• 2022 UMKC Faculty Recognition Returns to In-Person Celebration

    Award Ceremony Honors Two Years of Faculty Excellence
    After virtual ceremonies for two years due to the pandemic, the UMKC Faculty Recognition Event returned to an in-person celebration yesterday afternoon at the Student Union. “In my role as chief academic officer for the university, I am proud to be part of such an inspiring group of academic leaders,” said UMKC Provost Jenny Lundgren. “I am honored to celebrate the award winners being recognized this evening and to also recognize the contributions of all of our amazing faculty for their contributes to the university, especially over the past two years.” In addition to honoring UMKC’s distinguished faculty, the event featured a keynote speech from Todd Zakrajsek, Ph.D., associate research professor and associate director of fellowship programs in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of North Carolina. UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal also spoke and praised all the award recipients. “We are grateful that you choose to work and research here,” said Agrawal. “It’s an honor to be here to celebrate your outstanding accomplishments today.” The Faculty Awards presented were: UM System Presidential Fellows 2022 Awardees: Hadara Bar-Nadav – Professor, Department of English Language & Literature Amanda Grimes – Assistant Professor, School of Nursing and Health Sciences Yotam Haber – Associate Professor of Music Composition Department of Music Studies 2021 Awardees: Joan McDowd – Professor & Chair, Department of Psychology Jamila Jefferson-Jones – Professor, School of Law Joey Lightner – Assistant Professor, School of Nursing and Health Sciences 2021 Governor’s Award for Teaching Michael Wacker – Associate Professor and Vice Chair of Biomedical Sciences N.T. Veatch Award for Distinguished Research & Creativity 2022 Awardee: Sean O’Brien – Professor, School of Law 2021 Awardee: Gary Sutkin – Associate Dean of Women's Health, Victor and Caroline Schutte Chair in Women’s Health Trustees Faculty Scholar Award 2022 Awardee: Antonio Byrd – Assistant Professor, Department of English Language & Literature 2021 Awardee: Alison Graettinger – Assistant Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences 2021 Trustees Faculty Fellow Award Jennifer Huberman – Professor, Department of Sociology Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Researchers, Scholars and Artists Virginia Blanton – Professor, Department of English Language & Literature Majid Bani-Yaghoub – Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Mathematics and Statistics Amanda Grimes – Assistant Professor, School of Nursing and Health Sciences Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Graduate Mentoring Tanya Villapando Mitchell – Professor and Chair, Division of Dental Hygiene Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching Mikah Thompson – Associate Professor, School of Law Thiagarajan Ganesh – Professor, Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering  Chancellor's Early Career Award for Excellence in Teaching Tiffani Riggers-Piel – Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Leadership, Policy and Foundations Christopher Madden – Assistant Professor of Piano Pedagogy, Department of Music Performance Provost's Award for Excellence in Teaching Lena Hoober-Burkhardt – Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Chemistry Diana Tamer – Assistant Clinical Professor, Division of Pharmacy Practice and Administration Elmore F. Pierson Good Teaching Awards 2022 Awardees: Larry Wigger – Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Marketing & Supply Chain Management Narayanan Sreenivasan – Associate Clinical Professor and Director of Pre-Doctoral Oral Surgery Mary Kay O'Malley – Clinical Professor, School of Law Tim Cole – Teaching Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences 2021 Awardees: Jeff Johnson – Associate Professor, Department of Marketing & Supply Chain Management Simon MacNeill – Professor and Interim Director of Advanced Education for Periodontics Allen Rostron – Professor, School of Law Lance Carter – Associate Teaching Professor, Department of Graduate Health Professions Chancellor's Award for Embracing Diversity Tyler Smith – Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics Student National Dental Association/Hispanic Dental Association Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Community Engagement Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Special Collections Department of University Libraries            Brent Never – Associate Professor, Department of Public Affairs Chancellor's Award for Career Contributions to the University Mark Johnson – Professor and Chair, Oral and Craniofacial Sciences Patricia Marken – Professor Emerita, Division of Pharmacy Practice and Administration                                                                    Also honored were the UMKC winners of the 2021 UM Presidential Awards. May 19, 2022

  • UMKC Researcher Studying Kansas City’s Zero-Fare Buses

    Amanda Grimes receives funding from the Environmental Protection Agency
    With help from UMKC public health researcher Amanda Grimes, Kansas City’s push to a zero-fare bus policy could be a catalyst for change nationwide. The city eliminated bus fare across the city during the pandemic and will continue through 2023. Over the next two years, Grimes will be studying how the new policy impacts the number of bus riders, as well as physical activity levels and how that relates to bus ridership. The study is funded by an environmental justice grant through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “We think this can have a huge impact across the nation,” Grimes said. “There are so many different transit organizations in cities looking to see how fares impact health.” The policy is already gaining national attention. During a recent visit to Kansas City, President Joe Biden praised the policy while promoting a recent federal infrastructure law. Grimes is an associate professor in the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies. The research focuses on active transportation and the health and social influences associated with physical activity. It has shown that it is difficult to get people to change their behaviors. “The idea of this study is that public transit riders get more physical activity per day, adding five-to-ten minutes of additional activity,” Grimes said. “In the physical activity world, just increasing someone’s activity level by a couple minutes a day is considered a success.” Grimes is collaborating on the study with Children’s Mercy Hospital and BikeWalkKC, a local non-profit that advocates for active and alternative modes of transportation. Grimes and the team will recruit 50 participants through community organizations that work with residents on the eastside of Kansas City. For a week, study participants will wear a GPS tracker and an accelerometer, a tool researchers use that measures activity more accurately then personal fitness trackers. With that data, Grimes will be able to track what bus stops participants use, bus routes they take and all the physical activity in-between. “We hope that we'll see a connection with increased physical activity and bus use because we want to see the policy continue,” said Grimes. “If we can provide evidence that it has these positive health impacts on these vulnerable communities, particularly those living in zip codes with lower life expectancies, that will help with finding funding to sustain the policy.” May 18, 2022

  • Father, Son Graduate Together

    Both credit faculty for their success
    Despite graduating with different degrees in different fields, father and son Alex and A.J. Omorodion use the same words to describe their UMKC experience: accessible and helpful. “When I think of my UMKC experience, I think about the accessibility of the teaching faculty. Many of them are personally helpful to you to achieve your goals,” said Alex, who will be graduating with his interdisciplinary Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction, and physics. A.J., who will receive his bachelor’s degree in computer science, also praised the faculty and their approach to teaching.  “The professors are very in touch with what it’s like to learn these things for the first time,” A.J. said. “I think sometimes there is a disconnect (for) certain people who are very knowledgeable remembering what it’s like to be new to the material.”  Alex began his affiliation with UMKC in 1995 and previously earned a master’s degree and taught as an adjunct instructor here. He also has been a math and physics teacher at the high school level for 25 years in the United States and taught for 10 years in his native Nigeria. A.J. was born in the U.S. and attended Raytown schools. However, he also spent a year in school in Nigeria, which offered a different model of education that he described as much more like college – even at the high school level. “There was a lot more emphasis on individual learning. The teachers were more there to facilitate,” A.J. said. “It took some time to get used to a different workload, but I was able to transition easily to UMKC.”  A.J. took advantage of going to school near his family and lived at home and was an active student in a variety of activities.  “My fondest memories of UMKC are the extracurricular things that go on,” he said. “I’ve done intramural sports every year, and that’s always been a lot of fun.” A.J. will begin work in June as a software engineer for American Century Investments in Kansas City. Alex plans to remain a teacher, but he is preparing to work fulltime on the college level in either physics or curriculum and instruction. May 18, 2022

  • KC Scholars Awards College Scholarships

    UMKC a popular choice for recipients
    KC Scholars changed the future of 695 Kansas City students by awarding college scholarships and awards to area high school students. UMKC is a popular choice for KC Scholars award recipients. Aaron Belaustegui, a KC Scholar and new UMKC Roo, received his diploma from Lincoln College Preparatory Academy in a May ceremony at Swinney Recreation Center. He will be back in the fall as a UMKC student. The KC Scholars scholarship has made a big difference in his future. “The scholarship means a lot,” Belaustegui says. “It’s presented me with many opportunities and goes a long way to helping with college.” Besides the opportunities at UMKC, Belaustegui has a personal connection to UMKC. “My father used to work here as a Spanish professor, and he would bring us to campus,” Belaustegui says. “I fell in love with UMKC as a kid. I knew I wanted to spend time here.” Kristian Foster (BA history ‘00, MA sociology ’03) is the principal of Lincoln College Preparatory Academy, one of KC Scholars’ partner schools. She says scholarships escalate students’ potential for success. “Scholarships such as KC Scholars help our students to get one step closer to the post-high school goals of a college education,” Foster says. “While Lincoln prepares all students to be academically successful in college, providing financial support allows them to focus on the learning and preparation needed at the university level.” “The scholarship means a lot. It’s presented me with many opportunities and goes a long way to helping with college.” — Aaron Belaustegui She notes that while most of her students receive some form of financial aid for college, they would incur a significant amount of student loan debt without the award. “To have the opportunity to earn a college degree and start their career nearly debt-free puts our students ahead of the curve,” Foster says. KC Scholars, launched in 2016, currently awards approximately 700 college scholarships annually for students from the KC metro area to attend one of 17 partner colleges and universities in Missouri and Kansas, including UMKC. There are 46 recipients of KC Scholars grants currently enrolled at UMKC. As a UMKC alumna and legacy – her mother was a first generation graduate from UMKC - Foster knows her students who choose UMKC will have a life-changing experience. “I know the benefits that earning my education from UMKC has offered both myself and my family,” Foster says. “I was able to get first-hand classroom experience during my undergraduate program and college teaching experience during my master’s program.  As a graduate student I have been exposed to people from all walks of life and I’ve had the chance to learn more than what we studied in class.”   May 18, 2022

  • New Arts Management Program Funded by $1 Million Gift from Theater League

    Edelman Graduate Certificate in Performing Arts Management prepares next generation of leaders for performing arts organizations
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City will celebrate the launch of a new graduate-level arts management certificate program, named for Theatre League founder and President Mark Edelman, at a May 24 campus event. The new certificate program is funded by a $1 million grant from the Theater League Inc., donated in Edelman’s honor. The launch event will take place at 5 p.m. May 24 in the lobby of the James C. Olsen Performing Arts Center, 4949 Cherry St. The UMKC Conservatory and the Henry W. Bloch School of Management have partnered to offer the program, designed to help students align their artistry, passion and vision to create career opportunities in the arts. The goal of the Edelman Graduate Certificate in Performing Arts Management is to help artists understand the arts industry as a whole and how they can work to create and to lead arts programs that align with their own passions and desires as artists. Students enrolled in the Edelman Performing Arts Management Certificate will take classes in managing nonprofit organizations and leading teams through the Bloch School, then enter internships with local arts nonprofits through the UMKC Conservatory. These courses and internship opportunities will help students prepare for careers in arts administration. Speakers at the event will be Edelman; Dana Knapp, President of Arts KC; Bloch School Dean Brian Klaas; and Conservatory Interim Dean Andrew Granade.  “There is a real need for box office, marketing, development and leadership skills to help our local performing arts organizations grow and thrive,” Edelman said. “Through this Graduate Certificate program, the Conservatory and Bloch School will join forces to develop the skilled future leaders who can lead our performing arts community for decades to come.” The Edelman family has a long history of involvement and support for UMKC. The UMKC Alumni Association honored the Edelman Family with the Class of 2020 Legacy Award. The family’s involvement with the university spans seven decades, beginning with Doris Tager Edelman (’54), a Jewish refugee who fled Nazi Germany. Her husband, William, earned a psychology degree from the university in 1954 while supporting the family as a practicing physician. She instilled the value of education into her three sons, Mark, Alan and Ron, who have established an endowed scholarship in her name designed to support college educations for refugees like her. Mark Edelman (J.D. ’75), founded the Theater League, Inc., a not-for-profit community-based performing arts organization that has presented the best of Broadway to Kansas City audiences for 42 years. He built the Quality Hill Playhouse and produced 12th Street Jump, a syndicated public radio show hosted on KCUR-FM for several years. Mark recalled his first foray into theatre production came during his law school years. “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.” May 18, 2022

  • Another Home Run for UMKC at The K

    More than 2,300 degrees conferred at second consecutive spring stadium celebration
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City returned to Kauffman Stadium for its second consecutive spring Commencement at the home of the Kansas City Royals, celebrating the degrees earned by more than 2,300 graduates. The event was spread over two ceremonies on May 15. Thousands of guests cheered as they watched their loved ones cross the stage on the giant Crown Vision screen. Graduates and their loved ones basked in brilliant sunshine. A late decision to shift the scheduled 10 a.m. ceremony to 6 p.m. to dodge a furious downpour kept everyone dry. Photo by Brandon Parigo “Through your experience at an urban-serving university, and as students at UMKC, you’ve been introduced to the critical issues in the greater Kansas City area and beyond,” said Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “Through your experiences, you have learned the importance of giving back and the value of commitment and community. Through your experiences, you have acquired the knowledge, confidence and skills you’ll need to navigate an ever-shifting landscape in the days to come.“More challenges surely await you. But I know, and you know, that you are up to those challenges because you have a degree from UMKC. You are ready for what comes next.” Photo by Tyler Wirken UMKC Provost Jennifer Lundgren acted as grand marshal of the ceremony."We’d like to thank John Sherman and the Kansas City Royals for giving us this opportunity to celebrate in majestic Kauffman Stadium again this year," Lundgren said. "We certainly feel at home surrounded by blue and gold.”During the ceremony, Agrawal presented the UMKC Chancellor’s Medal – the university’s highest non-academic award – to U.S. Sen Roy Blunt of Missouri. Agrawal thanked Blunt for his work to generate critical investments in higher education.“Senator Blunt created the grant that allowed UMKC to receive funding to improve COVID-19 testing and vaccine access in underserved communities in Kansas City. His advocacy for the Kansas City Streetcar broadens opportunities for our students and our campus as a whole,” Agrawal said. “Senator Blunt’s leadership brought us more than $15 million to expand the UMKC School Of Medicine to our new St. Joseph campus, which allows us to train even more doctors to benefit the state of Missouri.” Photo by Tyler Wirken Blunt then delivered a commencement address in which he reminded the graduates of the power of the example they have set.“People have been watching you – people you didn’t even know were watching you,” Blunt said. “These people have been inspired by what you have managed to accomplish.” Photo by Brandon Parigo Blunt said that each of the professional fields that the graduates were about to enter, from medicine to management, had changed dramatically over the past few years. “What a great time to commence. What a great time to begin,” he said. “There’s an economy out there that is desperately looking for people. You are prepared to adapt to a rapidly changing world.” May 15, 2022

  • Graduates Honored at Commencement at The K

    The ceremonies were held May 15, 2022
    More than 2,300 students became alumni on Sunday as the University of Missouri-Kansas City held its May 2022 commencement ceremony. For the second year, the ceremonies were held at Kauffman Stadium. Photo by Brandon Parigo Photo by Tyler Wirken Photo by Brandon Parigo Photo by Tyler Wirken Photo by Brandon Parigo Photo by Brandon Parigo         May 15, 2022

  • 2022 Dean of Students Honor Recipients

    Twenty-two 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, exceptional graduating students are recognized as Dean of Students Honor Recipients. These students maintain excellent scholastic performance while actively participating in university activities and community service outside of the classroom. “These students represent what it truly means to be a Roo with their dedication to learning and service,” said Michele Smith, dean of students. “I’m proud to recognize them and I have no doubt they all have successful careers ahead of them.” Students shared their memories of their college years at a special breakfast celebration in their honor. Some excerpts: Avleen Bhandal: “UMKC has inspired me through many ways, but particularly the people I have met here. From my best friends and family to my professors and mentors, I have been honored to work with some wonderful people who inspire me every day and who have kept me motivated throughout this journey. This journey has not been without its struggles, but I am lucky to have so many people standing behind me and wishing me success through those challenges.” Michael Brancato: “When I think of UMKC students or faculty, I think of compassion and humanitarianism.  The students and faculty who take it upon themselves to teach and volunteer make me want to do more for the community. I am most proud of the student-run free clinic we have worked to establish here in Kansas City.  I find inspiration through the people who are a part of the UMKC community and who choose to give of themselves to make our community better.“ Eric Honea: “UMKC has given me the opportunity to learn, grow and excel. While this may be the end of my educational journey at UMKC, it is only the beginning of my journey of being a voice for others. “ Tim Nguyen: “I’ll remember two lessons which I have learned over the past two years.  First, rejection is redirection, and second, when you fail or fall, stay down for as long as you need to in order to both understand and to learn, before you immediately jump back up.” Dev Patel: “My proudest accomplishment while at UMKC has been my work achieving this goal of reaching underserved populations. The JayDoc Free Dental Clinic is a biweekly free dental clinic that provides treatment for patients with dental pain who cannot afford treatment elsewhere. For two years I worked as an Executive Director of the clinic. Right as I started this position, the COVID pandemic hit, and we were forced to close down. I’m most proud of the months of work our executive board did to reopen the clinic in a way where we could prioritize the safety of our volunteers while providing much needed dental care to the community.” Congratulations to the Spring 2022 Dean of Students Honor Recipients! Samar Azzaidani - School of Medicine Nominated by Julie Banderas Allison Baker - School of Pharmacy Nominated by Roger Sommi Avleen Bhandal - School of Medicine Nominated by Brent McCoy Winston Bowles - College of Arts & Sciences Nominated by Katie Garey Michael Brancato - School of Medicine Nominated by Alison Scholes Abigail Castle - College of Arts & Sciences Nominated by Ken Novak Alyssa Corley - School of Biological & Chemical Sciences Nominated by Katie Garey and Jeff Price Anna Davis - School of Medicine Nominated by Betsy Hendrick and Kathleen Moburg Samantha Hays - College of Arts & Sciences Nominated by Katie Garey Eric Honea - School of Law Nominated by Barbara Glesner Fines, Nancy Levit, Lauren Butler, Timothy Lynch, and Meg Reuter Anna Hwang -  School of Medicine Nominated by Brent McCoy Amanda Malone - College of Arts & Sciences Nominated by Becky Bergman and Misty Campbell Abigail Murphy - School of Medicine Nominated by Brent McCoy Tim Nguyen - School of Biological & Chemical Sciences Nominated by Kathleen Kilway, Katie Garey, and Joe Constantino Toluwanimi Olatunde-Salawu - School of Computing & Engineering Nominated by Julie Myer Caroline Olson - School of Medicine Nominated by Peter Koulen Dakota Owens - School of Medicine Nominated by Krisana West Dev Patel - School of Dentistry Nominated by Richie Bigham Kyle Potts - Bloch School of Management Nominated by Jeina Stoumbaugh Casey Rose - School of Medicine Nominated by Krisana West Marcus Thieu - School of Biological & Chemical Sciences Nominated by Tammy Welchert, Rachel Hughes, and Todd Wells Genesis Zuniga - School of Education Nominated by Lynne O’Dell May 13, 2022

  • UMKC Enactus: High Honors, High Impact

    Student organization celebrates another big year of accomplishment, service
    The UMKC Enactus team has wrapped up another year of high national honors and high local – and global – impact. Enactus is a global organization for college students who volunteer to develop projects that create positive change through entrepreneurial action. UMKC Enactus placed among the top eight teams in the country during April’s National Expo at Long Island University in New York and garnered multiple individual awards as well. It’s familiar territory; the UMKC team has placed in the top 10 nationally for four consecutive years and consistently wins top individual awards as well. The competition result was earned through student projects that have produced meaningful results from Kansas City to Mexico to Nigeria. On campus, Enactus was named Student Organization of the Year at the UMKC Student Organization and University Leadership (SOUL) Awards. While the team is headquartered at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management, it draws students from multiple majors and academic programs across campus, an example of how UMKC emphasizes entrepreneurship and innovation campus-wide. The team’s projects included: FeedKC, which connects local food vendors to local food banks, directing leftover food to people instead of landfills. Students developed the FeedKC Web App – feed-kc.com – connecting businesses and soup kitchens directly to eliminate the need for a middleman. Fashionnovation, an initiative to reduce the environmental effects of fast fashion; 85% of clothing ends up in landfills. The initiative reduces fashion waste by repurposing used clothing into commercial products. Generation Green, a project dedicated to repurposing plastic waste and encouraging interactive learning by recycling plastic into colorful, durable dry-erase boards. The boards are welcomed by local teachers as replacements for school supplies that are frequently broken, while preventing new plastic production and reducing waste. Cultura En Tus Manos, an initiative for artisans in Oaxaca, Mexico, who depended on street sales of their crafts to tourists but were left without a market because of the COVID pandemic. Enactus created an online marketplace for them and a training module to learn to use it. Project AIR (Achieve Inspire Rise), an initiative to provide post-high school training in resume-building, how to apply for jobs and other professional development skills to young people living in underserved Kansas City communities. Educate to Elevate, an initiative that raised tens of thousands of dollars to build a well, bathrooms and a new classroom building for the Ogwuokwu Community School in Ogwuokwu, Nigeria. Incidence of water-borne illnesses dropped dramatically after the project was completed.  Several students received individual honors at the National Expo. Club President Hannah Case won the top Jules and Gwen Knapp Scholarship of $10,000. Students Sophia Ho and Aaron Winter won $3,000 scholarships. Drew Childs – who won the $10,000 Knapp scholarship last year – was named national project leader of the year. Ellyssa Gallinger was named national finance leader of the year.  May 13, 2022

  • Bloch School of Management Professor Explores Gap Insurance

    Larry Wigger, UMKC assistant teaching professor of supply chain management, Henry W. Bloch School of Management, is an expert contributor to Wallet...
    His recent WalletHub article explores the benefits of gap insurance and discusses which buyers should purchase gap insurance, the best resources from which to purchase this insurance and how to determine when a driver no longer needs it.  The complete article is available here. May 11, 2022

  • Startups Win Big Money to Pursue Ventures

    Regnier Venture Creation Challenge supports student and community entrepreneurs
    The UMKC Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation awarded more than $93,000 in prizes at the 2022 Regnier Venture Creation Challenge. The challenge is an annual business plan and pitch competition for new startups. The Regnier Institute is a program of the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management. This year’s competition included three separate tracks, including a new one for non-students from the Kansas City startup community. The competition also includes two tracks open to college students from Missouri, Kansas, Iowa or Nebraska. There were 73 total applicants this year, representing 14 universities in the four-state region. Sponsors providing prize funding included Bob Regnier and Regnier Family Foundations; Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City; and David M. Block, President of Block & Company Inc. Realtors along with his two sisters, Candace Block and Cynthia Kosoglad. The 2022 winners include: Regnier College Startup Awards Open to any student from any area of study enrolled at a university or college in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska or Kansas First Place - $15,000: Farm Story Meats – Ray Schmidt (Iowa State University) Farm Story Meats brings our customers transparency about the locations, farms and people that supply their food, through subscription or individually chosen boxes of sustainable and locally sourced meats. We share the stories of the farmers that raise the animals, and we strive to make the supply chain of farm to customer as short as possible. Second Place - $10,000: Crib Coaching – Jill Bertelsen and Justin Bertelsen (UMKC E-Scholars) Crib Coaching uses a human-centered design to engage parents with children up to age 5. Every day parents watch a short video and have a reading passage, journal activity and/or game. Third Place - $5,000: ALLTER - Michelle Gershkovich, Gabriella Meisner, Ebuka Akubilo (University of Missouri) ALLTER is a platform that collects and translates customer data to deliver accurate clothing sizes. BlueKC Health Care Innovation Awards – Open to health care-related ventures started by degree-seeking college students (undergraduate or graduate) from any area of study enrolled at a university or college in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska or Kansas. First Place - $15,000: Speak Information Technology (SpeakIT) - Julian Lu, Madison Singleton, Ajla Salic, Max Popper, Kai Skallerud (Washington University in St. Louis) Speak Information Technologies is a software company that specializes in voice-enabled assistance tools for healthcare providers. The technology empowers healthcare providers with the ability to automate keyboard and mouse tasks with their voice, leading to comprehensive workflow automation in electronic health records. Second Place - $10,000: MiDoc - Linda Wu, Lili Hostetler, Shivaen Ahuja, Ben Graue, Darren Lee (Washington University in St. Louis) In a time of telemedicine, doctors are unable to perform heart and lung exams, and this lack of vital information results in ineffective care. MiDoc is an at-home wearable product that the patient wears like a vest, equipped with sensors for a remote heart and lung exam. James and Rae Block Kansas City Startup Awards – This track was open to new starts or early-stage businesses with annual revenue between $0-250,000 from the Kansas City MARC Region. First Place - $15,000: Cafe Ca Phe - Jacqueline Nguyen, Madoka Day, Jason Izquierdo, Rebekah Leininger Cafe Ca Phe is Kansas City's first Vietnamese coffee shop. They serve coffee that is farmed in Vietnam, roasted by first-generation, Vietnamese-American women. All drinks are influenced directly by Vietnamese culture. Second Place - $10,000: SeeInMe - Risa Stein SeeInMe addresses care inequities resulting from an inability to connect with communication-challenged individuals. Instant Connector cards employ NFC technology and QR codes to ensure instant access to an individual’s Personality Profile. Honorable Mentions Outstanding Undergraduate Award - $2,500: Sky Sprayers - John Gamez-Ramos, Tyler Preisser, Chance Fuhrman (Fort Hays State University) Sky Sprayers is an innovative, brand-new way to spray your crops. It is a fully autonomous drone and trailer setup that not only can fly on its own but actually can spray your field all by itself. Outstanding Social Venture Award - $2,500: Hormonetopia – Najjuwah Walden (Washington University in St. Louis) Hormonetopia teaches the lifestyles that cause menstrual symptoms and provides steps to prevent them. Our web-based curriculum is for K-12 health and science classrooms during their menstruation instruction. Outstanding Creative Enterprise Award - $2,500: Tate’s Burnin’ Big Band – Tate Berry (University of Missouri-Kansas City) A 17-piece progressive big band merging multiple genres of music and is dedicated to progressing the musical art form. It offers a variety of services, including live performances, merchandise and event creation. Russ & Melanie Cline Family Foundation Outstanding Community Business Award - $5,000: Aya Coffee and Books - Jahna Riley (Kansas City-based business) Aya Coffee + Books is growing into a coffee shop and bookstore that celebrates coffee’s African origins, and the bookstore highlights books by and for Black, Brown and Indigenous people. May 11, 2022

  • UMKC Graduates to Cross the Stage at The K

    Ceremonies for 2022 graduates will be May 15
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City is pleased to announce two ceremonies honoring its more than 2,300 2022 graduates on Sunday, May 15, at Kauffman Stadium. UMKC is continuing the recent tradition of celebrating commencement in signature Kansas City locations.   “We are Kansas City’s university,” UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal said. “Celebrating our graduates in an iconic Kansas City location such as Kauffman Stadium reflects our history and our future as a component of Kansas City’s growth and success. We know our graduates are honored to receive their diplomas on the field at The K.” This year’s commencement speaker is U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri. He has served as majority leader and whip during his tenure in the U.S. House. Blunt currently serves on the Committee on Appropriations; the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation; the Joint Committee on Printing; Joint Committee on the Library and Select Committee on Intelligence. The Roy Blunt NextGen Precision Health building in Columbia, Missouri, a regional research hub, is named in his honor. Blunt will receive the UMKC Chancellor’s Medal, the university’s highest non-academic honor. The medal honors those who have shown UMKC extraordinary support and service. First awarded in 1961, the university awards the Chancellor’s Medal to people in a range of fields including art, education, law, politics, religion, child welfare, urban design, sports, music, health care and journalism.  Agrawal said Blunt’s efforts specifically on behalf of UMKC have been both broad and deep, with positive impacts in areas ranging from health care to student financial aid. Blunt led efforts to increase the maximum Pell Grant award over the past five years, and to restore year-round Pell Grants to help students stay in school and graduate. His legislation created the grant program that supported UMKC efforts to improve COVID-19 testing and vaccine access in underserved communities. This funding led to the development of the Our Healthy Kansas City Eastside initiative in which UMKC partnered with Jackson County, churches, business and community organizations in Kansas City to improve health outcomes in underserved neighborhoods.  Blunt’s efforts were instrumental in providing funding for the expansion of the UMKC School of Medicine to a second campus in St. Joseph,  in partnership with Mosaic Life Care. As a result, the university is training more doctors who are prepared to serve in rural areas, impacting healthcare services across the state.  The 2 p.m. ceremony will recognize graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, School of Computing and Engineering, the UMKC Conservatory and the School of Education. The 6 p.m. ceremony will recognize graduates from the Henry W. Bloch School of Management, School of Dentistry, School of Law, School of Medicine, School of Nursing and Health Sciences and the School of Pharmacy. There is no guest limit, but graduates need to register their guests online. UMKC Commencement at The K will be a rain-or-shine event. Graduates and guests are advised to monitor weather forecasts and be prepared to participate amid light rain showers if they occur. Guests may bring small umbrellas (no golf umbrellas) 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 2022 Commencement web page and the university’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.   May 09, 2022

  • Conservatory Professor Receives Fulbright Scholar Award

    Thomas Rosenkranz headed to Taiwan
    Thomas Rosenkranz, associate professor of piano, recently was named a 2022 Fulbright Scholar. As part of the award, Rosenkranz will be an artist-in-residence at Tunghai University in Taichung, Taiwan in the Fall 2022 semester. The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program offers awards in more than 130 countries for participants to teach, conduct research and carry out professional projects around the world. The competitive program is the largest in the United States, with approximately 800 fellowships awarded annually. “Dr. Rosenkranz’s Fulbright Scholar Award is further confirmation of his artistry and teaching,” said Andrew Granade, interim dean of the Conservatory. “He continues the legacy of our piano area while taking it in bold new directions. We are thrilled for him and the well-deserved recognition this award represents.” Rosenkranz, who has been at the Conservatory since 2018, is familiar with the Fulbright Scholar program’s mission to increase international understanding. He has performed around the world, including Mongolia, Borneo, Yunnan Province in China, North Africa and the Middle East. “Some of the most meaningful musical experiences for me has been to perform in places where western classical music is rarely performed,” said Rosenkranz. “I’ve always seen music as a kind of passport to access people’s cultures. You can break down a lot of walls by finding common ground through music.” Rosenkranz has been to Taiwan on several occasions, making it an obvious choice as his host country during the application process. Rosenkranz will teach two courses at Tunghai University, in addition to performing concerts and master classes on campus and around the country. “I love Taiwan’s rich culture and welcoming people,” said Rosenkranz. “From the beginning of the Fulbright application process, the faculty at Tunghai University have been very enthusiastic about having a Fulbright scholar in residence. It will be a great place for my family and I to spend a semester.” May 06, 2022

  • Students Recognized for Excellence in Undergraduate Research

    Work from variety of disciplines showcased at annual symposium
    More than 200 undergraduate students presented their research at the 22nd Annual Symposium of Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship. The April event allowed students at UMKC to share their research, scholarship and creativity. It also provided an opportunity for them to receive feedback on their work. Director of Undergraduate Research Jane Greer, Ph.D. said providing undergraduate students with research opportunities benefits them in more ways than one."Students at UMKC have the unique opportunity to work with faculty in archives, laboratories, studio and in the community. Through these mentored experiences, students gain the skills and confidence to succeed academically and professionally,” said Greer.In addition to the presentations, six students were awarded Presentations of Distinction, which recognize excellence in undergraduate research. More than 200 students presented research at the annual symposium Presentations of Distinction recipients: Emma Leonard SeniorCategory: Arts and HumanitiesProject Title: Sports and Gender: A Comparative Historical Analysis of Men’s and Women’s Sports in the United States Shea O'Connor SeniorCategory: Biological and Life SciencesProject Title: AI and The Fly Karah Chappel SeniorCategory: Behavioral and Social SciencesProject Title: Exploration of the Education and Experiences of Music Therapists in Trauma Care Dan Caron Senior Category: Computing and EngineeringProject Title: Augmenting BIM with Real Time 3D and Damage Analytics Amanda Pierce Senior Category: Physical and Natural SciencesProject Title: The Effectiveness of Sphagnum subsecundum Moss Removal of Dissolved Carbon Dioxide and pH Balancing of Missouri Freshwater Alejandra Frias Fraire Junior Category: KC WorksProject Title: Armourdale's Correlation Between Industry Pollution and Health Inequity Learn more about undergraduate research opportunities May 05, 2022

  • New UMKC Student Support Center Opens

    Move to UMKC Student Union allows easier access to critical resources
    The new UMKC Dr. Raj Bala Agrawal Care Center opened in the Student Union today with a ceremony to celebrate enhanced access to support services for the university community. The Agrawal Care Center provides resources for students to address food and housing insecurity, financial wellness and mental health services. The Roo Pantry is located within the center on the first floor of the Student Union and is designed to ensure students’ basic needs are met. The Care Center is designed to be a welcoming place. “When a student walks through our door, the first thing I do is listen,” Taylor Blackmon, student basic needs coordinator for the Care Center, said. “In our initial meeting, I give them the time to talk through their story.” Blackmon noted that when students have the resources they need, they can focus on achieving their personal definitions of success. “The Dr. Raj Bala Agrawal Care Center is a reflection of the university’s commitment to supporting the whole student,” Blackmon said. “That goes beyond earning a diploma and getting a good job. Establishing the Agrawal Care Center in the heart of campus helps to grow a culture where everyone understands that there is no shame in asking for help. It assures our students that we are here for them – from the first day of orientation, until they move their tassels at graduation.” “The Dr. Raj Bala Agrawal Care Center is a reflection of the university’s commitment to supporting the whole student.” - Taylor Blackmon Sue Agrawal, wife of Chancellor Mauli Agrawal, offered a tribute to her mother-in-law and the Care Center’s namesake, Dr. Raj Bala Agrawal. Raj Agrawal opened a private elementary school with her husband, and Sue Agrawal praised her dedication to supporting the whole student on the path to education. “She made sure the students had healthy lunches,” Sue Agrawal said. “She supplemented packed lunches if a student was lacking.  She spoke to the parents about healthy habits and children’s development. She understood what student success really meant, and you may understand a little better now the origins of the Chancellor’s holistic view of student success.” Chancellor Agrawal noted that the center is addressing a critical need, though many people may be surprised by the level of food insecurity among college students. “More than a quarter of all college students report some level of food insecurity,” he said. “The number is higher – 32 percent – among undergraduates. Indeed, some students are helping to support their families,” he said. “In addition, their available resources are scarce. The majority of students are not eligible for food stamps. In our survey, we discovered that half the respondents were lacking a basic need in some form – food or housing.” “I talk about UMKC being a family, and I mean it. At your worst moments, your family should be there for you. That is what we will do here – help." - Chancellor Agrawal He noted that many students are not aware that emergency funds are available. In other cases, students knew about aid resources but deferred to others. “Some students did not apply – despite their own need – because they thought other students needed it more. Let’s think about that for a minute. Students did not ask for help, because they thought others needed it more.” Agrawal assured the crowd that that there is no stigma in needing help, and that is part of the mission of the center. “I talk about UMKC being a family, and I mean it. At your worst moments, your family should be there for you. That is what we will do here – help. There is strength in being able to ask for help. When students come here and let us know what they need, we will work to help them, because we are bound together – through our search for knowledge, through our need for human connection, but most of all, because we are Roos, and we are family.” The establishment of the Dr. Raj Bala Agrawal Care Center was made possible through donations to the Dr. Raj Bala Agrawal Memorial Fund established December 2020. The fund recognizes and honors the life of Chancellor Agrawal’s mother, who was grateful for the opportunity to engage with the many generous friends and alumni of the university and cheer on UMKC students. May 04, 2022

