affection and respect for UMKC’s Law School,” Jones says. “We feel lucky to have been able to attend. Our experiences there as students and now as alums has inspired us to give back.” To make a gift to the UMKC School of Law, visit us online or contact Marie Dispenza, J.D., at UMKC Law Foundation, at 816-235-6328 or dispenzam@umkcfoundation.org. May 05, 2021

  • Building for the Future

    Renovations geared for student success
    This story originally appeared in Res Ipsa, the UMKC School of Law alumni magazine. To learn more, read the full issue or visit the School of Law website. The latest renovations to the School of Law building are as purposeful as they are attractive. Classrooms 02 and 05 have been converted to more versatile learning spaces with new technology for hybrid instruction and online participation. These classrooms also dramatically expand the school’s ability to provide continuing legal education programs remotely. A new Student Success Suite replaces the former  career services suite. The new suite is home to the registrar, student services manager, associate dean for students and the professional and career development staff. A new Admissions Suite is fully devoted to admissions staff and student emissaries to  conduct recruitment activities. These renovations were funded by a $3   million grant from the Sunderland Foundation. Next up: outdoor renovations, including a raised-bed garden replacing the fountain on the Truman Terrace; and thanks to a generous grant from David Stoup (J.D. ’77) and the family of Arthur Stoup, an outdoor contemplative space/garden outside the south entrance facing 52nd street. May 05, 2021

  • Leading the Way

    A School of Law alumni conversation on race, equity and where we go from here
    This story originally appeared in Res Ipsa, the UMKC School of Law alumni magazine. To learn more, read the full issue or visit the School of Law website. The police killing of George Floyd in May 2020 shocked the nation and reignited the call to end the systemic racism that has permeated our country for decades. It also renewed conversations among attorneys — for whom upholding justice isn’t simply a goal, but a sworn oath — about what important lessons the law community can learn from the Black Lives Matter movement. We sat in on one such conversation between three UMKC School of Law graduates who have all gone on to fight systemic racism in their own ways. They covered a vast array of topics — far too many to include here — but with a common thread: No matter where your law career has taken you, there is always work to be done to fight racial injustice. Often, attorneys are uniquely positioned to lead the way. Meet the alumni Adrienne B. Haynes Adrienne B. Haynes (J.D. ’13) Adrienne B. Haynes is the managing partner of SEED Law, a boutique business law firm, and owner of SEED Collective, a consultancy. She is also the founder and president of the Multicultural Business Coalition and president of the Black Female Attorneys Network. Haynes has been honored by the Kansas City Business Journal, Kauffman Foundation, Forbes 30 Under 30, and Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce for her entrepreneurship and advocacy work.   Kendall Seal Kendall Seal (J.D. ’08) Kendall Seal is director of advocacy for the ACLU of Kansas and an adjunct professor at the UMKC School of Law. He previously served as Vice President and General Counsel for the Women’s Foundation and a lawyer for Legal Aid of Western Missouri. Following civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, Seal served on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights – State Advisory Committee, which investigated the intersection of civil rights concerns and law enforcement practices over two years. He specializes in domestic violence and human trafficking law.   Shaun Stallworth Shaun Stallworth (J.D. ’08) Shaun Stallworth is a civil rights attorney with Holman Schiavone, LLC. He recently completed a two-year term as president of the Jackson County Bar Association, one of the oldest associations in the region for Black attorneys. He has also worked with Freedom, Incorporated, a political organization that advocates for African Americans, and serves on the Kansas City Police Accountability Task Force. He has represented Black Lives Matters protesters pro bono, and recently joined a project by UMKC Dean Emerita Ellen Y. Suni to help people clear their criminal records in order to find employment. On why racial justice should matter to all attorneys Shaun Stallworth: We have to decide, what type of country do we want to be? Are we going to be an eyes-wide-open country, or are we going to close our eyes and act like if we just wish it, it will improve? We have to take proactive steps to make sure it’s happening. Adrienne B. Haynes: For me, as I grow, I’ve been working to really train that muscle of what it means to be a systems thinker, because I don’t think it’s just assumed or normal. For me, there are these three core competencies that help me understand what systems thinking means and how I can keep this perspective in my work: the ability to see the larger system, the capacity to foster reflection and conversation, and then, ultimately, the ability to shift from reactive problem solving to co-creation of the future. I think if you start with those, it allows us to look at the issue with a more proactive perspective and pull some action items out of that. Kendall Seal: Law schools — and higher education in general — really need to dedicate themselves to eradicating white supremacy in our society. I don’t think it’s enough to say we’re working toward justice. Law students have to be ready to meet the moment, and we’re doing them a disservice if we’re not making these conversations fundamental to their studies. And white folks need to listen more. They need to learn when to step back and when to step up. “One of the things I’m reminded of is the state motto of Missouri, which says, ‘let the welfare of the people be the supreme law.’ Conversations about racial justice and equity and fairness go hand in hand with that.” — Adrienne B. Haynes On the art of listening and unlearning ABH: Kendall, because this is going in a law school magazine, I think we should talk about that. How do you think law schools can even address that? Is it a class? Because I did notice in law school I came in wanting to be a public servant, but sometimes law school can become less about the people and get away from the real heart of the work. KS: One of the best classes I had in law school was actually on listening. As lawyers, so much of the job is having the answer and trying to know everything. Maybe we can find ways in our legal education to help students and practitioners be more comfortable not “knowing everything” and creating opportunities for conversation and exploration. Whether that is experiential learning or in the classroom, we should be incredibly intentional. You should not graduate law school without tackling issues of systemic racism in the legal system and society. ABH: You’re right, for there to be real change, it’s not a class — an elective makes it feel optional, so you’re right, it needs to be entrenched into the system. SS: When Kendall and I started law school in 2005, there were roughly 200 people in our first-year class and only four Black people. When I was in Constitutional Law and we talked about Plessy v. Ferguson and separate but equal, people would ask me, “Well how do you feel about that?” And there’s this thought that Black folks are supposed to act as the monolith for all things Black because you’re the only Black person in the room. That is a difficult situation for a lot of people of color, whether you’re in the classroom, the boardroom, the office, the neighborhood meeting. I tie that back to the listening aspect that Kendall mentioned. Listening can go a long way — listening to why a person of color might feel out of place. ABH: Things like listening and failure, those soft skills, we don’t necessarily learn or talk about them directly in law school. In my own practice, there’s an expectation that I have the answers. And in our consultations we let people know — just training people away from that. KS: To change we have to unlearn and do things differently. We have to be honest, and I don’t know that as a profession we’re always completely honest about our shortcomings and where we have work to do. “In our role as attorneys, you have an obligation to be a change-maker, even if you’re working in a corporate setting. You can still make a difference and assist people.” - Shaun Stallworth On fighting systemic racism from every seat ABH: No matter what practice area you work in, we all have to be self-reflective. If a year into the pandemic you’re an attorney wondering, “how do I help?”, you don’t have the right friends around you. ... Life is short, and we’ve got to use our time well, especially those of us who have a privilege like a law degree. Law school doesn’t necessarily make you a lawyer, it teaches you how to think — you’ll hear that all the time. As attorneys, to not see what’s going on in the world is to purposely not see it.  SS: Adrienne said a word that stood out to me: self-reflective. … What we have to do is acknowledge that people don’t always know racism when they see it. We have to be prepared to step up and say, “Could I be biased in this situation? I don’t mean to, I’m not a racist, but could I have an implicit bias I didn’t realize that I have?” It’s easy to point out when someone says the n-word, “oh that’s terrible, oh my gosh!” Right? That’s obvious. The difficult part is on the base level to be self-reflective and acknowledge, “it might be me.”  KS: White folks who are silent are complicit in this problem. That needs to be really clear, from my perspective. If you’re doing nothing, then you’re part of the problem. ABH: We know these things take courage and unlearning. I’m in a Facebook group with women who run practices all over the world, and last week someone posted, “Oh my god, I’m sitting in court and the judge just discriminated against my client!” And she sits there, complicitly, and posts about it in the group afterward. If you feel something’s not quite right, you have to say something. And it does take courage. SS: Kendall talked about people being silent. There was an uncomfortable situation in court just the other year, and there was another attorney in the courtroom who followed me out and said, “Man, that was terrible.” And it made me think, yeah, you’re saying it to me, but would you say something to the judge? Because as awkward as you would feel saying something to him, imagine how awkward I felt being up there having it said to me. ABH: It reiterates for me the importance of black judges and diverse team members in all posts of the court, because otherwise you don’t have that advocacy. SS: You don’t have to be saying the n-word or some derogatory term to have a bias in what you’re doing, even if you don’t realize it. And we should have a conversation about that. Food for thought. KS: It’s empathy. People laugh at it sometimes, but I think we have to teach empathy. It has to be fundamental to what we’re doing, too. The appointments to the bench — that’s also a place of hope. The law can change, and lawyers can be part of the solution. It can be positive and it can be a better story. “We gave this oath to support the Constitution and to practice law, ‘with consideration for the defenseless and oppressed.’ Sometimes we gloss over those words. But with the expensive paper comes a duty. I hope we do right by it and one another.” - Kendall Seal Closing thoughts ABH: I just would remind people to stay connected to the law school and those students. The things that they’re unlearning — let’s try to lovingly teach them that and be examples. Let’s change the perception of an attorney from the shark on TV to someone who’s more compassionate, a community member, someone who’s really self-aware and reflective — the best of us. SS: In our role as attorneys, you have an obligation to be a change-maker, even if you’re working in a corporate setting. Even if you’re working at one of the largest law firms. You can still make a difference and assist people. Adrienne talked about that oath we took when we first became attorneys — remember that. Get involved, stay involved, and spend some of your time to try and assist others. KS: We gave this oath to support the Constitution and to practice law, “with consideration for the defenseless and oppressed.” Sometimes we gloss over those words. We got sworn in, we took the picture, and we’ve got expensive paper on our wall. But with the expensive paper comes a duty. I hope we do right by it and one another. May 05, 2021

