• Students, Teachers Lead Winning Efforts for Powell Gardens Exhibit

    UMKC School of Education students and children at the Berkley Center create winning entries for Fortopia
    Students in the UMKC School of Education and children of the Edgar L. and Rita A. Berkley Child and Family Development Center produced two of the eight winning entries for Fortopia, Powell Gardens outdoor exhibit of forts. The other six designs chosen by a juried selection process were created by professional garden designers, architects and artists, all adults. The Fortopia exhibits designed by the two teams are “The Lucky Woodland Find: Morel Fort” and “Skully the Pirate Ship.”  Ekaterina Strekalova-Hughes, associate professor of teacher education and curriculum studies, is the team lead for the School of Education Early Childhood Program which produced “Lucky Woodland.” “’Lucky Woodland’ is a fort inspired by memories of Missouri childhoods that were spent hunting coveted morel mushrooms and playing in forts,” Strekalova-Hughes says. “We wanted to acknowledge the strong connections between childhood play and nature. This resulted in design elements that include a secret reading hideout, see-through mushroom caps that provide a view of the surrounding landscape and log seating area and sculptural leaves for climbing.” “The children enjoyed creating something out of their collective imagination that they can use and share with other children. They were excited that everyone, even children they don’t know, would get a chance to play.” — Kelly McDonald “Lucky Woodland” is designed to engage visitors of all ages.  The four-foot-tall chalk wall in Morel 1 allows toddlers and taller visitors to draw at their own height.  The interactive sound wall in Morel 2 features music production at different heights as well, so even children who are crawling will have the opportunity to participate in making music.  The team at Powell Gardens has taken the engagement with “Lucky Woodland” a step further. “We have been so inspired by “The Lucky Woodland Find: Morel Fort” that we are developing a collections tour based on foraging that premiers in alignment with Fortopia. The tour content will be published online through our botanic collection database.” The concept for “Skully the Pirate Ship” was created by the children in the Zoo Room at the Berkley Center, a component of the School of Education that serves as a learning laboratory for students in early childhood education.  Teachers Asia Whisenhunt and Kelly McDonald noticed that the children in their classroom were playing “pirates” almost every day and had been building pirate ships on the playground and in the classroom. They thought it was a natural next step to let the children take the lead in designing a fort based on their play. “They were in charge of each step of the process,” Whisenhunt says. “They sketched designs, had design meetings, discussed building materials, built prototypes, ultimately agreed on a single plan and approved the final proposal. They were in charge, and we made changes as needed based on their feedback.” The Berkley Center classrooms engage in project learning, so fort design and construction was a natural fit. There were strong learning components as well. “This project supported mathematical concepts, language and literacy, communication, social interactions, conduct in a group, among other things,” McDonald says. “The children enjoyed creating something out of their collective imagination that they can use and share with other children. They were excited that everyone, even children they don’t know, would get a chance to play.”  The Fortopia exhibit at Powell Gardens runs from May 26 through October 16, with a member preview May 25. May 31, 2022