  • Outstanding Alumni Recognized at 2022 Alumni Awards Celebration

    Sixteen alumni and one family were honored at the April event
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City Class of 2022 Alumni Achievement Award recipients included the founder of a veterans housing program, a judge, a national CEO and a legacy family whose education and contributions to UMKC have spanned generations. Sixteen alumni and one family were honored on April 29 at the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center. This year’s event was back in-person after the pandemic kept the last two year’s ceremonies virtual. The Alumni Awards ceremony is one of the university’s largest events to support student scholarships. In the last decade, the Alumni Awards event has garnered more than $1 million in scholarships and immediate student aid for UMKC. “When our alumni return to campus, it is always an exciting reunion. Whether the faces we see are familiar or not, we share the connection of walking the same halls, developing similar goals and being united as UMKC Roos,” said Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. The night’s biggest honor, Alumnus of the Year, went to Bryan Meyer (B.A. ’11, M.P.A. ’15, J.D.’15), co-founder of the Veterans Community Project. Located at 89th and Troost in Kansas City, the Veterans Project is an innovative non-profit that provides housing for homeless veterans in tiny home villages. “UMKC consistently reminded me there is always more to learn. For example, when I was pursuing my Masters, I took a class in leadership. I served five years in the Marine Corps and led other Marines in two different combat deployments – so I attended class confident there wasn’t anything I could learn on leadership from a classroom. I was wrong,” Meyer said. “I know the knowledge gained from my M.P.A. and law degree have been instrumental in my ability to provide a benefit to my community.” Complete list of awardees: Alumnus of the Year: Bryan Meyer (B.A. ’11, M.P.A ’15, J.D. ’15) Spotlight Award: Riddhiman Das (B.S. ’12, M.S. ’19) The Bill French Alumni Service Award: Ann Mesle (J.D. ’72) Defying the Odds Award: Susan B. Wilson, Ph.D. (MBA ’05) Legacy Award: North/Cheadle Family College of Arts and Sciences: Melissa Zarda (B.A. ’02, M.A. ’07) School of Biological and Chemical Sciences: Joseph Lambing (Ph.D. ’90) Henry W. Bloch School of Management: Mike Perry (B.B.A ’89) School of Computing and Engineering: Jungwoo Ryoo (B.S. ’96, M.S. ’98) Conservatory: Xi Wang (M.M. ’03) School of Dentistry: Brenda Bohaty (Ph.D. ’09) School of Dentistry–Dental Hygiene: Jo Ann Weatherwax (B.S.D.H ’06, M.S. ’12) School of Education: Lucero Garibay (M.A. ’16) School of Law: J. Kent Emison (J.D. ’81) School of Medicine: Lucky Chopra (B.A. ’91, M.D. ’92) School of Nursing and Health Studies: Leslie Luke (M.S.N. ’00) School of Pharmacy: Janelle Sabo (Pharm.D. ’00) Co-chairs for this year's event were Joseph Spalitoo (B.S. '68, D.D.S. '72), president of the UMKC Alumni Association, and Debbie Thompson (B.S.D.H. '81). If you were unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. May 02, 2022

  • Ready to Shock the World

    New coach Marvin Menzies will stress “winning the right way”
    There was nothing timid about the first public appearance on campus for new men’s basketball head coach Marvin Menzies, an April 30 press conference in the Student Union. Menzies wasted no time addressing the elephant in the room – the team’s lack of appearances in the NCAA Tournament over three decades of Division I athletics. He embraced the challenge of moving past a token appearance as a bottom-level seed in the “Big Dance.” “We’re not just going to get there,” he vowed. “We’re gonna shock the world.” And Menzies promised that the program was committed to more than just game victories. “We’re going to be all about winning the right way,” he said. “Winning on the court, winning in the classroom, with players who will engage with the whole campus.” Menzies has made winning promises before – and delivered on them. He has a strong record for building successful programs as a head coach at New Mexico State and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He coached New Mexico State to five NCAA tournament appearances. At UNLV, his teams won 20 games and held a 3.0 team GPA in back-to-back years for the first time in program history. Chancellor Mauli Agrawal lauded Menzies’ dual focus on academic and athletic success. “We know he’ll be a great fit for UMKC Athletics,” Agrawal said. “We want leaders who can inspire our players to achieve.” Athletics Director Brandon Martin said Menzies and his wife, Tammy, work together to forge a strong family atmosphere among players and coaches. “We were looking for a mentor, a guide and a champion for our student athletes,” Martin said. “Marvin and Tammy live by the values of faith, love, integrity, service and respect.” May 02, 2022

  • Roo Honors Academy Returns This Summer

    UMKC Honors Program hosts unique enrichment opportunity for high school students
    The Roo Honors Academy invites high school students to participate in a fun and intellectually engaging one-week summer enrichment program, June 20-24, 2022, sponsored by the Honors Program of the University of Missouri-Kansas City. This selective program will offer non-credit classes on criminal justice, urban health, effective personal communication and sports in society. Participants choose one morning course and one afternoon course taught by UMKC faculty members. On June 24, participants and their families are invited to a dinner and student exhibition. “The Roo Honors Academy gives students the chance to dig into a subject they are interested in but haven’t been able to explore in high school yet,” said Margo Gamache, director of Student Services for the UMKC Honors Program. “It is about curiosity and expanding students’ minds.” Students who successfully complete each course will receive a Recognition of Achievement certificate from the UMKC Honors Program and a Roo Honors Academy T-shirt. Tuition is $275; children of UMKC employees are eligible for a $20 discount. Need-based scholarships may be available. Participating students also have the option of staying in the UMKC dormitories for the week. The add-on cost for this option is $295. “Other summer enrichment programs for high achieving high school students  in the area focus on STEM, so this allows us to fill that need in the community,” Gamache said. “The Academy also helps students see UMKC in a new way. Students can experience innovative Honors Program classes and meet our passionate, engaged faculty. They will also get to know other bright and committed students from across the country—peers who could be future classmates at UMKC.” Students can apply to attend the Roo Honors Academy online. The application deadline for Roos Honor Academy 2022 is June 1, 2022, and applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Apr 29, 2022

  • Founder of The Trevor Project Headlines UMKC Pride Breakfast

    The event raises funds to support LGBTQ students at UMKC
    Kindness can literally save lives. That was the vital message delivered to the audience at this year’s UMKC Pride Breakfast by Peggy Rajski, Academy Award-winning director and founder of the LGBTQ youth crisis-intervention organization The Trevor Project. “Just to have one accepting adult in a queer-questioning child’s life, it can cut suicide risk in half,” Rajski said. “Anyone can be that one supporting adult; you just never know. I’m encouraging everyone to just be kind.” Rajski won an Academy Award as director of the short film TREVOR, about a young teen whose world is turned upside down when word spreads at school that he might be gay. “I am a white, straight, cisgender woman and people were surprised that I made this movie about this young gay boy and that it felt authentic. But what I would say is, I know the feeling just like everyone else does when people are shaming you for who you are,” Rajski said. “Imagine if you had everyone telling you that you are worthless, that they don’t want to be around you because you’re toxic, I just had hope that people would think about how those words would make someone feel.” After the film’s release, she discovered there weren’t any nationwide suicide prevention crisis services available to support gay and questioning youth. In response, she founded The Trevor Project. The project, launched in 1998, receives roughly 200,000 calls annually.  Since 2008, the Pride Breakfast has raised funds to support LGBTQ students at UMKC and serves as a way for the university to show support for, and commitment to, LGBTQ students on campus. This year’s breakfast raised over $110,000, which will go directly to supporting LGTBQ students on campus.  “Over the years this breakfast has raised more than $500,000 in scholarships, emergency aid and support for students,” Chancellor Mauli Agrawal said at the event. “UMKC has a culture of care that we uphold. Faculty, staff and administration believe that each student has a unique value and is worthy of our time, attention and respect. I am honored to be a part of an institution that has that as its core value.”   UMKC partnered with local Kansas City nonprofit SAVE, Inc. to bring Rajski to Kansas City. SAVE, Inc. provides permanent, transitional, and emergency housing services to those with HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, mental health challenges and more.  Apr 27, 2022

  • Critical Conversations: The Value of Higher Education: Ensuring Success for Students of Color in College and After Graduation

    UMKC hosts discussion to explore new perspectives on higher education
    The April 6 discussion in the Critical Conversations series of panel discussions addressing systemic racism sponsored by the UMKC Division of Diversity and Inclusion. It was the third of the 2021-22 school year and the eleventh in the series. The Critical Conversations series is a part of Roos Advocate for Community Change, a campus-wide initiative launched in June 2020, which highlights thoughtful action on campus and in our community to ensure lasting and comprehensive changes. The goal of each Critical Conversation discussion is to enlighten, educate and explore the causes and potential cures for racism. Attendance to the discussions is free. Panelists for this session included: Gary O’Bannon, executive in residence, Henry W. Bloch School of Management, moderator Jenny Aktar, UMKC student moderator Kimberly Beatty, Ed.D., chancellor, Metropolitan Community College Mark T. Bedell, Ed.D., superintendent, Kansas City Public School District Laura Evans, business and education advisor-in-residence, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Amos Jaimes, UMKC Financial Wellness Center Excerpts from the conversation are below. To view the complete recording of the conversation, click here. Determining the value of college educations Jaimes: I found great value in the learning communities with my peers, and talking deeply about theories and thoughts, and when there were other people and students of color in the room, we could really talk about our own backgrounds and connect. I found all of my best friends and fiancé within student organizations. Evans: I came from a small, rural farming community and went to one of the largest colleges in the United States. It opened my perspective, and I developed a community where I learned to think and communicate more effectively. The academic challenge created a deeper work ethic in me for learning. Beatty: I went to Morgan State University, a historically Black college.  I wanted to know more about my culture and the sense of community.   Measuring the value and costs of a college education O’Bannon: College costs continue to skyrocket, which impacts all races, ethnicities and genders. Loan interest rates have a greater impact on underserved students.  But there's a report by the College Board that show that an average African American male with a college degree earns roughly twice that of someone who only holds a high school diploma. Evans: What we know about how college translates to earnings is entirely a historical perspective, and the cost has gone up exponentially.  We know that the world of work is changing rapidly.  I would just caution us to not just look at data as we're making a decision about the value. I think the other thing I would point out, is what we perceived to be the value of our experience is not financially measurable. Impact of major selection and experience Bedell: College itself is a wonderful experience. Programs are developed to help you get ready and ultimately figure out what your passion is. I tell people that you should reflect on why you want to go to college and your desired outcome. It’s about what you decide to make out of it – and it’s not just about the money. It’s about passion. Everything else tends to work itself out down the line. Evans: Some employers will be attuned to a particular major or set of skills. But most employers are looking for the most durable skills -- problem solving, the ability to communicate, the ability to collaborate. You may have acquired those skills in internships, but it could also be volunteer or extracurricular experiences. There are lots of ways to engage in the world and develop the kinds of durable skills that will help you to transition from what you studied to your initial job. The value of community college Beatty: Community college is not a replacement for four year colleges. It is a pathway and an affordable, local and convenient option.  In Missouri, any courses that you take at Metropolitan Community College transfer directly to any of the four-year public universities, and often private ones. For people who need to work or have families and need flexibility they are an option. Bedell: The A+ Scholarship Program (which provides scholarship funds to participating community colleges to eligible graduates) can really benefit students and allow them to knock out some of their core prerequisites. Support for enrollment Jaimes: Our office has conversations at events with students where we will sit down and help them fill out their FAFSA, because that is a barrier for a lot of students. This can prolong their ability to receive aid. We saw $3.7 billion in Pell Grants not being awarded to students, because they did not complete the FAFSA. Impact of COVID-19 Bedell: We’ve been able to document that (COVID-19) has significantly impacted our kids. A lot of the work we did earlier around real-world learning was put on hold during the pandemic. Jaimes: We saw a lot of our students working many hours to make up for the loss of income. Their households were severely changed;  their ability to connect with peers in high school, but also the ability to engage in community college. New Perspectives Bedell: Traditionally, we have to be in school for the same hours. What if we created master schedules that allow for kids to operate on a much more flexible schedule that controls for the variables of poverty. What if we said it's going to go from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.? Kids who need to do internships with a business could do that from 8 to 12 and maybe come into school for four hours and take classes online. These kids have to be trained for the workforce that they're going to go into, which offers a much more flexible working environment than what we currently have set up in pre-K through 12. Apr 22, 2022

  • Connection Key to Student Success

    UMKC student leader works to create community change
    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. Chiekezie AnikweAnticipated graduation year: Spring 2023UMKC degree program: B.S. biology, pre-medical emphasisPresident African Students’ Association, secretary Men of ColorHometown: Kansas City, Missouri Chiekezie Anikwe chose UMKC because it is close to home, which is convenient and helped him keep expenses in check. He also likes taking advantage of being in the heart of Kansas City. His pre-med program is challenging, but he finds time to connect with friends through his involvement - and leadership - in extracurricular activities. Why did you choose your field of study? I have been surrounded by family members who were in the healthcare field all my life, so I grew to appreciate and love the different types of service that they provided for the community.  I was always interested in the different stories and experiences they shared with me.  With this field of study, I hope to be able to help people who are disadvantaged and play my part to make change in my community. Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself? One of the main things I learned in college was how to push myself harder. Transitioning from high school to college, I learned that I had to put in more work to be successful. Also, I learned that it is okay to ask for help. That wasn’t always easy for me. I always thought I could do things on my own or figure it out myself. We all need help sometimes. How has your college program inspired you? The program is full of a lot of hard-working people from professors to students, who in turn push you to do the best that you can. What are the benefits of the program? A main benefit of the program are the resources that they provide to help us do well. The professors are really helpful in making sure we understand what we are being taught. And my Supplemental Instruction (SI) study group helps me look at the content in a different way. Sometimes in class something may not make sense, but when I can talk to a fellow student about it at SI, I understand it. What are the challenges of the program? The classes are really tough, but they are interesting. With proper study habits, hard work and time management skills it is definitely possible to do well. Another challenge with the program is not seeing more people who look like me. There is a huge need for more African American people in healthcare. Is this why you became involved in the African Students’ Association and the Men of Color? I love the African Students' Association and Men of Color because of how we are able to create a space where Africans and men of color can be comfortable to be their true selves. The African Student Association is my home. I became a member my freshman year and everyone was so friendly and inclusive. There were a lot of seniors on the board, and I thought, “Maybe I could help.” I became vice president my sophomore year in the midst of Covid-19. I’m president this year and I’ve had so much help from my team in boosting membership. Who/What do you admire most at UMKC and why? The thing I admire about UMKC is that it is full of inspirational people who are very determined to be successful in their own respective fields. There are many people at UMKC who are making change, and these are the people I admire the most. Roland Hemmings (assistant director, Multicultural Student Affairs and Men of Color staff advisor) has been a great mentor. Do you have any scholarships? What do they mean to you? I received the Chancellor’s Award. It means a lot to me just because it helps take a bit of the burden of tuition off. What do you hope to take from your experiences at UMKC into your professional career? I plan to take the work ethic and time management skills that I developed during my time at UMKC to further my professional career. Apr 22, 2022

  • Conservatory Facilities to Receive Facelift this Summer

    Recital and rehearsal spaces will get improved soundproofing and technology
    Renovations on Conservatory facilities will begin next month, the first of a series of renovations and expansions. Beginning the Monday after commencement, the $4 million renovation project will focus on hearing safety, updated technology, increased usable space and ADA compliance. The construction is expected to be complete before fall semester classes begin in August. Rendering of Grant Hall recital hall by Helix Architecture + Design “Sound is an important part of the student and visitor experience here at the Conservatory,” said Andrew Granade, interim dean of the Conservatory. “These renovations will allow our students to better hear and finetune their musicianship, and our visitors will enjoy performances that are equal to the talents of our musicians.” Rendering of teaching room in James C. Olson Performing Arts Center by Helix Architecture + Design Visitors will see changes in the Grant Hall recital hall, including new acoustic treatments, new sound equipment and updates to improve ADA compliance. Rendering of hallway to individual practice rooms in James C. Olson Performing Arts Center by Helix Architecture + Design Student practice rooms and rehearsal spaces in the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center will be updated with new technology and acoustic treatments, in addition to soundproofing, new flooring and an increase in usable space. Practice and rehearsal space renovations will improve hearing health and accessibility. Rendering of individual practice rooms in James C. Olson Performing Arts Center by Helix Architecture + Design Renovations and expansions in the Conservatory will take place over the next several years in both Grant Hall and Olson Performing Arts Center. Funding for this first stage of renovations includes $3.5 million in state funding and $500,000 in gifts. Apr 21, 2022

  • UMKC Unveils Logo Refresh

    The logo update maintains its visual roots while strengthening its visual presence for current needs
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City has unveiled an evolution of its logo, which will soon be seen rolling out across campus. This refresh will strengthen the university’s visual presence for today’s needs while retaining legacy elements of its signature brand.What’s new is that UMKC condensed and strengthened the typeface for better readability on digital devices and on social media. In addition, the UMKC logo will now carry more visual weight when partnered with other logos.And yet, this brand stays true to its visual roots. The symbolic “flame” in the flourish of the letter K draws your eye to the torch image that symbolizes both the lamp of knowledge and the ceremonial mace carried by faculty into commencement ceremonies. To create this refreshed logo, designers in Strategic Marketing and Communications worked in consultation with Bernstein-Rein, the creative agency that developed the current UMKC logo. Anatomy of a refresh The evolved logo was created by solving for a list of design challenges independently and then combining the best solutions into a final design. The goal was to give the logo a modern update while maintaining the integrity of the mark and ensuring continuity in brand recognition. The adjustments improve readability at smaller sizes, allow for better alignment and increase visual weight so that it pairs better with other logos.   Updates coming soon The project that spurred the logo refresh will soon be visible all across the UMKC campuses in the form of repainted wayfinding signs. Many of the campus signs have faded over the years and reflect several generations of color and brand style, some of which are nearly forty years old. In addition to the signage refresh rolling out in May, updates are also coming to the university websites and social media icons very soon.  The new logo will be phased in over time and will be automatically incorporated into new projects. Digital updates will made as soon as possible. Updated guidelines and logo files are available on the Strategic Marketing and Communications website. Faculty and staff can update their email signature to include the updated logo. Apr 20, 2022

  • Award-Winning Journalist Speaks at César Chávez Lecture

    The annual lecture honors the legacy of civil rights leader
    Sonia Nazario headlined the UMKC Division of Diversity and Inclusion’s 14th annual César Chávez lecture this week.  The lecture honors César Chávez, organizer of the Chicano Movement in the United States and founder of the United Farm Workers. It is meant to raise awareness of the continual struggle for civil rights, including humane working conditions, dignity, equality and access to opportunity for all.  Nazario is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist whose stories have tackled difficult issues such as hunger, drug addiction and immigration. She spent decades reporting and writing about social issues for newspapers, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal. Below are some highlights from the lecture, which was held virtually this year.  On winning her first Pulitzer:  I wrote about this army of children migrating north alone through the true story of one boy, Enrique, whose mother left him in Honduras at just 5 years old. Then, 11 years later he decides to set off to go and find her. I met Enrique in northern Mexico when he was mid-journey. He was on his eighth attempt to enter the United States. He had been deported seven times.  I then made the same journey he had made. I traveled for three months, 700 miles, half of that time on top of seven freight trains. What I witnessed changed me. Children who had lost arms or legs from trying to jump on trains were trying to reach the United States to find opportunities that I honestly took for granted.  On advocacy:  In 2008, I left daily journalism to write books. At that time, I decided to wade into advocacy gingerly. More and more, non-engagement to me felt wrong. Keeping silent about some of these issues felt amoral. But my readers pushed me to do more.  When I talked about immigration, they didn’t understand me saying, “Here is the problem, you should get involved to fix it.” Their issue was, why did a journalist like me, who knew an issue so well after decades of covering it, feel entitled to put the issue to their readers and expect them to figure out a solution.  I joined the board of a nonprofit started by Microsoft and Angelina Jolie called Kids in Need of Defense. I fought alongside my colleagues there to help recruit wonderful pro-bono lawyers to represent immigrant children in court for free. I’ve had dozens of students hear me speak over the years and decide in that moment, I am going to become a lawyer and then return to another talk years later, “I am now representing those immigrant children you told me about.” Apr 20, 2022

  • A Pair as Perfect as Baseball and Ice Cream

    Two Bloch alumni are making their mark in KC
    When people go to school to earn their degree, they go for more than the reading, writing and arithmetic. They go to hone skills and form connections that will propel them into fruitful careers. Two UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management alumni are still building those connections — and building up Kansas City along with them. The partnership between the two began when Kiona Sinks (MBA, ’21), the digital strategy manager for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, noticed a local hinderance and decided to turn it into an opportunity. Sinks was aware that Alec Rodgers (B.B.A. ’20), a fellow Bloch School graduate, had purchased the local ice cream staple Betty Rae’s, and she wanted to show her support. “I think one thing that I've learned in Kansas City — we have all the right people, all the right tools, all the right resources, but sometimes we're not great at aligning things strategically,” Sinks says. “Ice cream and baseball historically go hand in hand. When you go to the ballpark, you get a hotdog and a cone. That’s when I thought it’d be really cool to reach out.” A sweet new collaboration was born. “Kiona reached out asking if we wanted to partner with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and of course it was a yes from the start,” Rodgers says. “I thought it would be fun to raise funds and awareness for the museum — even just for the collaboration with ice cream and the museum itself. It's like a match made in heaven. Baseball and ice cream go so well together anyway.” The plan went into motion with the Betty Rae’s truck outside of the museum. Passersby were eager to investigate the bright blue truck, and the warm day called for something cold. Everyone who bought a scoop got a $2 discount off museum admission. The partnership also resulted in a signature flavor: Cake, Batter Batter — a spin on the classic flavor with the colors of the museum swirled in. The treat was a home run, as is the new partnership between two successful Roos. “I think working with UMKC alumni has been a testament to the culture at UMKC,” Rodgers says. “It’s great. When you’re on campus and involved, you start to feel like it’s home. It’s been neat to make the city an extended home of UMKC. It feels like you’re seeing people you know everywhere, which is so comforting.” Sinks shares the same feelings about her graduate school experience at UMKC. That’s part of the reason she reached out to Rodgers in the first place. “I've watched his story progress in the community, in his 20s, thrust into this new role,” Sinks says. “When he took over ownership, I really wanted to be a support to him. And obviously, I literally love ice cream.”  Alec Rodgers Rodgers took over Betty Rae's ice cream in 2021. Photo by Brandon Parigo Sinks is far from alone when it comes to her feelings about ice cream. Rodgers just so happens to have a special connection to Betty Rae’s that extends beyond the scoops. Rodgers made headlines in 2021 when he took over Betty Rae’s fresh out of the Bloch School. It helped that he scooped ice cream there when he was a student at UMKC, but it was more than a part-time job. He often spent time in the stores — even when he wasn’t scheduled to work — catching up with work friends while making a fresh batch of waffle cones. The stores also provided a change of scenery for studying. Because of his passion for Betty Rae’s, Rodgers did not hesitate for a moment when the previous owner came to him about purchasing the business, even during a pandemic. He has experienced plenty of success since, though he still faces challenges as a young business owner. “It's definitely a little intimidating most days,” Rodgers says. “In other ways it's been really good because it gives me a different perspective (having) a lot of employees under a young owner. I find it’s easy to relate to them and where they are in life.” Under Rodgers’ leadership, Betty Rae’s took the slower winter season to develop new offerings, like cakes and ice cream flights — which will have vegan and non-dairy options — in addition to seasonal rotators and fan favorites. Betty Rae’s has also added some new creations. Their rotating stock has featured flavors inspired by McLain’s Bakery, Andre’s Chocolates and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, as well as UMKC, of course. The Roo Blue Swirl flavor was added to the store last August, with the ceremonial first scoop going to Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal. That UMKC connection is apparent with both Bloch School alumni.  Kiona Sinks Sinks works as the digital strategy manager at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Photo by Brandon Parigo Rodgers’ time with Betty Rae’s goes back to his college experience, and Sinks’ time at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum follows a similar path. Having been with the museum for more than a year and a half, Sinks started her work as digital strategy manager while earning her master’s degree at UMKC. “Students in the MBA program are working professionals, first and foremost, and then you slap trying to get a formal education on top of that,” Sinks says. “It can be difficult. Things are not promised. I didn't have this job when I started my degree. I did my own consulting, and I was not waiting for something to come to me. Looking back, it was a great self-investment for me.” Sinks also knew the Bloch MBA program had benefits when it came to networking opportunities. “With the Bloch school, I can't tell you how many people are in the local business community,” Sinks says. “They're CEOs, they're executives, and I’m regularly able to interact with and get to know them. You just see the outpouring of love that people have for this institution. It makes you proud. That's what you want. You want to be proud of where you've invested your time.” In the meantime, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is preparing to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier. Sinks is eager to get the word out and grow the museum. “These life lessons that stemmed from the story of the Negro Leagues continue to be an inspiration to me every day, and I think that was the motivation to reach out to Alec,” Sinks says. “Obviously, it doesn't hurt that he’s also a UMKC alum. It puts two and two together. He's a great person, and I’m wishing him all the success for all he's going to do in Kansas City.” The community has likely not seen the end of their friendly partnership, either. “We both quickly realized that we share a love for Kansas City, a love for the communities that we’re involved in,” Rodgers said. “Kiona has a servant-leader heart, and it was quickly recognizable in her. We both realized that we had a lot in common in that area as well. We just pitch to each other our long-term goals and long-term ideas in the city, and they align really well.”    Apr 18, 2022

  • A Child-Friendly Health Solution

    How a UMKC graduate turned an idea for a wart treatment into a multi-million-dollar startup
    After graduating from UMKC’s six-year B.A./M.D. program and becoming a dermatologist, Reid Waldman (B.L.A. ’16, M.D. ’17) noticed a lack of kid-friendly wart-treatment options. So he worked to turn that gap in the market into a new business venture that has rapidly taken off. Shortly after graduating from the UMKC School of Medicine, Waldman competed in a Dermatology Hackathon — a competition designed to spark new ideas and industry collaborations to improve standards of care and treatment for skin conditions. “The team came together during the competition looking to research the problem of childhood wart treatments being painful, scary and ineffective,” Waldman says. During that competition, the idea for VeraDermics was born. The company makes kid-friendly patches to treat warts in children. An estimated 10-to-20% of children develop common skin warts, but existing treatment options were not “kid-friendly,” as they were largely time-consuming and expensive, Waldman explained. “We’re dermatologists developing drugs for dermatology,” Waldman says. “Everyone on our core management team is a dermatologist. We use our end-user knowledge as physicians who actually use the products that we develop to better understand what doctors and patients want out of new therapeutics. It's a very novel approach to drug development, which is otherwise often done by people who haven’t spent appreciable time in the clinical arena.” To date, Waldman and the VeraDermics team have raised more than $22 million to launch the company and bring the product to market. Currently all of the company’s products are still in the pre-clinical phase, either undergoing formulation work, validation in the lab or ongoing process development. Waldman says in drug development it’s important to ensure every batch of a medication is identical, so his teams are investing heavily to ensure they get it right. “It's amazing to be at the stage we’re at now, because all of the corporate planning takes years, and we've been working on this for so long,” says Waldman. “There are many milestones that at one point seemed so far away. It’s really mind blowing the closer we get. And I think this is going to be an especially exciting year for us." Waldman says through building his company from the ground up, he realized the strength and reach of his UMKC alumni network. From donations to well-wishes and even business advice, he’s benefitted from the connections he built while enrolled at UMKC. “The six-year B.A./M.D. program at UMKC is the cornerstone of why I'm interested in drug development,” Waldman says. “My UMKC medical training and then the medical training I had postgraduation have really helped me recognize certain areas of unmet need within medicine and specifically within my field of dermatology. Through my medical training I can appreciate some of these more niche areas of unmet need that are otherwise not necessarily a focus of larger pharmaceutical companies.” “It's amazing to be at the stage we’re at now, because all of the corporate planning takes years, and we've been working on this for so long.” — Reid Waldman (B.L.A. '16, M.D. '17) He didn’t have to look far to start building connections with other UMKC alumni. Waldman comes from a UMKC legacy family. In fact, the family’s Roo tradition began in 1929, when Reid’s grandfather, David Waldman (J.D. ’32), became the first graduate of three generations of Waldmans to be admitted to the Kansas City School of Law (now the UMKC School of Law). Reid’s father, uncle and three siblings are all UMKC graduates. Waldman’s family received the UMKC Legacy Award at the 2014 UMKC Alumni Awards. The UMKC School of Medicine is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary. Waldman says he’s proud to be a product of such an incredible and unique institution. “I think it's amazing,” Waldman says. “My dad was in one of the early classes at the School of Medicine and then I was a graduate in 2017. In many ways, I think the medical school has changed quite a bit between the time my dad attended and when I graduated, and I know it has probably changed since I left. But in many ways the great education and uniqueness of the program remain.”  Apr 18, 2022

  • Dreams to Reality: Alumnus Gives Back to Community

    Chris Harris (B.L.A. '14), 2018 UMKC Alumni Award winner and founder of Harris Park, shares insights on transforming his community while helping KC...
    Chris Harris’ (B.L.A. ’14) lifelong dream was to build a park where he could teach people self-esteem and basic life skills through sports and community. Today, that dream is a reality. Where it began Having grown up in the Ivanhoe neighborhood, Harris knew that people looked down on the area. The Ivanhoe of the 1980s and 90s was dotted with blighted houses, unkempt lawns and ragged, struggling plant life. The neighborhood had drawn associations with a history of crime and drug violence. Harris was determined to change the mindset of outsiders — and the mindset of the people who lived there. No one was working for change, so he realized it would have to start from within. In 1994, Harris enrolled at Penn Valley Community College. For a writing assignment, he focused on his dream: to clean up his community and teach the basics of life through sports. Putting the dream on paper made it seem real. Another event during his two years at Penn Valley convinced him it was possible. In 1996, Harris led the unheralded Penn Valley basketball team to the NJCAA Division II National Championship. That gave him the confidence to believe he could achieve his dream. And he’s certainly come a long way since, receiving the College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Achievement Award at the 2018 UMKC Alumni Awards. Making the dream real For Harris, the hard work quite literally began at home. He started by tearing down his childhood home on Wayne Avenue and began the process of transforming the property into a community park and events center. He wanted to have an accessible park that made resources available to urban youth who lacked access to certain sports like golf, because they couldn’t afford a membership or lessons to learn. Next, Harris bought the plots of land that covered both sides of Wayne Avenue between East 40th and East 41st Street. In the beginning, he was out there alone, doing the hard labor and getting his hands dirty on the grounds. Slowly, through networking, fundraising and building relationships and partnerships, he was able to raise $2.5 million to develop the park. “All of it just fell right into place like a book,” Harris says. “That’s just how it happened, and it just kept growing.”  Family, friends and community volunteers helped along the way, but much of what is now Harris Park has been a one-man venture. Today, Harris Park includes a compact 12-hole pitch-and-putt golf course and basketball court — all free for anyone to use. Harris Park has taken years to develop, with more changes still to come. Some plans have been put on hold since the pandemic hit, as the park has remained in the construction zone. But the plan is to open and operate fully in the spring. In the meantime, Harris is constructing a stage in one of the buildings to offer a space for people to rent and hold events. There are also plans for a clubhouse with restrooms and a golf pro shop with merchandise, gear and snacks available. “My heart and soul is in the beautification,” Harris says. “When I first started this, saying I was going to use sports as a catalyst to clean up our neighborhood and educate our neighborhood, I didn’t know that the place itself was going to be educational.”   The motivation behind it all  Sports have taught Harris how to navigate life’s challenges. He learned the most from the game of basketball. Harris knew if he did the little things to put teammates in their comfort zone, they were all going to play better. Once he realized this formula and applied it to his life, winning games led to winning championships — and doors began to open. For Harris, it’s still all about putting people in their comfort zone so they can be the best version of themselves. He notes when people feel comfortable, they perform better and more effectively. Likewise, by creating opportunities and resources for people to come play a round of golf, shoot some hoops or simply hang out at the park, it creates a space to put people at ease and find refuge in a place that once offered very little. “Can you imagine how many people have that ability, to do something, but don’t have the inspiration and desire to do it?” Harris says. “I’m trying to put them in that comfort zone, so they can do those things that they already have the power, strength and knowledge to do.”  Apr 18, 2022

