• UMKC Alumna of the Year is a National ABC World News Now Co-Host

    The Kansas City native was also a recent UMKC Commencement speaker
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. The university and the association are honoring Rhiannon Ally (B.A. ’05) with the Class of 2024 Alumna of the Year Award. As the co-anchor of the national ABC News program, “World News Now” and “America This Morning” and a frequent correspondent on "Good Morning America" and “Nightline”, Ally’s questions have taken her far, but her path had not been clear until she came to UMKC. Ally took a journalism class taught by Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist Bob Unger as an elective, which changed the course of her life. “I remember him telling us that journalists question everything around them. Even if your own mother tells you something, do some digging and get another source,” said Ally. “That class got me thinking maybe I should be a journalist.” That’s exactly what she did. Ally’s nearly 20-year career has taken her to Miami, New Orleans, Las Angeles, London and Las Vegas. She has interviewed renowned celebrities including Madonna, Denzel Washington, Caroline Kennedy and Gloria Steinem. Ally has had a front row seat to history, documenting events including the Boston Marathon bombing, the war in Ukraine, Hurricane Katrina and the Ghislaine Maxwell trial. But the local stories have had the greatest impact on Ally. She recalled a time she interviewed a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. Both were Holocaust survivors and Ally still keeps in touch with their adult children. “When people tell you their story, it becomes a part of you. And the community does as well. I have been fortunate to be part of some incredible communities in my career. None as special as telling stories in my hometown of Kansas City,” said Ally. The Raytown native co-anchored the 5 p.m. and Emmy-Award-winning 10 p.m. news for Kansas City’s NBC affiliate KSHB-TV alongside her husband, Mike Marza (B.A. ‘04), whom she met at UMKC. In Kansas City, Ally anchored breaking news coverage of a massive fire that destroyed several city blocks, severe weather outbreaks and the Royals World Series Championship parade and rally. “Most of my family and many of my close friends are still in Kansas City,” said Ally. “People don’t realize how much KC has to offer, but the thing that stands out the most is always the people. The people here are always so supportive and friendly and really have followed me through my entire career.” While her career as a journalist is impressive, Ally said her proudest professional accomplishment has been publishing her children’s book, “Mommy, Please Don’t Go to Work!”, which was inspired by her experience as a mom, often hearing her three kids utter the phrase. “Writing a book was a lifelong dream. The day I saw my book published was one of the best days of my career,” said Ally. Mar 15, 2024

  • UMKC School of Pharmacy Celebrates Scholarships and Students

    Two new scholarships, one that funds research opportunities, were highlighted at the annual scholarship award ceremony
    Steve Stoner knows the financial burdens that college students carry. As the UMKC School of Pharmacy’s associate dean for student affairs, he works with them on a regular basis. That is why he and his family recently established the Stoner Family Scholarship, recognized along with the school’s Pharmacy Predoctoral Fellowship as its newest student awards during the annual Achievers of Excellence Scholarship Awards program on April 21. The ceremony acknowledges students who have received scholarships or awards from the school, its constituent groups and the university. Almost 90 students were recognized as having received financial support in the past year from one of more than 50 different awards. “Working with students on a daily basis, I am well aware of the financial and other insecurities they experience,” Stoner said. “I never want financial roadblocks to be a hurdle to one’s education and being able to achieve their professional dreams.” A pharmacy educator at the UMKC School of Pharmacy since 1996, Stoner practiced in psychiatric pharmacy and served as chair of the Division of Pharmacy Practice and Administration before his student affairs appointment. With a father who was a middle and high school teacher and middle school principal, a commitment to education, learning and mentoring students is part of his DNA.  Steve and Tiffany Stoner with scholarship recipient Alex Mills “I have been very fortunate in the profession of pharmacy to help patients live better lives and to train students to do the same and make an even bigger difference,” Stoner said. “This scholarship is just a small way for my wife Tiffany and I, and our children, Peyton and Mallory, to give back to the profession and our pharmacy students. The UMKC School of Pharmacy has been a part of my life for almost 30 years and this is a way to have a lasting impact in helping others.”  The school also celebrated its new Predoctoral Research Fellowship program, a summer research opportunity for students that launched last year with support from a group of generous donors who provided the initial stipends. “While we learned lessons that will help the program move forward, we were able to provide significant research experiences for pharmacy students who otherwise may not have considered the possibility of a career in research,” said Russ Melchert, dean of the School of Pharmacy.  With Ph.D. programs consistently ranked in the top half of U.S. pharmacy schools in extramural funding, UMKC School of Pharmacy students have enjoyed excellent job placement for decades. But Melchert said that most Pharm.D. students don’t have the opportunity to experience research projects because of curriculum requirements or the need to spend summers in pharmacy technician jobs to financially support their education.  The research fellowship program is designed to overcome those challenges. Last summer it provided funding to four students who gained hands-on research experience, collaborating with a faculty mentor.  “We are hopeful that the students will continue engagement in research and perhaps even enter research careers upon graduation,” Melchert said. “Now we look to build on this success and to double the size of the program in the coming years.” Apr 26, 2023

