August

  • UMKC Partners With EPA To Prep Students For Careers, Drive Research

    Partnership will include joint research projects, opportunities for EPA colleagues to participate in teaching and mentoring and internship opportun...
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City and Environmental Protection Agency Region 7 have entered a partnership to prepare students for future careers and drive research in human and environmental health. The two signed a Memorandum of Understanding, approved by the University of Missouri System Board of Curators. Under the MOU, the two will conduct joint research projects, UMKC will offer opportunities for EPA staff to participate in teaching and student mentorship and students will have opportunities for internships and career development. Chancellor Mauli Agrawal said the mutually beneficial partnership will allow the EPA to participate in classroom workshops and career fairs while students will benefit from opportunities such as internships and training, employment and mentorship opportunities. “We are excited to launch this partnership and look forward to the opportunities that will provide mutual advantages to both our organizations,” Agrawal said. “Research in science, technology, engineering, math and health science is one of our top priorities. It plays an important role in the education of our students, and it drives advances in partnerships, knowledge and technology that benefit our communities – whether they are local or global.” The partnership was led by alumna Megan McCollister (J.D. ’11), who was appointed Regional Administrator for EPA Region 7 by President Biden earlier this year. McCollister said her time at UMKC was “life changing.” “My experiences here laid the groundwork for the work that I now do at the EPA. I will always be grateful for the opportunity that UMKC gave me to make a difference,” McCollister said.  “I know firsthand how well UMKC develops students into professionals who make impactful decisions, not only here in the region, but also across the world. I’m so excited for what’s next.” Aug 11, 2022

  • Leben to Lead Advocacy Program at School of Law

    Latest appointee to Stripp Professorship spent 13 years on Kansas Court of Appeals
    Steve Leben has been named the Douglas R. Stripp Missouri Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Leben joined the UMKC School of Law faculty in 2020 after 27 years as a Kansas judge, the last 13 as a member of the Kansas Court of Appeals. It is rare for an appeals court judge to move to a university faculty position. “I’ve seen in the past two years the great training we give our students, and I’m glad to fully join UMKC’s well-recognized advocacy program,” Leben said. Steve Leben Advocacy—essentially the art and science of persuasion—takes many forms.  UMKC School of Law has long had a strong reputation in both trial and appellate advocacy education. The school’s advocacy program is A-rated by National Jurist magazine, and the school is ranked 31st in the country for advocacy by U.S. News and World Report. At UMKC, Prof. L. Michaelle Tobin leads the trial court advocacy program. Patrick Brayer, a 33-year retired veteran of the Missouri State Public Defender System, serves as faculty advocacy fellow and teaches both trial and appellate practice courses. Leben brings both expertise and scholarship to elevate the advocacy program.  He is a nationally recognized expert on procedural justice, and he has trained judges around the United States on how to improve perceptions of fairness in court proceedings. The National Center for State Courts gave him its highest award for a judge, the Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence, in 2014 in recognition of his work on procedural-justice issues. Leben is an elected member of the American Law Institute, an officer of the American Bar Association Judicial Division’s Appellate Judges Conference and past president of the American Judges Association. In his role as the Douglas Stripp Professor, Leben said he would focus primarily on enhancing the school’s appellate advocacy program. “I want to bring more appellate judges in from around the country to participate in our competitions and speak to our students,” he said.   In addition to appellate advocacy, Leben teaches another important form of advocacy in his Legislation course, in which students learn about public policy advocacy and the legislative process. The Douglas Stripp Professorship was created and funded by Bebe and R. Crosby Kemper through the R. Crosby Kemper Charitable Trust and Foundation. It is named for Bebe Kemper’s father, a lifelong Kansas City resident and internationally known trial lawyer, who practiced law in Kansas City for more than half a century until his death in 1983. Stripp worked alongside Charles Evans Whittaker in Kansas City before Whittaker was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Stripp’s passion was mentoring young attorneys in the art of persuasion and advocacy, and the Stripp professorship has carried on his legacy. Aug 11, 2022