  • UMKC Alumni Soar at KCI

    Meet several of the Roos making Kansas City’s new airport a reality
    Since UMKC opened its doors in 1933, Roos have been integral players in many of Kansas City’s most significant projects. So, it’s no surprise that UMKC alumni have played major roles in the design and construction of the new single terminal for Kansas City International Airport. The $1.5 billion, one-million-square-foot structure will have 39 gates spread across two concourses. A grand opening is scheduled for March 2023.Here’s a look at some of the Roos who are playing prominent roles in the project. Hagos Andebrhan and Leonard Graham Taliaferro & Browne engineering and architecture firm Taliaferro & Browne Inc. is the lead landside civil engineer for the new single terminal project, with a team of eight subconsultant companies that work under their direction and management. The engineering firm has been integral to Kansas City’s growth for more than 60 years. Hagos Andebrhan (B.S.C.E. ’78), CEO, and his partner Leonard Graham (B.A. ’74), president, have led the company as the civil engineer of record on projects including the redevelopment of Union Station and the IRS Regional Service Center, as well as renovations of Arrowhead and Kauffman stadiums, the KauffmanPerforming Arts Center and Berkley Riverfront Park. Despite the significance of these past projects, the alumni view their role in the single terminal airport as one of their most significant. “The new $1.5 billion KCI single terminal is a project like no other,” says Andebrhan, who received the Defying the Odds Award at the 2020 UMKC Alumni Awards, as well as the School of Computing and Engineering Alumni Achievement Award in 2012. “It is a once in a lifetime project for the city and everyone involved in its construction.” Taliaferro & Browne Inc. was in competition with national and international firms for their role in the project. “When Clark Weitz Clarkson, the design builder, assembled its team, they wanted a landside design team that could deliver this highly visible project on time and on budget,” Andebrhan says. “We have been part of the airport’s growth for years and were proud to be selected based on our experience.” The firm’s specific responsibilities include project management and coordination, design of permanent roadways, including roundabouts and bridges, street and parking lot lighting, surface parking lots, utility relocation, storm and sanitary sewers, mass grading and associated project phasing. In addition, they are responsible for the design of temporary roadway connections and temporary traffic modifications required to construct the new terminal while keeping terminals B and C open and in operation — with more than 20,000 vehicles arriving and departing daily. “It is the largest single infrastructure project in the city’s history, and the largest construction project in which our firm has lead-design responsibility,” says Graham, who received the SCE Alumni Achievement Award at the 1993 UMKC Alumni Awards. “We understood the complexities and challenges of the project, but we were excited to roll up our sleeves and get to work. The KCI new single terminal project is probably one our proudest efforts yet. We were honored to be a contributor to this significant effort." Kimberly and Trent Robinett TREKK Design Group Kimberly Robinett (B.S.E.E. ‘95), CEO and managing partner of TREKK, has led the organization with an entrepreneurial spirit since she founded it with her husband and TREKK partner Trent (B.S.C.E. ’95) in 2002. Her ability to focus on delivering quality work on schedule has led to TREKK’s participation in developing the infrastructure for the new Kansas City International Airport. Kimberly is committed to the success of the project as a Kansas Citian as much as a businesswoman. Kimberly and Trent, who shared the SCE Alumni Achievement Award in 2014, founded the company in their basement and built the organization’s culture on improving lives, rather than just the bottom line. Today TREKK has eight offices and 160 employees. Even after their participation in building T-Mobile Center, the Power and Light District, the Christopher S. “Kit” Bond Bridge, the Buck O’Neil Bridge and each phase of the Kansas City Streetcar, being involved in the KCI terminal project is significant to the Robinetts and TREKK. “The terminal project is one of those signature projects that impacts the entire city,” Kimberly says. “It is the first thing about our city that visitors experience. But beyond that, we are hopeful that the new terminal will improve the lives of Kansas City residents by making it more attractive for airlines to add additional connections out of Kansas City.” She sees additional air traffic in and out of Kansas City as a critical component to the city’s growth. “Better access to this great city will encourage the recruitment of talent that will grow our local economy and have a positive impact on our neighbors, friends and families,” she says. TREKK has held several significant roles from the beginning of the new KCI terminal. Early in the project, their team surveyed the site and located all the existing utilities. “Our crews were challenged with untangling what looked like a bowl of spaghetti,” she says. From there, they worked with subcontractors to design the systems that are critical to the infrastructure, including the drainage system, ground service equipment layouts and survey verification during terminal construction. These systems have a great impact on travelers, but unlike food vendors or retail, travelers are usually unaware of their existence. Recognition for these projects has never been Kimberly’s motivation. Impacting the community has been a priority for Robinett since she and her husband started the company. But she did not envision their integral role in building the city’s corporate infrastructure. “We never imagined that we would grow to be 160 employees in seven regions throughout the Midwest and have a large role in such significant projects that make such a positive impact,” Robinett says. “We are so grateful for the opportunities that we have had to work with leaders across Kansas City in building its future and making a meaningful contribution toward improving lives.” While the Robinetts’ and TREKK’s success seems obvious, their most important critics and supporters are close to home. Their three daughters are proud of their parents’ contribution to the new KCI terminal. “We traveled over the holidays, and they were very interested in the progress of the new terminal and the work we performed to contribute to that progress,” Kimberly says. “It was fun to show them the work that TREKK has been doing to help Kansas City grow.” Joe McBride Kansas City Aviation Department Even before the construction started, there was work to be done. Joe McBride (B.A. ’86), College of Arts and Sciences graduate, was tasked with facing the early obstacles in getting Kansas City’s new airport terminal off the ground. As senior manager of communications for the Kansas City Aviation Department, McBride’s job had always been to put the best possible face on the airport. Then the script was flipped. “It was an uphill battle,” McBride recalls. “We needed to communicate the shortcomings of a facility we were used to touting as convenient.” That was in the earliest stages of trying to assemble a community consensus about the need for a modernized terminal. Then, once a formal plan was developed for approval by the city council — to take to a public vote — the project’s champion had to silence himself. City employees are not allowed to advocate for or against specific proposals. “When it came time for a vote, we had to stand down,” McBride says. While more than 70 percent of voters ultimately approved the plan, McBride recalled how difficult it was in the early stages to convince people that change was necessary. The existing configuration was designed in a time of smaller planes and far less concern about airport security. “It was outdated,” McBride recalls. After the 9/11 attacks generated the modern approach to aircraft and airport security, “We had to shoehorn security in there after the fact.” Kansas City passengers loved the convenience of drop-offs and pickups within a few feet of the gates, but the need to make space for security screenings made the design unwieldy and impractical. Still, the previous design had no shortage of diehard fans, and McBride’s job was to bring them around — even as he understood their passion. “I was happy that people had a sense of ownership of it,” McBride says. “That’s good.” The project moved to design and construction after the vote. At that point, McBride’s role morphed into the in-house consumer advocate. He monitored public comments at events, news conferences and social media. He shared what customers were saying in meetings with architects, engineers, designers and construction managers. “We’re going to have a historical display in the connector between the concourses about the history of aviation in Kansas City and the history of the airport,” he says. “For that, I’ve been working as an editor, taking a close look at it, really diving in and taking ownership.” And yes, his UMKC education was a factor in this success. “At UMKC, I had a couple of great mentors and teachers, Dr. Doug Moore and Col. Robin League, both in communication studies,” McBride says. “They were sticklers for the English language. They helped me and made me a good written communicator. I continue to hear them in my head when I’m writing.” Now he’s playing a key role in planning the terminal’s grand opening, set for early March 2023. “I’ve talked with colleagues at other airports with new facilities about their openings, lessons learned, pandemic considerations,” McBride says. “Opening day will be a very early day after a very late night. I think after all the labor and toil it will be, ‘Wow, it’s finally here.’ And watching people come into the terminal, checking in with the wow and the awe in their eyes, that’s going tobe a fun, long, proud day.” Apr 18, 2022

  • Streetcar Extension Coming to UMKC

    The city’s massive infrastructure project now underway will have a direct impact on UMKC
    The city’s other massive infrastructure project now underway will have a far more direct impact on UMKC than the airport terminal. That project is the extension of the Kansas City Streetcar line to the Volker Campus, for which an official groundbreaking ceremomy was held on April 6. The streetcar’s 3.5-mile southern extension along Main Street is a $351.7 million project with nine stations, transit signal priority and improvements to intersections and sidewalks. It will bring the line to the university’s doorstep at the intersection of 51st Street and Brookside Boulevard, providing fast, free transportation for the campus and community from UMKC to Berkley Riverfront Park. It will also provide easy access to Union Station, the Crossroads District, Downtown and the River Market. The streetcar station’s proximity to the site once occupied by Oak Place Apartments has drawn heightened interest in a public-private partnership to develop the site. The university is currently assessing its needs and determining a timeline for future development at the streetcar terminus. Additionally, a UMKC professor and several students had the opportunity to contribute ideas for the streetcar stop at the Volker Campus. Bill Yord, an adjunct instructor for the School of Computing and Engineering, also serves as senior project manager with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) and utility manager with the KC Streetcar South Extension. He is also a UMKC alumnus (B.S.C.E. '01, M.S. '09). Yord reached out to streetcar stakeholders about UMKC senior students assisting with designs for the streetcar's south terminus at UMKC. Students were asked to come up with design concepts for the UMKC streetcar stop project. The extension is expected to open by 2025. Apr 18, 2022

  • Starlight to Spotlight

    UMKC alumna Joy Franz (B.M. '64) has graced stages worldwide
    Joy Franz’s (B.M. ’64) acting career has taken her all over the world. She’s performed on and off Broadway and in regional theater. She’s appeared in television and film and has even met two presidents — Harry Truman after being named Miss Independence and Jimmy Carter while performing in Hello, Dolly. And yet, the UMKC alumna understands the importance of feeling at home. She carries out a couple traditions to ensure that’s the case. When Franz, who has toured with productions such as Anastasia, Damn Yankees and The Sound of Music, goes on the road, she’ll bring along a double-burner, skillet and pot — insistent on making her own breakfast. She’ll purchase her favorite herbs and fruits, and she’ll even pick up some white biancas — her favorite flower— to fill her hotel room. “It’s very important,” Franz says. “I make it like my home.” Her actual home? That’s another story. Nowadays, Franz lives in New York City, but her roots are grounded in the Greater Kansas City area, where she was known by a different name: Maybelle. Franz grew up in Overland Park, Kansas, before attending UMKC. Some half-a-century later, Franz recalls the impact the university made on her career. She remembers the late professor Stanley Deacon helping her develop her voice and posture. She reminisces on conversations with Patricia McIlrath, a longtime chair of the UMKC Department of Theatre and founder of the Kansas City Repertory Theatre. As far as Franz’s career has taken her, her roots in Kansas City have remained. It’s all part of the story of one of the most heralded theater performers to come through UMKC. Finding Her Voice As Franz recalls, she discovered her gift for singing in the fifth grade. She had performed in grade school but had no idea it would be her calling — at least until she was watching a television program hosted by Billy Graham and was captivated by a woman singing. “I just had an epiphany,” Franz says. “I said, ‘Oh, that’s what I’m supposed to do in life.’” Franz immersed herself in the arts, studying at the UMKC Conservatory and renting a room in a house just down the road. She spent large amounts of time at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and swears there was a patch of four-leaf clovers she’d seek out if she were to return today. “The museum is so wonderful,” Franz says. “Right there by the university.” Then came the journey that helped her career take off. After attending UMKC (then the University of Kansas City) from 1960-64 — and spending a few summers performing at the Starlight Theatre at the same time — Franz drove to New York to dive into life as a performer. Franz had only $500 — more money in 1964 than today, she reminds, but certainly not a fortune. After about a year and a half, she made it to Broadway. Her first show was Sweet Charity, which happened to be the first Broadway show she had ever seen. In Sweet Charity, Franz worked with multi-time Tony winners Gwen Verdon and Hellen Gallagher. She was the understudy to Golden Globe-winner Ruth Buzzi, and yet she left the show she was “very fortunate and so grateful” to land after just three months. “Most people don’t leave Broadway roles,” Franz says. “I just had to do bigger roles than being in the ensemble.” Photo provided by Joy Franz Taking the Stage Among her many performing credits, Franz originated the role of — meaning she was the first to play — the evil stepmother in Into the Woods. She felt especially connected to characters she played in Driving Ms. Daisy (Daisy), Mrs. Warren’s Profession (Mrs. Warren), Man of La Mancha (Aldonza), Damn Yankees (Meg Boyd) and Steel Magnolias (Clairee). For Franz, a major part of acting has been finding ways to relate to her characters. She enjoys playing humorous roles, and she enjoys the dramatic and aristocratic characters, too. Her most recent major theater role was as the Dowager Empress in Anastasia — the grandmother of the titular character who spends much of the production searching for her grandchild. “You always find some aspect of yourself you bring to the role,” Franz says. “I just relate to almost all of the roles I’ve played.” The exception? “Cutting off a toe or a heel,” Franz says with a laugh. (Her character, Cinderella’s Stepmother, does that in Into the Woods.) But the Dowager Empress was a particularly memorable character for Franz given the perseverance she showed in the story. Franz shares a similar message. “Never give up on your dreams,” Franz says. “Rejections, good Lord, I certainly have had some. Persevere. Perseverance. If it’s what you love more than anything — with your passion — and you believe in yourself, you will succeed.” What Comes Next So what is Franz up to now? Looking for her next role. The COVID-19 pandemic cut the Anastasia tour short — “It was heartbreaking,” Franz says — but the reopening of Broadway has led to new opportunities. Last fall, Franz spent a few days filming a small part for an upcoming Judd Apatow film. Recording auditions is still very much part of her life, and she’s also made time to catch up on Broadway performances she couldn’t see in the past while she was on the road. “Broadway is open again, thank God,” Franz says. “It’s thrilling.Getting on the subway and coming up and seeing all the lights on,… I’m very excited and happy for everyone.” Apr 18, 2022

  • UMKC Alum Combines Passion for Technology with Drive for Business

    UMKC honors Riddhiman Das with Alumni Spotlight Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. UMKC is honoring Riddhiman Das (B.S. ’12, M.S. ’19) with its Class of 2022 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. Riddhiman Das’ love of technology started when he was five years old when his family got their very first computer.“I was immediately hooked. I was amazed at all the things this device could do, and quickly resolved to spending my life building in innovative areas of computer science & technology.”That is exactly what he has done as the co-founder of TripleBlind, a data security company that allows companies to securely transfer data to solve challenges in healthcare, finances and science without compromising privacy. TripleBlind is said to be the product of groundbreaking innovation. What inspired you to create it? As more and more of our information is stored and transacted within the digital world, as opposed to the analog world, the current approaches we take to ensure the privacy of these transactions fall short. I wanted to find a way to allow our collective data assets to be used to their fullest potential to solve real world health, financial and scientific problems, while at the same time ensuring that the regulations that govern them are enforced and privacy is intact. What did you learn working with a large, international corporation? How is that different from a start-up environment? The two experiences are very different, yet symbiotic. As the saying goes, the best way to compress 10 years of learning into two years is to work at a startup. I am a better start up executive because I have experienced the large company scenario. And because I started my career at fast-moving, innovative, high-tech startups, my ability to contribute to large companies was significantly enhanced by those experiences. How did UMKC prepare you for/contribute to your success? I really feel like the computer science program at UMKC is really underrated. It has a world-class faculty and research programs, and I got involved in a lot of extracurricular and co-curricular activities which really helped me develop into a well-rounded person. Because of the small class sizes, you get a lot of close attention from your professors and faculty. Also, the robust internship programs ensure that students are able to learn outside of the classroom in real-world situations as well. What is your favorite UMKC memory? I really like how involved the faculty was. Everybody knew me and took a personal interest in my learning and success. I spent many nights and weekends at school working on obscure projects with my professors and fellow students. On top of that, I also met my wife at UMKC and built some lifelong friendships. What is your proudest accomplishment? Being able to get TripleBlind from founding to being more than a $100 million company in less than two years has exceed my own expectations! What advice do you have for students who’d like to follow in your footsteps? A large part of the success in the early years of your career depends very much on what you know as well as who you know. So the most important piece of advice for folks earlier in their career is to start to develop a large network in your domain. Also, in the early years of your career, it's important to have a lot of breadth as much as is important to have a lot of depth. So, I'd encourage you to try new things and put yourself outside of your comfort zone more than you historically have. About Alumni Awards Join us in honoring Das and the other Class of 2022 awardees at an in-person celebration at 6 p.m. April 29, at the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center. To register, visit UMKC's Alumni Association website. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. Apr 18, 2022

  • Celebrating a Lifetime of Service

    Judge Ann Mesle has demonstrated dedication to the legal profession and her alma mater
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. UMKC is honoring Ann Mesle (J.D. ‘72) with its Class of 2022 Bill French Alumni Service Award. Judge Mesle’s distinguished work for UMKC is the definition of service. She has served on the UMKC Law Foundation (President), as a UMKC Trustee, Martha Starr Education Fund (Co-Chair) and the Board of Diastole Scholars’ Center (Chair). She has received the UMKC Law Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award, its Alumni Achievement Award, and its Best Friend Award. Mesle served for 13 years as a state trial judge, handling general civil and criminal trial dockets. She also served as an Administrative Judge for the Family Court for two years. Her service to the Kansas City bar is legendary. She has served on the boards of innumerable civic organizations, including Health Care/Health Forward Foundation (Executive Committee), Missouri Institute for Justice (Chair), Truman Medical Center Risk Committee, Jackson County Children’s Service Fund (Vice-Chair) and the Center for Conflict Resolution.  What causes motivate you and are close to your heart? Central to my life’s worldview is a belief in human dignity, and respect for the earth and the creatures that share it with us. How can young people make a difference in their communities? We need a new generation of leaders and volunteers expanding their participation in our civic, governmental, non-profit and business activities. This is already happening and new leaders continue to develop.  What advice do you have for students who’d like to follow in your footsteps? Students can learn from the successes and failures of earlier generations but no one needs to follow in my generation’s footsteps.  We need UMKC students and graduates to apply their educations, their time and their talents to better our communities by following their own paths. What inspires you to give back to UMKC? There is not a day that I do not feel a depth of gratitude because UMKC Law School offered me the opportunity to get a legal education. About the Alumni Awards Join us in honoring Wilson and other Class of 2022 awardees at an in-person celebration at 6 p.m. at the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center. To register, visit UMKC's Alumni Association website. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online.  Apr 15, 2022

  • Conservatory Professor Named a 2022 Guggenheim Fellow

    Gary Abbott, Professor of Dance, was honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship for choreography
    UMKC Conservatory professor Gary Abbott has been awarded a 2022 Guggenheim Fellowship for choreography from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Abbott has taught modern dance at UMKC for 11 years. He has danced in and choreographed productions across the country and internationally. Abbott is also a cofounder of Deeply Rooted Dance Theater in Chicago, focused on diversifying contemporary dance by bringing together modern, classical and African American traditions. “Being named a Guggenheim fellow feels like an affirmation of the work I’ve been doing,” said Abbott. “It’s given me energy to keep creating and reminds me that I’m doing this for more than just myself. I could never have created the work I have done by myself; it’s been the spiritual generosity of my family and friends that moved me to make dances.” The Guggenheim Fellowship is considered a highly prestigious and competitive award. The Guggenheim Foundation received nearly 2,500 applications and selected 180 fellowships for the 2022 class. Abbott is the seventh UMKC faculty member to receive the fellowship while teaching at UMKC; he joins the late Michelle Boisseau (poetry, 2017), Elijah Gowin (photography, 2008), Christie Hodgen (fiction, 2011), Clancy Martin (fiction, 2011), James Mobberley (music composition, 1992) and Paul Rudy (music composition, 2008). “Being named a Guggenheim fellow feels like an affirmation of the work I’ve been doing. It’s given me energy to keep creating and reminds me that I’m doing this for more than just myself." — Gary Abbott The fellowship includes a monetary gift to complete a creative project. Abbott’s project will be centered around the prison system’s effect on the Black community; he first explored this subject when he created a dance titled, “Breaking the Dam: Mass Incarceration.” “Gary’s gorgeous choreography and dance have long been known to the Conservatory and Kansas City, but his well-deserved Guggenheim Fellowship will allow people across the country to discover his artistry,” said Andrew Granade, interim dean of the Conservatory. “Gary’s Guggenheim is just another example of why the UMKC Conservatory is the place to study dance in the Midwest.” “I’ve had the good fortune to work with so many brilliant artists,” said Abbott. “I’m constantly reminded that I work around and with some fantastic people.” Apr 13, 2022

  • UMKC Welcomes New Women's Basketball Head Coach

    Dionnah Jackson-Durrett, a former first-round WNBA pick, served as the associate head coach at Texas over the past two seasons
    Kansas City Athletics has named Dionnah Jackson-Durrett as the head coach of the UMKC Women's Basketball team. She was welcomed to campus on Tuesday. Jackson-Durrett, a former first-round WNBA pick and one of the most highly touted assistant coaches in the nation, served as the associate head coach at Texas over the past two seasons and has coached in five consecutive NCAA Elite Eights. "I'm honored and ecstatic to be a part of the Kansas City Athletics family," Jackson-Durrett said. "Throughout the process, the energy has been amazing and my decision developed organically. I'm supposed to be here, I feel it in my heart." Originally from St. Louis, Jackson-Durrett has deep ties to basketball within Missouri and the Midwest at large. The 2001 Missouri High School Player of the Year put together an All-American career at Oklahoma before spending five years in the professional ranks. "We are delighted to have Dionnah as part of our Kansas City family," said Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics Brandon Martin. "Not only does she have impeccable integrity, her basketball acumen and coaching pedigree is unmatched." Over the past 12 years, she has made coaching stops at Mississippi State, George Mason and Southeast Missouri State, in addition to her time with the Longhorns. "As part of the UMKC family, Coach Jackson-Durrett will lead our women basketball players to be better athletes and fierce competitors," Chancellor Mauli Agrawal said. "Her past performance shows us that we can expect our women basketball players to thrive under her leadership. We are thrilled to have her here because we know she will emphasize, and exemplify, the importance of sportsmanship, giving back to the community and showing up for one another." To read more about Jackson-Durrett, click here. Apr 12, 2022

  • Undergraduate Research Symposium Returns to State Capitol

    Students conduct research on cancer, jazz, earthquakes and more
    After two years of virtual presentations, students from the University of Missouri-Kansas City presented their research in person at the State Capitol in Jefferson City. The University of Missouri System Undergraduate Research Day featured ten UMKC students, presenting alongside students from the other three UM System schools. This annual event at the Capitol is 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. The featured research projects this year are: Falls in Older Adults: Preventing Risks with Physical Activity and Cycling Student: Victor Arellano Faculty member: Dr. Joseph Lightner In the United States, adults aged 65 or older (older adults) are at an increased risk of injury from a fall. Reducing an individual’s risk of falling is crucial to avoiding an injury or fatality. Arellano’s study aimed to compare the physical activity (PA) and balance of older adults who regularly cycled to older adults with little to no reported PA and the number of self-reported falls. Arellano is studying public health. Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Middle Aged and Older Adults’ Physical Activity Levels Student: Maya Baughn Faculty mentor: Dr. Amanda Grimes, Nursing and Health Studies The purpose of Baughn’s study was to qualitatively explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on middle aged and older adults’ physical activity nearly six months into the pandemic. Undergraduate students conducted interviews with adults aged 50+, asking how their activity was impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 230 interviews were conducted with a diverse sample of participants from the Midwest. Baughn is studying health sciences. Xenolith Structures in Welded Basalt Agglutinate Associated with Dotsero Crater, Colorado Student: Kyle Broley Faculty mentor: Dr. Alison Graettinger, Earth and Environmental Sciences The focus of Broley’s study was to gain a detailed understanding of the lava and sediment interactions that occurred at the Dotsero maar volcano in Dotsero, Colorado. These analyses provide answers to thermal impacts and deformation on the localized sediment pieces from the eruption event to gain a deeper understanding of the impacts to the surface sediments. Broley is studying earth and environmental sciences Reframing the Narrative: Uncovering Kansas City Women in Jazz Student: Nina Cherry Faculty mentor: Dr. Alison DeSimone, Musicology The jazz canon, formed primarily by white, male scholars of the twentieth century, has neglected and trivialized the careers of women within the genre, especially instrumentalists. Cherry’s research project investigated the historically underrepresented and forgotten women in Kansas City jazz. These women were highly influential to the development of the region’s distinct style, which, in turn, greatly contributed to the city’s growth, although history texts do not reflect this. Her research has been used to create a database of Kansas City women in jazz, Countess. Cherry is studying music theory. Student Life Through the Art of Luis Quintanilla: A Study of the Murals in Haag Hall Student: Victoria Dominguez Faculty mentor: Viviana Grieco, History; Latin American and Latinx Studies Dominguez’s research focused on Dr. Clarence Decker’s, President of the University of Kansas City (now UMKC), efforts at broadening the academic scope of the university by appointing prominent international figures to the faculty, like Luis Quintanilla, who established the first fresco painting school in the United States as a resident professor. Dominguez finds her research relevant to Missourians as it shows how higher-education institutions promote cultural engagement through students’ activities within and outside the classroom. Dominguez is studying spanish and sociology. The Importance of Yeast in Cancer Research Student: Jordy Hernandez Faculty member: Dr. Saul Honigberg, Biology Hernandez’s research focused on three yeast cyclins, proteins associated with the cycle of cell division, and determining whether mutants in these cyclins affect surrounding cells as well as the cell containing mutations that can form cancer. Yeast is a useful model for cancer cells because it has a short generation time, shares many biological properties with human cells and is relatively simple to genetically manipulate. Hernandez is studying biology and chemistry Hair Cell Regeneration in Zebrafish Student: Michael Kuehn Faculty mentor: Dr. Hillary McGraw, Biology In the ear, specialized cells, called hair cells, sense sound. When hair cells are damaged, they fail to regrow, resulting in hearing loss. Aquatic animals have hair cells that sense water current, and in contrast to hair cells in the human ear, they can regrow following damage. Kuehn is investigating the genetic regulation of hair development and regeneration using zebrafish as a model organism. Understanding the mechanisms that allow regeneration in zebrafish hair cells could help human treatment research for hearing or balance function loss. Kuehn is studying biology and chemistry. Building a Georeferenced Database for the 1976 Guatemalan Earthquake Rupture of the Motagua Fault System along the North American-Caribbean Plate Boundary Student: Trenton McEnaney Faculty member: Dr. Tina Niemi, Earth & Environmental Sciences In this study, McEnaney sought to relocate sites along the 1976 Motagua fault rupture by analyzing archival material from George Plafker of the U.S. Geological Survey, who was part of the team that collected data on the effects of the earthquake within days of the event. Prior to this project, locating any of these past field sites and points of interest along the 1976 Guatemalan earthquake rupture was hindered by the lack of GPS coordinates. The new database will benefit future paleoseismic and seismic hazard analyses research. McEnaney is studying earth & environmental science with a geology emphasis. How Stress Level and Coping Styles Impact Eating Decisions Student: Grace Nanney Faculty member: Dr. Oh-Ryeong Ha, Psychology Nanney’s research analyzed the relationship between problem and emotion-focused coping styles and eating behavior. Participants rated foods based on taste, health, preference and consumption using a computer food rating and choice task and completed a self-report measure concerning factors associated with eating behavior. Participants then completed a self-report measure that ascertained their preferred coping style. Nanney is studying psychology. Apr 12, 2022

  • Perseverance and Passion Fuel Successful Career for UMKC Alum

    UMKC Alumni Association selects Susan B. Wilson to receive Campus-wide Alumni Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. UMKC is honoring Susan B. Wilson, Ph.D. (MBA ’05) with its Class of 2022 Defying the Odds Award. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native Susan B. Wilson, Ph.D., has always valued education, diversity and community service. Wilson’s childhood sparked a drive to excel and give back to create opportunities for others. Wilson went on to earn her bachelor’s, master's and doctorate degrees. She has built a successful career using her educational background and go-getter attitude to excel in fields related to diversity and inclusion and is well respected among many in her field, but her path to greatness has been filled with hurdles and obstacles, a true testament to Wilson’s character and determination. How have your personal experiences contributed to your drive to give back and support others? I grew up in a black community that was rich in caring although poor in resources and decent housing. I had many struggles growing up, but there were always 'angels' who appeared to help when I least expected it. I always vowed to give back — to become the 'angel' that others were for me. My father had an 8th-grade education but was self-taught and an avid reader. He stressed the importance of education so that I would have a better life than his own. I also think my family situation contributed to my lifelong interest in diversity and inclusion. I came from a very diverse family. My father was African American and spoke fluent Yiddish. My mother was Italian. Watching my mother and father bridge their cultural gaps was quite interesting and as a result, I became someone who could see both sides of an issue or argument, striving to be a mediator and one with understanding and insight. What motivated your decision to continue with your education in an MBA program? As early as graduate school, my knack for 'running things' was recognized when I was chosen to be the director of the psychology training clinic. After practicing for a while, I realized that behavioral health administration was a calling. I learned the business of behavioral health on the job, after leading clinics, clinic networks, clinical operations and a large urban community mental health center. Yet there were those who said “She’s just a psychologist, what does she know about business?" My decision to attend the Bloch Executive MBA program was motivated by my wish to deepen and broaden my existing knowledge of business. The Bloch School provided me with an excellent education that has served me well in a number of endeavors, including diversity and inclusion. What is your proudest accomplishment? Although I hold four degrees, my proudest accomplishment is motherhood. I was able to raise – by myself – a daughter and a son who are strong, smart and capable individuals that have a strong moral compass. I am also proud that I was the first person in two generations of my family to attend college. And although my work has brought me awards and recognition, I am most proud of saving lives through psychotherapy (like former Chief player Ryan O’Callaghan) and touching lives through mentoring, coaching and leadership. What advice do you have for students who'd like to follow in your footsteps? Keep your mind and options open. Some of us continue working within the settings and fields that call out to us when we are in school. However, many of us will find an entirely different setting or population to pour our passions into. Second, compassion fatigue is a very real thing. Don’t let your pursuits in the healing of others take you along with it. Take care of yourself. Your clients will thank you for it. About the Alumni Awards Join us in honoring Wilson and other Class of 2022 awardees at an in-person celebration at 6 p.m. at the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center. To register, visit UMKC's Alumni Association website. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. Apr 11, 2022

  • Celebrating Opening Day

    MLB Opening Day brings royals greats to campus
    We were thrilled to host the MLB's Road to Opening Day with the Royals Tuesday, April 5. Students, faculty, staff and community members hung out with Sluggerrr and Royals greats, including Brian McRae, Jaime Bluma, Al Fitzmorris, Dennis Leonard, Jamie Quirk, John Wathan, Jim Eisenreich, Frank White and Greg Pryor. Photo by Brandon Parigo Photo by John Martellaro Photo by Brandon Parigo Photo courtesy of Frank White Photo by Brandon Parigo Photo courtesy of Frank White Photo by Brandon Parigo Photo by Brandon Parigo     Apr 08, 2022

  • “Class of COVID-19” Hits the Big Screen

    Documentary created by UMKC professor included in KC Film Fest
    Street demonstrations for racial justice. Zoom classes. Conflict between school nurses and parents over virus precautions. School was a unique experience for the “Class of COVID-19.” And that is the title of a new documentary film launched by Donna M. Davis, Ph.D., UMKC professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Foundations, that she hopes provides a window into that experience. As the 2020 president of the Organization of Educational Historians, Davis needed to deliver a presentation at the group’s annual meeting. She thought making a mini-documentary might be more interesting. “At first, I wanted to make a short film around the work of high school history teachers in the era of ‘fake news’ and social media for my presidential address,” Davis says. “I contacted [filmmaker] Jon Brick and he was on board right away.” The pair began filming interviews with local teachers. Soon after, the Covid-19 pandemic hit, and schools began to close, and the focus of the project quickly changed. Initially, Davis, Brick and their subjects thought the shutdown would last a few weeks. “We were filming early in the pandemic, so we had those initial reactions,” Davis says. “Then we moved to Zoom interviews.” As shutdown extended into summer and the Black Lives Matter demonstrations, the pair decided to interview high school students for their reactions. “The project exploded from there,” Davis says. “And we began to focus on students and teachers with the most compelling stories.” “We were filming early in the pandemic, so we had those initial reactions.” — Donna M. Davis Brick says the people who participated in the interviews were very transparent about the level of stress and anxiety they were feeling. “They talked to us about it, but they also made video diaries. Teachers talked to us about the demands of teaching, and students told us what it was like to be a freshman in college and be in a dorm room all alone day after day.” They filmed interviews of school administrators and nurses, who told them how abusive parents could be in the face of their frustrations. “We were able to talk to the head of health services at Shawnee Mission School District and heard stories of the challenges that the school nurses went through and how just how awful they were treated at times by parents who were just upset with the news that they were having to deliver,” Davis says. “It was really eye opening.” Brick says one of his biggest surprises was the disparity between the wealthy schools and the those in the urban core and how much better many students from poorer districts managed the transition. “I really felt as if the kids at  Schlagle High School in Kansas City, Kansas had an edge, because they have struggles every day. They just put their heads down and worked.” One student at Schlagle picked up a job at Chick-fil-A to pay for Wi-fi for himself and his five siblings. “The family had a hotspot at home, but it couldn’t support the demand of six devices,” Brick says. “Sometimes he rode his bike and sat outside Schlagle to feed off their Wi-fi. He just wanted to graduate so badly so he could pursue his passion of becoming a baker.” Regardless of individual viewers’ personal experiences, Davis and Brick think everyone will identify with the characters in their film. “The film really showcases how teachers on every level shifted, and even if they had their own personal struggles, put on a brave face for the kids and made it work,” Davis says. “Class of Covid-19” will air at the Kansas City Film Fest International April 26, 2021. Tickets are available online. Apr 07, 2022

  • Seven Highlights from the UMKC State of the University Address

    UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal provides vision for growth
    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 Apr 07, 2022

  • Construction on UMKC Streetcar Extension Breaks Ground

    The project will provide enhanced access between UMKC and the Kansas City community
    Construction on the new KC Streetcar extension project broke ground on Wednesday. The project will provide enhanced two-way access between UMKC and the Kansas City community, extending the existing Streetcar route from the River Market straight to UMKC’s doorstep. “The extension of the Kansas City Streetcar to our doorstep will take things to another level entirely. As the new southern destination for this ultra-modern system of free public transportation, UMKC sees endless possibilities for the university, and the community it serves,” UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal said at the event.  Agrawal spoke at the groundbreaking alongside Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, Nuria Fernandez of the Federal Transit Administration and Tom Gerend of the KC Streetcar Authority. More than 100 community members and stakeholders were in attendance. “The streetcar extension will boost the university’s visibility dramatically when we become a major boarding and existing site for the region’s most popular transit system. We anticipate that streetcar access will build a whole new population of people discovering – and taking advantage of – the many ways they can partner with UMKC,” Agrawal said. The extension project, which has gone through planning and design by city officials since 2017, will cover more than 30 city blocks and will extend the existing 2.2-mile ‘Starter Line’ to the UMKC Volker Campus. The UMKC Streetcar stop will be at 51st Street and Brookside Boulevard.  The stop, which was unveiled at the event, will feature a large overhang with benches, a map of the streetcar’s route and plenty of room for standing. “The streetcar will deliver people to outstanding music, dance and theatre performance by the faculty and students of our Conservatory; to medical services such as our dental clinic; to our signature events such as the Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez lectures; to our KC Roos NCAA Division I sports program; performances at the Kansas City Rep; and so much more,” Agrawal said. The extension project, and the opening of the new UMKC Streetcar stop, is projected to be completed sometime in 2025. Apr 06, 2022

  • Veteran Hopes to Create New Worlds Through Video Games

    Eric Quinones is pursuing an art degree after serving in the Air Force
    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. Eric Quinones '23Anticipated graduation year: 2023UMKC degree program: B.A. studio artHometown: Independence, MO After seven years serving in the military, Eric Quinones from Independence, Missouri, is on a new path. The junior in studio art is pursuing his dream of becoming a video game designer and exceeding his own expectations along the way. Why did you choose your field of study? I hope to utilize my degree to get my dream job, which is a video game designer. I chose my field of study (studio art) because it helps me gain a leverage on becoming a video game designer as far as putting the art in my background and in my portfolio to design more intricate stuff. Quinones said studying at UMKC has allowed him to explore new mediums of art What inspired you to pursue video game design? I’m an avid gamer and I enjoy video games. I wanted to create a video game of my own that would have good storytelling and drama rather than just guns and swords and killing. So the art is art of the gaming itself. Creating visual art within a 3-D world that doesn’t exist. What are the benefits of the program? The benefits of the program are to build up a portfolio, as well as building up your art background to find out what kind of art styles you like, whether it’s painting, drawing or photography. UMKC has great faculty. Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself? I’ve learned that I can achieve more than what I thought. I’ve never been very good at school, but now that I’m in college, I’ve passed my first two years and I’m working on my third year, which is beyond my comprehension of what I used to be. Do you have any scholarships? What do they mean to you? I have the GI Bill. I was in the Air Force from 2010-2017 and went on two deployments, one in Cuba and one in Qatar. I was doing HVAC, so it’s a drastic switch; I can’t just come out of that and say, “I want to do video games.” So I have to go to school. The GI Bill has been a huge benefit. What do you hope to take from your experiences at UMKC into your professional career? I hope to take this degree and all the forms of art to better advance my idea and scope of what I want to create as far as video games go. My old works can inspire me, as well as the writing I did in the basic writing courses. That helped me as well. All the classes really do help out in general. "I've learned that I can achieve more than what I thought." — Eric Quinones, junior in studio art Quinones served two deployments, one in Cuba and one in Qatar Have you felt supported? Very supported, very encouraged. Definitely in the beginning years, they know everyone is fresh out of high school. They’re trying to figure out their life. It’s the same with me, being a veteran and coming back into the real world. The faculty is very supportive, they help guide you to resources to help you along your path. What are you most proud of during your time at UMKC? I would say the art I’ve created because without the need to create art, the art wouldn’t exist. But I hope to pursue that a little more after school, that way I can get more of my art out there, more of my ideas and concepts out there. Apr 05, 2022

