• UMKC Top Choice for 2023 Hispanic Development Fund Scholarship Recipients

    Campus event at Henry W. Bloch School of Management provides information, celebration
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City is the No. 1 choice for 60 high school students and 50 current students who received Hispanic Development Fund scholarships for the next academic year. The event recognizing the scholarship recipients was both informational and a celebration. “Family and community support is encouraged at the event,” Scott Ezzell, manager of admissions and recruitment for the Henry W. Bloch School of Management, says. “This support is such a critical part of the Hispanic Development Scholars’ success. HDF encourages family involvement in all aspects of their programming.” The Hispanic Development Fund (HDF) awarded its first scholarships in 1984, providing $100 each to 100 students through a separately named Hispanic Scholarship Fund. This year, in partnership with local and regional higher education institutions, HDF awarded more than $1 million to 550 scholars. UMKC hosted the scholars and their families at the Bloch School of Management for the first time in several years. Students received detailed information about their opportunities and the partnering organizations, but one of the most important elements of the event was the opportunity for the students and their families to celebrate their success. Gabriela Urrea is a sophomore pursuing her bachelor degree in nursing. “The scholarship makes a difference. I’m able to worry less about tuition. Alleviating that burden helps me to stay focused on school,” she says. Phillip St. John is a junior pursuing his degree in business administration. "I'm in my third year and I’ve received this scholarship the entire time I’ve been at UMKC. It makes a huge difference and takes a lot of stress off of me and my parents.” Erik Betancourt is a junior pursuing a degree in engineering.  “I wanted to stay close so I can continue to be a part of my community and family. The affordability makes that possible.” Jazmin Romo, Frida Rodriguez, Leslie Romo Jazmin Romo is a sophomore pursuing her degree in marketing.“Because of the scholarship I am able to study here and live in the dorm. It provides me an opportunity to really focus on school.” Frida Rodriguez is pursuing degrees in business and theatre. "This last quarter they really worked with me to help afford school."  Leslie Romo is a sophomore pursuing her degree in business administration and marketing."Bloch brings great opportunities. Brittany Bummer in Enactus has been very helpful."   Daisy Garcia Montoya is a senior pursuing her masters in public administration.“The scholarship alleviates my worry about financial aid and allows me to focus on school and work full time. I’ve felt seen. If I ask for help, I receive it. It’s a whole different support system.” Jun 05, 2023

  • Health Care-Focused Freshman Taking the Express to Career Success

    Meet Alexander Rose, a member of the first-ever class from UMKC Professional Career Escalators
    Roos don't just dream, they do. Our students turn ideas into action every day. Get to know our people, and you'll know what UMKC is all about. Alexander RoseAnticipated Graduation Date: 2026Academic Program: health care track, Professional Career EscalatorsHometown: Wentzville, Missouri Alexander Rose is a career-focused freshman, and the prize that draws his eyes is practicing medicine. That’s why he enrolled in the new program that provides a direct pipeline from campus to professional success, UMKC Professional Career Escalators. The Professional Career Escalators program provides him with special mentoring opportunities, career-focused advising, extra financial aid and, most importantly for him, a spot in an on-campus living-learning community with other Professional Career Escalators students. “I believe that the ability to engage with individuals who are pursuing a path similar to your own, especially those wishing to go on to a professional school, is a very valuable opportunity that the Professional Career Escalators program offers,” Rose said. “It also pulls from a diverse range of individuals within a track. Like health care, for example. There are pre-med students, nursing students, and pre-physician-assistant students, all of whom have different processes and aspirations.” The Professional Career Escalators program is a unique, trademarked system of personalized support and services unlike anything being offered across the U.S. It is designed to propel students from their academic studies to high-paying careers by providing a defined and guided path from enrollment to workforce. The program prepares students for careers in four key areas of workforce demand: law and justice, engineering and business, education and health care. Each semester, students participate in the five Professional Career Escalators core experiences: career guidance and development; experiential learning opportunities (such as job shadowing and internships); mentoring with faculty experts and community professionals; graduate and professional school preparation; and leadership development. Why did you choose UMKC? I appreciated many factors about the school, from the many professional schools under the UMKC name, to the price tag compared to some other universities. I also liked that it provided me some space from my family while also knowing that they aren’t more than three hours away. Why did you choose your field of study? I saw it as a good fit for me since I’ve never really enjoyed math, and while a good portion of math is still required, the focus is on biology and chemistry. How has your college program inspired you? My program has inspired me to talk to more individuals in other degree programs, and to consider leadership positions inside and outside of the Professional Career Escalators. Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself? That I value connections with people, especially family, but also friends and mentors. These connections can help me and empower those involved more than if they’d not been made. Do you have any scholarships? I have financial aid through the Professional Career Escalators that goes towards my housing in the living-learning community. That helps me feel as though I belong in this community, and it provides a recognition for being a part of the Professional Career Escalators. I also have an academic scholarship through UMKC, another factor that drives me to devote mass amounts of time to my studies and my grades. What other extracurricular activities are you involved in at UMKC? I am currently a member of Pre-Med Prep, UMKC Pre-Medical Society, Biological Sciences Society, Christian Medical and Dental Association, Emergency Medicine Interest Group and Facilitating Awareness for Rural Medicine (FARM). What do you hope to take from your experiences at UMKC into your professional career? I hope to take what I have learned about diversity and leadership to my professional studies and career.   Jun 01, 2023