  • Jacob Wagner Presents at UNESCO Conference in Brazil

    Stems from Kansas City’s designation as a UNESCO City of Music
    UMKC faculty member Jacob A. Wagner, Ph.D., recently presented at the international conference of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network held in Santos, Brazil. Wagner described his work in organizing the global Voyage of the Drum project, depicting the role of drumming across cities and cultures and the influence of the African diaspora on music cultures internationally. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is the founder of the Creative Cities Network, which includes more than 250 cities around the world. “For this year’s annual meeting, the UNESCO secretariat invited Kansas City to present the Voyage of the Drum project as a major effort, involving 18 different cities around the world, completed during the pandemic,” Wagner said. A three-minute introduction to the project is available at this link. A full suite of individual music city videos is available here. The videos have had more than 4,500 global views, Wagner said. The theme of the conference was “Creativity, Path to Equality.” Wagner is an associate professor in the Department of Architecture, Urban Planning and Design (AUP+D), part of the Natural and Built Environment division of the new School of Science and Engineering. “The project demonstrated the use of digital technology and creativity to bring cities together around a common theme, focused on music of the African diaspora, as well as the drum as a universal language,” Wagner said. The project was recognized by the UNESCO secretariat as a significant creative response to the challenges of the COVID19 pandemic. Kansas City’s designation as a UNESCO City of Music resulted from a unique community partnership between Wagner and Anita Dixon-Brown, a cultural heritage expert and music advocate in Kansas City. In 2016, students from UMKC’s Urban Planning and Design program worked under the direction of Wagner and Dixon to produce research on Kansas City’s unique jazz and Black American musical heritage. This research provided support for Dixon’s application to the UNESCO Creative City Network. Kansas City is the only UNESCO City of Music in the United States and one of 59 worldwide. Other U.S. cities have Creative Cities designations for Literature, Folk Art, Design, Gastronomy and other forms of cultural heritage. Each UNESCO Creative City Network member city must maintain active participation in the network through annual meetings, cooperative projects with other cities and by providing leadership on the use of creativity as a driver of sustainable urban development. A new edition of the Voyage of the Drum is planned for next year’s annual meeting with new Creative Cities invited to participate in 2023. Aug 04, 2022

  • Expanding Horizons Close to Home

    Education, urban setting are draws for graduate student
    Roos don’t just dream, they do. Our students turn ideas into action every day. Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Elise Byers Graduation year: Summer 2022UMKC degree program: M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction — Emphasis in Art Education Hometown: Kansas City Why did you choose UMKC? I transferred to UMKC to be closer to family and friends. Also, I was attracted to UMKC's urban location and teacher education programs, as well as the many unique scholarships available to LGBTQIA+ students. Most schools say they support their students, but UMKC actually put action behind their words.  Why did you choose education as your field of study? And what led you to focus on urban education? I've wanted to be an educator working with children since I was 14 years old. There's something intrinsically rewarding in the experience through the connections we form with our students, and in the sense of community impact education provides. I've always loved working and living in urban settings. It's truly been a privilege being so close to and engaging daily with the diverse cultures and perspectives of an urban setting.  What are the challenges of the program? The coronavirus complicated much of the community-forming and the feelings of academic belongingness that surely would have characterized the program in previous years. I was hopeful to meet people, to attend study groups and connect with my peers. Though it saddens me to have been denied these opportunities, still I feel fortunate to have continued my education at UMKC, and during a period that for many of us surely felt intractable.  What are the benefits of the program? The in-person classroom experience offered by the program was a major benefit. I'm also very much a hands-on, kinesthetic learner, and UMKC prioritizes placing their students in the right schools immediately to ensure they’re a good fit for this career. I came into my first year teaching feeling very confident, with no small thanks to the amount of experience and practice I’d had in KC schools during my undergraduate study.  How has your college program inspired you? UMKC's Curriculum and Instruction program inspired me to begin educating myself on how to best serve English learners in the classroom and how to be culturally-sustaining in urban-setting schools. I learned the importance of connecting with families of students and constantly addressing my own bias. Seeing my professors in action was also a significant motivation to continue pursuing my master’s and eventually a doctorate degree in Education. Without the examples and guidance of the strong, intelligent and welcoming UMKC professors to lean on, many of them women notable in the field of research, I don’t know if I could have seen myself continuing my educational journey. Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself? Throughout high school I attached much of my self-worth to test scores. It's only since entering college that I gained a sense of academic ownership and the intellectual empowerment that followed my autonomy of class choice and the pursuit of my own research interests. I learned that I am intelligent, that I am worthy--unapologetically--of a place in educational settings. It has felt empowering to have built up confidence and a sense of belonging at UMKC.  What has the Women’s Council Graduate Assistance Fund support enabled you to do? I attended the OMEP Conference in Athens, Greece where I had the honor to represent UMKC with my advisor, Dr. Ekaterina Strekalova-Hughes. We presented on Culturally Sustaining Creative Development in an Urban Project-Based and Arts-Integrated School, from my undergrad research with the UMKC Honors College. The Women’s Council Graduate Assistance Fund enabled me to present at this conference free of financial stress, and to collaborate and confidently share my research with teachers from across the world.  What do you hope to take from your experiences at UMKC into your professional career? I hope to maintain and build upon the relationships I’ve made with UMKC professors and peers. Relying on one another during good times and bad, knowing each of us understood the day in-and-out of being a teacher, taught me I need not look far for inspiration or motivation, or simple friendly support.  Aug 02, 2022