  • UMKC Program Helps Train Future Teachers for Local School Districts

    The Institute for Urban Education Grow Your Own program is designed to train teachers to serve the Kansas City area
    More than 100 local high school students will be at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Education on April 5 as part of the university’s Institute of Urban Education Grow Your Own program. The IUE Grow Your Own program was founded in 2019 to address teacher shortages, retention and diversity in Kansas City schools. The program is designed for students from urban Kansas City school districts to receive an affordable, supportive college education then return to their home districts as highly qualified, culturally responsive educators. Students begin the program in high school with dual credit and mentorship opportunities to help provide guidance as they explore a career in teaching. Once in college, the program focuses on creating culturally responsive educators focused on relationships with their students and community.It’s a mission that has become even more crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has intensified the pre-existing shortage of educators. According to a December 2021 report from the Missouri Department of Secondary and Elementary Education, the retention rate for teachers after five years was 46.5% in 2021. Students in the program will spend the full day on campus to present their solutions to issues of educational inequity confronting school communities. The event is from 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Atterbury Student Success Center located at 5000 Rockhill Road.Current participating high schools in the IUE Grow Your Own program include Center High School, Crossroads Preparatory Academy, DeLaSalle High School, Grandview High School, Guadalupe Centers, Hogan Preparatory Academy High School, Lincoln College Preparatory Academy and Northeast High School. Apr 04, 2022

  • Reputable Family Includes Generations of Roo Graduates

    UMKC Alumni Association honors the North/Cheadle Family with the 2022 Legacy Award.
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. UMKC is honoring the North/Cheadle Family with its Class of 2022 Legacy Award. The North/Cheadle family's UMKC legacy dates back to the 1960's. Basil North Jr. (B.A. '61, J.D. '71) and his brother-in-law Donald Cheadle Sr. (M.A. '70) were the first in their family to graduate from Kansas City's university and laid the path for many generations that followed to become Roos. Currently, 14 members of the North/Cheadle family have graduated from or are currently attending UMKC, including Basil North Jr.'s wife, Loretta North, who both attended UMKC and taught in the School of Nursing. Not only have members of this family graduated and/or attended UMKC, but each selected different academic degree paths also demonstrating excellence across several schools on campus. The family is very committed to public service, with many participating in numerous and impactful volunteer initiatives. Below is an interview with some members of the North/Cheadle family: What role did your family's legacy at UMKC play in your choice to study here? Basil North Jr.: My older sister, Sandra L. North and my cousin, Bertha Joyce Graham both attended UMKC. I attended on a Victor Wilson scholarship which provided academic scholarships for talented young males in Kansas City who attended either the University of Kansas City or Yale University. Sheryl North (B.A. ’82, M.D. ‘82): It is special to be able to attend the same university where my mother and father studied. Knowing they walked the same campus and maybe even took classes in some of the same buildings is incredible. How did your family shape your dedication to education and your chosen profession? Maria North Morgan (J.D. ‘91): My mother was a teacher and always stressed the necessity of education to create self-sufficiency.  After my mother’s death, when I was 23, my sister Sheryl and I decided to move back to Kansas City to help my father finish raising my younger sister Dayna. My mother’s death was such a life-altering event for me that it changed my career goals. I’d grown up fascinated by watching my father build a career as a well-known civil rights and business attorney, but I was hesitant to choose the same career and live in his very large shadow, however, the pull towards a career in civil rights was too strong, and I decided to apply to law school. Evelyn Clark (D.D.S. ’88): It came from my family’s dedication to educational excellence. This dedication spanned over a half-century. The examples were set not only by my college education grandmother Bertha Graham and her sister Louie North in the 1920s but also by my mother Mary Graham in the 1930s and ’40s, followed by my aunt and uncle in the 50s and 60s. How has activism made an impact on your professional careers? Basil North Jr.: My professional career, practicing law, is, itself activism. I have represented many individuals who have been discriminated against in their employment. I have also been active in the Jackson County Bar Association, both sponsoring leaders and having been president of the association. When I first began practicing law, some judges called African-American lawyers "boys." Through the Jackson County Bar Association, we assisted in ushering such practices out of existence. Sheryl North: I was very fortunate to attend UMKC Medical School which was always attentive to equity and diversity.  50% of my medical school class was female. Evelyn Clark: Activism has undoubtedly made a marked impact on the dental profession.  Historically the profession has been predominately male.  But the gender face has changed.  I witnessed it first-hand. In 1984, 25 percent of my entering doctorial class of 120 was female. Currently, female enrollment in dental schools outnumbers male student enrollment. What professional and personal experiences have most impacted your life? How has your education informed those experiences? Maria North Morgan: My work in the fields of education and health care field helped to shape a passion for the necessity of building equity into every aspect of our laws and policies in this country. Our laws are built based on our values - so many of the laws created during the 20th century were not designed to benefit all citizens. I took civil rights courses while in law school to learn the history of civil rights. I have spent my legal career working to help people overcome the institutional barriers that prevent them from living a healthy, happy life. About the Alumni Awards Join us in honoring the North/Cheadle Family and other Class of 2022 awardees at an in-person celebration at 6 p.m. at the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center. To register, visit UMKC's Alumni Association website. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. Mar 28, 2022

  • Schools of Law, Medicine Advance in National Rankings

    U.S. News & World Report recognizes excellence in primary care, trial advocacy and legal writing
    The UMKC professional schools of Law and Medicine achieved high rankings in the 2023 graduate school rankings by U.S. News & World Report. The School of Law was ranked among the nation’s best in two key legal education categories: Trial Advocacy (no. 31) and Legal Writing (no. 21). The School of Medicine was ranked no. 52 in the nation for Primary Care, up 12 places from last year’s rankings. The 2023 rankings list was released March 29. The Trial Advocacy ranking came in 23 places higher than last year; Legal Writing was up 13 places. Overall, the School of Law was ranked no. 114 nationally. “Trial Advocacy is more than just public speaking in the courtroom – it is a skill that requires understanding and translating a client’s story into a persuasive narrative that must fit the constraints of the formal rules of evidence and procedure,” said Barbara Glesner Fines, dean of the UMKC School of Law. “Legal Research and Writing is a foundational skill for all attorneys. Attorneys communicate in writing to their clients, public, courts, companies – it’s all writing, all the time and the formats vary significantly across the audiences. UMKC is proud of its record of educating our students to be excellent professional writers in all these settings.” In addition to its overall ranking, the School of Medicine ranked No. 29 in the nation for graduates practicing in healthcare shortage areas. “The UMKC School of Medicine opened its doors more than 50 years ago on our Health Sciences District campus with a commitment to serve the people of Missouri,” said Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., dean of the UMKC School of Medicine. “We are leading the way as we provide the highest quality programs to educate our next generation of outstanding healthcare professionals and provide the highest quality of care to our community and beyond.” Jackson noted that UMKC medical program is built on the enduring vision of Dr. E. Grey Dimond. Students experience an innovative curriculum, care for patients in clinical settings from day one, and learn in small teams led by docent physician mentors, who emphasize a humanistic approach to medicine. And now UMKC’s model takes place not only on the Kansas City campus but in St. Joseph, Missouri, serving a more rural population. Earlier this year, in its annual ranking of online graduate programs, U.S. News ranked the online graduate nursing program at the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies among the nation’s top 50 for the tenth consecutive year.  Mar 28, 2022

  • UMKC Celebrates the 2022 Staff Award Recipients

    The awards recognize staff excellence and milestone achievements
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City recognized more than 240 employees at the 2022 Staff Awards ceremony in March. The annual event is an opportunity for UMKC to celebrate staff members who have achieved personal and professional milestones, shown extraordinary commitment to service and ethics and championed the university’s commitment to student success, diversity and inclusion, engagement and outreach, and research and discovery. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was the first time in two years that UMKC staff could join together for an in-person celebration. Chancellor Mauli Agrawal, Ph.D. recognized the original COVID-19 tracing team at the awards. The team includes Obie Austin, Robin Hamilton, Dea Marx, Chris Popoola and Jill Reyes.The Chancellor praised the staff for all the work they have done to go above and beyond, even when faced with challenging circumstances of the pandemic.“Our staff members are the heartbeat of this university,” said Chancellor Mauli Agrawal, Ph.D. “Every year, I am overwhelmed by our staff’s dedication and accomplishments.” The 2022 Awards were held in person for the first time in two years Congratulations to the 2022 awardees: 20 Years of Service Amir AyoubRebecca BergmanRichard BighamTyrone BleaMatthew BrownVerna CrowderMary FloresRobin HamiltonDavid LucasTanya MooreDeloris PhelpsKimberly RudolphLaura RuppRobert SmithJane VoglAnthony WescottKaren WilkersonMarie Winzer 25 Years of Service Patrice AdamsSelena AlbertJames BradleyAndrea DiRaimoDarren HerseyJames HoltNancy KunkelLyndsey MagroneKeivan MoghadamNghi PhanEarl ReedSteven StonerAnjing Xu 30 Years of Service Lena JonesKristen Temple 35 Years of Service Michael BongartzCara BradleyBarbara Glesner FinesJames HavnerShelly JanaszDavid JohnstonJonathan Shroyer 40 Years of Service Doretta KiddJennifer Underwood Marilyn Turbush, front row second from right, celebrates her award with the External Relations and Constituent Engagement staff    Staff who graduated with a UMKC degree in Spring 2021, Summer 2021 or Fall 2021 Olivia BrownLauren CrusoeDestiny Delgado PetersonJocelyn GarciaRoland Hemmings Jr.Chante KellerKelly McDonaldLeta MolerEmma SatterfieldHannah ShacklesJulie SmithSuman SumanStephan Young Supervisory Development Series Graduates Wayne NagyAnna Zimmerman Dr. Elson S. Floyd Administrative Leadership Development Program Nate AddingtonMatthew BrownKatie GareyRosa NatarajTammy Welchert Series on Leadership Essentials Program Nancy BahnerRebecca BergmanErin BumannGina CampbellBrenda CindrichRob DurhamJames HavnerDanita JohnsonCamille Johnson-ArnoldCaitlyn MapelAdrena MasonChristen MelvinLiz MuleskiPatricia MullinWayne NagyJessie RiggsJames ShackelfordEmily Strayhall Living the Values Award Cynthia BeardMatthew BrownLauren ButlerDiane ElliottCollin FosterMichael GravesKendell HaleRobin HamiltonAlia HerrmanErika HollidayShelly JanaszCamille Johnson-ArnoldJulie KohlhartMousami MohantyLora OwensBarbette RoachMyisha SimsTess SurprenantElizabeth ValleKaitlin Woody Krystal Olmos-Romero, front left, celebrates her award with co-workers from the School of Nursing and Health Studies Staff AwardsStaff Council Dedication Award Julie Myer, Senior Student Services Coordinator, International Student Affairs Excellence in Student Success Chelsey Butts, Student Support Specialist II, College of Arts and Sciences Excellence in Research and Creative Works Chris Winders, Director Research Activities, Office of Research Services Excellence in Engagement and Outreach Marilyn Turbush, Office Specialist, External Relations and Constituent Engagement Excellence in Multiculturalism, Globalism, Diversity and Inclusion Makini King, Interim Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Inclusion, Division of Diversity and Inclusion Excellence in Planning, Operations and Stewardship Sandy Wilson, Finance and Accounting Manager, Office of Research Services Rising Star Krystal Olmos-Romero, Senior Office Support Assistant, School of Nursing and Health Studies Chancellor’s Staff Award for Extraordinary Contributions Liz Hoffman-Shrout, Director II Student Support Services, UMKC Campus Recreation Mar 28, 2022

  • Community Leaders Taking Nominations for Prestigious Starr Women’s Hall of Fame

    The Starr Women’s Hall of Fame recognizes Kansas City women of distinction
    Every two years, an independent panel of Kansas City community leaders selects local women of significance for the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame. This year, the panel is once again seeking nominations for women with noteworthy ties to the Kansas City area who have historically or more recently made important and enduring contributions in their fields of work. The nomination form and full directions for making a nomination are available at https://www.umkc.edu/starrhalloffame/directions.asp. The deadline for submitting a completed nomination packet is June 30. The Hall of Fame has inducted 37 Kansas City women, half of them posthumously. Members of this select group include philanthropists, business executives, women’s and civil rights activists, political leaders and more. The list of inductees and their bios can be found at https://www.umkc.edu/starrhalloffame/hall.asp. The Women’s Hall of Fame is named after Martha Jane Phillips Starr. A Kansas City philanthropist and women's rights leader, Starr was one of the first women to serve on the UMKC Board of Trustees. She played an important role in establishing the university’s Women's Council and the Graduate Assistance Fund, which today provides financial assistance to female students. UMKC’s annual Starr Symposium is named after and endowed by her. Starr died in 2011 at the age of 104. The Starr Women's Hall of Fame is funded by her family, the Starr Education Committee and the Starr Field of Interest Fund. It is also supported by 26 leading women’s organizations throughout Kansas City. Mar 28, 2022

  • UMKC Conservatory Celebrates GRAMMY® Nominations

    2022 GRAMMY® nominations include Roo faculty and alumnus
    The UMKC Conservatory is well represented at this year’s 64th annual GRAMMY® Awards with faculty members who comprise Sandbox Percussion and alumnus Andrés Salguero, (DMA ’11) and his wife Christina Sanabria receiving recognition for outstanding work. Sandbox Percussion is a quartet of Conservatory faculty Jonathan Allen, Victor Caccese, Ian Rosenbaum and Terry Sweeney. The group was nominated in the Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance and Best Contemporary Classical Composition categories. Trumpeter Kevin Noe, visiting professor and director of orchestras at the Conservatory, encouraged the ensemble to come teach at UMKC. “Kevin told us that UMKC was looking to hire a percussion professor and he thought it would be great if the school would consider thinking outside the box and consider all four of us as a teaching unit,” says Rosenbaum. The world premiere of the GRAMMY® nominated composition, “Seven Pillars” was supposed to take place in April 2020 but was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The cancellation was one of the hardest to handle. We had been developing this piece for years,” Rosenbaum says. Sandbox Percussion But the cancellation and the ensuing free time allowed the quartet to focus on the recording. They devoted a year to recording the album and creating 11 films to accompany it. They were together in a meeting when they received the news of the GRAMMY® nomination. "If it had to happen to one project that we were involved with, we are so glad that it is this one!" — Ian Rosenbaum “We paused our meeting for a second as they announced our categories – and then we completely lost it. We knew how proud we were of this album and this work, but we never imagined that it could get recognized in this way,” says Rosenbaum. “We're also just so thrilled that these two nominations recognize not just Sandbox, but also Andy Akiho and his incredible work as a composer. If it had to happen to one project that we were involved with, we are so glad that it is this one!” Salguero and Sanabria are “123 Andres,” a duet who focuses on children’s music. They received a GRAMMY® nomination for Best Children’s Music Album for “Activate,” their latest release, conceived to encourage children and families to be active. Salguero said he was too nervous to watch the GRAMMY® nomination livestream. “Christina and I were home and my phone started buzzing and I was receiving text messages from friends. We were so surprised,” Salguero says. “We are so excited to celebrate!” — Andrés Salguero The couple had been working on the album for the last three years. They were already collaborating with other musicians long distance. “Each musician was recording in their own studios. When the pandemic struck, we simply continued working this way.” Salguero and Sanabria will be in Las Vegas for the ceremony April 3. “We are so excited to celebrate!” he says. Mar 25, 2022

  • Housing Activist Dedicated to Support Fellow Veterans

    Bryan Meyer honored as UMKC Alumnus of the Year
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. The university and the association are honoring Bryan Meyer (B.A. ’11, M.P.A. ’15, J.D. ’15) with the Alumnus of the Year Award. Meyer is a co-founder of the Veterans Community Project at 89th and Troost in Kansas City, an innovative non-profit that provides housing for homeless veterans in a tiny home village. The idea arose from meetings he convened among numerous local veterans like himself who wanted to do something to address homelessness and other problems in the veteran community. Today, under Meyer’s leadership as CEO, the VCP also provides wrap-around support services and emergency assistance. Buoyed by the VCP’s local success, Meyer was inspired to take the concept nationwide. In 2019, he brought on fellow veteran and former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander to lead the expansion campaign. Using Kansas City as the blueprint, VCP has officially begun its expansion launching its first satellite location in Longmont, Colorado. What personal experiences drove you to pursue a law degree and M.P.A.? When I began at UMKC, I didn’t have a plan to pursue a particular degree because I didn’t know what my long-term goals were. Instead of pursuing a degree, with the intent to secure a particular job, I pursued subjects I found interesting. Those interests eventually lead me to an understanding of my desire to assist those around me. I know the knowledge gained from an M.P.A. and law degree have been instrumental in my ability to provide a benefit to my community.   What has been the greatest challenge in launching the VCP?  The greatest challenge was taking something from a good idea to an actuality. Veterans Community Project is a great idea, but even the best ideas aren’t enough, it’s the ability to implement ideas that makes a difference. What do you hope for in the future for yourself and Veteran’s Community Project? I hope Veterans Community Project reaches every community across the country. There is a need for this programming everywhere. The scale of it may change but the need is everywhere. What advice do you have for students who’d like to follow in your footsteps? For anyone trying to create a solution to a problem, I would tell them to listen to the stakeholders. Don’t assume your solution is correct without first discussing it with those who will be impacted by it. What is your favorite UMKC memory? On the first day of law school all the first-year students were gathered in the same room. Students were asked to stand when certain phrases applied to them. For example, “stand if you have more than 5 siblings” or “stand if you own a pet.” Eventually, we were asked to “stand if you don’t even know if you want to be a lawyer”, so I stood up. I was the only person standing. Apparently, most people don’t attend law school without the intention to be a lawyer.  How did UMKC prepare you for/contribute to your success? UMKC consistently reminded me there is always more to learn. For example, while in  pursuit of my Masters, I took a class in leadership. I served five years in the Marine Corps and lead other Marines in two different combat deployments, I attended the first day of class confident there wasn’t anything I could learn on leadership from a classroom I didn’t already know from personal experience. I was wrong. The class remains one of my favorites, and I still revisit some of the material for a refresher. About the Alumni Awards Join us in honoring Meyer and the other Class of 2022 awardees at an in-person celebration at 6 p.m. April 29, at the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center. To register, visit UMKC's Alumni Association website. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. Mar 25, 2022

  • UMKC to Receive $15.5 Million to Improve Rural Health Care Access

    UMKC School of Medicine to expand St. Joseph campus
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City will receive $15.5 million to help expand rural access to health care as part of the $1.5 trillion federal government spending measure signed into law last week. "UMKC has a strong culture of care and we are proud to help provide access to quality health care for all Missourians," said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal, Ph.D. "Like many areas of the country, the state of Missouri is facing a physician shortage in rural areas, leaving people in those communities vulnerable to negative health outcomes. We are grateful to Senator Roy Blunt for introducing this funding into the spending legislation, and to Congress for their support as we strive to meet that need and improve the lives of millions of people here in Missouri and across the U.S." The appropriation will fund the expansion of the UMKC School of Medicine campus in St. Joseph, Missouri, at a cost of $13 million. The St. Joseph campus, located at Mosaic Life Care, opened in January 2021 to help address the state's rural physician shortage. The campus is quickly outgrowing its space. The funds provided by Congress will go toward constructing additional classroom and laboratory space. “The appropriation allows us to support our students on their medical journey with creation of physical learning space to encourage collaboration, exploration and discovery,” said Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., dean of the UMKC School of Medicine. In addition, $2.5 million will help the UMKC School of Medicine expand behavioral health medical training at the St. Joseph campus. This experiential training is designed to improve access to behavioral health services in underserved areas, such as rural and low-income communities. Blunt said the UMKC School of Medicine health care training programs in St. Joseph will be a benefit statewide. “Our state is facing a severe physician shortage, creating major challenges for our rural communities and the more than one-third of Missourians who live there,” said Blunt. “As the top Republican on the appropriations subcommittee that funds health programs, I’ve been a strong advocate for the UMKC School of Medicine St. Joseph campus expansion and its important work in training physicians who will be uniquely qualified to provide care where it’s needed most. This includes enhancing physician training in behavioral health care. I appreciate UMKC’s commitment to strengthening our rural communities, and I’m grateful to all the physicians who will bring quality care to families in underserved areas across the state.”It's not the first time Blunt has championed resources for the UMKC School of Medicine. A longtime champion for health care, Blunt also played a pivotal role in establishing grant funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration to start and continue the program in St. Joseph. "Senator Blunt has been a strong partner for our medical programs to help us meet the needs of our community. I commend Senator Blunt for his leadership in addressing health care needs for all Missourians," said Agrawal. In addition to the contributions by Blunt, Missouri State Rep. Brenda Shields was instrumental in the creation of the UMKC School of Medicine St. Joseph campus.“The passion and enthusiasm for our mission from Senator Blunt and Representative Shields has been invaluable to us and ultimately will serve the rural residents of Missouri as our students graduate and continue their careers serving the people in the northwest region of our state,” said Jackson.The UMKC School of Medicine St. Joseph partner, Mosaic Life Care, is one of the largest private rural primary-care networks in the United States and a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network. UMKC has a strong history of expanding access to rural health care education programs in Missouri. In addition to the School of Medicine program, the university operates satellite campuses for the UMKC School of Pharmacy at the University of Missouri in Columbia and Missouri State University in Springfield. Mar 24, 2022

  • Brad Starnes Honored for Developing Splitsy

    2021 Student Entrepreneur of the Year recognized for creation of payment-sharing app
    Splitsy founder Brad Starnes (BIT ’20) knows from experience that sometimes waiting is a good thing. After all, it was waiting for his friends to pay him back for a dinner that inspired him to create the payment-sharing app in the first place. Splitsy, which allows each person in a group to pay their portion of bills directly, earned Starnes the distinction of the 2021 Student Entrepreneur of the Year award, but he had to wait for his accomplishment to be announced. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony to commemorate his achievement was canceled, but despite the delay, he was eventually able to receive the award recognizing his innovative payment solution. We spoke with Starnes, who is currently seeking his master’s in business administration, about his inspiration for Splitsy, how UMKC helped him take his idea from concept to business and his advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. What is Splitsy? We’re a mobile application that allows roommates or shared households to share automatic payments. Currently, we partner with 15,000 billers nationwide. Users sign in to our application and set their predetermined splitting preferences. Then, every month when we receive that bill, we charge each person their individual portion and consolidate those into one payment to the biller. What inspired you to create Splitsy? One of my co-founders, Joe, and I have been friends since seventh grade. He went to UMKC as well, so he and I moved into the dorms together and then we decided to get an apartment. We had some problems sharing some bills. We had some other incidents that happened, too. We went on a group trip to Chicago and it was like 12 of us and we ordered a deep dish pizza. It’s super expensive for a deep dish in Chicago. We went to go split the bill at the end of the night and the restaurant didn’t split bills. I was the only one who had a credit card at the time, so I was able to put the purchase on the card and have everybody send me money back, but it took me almost three weeks after that trip to finally get all the funds back.That exact issue would be replicated and a lot of those pieces meshed together and got me to do it. Now I see so many people going through the same problem that I know it can be stopped. You got your bachelor’s degree in information technology from UMKC. How did that help you with starting an app-centered business? In the IT program, you have to do a bit of programming. You have to know how to manage databases. Those kind of things have really helped me now. We outsource most of our app-building, but I have taught myself how to code in a lot of the programming languages we use and I will hop in and do some of the smaller tasks so our developers can focus on more critical pieces of the platform. I wouldn’t have been able to that without the course work at UMKC. It also helped me understand the overall architecture of things, which really helped me conceptualize how technology can be connected. What does this award mean to you? It’s an award that has my name on it, but I see it as all-encompassing of everyone who has been involved. Not only was I being rewarded, but so were my cofounders who have been here along for the ride with me. Also, family and friends who have been supportive from the beginning. It was nice to be able to share that with the individuals who have helped us for so long. Just to be able to tell them thank you was really important to me. As an entrepreneur, what are you most proud of? I’m most proud of what I, and the people around me, have accomplished so far. The things that I have learned, just in this last 13 months doing this, is probably more than most people who go into the corporate world learn in the first three or four years in the job. I’m just proud of all of the knowledge that I’ve gained so far and where we’ve come. At this point, no matter if Splitsy works or not, I've gained the knowledge and expertise to prepare me for what's next. What advice would you have for others looking to create a startup? It is a fun ride being an entrepreneur, but it has its ups and downs. Just be open and ready to execute your idea and go forward with your dream. Also whether things do well or things get tough, plug yourself in the right ecosystem, like I have here in Kansas City. There’s always people who you can count on. About the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards The Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, which are sponsored by the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management, recognize innovative and creative accomplishments of entrepreneurs. The 2022 recipients will be honored at a ceremony Oct. 12, 2022. Mar 24, 2022

  • Answering the Call to Dentistry and Public Health

    Jo Ann Weatherwax 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. The School of Dentistry is honoring Jo Ann Weatherwax (B.S.D.H. ’06, M.S. ’12) with its Class of 2022 Dental Hygiene Alumni Achievement Award. Weatherwax served as the founding dental program director for the Volusia County Health Department in Daytona Beach, Florida and has dedicated her career to help solving the national issue of access to oral health care services. As the first dental hygienist to serve as a dental director at a county health department in Florida, Weatherwax developed a clinical program, added an additional clinic to serve the western area of Volusia County and established a county-wide school sealant and oral health education program. Her dedication to the health department and safety net programs in Volusia County has resulted in the delivery of oral health care services to countless children and families. Along with her work in public health, Weatherwax has served in numerous leadership roles including most recently as the President of the Florida Dental Hygiene Association. What inspired you to address oral health care by establishing a dental health program for the Volusia County Health Department? In 2008, Volusia County had a very large population of Medicaid children. The county had unsuccessfully tried to establish a dental program. The children were suffering, families were frustrated and community trust was being tested. While my love has always been for dentistry, my passion has been public health. This was an opportunity to put into action my love, my passion, my education, my grass roots training and serve the most vulnerable of Volusia County. How did your career begin? Where do you see it going? My desire for a career in dentistry began in my teenage years when my orthodontist encouraged me to consider working in the field. I was amazed at the positive changes taking place in my oral health. If this could happen to me, then I wanted to help others have the same experience. At the age of 17, I jumped at the first opportunity at employment in the dental field and it was the best career decision I could have ever made. As time marched on, I found myself wanting to do more. I started my formal education in dental hygiene and while in school we were required to rotate through a public health dental program. One of my professors and my public health mentor (also a UMKC alumni), Dr. Mike Allen, encouraged all students to consider serving in public health. For me, it was a perfect fit. What advice do you have for students who’d like to follow in your footsteps? Search your soul, your heart and your motivation. Becoming a community dental director takes additional education, experience, perseverance and don’t forget prayer. Do not let yourself or others limit you. Look to the dental community for a mentor who is willing to invest in you. This may require moving and it may require more formal education but you can do it. What drew you to UMKC? I actually live in Florida but attended UMKC remotely. The UMKC School of Dentistry stood out for its high quality and respect in the dental community as well as the caliber of educators. While my professors challenged me, they also supported me and wanted me to be successful. What is your proudest accomplishment? My proudest accomplishment is achieving my master’s degree from UMKC as I am the first in my family to go to college. While my journey was long and challenging, the final walk across the stage with four grandchildren and my husband in the audience was a very proud moment. About Alumni Awards Join us in honoring Weatherwax and the other Class of 2022 awardees at an in-person celebration at 6 p.m. April 29, at the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center. To register, visit UMKC's Alumni Association website. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. Mar 24, 2022

  • Spring Break Fun in KC for Under $20

    Some of the best local attractions and activities to visit without breaking your budget
    Who said you need to travel to the beach to have an exciting Spring Break? Here are some local favorites to help you enjoy your well-deserved week off. Food and Drink Spring is in the air, which means it's time to get outside and enjoy the new weather! North Kansas City’s Iron District is a great place to dine al fresco from a variety of different vendors—from burgers and street tacos, to vegan and Thai cuisine, there are options for everyone. If you’re looking for somewhere to go during the weekend, check out the Farmers’ Market in City Market, open Saturdays in March and Saturdays and Sundays in April. The Farmers’ Market is where you can get fresh, healthy food from all over the world. For more fun, hop on the free KC Streetcar and go urban exploring! And for those days that you’d rather stay indoors, consider going on a Roasterie tour. At only $5 per person, you can tour The Roasterie Coffee Company’s factory and get a behind-the-scenes look at how their delicious, sustainable coffee is made. City views can be enjoyed atop the Liberty Memorial tower or on the terrace below Art and Museums Who said Spring Break can’t be educational? At the Liberty Memorial Tower, which honors those who fought in World War I, you’ll be able to experience its history while getting to look out on Kansas City at over 200 feet high! If getting to spend hours in a museum is more your style, then check out the American Jazz Museum for only $10 and learn why Kansas City is one of the greatest places in the country for jazz. If you’re looking for something near campus check out the Toy and Miniature Museum! With free admission for students with their ID, this museum will make you feel like a kid again with its whimsical exhibits and collections. Our next-door neighbor, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, also offers free admission and is Kansas City’s premier art museum, with some of the world’s greatest paintings and an outdoor sculpture park. Finally, experience the incredible magic of live theatre by planning a visit to KCRep for All. This program travels across Kansas City, offering free theatre to anyone and everyone. Whiskers Cat Cafe partners with KC Pet Project to offer adoptable cats Furry Friends Sometimes the best way to spend the break is de-stressing, and spending time with an animal friend is a great way to do that. If supporting small businesses while surrounding yourself with cats sounds fun, then make your reservation at Whiskers Cat Cafe. At just $12.50 per person, you can spend an hour with adoptable cats while sipping on a warm cup of coffee. You can also try painting, yoga or playing bingo with cats! Another option for animal lovers is the Kansas City Zoo! With admission as low as $9-10 for Jackson and Clay County residents, the zoo is home to more than 1,300 animals from all over the world. Located behind the Lakeside Nature Center, Fox Hollow trail in Swope Park stretches two miles Hiking Just because we are in a big, metropolitan city doesn’t mean there aren’t great spots for hiking. Swope Park is a local favorite and it’s only 10 minutes from campus, and if you want to venture a little further, Shawnee Mission Park is one of the largest in the area with multiple attractions and activities including numerous trails, shelters, picnic areas and an archery range. There is also Parkville Nature Sanctuary located less than 30 minutes from campus with over three miles of hiking trails that run through 115 acres of nature and all its beauty. A great multi-use 8.4-mile trail and bike path for hikers and bikers specifically, is Line Creek Trail in Platte County in the heart of the Northlands. Looking to stay in the city? Start at The Union Station or River Market area and anywhere in between to ride on the Streetcar for free along Main Street to see sights throughout the Crossroads district and downtown for some urban hiking. The museum offers traditional and interactive exhibits about the Negro Leagues in KC and beyond Sports Whether you like to watch or play, there’s something for everyone. Visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum for only $10 and travel back in time at 18th and Vine and then stick around for a Roo softball game, free with your student ID, at the Urban Youth Academy. If you’re looking for something a little more laid-back, play some disc golf at Rosedale Park, just down the street from the original gas station Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que. Chicken and Pickle has a unique indoor and outdoor experience in North Kansas City less than 20 minutes from campus. They have pickleball courts, yard games, and delicious food and drink for all ages. Go with a group and split the $20 court fee or get beginner lessons on the first Saturday of the month for only $10! Mar 22, 2022

  • UMKC Reports Close to $600 Million in Economic Impact

    University supports and sustains more than 7,000 jobs
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City generated $597.2 million in overall economic impact in Missouri during fiscal year 2021, according to a study conducted by Tripp Umbach, a nationally recognized firm that has completed more than 500 economic impact studies for clients across the globe. According to the study, academic medicine at UMKC generated $231.4 million in economic impact and supported and sustained 2,435 jobs, while UMKC research activity generated $186.3 million in economic impact and supported and sustained 1,300 jobs. Athletics generated another $23.1 million in economic impact, including 259 jobs. Overall, UMKC generated $33.4 million in state and local taxes during FY21, while 44,043 UMKC alumni living and working in Missouri generated $7.8 billion in overall economic impact. “Our impact through workforce development and community engagement is already well known. Through this study we now demonstrate that UMKC is a powerful economic engine in its own right,” said Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. The $597.2 million total represents the direct impact of UMKC spending in the state ($186.6 million) and the indirect spending that occurs as a result of the university’s presence ($410.6 million). UMKC directly supported 3,540 full-time and part-time jobs throughout the state, the study found, while UMKC spending on capital projects, development and planning projects and suppliers supports additional indirect jobs throughout Missouri. In total, the university’s presence supports 7,291 jobs in Missouri. The Tripp Umbach report on UMKC  is a component of an overall report on the University of Missouri System. That report, released last month, found a $6.5 billion economic impact on the state of Missouri by the UM System and its four universities, MU Extension, athletics and academic medicine. For the study, Tripp Umbach measured the economic value generated by the UM System’s research, operations, service and expenditures throughout the state of Missouri in Fiscal Year 2021, which ran from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021. “Economic impact studies often capture only the impact that can be assigned a quantitative number, but the qualitative value and impact of UMKC goes far beyond its annual multimillion-dollar economic impact,” the study found. “UMKC provides countless opportunities for faculty, staff and students to service the community through institutional partnerships, programs and service-learning projects that deliver a significant impact to the community … on a daily basis, the lives of those in the surrounding communities are significantly enhanced by its presence in a multitude of ways.” In addition, UMKC faculty, staff and students donated $1.3 million to local charities, plus an additional $1.1 million in value of volunteer time. Those figures are not included in the $597.2 million economic impact total. To view the complete report, click here. Mar 18, 2022

  • Match Day Fills UMKC Medical Students With Thrills, Excitement

    UMKC med students fill residency positions across the country in more than 20 specialties
    A few minutes before 11 a.m. on Friday, UMKC School of Medicine student Pradeep Kandula stood and paced anxiously in front of a table full of family and friends. “I’m nervous, but also very excited,” Kandula said as he waited for the Match Day letter that would reveal where he will spend the next three years doing his medical residency training. Moments later the nervous tension building throughout UMKC’s Swinney Recreation Center exploded into cries of joy and elation. Among those cheering was Kandula, who discovered he had matched with his first choice of residencies, a position in internal medicine at the prestigious Cleveland Clinic. “I’m so excited right now for everyone,” he said. “I’m excited for all of my friends.” From anesthesiology to urology, nearly 100 UMKC students matched in 21 different medical specialties. More than a third of the class elected to go into one of the primary care specialties of family medicine, internal medicine, medicine/pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology or pediatrics. Internal medicine was the most popular specialty with 19 students matched, followed by anesthesiology, general surgery, psychiatry and preliminary medicine, each with eight matches. The class will also be spreading out across the country going to 24 different states from California to New York, Florida to Michigan. Thirty-nine graduates will remain in Missouri and 22 will be staying in Kansas City for their training in UMKC residency programs. Throughout the United States, graduating medical students learned their residency fates at the same time on Match Day, filling more than 36,000 first-year residency positions. “There is no more memorable day for medical students than Match Day,” said School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., a 1978 graduate of the medical school. “This is the most exciting day for you, your staff and faculty. The wait is over. This next phase defines the rest of your lives.” For the first time in the school’s 50 years, the School of Medicine’s Match Day event was moved from the school’s UMKC Health Sciences Campus location to the Swinney Center on the university’s Volker Campus. This allowed all of the participating students’ family and friends to take part in the celebration in a single indoor location. In one corner of the crowded room, Sejla Turnadzic proudly held up a cardboard sign that said she had matched in anesthesiology and would be heading to Stanford for residency training. “I can’t put it into words how happy I am right now,” Turnadzic said. This was a special time for Turnadzic and the family members with her. Born in Bosnia, Turnadzic moved to the United States with her parents when she was just a year old to escape the war-torn country. Many of her family members remain in Bosnia. “I’m going to the be first doctor in my family,” she explained. “This is a very big day for us.” Next to Turnadzic stood Kaylea Gunn, who also matched in anesthesiology and will be going to Vanderbilt University for her residency. The two have been roommates for six years, since the beginning of med school. Gunn was particularly thrilled with the day because her brother Brady, a graduating student at A.T. Still University osteopathic medical school in Kirksville, Missouri, had just matched as well and attended the Match Day festivities with his sister in Kansas City. “I didn’t get any sleep last night,” Gunn said. “It has all been so exciting.” Mar 18, 2022