  • Five UMKC Graduate School Programs Ranked Among Nation’s Top 100

    Programs are medical/primary care, medical/research, Doctor of Nursing Practice, professional MBA and public administration
    Five UMKC graduate school programs were ranked among the top 100 in the nation in the rankings released today by U.S. News & World Report. Updated May 2023 The Doctor of Nursing Practice program in the School of Nursing and Health Studies was ranked 49th in the nation, out of a total of 169 ranked schools. Rankings for other regional schools included Mizzou 45th, University of Arkansas for Medical Science 66th, University of Missouri-St. Louis 74th and Saint Louis University 106th. “We are very pleased by this affirmation of our outstanding doctor of nursing practice program,” said Joy Roberts, interim dean of the School of Nursing and Health Studies. “Our graduates play a significant and vital role in our health care system.” The UMKC School of Medicine was ranked 71st in the country for primary care, and 88th for research. The school was also ranked 90th in the category of most diverse, 93rd for graduates practicing in rural areas and 99th for graduates practicing primary care. The professional MBA program in the Henry W. Bloch School of Management was ranked 89th in the country, out of 299 ranked schools, ranking it the highest among public universities in the region. Another Bloch School graduate program, public administration, ranked 98th out of 269 ranked schools. This places it among the top three programs in Missouri and Kansas.  “Our focus is on developing talent for this region and providing an outstanding experience for students,” said Brian Klaas, dean of the Bloch School. “We are pleased that the quality of our programs is recognized by rankings such as U.S. News & World Report.” The UMKC School of Law was ranked in the nation's top 100 in six sub-specialty categories, led by legal writing at 13th in the nation. Other legal specialty rankings included trial advocacy, 59th; business/corporate law, 87th; criminal law, 94th; health care law, 94th; and contracts/commercial law, 95th. Apr 25, 2023