  • Human Rights Hero

    Mekebib Solomon (J.D. ’20) has earned his law degree twice, in two different countries. That’s not the most interesting thing about him.
    This story originally appeared in Res Ipsa, the UMKC School of Law alumni magazine. To learn more, read the full issue or visit the School of Law website. In his home country Ethiopia, Mekebib Solomon was a successful practicing attorney and judge — until he drew the attention of government officials who wanted him to convict political dissidents who had not received due process. Growing pressure to comply and fear for his safety brought him to the United States, where his story has been far different than those in his homeland. “My father is a factory worker and my mother works in an office,” Solomon says of his parents who still live in Ethiopia. “They didn’t have an education, but they paid for me and my brother to go to private school. We had the best education available in my home country.” Solomon studied hard and decided to study law. He graduated from Addis Ababa University School of Law and Governance with an LLB degree and was eventually appointed as a federal judge in the district court. On the bench, Solomon was responsible for reviewing cases of people who were imprisoned without due process. “I left everything and fled to neighboring Kenya to save myself from unlawful arrest and prosecution.” - Mekebib Solomon “People were arrested because of their affiliation to parties that opposed the government,” he says. “Many were human rights activists who were reporting violations … Despite the threat and pressure from government officials, I released people because no charges had been filed against them and there was no legal ground to imprison them indefinitely.” As political unrest mounted in Ethiopia, the government was also putting pressure on Solomon to fall in line. “My parents taught me to respect myself and others, and most of all to stand for truth and for what is right no matter what. I did not want to be enslaved and be a puppet for someone else. In law school I learned to be fair to all and to administer the law equally, without corruption, favor, greed or prejudice, so that is what I did.” The government dismissed Solomon from his job and expelled him from the bench. He then started to teach at a law school and also became a human rights advocate reporting government atrocities to the public and international organizations. He knew that it would not be long before he was arrested. “I left everything and fled to neighboring Kenya to save myself from unlawful arrest and prosecution,” he says. In Kenya, Solomon became an advocate for refugees like him, who fled their country to save their lives. He worked as volunteer refugee coordinator, helping refugees complete asylum applications and make their cases to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other institutions. In 2013, he was granted asylum and came to the United States as a refugee. What was a seemingly wonderful opportunity also came with challenges — namely, that he had to go to law school and get a juris doctor to be a lawyer once again. “I had been a lawyer at the peak of my profession, and I had to start over.” A new beginning Solomon settled in Kansas City and joined the paralegal program at Johnson County Community College. He also began working with Gregg Lombardi at Neighborhood Legal Support (NLS), helping to improve neighborhoods in the urban core. “At NLS we believed that the best solutions for neighborhood problems come from the neighborhood,” Solomon says. “Our goal is to empower urban core neighborhoods and give them the legal tools they need to solve their own problems. One way we do this is by clearing titles on abandoned and blighted urban core properties, so the properties can be turned into good-quality housing.” Lombardi was amazed at Solomon’s humility and resilience. “He was a respected judge in Ethiopia who was forced out of office because he wrote an opinion upholding the basic civil rights of detainees. He paid a horrible price for that simple act of courage,” Lombardi says. “He worked for years at a Walmart just to get back on his feet while he volunteered with us.” Lombardi encouraged Solomon to go back to school — again — to get his juris doctorate. “Gregg was always saying, ‘You should be a lawyer,’” Solomon says. “So, I was accepted to UMKC and earned my LL.M. and was able to transfer to the J.D. program.” Many of Solomon’s friends thought law school would be too much of a strain. He’d gotten married in June, was going to school and working. Still, he was undeterred. “I was the first person in the parking lot and the last to leave while in law school. I had to be extremely focused and dedicated in my studies because there were a lot obstacles that stood before me,” he says. “I’m not a conventional law student.” Based on these convictions, Solomon was able to perform exceptionally in and outside the classroom. Solomon received the CALI Excellence for the Future Award for his excellent achievement in the study of constitutional law in Spring 2019. While in law school, Solomon was chosen to take part in competitive internship programs in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Justice. He also worked as a student assistant for the UMKC International Program and as a seasonal tax law analyst for H&R Block. And for a year, Solomon served as a Diversity Ambassador for the UMKC Division of Diversity and Inclusion. Solomon met Associate Professor Timothy Lynch in his contracts class. The two connected after an impromptu and extended lunch close to campus. Solomon now considers Lynch a valuable mentor. “He’s a brilliant person and his story made me particularly impressed with him,” Lynch says. “He was able to contribute so much to the class discussion since he had these intense personal experiences with these areas of immigration law. He’s one of my favorite students of all time.” Solomon was in the final year of his law school studies when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The relationships that he had formed with students and faculty were valuable. “Imagine how difficult it was to switch to virtual classes and prepare for the bar exam during a pandemic,” he says. “But I told myself, ‘I’ve been through so much and still had the grit to do this.’ We were advised that it would be better to postpone the bar exam considering the disruption created by COVID-19 … no more postponing.” Barbara Glesner Fines, dean of the School of Law, knew Solomon would be an exceptional student — not only because of his performance, but because of the challenges he’d overcome. “Mekebib was in my lawyering skills class,” Glesner Fines says. “I knew something about his background, so when he spoke in class or in his written assignments, I would hear his statements through the lens of knowing that he had literally put his life on the line using these legal skills advancing human rights.” She notes that it’s not unusual to hear students or other people talk about law school as something separate from “the real world.” “But by his very presence in my class, Mekebib inspired us to always remember that the law school classroom is the real world,” she says. “It’s where we learn the skills, knowledge and values that can make the difference for an entire career.” Solomon credits his resilience to his parents’ example. “My dad worked hard in the factory. He never gave up on us. He taught us that if you do something to the best of your ability, you will have peace of mind.” Solomon’s father was able to see him graduate from law school and he was also present for the swearing-in ceremony when Solomon was admitted to the Missouri Bar. “That was the moment that they could see that I did this. I deserve this,” Solomon says. “Seeing the eyes of Dean Glesner Fines and hearing her say, ‘I’m proud of you,’ that’s rewarding. This is what people need to know. You lead with examples … I had all the odds against me, but I succeeded.” A promising future built on a tumultuous past Solomon’s success didn’t end with graduation. After graduating, he was a recipient of the Truman Fellowship for the Tenant Initiative. Solomon represented local tenants facing eviction during the pandemic. And in January 2021, he moved to Virginia to work for the Walton Law Group LLC, a small law firm located in Fort Washington, Maryland. Solomon’s practice area includes immigration and tax law. “There’s a large Ethiopian population in the DMV area, and they have a lot of immigration cases that need help,” he says. Solomon says his long-term plan is not very different than his current reality — just bigger: “I’d like to form a nonprofit that is dedicated to helping refugees. Every case is different … We don’t need to label refugees as bad people.” Solomon hopes that in his work people will see him and think, “If he can be a lawyer — if he can succeed — so can I.” Dean Glesner Fines is certain they will. “Mekebib is characteristically modest, but I know he will make a tremendous difference in the lives of his clients and the legal system around him,” she says. “He is a courageous, skilled and compassionate advocate. He will be a powerful force for empowering his clients.” May 05, 2021

  • Truman Fellows Program Fills Gap

    Provides Opportunity for New Graduates and the Community
    This story originally appeared in Res Ipsa, the UMKC School of Law alumni magazine. To learn more, read the full issue or visit the School of Law website. When it became clear the COVID-19 pandemic was going to be a long-term challenge, the School of Law was left with its own challenge: how to continue its mission of supporting students and the community during a global pandemic. One key part of that response has been the Truman Fellows program, instituted in Fall 2020. This new initiative fills two key roles: Providing jobs for recent law alumni, some of whom have had difficulty securing jobs due to the pandemic Supporting community members with their legal needs, especially those that have been caused or worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic The program — named after President Harry S. Truman, who attended the Kansas City School of Law from 1923 to 1925 — was launched with a $25,000 grant from the Kansas City Regional COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund. This initial grant enabled a cohort of four fellows to be placed in the School of Law’s Entrepreneurial Legal Services Clinic, Tax Clinic, Self-Help Legal Clinic and Digital Initiatives team. Together, this group assisted small business owners applying for emergency federal funding, helped community members navigate pandemic-related tax issues and worked with the State of Kansas to develop an online system for domestic violence victims to obtain restraining orders while courts were closed. Additional support from United Way established the Tenant Representation Initiative, allowing an additional four fellows to work solely on keeping clients in their homes during the pandemic. Jeffrey Thomas — associate dean for strategic initiatives and graduate programs, Daniel L. Brenner faculty scholar and a professor of law — helped set up the Truman Fellows program. He says this work is especially important today because many pandemic relief efforts have a legal element. A great example, he says, is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s temporary halt on evictions instituted in September 2020. To be protected, tenants need to fill out a form and serve it to their landlord, which the landlord can then dispute in court. At this point, the tenant needs a lawyer. That’s where the Truman Fellows can step in. “There’s this solution out there — the moratorium on evictions — but the solution requires some legal knowledge and assistance, and we can play a role that way,” he says. David White, a visiting professor and of counsel at Foland, Wickens, Roper, Hofer and Crawford, P.C., oversees the Tenant Representation Initiative. He says what started as an eviction project eventually grew into something broader. “Because of the pandemic, the folks that are in these service industry jobs aren’t able to go to work, and so as a result they don’t have income,” he says. “For some of them it has been a tipping point for them both emotionally and mentally — if your housing is unstable, it throws everything off.” Adjunct Clinical Professor Brian Larios, who also assists with tenant representation, says the impact he is able to make alongside the fellows is particularly profound. “So many of the clients we represent are at the doorstep of desperation. They have nowhere else to turn,” he says. “To literally see their tears of joy as they realize the assistance that we will be able to provide is incredibly rewarding.” Working with United Way, the School of Law has been able to secure funding for an additional cohort of fellows in early 2021 that will continue to focus on eviction work. This will become increasingly important, Thomas says, whenever the CDC discontinues its temporary halt on evictions. Larios says the work of the Truman Fellows — who so far have assisted more than 218 people with their eviction cases — is directly in line with the Law School’s mission. “The work we have done has provided security to families who would otherwise have become homeless,” he says. “The impact on those lives is immeasurable.” May 05, 2021

  • Law and (Virtual) Order

    As court proceedings move online, judges lean into new technologies and procedures to ensure a fair hearing for all who appear
    This story originally appeared in Res Ipsa, the UMKC School of Law alumni magazine. To learn more, read the full issue or visit the School of Law website. As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, Judge Anne J. (Daddario) LaBella (J.D. ’92) was astonished to see such a large institution shift to online operations literally overnight. Judge Anne (Daddario) LaBella “If you would have told me one year ago that our courthouse would close to the public when we were seeing upwards of 2,000 cases per day, I would have never believed it,” says Judge LaBella of the 16th Judicial Court of Missouri. “In the old days, just closing dockets for a snow day was a historic occasion.” And yet, the courts never really closed. Hearings held during the pandemic, totaling tens of thousands in the Kansas City Circuit Court and close to 250,000 in the Municipal Court, were a constant intersection of legal reasoning, institutional integrity and technological know-how. Each hearing dealt in real time: attorneys juggling childcare amid a hearing, staff fielding constant technical issues and, yes, some litigants participating in hearings while ordering fast food in the drive-thru. Judge David M. Byrn (J.D. ’81), who serves as presiding judge of the 16th Circuit Court, helped lead a staff of 700, spread out through the metro area, to move court online. For him, logistics were the biggest concern — training staff on WebEx and ensuring everyone, from law clerks to records staff, could work remotely — along with keeping some semblance of a traditional hearing. “All the process and procedures are the same: rules of evidence, due process, objections,” Byrn says. “It’s just a different way to do it.” “If you would have told me one year ago that our courthouse would close to the public when we were seeing upwards of 2,000 cases per day, I would have never believed it.” - Judge Anne J. (Daddario) LaBella (J.D. '92)   Judge David Byrn Judges were the crucial force in keeping everything running smoothly in their respective courtrooms. That meant repeating questions and answers when an attorney on WebEx couldn’t hear the attorney who was in person or coordinating with attorneys on scanning and email exhibits before hearings. It also meant telling attorneys they were on mute. Often.  Judge Jessica Agnelly (J.D. ’05), appointed as an associate circuit judge in August 2020, had the unique experience of being both a practicing attorney and a judge last year. “If anything, I had the experience of waiting in a virtual waiting room for a really long time before my case was called, wondering ‘Have I done this right? Am I in the right place?’” Agnelly says. Virtual hearings aren’t new, but the increase in scope brought new questions for judges. Byrn says: “If you look at the court in general, courts are probably slow to change and slow to embrace change, which I would suggest is a good thing because the consistency of the courts is not necessarily responding to the back-and-forth changes that you oftentimes see in society. I think it makes the courts serve as the backbone of our democracy.” But the courts did support adaptation. He noted rulings by the Missouri Supreme Court, which embraced virtual technology and acknowledged that due process rights are fully protected by video conference and teleconference. Judge Jessica Agnelly Practically speaking, some aspects of hearings are very difficult to do online. Jury trials, by and large, are too difficult to hold virtually without violating due process or keeping a jury engaged. Agnelly says she’s hesitant to have preliminary criminal hearings virtually because it can impede defendants’ rights to confront witnesses at trial. At the municipal level, some virtual hearings can be more challenging. LaBella says specialty dockets in domestic violence court, drug treatment court and mental health treatment court are extremely difficult to conduct virtually because many defendants don’t appear. The reasons vary: unfamiliarity with technology, forgetfulness or because the court cannot issue warrants for failure to appear virtually. Still, Byrn, LaBella and Agnelly say the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. It saves attorneys travel time and money if they don’t have to drive to the courthouse for a 15-minute hearing. Virtual hearings have helped pro-se litigants, providing them more opportunities to appear and be heard. And it has allowed judges and attorneys alike to work and raise children. When she was still a practicing attorney, Agnelly was a part of hearings while homeschooling her daughter. “I would panic that my daughter would interrupt at the wrong time and the judge would be so angry,” Agnelly says. As a judge, “I make it a point to be as understanding as possible.” Most importantly, Byrn says that as the pandemic eases and a new normal takes hold, it will provide something crucial for all who come before judges: “better access to justice.” May 05, 2021