  • New Garmin Scholars Program Fuels Opportunity

    Kao Family Foundation Establishes Garmin Scholars Program at UMKC
    The Kao Family Foundation has donated $50,000 to establish a new scholarship program at the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering to increase opportunities for underrepresented students and escalate innovation in the field.  Min H. Kao, the co-founder and executive chairman of Garmin, and his wife, Fan, established the Kao Family Foundation to improve education standards, promote social welfare activities and enhance civic morality. The organization is focused on a results-driven approach to long term sustainable development. The Garmin Scholars Program establishes scholarships to fund five full-time underrepresented students with a GPA of 3.0 or higher for up to $2,000 a year for five years. “One of our goals of this partnership was to increase career awareness in engineering,” says Laurie Minard, vice president, human resources at Garmin. “We have career opportunities in electrical, mechanical and software engineering, and we want to be an employer of choice. Partnering with UMKC makes sense. The university is right here in our backyard. We want to invest in students and give them exposure to a local company that is doing amazing things. We are hoping they will appreciate what it’s like to work here and want to be a part of Garmin on a full-time basis once they graduate.” Participating in career fairs for internships is one way Garmin is escalating intern recruitment at the university. “We want to get in front of UMKC students and let them know that there are opportunities – right here in Kansas City – available for them at Garmin.” “The relationship between UMKC and Garmin is already strong and mutually beneficial. We look forward to more and more of our students having the opportunity to intern and work for Garmin.” — Kevin Truman, dean, School of Computing and Engineering Minard says their five different business segments allow Garmin to provide experience in areas as broad as aviation, automotive, fitness, marine and outdoor recreation. “We want to connect engineers who are passionate about the products we make with the opportunity to contribute to innovation in the features and functionality of those products.” Minard notes that the growing demand for technology that is increasingly complex – and able to be used in smaller and smaller devices – escalates their need for well-trained associates. “We have great people in leadership positions at Garmin who graduated from UMKC,” Minard says. “And we’ve seen that under Dean Truman’s leadership, the programs are increasingly better.” The development of the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center furthered Garmin’s enthusiasm for UMKC graduates. “We’ve toured the labs and seen the new technology being used,” she says. “Having that level of experience in Kansas City is a huge plus, as our interns and associates wouldn’t need to relocate.” Kevin Truman, dean of the School of Computing and Engineering, says expanding the relationship with Garmin benefits UMKC as well. “There’s increased opportunity on both sides,” Truman says. “UMKC gains through our students’ exposure to Garmin’s experience with commercializing technology, in biometrics and wearables, all the way up to their auto-land and aviation flight simulator. Garmin has access to our research teams, who are doing cutting-edge research, particularly in the defense sector.” Minard says that seeing the technology at the Plaster Center in person and talking to students studying there expanded Garmin’s perception of the opportunities with UMKC. “I wanted our engineering and IT leaders to take time out and see how advanced and exciting the technologies at the Plaster Center are,” she says. “Seeing the scope of projects that the students are working on really opened their eyes.” Minard notes that Garmin’s great benefits and educational assistance for their associates who want to pursue advanced degrees are additional benefits for UMKC graduates. “The relationship between UMKC and Garmin is already strong and mutually beneficial,” Truman says. “This scholarship is a critical next step. We look forward to more and more of our students having the opportunity to intern and work for Garmin. Beyond that, we see mutual value in strengthening our relationship with their product developers to provide state-of-the-art research to benefit their products and further their success as well.” May 25, 2022

  • Scholarship Helps Sisters Focus on Their Futures

    Partnership between UMKC and KC Scholars worth $10,000 a year
    Lauren and Ana Textor are no strangers to hard work. As high school students, both worked nearly full-time while attending Piper High School in Kansas City, Kansas. These days, both still work just as hard, but thanks to a scholarship from KC Scholars and UMKC, they are focusing their efforts on their education. Both sisters received a scholarship worth $10,000 per year, which covers their tuition at UMKC. Lauren, the elder sister, got her award in 2018, with Ana receiving the same award in 2019.“In high school I was working so much and taking AP classes because I was always worried about how I was going to afford college. I wasn’t really taking care of myself,” said Ana. “Since I have tuition taken care of, it’s allowed me to slow down a lot, which has been really nice.”She now majors in sociology and environmental studies with a minor in anthropology. She is involved in the Peer Academic Leadership (PALS) program, Honors Program and First Gen Roos. In addition to her courses and extracurricular activities, Ana also conducted independent study. Ana said her scholarship has allowed her to spend more time with her friends and family and focus on her academics.“My grades have been a lot better than they were in high school, and it’s been a lot less stressful,” said Ana. “I feel like I’m able to enjoy classes more because I’m not just rushing through assignments. I can actually absorb the information.” Lauren is a junior majoring in English with a minor in sociology. She is the co-president for the UMKC chapter of Her Campus, a national online women’s publication for college students. She is also a residential assistant, a First Gen Roo student mentor and an Honors Program student. This year her undergraduate research, which focused on art programs in prisons, was featured in the UMKC undergraduate research magazine Lucerna. She is also currently conducting research on the first lesbian press in the United States, which was started in Kansas City.“I think if I had to work almost full-time hours, like I did in high school, I would not have been able to do as much as I have been here. I definitely don’t think I would have gotten into undergraduate research,” said Lauren. “My research on art programs took me a year and a half, so I wouldn’t have been able to do that intensive of a study if I had to worry about paying my entire way through school.” Having shared nearly everything with her younger sisters for most of her life, Lauren is the first to admit that, initially, she was not eager to share a campus with one, but both sisters say they’ve grown closer in college.“I definitely think it’s given us a better relationship than we would have had otherwise,” said Ana. May 20, 2022

  • 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

    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 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 – – 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

  • 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

  • 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