  • UMKC Celebrates Staff Achievements, Service

    Awards recognize staff milestones and excellence
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City recognized more than 200 employees at the 2023 Staff Awards ceremony in March. The annual event celebrates staff members who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to service, achieved personal and professional milestones, and led efforts to achieve UMKC goals in student success, diversity and inclusion, engagement and research. Chancellor Mauli Agrawal opened the event by saying the work of staff is integral to the university’s mission and essential to UMKC success. “Know that whether or not you are called to the stage today, our faculty and university leadership recognize your dedication to the programs and services you provide,” Agrawal said. “Each of you enable UMKC to maintain a reputation of excellence.” Congratulations to the 2022 awardees: Staff Awards Staff Council Dedication Award Karen King, Senior Program/Project Support Coordinator, School of Education, Social Work, and Psychological Sciences Living the Values Award Cara Bradley, Senior Dental Assistant, School of Dentistry James Bradley, Senior Assistant Director Craft, Service & Maintenance Operations, Finance and Administration Yolanda Branch, Senior Executive Assistant, School of Education, Social Work, and Psychological Sciences Kristian Brennon, Financial Literacy Counselor, School of Medicine Sharon Breshears, Office Support Assistant IV, School of Pharmacy Karen Campbell, Senior Advancement Officer, KCUR Angela Cottrell, Director Research and Institutional Programs, Missouri Institute for Defense and Energy Maria DeSimio, Business Operations Associate II, Information Services Jennifer Dierks, Law Professional & Career Development Center, Director, School of Law Michelle Heiman, Student Service Coordinator II, School of Graduate Studies Diana Jones, Grants and Contracts Administrator, Office of Research Services Rebecca Markley, Senior Executive Assistant, Provost Operations Jill Masson, Senior Executive Assistant, Henry W. Bloch School of Management Hope McMorrow, Athletics Senior Marketing Coordinator, Intercollegiate Athletics Jeni Mills, Executive Assistant, University Libraries Wayne Nagy, Assistant Director, Undergraduate Advising, Student Success and Academic Assurance Brandon Parigo, Strategic Communications Consultant, Strategic Marketing and Communications Brandy Roberts, Human Resources Business Partner, School of Nursing and Health Sciences Stella Szymanski, Office Support Assistant IV, School of Science and Engineering Joseph Tesoro, Electronics Technician III, UMKC Conservatory Alexa Troyer, Talent Navigator, UMKC Innovation Center Jennifer Underwood, Office Support Assistant IV, School of Humanities and Social Sciences Todd Wells, Assistant Dean of Student Engagement and Director of Office of Student Involvement, Student Affairs Excellence in Student Success Staff Award Sharon Breshears, Office Support Assistant IV, School of Pharmacy Excellence in Research and Creative Works Staff Award Alexis Petri, Director Research Development, Office of Research Services Excellence in Engagement and Outreach Staff Award Kim Kushner, for her work as Assistant Director of New Student and Family Programs, Office of Student Involvement Excellence In Multiculturalism, Globalism, Diversity and Inclusion Staff Award Erin Gauer, Academic Advisor of Numbers, Engineering, Technology, and the Cosmos, Undergraduate Academic Advising Excellence in Planning, Operations and Stewardship Staff Award Kristina Shultz, Senior Office Assistant, Henry