  • A Kansas City Historian Explains the Origins of Cinco de Mayo

    Flatland interviews Sandra Enriquez
    Sandra Enriquez, assistant professor of history at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, was interviewed for this story. Read the article. May 05, 2021

  • Women Supporting Women

    UMKC law alumnae instrumental in creating scholarship for aspiring women lawyers
    This story originally appeared in Res Ipsa, the UMKC School of Law alumni magazine. To learn more, read the full issue or visit the School of Law website. “I still get choked up when I talk about it.” Teghan Groff For Teghan Groff (J.D. ’23), a full-tuition scholarship to the UMKC School of Law means having the freedom to pursue her true passion. “If you want to go into criminal defense and public interest, like I do, you’re not looking at paying back debt very quickly,” says Groff. “Help like this means so much, especially when you’re paying for school on your own.” Groff is the first recipient of a new scholarship offered by the UMKC Law School in partnership with the Association for Women Lawyers Foundation (AWLF). The AWLF will contribute $10,000 annually for three years, matched dollar-for-dollar by the Law School, resulting in a full-tuition scholarship for a first-year, female law student pursuing a juris doctorate. Recipients must demonstrate leadership skills and excel academically. Mira Mdivani Two Law School alumnae, Mira Mdivani (J.D. ’99) and Athena Dickson (J.D. ’03), both former presidents of the Association for Women Lawyers of Greater Kansas City (AWLKC), helped make the scholarship a reality, along with Dean Barbara Glesner Fines and AWLF leadership. “We asked ourselves, what can we do to truly change someone’s life?” says Mdivani, a business immigration attorney with the Mdivani Corporate Immigration Law Firm in Overland Park, Kansas, and the recipient of the 2020 UMKC School of Law Alumni Achievement Award. The answer was simple: to enable a remarkable woman to attend law school without the burden of student debt, particularly someone who may not have the chance to become a lawyer otherwise. Athena Dickson “It’s us saying, ‘We believe in you, and here’s a full scholarship to show that,’” says Dickson, a personal injury and employment discrimination attorney for Siro Smith Dickson PC in Kansas City, Missouri. Dickson and Mdivani got involved with the AWLKC after graduating from UMKC Law School. The organization connected them to female colleagues with valuable advice about navigating the traditionally male-dominated field of law. Now, both women want to pay it forward by mentoring and offering support to other young women. “I can tell a difference compared to when I first started out,” says Dickson of her experience as a female lawyer. “Women still have a harder time, but it feels like I’m treated better, and I think some of that is directly related to the legal profession working toward gender equality.” Still, there is more work to be done to achieve equality in law and the U.S. workforce as a whole. “Women make less money than men, do more busy work for businesses and families, and often don’t have the same opportunities as men,” says Mdivani. She says that’s one reason why it’s so important to support education for aspiring women lawyers like Groff, because they can influence policies and laws to combat inequality and “make life better for everyone.” Groff, who began studying at the UMKC School of Law last summer after graduating from Fort Hays State University, wants to focus her efforts on tackling inequity in the criminal justice system. “I thought I wanted to be a prosecutor, but then I realized how much of a mess the system is and how intimidating it can be for clients,” says Groff. “I want to be a helping hand through that, so I switched to criminal defense.” Once she started talking to professors and fellow students, Groff knew the UMKC Law School was the ideal place to make that happen. “I just said, ‘OK, this is it,’ and I haven’t been disappointed.” May 05, 2021

  • Splitsy Takes Top Prize in Regnier Challenge, Adding to Emerging Fintech Startup’s Spring Bump

    Startland News reports on Regnier Venture Creation Challenge
    The Regnier Venture Creation Challenge doled out more than $65,000 in cash prizes to emerging startups this spring, culminating in Friday’s big win for an up-and-coming fintech app. The annual UMKC contest came to a close last week after its second virtual showing in the COVID-era. Read more. May 04, 2021

  • Entrepreneur Magazine Interviews UMKC Professor

    George S. Thompson weighs-in on Steve Jobs' most famous speech
    George S. Thompson, M.D., a psychiatrist and associate professor of Psychiatry at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, says that “we’re sending signals to each other constantly demonstrating whether we’re safe or we’re in danger.” He then goes on to say that being in a state of fight or flight is of particular social significance. Read the full article. May 03, 2021

  • Paying Internships In Kansas City

    KCUR interviews student about internship experience
    Bryce Graskemper, HireKC intern, UMKC student and Marine Corps veteran, was a guest on Up to Date. Apr 30, 2021

  • A Tour of Sculpture Art at UMKC

    Beautiful exterior art abounds on the Volker and Health Sciences campuses
    Steel. Bronze. Terra Cotta. Strong mediums turned into three-dimensional works of art continue to inspire at the UMKC campuses. The Roo statue is just the start of what you can see on a walk around campus. Look a little closer, and you can see the history behind them, too. President Truman bust It’s true that President Harry S. Truman studied law at UMKC in the 1920s, but he did not graduate from the program. He was, however, awarded an honorary doctorate when he returned to Kansas City in 1945. Two years later, Mexican President Miguel Alemán was given the same honor. As a gift to the university, he brought a bronze bust of President Truman in academic regalia, posed from the previous ceremony. Check out the bust in the Truman Courtyard at the School of Law. Playhouse patio At one time, the Playhouse patio served as a lobby for an operational playhouse. The physical building was an army surplus movie theatre from World War II. The masks of comedy and tragedy, the country’s largest terra cotta sculpture at the time it was built, would spill smoke from their mouths when fires burned on show nights. The Playhouse was torn down in the 1970s, but fortunately the patio, at the southwest corner of the Miller Nichols Library and Learning Center, still stands as a beautiful spot to enjoy a sunny day on campus.   Pair of Archipenko statues Cubist artist Alexander Archipenko was once in residence here at UMKC. The only sculptor to hold the position, Archipenko gifted two steel statues to the university, placed on University Walkway between Swinney Center and Miller Nichols Library and Learning Center. While they look different due to their positioning angles, the statues are completely identical. True to Archipenko’s style, they also play with light and shadow, and change in appearance depending on the time of day.   ‘Dancing’ This big, yellow statue, sculpted by university alumna Rita Blitt, once on display at Bannister Mall when it opened in 1980. When the mall announced it was closing its doors in 2007, she reclaimed the statue and gifted it to the university. Placed in front of the Olson Performing Arts Center, you can see “Dancing” before you see some amazing dance performances from our students in the Conservatory.   Bloch statue You can’t miss the sculpture of Henry and Marion Bloch outside of the Bloch School of Management. The Blochs’ children commissioned the piece from Eugene Daub in 2011 to celebrate the couple's contributions to the UMKC community. If you’re looking for a little extra luck during finals week, be sure to visit and give the statue a fist bump.   ‘Any Word Except Wait’ This statue by Flávio Cerqueira was gifted to the university by the R.C. Kemper Charitable Trust. Its installation was a part of the inaugural Open Spaces performing arts festival, a collaboration between Kansas City’s Office of Culture and Creative Services and a private arts initiative to highlight Kansas City’s arts, culture and creativity. Find her in front of the Fine Arts building.   ‘Blue Steel’ It won’t help in your modeling career, but it can help in your construction career! Designed by the American Institute of Steel Construction, it’s a teaching aid to help students get a visual understanding of steel framing and full-scale steel connections. The piece, located in front of Flarsheim Hall, has been educating students in the Quad since 2004.   Graces Fountain Another sight in the Quad you can’t miss is the Graces Fountain. First built in 1940, it was a traditional, terracotta fountain until it was dismantled in 1973. The story goes that an artist wanted to revive it with a new stone base, but the rocks were haphazardly placed instead, creating the campus icon we know and love today.   Robert Flarsheim bust See the man Flarsheim Hall is named after! Robert H. Flarsheim was a university benefactor who lived in a house at 50th and Cherry, where the Student Union is today. When he passed in 1995, he left a large gift to the university for campus beautification, and students frequently hang out in the shady green space near his likeness.   ‘Rivers, Rails and Trails’ You won’t notice much if you meander by the Miller Nichols Library and Learning Center in the daylight. If you happen to do so after nightfall, though, you’ll be treated to a 22-foot-tall and 49-foot-wide map depicting Kansas City in 1926. The stainless-steel panels are illuminated with LED lights and intend to convey “flow”— of information, rivers and people.   ‘Take Wing’ There’s beautiful art to see on our Health Sciences Campus as well. This bronze sculpture, cast from a carving by E. Grey Dimond, M.D., one of the founders of the UMKC School of Medicine, stands in front of the school. It shares a name with Dimond’s book Take Wing! Interesting Things That Happened On My Way to School as well as a School of Medicine graduate award. While you’re there, check out the bronze bust of Dimond and fellow founders Nathan J. Stark and Homer C. Wadsworth. If you decide to take your own campus sculpture tour, be sure to share your photos on social with the hashtag #UMKC. Apr 29, 2021