  • Student’s Study Reveals Black Males More Likely to Survive Gunshot Wounds

    Black male victims tend to be younger than average victim
    A UMKC graduate student’s research into fatal and non-fatal shootings in Kansas City found that Black males are significantly more likely to survive gunshot wounds than other demographic groups. Alejandro Cervantes, who completed his master’s degree in criminal justice and criminology in Spring 2023, presented his findings at the annual meeting of the Midwestern Criminal Justice Association in Chicago during the fall semester. He won first place in the graduate student poster competition at the meeting. The research forms the basis of his master’s thesis. His study examined all shooting victims in Kansas City between 2015-2020. This included more than 760 homicides and 2,900 instances in which a victim was struck by a bullet but survived. His research documented a steady increase in both fatal and non-fatal shootings, particularly in 2020, when gun violence in Kansas City increased by 33%. He also discovered a unique interaction between race and sex, noting that Black male shooting victims were significantly more likely to survive than other victims. Black victims were the highest demographic group in both fatal (76%) and non-fatal (75%) shootings. Males of all races were the victims in more than 80% of both fatal and non-fatal shootings. Black male victims tended to be younger than other groups in both categories overall, with younger Black male victims being more likely to survive a gunshot wound than older Black males. Pursuing plausible explanations for these rates, Cervantes focused on community-police relationships in different neighborhoods. Lack of trust and confidence in police tends to make people more prone to taking matters into their own hands. “Strained relationships with law enforcement results in retaliation becoming normalized when seeking retribution for being wronged in resolving interpersonal problems,” Cervantes said. He added that these same neighborhoods where trust in police is lacking also suffer serious socioeconomic problems, high rates of poverty and a lack of services. The inspiration for the study, he said, came while - assisting with data entry for his thesis chair, Prof. Ken Novak. “Reviewing and recoding the raw data gave rise to the questions presented in my thesis,” Cervantes said. “The greater goal in my work here is generating data that can be utilized by future researchers to enhance this field of study.” “Alejandro’s research is timely, locally relevant and important,” Novak said. “This sheds further light on the fact that Black males are significantly overrepresented among shooting victims, and further demonstrates that the harm associated with firearm violence is not distributed equally throughout Kansas City.”  Cervantes, originally from Reseda, California, earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and criminology from UMKC in 2019. He was able to attend the conference in Chicago thanks to a graduate student travel award from the UMKC School of Graduate Studies. He is unsure at this point whether he will pursue a doctorate or go immediately into a career. His ultimate goal is to work for the FBI or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms as a data analyst analyzing firearm-related crimes. Cervantes is grateful for the travel grant that allowed him to attend the conference, which had value beyond the first-place award. “With those expenses covered I had the opportunity to explore and experience something new,” he said. “Attending and presenting at a conference like this gave me not only greater confidence in my skills, but feedback from others in my field helped shape my thesis into a better product.” “This experience is a major highlight in my time at UMKC.” May 26, 2023