  • Camaraderie Critical to Academic Success

    Mentoring is key piece of student’s research
    Marouf Khan (MS ’13) came to UMKC to pursue his graduate degree at the School of Science and Engineering because he sought a career in the semiconductor industry and the program was a great fit. Khan had taken classes with Masud Chowdhury, Ph.D. and felt he would be an excellent doctoral advisor. Khan was intrigued by one of the professor’s research projects. Chowdhury is working on improving the construction of transistors that are used in all computing devices. His goal is to improve speed, and to do that with as little energy as possible in order for the battery to run longer. “If we could use our cell phones for three to four days without charging that would be ideal, but the current silicone-based conventional transistors have limitations on energy efficiency,” Chowdhury says. “So, we are exploring ideas about new materials and new technologies that can help us make the gradual transition to a new technology platform.” Marouf Khan Khan’s research is focused on the design of low-power-management integrated circuits (PMIC.) These are used in battery-powered devices like cell phones and applications where efficient power generation and consumption is essential. “My work mostly involves coming up with new circuit architectures, which are compact and provide savings over existing designs – in both area and power consumption,” Khan says. The efficiency and compactness are critical to device advancement. “PMICs are more and more important in the expanding connected world,” Khan says. “They are operating in the low power domain that is an essential component of Internet of Things (IoT) devices that are connected to the ‘edge’ of the cloud.” Khan says Chowdhury respects his autonomy in his research – he does not need to be involved in Khan’s day-to-day activities – but he can rely on Chowdhury for support and guidance when he needs it. “Mentors can sometimes range between two extremes -- being too involved in a project where they drive the research, or they provide very little support to their students. Professor Chowdhury consistently strikes the right balance so that my research work is independently run by me, but he is always there to lend his knowledge, financial and emotional support when required.” Khan thinks having a mentor is one of the most important choices a student can make. Masud Chowdhury, Ph.D. “The right advisor or mentor can make school a fun and enriching experience. It always helps to narrow down advisors based on your field, but it’s also smart to further the filter to include a potential advisor’s body of work and success in the field.” The relationship is not purely academic. “More importantly, he is also available to provide emotional support and advice at a human level to the challenges his students face beyond just academic ones,” Khan says. He feels fortunate to have Chowdhury as a resource and ally. He notes that students should choose a mentor carefully, as they will be part of their lives for four to five years. “The choice of mentor or advisor is the most important one a doctoral student can make. The right advisor can make graduate school a fun and enriching experience.” Aug 01, 2022