  • Starr Women's Hall of Fame Reveals 2021 Class of Inductees

    Hall honors Kansas City’s greatest women, past and present
    A new group of extraordinary women, past and present, who have made their mark on the greater Kansas City community have been named to the Starr Women's Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame was created to honor women who have made Kansas City a better place to live, work and serve. Alicia Starr and Marjorie Williams, Ed.D., are co-chairs of the 2021 induction ceremony. “We are excited to bring these 11 remarkable women into the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame, a group that sets a standard for achievement and public service,” Williams said. “The stories of these women are an example and an inspiration to future generations.” The 11 outstanding women in the 2021 class of honorees will be honored in a private broadcast celebration on Tuesday, June 22. Festivities will commence with a preshow at 5:45 p.m. followed by the private broadcast at 6 p.m.  Details about the event as well as ticket and sponsor opportunities can be found at www.umkc.edu/starrhalloffame/ The new inductees are: Sister Corita Bussanmas (deceased) and Sister Berta Sailer, founders of Operation Breakthrough. Together, they provided education and social services to more than 10,000 of KC’s most vulnerable children and their families. In 2014, they were awarded the John and Marion Kreamer Award for Social Entrepreneurship from the UMKC Bloch School of Management. Rafaela “Lali” Garcia (deceased), founding member of Kansas City's La Raza political club. She is a former Jackson County Commissioner and served on the boards of Guadalupe Centers, the Hispanic Economic Development Corp. and MANA, a national Latina organization empowering women through leadership development, service and advocacy. Karen M. Herman, one of the founders and the first president of the Women’s Foundation. She is a longtime advocate and philanthropist for women and hunger relief, and has received multiple community recognitions including Woman of the Year Award from the Central Exchange and the U.S. Mayoral End Hunger Award. Gayle Holliday, Ph.D., introduced female bus operators into the workforce as HR Director at the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, many of whom were single mothers and heads of their households. She served on President Bill Clinton’s transition team. Norge Jerome, Ph.D., served as Director of USAID, the federal international development and humanitarian agency. A professor and author of three books, she received the U.S. Department of Labor Spotlight Award for expanding the scope of food and nutrition services to poor women and families in developing countries. Audrey H. Langworthy, a 17-year Kansas state senator. Her recognitions include the National Society for the DAR Award for Excellence in Community Service, the Johnson County Community College Foundation's Johnson Countian of the Year Award and was named to the University of Kansas Women's Hall of Fame. Carol Marinovich, the first woman mayor of Kansas City, Kansas, who led the successful conversion to a Unified County Government and the development of the Kansas Speedway NASCAR racetrack, resulting in a complete economic renaissance for her community. She was recognized as Kansas Citian of the Year by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. Nelle E. Peters (deceased), the first female architect to have a significant impact on Kansas City’s built environment, she is best known for designing her signature colonnaded apartment buildings in central neighborhoods of Kansas City and the Luzier Cosmetics Building in Midtown. She designed more than 1,000 buildings during her career before retiring in 1967. Rosilyn Temple, founder of the Kansas City, Missouri chapter of Mothers In Charge, Inc. after the murder of her 26 year-old son. She has responded to more than 400 homicide scenes in the city since 2012 to comfort family members and support law enforcement. She is changing the conversation surrounding violence reduction in our community by elevating the voices of bereaved mothers and women. Sonia Warshawski, a Holocaust survivor who was sentenced to three death camps between the ages of 14 and 19. She became the voice of those who died and began speaking to students, adults and numerous organizations and has become a role model for trauma survivors. Her granddaughter made an award-winning documentary, “Big Sonia,” to share her story with an even wider audience. The Starr Women's Hall of Fame is dedicated to recognizing extraordinary Kansas City women and preserving the history of their accomplishments. These women are social reformers, volunteers, philanthropists, civic leaders, activists and educators. They are neighborhood leaders and grassroots organizers, from yesterday and today, both famous and unsung. They are movers and shakers whose tireless commitment to community has made Kansas City a better place to live. The Hall of Fame is a repository for their legacies, offering an extensive archive of these women’s activities and achievements available to researchers, educators and historians. A permanent display honoring Hall of Fame members is now open to the public on the third floor of the Miller Nichols Library at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The library is at 800 E. 51 St., Kansas City, Missouri. By sharing their stories, the Hall of Fame encourages and inspires women everywhere. Biographies of all of the honorees are available at umkc.edu/starrhalloffame/hall.cfm. The Hall is named in honor of Martha Jane Phillips Starr, a legendary activist and philanthropist who blazed a trail for family issues and women's rights. The hall of fame is made possible through the Starr Education Committee, Martha Jane Starr’s family and the Starr Field of Interest Fund, which was established upon her death through the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. The idea for the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame stemmed from Starr Education Committee members. The civic organizations that advocate on behalf of women and family issues and have signed on in support of the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame include: American Association of University Women, American Business Women’s Association, Association for Women Lawyers of Greater Kansas City, Central Exchange, CBIZ Women’s Advantage, Girl Scouts of NE Kansas and NW Missouri, Greater Kansas City Chamber’s Executive Women’s Leadership Council, Greater Kansas City Women’s Political Caucus, Jackson County Missouri Chapter of the Links, Inc.; Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri; KC Metro Latinas, Kansas City Athenaeum, Kansas City Young Matrons, OneKC for Women, SkillBuilders Fund, Soroptimist International of Kansas City, Soroptimist Kansas City Foundation, UMKC, UMKC Women’s Center, UMKC Women’s Council, UMKC Women of Color Leadership Conference, United WE, WIN for KC, win|win, Women Leaders in College Sports, Women’s Public Service Network, Zonta International District 7 and Zonta Club of KC II. Apr 28, 2021

  • Critical Conversations: Black and Brown Excellence in the Classroom

    Exploring Bridges and Barriers to Success
    Local educational and community leaders participated in a virtual panel discussion about racism, how it impacts student performance and how to address the issue. The theme of the April 22 online discussion was “Black and Brown Excellence in the Classroom: Exploring Bridges and Barriers to Success.” Panelists for this conversation included: Brandon E. Martin,D., UMKC vice chancellor/director of athletics Edgar J. Palacios, president and CEO of the Latinx Education Collaborative Loyce Caruthers, Ph.D., professor of educational leadership, policy and foundations at UMKC Lauren Sanchez, program director at Kauffman Scholars, Inc. Moderators were Gary O’Bannon, executive-in-residence, Henry W. Bloch School of Management; and Adriana Suarez, a sophomore student at UMKC. The Critical Conversations series, hosted by the UMKC Division of Diversity and Inclusion, addresses systemic racism in the United States. UMKC people are taking thoughtful action on campus and in our community to ensure lasting and comprehensive reform through Roos Advocate for Community Change, a campus-wide effort announced in June 2020 following the death of George Floyd. The goal of each discussion is to enlighten, educate and explore the causes and potential cures for racism. Further, the university will strive to share actionable steps that can be used to improve racial interactions in the broader community. For more information, please email umkcchancellor@umkc.edu. Excerpts from the conversation are below. Harmful assumptions about students of color often made in schools Sanchez: There are assumptions made about time, such as if you’re not early, then you’re late. If you can’t meet deadlines, then you’re lazy. These beliefs assume that everyone is coming from the same level of experiences, when in fact, students of color are more likely to be working jobs in addition to going to school in order to help support their families. Change has to happen at the system level and at the school level, but it ultimately comes down to that individual classroom teacher. If you’re starting to notice that a student is not on track, you need to communicate with them and find out how to support them. Systematic issues in education that impede success for students of color Martin: The system is not designed for Black and brown students to be successful. Educators have not been prepared to teach black and brown students in a way that accommodates their life experiences. A lot of these students go to school hungry. Transportation to school can often be a challenge. They deal with technology gaps in the home and trauma in their lives. These situations are not factored into the academic success conversation. Young Black men in particular are subjected to stereotypes that cast them as violent, criminal and academically inferior. That produces anxiety, stress and anger. Caruthers: Young Black women face stereotypes too: the mammy and the angry Black woman. Even the language used in the system dehumanizes kids. “No child left behind” is a derogatory term. So is “minority,” “English as a second language,” “at risk.” Better language to use would be “minoritized groups,” “historically underserved” and “children of color.” Palacios: People have to do the internal work of recognizing and understanding their biases. And that is lifelong work. People will focus on “how can we change the system?” which is such a big job it can lead to paralysis. Instead, people should approach it in terms of “How do I show up as an individual?” The “one size fits all” approach to education Martin: It’s not just about those on the margins. We have gifted students who are not getting what they need. It is important that we understand the individual student that we are serving. We need a more tailored approach. Sanchez: It illustrates the difference between equality and equity. Not everyone has the same life experiences so we don’t all need the same things. Our lives are not one size fits all, so why should our interventions be one size fits all? Caruthers: if you measure student performance only by tests, you miss a lot. We need multiple ways to assess learning. The role of relationships Martin: Building relationships is the critical cornerstone for advancing the education of young men of color. Educators need to establish rapport and trust so that they can leverage the assets the students are bringing and recognize the external influences on these kids. Educators especially need to demonstrate high expectations for all students. If you have low expectations for a student, the student will perceive that as “you don’t care about me.” We need teachers to say to students, “I understand your struggle, I understand your journey.” Sanchez: Teachers need to build that relationship of trust up front. It’s too late to try to reach a student after issues arise. How white people can support students of color Palacios: They need to speak up. When someone says something that isn’t quite right, that’s a great opportunity for allies to step in and start the uncomfortable conversation. When white people do that, it relieves the pressure on us, it makes us feel seen and it helps build relationships. Sanchez: If it feels wrong, it is wrong. If it’s uncomfortable to say something about it, then you need to say something about it. Caruthers: Know what resources are available so you can direct students to them. Teachers with culturally responsive skills need to become mentors.   You can watch the full conversation below. Apr 27, 2021

  • What Made Masks Politically Polarizing

    Beth Vonnahme was a guest on Up to Date
    Beth Vonnahme, associate dean at the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences and associate professor of political science, was a guest on Up to Date. Read more from KCUR. Apr 27, 2021

  • Human Expression: Why It Should Be A Global Goal And How Crypto Can Help

    Forbes reports on UMKC Bloch partnership
    The Kansas City Art Institute recently partnered with the UMKC Bloch School of Management to create a business in art minor to support their graduating artists in being able to make the connection between passion and work. Read the full article. Apr 27, 2021

  • Surprise Medical Bills Are Coming to an End

    Kiplinger interviews UMKC Bloch School assistant professor
    Advocates will need to educate patients about the new law, says Christopher Garmon, an assistant professor of health administration at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. “That is one problem that you could have—providers send out bills and consumers don’t know they are protected,” he says. “They may pay it without knowing they don’t have to.” Read more. Apr 27, 2021

  • UMKC Innovation Center Helped Create 500 New Ventures, Boost Revenue By $245M in 2020

    Startland News reports on UMKC Innovation Center's impact
    Amid a year of pandemic-prompted chaos in the business community, entrepreneurs forged ahead like rarely before seen, according to the UMKC Innovation Center’s new impact report, which details outcomes of the Kansas City-based resource network’s programming opportunities. Read more. Apr 27, 2021

  • College Student Leads Expansion of The Halal Guys in Missouri

    Franchise Times interviews UMKC Bloch School student
    Set to graduate in December with a finance degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Osama Hanif said he started working at a bank while in school and “realized the 9 to 5 wasn’t for me.” Read the article. Apr 27, 2021

  • Roo Sculpture by Artist Tom Corbin Settles Into New Home

    Students, faculty and staff welcome new Roo to campus
    UMKC students, faculty and staff welcomed the newest UMKC Roo to campus in the first public event since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mahreen Ansari, UMKC Student Government Association president, introduced the Roo sculpture by artist Tom Corbin that stands proudly in the heart of campus on the University Walkway near the Miller Nichols Library and Learning Center.  “We are completing a circle that began 84 years ago, in 1937, when students at the University of Kansas City selected the kangaroo as our official mascot,” Ansari said. “From Oregon to Ohio to Oz, you can find all manner of lions and tigers and bears, oh, my, but UMKC is one of the very few colleges or universities to proclaim our identity as proud, strong, faithful and dedicated Roos.” Chancellor Mauli Agrawal was thrilled to learn when he arrived at UMKC, that the kangaroo is one of the few animals in the world that cannot go backwards. "(Roos) can only go forward. That’s what makes this great animal such an appropriate symbol for our great university.” - Chancellor Mauli Agrawal Chancellor Agrawal delivers remarks at the Roo sculpture's unveiling event.   “They can only go forward. That’s what makes this great animal such an appropriate symbol for our great university,” he says. “And it’s a rallying point. This statue stands as the physical embodiment of our shared identity. It is a statement of our shared history, and our shared determination to shape the future.” Corbin described his creative process that brought the Roo to life in bronze. “My research into producing a sculpture of the Roo began years ago when I was approached to produce the Bloch School Alumni award,” Corbin said. “Inspired by the more modern Roo logo, my sculptural adaptation for the award was to create something more artful, elegant and sleek. The original inspiration has carried over to our monumental Roo that has found its new campus home today.” Chancellor Mauli Agrawal stands next to artist Tom Corbin, the artist who created the sculpture.   Brandon Henderson (Political Science ’21) was student government association president when the anonymous gift was announced. “It looks amazing!” Henderson said. “People are taking photos by it already. It looks as if it’s been there a long time. You can tell it is going to age well.” Chancellor Mauli Agrawal (middle) stands next to current and emeritus Student Government Association presidents.   Grace Horacek (Fine Arts ’23) came to see the unveiling with a group of friends. “I work in the recreation center, and I saw the statue unloaded and really wanted to see it. It’s definitely cool.” Apr 26, 2021

  • University of Missouri-Kansas City Unveils New Mascot Sculpture On Campus

    Fox4KC reports on unveiling of Roo statue
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City added a little artwork to campus Monday. UMKC students are known as Roos, so a sculpture of it’s mascot, a kangaroo, couldn’t be more fitting. Read the story and watch the newscast. Apr 26, 2021

  • Gun Violence Increases in Kansas City in April, With 42 People Injured and 9 Killed