  • UMKC Professor Jane Greer, Author, Champion of Women and Research

    New book examines women’s entry into the industrial workforce
    Jane Greer, Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City is a champion of the rich opportunity of undergraduate research. She’s  leading by example with her new book, “Unorganized Women: Repetitive Rhetorical Labor and Low-Wage Workers, 1834-1937.” Through four case studies, Greer’s book examines women who worked for low wages – and sometimes no wages – and how they used their writing skills to empower their economic lives. “I used four case studies and prioritized the diversity of women’s working experiences,” Greer says. “I started with women’s experiences in the 1830s and 40s, when they began working in factories. These women were some of the first who were working in ways other than some kind of home production. This was the first time women were working together in an industrialized setting.” From the Lowell, Massachusetts “mill girls,” Greer proceeds to explore the lives of household workers, farm workers and finally, Kansas City’s own Nell “Nelly Don” Donnelly and the development of the International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union. “There’s an amazing collection of 718 letters in the State Historical Society of Missouri that women workers wrote to Nelly Don about how they felt about how their jobs allowed them to lead lives they wanted to lead beyond the factory, and why they weren't necessarily interested in unionization. It’s an unusual and different kind of story.” As were the women in her book, Greer was open to exploring new paths toward success. After completing her undergraduate studies at a small liberal arts college, and then earning her graduate degree at Ohio State University, she did not anticipate teaching at an urban research university. “I was thrilled to have the opportunity to come to UMKC and Kansas City, and I fell completely in love with the students here. We have the most interesting, fantastic, wonderful-to-work-with students anywhere. And I think a lot of our faculty will tell you this.” As director of undergraduate research at UMKC, Greer is committed to creating a rich research experience for UMKC undergraduates. One of her recent efforts is working in conjunction with a colleague to oversee student research in her “Women and Rhetoric” class to contribute audio tours for the Kansas City Women’s History Trail on the Clio app. Her partner in the effort is David Trowbridge, Ph.D., William T. Kemper Associate Research Professor in Digital and Public Humanities, who developed the Clio app. “The opportunity and the content is so rich,” Greer says. “There's an educator who helped battle segregation in Johnson County before Brown v Board of Education; Eliza Burton Conley, an alumna of the Kansas City School of Law, who was a member of the Wyandotte nation who helped protect a tribal cemetery and was the first Native American woman to argue before the Supreme Court of the United States; and Nell Donnelly Reed, who is this interesting entrepreneur from the early 20th century. There's just a really wide range of women whose stories need to be told.” The relevance and accessibility of a mobile history app is in line with Greer’s undergraduate research responsibilities. “With undergraduate research, we find ways to bring our research mission and our teaching mission together,” Greer says. “If students are attending a public research institution, they should have the opportunity to do the research and be involved. That's part of what makes us unique. You wouldn't get this opportunity at a small liberal arts college or a regional teaching institution in quite the same way.” “Unorganized Women: Repetitive Rhetorical Labor and the Low-Wage Workers, 1834-1937” is available in hard cover, Kindle and Nook. May 24, 2023

  • First-Gen Social Work Student Redefines Advocacy

    DaVonna Williams is pushing the needle towards a more progressive, fresh take on social work
    Roos don't just dream, they do. Our students and alumni turn ideas into action every day. Get to know our people, and you'll know what UMKC is all about. DaVonna Williams (M.S.W. ’23) Pronouns: She/Her/HersUMKC degree program: Master of Social WorkHometown: St. Louis, MO DaVonna has always been passionate about social work advocacy. After returning to UMKC to pursue her Master of Social Work, her experiences on and off campus allowed her to further explore this passion while adopting a fresh, new take on the field. Why did you choose UMKC? I chose UMKC because I had a really great experience here for my undergraduate degree and knew it would be the best choice for me when I decided to go back to school. How has your college program inspired you? My program has inspired me to continue to speak truth to power no matter my position or status in the world. It has lit a fire in me to continue to advocate for communities that have been historically excluded due to biased systems. What does advocacy mean to you? Working with an individual, group or organization to provide the means for them to gain agency over their own lives and help them better understand the systems that perpetuate unhealthy patterns and beliefs that can diminish their quality of life. Have your experiences at UMKC helped define your career goals? Definitely. During my field work, I realized that I would like to work with neighborhoods and help them be more involved in decisions that impact their communities. They need to be aware of everything that is going on and have a say in it. I've also realized that as social workers, we need to attack issues at the root a lot more. Getting involved in policy and supporting organizations that are doing that liberatory work is crucial to social change. Are you a first-generation college student? If so, what does that mean to you? Yes, I am. It is important to me because I have been privileged enough to further my education and take advantage of everything my parents worked so hard to provide for me. What has been your favorite memory at UMKC so far? Presenting at the 2023 UMKC Social Work Conference. I was able to present my capstone work, which involved community organizing around the issue of unpaid field work for social work students. I am very passionate about economic injustice so being able to speak about our organizing and awareness building efforts was empowering. Who/What do you admire most at UMKC and why? I admire Center for Neighborhoods because they are doing a lot of important work by equipping neighborhoods with the tools they need to address their own needs and meet their goals. I like that they visit and connect with members of the community. You were president of the Master of Social Work Student Organization. What did that role mean to you? It meant taking the lead to empower my cabinet and other students to speak up on issues that we see as social workers out in the community, as well as within the MSW program. My vision is for this organization to be engaging and fun while cultivating a sense of community within the MSW program. For instance, we created a newsletter called “Not Your Grandmother's Social Work” (NYGSW) because we wanted to promote a more refreshing, progressive take on social work. What's your favorite fun fact about Kansas City? Kansas City is the hometown of one of my favorite artists, Janelle Monáe. Do you have a favorite spot on campus? My favorite spot on campus is Miller Nichols Library. It’s pretty chill and quiet, so I'm there when I want to brainstorm or work on a project. What are three words you'd use to describe Kansas City? Resilient. Inspiring. Fun. May 23, 2023