  • Kansas City Celebrates Henry Bloch, Heritage Hall Reopening

    The posthumous 100th birthday of Henry Bloch recognizes past and present achievements and anticipates future successes
    The UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management welcomed alumni, students and community members to the newly remodeled Bloch Heritage Hall July 30 to celebrate the reopening of the building and the 100th anniversary of the birth of the school’s namesake. “Henry Bloch, and the community leaders who came before him, created a heritage of investment in higher education and a dedication to innovation,” Chancellor Mauli Agrawal said. “Just as they joined together to support the university more than 90 years ago, UMKC has again witnessed the generosity of donors who value the importance of maintaining excellent educational opportunities close to home.” Bloch’s children Bob Bloch, Mary Jo Brown, Tom Bloch, Liz Uhlmann and their spouses and children were on hand to celebrate, along with representatives from the Sunderland Foundation, William T. Kemper Foundation and Capital Federal Foundation. Alumni and fellow donors gathered to celebrate Henry Bloch’s legacy and the significance of the mission and success of the Bloch School. The extended Bloch family gathered in front of the statue of Marion and Henry Bloch   Before the ribbon cutting Chancellor Agrawal recognized the importance of the contributors past and present. “Henry and the community leaders who came before him created a heritage of investment in higher education and a dedication to innovation,” Agrawal said. “Just as they joined together to support the university years ago, UMKC has again witnessed the generosity of donors who value the importance of maintaining excellent educational opportunities close to home.” Mun Choi, president of the University of Missouri System, said he was “blown away by the growth and development of this campus over the past few years,” thanks in large part to the generosity of donors such as the Bloch family. He also thanked Henry Bloch for focusing his philanthropy on his hometown. “Henry knew that Kansas City, as a world-class city, needed a world-class business school,” Choi said. Mayor Quinton Lucas announced that he would expand the city proclamation to make July 30 “Make Every Block Better Day” to recognize Henry Bloch’s focus on giving back to the community and his commitment to believing that entrepreneurship is the key to community growth and development. “This is what Kansas City is all about, and what I have had the opportunity to learn that Henry Bloch was all about,” Lucas said. “He always believed in Kansas City as one of the great cities of the world. And thanks to him, the Bloch School is second to none among business schools in our country.” Dean Brian Klaas underscored the importance of preserving the history and charm of the building, which was built in 1909, while bringing it into the 21st century in order to create a better experience for students, faculty and staff. Klaas highlighted that the renovations were not cosmetic. They include a vibrant student services hub, where students can easily connect to advisors, tutors, career resources and clubs. The new configuration provides students a better way to build community within the school and promote collaborative learning. The new configuration supports students’ experiences in building relationships, as well as making available the tools they need to empower them to graduate and launch successful careers and businesses. State-of-the-art classroom technology and room design now provide flexibility for optimum virtual-class attendance. These upgrades will better serve students with work and childcare obligations, as well as travel schedules. Following the program, the Bloch family members, including Henry Bloch’s great grandchildren, cut the ribbon to welcome visitors in the newly renovated Bloch Heritage Hall. Fitting a birthday party, guests enjoyed yard games, face painting, live music, a scavenger hunt and cake. More photos from the celebration:   Aug 01, 2022

  • Environmental Science Student Finds Inspiration in Peers and Professors

    Symone Franks found her path at UMKC and hopes to inspire others
    Roos don’t just dream, they do. Our students turn ideas into action every day. Get to know our people, and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Symone FranksAnticipated graduation year: Spring 2025UMKC degree program: B.S. Environmental Science, environmental sustainability minorHometown: Grandview, Missouri Symone Franks chose to come to UMKC because of the undergraduate research opportunities and diverse student body. In her time here, Franks has been motivated and inspired by her fellow students and professors. “I admire everyone’s goal for excellence here at UMKC,” said Franks. “When I talk to other students and faculty, everyone seems to have something big that they are working toward.” A first-generation student, Franks is a KC Scholar and Marion Bloch Scholar. She says that without these scholarships, she would not have been able to fulfill her dream of attending college. Why did you choose your field of study? Environmental science has always interested me, and my dream job is working at the EPA. My degree program will give me a great foundation to get there. What are the benefits and challenges of the program? I love how tight knit the program is. I feel as if I can go to faculty members with any questions I have. The department also places a big emphasis on hands-on work, which has been beneficial to me. The program can be challenging because it covers a broad area of study, so you are exposed to a lot of information. How has your college program inspired you? When I started college last year, I was sure I wanted to do something related to the environmental sciences, but I had no idea what I wanted to do specifically. After taking my first environmental science class, I was inspired by my professor's excitement about climate science. The program as a whole has inspired me to follow my dreams of working for the EPA and given me the confidence to know I can make it happen. What does being a first-generation student mean to you? Being a first-generation college student comes with a lot of responsibility. I am not just going to college for my own success but for my entire family’s success. What other extracurricular activities are you involved in at UMKC? I am involved with Kansas City Explores Earth and Environment (KC E3). This is a paid training program that is run through the earth and environmental science department. I’m also in the Honors Program and am an honors ambassador. As an ambassador, I communicate and meet with potential students. I really enjoy the Honors Program; the connections I've made with other students and professors in those classes are unique. The important conversations we have in classes are something I've never experienced in a standard learning environment.  What are you most proud of during your time at UMKC? I had the opportunity to be a part of a team that welcomed around 40 middle school girls to campus for Earth Day with KC E3! It was such an amazing experience to be the role model that I wanted when I was younger. What do you hope to take from your experiences at UMKC into your professional career? I hope to take the spirit of excellence into my professional career. I want to continue to always ask questions and aim for better things. Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself? I learned that fulfillment is something that I will always be chasing. Before I came to college, my main goal was to make enough money to be successful. Now I realize that I need to be doing a job that contributes to the good of other people, not just myself. Aug 01, 2022