    Kansas City Star taps Ken Novak
    Ken Novak, a criminal justice professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City who studies policing and crime prevention, said he has become pessimistic about changing the culture of gun violence in Kansas City. Read the article. (subscription required) Apr 26, 2021

  • UMKC Professor Weighs-In On Biden’s First 100 Days in Office

    Tampa Bay Times interviews Max Skidmore
    “Biden compares quite favorably with every other president after Franklin Roosevelt,” said Max J. Skidmore, University of Missouri-Kansas City political scientist. “Not only has he accomplished many things quickly — most of them are highly significant.” Read more. Apr 26, 2021

  • Guide for Disability Abuse In Missouri

    Yahoo! News picked up story from Action 41 News
    The UMKC Institute for Human Development has released a guide to help people notice abuse of people with disabilities and how to prevent it. Read more.  Apr 23, 2021

  • Doctors Say There Is a Big Push to Educate College Students on COVID-19 Vaccine

    KMBC interviews Stefanie Ellison
    “I do think we have some work to do with those that are vaccine hesitant,” said Stefanie Ellison of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. Read the story and watch the newscast. Apr 23, 2021

  • UMKC Answers Missouri’s Call for COVID Vaccines

    School of Pharmacy playing significant role in efforts across the state
    As soon as the announcements came last November that vaccines for the COVID-19 virus would soon be released for distribution, Cameron Lindsey’s phone began ringing at the UMKC School of Pharmacy. Lindsey, Pharm.D., MPH, interim chair of the division of pharmacy practice and administration, leads the schools’ vaccine response team. It is a group of faculty members at the school’s three campuses in Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield that was quickly assembled to provide manpower and other support for partners and outside entities launching or managing vaccine clinics across the state. “I have people going to Clinton. I’ve got people going to Cape Girardeau, some I have going to St. Louis,” Lindsey said. “So, it is all over the state.” UMKC pharmacy students also have done month-long rotations at the Hannibal Free Clinic since the COVID pandemic began. By March, Lindsey said students and faculty from across the school’s three campuses had spent nearly 4,400 hours administering more than 17,500 doses of vaccines at 36 sites throughout the state in communities large and small. Those were just the volunteer numbers reported by students and faculty. That doesn’t include the unreported number of students engaged in vaccine efforts as part of their clinical rotations or part-time jobs outside the classroom. Vaccines are being administered at health systems, long-term care facilities, pharmacies, clinics and mass vaccine events at sites across the state. Since the inception of the first COVID vaccine in December, it’s been all hands on deck for students, faculty and staff of the School of Pharmacy and the other UMKC health sciences schools – Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing and Health Studies --  which have all been working overtime to help with the mass vaccine efforts. As clinics quickly ramped up in March, filling the need for all of the requested help has been a challenge. Paul Gubbins, associate dean of the school’s Missouri State University campus, said he received a request from a site in Webster County near Springfield that has been typical of the need in rural communities. In short, “we just received a vaccine shipment and need any help your students can provide.”   “We've had several requests from community pharmacies that have had a pretty short lead time and some have been unable to predict when their next clinic will be,” he said. “We do the best we can to notify our students to assist. The demand is there and it's so high that the challenge is matching the resources to that demand because of the quick turnaround or the uncertainty in terms of the allocations that pharmacies get.” UMKC Pharmacy students are trained and certified to give injections near the end of their second year of school. It’s become commonplace for the recently certified second-year and third-year pharmacy students to play an active role in vaccination events. More so, now with the COVID vaccines. Roger Sommi, Pharm.D., associate dean of the school’s Columbia campus, said his students working with some of the area’s major pharmacies have reported sites administering as many as 300 to 350 COVID shots a day. “There are a lot of opportunities (to help) and it’s fast and furious for sure,” Sommi said. One student he spoke of was going back and forth between school and volunteering at a local pharmacy during her breaks between classes. “She would go down to the pharmacy for two hours, inject 40 or 50 people and then come back to class,” Sommi said. “All of these places are taking everybody they can get.” So great is the need for help that many of the pharmacy school’s faculty have gone through certification training on their own time to join the vaccination efforts. Sommi was one of five faculty members to go through one particular certification class that Lindsey taught. “When I went through pharmacy school in the 1980s, injection certifications weren’t even a thing,” Sommi said. “With COVID, I saw a need and saw an opportunity to give back to the community, so I personally went through the certification process and there were least two others in my certification class in the same boat. I didn’t get it when I went to school. I didn’t need it for my practice, but I want to be part of the solution.” The pleas for help are coming from across the state, particularly smaller communities where pharmacies and pop-up clinics are particularly short-staffed. “Small towns are calling saying hey, we’re getting a shipment of Pfizer and we’re going to do (a vaccine clinic), do you have anybody that can help,” Sommi said. “The reality is, the students are tapped out. We just don’t have the number of students needed to meet the demand.” In Springfield, Gubbins said a large number of his students have been busy administering vaccines through their workplace. “Many of them work at large health care facilities or have pharmacies in their workplace that are offering a clinic where they get scheduled to work or volunteer to help,” Gubbins said. “In addition to volunteering, I think a large percent of the vaccination efforts our students engage in occur through their workplace. “I've been putting out emails saying to students that if you have free time during the school week when you're not in class or going your clinic, here are the places that need help. Or, they're doing it when they're working. It's important to know that we really do fill that community resource by being here either in a volunteer or workforce sort of way.” Apr 22, 2021

  • Enactus Team Finishes in Top Eight Nationally

    Third year in a row for high ranking
    The UMKC Enactus team placed 2nd in their league and exited the 2021 Enactus USA National Competition in the top 8 teams in the country out of more than 300 teams in the U.S. The team spent the year focused on global impacts with multiple social entrepreneurship projects, even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic gripping our region and the world. “It has truly been an incredible year,” said Ali Brandolino, Enactus team president. “This finish is motivating our team to find more needs and impact more people in our community and communities world-wide. It has been exciting to watch each member light up with passion when discussing innovative solutions to problems many people face every day. I will never forget what UMKC Enactus was able to accomplish during the year of the pandemic.” The team’s achievements this year include: Maintained a vibrant student organization virtually, with a roster of almost 100 members Finalist for 2021 TCU Values and Ventures Completion, a premier national social entrepreneurship competition Top 48 team in in the world in the Race to Rethink Plastics – a global challenge sponsored by Coca-Cola, Dell and Hi-Cone to motivate students think about ways to reduce plastic waste in the environment Diverted 471 pounds of plastic through the Generation Green project and a partnership with Shatto Milk Company Supported artisans in Oaxaca, Mexico Raised thousands of dollars toward educational facilities for Ogwuokwu Community School in Ogwuokwu, Nigeria Developed new student-led fundraising campaigns that have brought in thousands of dollars to support team activities Held a virtual reverse pitch event with community leaders Served the community as a Rotaract team Maintained COVID-safe projects and interactions Several students also won individual awards. Drew Childs won the $10,000 Jules and Gwen Knapp Scholarship. This is the second year in a row this honor went to a UMKC student. Hannah Case was recognized as a finalist for the Project Leader of the Year Award for being among the top 3 most impactful project leaders nationally. The team also won the $1,500 Jack Shewmaker Enactus Spirit Award for this student-produced video. You can view the online expo and the team’s awards announcements online. Apr 22, 2021

  • New in KC: Why UMKC’s Island-Hopping Tech Leader Is Trading Hawaiian Surf for Kansas City Turf

    Startland News picked up story from Action 41 News
    Chris Rehkamp is associate director of Tech Venture Studios at the UMKC Innovation Center. Read the full article. Apr 22, 2021

  • UMKC Staff Honored at Virtual Awards Ceremony

    Annual event recognizes contributions
    Excellence is the standard for UMKC staff, faculty and students. More than 1,300 staff members demonstrate that excellence not only in customer service and quality of work, but in their personal ethics as well. The annual Staff Awards event gives our campus community a chance to recognize those who make a difference at UMKC. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s ceremony took place virtually on April 20 to celebrate dedication to student success, diversity and inclusion, engagement and outreach and research and discovery. The celebration also included milestone anniversaries, staff who were a part of the 2020 graduating class and staff who completed leadership development courses offered through the university.  “All of (our staff) have persevered through long months of disruption and kept UMKC running smoothly despite great challenges and significant obstacles,” says UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “That, too, is worthy of note. I am honored to celebrate you today.” Congratulations to the 2021 Staff Awards recipients: 40-year milestone anniversary Leisha ManningJill Reyes 2020 spring, summer and fall graduates Benjamin BissenTaylor BlackmonJamisha CooperMackenzie DossJason FosterAlissa GrattsScott GuerreroCory KinderEllyce LovelessShana MaloneCourtney McCainAlison MurdockJohari RussellElizabeth ValleBrian WesthuesMargaret Wight Supervisory Development Series Graduates Anne AllenMaryjane BruningErin BumannBrittany BummerJessica ElamJeremy FergusonCollin FosterMegan FrasherMargo GamacheElizabeth HanssenLaura M. KingLaura W. KingNancy KunkelDaniel McCarrollSteve McDonaldAmy McKuneZangi MitiShani NegronCasey RamseyAdam ShoemakerKristina ShultzLindy SmithRobin SommerJaney StephensAshley Swanson-HoyeAshley SylvaraHeidi UpdikeClay VernonSherrie WatkinsKaity WoodyRobert Wren Administrative Leadership Development Program Graduates Nathaniel AddingtonMatthew BrownKatherine GareyLisa MallowRosa NatarajMary ParsonsJennifer SackhoffTammy Welchert Series on Leadership Essentials Graduates Kenneth BledsoeMaria DeSimioConnor FenderCollin FosterMegan FrasherJalonn GordonElizabeth HanssenMeg HauserJonathan HernAmelia HowardBrent McCoyMyisha SimsSandra SmithPaul Wagner Staff Council Dedication Award Hannah Litwiller, senior student recruitment specialist, Office of Admissions Living the Values Awards Obie Austin, Student Health And WellnessMichael Bongartz, Finance and AdministrationCindy Brown, School of DentistryRosie Challacombe, College of Arts and SciencesSharon Colbert, School of Nursing and Health StudiesClint Dominick, Intercollegiate AthleticsMakini King, Division of Diversity and InclusionBrad Martens, School of EducationRachel McCommon, School of MedicineSteve McDonald, School of PharmacyZangi Miti, Strategic Marketing and CommunicationsMary A. Matturro Morgan, Henry W. Bloch School of ManagementHelen Perry, UMKC ConservatoryEmily Reeb, University LibrariesAshley Swanson-Hoye, School of LawJodi Troup, Office of Research ServicesJane Vogl, School of Computing and EngineeringAbby Weiser, Office of AdmissionsAsia Williams, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences University Staff Awards Excellence in Student Success – Marjory Eisenman, School of Computing and EngineeringExcellence in Research and Creative Works – Charles Brandon King, Institute for Human DevelopmentExcellence in Engagement and Outreach – Martha McCabe, School of Computing and Engineering Excellence in Multiculturalism, Globalism, Diversity and Inclusion – Dylan Burd, College of Arts and SciencesExcellence in Planning, Operations and Stewardship – Huan Ding, School of Computing and Engineering Chancellor’s Staff Award for Extraordinary Contributions – Anthony Maly, Office of Student InvolvementRising Star Award – Margo Gamache, Honors College Apr 20, 2021

  • UMKC Center for Neighborhoods Sets Drive-Through Birthday Party

    Unique socially-distanced event celebrates center’s fifth anniversary
    The UMKC Center for Neighborhoods is celebrating its fifth anniversary Friday with a socially-distanced drive-through birthday party. The center is a community engagement initiative lead by the university’s Department of Architecture, Urban Planning+Design. Over the past five years, 193 neighborhood leaders, representing 79 unique organizations, have participated in the center’s Neighborhood Leadership Training classes. Neighborhoods that have participated in the training secured $1,159,562 of investments (grants, donations, governmental funding, volunteer hours, etc.) in their neighborhoods in 2020. The celebration is from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, April 23 at the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center parking lot, across the street from the center’s office at 4747 Troost Ave. Center staff and UMKC AUP+D students will be on hand to distribute goodie bags, yard signs and treats. Representatives of the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center will also be on hand to share information. Apr 20, 2021