  • Doctoring With an Entrepreneurial Spirit

    Lucky Chopra receives School of Medicine Alumni Achievement Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. The UMKC School of Medicine is honoring Dr. Lucky Atul Chopra, (M.D., ’92) with its Class of 2022 Alumni Achievement Award. Lucky Atul Chopra, M.D., a 1992 graduate of the UMKC School of Medicine, is a radiologist and entrepreneur who has created successful medical service companies. During his radiology residency at the McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center, Dr. Chopra started a mobile imaging service using a converted milk truck to transport a portable X-ray machine. Contracting with nursing homes, he provided imaging services on site so patients would not have to travel. Four years later, he opened an independent, physician-led medical facility in east Houston that specializes in spinal and orthopedic surgical procedures. Today, he is the chief executive officer of Advanced Diagnostics Healthcare. How did your idea for a mobile radiology service come about? A significant amount of my residency training was in the trauma and emergency center. I recognized many patients were from long-term care facilities and other institutions for diagnostics and possible intervention. The diagnostics often proved to be normal, making the trip to the emergency/trauma center avoidable if diagnostics were available on site. Providing quality on-site diagnostics reduced the need for patient transport, created value to all stakeholders, and provided a much faster turnaround time for results. How do you see the improvements you have made in the field of radiology impacting lives and outcomes for patients? We have raised the bar for patients in long-term care facilities and other institutions in providing quality and credible on-site diagnostics. The technology and software that we implemented in this space has set the standard of care. We are proud of patient-centric innovations outside of the radiology space, which is improving outcomes for patients that have been involved in serious trauma. What advice do you have for students who’d like to follow in your footsteps? I encourage all students to be focused on ethics, compliance, and understand the regulatory climate. In the course of business, outside parties will attempt to encourage physicians to engage in profiteering, which can provide a short-term gain, but also creates many long-term issues. All new graduates need to be wary of these parties as many are very convincing and provide false assurances as to compliance and legalities.   How did UMKC prepare you for/contribute to your success? The hands-on clinical experience UMKC provided proved to be valuable throughout my residency and beyond. I didn’t fully recognize or appreciate the full value of UMKC’s positive academic and cerebral environment until I graduated and joined other institutions. What is your proudest accomplishment? Our companies have remained private, not dependent upon cash infusions from private equity or other outside sources. Staying this course has been challenging at times, but it has allowed us to maintain our independence. At a time when over 50 percent of all physicians are employed, I am proud that we support those physicians that value their independence. Where can you be found on the weekends? What are your hobbies? I enjoy visiting our vacation home on Lake Travis in Austin, Texas, whenever possible. A weekend of being on boats and watercraft with my family is the most relaxing. I also enjoy working out and mountain biking. About the Alumni Awards Join us in honoring Chopra and the other Class of 2022 awardees at an in-person celebration at 6 p.m. April 29, at the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center. To register, visit UMKC's Alumni Association website. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. Mar 16, 2022

  • Leading the Fight Against COVID

    Janelle Sabo receives School of Pharmacy Alumni Achievement Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. The UMKC School of Pharmacy is honoring Dr. Janelle Sabo (Pharm.D. ’00) with its Class of 2022 Alumni Achievement Award. Janelle Sabo, Pharm.D., R.Ph., M.B.A., is a 2000 graduate of the UMKC School of Pharmacy. An executive leader in clinical research design, development and delivery, she joined Eli Lilly and Company shortly after earning her degree at UMKC. She is currently vice president of clinical capabilities, serving as the global head of clinical innovation, system and clinical supply chain at Eli Lilly and Company. She has accountability for the overall development, registration and launch of anti-COVID-19 therapeutics across the globe. In her role, Sabo places an emphasis on deeply understanding science, the patient and leaning into innovative strategies to accelerate development. She led the COVID-19 Therapeutics Platform that delivered multiple neutralizing monoclonal antibodies that are widely used in the global fight about the virus. She was also integral in establishing one of the first drive-through testing clinics, which became the gold standard. Sabo also uses her vast experience as a pharmaceutical industry leader to serve her alma mater as a member of the School of Pharmacy Dean’s Advisory Council, providing expert guidance on curriculum and programmatic offerings. What led you to pursue a career in pharmacy? I have always loved science and helping people. In high school, I did a few rotations with different health care professionals in my hometown and found that ideal intersection of chemistry, biology and helping people was possible in pharmacy. Tell us about your work fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has changed your professional life. We worked on a study in one of the most impacted patient populations, nursing homes. Our team developed a mobile research unit that can go to rural and urban communities quickly as COVID outbreaks occurred. This approach continues to be utilized to create excellent clinical research in populations and therapeutic areas underserved and underrepresented in clinical research. One of my most important experiences has been finding new ways to rapidly bring clinical research into communities, including those that are underserved and underrepresented. Continuing to expand access to clinical research across the globe remains a key priority for me.  What advice do you have for students who would like to follow your footsteps? Pharmacy is an outstanding foundation to support a career in discovering and developing new medicines for patients with few or no options for treatment. Drug development requires taking your education and clinical experience, translating it to designing clinical studies to develop the data, insights and information that will be needed to help clinicians know how to use the new medications in their patient population and what to expect in terms of benefits and risks. Where can you be found on weekends? What are your hobbies? Most weekends are spent at volleyball, basketball, and flag football games and tournaments with my girls. In my free time, I love to cook, hike, spend time at the beach or at the pool and with family and friends. About Alumni Awards Join us in honoring Sabo and the other Class of 2022 awardees at an in-person celebration at 6 p.m. April 29, at the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center. To register, visit UMKC's Alumni Association website. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. Mar 14, 2022

  • New UMKC Student Support Center Opens

    Move to Student Union allows easier access to critical resource
    The new UMKC Dr. Raj Bala Agrawal Care Center opens in the Student Union May 4, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. with a ceremony to celebrate enhanced access to support services for the university community. “The Chancellor’s Food Security Task Force that was formed in 2020 recommended that we expand pantry operations and eliminate barriers to pantry use,” Anthony Maly, senior manager student support services, says. “One of the task force’s long-term goals in relation to both of those recommendations was to move the current pantry location from 4825 Troost to a more central location on the Volker Campus.” The Roo Pantry will be located on the first floor of the Student Union in the new Dr. Raj Bala Agrawal Care Center, which will provide a variety of support services to students, faculty and staff in areas such as housing and financial insecurity. The more centralized location will enable students to visit the pantry when they are on campus for classes, as well as coordinate with other student services within the care center. “We hope that this more centralized location will help further destigmatize the use of the food pantry by placing it in the same building as a variety of other student services,” Maly says. “It will also help us coordinate services students may need with other offices that are closer to the new location.” Maly is hopeful that when faculty and staff are aware of students in need, they will refer them to pantry in its new location. “They may even be able to walk with them directly to the pantry when an immediate need is identified,” he says.   Maly says the demand for support services from the UMKC community has increased throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.  Fortunately, the pantry has been able to meet those needs. “We continue to serve a much larger population than we did prior to the onset of the pandemic, and we do not anticipate that need changing in either the short or long term,” Maly says. “We have expanded the amount of food we are acquiring and the hours of availability each academic year to meet that need.” The establishment of the Dr. Raj Bala Agrawal Care Center was made possible through donations received to the Dr. Raj Bala Agrawal Memorial Fund established December 2020 and a personal donation made by Sue and Mauli Agrawal to create an endowment. The fund recognizes and honors the life of Chancellor Mauli Agrawal’s mother, who was an educator and grateful for the opportunity to engage with the many generous friends and alumni of the university and cheer on UMKC students.   Mar 14, 2022

  • UMKC Faculty Emerita Chronwall Creates Scholarship for Undergraduate Research

    Saper Vedere provides opportunities for undergraduates
    Bibie Chronwall, Ph.D., UMKC faculty emerita, has created an award in memory of her husband, Stephen J. Morris, and in honor of her uncle Al Osten to support undergraduate research in biology at UMKC.  The award is one component of the revived Saper Vedere Undergraduate Research Program at the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences (SBC). The program will provide second, third and fourth year students support for engaging in research with faculty and staff. “Leonardo da Vinci referred to his visualization process as ‘saper vedere,’ or ‘knowing how to see,’” Theodore White, dean of the school of biological and chemical sciences, says. “That is the inspiration behind the Saper Vedere program. Many students see undergraduate research as a critical focal point of their academic training.” Each year, students will be selected into the program based on academic achievement, including a GPA above 3.2.  The students will participate in the biology seminar series, meet with visiting scholars and have informal lunches and formal gatherings of the Saper Vedere students and faculty. In addition, students will participate in the UMKC Health Sciences Student Research Summit and the Annual Symposium of Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship. “These opportunities will provide undergraduates with hands-on experience as they prepare for graduate or professional training,” White says. “Outstanding programs and mentors abound at UMKC, providing students meaningful opportunities as they begin to sample possible career paths. These students will be encouraged to join their mentor in presenting their work at local, national or international scientific meetings, either as a poster or oral presentation.” The school plans to award the first research awards in fall 2022 and expand the program over the next few years. “We are grateful to Dr. Chronwall for her generous support,” White says. “The program and our students’ undergraduate experience will be benefit from this expanded research opportunity.” For more information on making a donation to the Mr. Al Osten, Dr. Stephen J. Morris and Dr. Bibie M. Chronwall Scholarship to support undergraduate research, please contact Melissa Ford, director of major gifts by email or call 816-235-1277. Donate to the Scholarship Today Mar 14, 2022

  • Conservatory Costume Design Named Among Top 10 Programs

    The program was ranked by The Hollywood Reporter
    UMKC has been ranked among the top ten best programs for costume design according to The Hollywood Reporter. "That UMKC Conservatory’s costume design program continues to be recognized nationally is no surprise to those of us who get to see the extraordinary work our students produce," said Andrew Granade, interim dean of the Conservatory. "Kansas City’s thriving theatre community combines with our outstanding faculty to produce an educational experience second to none, and I’m pleased the Hollywood Reporter recognizes our program’s excellence." "Talk about well-rounded resumes. Students at UMKC are assured of graduating with a working knowledge of costume design's major construction areas (millinery tailoring, wig ventilation, mold making and casting)," the article said. "Third-year costume designers also benefit from an 'assist in New York' program creating costumes for the Kansas City Repertory Theatre while working in New York (or Chicago or L.A.)." The Hollywood Reporter also cited the new Innovation Studio in the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center as a benefit to students. "Historically, we've been a very traditionally-based program and very successful," said Ken Martin, chair of the theatre division in the Conservatory. "As we move forward, one of the things we're looking to do is use the innovation studio to develop costumes in the 3D space and do costuming for gaming, immersive theatre and augmented reality, as well as use it for rendering techniques for theatre that are traditionally based." UMKC was ranked among the UCLA School of Theater, NYU Tisch School of the Arts and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. To see other schools on the list, click here.  Mar 14, 2022

  • UMKC to be Paid by State to Study Small Business Disparities

    The University of Missouri-Kansas City will be paid by the state to study if Missouri is failing to equitably employ minority-owned and women-owned...
    As a part of the $500,000 study, UMKC will hold public meetings and invite firms, stakeholders and organizations to attend. The first meeting is scheduled for March 16 at 10 a.m. in Jefferson City. The UMKC team will be asking attendees to help identify barriers to earning state contracts. Previous studies cited several challenges, including late payments, bonding and insurance issues, harassment and retaliation.  Read more about the study here. Mar 10, 2022

  • Theatre Student Earns National Playwriting Recognition

    Hieu Bui is a national semi-finalist in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival playwriting competition
    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. Hieu Bui is a writer, director and performer, and he chose to attend the UMKC Conservatory to help him hone those crafts. Bui says that his time here has given him the confidence and skills to succeed on his own terms. “The most important thing I’ve learned at UMKC is that you must make your own work, especially if you aren’t given opportunities. Most plays and stories don’t have faces like mine, aesthetic like mine and cultures that are mine. I realized that no one else will write these aspects that are me,” he says. Bui is already making a name for himself with an original work titled, “Blanket,” about siblings struggling to adjust to life in a new country after moving from Vietnam. Bui entered his play into the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) national playwriting competition in the ten-minute play category. “Blanket” placed first regionally, is a national semi-finalist and was recognized for Outstanding Play. Approximately 70 ten-minute plays were entered in the regional festival. Bui’s play is one of 16 semi-finalists nationwide. Of those, four will be selected to be performed at the national festival in April. “The most important thing I’ve learned at UMKC is that you must make your own work, especially if you aren’t given opportunities." In addition to writing “Blanket,” Bui directed and acted in the video reading for the competition. Bui’s friends and fellow UMKC students helped plan and direct the shoot, as well as acted in it. They did one reading over Zoom and filmed in Grant Hall on campus. This is Bui’s second time entering the KCACTF. Last year, he was one of three finalists in the one-act play competition. Bui says this year’s work, “Blanket” was inspired by a reading in his playwriting class. “Playwriting, acting and poetry are some of my favorite classes that I’ve taken. My professors’ passion for storytelling and their support gave me what I needed to build this play and enter the KCACTF. This is only the second competition I’ve entered my work in, but it won’t be the last.” Mar 10, 2022

  • Transfer Student Combines Art with Business

    Lindsay Doyle is taking part in two unique UMKC programs to help turn her passion into a business
    Lindsay Doyle is a senior studying studio art with an art entrepreneurship certificate. She is also in E-Scholars, a Henry W. Bloch School of Management program, which helps entrepreneurs turn their ideas into businesses. After graduation, Doyle plans to teach K-12 art and run her jewelry business. And here’s what she had to say about being a Roo. Name: Lindsay DoyleAnticipated graduation year: Summer ‘22 UMKC degree program: Studio Art B.A., Art Entrepreneurship CertificateHometown: Torrance, CA Why did you choose UMKC? I moved here a year ago and I wanted to finish my degree, so I transferred to UMKC. I thought it was the best school in the area for me. The art program here is really great and the instructors are very knowledgeable.   Doyle receives feedback on her painting from a graduate assistant. What have you enjoyed most about your experience at UMKC? I like the support. Especially in the art department, I just feel very encouraged to pursue my passions. What are the benefits of the program? I like how the Bloch School of Management has an arts entrepreneurship program, which bridges the business side and the art side together so I can form a business. There’s a lot of opportunities here and there’s great leadership. Doyle is starting an enameled jewelry business, with help from the E-Scholars program. You mentioned you’re also in the E-Scholars program, do you want to start a business? That’s what we’re doing right now-from start to finish. I’m starting an enameling jewelry business. It’s going to be mostly online, selling at makers fairs, stuff like that. What does it mean to you to have support from professors? It’s really encouraging and a confidence builder. It’s great to have someone steer you in a direction they think would be best for you. Mar 10, 2022

  • UMKC Agrees to Joint Resolution

    The University of Missouri-Kansas City has reached a resolution in response to a claim
    UMKC agrees to resolve lawsuit filed by Professor Richard Arend Professor Richard Arend and the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) have agreed to resolve his claims and issue the following Joint Statement:  UMKC acknowledges that Professor Arend did bring genuine problems and issues to the media's attention. Further, UMKC acknowledges Professor Arend's academic contributions to the University during his tenure at UMKC. UMKC has agreed to pay Professor Arend $625,000 to settle his lawsuit. The parties thank each other for working together to resolve this matter and have agreed to not make further comment.  Mar 09, 2022

  • Radiology Professor Discusses Effects of Delayed Breast Screenings Due to Pandemic

    Dr. Amy Patel talks with medicine website about outreach and more
    Amy Patel, medical director of the Breast Care Center at Liberty Hospital and professor of radiology at the UMKC School of Medicine, sat down for an interview with Diagnostic Imagine about the aftereffects of delayed breast cancer screenings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among topics discussed were keys for improving outreach to underserved communities, legislative wins and challenges and coalition building to educate and encourage women to resume regular breast cancer screening exams. As we being to emerge from the shadows of the pandemic, significant challenges for radiologists are coming to light, Patel said. But there are also new opportunities to save lives. The entire interview can be found here. Mar 09, 2022

  • Conservatory Professor’s Concert Highlighted by Iowa Television Station

    UMKC Professor and Chinese-American Chen Yi’s concert was called “very and rhythmic.”
    Conservatory Professor Chen Yi’s concert series was highlighted by WHBF-DAV in Davenport, Iowa.   The station’s anchor called Yi, “a wonderful composer and her music is very vibrant." He went on to say, "You really hear her Chinese culture coming out through the performance, it's very beautiful.”  The complete segment can be found here. Mar 09, 2022

  • Lucerna Symposium Features UMKC Undergraduate Research

    New issue of Lucerna is the 16th volume of the UMKC interdisciplinary research journal
    The UMKC Honors Program celebrates the latest volume of Lucerna, featuring undergraduate research in the sciences and humanities. Chancellor Mauli Agrawal and Gayle Levy, Ph.D., director, UMKC Honors Program, will celebrate the latest issue of Lucerna and the work of the students who submitted their research for publication during an online symposium March 17. Lucerna, the UMKC interdisciplinary research journal produced by the Honors Program, accepts submissions from UMKC students enrolled in any program. Research from all disciplines is welcome, and previous issues have included original work from students in a variety of programs, including history, economics, engineering and dance. Lee Francis, Lucerna editor-in-chief, sees value in research beyond knowledge itself. “I think everyone should participate in undergraduate research because it can change the way that you consume information for the better,” Francis says. “The more someone reads and participates in academic research, the better they become at recognizing what makes a study and evidence more supportive of a theory than others.” Lee Francis, Lucerna editor-in-chief  Beyond expanding a student’s knowledge, Francis notes that research provides students the opportunity to conduct interviews, determine what to ask and have the opportunity to engage with the people they interview. “Digging deeper on a subject has the benefit of building the student’s knowledge, but it also allows the student to evaluate a variety of sources and work in a field that they have a passion for,” Francis says. Anuhya Dayal, Lucerna managing editor, agrees with Francis on the value of the experience. Anuhya Dayal, Lucerna managing editor  “Completing a research project gives insight into the heart of a problem and develops critical thinking skills that enable an in-depth analysis of a specific process and allows a student to think in many different directions to get to one destination,” Dayal says.  “Then, in classwork or careers, they can apply this thinking to analyze the problem from multiple angles or solve a problem in different ways.” Levy said undergraduate research gives students the opportunity to put their studies into practice. “Not only does it allow them to finally be the creators of knowledge after years as consumers but engaging in research allows students to experience the joys and frustrations of coming up with questions and trying to answer them, deviating sometimes and then finding another path to new questions,” Levy says. “Undergraduate research allows students to begin their journey to changing the world through their hard work and creativity.”   Mar 09, 2022

  • Dental Screening Event Helps Roll Out Reopened Dental Clinic

    From kindergarteners to high school seniors, it was all smiles at University Academy
    The UMKC School of Dentistry closed out February’s Children’s Dental Health Month strong, screening about 900 students at the University Academy, a Kansas City school serving K-12 students. More than 30 dental and hygiene students volunteered to provide care along with four faculty from the school. The screenings are part of the lead up to reopening the dental clinic housed within University Academy. Opened in 2012, the dental clinic was temporarily shut down due to the pandemic. School of Dentistry faculty and students that provide care at the clinic say they are looking forward to reopening the clinic. Hayley Ferris, an instructor who works with dental hygiene students in the clinic, said the screening event played a critical role in the getting the clinic up and running again. “This all-school screening will give us a baseline of where the population sits right now,” she said. “That way, we have an idea of what the needs are for these students before we go in with our preventative care.” Dental hygiene instructor Hayley Ferris Dr. Megan Wendland, associate professor in the Department of Dental Public Health and Behavioral Science at the UMKC School of Dentistry, said additional funding from the state of Missouri was critical to the reopening of the dental clinic at University Academy. “Our department is all about preventative care and preventing dental caries (cavities),” Wendland said. “The state had funding from the CDC to promote dental sealant programs and they said they would absolutely help with this.” Ferris is returning to UMKC within the public health department to help manage the University Academy clinic. She helped established a similar clinic in the Olathe, Kansas, School District with Dr. Melanie Simmer-Beck, a professor and chair of the department. That program ran from 2007-2014. The clinic at the University Academy is part of the dental school’s mission to provide health care in-house to students attending the school. UMKC will provide the oral health care in partnership with Children’s Mercy Kansas City, which manages the health clinic within the school. The dental clinic will be staffed by a UMKC dental hygienist and hygiene students who will provide preventive care, assessments, cleanings, fluoride, varnish and sealants. “Right now, tooth decay is the number one childhood illness that causes kids to miss school,” Ferris said. “It’s extremely important that they have these resources available right there in the building so parents don’t have to take time off of work and kids don’t have to take time off from school.” The experience is also beneficial to the participating third-year dental students, exposing them to a population they don’t get as much experience with, at least not 900 children at once. “This is a great opportunity for them to see children in that mixed phase of having both permanent and primary teeth,” Ferris said. “And with pandemic restrictions, there aren’t as many of these outreach opportunities available to them so we filled up our sign ups in a matter of minutes.” Children’s Dental Health Month is an initiative by the American Dental Association that promotes the importance of good oral health to children, their teachers and parents. The emphasis for this year’s campaign was on dental sealants for children. That is a welcomed focus for Wendland. Wendland’s research focuses on disparities in health care and improving health outcomes in diverse populations. Sealants are an area she and the school focus on as a first line-of-defense in achieving those improved oral health outcomes. Sealants consist of a thin plastic coating that is placed on the back teeth, where a majority of cavities form. Wendland the sealants can prevent 80 percent of cavities. “At University Academy, as well as our mobile clinic at Gladstone Elementary, we’re part of a big push to raise the national average for sealants,” said Wendland. “That average nationally is about 37 percent with the goal to push it above 40 percent. However, Missouri is at about 19 percent, which is obviously far and away from where we want to be.” Wendland came to UMKC from Chicago where she was a clinician at a Federally Qualified Health Center. While there she experienced the scope of what a fully comprehensive program is capable of. The Chicago Department of Public Health partnered with the public school district to provide a universal sealant program to all K-12 schools. “That program would see more than 120,000 kids a year,” Wendland said. “Currently, there isn’t anyone doing that kind of broad sealant program in Kansas City but having come from that model, ideally that’s what I would want to see.” Assessing 900 children at the University Academy was a good start. Mar 04, 2022

  • A Heart for Rural Health Care

    Leslie Luke receives School of Nursing and Health Studies Alumni Achievement Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. The UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies is honoring Leslie Luke (M.S.N. ’00) with its Class of 2022 Alumni Achievement Award. For Leslie Luke (M.S.N. ’00), independence, family, rural health care and getting to know her patients have been the driving forces behind her unique health care career. You’ve forged your own way in nursing opening your own practice, what drove you down this unique path? I was inspired to form my own practice, the Care Clinic in Maryville, Missouri, after several years working as a nurse in hospital settings and private clinics. I earned a master’s degree in the UMKC Family Nurse Practitioner program, which helped provide me with the breadth of experience needed to run a comprehensive clinic. Through the Care Clinic, I’m able to provide a wide variety of services to the rural community. I treat infants to seniors for any number of health care concerns from diagnosing sore throats and ear infections to anti-aging and nutrition options. Your practice is in rural northwest Missouri, why was it important for you to provide more health care options to that area? It was important for me to provide my rural community with an independent health care option outside of the larger group networks that were available. In a rural area, you need to be able to see anyone that walks in the door. I wanted to bring that option to patients in my area. It’s the closeness I have with my patients that makes rural health care unique for me. You really get to know the patients, their families and lifestyle. What are your proudest accomplishments and what challenges have you encountered along the way? The longevity of the Care Clinic is one of my proudest accomplishments as a practitioner, with the clinic going on 15 years providing care to the Maryville community. I also appreciate being my own boss, but that didn’t come without its challenges. My greatest challenge was learning the business side of things. But my greatest reward was the flexibility to stay involved in many of my children’s activities. What words of advice would you provide other nursing students interested in following your path? If you have an independent spirt and may want to branch out on your own as well, make the most of your education. Make sure to take some business classes and get a wide variety of nursing experience. I enjoyed the flexibility of the online aspect of the program but it was also very meaningful when we were able to come to campus once each semester. That was one of my fondest memories about my time at UMKC. I loved meeting all the other FNP students with our in-person classes. About Alumni Awards Join us in honoring Luke and the other Class of 2022 awardees at an in-person celebration at 6 p.m. April 29, at the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center. To register, visit UMKC's Alumni Association website. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. Mar 03, 2022

  • Pre-Med Society President Escalates Opportunity, Connection

    Student organization offers community and support
    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. Izzy DaabAnticipated graduation year: 2023UMKC degree program: B.S. biology, pre-medical emphasis, Honors ProgramHometown: St. Charles, MO Pre-med Society president Izzy Daab has her sights set on becoming an orthopedic surgeon. As a former athlete – competing in  basketball and cross country in high school – she has had a lot of experience in orthopedic medicine from the patient’s perspective. Someday she’d like to work with athletes and inspire patients to take care of their bodies as her doctors took care of her.   Izzy Daab, center with Pre-med Society members Toluwa Balogun, Madi Sweeney, Sonya Ahmad and Diego Silva Daab’s main objective as Pre-Medical Society’s president is to grow a strong connection with the community and build a solid support system that will help all of the members achieve their individual goals. Outside of studying and helping run the chapter, Daab enjoys exploring Kansas City and enjoying all the city has to offer. Why did you choose UMKC? I chose UMKC because I knew the programs, faculty and students would challenge me to grow as a person and prepare me for my journey following graduation. Additionally, I was immediately attracted to the campus location. Living in Kansas City has enriched my college career with new experiences and opportunities in all aspects of my life. What are the challenges and benefits of the program? Being a pre-medical student requires a lot of hard work, time and dedication. The biggest challenge I have encountered is finding a balance. It is so important to take care of yourself and to experience life outside of studying. The UMKC faculty does a great job ensuring you are ready to succeed in post-graduate studies and in your career. I have developed amazing relationships with faculty on campus and believe these have largely contributed to my success at UMKC. Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself? I have learned that staying true to myself is the best thing I can do as I navigate college and all it has to offer. UMKC has allowed me to push myself beyond my limits and outside of my comfort zone. I’ve learned that I am capable of more than I have ever imagined. The most important thing I have learned is that through everything college will throw at you, staying true to yourself and your aspirations will get you far in life. How did you get involved in the Pre-Med Society? I got involved in Pre-Med Society as a freshman. I was looking for a group where I could meet pre-medical students just like me, and Pre-Medical Society was a perfect place to start. After being a general member for my freshman year, I served as the medical school liaison for my sophomore year, and then was elected to be president for this current school year.  What have the benefits been? The top benefit has definitely been meeting all of these amazing people. I’ve met most of my closest friends through Pre-Medical Society. As someone who has been a part of the group through COVID-19 and in-person, I’ve had the opportunity to help rebuild the pre-medical community and strengthen my ties to UMKC. What are the meetings like? We focus on providing a strong foundation of support for pre-medical students on campus. We provide knowledge and advice to students by bringing in physicians and speakers from the healthcare field who can share their wisdom and experiences with us. What are your individual goals? I hope to attend medical school following graduation and become an orthopedic surgeon. I have always been inspired by the sports medicine field, especially as a retired athlete who has a lot of experience being on the patient side of sports medicine. So, I hope to someday be an orthopedic surgeon that can primarily work with athletes and inspire patients to take care of and heal their body like my own doctors did for me. What is one word that best describes you and why? Tenacious. I have always been the type of person who never stops working hard until I reach my goals. My determination and grit have always made me who I am. I do not give up until I accomplish what I am pursuing. Mar 02, 2022

  • UMKC Partnering with Amazon for Career Choice Benefit Program

    Tuition reimbursement benefit now available in Kansas City area at UMKC
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City is partnering with Amazon to offer the company's hourly employees full tuition through Amazon’s Career Choice education program. The program provides full tuition and course fees for Amazon employees who enroll in degree programs or industry certification programs designed to lead to in-demand jobs. Amazon employees began  enrolling at UMKC in January. The company has several thousand hourly employees within a 100-mile radius of UMKC who are eligible to participate. First step is to visit this page to find easy step-by-step instructions and sign up for contact with an admissions counselor. This makes the Career Choice program available in the Kansas City area for the first time for in-person classes at an accredited university. UMKC also offers online options. The company launched the benefit program in 2012 and it is available to employees in 14 countries. According to Amazon, more than 50,000 employees around the world have participated since inception, and more than half of Amazon Career Choice participants identify as Black, Hispanic or Native American. “We are excited and proud to partner with Amazon to help their employees build a better future,” said Jennifer Lundgren, Ph.D., UMKC provost and executive vice chancellor. “Tuition reimbursement benefits are a highly effective path to upward financial mobility and participating in such programs is integral to our mission as a public university.” UMKC offers more than 125 degree programs and has extensive experience in serving non-traditional students (other than recent high school graduates enrolled full-time). “We’re looking forward to UMKC coming on board as an education partner for Career Choice, adding to the hundreds of best-in-class offerings available to our employees,” said Tammy Thiemann, global program lead of Amazon’s Career Choice program. “We’re committed to empowering our employees by providing them access to the education and training they need to grow their careers, whether that’s with us or elsewhere. We have intentionally cultivated a partner network of third-party educators and employers committed to providing excellent education, job placement resources, and continuous improvements to the experience. Today, more than 50,000 Amazon employees around the world have already participated in Career Choice and we’ve seen first-hand how it can transform their lives.” Learn more about Amazon Career Choice at UMKC Mar 02, 2022

  • Improving Patient Lives Through Patents

    School of Biological and Chemical Sciences selects Joseph Lambing (Ph.D., '90) to receive 2022 Alumni Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. The School of Biological and Chemical Sciences is honoring Joseph Lambing (Ph.D. ‘90) with its Class of 2022 Alumni Achievement Award. Joseph Lambing, Ph.D. worked for 30 years in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, primarily focused on cardiovascular disease. During his extensive career, he guided numerous drug discovery programs from early leads through clinical development and contributed to multiple investigational new drug and new drug applications for more than a dozen new chemical entities. Lambing is the author of several patents and publications and was involved in building multiple successful biotechnology companies. He recently retired from Bristol Myers Squibb, formerly MyoKardia, where he was the Senior Vice President of Nonclinical and Pharmaceutical Development. What inspired you to work in your field? I was interested in life sciences early in my undergraduate chemistry years, but I ended up in the biotechnology/pharmaceutical business by serendipity. After my post-doc at UCSD, I took a job in a small custom peptides company applying the skills I learned at UMKC and UCSD. After a few years, I was recruited to a company called COR Therapeutics in San Francisco. This turned out to be a good fit for me and it really set me on the path of working in cardiovascular drug discovery and connected me with the professionals that I would continue to work with at different companies throughout my career. Tell me about one of your favorite or most interesting work projects. Two projects come to mind. One is the work we did on Mavacamten at MyoKardia. That is a drug developed for patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Until Mavacamten, these patients had no drugs developed specifically to treat their disease. After a trial, it was found both safe and highly effective, making a real breakthrough for these patients. The second is my work at Portola Pharmaceuticals on Andexanet Alpha, a modified form of Factor Xa that is an antidote for small molecule anticoagulants and is used when patients have life-threatening bleeding complications. This was a very unusual and challenging project that has now been approved and helped save many lives. What is your proudest accomplishment? My marriage to Rebecca, who I met during my time at UMKC, and our two beautiful children who have grown up to be an engineering and a neuroscientist. What advice do you have for students who’d like to follow in your footsteps? Find an area you are passionate about pursuing. For me, working in pharmaceuticals gave me a purpose because I always felt like I was working for patients. It’s also important to surround yourself with intelligent and passionate people that you enjoy working with. About the Alumni Awards Join us in honoring Lambing and other Class of 2022 awardees at an in-person celebration at 6 p.m. April 29, at the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center. To register, visit UMKC's Alumni Association website. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. Mar 01, 2022

  • Haag Hall Mural Inspires Fascinating Research, Mentorship Opportunity

    Dynamic Duo explores historic art fixture in the heart of UMKC campus
    The heart of UMKC is our campus community. With lots of research opportunities, it’s easy to develop mentorship teams. And these rich relationships—our Dynamic Duos—are some of our best success stories. UMKC senior Victoria Dominguez is roughly three months away from her college graduation. But instead of coasting to the finish line, she’s knee deep in a research project that will have lasting impact at UMKC. “The murals in Haag Hall are really fascinating and not a lot of students I’ve talked to are aware that they’re here on campus,” Dominguez explained. The mural, located on the second floor of Haag Hall, was painted by Spanish artist Luis Quintanilla in 1941. Quintanilla came to the forerunner of UMKC, the University of Kansas City (UKC) in 1940 to serve as its first artist-in-residence at the invitation of UKC President Clarence Decker. “Part of my research focuses on how Dr. Decker broadened the academic scope of the university by bringing in displaced scholars like Quintanilla,” said Dominguez. There’s much more historical significance to these paintings than a casual glance reveals. Viviana Grieco, PhD., professor of History, had worked with Dominguez on a separate research project, and presented her with the opportunity to do an independent research project related to the murals. Dominguez was immediately intrigued, and the mentor relationship deepened. Victoria Dominguez “To me as a historian, the most interesting part is that President Decker was able to position this young and unknown university at the level of more prominent universities that were applying for aid through the Rockefeller Foundation, to bring in displaced scholars and scientists. This was during the depression and the university was only five years old at the time, so it was very impressive to get an artist of that caliber here. It was a huge win that deserves recognition,” said Grieco. The mural was painted to reflect the theme, “Don Quixote in the Modern World.” It features many people and animals, but up until now, the identities of those depicted in the mural remain unknown. Victoria says she’s spent hours combing through various sources, with the help of Grieco, in hopes of identifying the people in the mural. She’s used university archives, old yearbooks, viewed a number of special collections, consulted the Rockefeller Foundation archives and the New York Public library to get information. “The mural includes illustrations of Dr. Decker and his wife, Luis Quintanilla and his whole family, Alexander Cappon who was part of the UKC English Department. It features staff members, professors and students. They’re all depicted in different images across the murals,” Dominguez explained. Dominguez says she loves the spark that comes with each new identification and deeply appreciates the guidance and mentorship she’s received from Grieco throughout this process. “Not only is Dr. Grieco inspiring, but she pushes me to my full potential. I don’t think I would have done any of this research work if it wasn’t for her. She has helped push me past my comfort zone and challenged me to think more deeply about topics. This research opportunity has really enhanced my university experience,” said Dominguez. Grieco has been equally inspired by the fascinating project. “We’re having fun. When we discover something new or a new detail that fits into the bigger picture of our research, we get excited. I enjoy getting immersed into her project and helping guide her.” The pair has built a strong bond through working together on this project and they’ve noticed a few similarities between their work and the work of the muralist they’re studying. Viviana Grieco, Ph.D. “Our mentor/mentee experience parallels that of Quintanilla and UKC’s students. Despite not speaking fluent, English Quintanilla was able to connect with the students on campus and work with them as subjects for his mural. Still today it remains true that these unique mentorship and student engagement opportunities can help students take the most out of their university experience,” said Grieco. Dominguez urges anyone considering research to take a chance and connect with a mentor who can serve as your guide. “It’s one of the best experiences and opportunities I’ve had during my time here at UMKC. If you are offered a research opportunity, just take it because it’s vastly different from other coursework and research is a unique opportunity that could help you find passion and figure out what you want to do after college.” She plans to present her research findings during Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol in Jefferson City this spring. Dominguez hopes this project brings renewed attention and respect to this campus gem. “The interest in these murals and the artist has faded and I really hope my research helps shed more light on both, because the artist’s work is a huge part of our university and I think a lot of students should know more about it.”   Mar 01, 2022