W. Bloch School of Management Rising Star Award Anna Zimmerman, Financial Literacy Coordinator, Student Financial Aid and Scholarships Office Chancellor’s Staff Award for Extraordinary Contributions Tammy Welchert, Director of Undergraduate Academic Advising, Undergraduate Academic Advising Supervisory Development Series Graduates Rosana Challacombe Jamie Charles Elsa Evans Nathan Jacobs Doretta Kidd Davlon Miller Julie Myer Joseph Rucinski Linda Thornburgh Thomas Willoughby Dr. Elson S. Floyd Administrative Leadership Development Program Casey Bauer Megan Elsen Megan Gonzalez Jeremy Schliesman Elora Thomas Series on Leadership Essentials Program Karey Brantley Harry Brewster Mandy Farrow Kimberly Johnson Brandon King Petra Kralickova Christiana Rangel Sarah Richardson Krisana West Sandy Wilson Kaitlin Woody Anna Zimmerman Organizational Perspectives and Leadership Program David Babcock Annie Carr Joe Constantino Della Damon Peter Dulin Katherine Garey Susan Hankins Kimberly Johnson Leigh Kerwin Kim Kushner Jamie Locke Andre Logan Dea Marx Tanya Moore Eugene Pegler Jr. Christiana Rangel Gabriela Sa Teles Staff who graduated with a UMKC degree in Spring 2022, Summer 2022 or Fall 2022 Casey Bauer Elizabeth Duarte-Rios Leigh Kerwin Hannah Litwiller Kyle Morehead Mark Pederson Ryan Pierce Craig Reay Mallory Snyder Layne Viets 5 Years of Service Racquel Adams Rise Ashcraft Obie Austin Darchel Ballance Ayleen Bashir Jesse Beaudin Scott Canon David Cawthon Austin Chevess Allan Davis J Collin Foster Robert Gambrill Christopher Garcia Kathleen Growney Elizabeth Hoffman-Shrout Hannah Hohenstein-Flack Bethany Jordan Debra Kacirek Leigh Kerwin Sarah Key Loretta Klamm Randal Krahulik Jonathan Krajack Petra Kralickova Alia Krzyzanowski Alicia Lawlor Thomas Lindsey Grace Lotz Kelly McDonald Amy McKune Nathan Milburn Mousami Mohanty Leta Moler Laura Moore Ryan Murphy Huong Nguyen Amy O’Connor Lora Owens Bonny Parsons Jennifer Pennington Curby Piehl Emily Reeb Sarah Richardson Marny Robinson Rachel Robinson Dawn Schnake Penny Sisson Amber Soto Casey Stauber Adalynn Stevenson Bailey Tennesen Audriana Thompson James Verzella Cory Welter 10 Years of Service Barbara Adkins Alma Alcantara Dinah Bounds Huan Ding Jeremy Ferguson Hartzell Gray Michelle Heiman Nathan Horn LaShan Johnson Karen King Kristen Kleffner Kathryn Kraske Susanne Krulewich Mary Lackamp Keanon Liggatt Jill Masson Martha McCabe Daniel McDonald Jerry Murray Julie Percival Edward Wallman 15 Years of Service Anne Allen Cynthia Brown Maryjane Bruning Alvin Couts Scott Ezzell Tian Fu Mark Galeassi Mary Garrett Abelardo Gonzalez Kendell Hale Susan Hankins Michael Harris WM Jonathan Hern Alia Herrman Tusha Kimber Jennifer Lyles-Maqsood Tomasina Martinez Wayne Nagy Lorena Ortiz Alexis Petri Dennis Priest Bryce Puntenney Shunda Reeves James Taylor Katherine Taylor Ramona Uranga Kaitlin Woody Scott Young Xiao Zhou 20 Years of Service Bonita Baxter Michael Byars Calleen Carver Karen Cole Andrew Goodenow Justin Guggenmos Monica Houston Mark Jeffries Camille Johnson-Arnold Andry Joswara Brandon King Maria Meyers John Morrissey Eugene Pegler Jr. Polly Prendergast John Ramsey Julie Silkman Claire Tira Katherine Wozniak 25 Years of Service Danielle Bishop Cynthia Brown Kelly Edwards Francis Magrone Cassandra Nedblake Harvey Phillips Scott Powell Carrie Schmalz Jennifer Smith Elliott Stockert Douglas Swink 30 Years of Service Thomas Gracey Thomas Green James Laughlin Dana Linville 35 Years of Service Cherie Burton Debbie Keeton Rachelle Leutzinger 40 Years of Service Marie DeSimio Anita Valdovino 45 Years of Service Todd Hanna Apr 19, 2023