  • New Roo Sculpture is Coming to Campus

    A monumental symbol of tradition at UMKC
    There is no better time to celebrate the resilience of the Roo spirit than now. Our community has forged ahead through the challenges of an unprecedented year, and in celebration of that same enduring spirit, we’ll be unveiling a new Roo statue. The unveiling is 10 a.m. Monday, April 26, at University Walkway, between Swinney Center and Miller Nichols Library and Learning Center, and the entire UMKC community is invited. It’s an historic event that’s been a few years in the making. In 2018 the Student Government Association, with support of private donations, commissioned Kansas City artist Tom Corbin to create a new Roo statue for campus. Donations for the statue were made in 2018 in honor of the investiture of Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. It is intended to be a symbol of our community and our history as Roos in Kansas City, and will serve as a rallying point on campus for important and meaningful events, gatherings and alumni visits. Most important, the new addition to campus serves as an opportunity for students to establish new traditions. Former SGA president Abdul Ahmed offered a suggestion: “My hope is that future graduating classes will take photos in front of the Roo.” History of the UMKC Roo and Campus Traditions You would expect such a unique mascot to have an interesting origin story. We caught up with campus historian Chris Wolff to learn more about how the Roo was embraced by the students at UMKC. Since the university’s founding, one of its core strengths has been its kinship to Kansas City. When the University of Kansas City (predecessor to UMKC) was established by local civic leaders during the Great Depression, it was meant to become a cultural monument — to put Kansas City on the map. While it was prominent community members who built UMKC, its students are credited for much of what the university has become. “The founders of UMKC were all-important businesspeople in Kansas City. None of them had any experience in education, so they left it upon the students to create the college experience they wanted,” Wolff said. Students chose the university’s colors, established the student newspaper and wrote the school’s alma mater. In 1936, editors of the student newspaper decided the debate team needed a mascot. Students proposed adopting the kangaroo as the mascot due to the animal’s popularity at the Kansas City Zoo. To advocate for the mascot, a group of students formed the SGA Kangaroo Party and when they won the election in the spring of 1936, the kangaroo became the official university mascot. In 1938, Kansas City native Walt Disney drew the first picture of the kangaroo—you  might see some similarities to a famous mouse! Early illustration of our Roo mascot by Walt Disney. The university has seen different versions of the Roo through the years. Wolff said throughout history, students have been known to draw their own depictions of the kangaroo despite the university having official branding guides for the kangaroo, the first set of which was in the 1950s. “Even to this day you’ll see student groups draw their own depictions of Kasey Kangaroo. That’s one of the longstanding traditions of students,” Wolff said. “The reason the kangaroo survived as the mascot all of these years is because of its uniqueness and because of its connection to Kansas City.” One of the most popular and appreciated depictions of the Roo can be found in watercolor paintings and sculpted into small awards sculptures molded by Corbin, a renowned Kansas City artist. While traditions from spirit week activities and other student experiences change with the times, UMKC has several monuments, ones that remember classes of old and gifts dedicated by students and community members. For example, the class of 1939 donated one of two flagpoles currently standing on the quad; the other was gifted by the family of Harry Kaufman, a student who died fighting in World War II, and is dedicated to student veterans. Wolff said UMKC grew up with Kansas City. Having been founded by the same civic leaders that established Liberty Memorial – which you can catch a glimpse of embedded in the university seal — and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, UMKC has deep and longstanding connections to Kansas City. You can come from anywhere in the world, and if you come to UMKC, you are a part of that community. “The reason the kangaroo survived as the mascot all of these years is because of its uniqueness and because of its connection to Kansas City.” – Chris Wolff “Being a Roo means you’re more than just part of the university. It means you’re a part of a whole community that starts with the college,” he said. With a renewed sense of school spirit and plans to establish a new sense of belonging for its students, new traditions are being created. A few of the oldest ones, however, remain — the student and alumni impact on Kansas City, a lasting gift to campus and a new version of the Roo. “Kansas City has a very important connection to art. I can’t imagine not having the Nelson here, or the Kemper, or being able to come take photos on campus,” Corbin said. “I hope the Roo inspires other artists. When I was coming into my career as a sculptor, I was told that I could never make a living as an artist. I want to encourage students and let them know they can do it. “I did a lot of research on kangaroos prior to sculpting the actual monument, and one of the things I learned is that Roos cannot go backward. They can only go forward.” Join our campus community as we celebrate the installation of this monument. The ceremony will be 10 a.m. Monday, April 26, next to University Walkway near Miller Nichols Library and the University Playhouse. Please continue to follow masking and distancing guidelines. Watch the livestream Apr 19, 2021

  • All Things Considered: Flag Football

    KBIA taps Chi-Ming Hung about flag football
    Flag football presents an opportunity for kids to play the sport they love with less chance of injury. Chi-Ming Hung, professor and neurobiologist at the UMKC School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, and a flag football program director discuss how this version of the sport is a safer alternative. Read more. Apr 17, 2021

  • UMKC Students Turn Out Friday to Get First Dose of COVID-19 Vaccine

    KMBC reports on UMKC vaccination event
    Students from the UMKC schools of medicine, nursing, pharmacy and dentistry helped administer the shots. Read more. Apr 16, 2021

  • Faculty Honored With UM System President's Awards

    The 2021 recipients include five UMKC faculty members
    Every year, the highly competitive UM System President’s Awards recognize faculty who have made exceptional contributions in advancing their university community. The awards are presented on behalf of President Mun Choi to faculty members across the four universities of the UM System. This year, UMKC faculty members were honored with five awards: Presidential Faculty Award for University Citizenship, Service Award Laverne Berkel,  School of Education   Laverne Berkel, associate professor of counseling and counseling psychology, has earned this year’s award for distinguished service. Her exceptional contributions include creating academic policy, ensuring research compliance and advising on matters related to academic leadership development. She served on the provost’s committee for excellence in teaching and worked to address diversity concerns, even as far back as establishing the campus’s first SAFE ZONE program in 2000. “I have known and worked closely with Dr. Berkel since she joined our faculty in 1999,” said Chris Brown, chair and fellow professor of counseling and counseling psychology. “I can think of no one else who is more deserving of this award.” Presidential Faculty Award for Innovative Teaching Wanda Temm, School of Law This year’s award, which recognizes faculty who are outstanding teachers and employ novel and innovated teaching methods to achieve success in student learning, was presented to Wanda Temm, professor at the School of Law. Temm developed a program to prepare students for the legal profession’s credentialing test—the bar exam. The program has increased the bar passage rate for first-time takers at UMKC from 67% to 98%. “My role is to try as many ways as I can to engage my students,” Temm said. “If one way is not working, then I’ll try another way. Different explanations, visualizations and exercises work for different students. I strive to present the skill they are developing in diverse ways and in an individualized manner through my comments on their papers and in individual conferences.” The Inter-Campus Collaboration Award Janet Garcia-Hallett, College of Arts and Sciences Janet Garcia-Hallett, assistant professor of criminal justice and criminology, was recognized for activities that foster collaboration across two or more campuses of the University of Missouri System. She worked with faculty members on the University of Missouri and University of Missouri-St. Louis campuses on the Prison Research and Innovation Network (PRIN) grant, funded by the Urban Institute in collaboration with the Missouri Department of Corrections. “PRIN is an externally funded project that brings together not just our UM system campuses, but also our state’s Department of Corrections, government officials and policy makers in pursuit of a better, more humane and evidence-based correctional system,” said Kati Toivanen, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “The project is a major and collaborative undertaking that serves the dual purposes of helping Missouri’s corrections-involved individuals lead more functional lives, and informing the peer-reviewed literature base so other state systems can gain from the results.” The Economic Development Award Reza Derakhshani, School of Computing and Engineering Recognized for distinguished activity and serving as an economic engine for the state and its citizens, this year’s Economic Development Award winner is Reza Derakhshani, professor of the School of Computing and Engineering. Derakhshani is an internationally renowned entrepreneurial academic in the fields of biometric personal identification, privacy and mobile security. He is the named inventor on nearly 140 U.S.- and international-issued patents. “I have also been volunteering my entrepreneurial experience with other UMKC faculty members and our University System through serving on the school and system-wide tech transfer and patent committees,” Derakhshani said, “as well as infusing that know-how in my courses and sharing them with our students so that they can carry the torch.” Presidential Faculty Award for Cross-Cultural Engagement Andrew Stuart Bergerson, College of Arts and Sciences Andrew Stuart Bergerson, professor of history, received this award for promoting cross-cultural engagement through education, research and service. Bergerson’s research focus is on everyday life in modern Germany, with particular interests in the Holocaust and Nazi Germany. He reaches diverse audiences with a variety of media, including blogs, curricula, digitized archival collections, eBooks, exhibitions, drama, lectures, radio, seminars, workshops and YouTube. “In the last 10 years, Drew has become a system leader in cross-cultural engagement through his innovative education, research, and service,” said Massimiliano Vitiello, fellow professor of history. “He is essential to our public history program has been a key voice in developing this field in our department.” Apr 15, 2021

  • Alumna Receives Prestigious Fellowship

    $90,000 award supports training in women’s health
    Nazanin Yeganeh Kazemi, (BS, ’15, Biology and Chemistry) received a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans of $90,000 to support her MD/PhD training in medicine and immunology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. The merit-based Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships are exclusively for immigrants and children of immigrants who are pursuing graduate degrees in the United States. This year the program received more than 2,400 applications for 30 fellowships. Kazemi was working from home in Switzerland, where she is serving as a United States Fulbright Scholar, when she received the news. “After spending the morning setting up my experiments in the lab, I was working on a manuscript in my flat here in Geneva when I got the phone call from Daisy Soros and Craig Harwood. It was such a joy to hear their voices and to receive the news in such a personal way.” Kazemi says her success has been hard-earned. “My parents and I moved to the United States from Iran in 1999,” Kazemi said. “Between the three of us, we knew about two words of English. I only knew how to say, ‘Hello.’" She says her parents’ first priority was always her education and that her success is a culmination of their sacrifices. "As a first-generation college student and first-generation immigrant, I have always known that education is the biggest privilege," Kazemi says. Kazemi is pursuing her doctorate in immunology with a focus on women’s health. “The health of women all over the world has undeniable implications for the health of every facet of our society from the health and success of our future generations to the global economy,” Kazemi says. “Moreover, we live in an era where, despite women all around the world making amazing progress toward our rights and fair treatment, we still face a great deal of prejudice and abuse. I am dedicated to women's health because I believe in a world where every woman feels safe, respected and treated fairly and is able to pursue her goals without fear.” "As a first-generation college student and first-generation immigrant, I have always known that education is the biggest privilege." - Nazanin Yeganeh Kazemi While the fellowship helps to fund her training, she is excited about other aspects of the program. “It’s a truly unique fellowship that helps awardees reach their goals in many aspects of life through the connection with over two decades of alumni.  I’m just thrilled to get to know the other fellows!” she says. “There are so many amazing recipients of this award and I’m excited for the friendships and colleagues I’ll get to have. The current and past recipients have backgrounds, goals and interests that are similar to mine, which is a rare feeling as an immigrant.” Kazemi says she never could have imagined this opportunity when she immigrated to the United States. “Never in a million years would I have imagined I would be here! Being an immigrant in the U.S. is a unique experience filled with the greatest potential for opportunity, but it can also be a very challenging experience. I am grateful to my parents, teachers, and mentors who have helped me make it this far.” Apr 14, 2021

  • The World’s Top 10 Costume Design Schools

    Hollywood Reporter ranks UMKC Theatre program
    UMKC Theatre is again on this list of top costume design schools. Read the full article. Apr 13, 2021

