Seven Highlights from the UMKC State of the University Address

UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal provides vision for growth
Chancellor Mauli Agrawal addresses students, faculty and staff at the State of the University

The University of Missouri-Kansas City has emerged from two years of challenges stronger and with a clear vision for the future that includes significant strategic investments in student success, research excellence and employee pay, as well as a focus on expanding and improving key campus facilities, Chancellor Mauli Agrawal said in his 2022 State of the University Address.

Agrawal said the university community has persevered through exceptional challenges, achieving success while demonstrating impressive resilience. He shared a wide-ranging vision for the university’s future that includes hundreds of millions in investment in new construction, renovation, salary increases, research and faculty support, and a unique new student success program designed to move students seamlessly from enrollment to professional careers.

“We stand rooted and ready to build on our stable foundation, to escalate the success of our students, our research, our future and the prosperity of this community,” Agrawal said.

Seven Key Takeaways from the Address
1. Transforming the higher education model to promote student success

Student success is at the center of UMKC’s mission and its strategies for delivering excellent education. This fall, UMKC will welcome the first cohort of more than 100 students to the new Professional Career Escalators program, which combines classroom instruction with mentoring from community-based professionals, leadership skills training, intensive advising and applied learning opportunities. Career Escalators transforms the higher education model, by shifting the focus from degree attainment to career readiness, with an ultimate goal of propelling graduates to a good-paying job in the profession of their choice.

Agrawal also touted the success of First Gen Roos, a new program that launched in 2021 with 100 percent first semester student retention and higher than average GPAs when compared with other first-generation college students who did not participate in the program.

2. Growing UMKC research in size and impact

The university’s growing research enterprise helps drive huge leaps in human potential.
UMKC received more than $54 million in external grants in FY 2021, a 10% increase over the prior year. With three months still to go in FY 2022, UMKC has already surpassed $74 million.
UMKC research excellence covers an amazingly wide spectrum overall, from the Urban Education Research Center, and its vital efforts to bring positive change to under-resourced schools and neighborhoods; to the Midwest Institute for Defense and Energy, developing high tech solutions to our most challenging problems in areas ranging from national defense to agriculture.

3. Expanding the vision for the UMKC Health Sciences District

The vision begins with a new building that would house state-of-the-art dental teaching clinics and expanded medical school teaching facilities, projects that would meet significant health care needs for Kansas City and the state of Missouri. UMKC has asked state leaders for $50 million in state funding and would provide matching private funds. The new building would be a spark for an expansion of the entire UMKC Health Sciences District that could dramatically expand health care in Kansas City, attract top faculty and researchers and new private investment that could create new jobs and contribute billions to the Kansas City economy. 

4. Investing in our people

Chancellor Agrawal said the university will invest $1 million in the coming year to address salary compression among faculty and staff. Ongoing efforts to increase pay for all graduate assistants will continue, including an additional $1 million this year for stipend support for doctoral and MFA students on graduate assistantships. He also made a commitment to bridge the financial gap for Pell-Grant-eligible students to cover their unmet need, essentially giving them a full ride to UMKC.
Beyond that, he set a long-term vision of increasing pay for faculty and staff at UMKC. The centerpiece of that vision is a $315 million investment over 10 years – contingent on enrollment growth – in impactful merit-based salary increases and hiring additional faculty and staff.

The key to making it work will be meeting a target of increasing overall enrollment by an average of two percent per year over the next decade. To drive that growth, the Chancellor announced a commitment to match recruitment staff levels of peer institutions by adding five additional recruiters.

5. Creating a profound and powerful economic impact

UMKC generated almost $600 million in overall economic impact in Missouri during fiscal year 2021, according to a recent study conducted by a nationally recognized firm. In addition, the university generates more than $33 million in state and local taxes. More than 44,000 UMKC alumni live and work in Missouri, generating an additional nearly $8 billion in overall economic impact.

6. Transforming campus spaces indoors and out

UMKC has embarked on several projects to update and transform its facilities and outdoors spaces. Those include:

  • A $13 million renovation and expansion of Bloch Heritage Hall to incorporate state-of-the-art technology and create a hub for student engagement.
  • A $4 million project to renovate recital venues such as White Hall and Grant Hall, as well as improving arts practice and teaching areas most needed by our Conservatory students and faculty, as a first step of many to achieve our facilities vision for our world-famous school of music, dance and theater.
  • A $15 million federally funded project to significantly expand the new medical school program in St. Joseph.
  • Moving the Roo Pantry from its location on Troost Avenue to the first floor of the Student Union to be more accessible to students, and offer expanded services to address housing and other basic needs

In addition, the campus is working to further projects from its 2021 master plan that will make the campus more walkable and connected to the community. The university is working with the city and the Kansas City Streetcar Authority for the streetcar stop that will extend free, public transportation right to the UMKC front door at 51st Street and Brookside Boulevard. A couple of blocks further east, UMKC is working with the city on the process to begin construction to close 51st Street between Rockhill Road and Cherry Street to traffic, to make the campus more inviting, more welcoming and more walkable.

The university also is beginning work to explore an expansion of Swinney Center to meet student needs for more recreational space and a larger venue for concerts, events and convocation.

7. Focusing on progress and respect for all in our diverse community

UMKC has responded to the call for campus to do more to reflect the contributions and increase engagement with our students of color and with our outreach to communities of color.
On the campus front, recent developments include developing the Men of Color Academy, the creation of the Divine Nine Gardens and banners featuring the university’s National Black Pan-Hellenic Council leaders on the outside of the Student Union. A new Faculty Search Support Team will ensure inclusivity in faculty recruitment.

An example of campus outreach: Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., leads an important program combining research with community outreach, the Institute for Health Equity. Her team is partnering with Jackson County, local churches and businesses to develop solutions and bring better, more equitable health care to our eastside communities.

A look back at where we’ve been
Published: Apr 7, 2022

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