  • Undergraduate Student Research Highlighted at Missouri State Capitol

    UMKC students who presented are from the Conservatory, School of Humanities and Social Sciences and School of Science and Engineering
    A group of UMKC students presented their research on music therapy, childhood mental disorders, Missouri history and more in front of elected officials at Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol. The annual event highlights the unique research opportunities available to undergraduate students at all UM System schools in front of lawmakers and the general public.  Research: Diagnosis Differences in Childhood Mental Disorders Zalyia Carr is a senior from Overland Park majoring in psychology. As of 2022, 13% of Missourians have a cognitive disability, according to the CDC. Among children, accurate detection of mental disorders can lessen the result of prescribing unnecessary medications or being left untreated. Historically, Black children have been underdiagnosed and misdiagnosed due to a lack of representation in research studies. Pinpointing trends across demographics remains a challenge. Because symptoms display differently relative to white counterparts, Carr predicts that Black women and young girls have an increased risk for delayed diagnosis of common early childhood disorders. Carr is researching early appearances of mental disorders in Black females, because unaddressed issues can manifest to impair other aspects of their lives. Research: The Clio App — Your Guide to the History and Culture Around You Sarah Herndon from Lone Jack, Missouri, is a senior majoring in history. Missouri is rich with history that reflects its impact on our nation’s growth. Herndon contributed over 50 entries to Clio, a free, nonprofit app created by UMKC David Townbridge that features more than 39,000 entries detailing the distinct types of history spanning across Missouri. The Clio app fosters conversation about the state’s history. Herndon’s entries are comprised of documents from the National Register of Historic Places, archived audio files and interviews and curated content based on subject matter. The app provides knowledge that can make Missourians more informed and engaged citizens.  Research: Music Therapy as a Nonpharmacological Treatment for Post-Stroke Depression Hannah Edwards from Independence a senior majoring in music therapy. Of the 8,000 Missourians that experienced a stroke in 2020, post-stroke depression (PSD) is a lingering effect for upwards as 30% of survivors, according to the CDC. The astounding effects on everyday living exceed lower quality of living, forgetfulness and heightened anxiety. Music therapy helps rewire the brain, improve motor functions and regulate mood. Although music therapy has been used to address stroke recovery, research on using it to treat PSD is limited. Traditional recovery has entailed a pharmacological approach, however they have not been found as an effective alternative for complete remission. In this research, Edwards discussed a clinical framework for using music therapy as a nonpharmacological treatment.  Research: A New Regulator of Ataxin-7 Cleavage in Spinocerabellar ataxia type 7 Lindsy Todd is a junior from Grain Valley, MO, majoring in biology. Spinocerebellar ataxia type 7 (SCA7) is a disease of the nervous system that impairs the sending and receiving of messages between the brain and muscles. Individuals that inherit it experience the loss of motor function and blindness. Todd used an innovative method that successfully identified a regulator of the pathway causing SCA7. This research not only helps Missourians understand the effects of SCA7 but focuses on protein-protein interactions that contribute to the disease and possibly others. One interaction is with the deubiquitnase module (DUBm) which regulates protein levels in the body. Her follow-up study tested the Ataxin-7 (ATXN7) pattern in the presence and absence of the regulator previously mentioned to determine its function and therapeutic possibility. Furthering this research could lead to treatments for SCA7. Research: The effects of visual and circadian proteins on BDBT and of BDBT on visual proteins Chris Viermann is a sophomore biology major from Lee Summit, MO, and Tinh Nim is a senior biology major. Viermann and Nim observed Bride of Doubletime (BDBT), a protein produced from circadian rhythms, 24-hr cycles that impact a person's mental, physical and behavioral state throughout the day. The pair studied the effects of protein genes like Arrestin-1 and their relation to ninaE mutants, which plays a major role in light detection and vision. Both have been associated with eye disease. This research builds upon similar UMKC published works from 2013. This analysis of the biological “clock” impacts the future of health research conducted, as well as work efficiency spanning across Missouri. Bodily response to light impacts the level of alertness, response time, and energy regulation for individuals completing any task. Research: Development of weed detection robot using deep learning Suha Cho is a senior information technology major from Seoul, South Korea. Cho’s research looks to generate Deep Learning (DL) techniques for a weed detection robot to help Missouri Farmers grow crops efficiently. The techniques are derived from image processing-based framework that will identify and classify weeds from crops. With this techno-efficient method for weed detection, it will result technological improvements in Missouri’s agriculture production, and allow the residents to have better green environments. Research: Foxg1a regulates craniofacial development in the zebrafish Nusaybah Ibrahim is a senior from Kansas City, MO, majoring in biology with a chemistry minor. Laylah Liwaru is a senior from Kansas City, MO, majoring in biology. Nusaybah and Laylah used the zebrafish as a model to study the development of the jaw and how this relates to human development. Foxg1 is a gene that is critical for embryonic development. In particular, Foxg1 regulates the development of the forebrain as well as ear and eye formation. Foxg1 regulates cellular proliferation, differentiation and morphogenesis. The research aims to help understand how the foxg1 mutation affects human development. Research: Developing skills with big data: Colonel Greene’s antiphonal collection as a resource Maah Kyi is a senior history and English major from Kansas City, MO. Maah digitized, measured and recorded data from 12 volumes of antiphonals made in 1562. She also transcribed the lyrics of the Gregorian chants that were to be destroyed, but saved when Colonel Howard Greene bought them and brought them to the US in 1931. The importance of inventorying the antiphonals is to make them accessible for research by musicologists, historians, and others invested in cultural heritage and eventually all of the antiphonals’ images will be uploaded in the CANTUS database. Research: A secondary data analysis of the Child Obesity and Health Messaging Preferences among Missouri Policymakers (CHAMNP) study Judy Vun is a senior nursing major from Kansas City, MO. Enacting policy changes which promote nutrient-dense foods and daily physical activity can play an important role in addressing childhood obesity. Little is known how the framework and delivery of health messaging to policymakers influences the development of obesity-related policies. Vun studied the inclusion of visual media in health policy messaging and how it may positively impact the promotion of child and obesity-related policies. Apr 18, 2023