  • African American Students Cite Chancellor for Leadership

    TAASU presents annual Dr. Joseph Seabrooks Jr. Award to Mauli Agrawal
    The African American Student Union (TAASU) surprised Chancellor Mauli Agrawal in his office April 12 with the presentation of the Dr. Joseph Seabrooks Jr. Leadership Award. TAASU typically presents the award at their annual Freedom Breakfast. The award recognizes the service, leadership, professionalism and dedication of a faculty or staff member. The breakfast was cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic but TAASU members wanted to let the chancellor know how much they appreciated his leadership during the difficult social justice events of the past year. “We want to present you with this award for your help and response to everything that has been going on, and the way you have responded to our requests,” said Blessing Onwudinanti, treasurer of TAASU. Agrawal responded simply, “There is more work to be done.” Onwudinanti was joined at the presentation by Brenda Reed, TAASU cultural chair and secretary. They said specific responsive actions by the chancellor included the creation of the Unity Gardens and Diversity Expansion Scholarship programs, and the launch of the Roos Advocate for Community Change initiative. “It’s just something I need to do,” Agrawal said.   See the TAASU Video Apr 12, 2021

  • What Helps One, Helps All

    Yanira Merino channels César Chávez in annual lecture
    César Chávez was the organizer of the Chicano Movement in the United States and founder of the United Farm Workers. Every year the UMKC Division of Diversity and Inclusion invites a leader to give the César Chávez Lecture. The presentation is designed to honor the accomplishments of Chávez and to inspire others to continue the legacy of his tireless, nonviolent leadership in ways they feel passionate so that more people can live with dignity and experience equal civil rights. Yanira Merino The speaker on April 8 was Yanira Merino, national president of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, which represents the interests of approximately two million Latino(a) trade unionists throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. In the spirit of César Chávez, Merino participated virtually and spoke about the many ways we are all fighting for a better life in the same country – the United States of America. “You are never strong enough that you don’t need help,” Merino quoted from Chávez. Chávez successfully used nonviolent tactics to organize farm workers against unfair labor practices and unhealthy working conditions that continue today as farm workers are exposed to harmful pesticides, dangerous equipment, hazardous “housing” and unfair wages. As a veteran labor and immigration rights leader and advocate, Merino fights in much the same way as Chávez. Merino was born in El Salvador during a time of political violence and civil war. Merino shared her family’s struggle in the 1970s when they fled El Salvador for the United States. It was during this time Merino developed a passion for seeking justice for workers in El Salvador and those who fled for the United States. Merino’s family experienced separation, deportation and flight back to the United States as undocumented immigrants. Merino shared her feelings of fear, living undocumented, similar to the fear experienced by many today. Merino worked many jobs in Los Angeles as an undocumented individual and knows, first-hand, what it is like to live in fear of deportation but with the hope for a better future. Perseverance is what kept Merino on the path to advocating for justice and equality. The working conditions at her places of employment were not good. But like Chávez, Merino learned the importance of working together. She and fellow workers were inspired to form a union. Despite being fired twice and working for a company that divided its employees, the union organized with Merino’s leadership. Within six months they had a contract and they stayed united. Merino recommended today’s youth look at history and learn about the labor movement, unions and how the middle class was created. “Embrace our past,” she said. “Embrace our contributions. Embrace where we are going together.” The labor unions play an important part in the building of the middle class, according to Merino. Unions lobby for wages and benefits. The ability to make more money gives people the chance to save money, buy homes, send children to school. How can others speak out and overcome the barriers when you are the only one? Merino said move forward, as Chavez always talked about, know that you are speaking for everyone else. Merino’s advice for those who want to see change is to get involved, remember change doesn’t happen overnight and it’s not easy. She said to build bridges between communities, find similarities, put together policies that benefit all, work with younger generations to understand that moving forward is up to everyone, work with churches, work with elected officers and elect people who look and think like you do. “This is not only my fight, it’s our fight,” Merino said. “At the end of the day, we’re all fighting for democracy and this nation. When we connect as people, as workers…we achieve this.” The lecture was moderated by Chris Hernandez, chief spokesman for the City of Kansas City, Missouri, and director of the City Communications Office. UMKC student Daphne Posadas introduced Merino and Hernandez. Apr 12, 2021

  • Alumnus Transforming Life-and-Death Medical Technology

    UMKC to honor Alexander Norbash as 2020 Alumnus of the Year
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. UMKC is honoring Alexander Norbash (M.D. ’86) with its Class of 2020 Alumnus of the Year Award. An interventional neuroradiologist, Norbash has been instrumental in inventing and implementing new technologies that are less invasive and more effective for treating strokes and brain aneurysms. Neuroradiology is a highly technical specialty that addresses life-and-death matters with techniques requiring high precision and composure. Norbash serves as chair and professor of the Department of Radiology, associate vice chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and adjunct professor of Neurosurgery at the University of California San Diego (UC San Diego). As one who works on the cutting-edge of developing interventional neuroradiology, how do you see the technology changing and being implemented? We are resistant to abandon tried and true successful revenue opportunities and risk them in moving to low individual margins where there may be much higher volumes and even greater profitability. Just because we can do a brain MRI in 5 minutes doesn’t mean all practitioners and referring physicians are confident today in the 5-minute scan. I still believe in the high-volume and high-access vision as an inevitability, although it has yet to come to pass. I know my fellow physicians will see the advantages of a more populist and broader health care delivery model. I look forward to that day.  You wear many hats - leader, researcher, educator, mentor and doctor. Is there one area most important to you? Most challenging? Mentoring is an awesome responsibility and the greatest privilege of my professional life. It is both important and challenging. In such instances, I have the opportunity to live on in others, forge lifetime friendships and help others learn from my mistakes. I believe that is the essence of teaching and professing. You are the founding chair of the American College of Radiology (ACR) Head Injury Institute (HII). What do you hope to accomplish with this organization? Many medical disciplines have a spectrum of untapped contributions to make in a multitude of areas and trauma is one example. Working with large groups of practitioners interested in concussion imaging and management, there is facilitation elevation in the quality of care delivered to both individual patients and our broader society. Through collaborations we can understand both the value of concussion imaging and how to disseminate novel discoveries and best practices for the same.  In addition to your roles in radiology at UC San Diego, you serve as associate vice-chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Why is that position important to you? In order to maximize the potential contributions of an organization, I believe it is important to leverage the commitment and full engagement of every individual within that organization. That is exactly what Inclusion refers to, where every single individual feels appreciated and included, therefore valued, and as such motivated to perform to their highest individual and collective potential. In my opinion, leading to this destination should be one of the highest goals of any manager. What advice do you have for students who would like to follow in your footsteps? First, concentrate on forging ties with mentors who believe in you and whom you can believe in. Second, say “yes” as much as possible to expose yourself to the full richness your environment provides. Third, stoke your curiosity and wonder. This will result in you seeing and understanding people, places and things beyond your dreams. About the Alumni Awards Join us in honoring Norbash 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 11, 2021

  • Did You Know That Colorado Has an Active Volcano in the Rockies?

    Alison Graettinger weighs-in on volcano
    “Because of the position of Dotsero being on the edge of the Colorado Plateau, there’s a possibility for future eruptions, but it’s much lower than in places like the Caribbean, where we know that magma is being made at depth regularly,” Alison Graettinger, assistant professor of geosciences at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, told Denver7. Read more. Apr 10, 2021