  • UMKC Alumna Develops Equity App

    Aishah Augusta-Parham, Ph.D., receives start-up funding for new digital tool, SEPOW
    During the summer of 2016 as Aishah Augusta-Parham, Ph.D. studied counseling and psychology, she experienced instances of prejudice in some of the businesses she frequented. Despite a broader social awareness around equity, her personal experiences were proof that some systems that had not changed. “I began realizing that as a psychologist, I could help individuals by targeting their specific symptoms, but when they left my office, I wouldn’t be able to impact those systems.” Augusta-Parham, Ph.D. (B.A. '06, B.A. '08) decided that in order to be truly effective, she needed to target the systems as well as the undesirable experiences those systems were creating for some people. That is how SEPOW was born. “SEPOW is the Yelp for diversity, equity and inclusion,” she says. “In the same way Yelp allows its users to rate their experiences, SEPOW will enable employees to rate their experiences at a business or company in relation to race, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, religion and sexual orientation – all on the app.” Organizations will be able to see their ratings and select customized solutions that SEPOW can provide to address the specific experiences of their employees. “Organizations will have real-time feedback on their multicultural initiatives, and see specifically what's working and what’s not working,” Augusta-Parham says. “They can have accurate information on race-related stress and how it’s impacting performance, morale and engagement with coworkers and employees.” Augusta-Parham received support from Digital Sandbox, which provides start-ups with feedback and funding to accelerate their businesses. She says this has been instrumental to SEPOW’s growth and development. “Now organizations will have real-time feedback on their multicultural initiatives. They can see specifically what's working and what’s not working.” — Aishah Augusta-Parham “It’s really important for a founder to get out to the market as quickly as possible to accelerate towards commercialization,” Augusta-Parham says Through networking, Augusta-Parham connected with an effective mentor. When she reached out to Bryan Shannon (B.A. ’04), who is an entrepreneur, he was impressed by her commitment and domain experience. He realized she was up to the challenge of getting her start up-to market. “Aishah is the type of individual who looks for a pathway forward,” Shannon says. “SEPOW is attempting to fill a void that exists in a very sizable market.” Augusta-Parham is working hard now, but she has even bigger plans for the future. “Five years from now I want SEPOW to be the hallmark for diversity, equity and inclusion,” she says. “My goal is for employees to feel heard, supported and empowered, and for organizations to have the resources to help them move the needle on multicultural initiatives. ” Start-up funding has been critical to her launch. “Without Digital Sandbox, I wouldn't have this opportunity to move as quickly as I possibly can and get off the ground.” Feb 25, 2022

  • Moving to the Front of the Classroom

    Student-teachers learn how to manage their own classrooms, even in a pandemic
    Student-teaching is the final year of school for education students, and it’s filled with challenges and new experiences. How does a global pandemic factor in? We spoke with three UMKC students who are student-teaching in greater Kansas City about how they’ve made the transition from student to teacher. Where are you currently student teaching? Lea Johnson: I am at East High School in the Kansas City Public School District (KCPS). LeXaibriar (Xai) Brooks: I am currently student teaching in the KCPS School District at J.A. Rogers Elementary School. Zane Green: I am student teaching in the Guadalupe Center Charter School, specifically the high school (GCHS). Why did you decide to become a teacher?   Johnson: Our communities and students have complex cultural identities, which aren’t always served well. I want to develop the identities of my students and myself and work together to ensure that all young people receive the same quality of education, resources and opportunities so that they may pursue their dreams. Brooks: I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I was very active in church, and I would sometimes tutor. I was always helping someone write a paper or looking over their work. I liked being able to help and use my knowledge for something good. I also learned firsthand how one good teacher can change the course of a life, and that’s who I wanted to be. Green: I will be a third-generation teacher. My mother taught home economics in Grandview and Parkville South. Her father, my grandfather, taught middle school math in a small town in Southwest Iowa. I would like to teach high school civics and speech and debate. I had an amazing civics teacher who was awesome and always did his best to make lessons fun; it was obvious that he cared deeply about his students and the topics. What is your favorite subject to teach?  Johnson: I have always had an innate desire to create and express myself through art. It enables me to understand and make sense of the world around me, and I’ve always wanted to find a spot to help others empower themselves through creativity. Education is my landing spot. The classroom is a special place that can teach students essential life skills, but it is also a place for students to learn about themselves, others and the world. Art is the medium where I am able to guide students through these developmental processes, enabling them to overcome barriers that might have seemed too tall to scale. Brooks: My favorite subject to teach is definitely reading. I believe that there is a lot of power behind words and if you learn to use them in the right way, you’ll never be unheard or misunderstood. Green: Government. In the practicum program, I have observed and taught U.S. history, world history, and sociology, but government has been the most fun. Civics classes allow for discussion and activities that include resemblances of what you would see in a speech and debate club. Zane Green Did Covid affect your student-teaching plans?  Johnson: Not really, KCPS has been in-person the whole year, but my cooperating teacher and I have had to re-structure some of our lessons to accommodate Covid-related restrictions and to allot extra time for everyone to clean our art supplies and disinfect tables between classes.  Brooks: Covid actually did not interfere with any of the plans that I had for student teaching. When I started my student teaching in August, everything went exactly as my cooperating teacher and I planned. We did have to plan a little more as far as seating goes, or how far apart the students had to be, but that’s about it. Green: Absolutely! Despite getting vaccinated back in March and April, I got COVID the weekend before GCHS started. I missed the first two weeks of student teaching. I was finally able to go in, and then the fourth week of school my cooperating teacher tested positive so I spent the week with a substitute teacher. Covid has been hard on schools, especially the Omicron variant. How have you noticed it impacting your school community? You?  Johnson: Overall, the community, students, teachers and support staff, seem overwhelmed.  For me, it has been hard to get the students re-focused once they come back to school after being sick or caring for family. I have also had to be flexible with my lesson planning to allow more time for my students to catch up on their missing work. But the many teacher absences due to Covid have actually given me opportunities to substitute teach for my cooperating teacher and cover other classes, giving me lots of valuable experience in classroom management and in developing positive relationships with more students. Brooks: Omicron has definitely impacted our school community. There are kids being pulled out of class for testing left and right, and teachers are sick and out of the building, which is also hard for our school community because of the substitute teacher shortage. As for me, just making sure to be safe and aware of my health, while also doing the things I’m there to do, is another job within itself. Green: The last few days before winter break, we were missing 25% of the student body. The week of MLK day, we had closures Tuesday and Wednesday because too many students and staff had tested positive. For myself, it’s just a sinking feeling when I see I am going to be missing a student for 5-10 days. It is extremely disheartening and I’m left wondering how I catch all these kids up. What has been your favorite part of student-teaching so far?  Johnson: Working together alongside my students to imagine, investigate, construct and reflect on the creative process. Brooks: THE KIDS! Definitely. They are a constant reminder of what teaching means and why I chose this for myself. Even though I’m the teacher, they teach me every day how to be better as not only a teacher but a person. Green: When students “get it.” GCHS has a large population of English Language Learners, so whenever I find the right way to explain or word something to them it is very gratifying. Lea Johnson What is something that’s challenged you, or that you didn’t expect?  Johnson: It’s been challenging to keep students off their phones and focused on completing their work during class.  I knew cell phone addiction was a real thing, but now I have seen firsthand the negative impact it is having on our students’ academic performance.  Brooks: Oddly, the thing that has challenged me and the thing that I didn’t expect is the same thing: the relationships I have with the students. I didn’t expect that the students would have such an impact on me in such a short time, or that I would love them far beyond the classroom. This is also a challenge because oftentimes it’s hard to separate my life from theirs. I find myself wondering if they’re eating on weekends, sleeping well, etc. Green: The amount of time it takes to lesson plan, grade and prepare for class and how little time I have to do all of it. It’s all a part of the process and student-teaching is a full-time job, but it is hard to balance everything. What’s one word you would use to describe your teaching style?  Johnson: Warm-demander. I have a nurturing personality and developing positive relationships with my students comes easily to me, but I also have high expectations for my students and push them to work hard and create something they are proud of. Brooks: Free. I know that there are certain things that have to be taught and things that have to be done, but even with that there are ways to venture out and do things in a way that interests you and your students. Green: Flexible. I do my best not to talk at the board for more than five minutes at a time if I am giving direct instruction. I prefer to have students learn independently, with a partner or a small group. Teenagers don’t really want to listen to me, but they might listen to their peers. Feb 25, 2022

  • Making Meaningful Connections Through Dance

    Conservatory alumna shares how UMKC and Kansas City connections helped advance her career
    Without the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Miyesha McGriff (B.F.A. ’11) says she doesn’t know if she would have continued her career as a dancer. As a teen, McGriff, a Kansas City native, grew up spending her summers at The Ailey School, an exclusive modern dance school based in New York City. She trained at the Kansas City Ballet School from a young age where she became a company apprentice. While finishing her high school career, McGriff knew UMKC was her first choice of college — thanks to a ballet teacher who also happened to be a professor at the Conservatory. “I put in my applications and did my audition, and it was like instant, I knew I was going to UMKC. That ended up being a huge moment for me because without my UMKC connections or my Kansas City connections, I don’t think I would be where I’m at,” McGriff said. McGriff’s decision to attend the Conservatory set off a chain of events resulting in her joining the Collage Dance Collective of Memphis, Tennessee, as a company member in 2017. But how she got there was anything but the typical path for a career dancer. After graduating from the Conservatory in 2011, McGriff said she was nervous about entering the professional dance world but she audition for the Dallas Black Dance Theatre in Dallas, Texas anyway.  “It was interesting because I was ballet trained but it was more of a contemporary-modern based company,” McGriff said. “It was really hard. So after about a year, I quit. I just wanted to give up. It was the first time that dance became work for me and not just a release.” McGriff then decided to take a break from dance and made the decision to move back home to Kansas City. She took a job at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. “Everyone there was so amazing, they recognized how I used my dance background to enhance my performance at my job. I was very organized, I was always on time, and it helped me move up in promotions pretty quickly,” McGriff said. But even though she was taking a break from professional dance, she still had the itch to get back on the stage. McGriff said she would save all her paid-time-off during the year to take time off for rehearsals and perform with the Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company, a Kansas City-based company. “I would go to work from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., I would go to rehearsals from 5 – 11 p.m. and then on Saturdays, I would go to additional rehearsals. Then when we had theater week, I would use another week of PTO,” McGriff said. “Everyone in the office knew it. They would come to all of my shows and support me.” After working at the Community Foundation for about two years, McGriff said she felt the pull of professional dance once again. So, when she got an opportunity in New York City, she decided to ask for a seven-week leave of absence. “I contacted our human resources representative to ask for the leave, and she had just told me, ‘No. You need to go and experience this and if it doesn’t work out, you can come back, and you will have a job.’ I still have such a good relationship with them to this day, I’ve been away from Kansas City for eight or nine years and I know I can still call them,” McGriff said. “I am so thankful for that time with them because it made me appreciate dancing and what it means to have it.” Once in New York, McGriff spent seven weeks trying to find a job. When she went into the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to see some old friends she struck up a conversation with someone she knew from her time there as a teen.  “She asked me ‘What are you doing?’ and I was just like, ‘I don’t know. I think I’m trying to figure out my life,’” McGriff said. That conversation would help her land a job as a summer program chaperon, which lead to another job within the organization. She worked her way up to an administrative assistant to the directors of the Juniors Divison. “Everyone’s path is for a reason and you have to respect your path and journey. The biggest thing you have to learn is that everyone else’s path is not your path. It’s the hardest and the biggest thing,” McGriff said. After teaching for a couple of years, McGriff said she once again felt the pull to dance professionally when an old Ailey coworker reached out about an opportunity at the Collage Dance Collective, where she dances today. “UMKC absolutely helped me get where I am today,” McGriff said. “Everyone there is rooting for you. That’s why they are professors, that’s why they are in the space that they are. They want you to have a good experience, if not better, than what they had.” Feb 23, 2022

  • Women’s Council Escalates Scholars’ Success

    More than $2 million has helped enrich academic careers of more than 2,000 women
    The UMKC Women’s Council Graduate Assistance Fund has awarded $90,000 to 53 recipients to support post-graduate work this year. The UMKC Women’s Council celebrated 51 years of supporting women in graduate studies and honoring the 2022 awardees with a reception on Thursday, Feb. 24. Each woman’s focus is different, but their dedication to their academic and professional careers is paramount. 2022 UMKC Women's Council Graduate Assistance Fund recipients Sunny Rugerri, Ph.D. ‘22, is studying to be a nurse researcher with a focus on developing programs and interventions to improve patient health. The GAF selected Rugerri as a funding recipient to support her research on low compliance rates among women with breast cancer who are prescribed oral medications that reduce the possibility of their cancer returning following surgery. “I want to provide courage and eventually create a tailored intervention for the vulnerable populations and support them to endure the painfully long process of fighting and surviving breast cancer.” — Sunny Rugerri Rugerri’s research was inspired by a fellow nursing student and friend who contracted breast cancer when she was 30 years old. Her outcome has been good, but her battle left a mark on Rugerri. “She held on to her dreams even as her condition worsened,” Rugerri says. “I learned that breast cancer can be devastating for anyone.” Leslie Boe, J.D., UMKC Women's Council president While taking oral medications, such as Tamoxifen, for five years greatly improves patients’ chances of surviving the disease and mitigating its reoccurrence, patients often stop taking them because of side effects. “I want to provide courage and eventually create a tailored intervention for the vulnerable populations and support them to endure the painfully long process of fighting and surviving breast cancer,” Rugerri says. Fellow GAF funding recipient Anya Pogorelova, D.M.A. ’22, was inspired by one of her earliest piano teachers to pursue music as a profession. “Rusudan Chigogidze was a remarkable woman,” Pogorelova says. “She was 77 years old when she took me on as a student. That alone should speak to just how inspiring she was.” Pogorelova is committed to diversifying classical music literature by commissioning composers from a variety of backgrounds and producing professional recordings that will be available on easily accessible platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music. Just as Pogorelova’s teacher was her inspiration, she wants to inspire her students. “It’s very important to amplify diverse voices in music, and it’s just as important to ensure that this generation’s composers receive proper compensation for their work.” — Anya Pogorelova “I think every concert-goer and every musician would be thrilled to see themselves represented on stage and in the music. As a middle school teacher, I felt it was incredibly important for my students to have the ability to draw personal connections to composers, guest artists or musical figures. I wanted them to find that sense of familiarity and think, ‘That person is a lot like me. I could do that too!’ That’s an experience I wish I had when I was growing up.” GAF funding will allow Pogorelova to commission work performed by the UMKC Wind Symphony. “It’s very important to amplify diverse voices in music, and it’s just as important to ensure that this generation’s composers receive proper compensation for their work,” Pogorelova says. UMKC Women’s Council president Leslie Boe became involved in the Women’s Council after attending an awards ceremony. She was inspired by the women graduate students’ work and was invited to apply for a position on the board of directors. “The work our graduate students are doing is always innovative, interesting and impressive. These hardworking women are going to change the world, and I’m continually inspired by them. I’m honored to play a small role in their journey.” Established in 1971, the UMKC Women’s Council Graduate Assistance Fund supports 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. Feb 22, 2022

  • Assistant Professor Shares Expertise in Documentary

    Assistant Professor Erin Hambrick, Ph.D. was one of several experts featured
    Erin Hambrick, Ph.D. was featured in the documentary, Becoming Trauma Responsive, which premiered Feb. 21, 2022. The film, which was produced by the Kansas State University College of Education, asked experts to weigh in on the effects of trauma on learning, behavior and developing relationships.  The film documents the experiences of three schools in Kansas and Missouri both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Hambrick, who studies the effect of trauma on children, was one of the experts who spoke about trauma and how trauma-responsive adults can improve resiliency in children.  "When we make our classrooms and our work places more trauma responsive, we are actually helping everyone. It's just that we might be helping people who have histories of trauma even more," said Hambrick in the film. The film is available to view online here. Feb 22, 2022

  • Alumnus Leads a Pillar of the Kansas City Community

    Bloch School of Management selects Mike Perry to receive 2022 Alumni Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration.The Henry W. Bloch School of Management is honoring Mike Perry (B.B.A. ’89) with its Class of 2022 Alumni Achievement Award. Mike Perry (B.B.A. ’89) is the president and chief executive officer of Hallmark Cards, Inc., the iconic, family-owned brand founded and based in Kansas City. In addition to the well-known greeting cards business, Hallmark Cards, Inc. owns Crayola and Crown Media Family Networks, offering three linear cable channels and a subscription streaming service. Perry has been an employee of Hallmark since 1989 and held numerous leadership positions within the company, including as president and CEO of Crayola. Perry is only the second person outside of the Hall family to be named CEO of Hallmark Cards, Inc. A long-time member of the Kansas City community, Perry is involved with United Way and Children’s Mercy. We asked Perry about his long career with Hallmark and how his time at UMKC helped shape his career. You’ve managed so many different facets of business from marketing to finance, HR to operations. Which is your favorite? What has been a favorite project or initiative you have led or been part of? Honestly, I have enjoyed each of the various roles. I have always enjoyed more general management roles that incorporate each of the different functions across the business. My favorite roles, outside of my current role, were as the president of Hallmark Flowers and as the president & CEO of Crayola. Both roles prepared me nicely for my current assignment. What advice do you have for students who’d like to follow in your footsteps? Go do what you get excited about doing. A job with a promising career path or high compensation won’t be enough in the end. Don’t get me wrong, these are not bad things –but if you lack passion for the work, there will likely always be a nagging “fulfillment gap.” How did UMKC prepare you for, or contribute to, your success? I was grateful to have UMKC as an option. I needed to work to attend college, and I knew clearly that I was interested in business. UMKC gave me great options that enabled both things. I had good instructors. The practical applications for life and business were good, but the enduring value instilled was a mindset toward continuous learning and growth. The mentors and new information we need to keep growing and evolving –it’s all out there. But you do have to have a proactive plan for seeking it. Word or phrase you use most often? Thank you. What is your favorite book, movie, podcast, television show, etc.? Wow –not sure I have just one?? But let me be clear that my favorite cable channel is the Hallmark Channel!! About the Alumni Awards Join us in honoring Perry and the other Class of 2022 awardees at an in-person celebration at 6 p.m. April 29, at the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center. To register, visit UMKC's Alumni Association website. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. Feb 21, 2022

  • Football Family with Ties to UMKC Enjoys Super Bowl Victory

    Former Kansas City Chiefs player and current UMKC staff member helped cheer his son to a Super Bowl win.
    Jerry Blanton, Associate Director of the Student Union, says watching his son play for the LA Rams and win the Super Bowl is a once in a lifetime experience. Talent and athletic ability run deep in the Blanton family. Jerry Blanton was drafted out of the University of Kentucky by the Buffalo Bills. After a short stint in New York, he came to Missouri and signed with the Kansas City Chiefs. Blanton played  linebacker for the Chiefs for seven seasons. “I loved playing football. Back then the game was different, and I enjoyed being on the field, working hard and playing in Kansas City.” When Blanton retired from the NFL, he immediately began taking steps to fulfill his lifelong dream of working in law enforcement. As a kid he always dreamt of becoming an FBI agent and while in college, he prioritized his studies with that end goal in mind. Blanton worked for a number of years as a lead investigator for the Kansas City’s prosecutor’s office in the drug and sex crimes unit.  After several years in that role, he sought out a new opportunity in a different industry working as an area manager for a major beer distributor. Blanton enjoyed that role for a number of years before moving to Kentucky to serve as Deputy Commissioner over more than 52 state parks and 17 resorts.  “That was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. I loved the work and was challenged by it. At the time I was the highest-ranking African-American ever appointed in the history of Kentucky’s State Parks Department and took pride in it.”  But with a young son and daughter back in Missouri, Blanton needed to get back to the Show-Me state.    Upon his return to Missouri, Blanton started working out regularly with his son Kendall, a basketball and football player in his grade school years. Blanton enjoyed working out with his son and helping instill strong values including work ethic, compassion, kindness and love.    “I always taught him to have a strong work ethic and to be humble. At times when he was defeated or down on himself I’d tell him ‘sometimes you have to go through the back door to open the front,’ meaning keep working hard and trying your best and things will work out.”    Things certainly did workout for Kendall Blanton. After graduating from the University of Missouri, Kendall signed with the LA Rams as a free agent. When the Rams starting tight end got injured, Blanton was the next man up on the roster and became the starting tight end for Super Bowl 56. In his third season with the LA Rams, Blanton got to start in the big game and win a championship.   “I always tell my son how proud of I am of him for living his dream. Winning a Super Bowl is something few NFL players get to experience and I’m so proud of him for accomplishing that milestone and getting this experience.” Feb 21, 2022

  • From the Dairy Farm to the Supreme Court

    UMKC School of Law selects J. Kent Emison to receive Alumni Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. UMKC is honoring J. Kent Emison (J.D. ’81) with its Class of 2022 School of Law Alumni Achievement Award. Not long after graduating from UMKC School of Law in 1981, Emison met Bob Langdon, who has now been his law partner for 35 years. They had a monumental product liability case, Baker vs. General Motors, which found its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and a favorable verdict brought national attention to their growing practice. Emison has gone on to be recognized by countless professional organizations. He is a Fellow in the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, placing him in the top 1% of lawyers in the world.  In 2017, he received the Thomas G. Strong Trial Attorney Award from the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys for his leadership. Inspired to become a lawyer by his great uncle, Emison now pays it forward. He has sponsored many law students to attend conferences and seminars, and he and his firm regularly sponsor mock trial teams and provide scholarships. How did you know you wanted to be an attorney?   I knew I wanted to be an attorney when I was a junior in high school. I was raised on a dairy farm and most of my extended family on both sides were farmers. However, I had a great uncle who was a law professor at Washington University. He would visit my family once a year. He was a very dynamic person who made a point to have a conversation with me whenever he visited. This made a great impression on me. While this was not the only reason I wanted to be an attorney, it was a great influence, along with the realization that I was a not very good at farming!   What was the most exciting or challenging part of Baker v. General Motors? The most challenging part of the Baker case was the sheer scope of it. Bob and I were the only two attorneys who worked on the trial part of Baker. GM had five or six different firms retained to defend the case, including Dick Bowman, the lead GM trial lawyer from Bowman & Brooke, a firm based in Minnesota. The case was an enormous undertaking for us, but after almost 10 years and a trip to the U.S. Supreme Court we were successful in resolving that case. Ken Starr was GM’s lawyer in the Supreme Court. While Bob and I were the trial lawyers, we worked with Laurence Tribe on the Supreme Court appeal. Professor Tribe is a great lawyer and was tremendous to work with on the Baker case. The entire experience of seeing the case go to the Supreme Court and the great lawyering on both sides was very exciting. What advice do you have for students who’d like to follow in your footsteps? Regardless of what type of law you practice, work with good lawyers who are good people. Do not worry about how much money you make when you start your career. Make sure you like what you do and who you work with. If the answer to either of these is “no,” think about a change. Regardless of the type or size of project you are working on, make sure your work product is done in a quality manner. Bigger and better projects or cases will result from excellent work on smaller cases and projects. When you get an assignment from another attorney, be sure you fully understand the assignment. I recommend to young lawyers to do the following:  If possible, get the assignment in writing. If you are given a verbal assignment, then repeat your understanding to your boss and then follow it up with an email or something in writing to document the assignment. Be sure to get the due date for completion, and don’t be late! About the Alumni Awards Join us in honoring Emison and the other Class of 2022 awardees at an in-person celebration at 6 p.m. April 29, at the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center. To register, visit UMKC's Alumni Association website. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online.  Feb 21, 2022

  • Continuing the Fight for Human Rights

    Melissa Zarda receives College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. The UMKC College of Arts and Sciences is honoring Melissa Zarda (B.A. '02, M.A. '07) with its Class of 2022 Alumni Achievement Award. Melissa Zarda owns and runs a successful small business as a freelance graphic and web designer, all while still taking the time to fight for human rights all the way to the Supreme Court. After the death of her brother, Don, she led the cause to prevent people from being fired for their sexual orientation or gender identity in his honor. Zarda sought help from the ACLU, a trusted attorney and the Director of the Stanford Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. What made you choose to continue your brother’s mission after his passing? We never considered not continuing the case. In order to pursue the case, we had to make a decision in a short window of time after his passing. Bill, my brother’s boyfriend, and I were on the same page from the beginning. We had both spent so much time consoling Don over the years, since this case impacted him so heavily, that we knew there was no other option. We also knew there were so many others who were discriminated against in the workplace, just like Don was, we wanted to do whatever we could to help them fight, too. What advice would you have for someone taking on such a monumental case? Surround yourself with experienced and trustworthy people. I relied on our teams from the ACLU and the Stanford Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, as well as other nonprofits such as Freedom for All Americans. I can’t thank these groups enough. Reach out to friends and family for support, and try to take care of your mental and physical health. The ups and downs can be emotionally draining. How did UMKC prepare you for your success? All of my instructors were genuinely interested in my well-being. They would offer encouragement and ideas to further my study in whatever I was passionate about. After going to school in the suburbs, it was exciting to be on an urban campus and to hear different perspectives. I applied the skills I learned at UMKC to every job I’ve ever had post-graduation. Zarda is a graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences with a bachelor’s in Studio Art and a master’s in Sociology. She enjoys spending her spare time volunteering with various animal welfare nonprofits. About Alumni Awards Join us in honoring Zarda and the other Class of 2022 awardees at an in-person celebration at 6 p.m. April 29, at the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center. To register, visit UMKC's Alumni Association website. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. Feb 18, 2022

  • Professor Emeritus Receives National Music Award

    James Mobberley was recognized by the American Academy of Arts and Letters for music composition
    James Mobberley, Curators’ Professor Emeritus in the Conservatory, was recently named a national Music Award recipient from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Mobberley is one of four people to receive the Arts and Letters Award in Music, honoring outstanding artistic achievement and original compositional voice. Each awardee receives $10,000, plus an additional $10,000 to record their composition. Awardees will also have their music presented in concert at the Academy. “The American Academy of Arts and Letters is one of the most significant organizations in the world that focuses on support of creative work in multiple fields,” said Mobberley. “I am more than honored and humbled to be included among this year's group of extraordinary peers, especially now as we collectively begin the long, laborious recovery process from two years of COVID's devastating effect on the arts.” Mobberley is one of 18 Music Award recipients in 2022, with awards totaling $205,000. Candidates for these awards are nominated by the Academy’s 300 members. Mobberley joined the UMKC Conservatory faculty in 1983 and helped build the university’s highly regarded music composition program in his years with the university. He retired in 2016 as the Curators’ Professor of Music Composition. He previously has been awarded the Rome Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Mobberley has been a resident composer with the Kansas City Symphony (1992-1999), and a visiting composer with both the Taiwan National Symphony (1999) and the Fort Smith Symphony (2000). “Dr. Mobberley was a cornerstone of not just the composition area but the entire Conservatory for over three decades,” said Andrew Granade, interim dean of the Conservatory. “We’ve long known and celebrated the excellence of his musical gifts here in Kansas City, but it is gratifying to see it recognized nationally by the American Academy, one of the premier societies dedicated to advancing the arts in the United States. I can think of no one more deserving of this award.” The American Academy of Arts and Letters was founded in 1898 as an honor society of the country’s leading architects, artists, composers, and writers. Awards are given as part of the Academy’s mission to foster interest in literature, music and the fine arts. Feb 17, 2022

  • From Humble Beginnings to Renowned Composer

    UMKC honors Xi Wang, Ph.D. with the Conservatory Alumni Achievement award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. The UMKC Conservatory is honoring Xi Wang, Ph.D. (M.M. ‘03) with its Class of 2022 Alumni Achievement Award. Born 1978 in China, just after the cultural revolution, Xi Wang learned never to take anything for granted. Recognizing her musical talent, her father and mother made great financial sacrifices to ensure that she received training. After completing her bachelor’s in music from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Xi came to UMKC to study under Chen Yi, Ph.D. and Zhou Long, Ph.D.Assistant Professor Xi holds a doctoral degree from Cornell University. She is internationally celebrated with works commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony and Shanghai Philharmonic. In addition to composing, Xi teaches at Meadow School of Arts of Southern Methodist University. Was music a large part of your childhood? My father bought me a toy piano as a gift when I was four. The toy piano cost the equivalent of two U.S. dollars at that time-about half of my mother’s monthly income. My father taught me the piano by playing some children’s songs using one finger. One year later, he borrowed an old piano from the museum where he worked and brought it home. I started learning to play some longer, more complex songs with three fingers. Apparently, I showed unusual sensitivity to pitch and an excellent ability to memorize tones. A music teacher told my parents that he thought I had a talent for music. So, my parents found me a piano teacher. One dollar per lesson, four lessons per month, four dollars per month. That was my mother’s entire monthly salary! When did you first realize that you wanted to work in music? When I started winning local piano competitions, my parents were excited! Music was a high-class art form they had hardly dared to imagine. When I turned six, my parents cashed out all their savings and gathered money from their relatives and friends—around $250—to buy me a new, real piano. When it was delivered to our home on a tricycle, all the neighbors came out to touch the “furniture” they had only seen in newspapers or magazines. My parents spent the next three years working and saving to pay off this “fancy furniture.”  Music is a beautiful, but very expensive gift that my parents gave me in childhood. I learned my first lesson about life- never take anything for granted. Education and opportunity are precious. Has teaching changed your relationship with music? What do you enjoy most about it? Teaching deepened my relationship with music. It makes me rethink of what I have learned about music. Through the process of teaching, I am learning new things constantly too. What advice do you have for students who’d like to follow in your footsteps? Work hard and keep challenging yourself. It’s not necessarily a bad thing if you encounter something “unfair.” It will happen and it happens in everyone’s life. You just have to flip it to your advantage, let it motivate you. Take it as an opportunity to make you stronger while accepting it could feel very frustrating at the beginning. How did UMKC contribute to your success? I had remarkable professors who not only helped me to learn about music, but also took care of me as their child and continuously fostered me along my career development even after I graduated. Dr. Chen Yi, Dr. Zhou Long, Dr. James Mobberley, Dr. Paul Rudy, Dr. William Everett and many others, including staff members at the international student office. I also met many warm-hearted friends, who loaned me their notes, helped me to learn the computer, drove me around and explained American culture to me.Besides the academic preparation, it was people’s care and love that has shined through all the years since I started my American adventure at UMKC. What is your proudest accomplishment? Being a mother of two adorable children while maintaining a career as a composer and a professor. Where can you be found on the weekends? What are your hobbies? I have about 20 plants at home to water during work breaks. Occasionally, I do some clay sculpture and painting. About Alumni Awards Join us in honoring Xi and the other Class of 2022 awardees at an in-person celebration at 6 p.m. April 29, at the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center. To register, visit UMKC's Alumni Association website. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. Feb 17, 2022

  • Bloch Student Stars in Startup Reality Show

    Jonaie Johnson is one of 20 contestants on ‘The Blox’
    UMKC MBA student Jonaie Johnson is competing in a 17-part online reality TV series featuring startup entrepreneurs from around the country. Johnson is the founder of Interplay, a company marketing an interactive dog crate that allows owners to interact with their pets while they are away from home. The show is called “The Blox,” and is available online by downloading an app from BetaBlox, a Kansas City company providing multiple forms of support for entrepreneurs. The show follows a game format with daily winners of competitions on entrepreneurial themes such as inbound marketing, growth hacking and fundraising. This is just the latest accolade for Johnson and Interplay. She was recognized as the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management Student Entrepreneur of the Year in 2020 as an undergrad. She is currently enrolled in an MBA program at the Bloch School. Johnson also was a starter on the UMKC Women’s Basketball team that won a Western Athletic Conference championship in 2020. Interplay is a dog crate designed to provide remote interaction – including video and audio access, locking and unlocking features and the ability to provide food and water – for a dog and its owner through a mobile app. “I developed the idea for Interplay for a project when I was in high school,” Johnson said. “My aunt was always leaving our family events to go home to feed her dog. I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to do that remotely?’ I want Interplay to be the Apple of dog crates.” Feb 16, 2022

  • Award-Winning Political Journalist Delivers 2022 Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture

    Yamiche Alcindor has become a go-to voice in analyzing the most critical political issues
    This year’s virtual Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture was hosted by Yamiche Alcindor, an award-winning political journalist who has spent most of her career covering how political policy impacts the everyday American.  Alcindor is the White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour, Moderator of Washington Week and an NBC and MSNBC Political Contributor. She often appears on shows like Morning Joe, Meet the Press and Andrea Mitchell Reports.   The daughter of Haitian immigrants who met while attending Boston College, Alcindor has written extensively on the intersection of race and politics. She has covered the impact of former President Donald Trump’s politics on the working-class, immigration and breaking news from Africa, the Middle East and Asia.  “Being Haitian-American for me, whenever I walk into the White House it is a big deal. I can’t even imagine what my grandparents would think about their granddaughter, who only a few decades after they arrived here, is now in the White House questioning the President of the United States,” Alcindor said.  Alcindor is the recipient of the White House Correspondents’ Association Aldo Beckman Award for Overall Excellence in White House Coverage, as well as the 2020 Journalist of the Year Award from the  National Association of Black Journalists. She earned a master’s degree in broadcast news and documentary filmmaking from New York University and a bachelor’s in English, Government and African American studies from Georgetown University.  The 2022 lecture was delivered in a question-and-answer format, in a dialogue between Alcindor and Glen Rice, a reporter who has been at the Kansas City Star 34 years. Rice himself has received numerous national, regional and local journalism awards for investigations, feature writing and breaking news coverage.  The hour-long discussion covered a wide range of topics. Below are a few questions from the discussion. Question: How did Dr. King’s legacy inspire you? How did his quest for equity inspire you as a journalist?  Alcindor: He inspired me because he was someone who wasn’t afraid of just telling it like it is. He wasn’t afraid of pushing America to be better. He was there on the Selma bridge pushing people to recognize the humanity of Black people. I think about some of the quotes that he said that really stick with me, like what he said about knowing the character of someone during times of challenge and controversy. I often think about those words because I believe right now, we are living through times of challenge and controversy.   Q: Where do you get your news from?  A: As a Miami native, I think about local news first. Supporting local news is so incredibly important. These are the people that are going to tell you where your tax dollars are going, whether the mayor is stealing your money, or if you have a Jeffrey Epstein in your backyard, that’s who is going to uncover it, in the case of the Miami Herald. I read the Miami Herald, the Sun-Sentinel, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post. Nationally, I read the New York Times, the Guardian, in terms of television I watch BBC, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, and a little bit of Fox News.  About the Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture Series Beginning with the Rosa Parks Lecture on Social Justice and Activism in 2007, and annually since 2009 with the Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture Series, the Division of Diversity and Inclusion honors individuals' tremendous contributions to furthering civil rights by bringing national thought leaders to campus, who provide insight and advocacy to current civil rights issues on education, economic and justice system inequalities.  The goal of the lecture is to encourage UMKC students, staff, faculty and the Kansas City community to build upon the courageous, non-violent activism of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., and to increase awareness of present-day avenues to advocate for civil rights through free thought, action and scholarship.  Feb 16, 2022