  • Bloch Alumna Builds Nonprofit Animal Grooming School to Help Single Parents

    Public administration program, faculty fuel business success with Pawsperity
    Natasha Herdman (EMPA '14) is the founder and executive director of Pawsperity, a nonprofit that trains and mentors single parents living in poverty to pursue living wage jobs. The organization's first job training program is in animal grooming. Early in her career, Herdman lived in Washington D.C., and faced the challenges of finding affordable childcare. “It was nearly impossible,” she said. “So, I quit my job and opened a childcare center in my home. To become licensed, I had to go through a lot of training in early childhood development.” In this training, she learned about brain development and the importance of verbal stimulation on brain development and future reading levels. “In addition, I learned that high school dropout and incarceration rates can be predicted by those reading levels.” When she began working in homeless shelters, she gained more knowledge about the effects of neglect and abuse including dropping out of school, poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, prostitution and early parenthood. “It was clear to me that poverty spanned generations and to break the cycle we needed to work with multiple generations at a time.” Herdman started her executive master’s degree in public administration at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management knowing the challenges she wanted to address, but she had not formed a strategy yet.  She began by researching programs that worked to help people get and keep good-paying jobs. “I was clueless, but willing to help and learn, so I became friends with the clients we served,” Herdman said. As she developed those relationships, her clients began to share the details of their lives and educate Herdman about the challenges of their situations. “I would work to help homeless moms get full time jobs, only to learn they would lose housing, childcare and food subsidies because they were earning $10-$12 an hour,” Herdman said. “They’d end up quitting their jobs to go back on welfare so their kids could eat and have a place to sleep.” As her professors allowed their students to choose their own topics for research paper and projects, she was able to tailor her assignments for a nonprofit business she wanted to launch, training single parents for specific in-demand jobs. That led to Pawsperity. Pawsperity graduate at work in her salon “As far as I know, we are the only nonprofit grooming school in the country,” Herdman said. “We are one of the few nonprofits that trains for a high-wage trade with social workers participating side-by-side with students and instructors.” The money the organization earns through grooming supports each student’s $2,875 stipend. “Most students are living on $3,500 a year while they are with us, so any little bit helps.” Herdman’s focus and determination are paying off. Understanding the need to diversify revenue streams, Herdman has grown Pawsperity in big ways. She opened a market-rate grooming salon in Lee's Summit a few years ago. This salon is now completely staffed and managed by six program graduates. Recently, Pawsperity launched two business in a new facility located near Troost Avenue. A dog daycare opened in February 2023, and a new market-rate grooming salon which opened in March. Profits from all three businesses feed the mission of the nonprofit grooming school. Over the next few years, the goal is for income from pet services to support 50% of the budget. Herdman anticipates that as the businesses grow, the number of families within the community that Pawsperity can help will also increase. Herdman says her experience at the Bloch School was integral to Pawsperity’s success. Bloch taught her how to manage a nonprofit, read financial statements, build a team, partner with other nonprofits and most importantly, she says, it taught her how to focus, which ultimately led to her success. “Originally, I planned to open a grooming school, childcare center and housing facility for students and their kids. In the EMPA program, my executive coach, Gene Dooley, suggested I pick one service, but not all three.” Herdman says she cannot imagine her organization coming together without the support she received from her professors and classmates at UMKC, because she learned so much: how to write budgets for grants, how to conduct a program evaluation and why multiple revenue streams and earned income are so important. “The greatest value of my education at Bloch was the access to my professors, including David Renz, Brett Never and Scott Helm, who helped me mold and shape the organization we have today.”   Apr 18, 2023

  • 5 State of the University Highlights

    Chancellor announces student success, streetcar-stop expansion, new buildings, campus upgrades and research advances