  • From Cancer to Cool Roofs: Undergraduate Research at UMKC Produces Results

    Examples available online all week
    Even a pandemic cannot stop undergraduate students from pursuing significant research projects at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Starting April 12, students will present their research projects publicly during the University of Missouri System Undergraduate Research Day, along with students from the other three UM System campuses. This annual event at the Capitol is typically a single day devoted to demonstrate to lawmakers in Jefferson City, as well as the public, the unique opportunities undergraduate students have to participate in faculty-mentored research at the four UM System universities. Due to the pandemic, this year’s event will be held virtually over the course of a week, which gives the students more opportunities to engage lawmakers and other key audiences. This year, 15 UMKC students are presenting their work, the most of any school in the University of Missouri System. Those featured research projects this year are: Increasing STEM Engagement in Underrepresented Minority Groups Student: Alynah Adams Faculty mentor: Shin Moteki, assistant professor of chemistry Adams acknowledges and encourages greater equity within the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to reinforce and support minority students in the Midwestern United States in order to encourage economic growth. These students face barriers that range from a general lack of representation and mentorship, unequal opportunity, limited perception of potential career paths and disproportionate access to materials, all the way to the perpetual biases and stereotyping that begins early and continues on throughout a minority student’s career. The research emphasizes the steps that can be taken to mitigate these barriers and encourage Missouri students from a variety of backgrounds to engage in STEM higher education. Adams is studying biology. Development of Implementation of Physical Activity and Nutrition Interventions for Adolescent Youth Student: Maya Baughn Faculty mentors: Amanda Grimes and Joseph Lightner, assistant professors of nursing and health studies This study aims to provide better implementation of physical activity and nutrition interventions in order to positively increase the overall health status for all adolescent youth with mindfulness toward underserved female youth. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2019 there was a 18.5% prevalence for obesity in individuals aged 2-19. One possible solution for reducing the occurrence of chronic health issues like obesity is physical activity. Kansas City, Missouri was selected by the Department of Health and Human Services as one of eighteen sites to deliver a physical activity and nutrition intervention to adolescents. Move More, Get More (formally known as Youth Engagement in Sports) is an initiative that targets students in grades 6-8 who attend select Kansas City public middle schools. Baughn is studying health sciences. Smart Catalysts – Green and Sustainable Synthetic Approach Mimicking Living Cells Student: Ashley Cole Faculty mentor: Shin Moteki, assistant professor of chemistry Chemical manufacturing is one of the largest industries in Missouri. Cole’s research is dedicated to green/sustainable production, with a product that will be highly competitive in price through a reduction in manufacturing costs. Catalysis is a process that accelerates chemical reactions which would otherwise be extremely slow. Enzymes are biological catalysts which transform many materials (food) into essential products critical for sustaining life. Outside of biological systems, catalytic processes are involved in the industrial chemical processing of over 80% of all manufactured products. The purpose of this research is to design and prepare artificial enzymes or “smart catalysts,” which are applicable toward one-pot multi-step reactions that mimic biological systems. Cole is studying biology. Predator Avoidance Behavior of Dubia Cockroaches Student: Sahla Esam Faculty mentor: Rachel Allen, assistant teaching professor of biology This study focuses on observing and analyzing the different behavioral patterns Dubia cockroaches use to avoid potential predation. There is considerable variation in terms of habitats occupied by insect groups and how they avoid detection by predators in those locations including camouflage or taking cover. Because of the close phylogenetic relationship between the Dubia cockroach (one of the most preferred feeder insect options available in Missouri) and the German cockroach (which is the most abundant domestic pest cockroach in Missouri) it may be possible to extend the reach of this study to find ways to dissuade domestic infestations of this widespread household pest. Esam is studying biology. Promoting Better Sleep: Studying Eye Physiology at the Cellular Level in Fruit Flies Students: Connor Flathers and Anthony Reddick Faculty mentor: Jeffrey Price, professor of biology Flather’s and Reddick’s research on mechanisms affecting circadian rhythms will assist in the understanding of sleep-related disorders including insomnia, narcolepsy and Alzheimer’s disease. The circadian rhythm, which is produced by an internal biological clock and drives the sleep/wake cycle as well as changes in eye physiology, is driven by a nuclear accumulation of several proteins in the eyes. Understanding the circadian rhythm can lead to the development of treatments for these disorders, as well as mechanisms for changes in eye physiology. Flathers is studying biology. Reddick is a chemistry major. Comparisons of Support Among K-12 Music Teachers in Missouri and Kansas Student: Jacob Furry Faculty mentor: Lani Hamilton, assistant professor of music education The purpose of this study is to examine correlations between various personal/situational factors and music teachers’ perceptions of support received from administration, colleagues and students’ parents. This descriptive study will help us better understand teachers’ perceptions of the music education environment in rural, urban and suburban school locations as well as perceptions held by participants located across the Missouri/Kansas state line. Furry developed a survey for music teachers in the states of Missouri and Kansas, inquiring about participants’ demographic information, educational experiences, teaching history, future teaching plans and perceptions of support. Furry is studying music education. Internet of Things (IoT) and Public Space: The Case of ShotSpotter Student: Rachel Moreno Faculty mentor: Shannon Jackson, associate professor of anthropology The purpose of the Smart City is to help public officials and innovators respond to the needs of residents more efficiently and effectively by using Internet of Things (IoT) to gather data about user behavior and the urban environment. The belief is that devices and more automatic data collection will create a safer and more efficient city. Moreno’s research focuses on ShotSpotter (SST), an IoT gunshot detection system that uses acoustic sensors to locate and determine gunfire. ShotSpotter is one of many publicly deployed systems that is privately owned. Its integration with public infrastructure further blurs the boundaries separating public and private decision-making. Moreno is studying sociology and history. A Knowledge Graph for Managing and Analyzing Spanish American Notary Records Students: Ryan Rowland and Adam Sisk Faculty mentor: Viviana Grieco, associate professor of history Rowland and Sisk’s research follows the changes in modern Spanish spelling and phonetics to show that modifications pioneered by prominent Spanish writers and poets transferred to the notarial scripts and focuses on how public notaries and the deeds they drafted promoted the expansion of trade and credit in seventeenth century Buenos Aires beyond the boundaries of family networks. Since advances in deep learning are transferrable to other fields, this software could be used in the management of documentary collections available in Missouri. Rowland is studying history and Spanish. Sisk is a Spanish major. The Intercalation of Cancer Drug Doxorubicin in Various DNA Sequences Student: Shanya San Namiq Faculty mentor: Wai-Yim Ching, professor of physics and astronomy Doxorubicin is a cancer drug that treats a wide range of cancers including leukemia, lymphoma and cancers in internal organs, tissues and skins. This drug damages the cancerous cells and prevents them from growing and reproducing. This research project focuses on studying different DNA sequences that would generate the highest yield for the insertion of doxorubicin. This is determined by analyzing chemical and physical properties of the cancer drug incorporated into the various studied base pairs in the DNA. San Namiq is studying biology. Protective Factors and Their Relationship with Attachment in Preschoolers Student: Kaia Schott Faculty mentor: Erin Hambrick, professor of psychology Attachment in the context of child development is defined as the emotional bond between a child and their parent or caregiving figure. Adverse experiences, such as a lack of consistency in parenting, can affect attachment because they may influence the child’s perception that caregivers are consistently available to provide a safe base from which they can explore their world. This can negatively affect regulation, adaptability, and resilience. This project will investigate factors that may have protected children who experienced adversity from experiencing low attachment. Schott is studying psychology and sociology. Cool Roofs’ Potential to Mitigate Heat-Induced Health Risks in the Kansas City Metro Area Student: Shreya Suri Faculty mentor: Fengpeng Sun, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences An urban heat island (UHI) refers to an urban area that is significantly warmer than surrounding rural and suburban regions due to human activity, sparse vegetation, and the use of heat-retaining materials in infrastructure. This increase in temperature is associated with an increased risk of heat stress and heat-related illness, such as heat stroke. A potential solution to mitigate the UHI effect in urban areas is the implementation of cool roofs, which absorb less heat and reflect a greater percentage of solar radiation compared to traditional roofs due to their reflective color and/or material. In addition to reducing local air temperatures, cool roofs can improve indoor comfort, reduce energy costs associated with air conditioning, and extend roof life due to decreased heat absorption. Suri is studying biology and environmental science. Real-time Prediction of Water Quality in Kansas City Urban Lakes Student: Grant Verhulst Faculty mentor: Jujung Lee, professor of geosciences The expense of traditional water quality monitoring systems has limited community accessibility, giving rise to public health concerns about harmful algal blooms. Availability of reliable, affordable and real-time water quality data is not an option for most communities due to technical and financial limitations. The purpose of this project is to develop a cost-effective approach to monitoring the water quality of lakes. Verhulst is studying environmental science. Keeping it Together: Unlocking the Causes of Infertility and Genetic Disorders Student: Emily Wesley Faculty mentors: Scott Hawley, adjunct professor of biology, and Katie Billmyre Meiosis is a complex process that most organisms use to generate germ cells (eggs and sperm) for sexual reproduction. Successful meiosis requires the correct amount of genetic material (i.e. chromosomes) to be packaged in each egg or sperm. A failure in this process results in aneuploidy (the incorrect number of chromosomes), which can cause genetic disorders such as Down syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome, infertility or miscarriage. Wesley used the fruit fly to study multiple aspects of the synaptonemal complex. Wesley is studying biology.   For more information on Undergraduate Research Day, visit: www.umsystem.edu/ums/red/undergraduate_research_day   Apr 09, 2021

  • Online Crowdfunding for Health-Related Expenses Trends Upward

    Managed care publication writes about John A Spertus research
    Study author John A Spertus, MD, MPH, Lauer Missouri Endowed Chair and professor of medicine, University of Missouri-Kansas City, was on a panel to analyze what the trend of crowdfunding says about health care costs and affordability; what message payers can take from it; and what solutions could help decrease the need for online fundraising. Read the article. Apr 09, 2021

  • Senator Blunt Visits Local UMKC-Med Students

    Media covers Senator Blunt's tours School of Medicine program
    Senator Roy Blunt visited medical students at Mosaic Life Care in St. Joseph Thursday. The Missouri Republican helped secure grant funding that got the UMKC School of Medicine program off the ground. This was covered by KQ2 and KFEQ. Apr 09, 2021

  • New Mural in NEKC Brings Attention to Peripheral Artery Disease

    Dos Mundos highlights research involving Janette Berkley-Patton
    In 2018, a team of researchers at St. Luke’s and the University of Missouri-Kansas City started a project to raise awareness about PAD. The team, comprised of Kim Smolderen, formerly of St. Luke’s/UMKC, now at Yale University; Christina Pacheco, St. Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute; and Janette Berkley-Patton, UMKC, resulted in the creation of an online platform to share their findings with newly diagnosed people. Read more. Apr 09, 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

  • What Tuesday’s Election Results Show About Consumer Confidence

    KSHB interviews Bill Black, associate professor of economics and law
    The fact voters are willing to tax themselves during a pandemic is a sign the economy is rebounding, according to Bill Black, an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read the article and watch the newscast. Apr 08, 2021

  • Sen. Blunt Visits UMKC-Mosaic Site

    St. Joseph newspaper covers Sen. Blunt's visit to UMKC School of Medicine site
    Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., made a trip Thursday to Mosaic Life Care, to mark the expansion of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine’s program in St. Joseph. Read the full article. 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

  • Pandemic’s Toll On Health Care Workers Reveals Need To Keep Mental Health At Forefront

    Flatland interviews UMKC associate professor of pediatrics
    “The vaccine is not going to fix mental health,” said Amy Beck, a licensed psychologist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and an associate professor of pediatrics with the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. Read the article. Apr 07, 2021

  • UMKC Innovation Center Receives Funding

    Missouri Business Alert reports on the federal funding and local match
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City Innovation Center, in partnership with KC Digital Drive, will use a $750,000 federal contribution and a $239,000 local match to support the Comeback KC Ventures project. The initiative will aim to identify COVID-related community needs and come up with technology-based solutions, according to the EDA. Read the article. 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

  • 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, KMBC, MSN report on UMKC Conservatory professor's hearing loss
    This story is about Chris Madden, University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory assistant professor of piano pedagogy. Read the news coverage: KSHB KMBC MSN 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 received the 2021 Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship, a competitive award for a diverse group of 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 sophomore history and English student as well as 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

  • Gift to UMKC Foundation Will Support School of Pharmacy Research

    Study explores patient safety issues surrounding the use of electronic medical records during transitions of care
    The UMKC Foundation has received a $35,000 gift from the Jane & Jack Strandberg Charitable Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee, that will go to support ongoing research in the School of Pharmacy. Jennifer Ingraham, assistant vice president of the UMKC Foundation, said charitable trusts are a prudent way for individuals to fulfil their philanthropic objectives. Because they are generally treated as a tax-exempt entity, a charitable trust would typically not pay tax to the extent of any ordinary or capital gain income. For Mark Patterson, Ph.D., M.P.H. associate professor at the UMKC School of Pharmacy, the gift is a unique funding source to support his study of electronic health records systems used to monitor patients and their prescriptions during transitions of care between hospitals and nursing homes. The gift will benefit community related health by helping address a patient safety issue that Patterson said needs to be investigated. Part of the funding will also go to employing two pharmacy students to assist in the project, providing them training in research skills as well. “I just feel so fortunate to have found this unique funding path and the fact that it's benefiting multiple aspects of the university,” he said. Ingraham said the gift is unique in that it is private philanthropy supporting university research. Generally, it is federal and state agencies, research foundations and corporate research and development that provide financial support to university research. Patterson’s project is an extension of a previous study he conducted looking at reducing medication discrepancies during patients’ transition of care between hospitals and nursing homes. That study exposed the issue of mismatched prescribing information during those transitions and the potential health risk those discrepancies pose to patients. His latest work will look specifically at the electronic health records systems available to providers. Patterson said the interoperability of health information technology systems between providers must be as seamless as possible in order to obtain accurate patient prescribing information across the continuum of care. “Electronic health records, and the electronic health care record systems that are available to these providers are a huge mitigating factor in regards to how accurate prescribing information is on a patient record that's being shuttled back and forth between hospitals, primary care doctors, nursing homes and community pharmacies,” he said. The study will involve speaking with focus groups and conducting one-on-one interviews with care providers in nine different nursing homes in Missouri and Kansas. “We’re going to very specifically zone in on how the health IT infrastructure is interacting with that goal of safe prescribing,” Patterson said. “Between the focus groups and the one-on-one interviews with providers, we’re hoping to really do almost a needs assessment for these nursing homes.”     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.  UMKC Commencement at the K will be a rain-or-shine event. Please monitor weather forecasts and be prepared to participate amid light rain showers if they occur. Guests may bring small umbrellas (no golf umbrella) into Kauffman Stadium as long as they do not interfere with other guests’ enjoyment of the ceremony. For the comfort and consideration of all guests, it is requested that those using umbrellas be considerate of those around them. In case of heavy downpours or other severe weather, UMKC will follow the Royals’ standard weather protocol. The team will make the call as to whether the ceremony must be delayed; that information will be shared within the stadium, on the MLB Ballpark app and on the UMKC Commencement 2021 web page and the university’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. 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. More than 2,300 graduates will be able to cross the stage, with COVID-19 restrictions in place. 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.” Commencement schedule Light Up the Night 2021 UMKC graduates and their families are encouraged to take pics around Kansas City that are lit up in blue and gold. Here's what will be illuminated: Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, sunset on May 15  Union Station, sunset on May 15 and 16 Kansas City Marriott Downtown, sunset on May 15 City Hall of Kansas City, Missouri, sunset on May 15 Power and Light Building, sunset May 14 to 16 The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, sunset May 15 and 16 Durwood Stadium on UMKC Volker Campus, sunset May 14 to 16 Roo Statue on UMKC Volker Campus James C. Olson Performing Arts Center on UMKC Volker Campus Local fountains will be dyed or illuminated blue all day May 15Children's FountainFountain in Mill Creek ParkSpirit of Freedom FountainThe Concourse FountainThe Women's Leadership FountainMeyer Circle Sea Horse FountainTower Park 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 Alec Rodgers
    Alec 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 member