5 State of the University Highlights

Chancellor announces student success, streetcar-stop expansion, new buildings, campus upgrades and research advances
Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal stands in front of a crowd. Behind him an aerial view of campus is displayed on a screen with "State of the University and the UMKC Seal imposed on the foreground

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

A first generation college student holds her graduation gap, which she has just decorated, inside the UMKC student union


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

Rendering of streetcar stop and potential arena development areaThe 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

Rendering of Healthcare Innovation and Delivery BuildingUMKC 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

New cricket and soccer fields at UMKCThis 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.

Published: Apr 17, 2023

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