    Celebrating five years as the leader of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Chancellor Mauli Agrawal delivered the annual State of the University on April 17 to students, faculty, staff and the community. In addition to recognizing student success, he announced news about new facilities development, campus upgrades and research advances along with other promising details about Kansas City’s university. “We have real proof of what we are capable of, our successes and positive momentum – and people are paying attention more than ever before,” Agrawal said. “To quote a certain two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback from Kansas City: ‘We’re just getting started.’” 1. Student success   UMKC achieved its highest retention and graduation rates in the past decade, successes that stemmed from new initiatives focused on propelling the academic achievement of students. One of those, UMKC FirstGen Roos Scholars, provides a series of programming and supports for first-generation college students. As a result, scholars in this program outperformed the student body as a whole. Because of this wrap-around support and the determination of the students, the UMKC First Gen Roo Scholars, outperformed the entire UMKC student body as a whole in the fall of 2022 earning an average GPA of 3.26 and an 81% retention rate for the first year. Compared to other first gen UMKC students, who didn’t participate in the program, the Scholars achieved a 22% higher GPA and a 10% higher retention rate. Success of the scholars program has led UMKC to be recognized as a First-Gen Forward Institution by the Center for First-Generation Student Success, which recognizes colleges and universities that have demonstrated a commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students. 2. Streetcar-stop development The university is making plans to capitalize on a new streetcar extension that will stop on the campus’s doorstep, at the intersection of Brookside and 51st Street in 2025. The university will begin exploratory work this spring that could turn vacant land near the proposed stop into a campus and community destination. The project could include a mix of retail, housing and a small arena perfect for campus events, concerts and athletics. 3. New buildings UMKC has nearly acquired full funding for the Healthcare Innovation and Delivery Building, including a $40 million grant from the state, a $10 million federal grant plus a $30 million lead gift from the Sunderland Foundation and $15 million from the Hall Family Foundation. This building will bring much-needed relief to the schools of Dentistry and Medicine. Currently, architects are working on the designs, and the building should be ready in Fall 2026. UMKC will soon break ground on a new School of Medicine building in St. Joseph, funded through federal and state dollars, that will house the UMKC program for rural healthcare already operating there. It’s on schedule for an opening in Fall 2025. 4. Campus upgrades This summer, UMKC will open student recreational fields for soccer and a cricket pitch along Brookside, between Johnson Hall and 51st Street.  “We want students to be able to enjoy that greenspace until we determine final future plans for that university land,” Agrawal said. Also, UMKC is close to being able to transform 51st Street from Cherry to Rockhill into a pedestrian-only corridor. “I can just imagine the transformation: plantings and greenery, string lights, places to sit and gather,” Agrawal said. Other renovations: The university has invested $4 million in renovations at the UMKC Conservatory – transforming Grant Recital Hall, improving student practice rooms and more. This fall, Dean Courtney Crappell will reveal plans for further phased renovations and expansion of the Conservatory to meet future needs. Work will begin this fall to house student-success programs in the Miller Nichols Library and Atterbury Student Success Center. A new faculty lounge in Newcomb Hall in the fall of this year, a place where faculty can gather for discussion and engagement. 5. Research growth UMKC is Kansas City’s only public research institution, creating new knowledge through discovery and developing game-changing innovations across the research spectrum. That benefits not only UMKC students, but the entire Kansas City metro area and beyond. Agrawal committed to hiring additional faculty in FY24 to continue its stellar growth in the research enterprise. One example: In the UMKC strategic plan in 2018, leaders set a 10-year goal of bringing in $85 million annually in total external awards. This year, five years ahead of schedule, UMKC has already blown away that metric, with more than $118 million. “The recent exceptional research growth has elevated us to a level where I believe we are close to the R2-R1 cusp and can realistically envision attaining a Carnegie R1 status in the near future,” Agrawal said. The R1 designation would make it easier to hire additional excellent faculty and attract high-quality students. It also helps with national prestige leading to enhanced collaborations with other R1 institutions and more research funding. UMKC is leading ground-breaking research – from the work going on at the Health Sciences Campus to Humanities and Social Sciences to the School of Science and Engineering. Innovative research is what brought U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to UMKC in February. That’s where Buttigieg announced a new $10 million federal grant awarded to UMKC to develop innovative approaches to improve the sustainability and equity of transportation infrastructure. At its meeting this month, the University of Missouri System Board of Curators will recognize researcher Rose Wang from the School of Dentistry for her work using AI and infrared technology to identify cancer risks in patients. She received a $430,000 developmental research grant from the National Institutes of Health to help develop this research. Apr 17, 2023