  • New Initiative Works to Diversify Faculty

    Faculty Search Support Team works closely with academic search committees
    A new initiative to create a more diverse faculty is now underway at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. A Faculty Search Support Team now works closely with search committees working to fill full-time faculty positions. Led by Makini King, interim vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion; and Diane Filion, vice provost for faculty affairs; the team helps search committee members implement evidence-based inclusive hiring strategies to recruit a diverse pool of applicants and to reduce bias in the review of applications. The concept was developed by a faculty diversity task force initiated through Roos Advocate for Community Change, a Chancellor’s Office program working to help ensure UMKC is a welcoming place where all can thrive. “The process produced very intentional and specific recommendations,” King said. “The Provost and Chancellor have been very supportive – it’s a high priority for leadership.” Acting on the task force’s recommendations, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Jennifer Lundgren approved the hiring of two Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Fellows to participate as members of the team. The Fellows are Michelle Smirnova, associate professor of Sociology; and Sandy Rodriguez, associate dean of Libraries. Rounding out the team and providing critical guidance on HR hiring processes is Susan Hankins, the campus Academic HR Specialist. Step one for the new team was to research best practices in faculty diversification, consulting with J. Luke Wood, Dean's Distinguished Professor of Education at San Diego State University, a nationally recognized expert in the topic. “We identified the top two places where we can have an impact,” Filion said. “First is the wording of job descriptions along with how and where ads are placed. Second is how search committees evaluate applicants, with a focus on strategies to reduce bias in that process.” The team developed written guidelines for faculty search committees and meets with each committee during the search process to discuss and guide implementation. The materials include a how-to on writing inclusive job descriptions. Search committees are advised to clearly and explicitly communicate factors such as the university’s commitment to the recruitment, retention, and promotion of underrepresented faculty; consideration of applicants who have had nontraditional career paths; and willingness to offer broad opportunities for candidates to demonstrate evidence of teaching effectiveness. The document points out that student evaluations are frequently biased against women, faculty of color, and those from other historically marginalized groups. Materials also include an Inclusive Recruitment Plan Worksheet. UMKC requires faculty searches have an Inclusive Recruitment Plan (IRP) as a component of the search process. The IRP requires search committees to list specific actions designed to attract a diverse applicant pool, such as identifying scholars in the field from underrepresented backgrounds and requesting they circulate the job posting to their professional networks; and identifying graduate programs recognized for having high numbers of underrepresented graduates in the field and reaching out to those departments with a request for the job posting to be shared with their advanced doctoral students and alumni. Throughout the process, the team works with search committee members to review strategies, devise inclusive interview questions and avoid common mistakes, with an emphasis on identifying biases and minimizing their impact.  Feb 16, 2022

  • School of Pharmacy’s Daryl Whitehead Forging a Path for Future Students

    As School of Pharmacy recognizes Black History Month, it celebrates the accomplishments and contributions of the school’s Black community who are m...
    Meet Daryl Whitehead, a third-year student at the UMKC School of Pharmacy, whose goal is to serve underrepresented and marginalized groups as a clinical pharmacist while also serving as a preceptor and mentor for future pharmacists.   Why did you choose the UMKC School of Pharmacy? I originally selected UMKC as one of my top choices for schools to attend that had a respected pharmacy program while doing research when I was in high school. Of my top three choices, UMKC was closest choice to home and also offered a well-balanced price for the program I was looking for.  How have UMKC and UMKC School of Pharmacy embraced and supported you as a Black student? Throughout my years as a student at UMKC, I have been offered numerous scholarship opportunities, the task of becoming an influential resident assistant and the chance to take part in numerous organizations on the campus such as UMKC's African American Cultivating Excellence (AACE) mentoring program, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, National Community Pharmacy Association, and Student College of Clinical Pharmacy. Becoming a resident assistant on campus my sophomore year of college allowed me to connect with so many residents between Johnson and Oak Hall, creating memories and long-lasting friendships along the way. Every organization on campus has allowed me to help bring student involvement opportunities to the campus and offered me the opportunity to travel to places like Canada and North Carolina which is always exciting and fun. Why would you encourage prospective students from your background to consider the UMKC School of Pharmacy? Whenever I encounter a student of the minority that wants to pursue a professional degree, my main encouragement is to keep going when things get tough. Whenever you feel tired, doubtful or even defeated remember who you are striving to be. Find your "Why" and use it as fuel to keep going. Whenever you do great, remember to celebrate it, embrace yourself and feel proud. Once you get to your end goal remember that you are a beacon to kids who grow up after you, and you are breaking generational barriers and inspiring kids at the same time.  What do you hope to do in pharmacy when you graduate and how do you feel the School of Pharmacy is helping prepare you for that? As I get closer to becoming a pharmacist, I grow more interested in becoming an ambulatory care pharmacist. I aspire to work at a veterans affairs hospital in the future and I will pursue residencies to reach that goal. UMKC School of Pharmacy helps prepare students achieve their goals by offering Pharmacy Practice Experiences that expose students to different fields of pharmacy. There is also a good number of courses and electives available to help students as well. I look forward to graduation and becoming a pharmacist, it will be a huge achievement for not only me, but for my family and the friends I have back home that root for me. As the youngest of five boys, I am the first to graduate high school and pursue a college degree, a doctorate degree at that! It makes me happy to know that I am making a way for my nephews, nieces, little cousins, the kids in my neighborhood, and students I visit when going back to my old schools. There will be opportunities for me to bridge gaps in health care for the underserved community. Helping patients be more knowledgeable about their health and creating a trusted relationship with each individual I encounter. Feb 15, 2022

  • Dentistry Researcher Receives Prestigious Accolades

    Mentorship is the fabric that runs through Erin Bumann’s work
    From a fellowship to funding, big things will be happening in craniofacial bone development in the lab of researcher Erin Bumann, D.D.S., Ph.D., M.S. at the UMKC School of Dentistry. Bumann is an assistant professor in the Department of Oral and Craniofacial Sciences. The primary goal of her lab is to identify nonsurgical methods to change the size and shape of the bones in the face in hopes that children either do not need to undergo surgery or need less invasive surgery to address craniofacial deformities.  Most recently, she’s received foundational funding from the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to public health. It’s especially meaningful for Bumann, whose grandfather is from Mexico, that the funding comes from the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program. The program was created to increase the number of faculty from historically disadvantaged backgrounds and will offer four years of support for her research as well as opportunities to network with fellow scholars in the program including an annual meeting. “I’m excited for the opportunity to have colleagues around me from similar backgrounds, having some difficult conversations,” said Bumann. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to open up and have some honest conversations while also sharing resources and finding out what’s going on at other programs.” Bumann has also been selected for the American Dental Association Gold Medal Fellowship. The award is only given out every three years to one individual nationally. According to Bumann, her selection carries that much more weight because she was selected by one of her role models, Martha J. Somerman, D.D.S, Ph.D. Somerman was the first woman to win the ADA Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Dental Research. She is also the current past director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, an organization that has awarded Bumann a grant that enabled her to continue her research into jaw development in quail and duck eggs. “Because of the pandemic I hadn’t had a chance to interact with her as much as in past years, so it’s been wonderful to catch up with her and reconnect,” said Bumann. “It’s really meant a great deal that someone with her breadth of experience looked at my body of work and saw it as impactful.” Another opportunity that comes with the award is presenting her research as a continuing education course at the American Dental Association’s 2023 annual meeting. “It’s such an important part of research, making sure that the research that we’re doing can directly impact patients,” said Bumann. “There can be a disconnect between dentistry and the research, so communicating with our clinical colleagues is so important and this is a great opportunity for that.” Mentorship is an important part of Bumann’s work, not only as a mentee but also a mentor to others. “I’ve been really blessed all along my entire career path to have wonderful mentors,” she said. “Mentorship is a big part of what I enjoy and I think it’s so important to pay it forward."  Bumann is an active mentor for a number of groups on campus. She is a part of the Avanzando Mentorship Program, which is designed to support Latinx students on campus with individualized support in reaching their academic and career pursuits. She also mentors through the Students Training in Academia, Health and Research (STAHR) Partnership, collaborative program with the UMKC schools of medicine, dentistry and pharmacy. The program is designed to increase the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds entering health care programs. For Bumann’s time in the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program, she’s excited to see where other schools have had success in their diversity programs. “I look forward to learning from colleagues at other schools and institutions who’ve already tried different approaches and finding out their best practices,” she said. “I’m hoping to bring some new ideas back with me to UMKC.” Ultimately, one of the greatest gifts in mentorship for Bumann is seeing her mentees reach their ultimate goal at UMKC. “Last year, five of my past mentees – either from the STAHR program or my lab – all graduated,” she said. “To see that first cohort walk across the stage at Commencement was really special.” Feb 15, 2022

  • UMKC Professional Career Escalators Program Helps Students Get a Jump-Start on Careers

    Innovative approach bundles support services to help students prepare for and secure high-paying careers
    Earning a college degree is nice, but for most students, the end goal is to land a high-paying and rewarding career after graduation. UMKC is launching a new program to help students achieve that goal. The University of Missouri-Kansas City is working to transform the higher education model by shifting the focus from degree attainment to career outcomes, offering an innovative approach to better prepare students to enter the workforce and land professional, high-paying careers. This bold new idea is part of the UMKC Forward initiative, a multi-year investment by the university to meet and exceed the demands of today’s college student. The "Professional Career Escalators"SM (Career Escalators) program provides a unique set of specialized student supports designed to facilitate academic to career connections. Services include: Career development Mentoring by professionals in the community Applied learning opportunities Leadership development Professional or grad school preparation Applications are open now to land one of 200 spots in the inaugural Career Escalators class, which launches in Fall 2022. Incoming students and transfer students may apply for this program by submitting transcripts, a letter of recommendation and a short video that demonstrates a student’s character and desire to enter the program. The deadline to apply is April 1 and the first class will be announced this spring. The Career Escalators program is unique because of the way UMKC is bundling together such a robust collection of services for students. This program provides the support team, resources and peer collaboration needed to align a student’s academic journey with their future career goals. “We are thrilled to launch this first cohort and blown away by the buzz this program is starting to generate,” said Mako Miller, M.A.Ed, director of the Professional Career Escalators program. “We’re really working to shift focus beyond the degree to the desired outcome of job readiness upon graduation. By starting post-college career planning earlier and aligning those plans with job shadowing opportunities and mentorship, our graduates will be more prepared, confident and successful in their careers.” An added financial benefit makes this program even more appealing. Career Escalators students can choose between a $2,500 annual on-campus housing scholarship, or $1,500 applied toward the cost of tuition. Participants also have the option to live in a living/learning community with other students in the program. Just like professional networking, this living/learning model promotes building connections, and adds yet another layer of similarity between academic life and the workforce.   Apply today Feb 15, 2022

  • Bilingual Psychotherapist Provides Critical Care

    UMKC School of Education selects Lucero Garibay to receive Alumni Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. UMKC is honoring Lucero Garibay (M.A. ’16) with its Class of 2022 School of Education Alumni Achievement Award. While it would have been natural for Lucero Garibay, a Chicago native, to stay closer to home to pursue her graduate degree in mental health, she chose to attend UMKC. Although she knew no one at the university when she applied, the school’s mission, that includes “meeting the varied psychological, social, and educational needs of individuals, couples and families in diverse urban communities,” aligns with her personal mission of giving back to her own community. Garibay returned to Chicago and is a successful psychotherapist with Pilsen Wellness Center, an organization that focuses on culturally sensitive approaches in their services to support family relationships, community empowerment and economic development. How has your cultural heritage and being bilingual impacted your career working so closely with people? Being bilingual is a beautiful part of my identity in and of itself, but it also serves as an invaluable resource in the mental health field. There already exists a shortage in mental health services across the field. There is an even more severe shortage of mental health providers that are able to fully comprehend the cultural and language barriers faced in so many of our communities. Visibly being witness to the ease that clients exude when they are paired with a provider whom, not only shares their cultural heritage but also speaks the language they are most comfortable with, is an experience truly difficult to put into words. I am inherently grateful. How do you manage the challenges of working with individuals going through trauma? Holding space for others’ trauma and emotional pain on a daily basis is not something one becomes accustomed to. I have worked hard towards learning how to take care of myself in order to provide the best possible care for my clients. One of the most difficult lessons faced in the early days of my career was learning not to take certain things home with me. Some days are heavier on the heart than others. I check in with myself on my way home from work, ask for space if I need it, and do something kind for myself. What is your favorite UMKC memory? Most of my favorite UMKC memories can be attributed to the home I found within UMKC Residential Life. I served as an assistant residential life coordinator at Johnson Hall for two years. Being part of the team at Residential Life granted me a support system that I would have otherwise felt lost without in Kansas City. I remain friends with many of the colleagues I worked alongside with to this very day. I could never thank them enough for the emotional support they and the department provided me with as I pursued my graduate degree, far from the comforts of Chicago. What advice do you have for students who’d like to follow in your footsteps? Keep your mind and options open. Some of us continue working within the settings and populations that call out to us when we are in school. However, many of us will find an entirely different setting or population to pour our passions into. Second, compassion fatigue is a very real thing. Don’t let your pursuits in the healing of others take you along with it. Take care of yourself. Your clients will thank you for it. About the Alumni Awards Join us in honoring Garibay and the other Class of 2022 awardees at an in-person celebration at 6 p.m. April 29, at the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center. To register, visit UMKC's Alumni Association website. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. Feb 14, 2022

  • Love of Children and Dentistry Drives Career

    UMKC School of Dentistry selects Brenda Bohaty to receive Alumni Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. UMKC is honoring Brenda Bohaty (Ph.D. ’09) with its Class of 2022 School of Dentistry Alumni Achievement Award. What drew you to dentistry? And what made you want to work with children? I grew up in a small rural town in Nebraska and my dentist was literally “a jack of all trades.”  He really did it all…surgery, restorations, everything. I really admired him and enjoyed going to the dentist.  I had some complicated treatment needs with impacted teeth and so my case was not easy.  He made me feel comfortable no matter what I was having done.  As the director of the residency program for up-and-coming dentists at Children’s Mercy, you work closely with your profession’s newest cohorts. How will pediatric care look different for them than it did when you first began?    The love for children and our desire to help them never changes.  We are faced with managing many more children with special health care needs as more children survive catastrophic diagnoses and continue to live meaningful lives. Our focus and commitment in areas of healthcare inequities will also be expanded.  Although we have talked about barriers to care for a very long time, leaders in dentistry will need to expand our response and work together to ease the many barriers faced by those in need.   Finally, the number of children who experience adverse childhood experiences continues to increase and our focus on training dental students and advanced training students in trauma informed care will be very important. What is the impact of your work with Operation Breakthrough and the Lowry Clinic having for young kids?  The Lowry Clinic Program at UMKC was established with a trust more than 60 years ago to pay for care for children in urban Kansas City. The money from the trust is gone, but UMKC continues to make the program a priority and provides care to approximately 150 children each year. What an impact we have on the oral health of these kids! The Operation Breakthrough program is similar and has been a win-win for our students and patients alike. What advice do you have for students who would like to follow in your footsteps? Work hard and love what you do! Embarking on an academic career in dentistry was not something I was interested in pursuing initially, but I was guided by awesome mentors like Dr. John Haynes (B.S., ‘56, D.D.S., ‘60, M.A. ’71) and James Lowe (D.D.S., ’65, M.S. ’69) I loved practicing dentistry, but the combination of teaching and practicing was a perfect mix. About the Alumni Awards Join us in honoring Bohaty and the other Class of 2022 awardees at an in-person celebration at 6 p.m. April 29, at the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center. To register, visit UMKC's Alumni Association website. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarship, contributions can be made online. Feb 14, 2022

  • UMKC Adds New On-Campus Covid-19 Testing Site

    Open to general public and university faculty, staff and students
    Quick and convenient on-campus resource makes it easier to know your health status and take precautions. Covid-19 testing shortages felt across the country have threatened the university’s ability to monitor the spread of Covid-19. In response to an increased demand for COVID-19 testing options, UMKC has partnered with the testing company Curative to host an on-campus testing site. University leadership hopes that providing this quick and convenient resource on campus will encourage awareness and increased vigilance as we continue to fight the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. A mobile testing unit is set up at 5050 Oak Street in the empty lot on the north side of Pizza 51. The testing facility is open Monday - Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Curative staff will conduct shallow nasal PCR tests with results expected one to two days after the lab receives the sample. Appointments are preferred, but not required, for students, faculty and staff, as well as the general public. You can book an appointment here beginning Feb. 16. Testing is free, but those with insurance will be asked to provide policy information for Curative to submit to a patient’s insurance company. Insurance is not required for testing. The testing site will run through May 2022. “This on-campus testing site is the latest benefit in a continued and ongoing effort to bring in-demand resources to our UMKC community and surrounding neighborhoods,” said Mauli Agrawal, chancellor. “These precautions have allowed us to successfully return to campus this spring and will be key to our continued success in having another productive semester.” In addition to the testing site, UMKC will continue to host on-campus vaccination clinics for members of our campus community and the general public, in partnership with the Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center. The clinics will be held at the Student Union in the Jazzman’s Café and Bakery Stage Area at the following dates and times: Feb 15: 1-5 p.m. March 1: 1-5 p.m. March 15: 1-5 p.m. April 5: 1-5 p.m. May 3: 1-5 p.m.   Latest Covid-19 Information from UMKC Feb 14, 2022

  • Guadalupe Centers High School Students Tour UMKC, Learn About Cutting-edge New Program

    Recently launched "Professional Career Escalators" program prepares students to go beyond the degree
    Sophomore students attending Guadalupe Centers High School visited UMKC’s campus to learn about its culture, programs and degree options. The group of about 35 students are participants in their high school’s college prep program called Early Escalera. It works with students to prepare for college earlier in their high school careers. Early Escalera is the high school equivalent to UMKC’s "Professional Career Escalators"SM, or Career Escalators, program that prepares college students to start thinking about careers from the minute their university experience begins. Chancellor Agrawal welcomed the students to the university shortly after their arrival on campus. He explained the benefits of UMKC’s new Career Escalators program, a cohort style learning model that encourages students to align their academic journeys with future career goals in mind and supports students with a unique collection of bundled services, resulting in memorable experiences and powerful connections to help students land high-paying careers upon graduation. “Your program takes you through the early steps of getting to college, ours takes you through getting a degree to a successful and fulfilling career,” said Mauli Agrawal, chancellor. The chancellor went on to give an overview of UMKC’s degree programs, including two new degree options launching in the fall of 2022 before bidding the students farewell as they ventured out around the Volker Campus for a tour. “My two favorite spots on campus are the basketball courts and our iconic Roo statue,” said Agrawal. “Be sure to keep an eye out for those spots during your tour and take time to take a picture yourself and post it.” According to the National Register for Historic Places, Guadalupe Centers is the longest continuously operating agency serving Latinos in the United States. Guadalupe Centers’ educational programming dates back to the 1980’s, expanding from 15 students who learned in the basement of a neighborhood church to now serving over 1,000 students in Pre-kindergarten through high school. The Early Escalera program at Guadalupe Centers High School (GCHS) aims to make sure students graduate, go to college and find continued success. Uzziel Pecina, assistant teaching professor in the UMKC School of Education, welcomed the group and shared a unique connection to their school. “Benvenidos, somos familia,” Pecina said, before explaining his role at UMKC’s school of education. Students were surprised and delighted to learn Pecina is a former principal of Alta Vista High School, which is known today as Guadalupe Centers High School. He went on to share deep familial ties to GCHS – Pecina has a sister who is a GCHS counselor, a brother who taught art there, one nephew who graduated from GCCHS and another who is a current middle school student. “The culture here at UMKC is unmatched. We have more than 300 student organizations and a culture of support and inclusion,” Pecina said. “Ask questions, introduce yourself to people and make connections as you lay the groundwork for your future college careers.”     Apply to Career Escalators Feb 11, 2022

  • Med Student Uses TikTok to Inspire Others

    Dumebi Okocha leverages her unexpected ‘medfluencer’ platform for good
    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. Dumebi OkochaAnticipated graduation year: May 2024UMKC degree program: B.A./M.D.Hometown: Waxhaw, North Carolina As the daughter of a physician and a nurse practitioner, pursuing a medical career was a natural path for Dumebi Okocha. "I always saw my dad coming back from work and I was always interested in the cases he was seeing, even though I didn’t know what he was talking about. My mom is a nurse practitioner, so I come from a strong health sciences background,” she said. She applied to UMKC because of its six-year accelerated B.A./M.D. program, which would allow her to become a physician faster and save money. When she found herself stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, Okocha did what many people her age do when boredom strikes: she made a TikTok video. She noticed there was not much awareness about accelerated medical programs like hers, so posted about it. “I was just trying to show there were other, quicker, more cost-affordable options without the MCAT,” she said. To her amazement, it racked up more than 50,000 likes. “I was surprised. I just didn’t think anything of it at the time. When I started, I probably had 30 followers,” she said. “I was like, ‘Who are all these people?’ That’s when I was like, okay, if I post consistently, I think I can get a following.” Soon her inbox was flooded with direct messages from students who had never heard of accelerated programs. It was then that Okocha saw an opportunity to change the face of medicine. She decided to expand her platform to talk about the medical field more broadly and encourage other people who are Black, first-generation Americans, first-generation college students or an under-represented minority to pursue medical careers, no matter if they chose a six-year track or another path. “My goal overall is to be a face for what is possible and to use my privilege to help those who are not as privileged,” said Okocha. “Once they see a Nigerian-American girl in medical school doing her thing, I think it helps them say, ‘Okay, she’s doing it. She’s not perfect but she’s doing it, which means I can do it. I just have to find my way to success.’” Okocha has since expanded her reach, with her highest-viewed video now reaching one million views. At first, she was nervous about her classmates and professors seeing her videos, but she says the feedback has been largely positive. “I was getting too self-conscious thinking that if people are watching, I had to be perfect. But once I heard from administration that they liked my TikToks, I knew I was doing a good job,” she said. In addition to being a medfluencer, Okocha is a UMKC School of Medicine ambassador, Region 2 secretary and the local chapter secretary of the Student National Medical Association, public relations representative for the OBGYN Interest Group and a member of Students Training in Academia, Health and Research (STAHR). Between her studies and her extracurricular commitments, Okocha said her social media presence can be a lot to balance, but she tries to keep things in perspective.“I have to remember this is not my job, this is a hobby. When I place it like that, it’s not an obligation, it’s just for fun,” she said. “I think I laid the expectation that I’m not going to post every day and that’s okay. Around finals, I don’t really post. If I’m changing classes, I tend not to post in the beginning just so I can get my footing. I always put being a student first.” Through it all, Okocha said she has learned how to manage multiple tasks, find creative solutions and appreciate all the professions of medicine. She hopes by sharing her journey, it will inspire others. “You can have a life, you can go to med school and even if you have disadvantages stacked against you, there are ways around it, you just have to know those ways.”Okocha said she plans to continue and expand her social media presence when she becomes a doctor. “I feel like social media is the new way of getting information out to your patients and educating people,” she said. “My dream is to have a podcast. After I take my boards, I want to start working on that.” Feb 09, 2022

  • UMKC Pharmacy Student Preparing to Care for the Underserved

    As School of Pharmacy recognizes Black History Month, it celebrates the accomplishments and contributions of the school’s Black community who are m...
    Meet Dasjah Mason, a fourth-year student at the UMKC School of Pharmacy, whose goal is to serve underrepresented and marginalized groups as a clinical pharmacist, while also serving as a preceptor and mentor for future pharmacists. Why did you select UMKC School of Pharmacy? I moved to Kansas City because I wanted to pursue a career in pharmacy and track and field. I was blessed to receive a scholarship for the women’s track and field program, so it was a no brainer to stay here for pharmacy school. Several pharmacists I knew graduated from UMKC and said they felt they were prepared to pass boards and move on in their career after graduation. How have UMKC and UMKC School of Pharmacy embraced and supported you as a Black student? The UMKC School of Pharmacy has embraced and supported Black students in several ways over my last few years. Namely establishing the Black Student Pharmacists Organization and working with its members to create a network with other Black alumi. Also, faculty actively participate in the Students Training in Academia, Health, and Research (STAHR) Program. The STAHR program is aimed towards retention and graduation of students from economically and educationally challenged backgrounds. Faculty provided mentorship through several workshops, one-on-one meetings and being available to their students daily. Through this experience, I was able to create strong relationships that help me develop professionally and personally. Why would you encourage prospective students from your background to consider the UMKC School of Pharmacy? I would encourage prospective students to consider UMKC because its current students are working to create a network to recruit and retain Black students and serve its surrounding community.  What do you hope to do in pharmacy when you graduate and how do you feel the School of Pharmacy is helping prepare you for that? After graduation, I wish to complete PGY1 and PGY2 residencies in a specialized area of interest then become board certified. After completion of my residency training, I plan to maintain a clinical practice while having a role precepting and mentoring pharmacy students and residents. Moreover, another passion of mine is serving underrepresented and marginalized groups. Therefore, I believe a residency experience would equip me with clinical skills on acute and chronic disease states to use towards patients who tend to have significant disparities that interrupt their health care. I believe the UMKC SOP has prepared me well for residency. Throughout my rotational experiences, I feel stronger in my abilities to be a clinical pharmacist and I think that stems from my strong baseline knowledge gained in the classroom. Feb 09, 2022

  • Gov. Mike Parson Visits UMKC for Roundtable on Higher Ed and Workforce Development

    The governor discussed "building the foundation" for important partnerships
    Governor Mike Parson visited the University of Missouri-Kansas City to host a roundtable discussion with greater Kansas City community leaders on higher education and workforce development. It's the first time this governor has visited campus. The governor’s discussion focused on the importance of partnerships for workforce development between K-12 institutions, higher education and the private sector. “When I first became governor, improving infrastructure and workforce development were the two main goals. I knew the only way I could do that was to partner with K-12 and to partner with higher education,” Parson said. “We are building the foundation of that right now.” C. Mauli Agrawal, UMKC Chancellor, noted several programs the university has to help bridge those gaps, including a new signature program - Professional Career Escalators. Launched this year, the escalators allow students to include applied experiences to their degree programs, like internships or service learning. “From the time they start classes, this program will help students focus on their career dreams, and not just getting a degree. That will drive workforce development long-term,” Agrawal said. Some members of the roundtable consisted of: C. Mauli Agrawal, UMKC Chancellor Jenny Lundgren, Provost Kevin Truman, Dean of the School of Computing and Engineering Mary Anne Jackson, Dean of the School of Medicine Steven Haas, Dean of the School of Dentistry Charlie Shields, Vice-Chair UMKC Board of Trustees and CEO of University Health Scott Boswell, President of UMKC Board of Trustees and President of Commerce Trust West Region Ramin Cherafat, Chair of the Greater KC Chamber and UMKC Board of Trustees Joe Reardon, CEO Greater KC Chamber Kimberly Beatty, Metropolitan Community College Chancellor Mark Bedell, Superintendent of Kansas City Public Schools During his 2022 State of the State address in January, Parson released his budget recommendations for Fiscal Year 2023, which included a recommendation for a 5.4% increase in the core budgets of high education institutions and is proposing $265 million for capital projects across all four of the University of Missouri institutions. “I would like to thank you for your steadfast support of higher education and understanding of the critical role that public universities play in preparing the workforce,” Agrawal said. If the total amount of Parson’s recommended funding for higher education is included in the budget, Agrawal said UMKC plans to use its portion to help expand the university’s Health Sciences District, which is home to the School of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Health Studies and Pharmacy. Combined with UMKC’s partnership with University Health that is already in place, this project would bring billions of dollars to the region, create jobs, propel research and solidify our place among the region’s top healthcare institutions. “This will make UMKC the premier academic health center,” Agrawal said. Feb 09, 2022

  • New York Times Features Former Economics Chair

    Former economics department chair Stephanie Kelton recently spoke to the New York Times
    Kelton spoke about Modern Monetary Theory and the test that the COVID-19 pandemic has put the theory through. Read more.  Subscription required  Feb 08, 2022

  • UMKC Pharmacy Professor Offers High School Students a Head Start in Health Care

    High school students are learning the roles of the pharmacist within the health care team through a career exploration program with Heather Lyons-B...
    Each January, Heather Lyons-Burney, Pharm.D., welcomes a group of area high school students to visit her laboratory at the UMKC School of Pharmacy’s Springfield campus. For two and a half hours, the students take part in an experience of chemical compounding and discuss the role of non-sterile compounding to meet the unique needs of patients. The students are part of the Greater Ozarks-Centers for Advanced Placement (GO-CAPS) program. Throughout the year, they will meet monthly with Lyons-Burney, and often one of her UMKC pharmacy students, to learn about a pharmacy topic and engage in pharmacist-like activities. GO-CAPS is a career exploration program that partners with businesses throughout Missouri’s greater Ozarks area. It offers high school juniors and seniors an educational opportunity driven by real-world, career-oriented experiences. For those interested in health care, particularly pharmacy, there is Lyons-Burney. “My goal is for the students to understand the role of the pharmacist on the health care team and how pharmacists impact patient outcomes,” she said. “Whether or not they decide to be a pharmacist, I want them to feel comfortable reaching out to the professionals who are the medication experts. I enjoy working with these motivated students, helping them explore various occupations in health care and how we work best as a team.” As part of their high school curriculum, GO-CAPS students participate in a program of shadowing, attending classroom presentations, participating in various pharmacy projects and ultimately developing their own capstone project. Lyons-Burney is part of the area-wide GO-CAPS program and serves on the advisory board as a resource for learning experiences and on-site ambulatory care clinic shadowing. The program provides a packed schedule of exploring a wide spectrum of the health care field including learning to perform CPR and emergency first aid with paramedics, how to set a fracture with an orthopedists and gaining a greater understanding of medical technology. As a pharmacist, Lyons-Burney leads the high school students, currently a class of 16, in exploring the various areas of health care where one might find a pharmacist and provide them with clinical examples of the many roles today’s pharmacists play.Their classroom and laboratory sessions touch on lessons such as how pharmacists intersect with patients in addressing social determinants of health to clinical discussions on the complications of diabetes, such as neuropathy, and how to conduct a mono-filament foot exam to assess the loss of one’s sensation. Students also break into teams to work on and present patient cases.“My focus is to explore the roles of pharmacists in various settings by walking the high school students through a topic discussion of a disease state and discuss how a pharmacist in a hospital, long-term care setting, specialists office, primary care clinic or community pharmacy may be involved with patient care and the health care team,” Lyons-Burney said.She said that much of the pharmacist’s role in patient care involves considering options for therapies and whether or not those therapies will be safe and effective for a patient.“To demonstrate that process, it’s easiest to put the student somewhat in the seat of a pharmacist and have them think through a patient case to come up with a safe, effective option,” she said.Lyons-Burney said that by exploring multiple health care professions, including pharmacy, students in the GO-CAPS program may wind up going into a profession they might never had considered before.“Regardless of the health care profession that the students choose, this provides them with skills and knowledge that gives them a head start,” she said. Feb 08, 2022

  • STAHR Program Changing Lives of UMKC’s Underrepresented Health Professions Students

    Collaborative seeks to increase the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds entering health care programs and better prepare them for suc...
    Sayra Nieto Gomez realized there would be challenges as an underrepresented minority student at the UMKC School of Medicine. More important, the fourth-year med student also discovered a program that has helped her, and others like her, rise to meet the challenges that many underrepresented minority students deal with in the health care field. The Students Training in Academia, Health, and Research (STAHR) Partnership is a collaborative of the UMKC schools of medicine, dentistry and pharmacy. The program is designed to increase the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds entering health care programs and better prepare them for success academically and professionally. Sayra Nieto Gomez “As a student, the STAHR program has provided a safe environment for me to be myself and to learn from students and physicians facing similar challenges,” Gomez said. “The most impactful thing that I’ve gained from this program is knowing that challenges persist through a person’s career. But as students and future physicians, we learn to adapt and grow from those challenges.” STAHR is a two-pronged initiative that was started in 2018 to build and expand on the medical school’s highly successful high school Summer Scholars program and the dental school’s Admissions Enhancement Program.Today, in addition to a greatly expanded scholars program that offers multiple tracts for high school and college students to learn about and prepare for careers in health care, STAHR encompasses an ambassador program that provides current UMKC health professions students with meetings and mentorship opportunities. Ambassador workshops take place several times a year to help students learn and develop pertinent skills such as overcoming self-doubt and develop strategies to achieve academic success.It’s also vital in helping students create a community of like-minded peers, said Scott Guerrero, director of the STAHR program.“We use the Thomas Principles that focus on academic support, psychological support, identity development, leadership, sense of belonging and professional development,” Guerrero said. “Our first workshop was on academic support where we talked about what it means to be academically successful and how to overcome challenges in the classroom or within their setting.”A November workshop focused on mental health and wellness and how to cope with the stress of being a health professional student and burnout. Natinael Mamo “Being part of the STAHR program has helped me get to this point in my pharmacy degree,” said fourth-year pharmacy student Natinael Mamo. “The most impactful thing for me has been the numerous resources introduced to help me attain my academic and professional goals.”He’s not alone. Students from economically and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds typically succeed in attending and completing health professions degree programs at a far lower rate than students from strong schools in thriving communities. But at UMKC, as many as 150 students and more than 130 staff and health professionals across the UMKC Health Sciences Campus and community are participating in the STAHR Ambassador and Scholars programs that are changing that dynamic.Now in its fourth year, STAHR initially received a five-year $3.2 million grant from the United States Health Resources and Services Administration. Guerrero said he will soon be applying to renew the grant while also working on other sustainability efforts.In the meantime, he has a broader vision for STAHR, which is already helping many students succeed in preparing for careers in health care.“Our recruitment efforts and outreach efforts need to ramp up,” Guerrero said. “We’d love to do STAHR Days – have students come and learn about each of our programs. We’d like to recruit more economic or educationally disadvantaged students and just share our story, the benefits of a mentorship program and the success of the students in our program and their sense of belonging.”Mamo is one of those success stories. He said the Ambassadors program has helped him through the rigors of pharmacy school in part by fostering a better relationship with faculty members and peers that may not have occurred otherwise.“I would tell students that you should join STAHR to further enhance your experience within your program,” he said. “The STAHR program is led by many supportive and uplifting people who are here to guide you in utilizing your resources and to succeed in your profession. You grow through the support of all the faculty and professionals who contribute to STAHR and interactions with students in other health professions.”Guerrero admits the growth of STAHR is stretching him and his staff. But the payoff, he said, is worth the effort.“At times, it’s pushing us to our limits,” he said. “But I go back to our students need it. They’re going to grow and learn more when we can make the experience as individualized as possible, but also cater to what they’re looking for.”Gomez said the STAHR program is making it possible for young people who are passionate about becoming a physician like her to attain that dream.“The STAHR program creates a community of people who support us and help us throughout our challenges, which is very important to our success,” she said. Feb 08, 2022