  • Two Philosophy Professors Featured in the New York Times

    Clancy Martin and Gwen Nally showcase their expertise in the national publication
    Two University of Missouri-Kansas City philosophy professors have recently appeared in the  New York Times. Gwen Nally, Ph.D., was one of two authors of the guest essay, "Fear of a Black Cleopatra" about the new Netflix docudrama. Nally has taught at UMKC since 2016. Her work focuses primarily on Plato’s ethics, epistemology and metaphysics. Clancy Martin, Ph.D., was featured for his new book “How Not to Kill Yourself.” His work focuses on nineteenth century philosophy, existentialism, moral psychology, applied ethics and Buddhism. Martin has taught at UMKC for almost two decades. May 22, 2023

  • What Do UMKC and the Kansas City Zoo Have in Common? Kangaroos

    New partnership showcases a nine-decade history based on mutual admiration for the Roo
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City and the Kansas City Zoo are announcing a five-year partnership centered around their shared love of kangaroos. The relationship between the two Kansas City institutions dates back almost 90 years. “Not many universities can claim a Roo for a mascot but, thanks to inspiration from the Kansas City Zoo all those years ago, UMKC embraced that unique identity,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “At UMKC, we have an amazing Roo history, complete with a touch of Walt Disney magic.” “Our partnership is a natural fit because the mission of the university and the Zoo is the same, and that is to educate and continually elevate our community through our work,” said Sean Putney, executive director and CEO of the Kansas City Zoo. Venture into the Australia section of the Zoo, and one of the first things you’ll notice on a deck overlooking the kangaroo habitat is a UMKC-sponsored sign that chronicles the story of why a university in the middle of the United States chose an animal from the other side of the world as its mascot, and how famed local resident and animator Walt Disney became involved. New signage chronicles the relationship between the Kansas City Zoo and UMKC's beloved mascot, KC Roo In 1936, the three-year-old university had yet to establish an athletics program, but the debate team was about to begin competing with other universities. Students eagerly got on board with the idea of creating a university mascot. At the time, the city of Kansas City was eagerly anticipating some very exciting news at the Zoo. Jigger the kangaroo was pregnant and the whole town was awaiting news of her little one’s arrival. Inspired by the excitement and believing the mascot would stand out, students chose the kangaroo. In 1938, Walt Disney responded to a student request to illustrate a Roo for the cover of a student-published humor magazine. Nearly a century later, the Disney Roo is still one of the best-known versions of KC Roo and is credited with solidifying the mascot’s history with UMKC. A cutout of the Disney Roo is at Bluey’s deck in Australia at the Zoo, perfect for selfies. A display on the history of the Roo shows its evolution over the decades, from its classic Roo to today’s bold Division I athletics Roo. The UMKC sponsorship at the Zoo also has funded new accessible pathways throughout Australia, where the kangaroos and other animals from Down Under live. The new displays and walkway are just the beginning of a beautiful partnership, according to Anne Hartung Spenner, UMKC vice chancellor of Strategic Marketing and Communications. “Our sponsorship at the Zoo celebrates more than just inspiration for a beloved mascot,” Spenner said. “Both UMKC and the Zoo celebrate education and engagement in the community – so in our second year, we will be hosting interactive displays for children to learn about kangaroos and their habitat and will be looking for opportunities for our students to intern or volunteer at the Zoo.” Spenner also looks forward to further highlighting how the Zoo and UMKC have partnered on the academic front as well. For example, UMKC School of Dentistry students regularly use their dental hygiene skills by cleaning the teeth of Zoo animals up to weekly each spring, a relationship that benefits both UMKC and the Zoo. And biology students watch animals at the Zoo to learn anatomy. Roos are everywhere at the Kansas City Zoo. From Bluey's deck in the Australia section, to the carousel near the entrance  To kick off the partnership celebration, UMKC students, faculty, staff, alumni and leaders are holding a UMKC Roos at the Zoo Day on May 20. UMKC students and employees will receive discounted tickets and memberships as part of the kickoff celebration. Kangaroo fun facts: UMKC and the Kansas City Zoo Kangaroos can only move forward and not backwards. You can observe the red kangaroos at the Zoo to see for yourself! Taking inspiration from their movement, the university named a set of its major initiatives UMKC Forward. A group of kangaroos is called a mob. The Zoo has a mob of 14 red kangaroos. This year, UMKC renamed its athletics pep band, comprised of UMKC Conservatory students, The Mob. A red kangaroo can reach speeds of more than 35 miles per hour, allowing them to clear 25 feet in a single leap. You can watch the kangaroos in action at Bluey’s deck at the Zoo. Their agility and swiftness are why UMKC kept the Roo mascot when the university joined the NCAA Division I in 1987.   May 17, 2023