  • Addressing the Generational Divides in the Workforce

    UMKC TalentLink sponsors workforce development conference in St. Joseph
    The UMKC commitment to workforce development goes well beyond educating individual young professionals. UMKC TalentLink convened a panel of experts in St. Joseph for a discussion of how those recent graduates interact with older generations in the workplace. The Bridging Generations in the Workplace Conference offered helpful workshop tools and takeaways to help managers lead and work with multigenerational workforces. The April 11 conference was held at the Stoney Creek Hotel. The idea for the conference grew out of 2021 UM System Extension and Engagement Week programming. A statewide working group identified multigenerational communication as a significant workforce development issue. Presenters included Erin Blocher, assistant teaching professor of management at the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management; EAG Advertising and Marketing Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Randolph; and Christel Gollnick, founder Roots and Rounds, a nonprofit focused on respectful and inclusive communication across different age groups. In workshops on Intergenerational Awareness, Communication and Employer Brand Strategy, presenters said coworkers from different generations in a shared workplace possess different communication styles, expectations, levels of experience, expertise and perspectives. They shared strategies for bridging differences while working toward a common goal by adapting to the ways different people work with others. Apr 11, 2023

  • UMKC Faculty Lauded for Achievements, Dedication to Students and Community

    Annual awards program recognizes outstanding teaching, research and service
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City celebrated the achievements, contributions and dedication of outstanding faculty at the annual Faculty Recognition Event April 4 at the Olson Performing Arts Center. “Your contributions and success reach beyond the classroom, lab and stage,” said UMKC Provost Jenny Lundgren. “As involved as you are here on campus, you contribute to the community in a way that reflects our philosophy that we are ‘Kansas City’s university.’ ” “In addition to your teaching and research, many of you have been the closest resource for a student who was struggling – either academically or personally,” she added. “We know that many students will look back and realize the value of your time and dedication. They will recognize that they couldn’t have done it without you.” UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal also spoke and praised all the award recipients. “Our faculty are critical to the success of UMKC,” Agrawal said. “Just look at how we have been able to increase our research awards and how we have improved our student retention and graduation rates. To give you an idea – we have doubled our research expenditures to $53 million over the past four years and we anticipate that we will almost triple the annual external grants over this same period.  We have the highest student graduation rates and student retention rates in more than a decade. Let us not forget that it is you, along with our staff, who has made this happen. Be proud.” The faculty awards presented were: The N.T. Veatch Award for Distinguished Research and Creativity Masud Chowdhury, School of Science and Engineering UMKC Trustees Faculty Fellowship Award John Spertus, School of Medicine Elmer F. Pierson Good Teaching Awards Catherine Boles, School of Dentistry Ryan Copus, School of Law Emily Hillman, School of Medicine Karen Landay, Henry W. Bloch School of Management Provost’s Award for Excellence in Early Career Teaching, Tenure Track Owen Belcher, Conservatory Provost’s Award for Excellence in Early Career Teaching, Clinical and Teaching Faculty Jessica Magaña, School of Science and Engineering Provost’s Award for Teaching Excellence in the Mid-Career/Senior Career, Tenured Faculty Candace Schlein, School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences Provost’s Award for Teaching Excellence for Mid-Career/Senior Career Faculty, Clinical and Teaching Faculty Darla McCarthy, School of Medicine Provost’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring Yugyung Lee, School of Science and Engineering Awards for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Researchers, Scholars and Artists Alison Graettinger, School of Science and Engineering Paul Rulis, School of Science and Engineering Jeff Rydberg-Cox, School of Humanities and Social Sciences Chancellor’s Award for Embracing Diversity Jennifer Waddell, School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences Gail Williams, University Libraries (posthumously) Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Community Engagement Stefanie Ellison, School of Medicine Joe Parisi, Conservatory Chancellor’s Award for Exceptional Leadership Gerald Wyckoff, School of Pharmacy Chancellor’s Award for Career Contributions Roger Sommi, School of Pharmacy Apr 05, 2023

  • How Two Pell Grant Students Financed Semesters Abroad

    They earned scholarships from federal Gilman program providing foreign-study opportunities for lower-income students
    Two UMKC students have received $4,000 federal grants to study abroad this year through the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship program. The congressionally funded Gilman Scholarship provides financial support to outstanding undergraduate Pell Grant recipients who, due to financial constraints, might not otherwise study abroad. For more information, visit the office of Study Abroad and Global Engagement. Yasmeen Hanon will spend this summer at CIEE in Amman, Jordan. CIEE, formerly the Council on Student Travel, is a consortium of 32 U.S. nonprofits and cultural agencies promoting study- abroad programs. She will study international issues such as Arab-Israeli relations, regional conflicts, politics, international relations, environment and more.  Lilly Kamler is spending the current semester in Rome, studying business, communications, international relations and liberal arts at the American University of Rome. “I am thrilled to be able to study abroad this summer in Amman, Jordan. I plan to do research and data collection for my undergraduate research projects,” Hanon said. “It will be a wonderful experience to study my area of interest, Middle Eastern politics, while also partaking in day trips and external research.” Hanon, of Kansas City, is pursuing a double major in political science and environmental science, with an international studies minor and an anticipated 2025 graduation. She is currently working on two research projects. “My primary project revolves around the analysis of factors that shape the perception of conflict in neutral western media sources,” Hanon said. “I constructed a dataset to analyze some factors and their presence in media. This summer, I plan to collect more data consisting of Jordanian newspaper sources so that I can conduct a similar analysis through the Jordanian perception of conflict. My second project revolves around analyzing the correlation between resource wealth and conflict in the Middle East and North Africa. I use case studies to research this topic.” “This trip has provided me with the space to learn a new way of life. Without the support from the Gilman program, coming to Italy and exploring the world would still be a dream for me, not a reality.” —  Lilly Kamler, UMKC chemistry student Kamler is a senior from Cuba, Missouri, majoring in chemistry with minors in psychology and business with plans to become an anesthesiologist assistant. She said her experiences in Rome will strongly impact her future health-care career. “Since arriving in this beautiful city, I have had the opportunity to emerge myself into a culture other than my own,” Kamler said. “I have tried new cuisine, attempted to learn a new language, met people from all over the world and much more.” While Rome has been her base, she has traveled to Venice, Florence and Riomaggiore in Italy, plus trips to London and Spain. “Before my time in Italy is over, I will be visiting Pompei, Capri and Sorrento,” Kamler said. “This trip has provided me with the space to learn a new way of life. Without the support from the Gilman program, coming to Italy and exploring the world would still be a dream for me, not a reality. I will forever be grateful and thankful that I have had this opportunity.” Apr 04, 2023