  • Making Technology Accessible

    Jungwoo Ryoo 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. The UMKC School of Computing and Engineering is honoring Jungwoo Ryoo (B.S. '96, M.S. '98) with its Class of 2022 Alumni Achievement Award. Jungwoo Ryoo currently serves as the head of the Divison of Business, Engineering and Information Sciences and Technology and Professor of Information Sciences and Technology at Pennsylvania State University-Altoona. Recently, he was named Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer of Penn State DuBois, which he will begin on April 4, 2022. He received his B.S. ('96) and M.S. ('98) from UMKC before completing his Ph.D. in computer science at the University of Kansas. His research interests include information security and assurance, software engineering, computer networking and data science. Ryoo is the author of numerous academic articles and conducts extensive research in software security, network/cyber security, security management and auditing, software architectures, object-oriented software development and requirements engineering. Overall, he has received more than $1.5 million in total external funding.  How do you feel you've been able to move the world of computer science forward through your work? I feel that my contribution to computer science has been making cutting-edge technologies more accessible to both end-users and developers to be at their best in what they do. My work over the years has evolved from general software engineering to software security. With this narrower focus, it's easier to find problems with real-life consequences. For example, I have conducted two studies funded by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania to assess the cybersecurity readiness of local governments. Another prime example is my work to make it easier to build security into software applications through a methodology like Architectural Analysis for Security. How did UMKC prepare you for/contribute to your success? My professors laid a solid foundation for my learning path in computer science. Back in 1994, the name of our program was the Computer Science and Telecommunications Program, which was innovative and ahead of its time. I gained my knowledge in networking and telecommunications on top of the traditional computer science curriculum, which became really handy when I became more interested in cybersecurity research. What advice do you have for students who'd like to follow in your footsteps? My advice would be to try to step out of your comfort zone. If you want to become a better person, you shouldn't be afraid of being uncomfortable with failing fast and often. The key to success is to learn from your failures and keep moving forward. About Alumni Awards Join us in honoring Ryoo and the other Class of 2022 awardees at an in-person celebration at 6 p.m. April 29, at the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center. To register, visit UMKC's Alumni Association website. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. Feb 07, 2022

  • UMKC Student Pursues Teaching Career to Impact Community

    The Grow Your Own program is a catalyst for student success
    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. Audri Sander is building her future in the UMKC School of Education Institute for Urban Education (IUE) Grow Your Own program. “My principal contacted me over the summer,” Sander says. “We set up a Zoom meeting to talk about IUE. She’s a graduate of the program and she knew I wanted to be a teacher. She thought it would be a good fit.” Sander’s principal, Kirsten Brown-Persley, BA, ‘12 of Crossroads Preparatory Academy, recommended Sander to the Grow Your Own program, which is sponsored by the IUE in the UMKC School of Education. The program recruits students in diverse high schools and provides college scholarships to help pay for their education degrees when they commit to teach in urban classrooms. Participants have dual credit options while in high school and scholarship opportunities. “I feel like teaching is such an impactful job. Teachers really have the ability to change lives, and I love that idea.” — Audri Sander “Audri was always transparent about wanting to be a teacher,” Brown-Persley says. “I knew she would love the program because of her commitment to both social service and education.” UMKC’s IUE program has a 100% job placement rate following graduation and nearly 90% five-year retention rate of graduates teaching in their chosen schools. Missouri’s overall retention rate is 35%, so the students’ foundation for career success is significant. “This program has been such a good fit,” Sander says. “I feel like teaching is such an impactful job. Teachers really have the ability to change lives, and I love that idea. Also, I love being around kids. I feed off their energy.” It’s not just the classes at UMKC that energize Sander. There are thirteen students in her IUE cohort, which has helped her find friends easily during her freshman year. In addition to the coursework related to their majors, IUE students also participate in co-curricular courses and activities. “I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to get to know the people in my cohort,” she says. “But we just clicked instantly.” Brown-Persley had a similar experience in IUE. “I made lifelong friendships in the program,” she says. “I knew Audri would be able to build her network and build skills and experience that will make her an excellent teacher.” Sander has two main goals – graduate and start teaching immediately.  “One of the objectives of the program is for students to get jobs right away after graduation,” she says. “I’m super excited to get into the classroom and be hands on.” Sander thinks that teaching will make her feel as if she’s really accomplishing something important. “While it’s not like I’m in construction, where I can see what I’m accomplishing, I still feel as if I’ll be able to look back from the beginning of the school year and see the progress that I’ve helped students make. That’s really exciting to me.” Feb 03, 2022

  • UMKC Cockefair Chair Hosts George Packer

    National Book Award-winning author discusses his latest book
    The Carolyn Benton Cockefair Chair hosted writer George Packer in discussion of his latest book, “The Last Best Hope for Our Democracy.” George Packer, staff writer at The Atlantic, contributor to The New Yorker and The New York Times won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2013 and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2019. He began his remarks with an anecdote from a marriage therapist. “When [the therapist] began to see eye rolling, sarcasm, sneering, snark, name-calling and mockery, he knew the marriage was headed for divorce,” he said. “Contempt, I think is the mood of our moment. American philosopher Scott Stevens calls contempt, “the vice that runs like acid.” While Packer understands that this derision may feel rewarding to the person delivering the judgement at the time, ultimately, he thinks this type of discourse is damaging. “I think it is as dangerous to democracy as it is to marriage.” Basing many of his observations on history, Packer noted philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville’s view that was most striking feature of Americans is their commitment to equality in freedom. “We should ask ourselves what will make us more capable of self-government. What institutions and practices shape citizens of a liberal democracy? We have to create the conditions of equality.” — George Packer “The passion for equality, the ardent, insatiable, eternal and invincible desire of democratic people to be as good as everyone else in political terms. This passion for equality is the only basis for shared citizenship.” Recounting the political rancor of the last six years, Packer believes many people, regardless of political affiliation, have lost “the democratic act of listening, considering, compromising and reaching an imperfect decision. These are all betrayed by contempt. “The acid of contempt erases the humanity of the other and releases us from our responsibility to the other.” Once contempt is the norm, he contends, and the subject becomes group and not individuals, it is “easier to erase the humanity of an entire tribe, where the tribalism is one of its political views, or race, sex or region, contempt is especially hard to resist.” He is alarmed at the artificial intelligence that drives social media which divides people to extreme states. “We've in some ways, given up our free will and our agency, and our sense of responsibility and are simply reacting to algorithms.” Packer quoted the German writer, Thomas Mann, who fled the Nazis in 1938 and came to America: “We must define democracy as that form of government and a society which is inspired above every other with the feeling and consciousness of the dignity of man.” Packer believes maintaining the dignity of mankind is essential. He also believes that despite our current division, there is a way through. “We should ask ourselves what will make us more capable of self-government. What institutions and practices shape citizens of a liberal democracy? We have to create the conditions of equality.” He encouraged the audience to avoid contempt, retain a sense of commonality in our citizenship and to try to imagine the experience of people with whom they disagree. And in closing, he had two thoughts on being better democratic citizens. “Education has a complex, but essential connection to democracy. Going back to Thomas Mann, he said democracy wishes to elevate mankind to teach it to think, to set it free. “To Mann education has the opposite purpose of propaganda. It strives for human dignity, not contempt.” The Cockefair Chair at UMKC presents scholars, artists and experts discussing their perspectives on contemporary issues and ideas. Every year, a prominent author or poet presents a public lecture and serves as the writer in residence for students in the Creative Writing Program for the UMKC English Department. Feb 02, 2022

  • UMKC Center for Neighborhoods Highlighted in Kansas City Star

    A profile of KC Tenants founder Tara Raghuveer shows how the organization's leader worked with UMKC's Center for Neighborhoods
    Raghuveer shared data with Center for Neighborhoods to help address housing access. Jacob Wagner, director of urban studies at UMKC, was also quoted. Read more Feb 02, 2022

  • Kansas City Business Journal Recognizes Professor's Accomplishment

    Tony Caruso is an accomplished professor of physics and electrical engineering at UMKC
    The Kansas City Business Journal recently wrote that Caruso earned the distinction of being named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, the highest professional distinction awarded to academic inventors. Read more Feb 02, 2022

  • President Biden Appoints UMKC School of Law Alumnus as HUD Regional Administrator

    The position serves Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.
    President Joe Biden appointed Ulysses “Deke” Clayborn (JD ’81) to serve as HUD Regional Administrator for region 7. Ulysses Clayborn is currently the managing member of Clayborn & Associates, LLC, a law firm located in Kansas City, Missouri whose practice is focused in the real estate development area. The firm primarily represents developers and lenders engaged in development of multifamily housing and commercial development projects. You can read the full announcement on the White House Briefing Room. Jan 28, 2022

  • Dental Alum Tapped to Lead National Organization

    Cesar Sabates is president of the American Dental Association
    For UMKC School of Dentistry alum, César Sabatés (DDS ‘87, AEGD ’88), the oral health care field has been a lifelong passion. Now he’s rising even further in the profession. Sabatés has been chosen as the next president of the American Dental Association (ADA), the nation’s largest dental organization, representing 162,000 members. Sabatés is the 158th president in the organization’s storied history and the first Cuban-American to hold the position. He is a first-generation immigrant, whose family came from Cuba in 1967. In his address to the ADA House of Delegates, he proudly described his family’s pursuit of the American Dream.  “As you may know, I was a child of Castro-era Cuba,” he said. “At seven years old, my family boarded a freedom flight to the United States. My parents sacrificed everything to ensure that their children would have the chance to be free and educated here in the land of opportunities.” Sabatés, a son of a dentist, was born in Camaguey, Cuba. Although, the junior Sabatés pursued an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering at the University of Miami, the draw of the family business eventually brought him to Kansas City and the UMKC School of Dentistry. His time at the school continues to guide the care he provides his patients. He credits long-time dentistry faculty member, Dr. John Haynes, who gave him some influential advice that sticks with him some 35 years later. “He was also a pediatric dentist, and all those years ago he told me, ‘Kids are terrified, so their first visit with you is important. Being rough will traumatize them. Being kind will be influential. Always be kind,’ said Sabatés. “Today, his advice comes to mind every time I meet with a patient of any age—first visit, last visit, and all those in between.”  Sabates has been a long-standing active and influential member of ADA, serving as the 17th District trustee of the ADA Board of Trustees from 2016-2020 and as a delegate in the ADA House of Delegates from 2000-2016. He is also a past president of the Florida Dental Association and South Florida District Dental Association. As for his plans for the ADA, the compassionate advice Haynes gave resonates throughout. According to Sabates, an important aspect of his presidency is strengthening the group’s professional family as well as making everyone feel welcome in the ADA. “Dr. Haynes’ straightforward advice on love and compassion for patients has been integral to my philosophy of care,” Sabates said in his ADA address. “His kindness mattered to me, and I can only hope that my kindness has mattered to my patients just the same.” Jan 27, 2022

  • UMKC Will Return to Kauffman Stadium for Spring 2022 Commencement

    Two ceremonies set for Sunday, May 15
    Following up on a spectacular and historic spring 2021 commencement at Kauffman Stadium, the University of Missouri-Kansas City will return to the home of the Kansas City Royals for graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2022. Two ceremonies are scheduled for Sunday, May 15, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The second consecutive May “Commencement at The K” symbolizes the central and unique role UMKC plays in the Greater Kansas City community, and continues the new tradition of Kansas City’s university celebrating our graduates at iconic Kansas City buildings and sites. The recent December commencement was held indoors at the T-Mobile Center in the heart of downtown. “Commencement at The K in 2021 was so exciting and successful that it was always going to be our first choice for this year,” said Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “We are once again so very grateful to John Sherman and the Royals organization for making it possible for us to give our graduates the major-league sendoff celebration they deserve.” The May 15 event will take place rain or shine, and currently there is no limit on the number of guests per student.    “We’re proud to host and honor the next class of UMKC graduates. We congratulate them and look forward to seeing them become leaders in our community,” said John Sherman, Chairman and CEO of the Royals. The 10 a.m. ceremony will include graduates from these academic units: Henry W. Bloch School of Management, School of Dentistry, School of Law, School of Medicine, School of Nursing and Health Studies and School of Pharmacy. The 2 p.m. ceremony will include graduates from these academic units: College of Arts and Sciences, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, School of Computing and Engineering, Conservatory and School of Education. Additional details, such as the commencement speaker, will be announced in coming weeks. Please continue to check our commencement website for the most up to date information at our Commencement website. Jan 27, 2022

  • Spring Semester Kicks Off with Roo Welcome

    New year, same school pride.
    With the holiday break all wrapped up, students make their return to campus for the Spring 2022 semester. The Roo Welcome events provide the perfect opportunity to catch up with classmates while participating in some ice-cold-cool campus events. Having a nice set of wheels can help students navigate campus when it’s so cold. Athletic events for the Roo Welcome include White, Gold and Blue spirit nights  for both Men’s and Women’s basketball games.   The Quad looks beautiful, even in the dead of winter. Students got to learn (or relearn) about student support services at the campus resource fair. It’s never too early to get organized for the new semester. Small group study sessions and encouraging mantras are enough warm anyone’s heart. Our Roos are masked up and ready to catch up with friends this semester. The start of the semester is a great time to learn new skills (or master old ones!). The Fall in Love with Student Orgs event on Feb. 3 is a great opportunity to find like-minded students!   Jan 26, 2022

  • Tips for a Good Start to the New Semester

    An advisor's encouragement for her students
    Welcome back from winter break, Roos! Here we are at the beginning of a new semester, another one that is starting under less than normal circumstances. Many of us look at the new year and new semester as a fresh start, the “factory reset,” the opportunity to grow and learn, to be better. For a lot of folks, it is a happy and hopeful time. The UMKC faculty and staff are happy to have you back on campus and hopeful that we all have a good semester. We are also many months into a very weird and stressful time, living through a pandemic. Some of us are struggling, some of us are tired. Guilty, scared, overwhelmed. Doing completely okay, excited to get our first Pizza 51 slice of the semester, excited about our new campus job. As we start a new year and a new semester, know that all of the above and anything else you are feeling is completely valid. As the semester starts back up and before things get crazy, busy, and occasionally stressful I want to remind you of a few things:  Remember to be as kind to yourselves as you are to the other people in your lives.  We have a lot of smart, driven people on this campus. Smart, driven people do amazing things; they also tend to be a little hard on themselves when things don’t go perfectly. I know many of you have heard me say “there is a difference between the best you can do under perfect circumstances and the best you can do under circumstances as they are.” Make sure you know the difference and are judging yourself accordingly.  Know there are people and resources available to help you.  Your academic advisor, the folks at Counseling Services, Academic Support and Mentoring and so many people on this campus are ready to help you succeed. We are all here so you don’t have to carry your burdens alone and so you don’t have to celebrate your triumphs alone (high fiving yourself just isn’t as much fun). We're happy you're here! Make sure to find ways to connect. I am happy you all are back on campus (it is so quiet when you are not here) and am hopeful to see what the spring brings us. And whether you’re a new or seasoned Roo, there’s always someone new and interesting to meet in class, at an event or through one of the many student organizations. So for now, bundle up (seriously, it is so cold — hats and mittens folks, hats and mittens!), take a deep breath (or a few), and enjoy as many moments as you can of the weirdest college experience anyone has had in a while!  Learn more about the UMKC Honors Program Jan 26, 2022

  • A Decade as Top Program for the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies

    U.S. News & World Report ranks online graduate programs
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Nursing and Health Studies is ranked in the Top 50 of the nation’s best online graduate nursing programs for 2022 by U.S. News & World Report. It is the 10th year in a row the program has earned the top ranking. The UMKC School of Health Studies is proud of its online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program as one of the best in the nation, said Joy Roberts, interim dean. "Even while facing wave after wave of the COVID pandemic, our MSN nurse programs continued to educate and graduate top quality nurse practitioners and nurse educators,” said Roberts. “The desperate need for high-quality online nursing education continues to be highlighted by the pandemic.” Since 2002, nurses have invested in their future through the distance learning graduate programs offered by the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies. The school was an early pioneer in online graduate programs, preparing busy professionals for the evolving and dynamic challenges in present and future health care environments. Through high-quality, convenient programs, the school enables nurses to become leaders and active partners in improving health outcomes. According to Roberts, the online classroom environment for their students was critical in their recent graduates having an immediate impact on the health care system. “Because our MSN programs are online, our May and December ‘21 MSN graduates were able to continue working as registered nurses, supporting the members of their communities and states, while still advancing their education,” said Roberts. “Upon graduation these new nurse practitioners and nurse educators were able to move their new, advanced skills right into the workforce without skipping a beat.” Students in these programs participate in online discussions just as if they were present in the classroom. Technology offers two-way communication in real time via multiple modes. Students also receive on-site learning through summer institutes where they attend clinical training or dissertation work sessions as well as deliver presentations to classmates and faculty.  UMKC offers a variety of online graduate nursing tracks, including Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and other options: Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGNP) Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP) Nurse Educator (NE) Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) Primary Care and Acute-Care (AC PNP) Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) Ph.D. Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Jan 25, 2022

  • UMKC Partners With Cottey College to Offer More STEM Degrees to Women

    The partnership with the women's college expands access to in-demand degree fields.
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City and Cottey College, a women's college in Nevada, Missouri, have partnered together to offer Cottey students an easy transfer into the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering.  Cottey, a private liberal arts college, offers associate degrees and a handful of bachelor’s degrees.  Marjory Eisenman, the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs for the School of Computing and Engineering, said Cottey reached out years ago about the opportunity for a transfer program for students who have completed their Associate of Science at Cottey and want to continue their education.  “Cottey students can now follow transfer guides to ensure they’re taking the right classes at Cottey to prepare for transfer to UMKC. Cottey students who complete the Associate of Science degree, or Associate of Arts degree, at Cottey now meet the general education requirements for a UMKC degree,” Eisenman said. “This partnership also creates the opportunity for students to qualify for the Chancellor’s Transfer Scholarship or Dean’s International Scholar Award.”  Peter Hyland, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Cottey and one of the partnership's organizers, said the partnership will allow Cottey students, "even more options for where their education and careers can take them." "This offers Cottey students an opportunity to take advantage of the impressive resources and knowledge that UMKC has, while they create their own incredible futures. The high contact at UMKC that students have with future employers via internships is particularly exciting," Hyland said. Eisenman said the partnership will help UMKC in recruiting more women students in “male-dominated fields.”  “Kansas City is a great place to earn an engineering or computing science degree, so this is the best of both worlds for Cottey students –to start their education at a small, women’s college and graduate from a strong engineering or computer science program in an urban location,” Eisenman said.   The partnership went into effect at the beginning of the Spring 2022 semester.  Jan 20, 2022

  • UMKC Professor Weighs in on Jay-Z's Team Roc Pressure for DOJ to Investigate KCK Police

    Team Roc, joined by the nonprofit Midwest Innocence Project, said there is enough evidence of systemic police misconduct in the department to merit...
    Ken Novak, a professor of criminal justice and criminology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said it is typically in the best interest of cities where the Justice Department conducts pattern or practice reviews to engage and to develop policies and training for corrective behavior. The federal government can take police departments or cities to court to enforce so-called consent decrees that lay out overhauls in policing practices, but "whether there is sufficient evidence of problematic patterns and practices or whether Kansas City is any closer to a consent decree than it was several months ago" remains unclear, Novak said. You can read the full story on NBC News.   Jan 20, 2022

  • UMKC International Student Means Business

    Stephanie Ho chose her field of study to make a difference
    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. Stephanie HoAnticipated graduation year: May 2023UMKC degree program: Bachelor of Business Administration (Emphasis in Management)Hometown: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Stephanie Ho came to UMKC because of the diversity of the student body, and says that while students have different backgrounds, beliefs and interests, she’s found they come together to share those experiences and grow together. “Living in a diverse community allows me to learn from people who come from different parts of the world who have new and brilliant ideas, multiple perspectives, lifestyles and cultures,” she says. Stephanie decided to study business at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management to receive valuable experience in developing professional skills. While the program is sometimes challenging, Stephanie knows she is building skills that will allow her to approach and solve hands-on situations once she begins her career. “Our project assignments require us to coordinate and communicate effectively and professionally with other teammates and develop solutions and recommendations,” she says.  “The Bloch School is providing me opportunities to grow, develop my career path and expand and nurture my network.” Outside academics, Stephanie is active in the international community on campus. She is the vice president of chapter operations for Delta Sigma PI, an international business fraternity and is an international student ambassador, advocating for a better experience for the international community through education and cultural events. “The Bloch School is providing me with opportunities to grow, but also to develop my career path and expand and nurture my network. The programs offered here allow me to approach and solve hands-on situations which can be utilized later in my career.” — Stephanie Ho In addition, she serves as the International Roo organization public relations officer. “My mission is to embrace different cultures, increase awareness of cultural aspects in communication and interactions among students, but also integrate UMKC international students to the local community,” Stephanie says. Being involved in leadership positions allows her to fulfill her passion for supporting international students and lets her get to know students coming from different parts of the world and learn about their cultures and norms. In addition, she sees professional advantages to these experiences. “Building these skills through real-world problem solving and connections accelerates my career path. This experience prepares me for global opportunities with interpersonal and management skills to work in an international environment.” Ho says studying abroad has changed her perspective on herself and her worldview, and has given her the opportunity to grow. “Being at UMKC allowed me to discover strengths, interests and skills that I believed I was incapable of before.” Sharing her experiences through her work as an International Student Ambassador with potential and new international students is satisfying. “I am passionate about supporting and helping others, especially international students,” she says. “Being an international student ambassador, I represent the international community to advocate for better experience and unite students from different cultures and backgrounds through education and cultural exchange events. I want to help students succeed and have a great experience at UMKC – academically and socially!” Jan 20, 2022

  • UMKC Professors Study the Impact of Sound on Operating Room Safety

    Faculty donation leads to collaboration between professors in the School of Medicine and UMKC Conservatory to yield safer surgeries
    Medicine and music aren’t an obvious pair, but in a discussion between colleagues at the UMKC Surgical Innovations Lab, experts in each field realized an interesting link between the two topics. Gary Sutkin, M.D., professor of surgery and associate dean of women’s health at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, has focused much of his research on surgical safety and mitigating errors in the operating room. Today he’s working to expand that research by teaming up with his colleague – and composer – Paul Rudy, MM, DMA, Curators’ Distinguished Professor and coordinator of composition at the UMKC Conservatory, to study the effects of sound on patient safety in the operating room. Studies have shown that reducing hospital noise levels has a direct impact on improving patient safety, but in operating rooms, in addition to conversations among the surgical team, the equipment required for surgeries makes noise. Though some sounds are necessary ­-- such as the noise of the oxygen saturation monitor, which creates the rapid high-pitched beep people may recognize from medical shows on television -- the noise created by people in the room often is not. Gary Sutkin, M.D. Rudy and Sutkin are working together to develop training and surgical methods that reduce some of the noise and related risk. “People have been trying to solve the problem of miscommunication in the operating room for 20 years and there hasn’t been any meaningful progress,” Sutkin says. “What I know is that we need brains other than those of researchers, surgeons and nurses to study the problem.” Sutkin’s interest in collaborating with people who have expertise in areas outside of medicine, coupled with Rudy’s curiosity and ability to hear the operating room with fresh ears is already leading to interesting results. By observing surgeries, Rudy recognized that surgeons’ work entails very fine motor movements and unwavering focus that requires them to keep their heads down. He also observed other members of the surgical team are focused on their own tasks and responsibilities. “People have been trying to solve the problem of miscommunication and errors in the operating for 20 years and there hasn’t been meaningful progress. What I know is that I need other brains than only researchers, surgeons and nurses.” — Gary Sutkin, M.D. “No one’s looking at the surgeon’s body language to figure out what’s needed,” Rudy says. “For example, the anesthesiologist is reading a screen. Much of the communication [the team receives] is coming through sound.” But despite the importance of verbal communication, he observed a lot of the noise people make in the operating room is not critical to the surgery. “Everyone is doing something necessary,” Rudy says. “But sometimes someone has to unpackage something in a hurry, and they can’t throw it in the trash can, so it ends up on the floor. Or someone picks up that big wad of plastic to get it out of the way and you can’t hear anything else over the noise. This has to be done - someone could trip over it - but if the surgeon needs to communicate something important to the anesthesiologist at that moment, the noise will mask the communication.” Because of Rudy’s background as a musician, the amount of residual noise in the operating room came as a surprise. “In rehearsals and in performances, no one makes any extra sound anywhere for any reason,” Rudy says. “Musicians carefully turn pages of sheet music so that the binder doesn't make any noise.” He’s aware of the differences between the disciplines, but still notes there is room for improvement when it comes to eliminating some unnecessary noise in operating rooms. Rudy’s research has identified solutions to common disruptions that OR teams may not even notice. “For example, in the operating room there are really heavy metal step stools,” Rudy says. “People tend to scoot them across the floor with their feet and it makes this really intense grating sound that may mask any kind of communication that is going on in the room.” Paul Rudy, Ph.D. leading sound meditation Rudy understands that the medical professionals in the operating room move the stools with their feet because they need to keep their hands sterile, but he wonders if manufacturers are aware of the ramifications of production decisions. “This research could lead to that awareness, and maybe even influence manufacturing standards.” Observations like this that lead to opportunity for innovation and increased safety is at the heart of the mission of Surgilab and are why Sutkin wants colleagues like Rudy in the operating room. “There’s value in having insight from brains other than researchers, surgeons and nurses. Paul brings a wealth of knowledge and creativity. And, surprisingly, to be honest, a scientific mind that contributes very well with this research.” A gift from UMKC professor emerita, Elizabeth Noble, Ph.D., helped fund this research collaboration. Noble supports research that reaches across different fields of study because she thinks it makes the outcomes more reliable and more transferable. “Today most researchers would agree that cross-disciplinary research is valuable,” Noble says. “It stimulates new ways of thinking about different issues, especially when we’re talking about music and medicine which are not always assumed to go together.” “This research is exactly what I hoped would occur. I’m very happy that Dr. Rudy has had this kind of success,” she added. Jan 19, 2022

  • Honoring Trailblazing Alumna and Educator

    Conella Coulter Brown was one of the first Black students to graduate from Kansas City’s university
    Conella Coulter Brown (1925-2021) was one of the first Black students to integrate the newly desegregated University of Kansas City, the precursor to the University of Missouri — Kansas City. She applied after reading in a story in the Kansas City Call that UKC had opened admission to students of color. While Coulter Brown did not feel as if high school had prepared her for college, she persevered and in 1949 was accepted by UKC. In an interview with the UMKC Alumni Association in 2015, she reminisced about her time at the university and noted that she felt accepted by her peers and ran for secretary of the student council during her time as a student. “I campaigned all over the university. I had a microphone and talked in the cafeteria. I talked everywhere. I was elected the Liberal Arts Treasurer by a 90% white student body." In 1953 she was one of the first Black students to graduate from UKC, and the first person in her family to graduate from college. “I walked across that stage and received that degree, and it was a joy. I felt like I was somebody.” Following graduation Coulter Brown applied but wasn’t hired to teach in schools in Kansas City because of her race. She moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where she had a long and successful career in education, retiring in 1980 as assistant superintendent of the Cleveland Public Schools. She was the only Black woman serving as an assistant superintendent of a major school district in Ohio at the time. UMKC awarded Coulter Brown an UMKC Alumni Achievement Award in 1964, the same year she became an assistant principal. In 2015, UMKC Chancellor Emeritus Leo Morton recognized Brown as a trailblazer and awarded her a UMKC diploma, honoring her as “an original Roo.” “When we talk about trailblazers and thanking those who paved the way – you are at the top of our list,” Morton said at the ceremony. Coulter Brown returned to Kansas City after her retirement and founded the Student Aid Mentoring Ministry through the Community fellowship Church of Jesus Christ to help students of color overcome challenges. Jan 19, 2022

  • New Round of Entrepreneurship Innovation Grants Announced

    Six proposals approved for total of $170,000
    The UMKC Entrepreneurship Innovation Grant Program announced its second round of grant recipients in late December. Six proposals were approved in the second round of funding for a total of approximately $170,000 worth of one-year grants. Projects submitted by UMKC students, faculty and staff will be considered for these grants, which come with entrepreneurial support programs in addition to the financing. The Entrepreneurship Innovation Grant Program is funded by the Kauffman Foundation and 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 throughout the university. These grants support a variety of initiatives in entrepreneurship including curriculum development, technology commercialization, school and department initiatives, community service, engagement and ecosystem building. These projects received grants in the second round: Arts Entrepreneurship Residency The grant provides funding for a two-day arts entrepreneurship residency with Jonathan Kuuskoski, director of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance’s EXCEL Lab. The residency title is From Portfolios to Platforms: Developing, Launching and Sustaining Arts Projects. Four sequential workshops will prime students to embrace best practices from the realms of entrepreneurship, leadership and management training to enhance their own creative pursuits. Interactive, outcome-oriented sessions will draw from methodologies such as Lean Startup and Design Thinking Process to help students craft creative projects from ideation to funding. Commercialization of SGM for the Destructions of PFAS The objective of this project is to scale and commercialize a novel, patent-pending UMKC-grown technology for destruction and complete mineralization of PER and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). It will demonstrate proof of concept to potential investors through creation of a market-ready reactor to meet remedial regulation for the PFAS market. Entrepreneurial Legal Services Pro Bono Panel The Entrepreneurial Legal Services and Intellectual Property Clinic will establish a regional pro bono panel of attorneys to assist with Community Services Engagement and Ecosystem Building by providing relevant and timely business information, counseling and management, and legal matters services for low-income aspiring and existing business owners in the Kansas City region. Pharmacy Innovation Challenge Program The grant will fund creation of an integrated experience for graduate Ph.D. programs and professional Pharm.D. students within the UMKC School of Pharmacy to engage with the entrepreneurial environment at UMKC and within the Kansas City region. The goal is to create a learning environment that integrates research, entrepreneurial thinking, diversity and engagement with stakeholders outside of UMKC. Students will learn about the entrepreneurial environment in Kansas City, and how to create a business plan for an enterprise in pharmaceutical sciences and/or pharmacy in fields such as precision medicine and digital health. Development Smart Agricultural Entrepreneurship (SAgE) Program for Sustainable Urban Food Ecosystem The grant to the UMKC Center for Applied Environmental Research (CAER) will fund development of the Smart Agricultural Entrepreneurship (SAgE) Program to support the development of sustainable urban food ecosystems in the Kansas City metro area. The mission of SAgE is to promote agricultural entrepreneurs (agripreneurs) in urban areas to succeed in the business of farming, which will add value to the quality of life for the agripreneur and their surrounding community.  Summer Research Opportunities for Students of Color The Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship will receive funding to increase the participation of students of color who are interested in entrepreneurship in UMKC’s Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunities (SUROP) program. Jan 19, 2022

  • UMKC to Offer New Biomedical Engineering Degrees

    Students have the option to earn bachelor's and master's degrees through this exciting new program
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City will offer two new degree options - Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering - beginning in the Fall of 2023.  The Biomedical Engineering program will combine biological and chemical science with multiple fields of engineering, including mechanical and electrical. The program is designed to provide an extensive curriculum that prepares graduates for careers in engineering, health care, medicine, dentistry, biotechnology, bioinformatic and pharmaceutical fields, said School of Computing and Engineering Dean Kevin Truman.  “UMKC has already established a long history of excellence in the fields of health, life and biological sciences. Now combined with the rapidly growing fields of computing and engineering, these degrees will provide a new generation of students the opportunity to thrive,” Truman said.   While the School of Computing and Engineering will be home to the degree program, the curriculum will be taught by professors from the multiple schools and departments on the UMKC campus, including engineering, medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, nursing and biological sciences. Led by educators from diverse fields of study, this program will expose students to a wealth of knowledge, creating a well-rounded and robust educational experience for the students.  The University of Missouri System Board of Curators approved the two new degree programs in December 2021. These newest additions to UMKC’s curriculum are backed by community partners who are invested in UMKC and understand the impact the university has on preparing students to enter the workforce. University Health, Children’s Mercy, Kansas City Animal Health Corridor, RBC Medical Innovations and Mid America Heart Institute submitted letters expressing support for the new degree programs for consideration by the Board.  Students enrolled in the Biomedical Engineering programs may take some courses in the state-of-the-art Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center. The university debuted the $32 Million high-tech research center in the Fall of 2021. The five-story building features 11 research labs including a 3D printing lab and fabrication studio, a two-story drone flight-testing bay and an FAA-approved flight simulator. All throughout the building students can use cutting-edge technology to enhance their studies, including high-performance computing and analytics equipment and $3 million worth of augmented and virtual reality equipment.  "The Plaster Center has all but ensured that UMKC will remain the number one ranked school for computing and engineering in Kansas City for years to come," said Truman.  Both the new degree options and unveiling of the Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center have made for an exciting year for the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering. The new degrees represent progress in the university’s strategic plan to reimagine the future in innovative and creative ways that will position the university for excellence for years to come.  Jan 18, 2022

  • President Biden Appoints Three UMKC School of Law Alumni

    Spillars, Clayborn, McCollister will lead regional efforts in emergency management, housing and urban Development and environmental protection
    Three UMKC School of Law Alumnae have been appointed by President Biden in key leadership roles as Regional Administrators for Region 7, which serves Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and nine tribal nations. Andrea Spillars, Meg McCollister and Ulysses “Deke” Clayborn have been selected for positions in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), respectively. Spillars (J.D. '89) has been appointed as the Regional Administrator for FEMA Region 7. She had a lead role in the Missouri state response to natural disasters as the Deputy Director for the Department of Public Safety, including the devasting Joplin tornado in 2011, the prolonged flooding in 2011, drought relief efforts in 2012 and the historic ice storms in 2009.  McCollister (J.D. '11) has been appointed the Regional Administrator for EPA Region 7. She will lead the implementation of the administration's efforts to address environmental justice, climate change, and building resilience for regional industries. President Joe Biden appointed Ulysses “Deke” Clayborn (JD ’81) to serve as HUD Regional Administrator for region 7. Ulysses Clayborn is currently the managing member of Clayborn & Associates, LLC, a law firm located in Kansas City, Missouri whose practice is focused in the real estate development area. Clayborn has experience with projects financed with funds from multiple sources, including multifamily revenue bonds, low-income housing tax credits (“LIHTC”) and historic tax credits. He has also provided legal services to clients utilizing HUD financing tools and served as counsel on one of the first complete portfolio conversion RAD transactions in Missouri. Prior to forming Clayborn & Associates, he served as General Counsel to the Missouri Housing Development Commission (“MHDC”), the state’s housing finance agency. Read the full announcement on the White House Briefing Room.   Jan 07, 2022