  • UMKC Accepting Proposals for Destination Development Near Streetcar Stop

    Projects could include a mix of retail, housing and a small arena for community events, concerts and UMKC Division I athletics
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to develop a five-acre parcel of land next to the south terminus of the Kansas City Streetcar at 51st Street and Brookside Boulevard. The streetcar stop is expected to be operational in 2025. In his recent State of the University address, UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal announced his intention to explore options to develop that parcel into a campus and community destination. The project could include a mix of retail, housing and a small arena perfect for campus and community events, concerts and, of course, UMKC Division I athletics, including basketball and volleyball. “A destination development at the southern terminus of the streetcar is an appropriate addition to the community by UMKC, Kansas City’s university,” Agrawal said. “The development from this RFP will elevate the area for our city, our neighbors and our campus community.” The university has two plots of land between Brookside and Oak Street, vacant except for a parking garage. The goal is to integrate the existing parking structure into whatever new development might be envisioned. UMKC plans to open the garage to public use when the streetcar stop opens in 2025 and will build a pedestrian walkway from the streetcar stop to the parking garage. In addition to seeking a development that could include retail, housing and arena amenities, UMKC envisions this project as a highly visible gateway to the UMKC campus from the west. The deadline for proposals is Friday, July 21. The RFP presents an evolution of the university’s 2021 Master Plan, which initially called for development of student housing on the site. Based on decreased demand for on-campus housing and the imminent opening of a new streetcar stop, the priority has shifted to increased space for campus and community amenities to enhance the student life experience on campus and to further engage with the broader Kansas City community. The site, next to the streetcar terminus, has the potential to become a multi-modal transit hub. The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority is conducting a comprehensive redesign of its transit service, which will include stops on the Main and Troost MAX lines every 15 minutes. The Troost MAX provides the most direct connection between the UMKC Volker Campus and downtown Kansas City. To create this project, UMKC would provide a ground lease to the developer and then would lease back the arena to meet its athletics and event needs, while allowing the developer to use the facility for other programs and events during available times. A shared operating agreement between UMKC and the developer will govern use of the facility. The UMKC Division I Athletics program anticipates that the arena would be home to Kansas City Roos basketball and volleyball. That means 40-45 home games per season, plus 550 practice sessions per season. The university’s existing athletics and recreation facility, Swinney Center, currently supports the Division I programs as well as campus recreation. A new arena with expanded seating capacity and more training space is expected to provide a significant boost to UMKC Athletics’ fan experience and would aid in recruiting outstanding student athletes. May 15, 2023

  • Thirteen Named Dean of Students Honor Recipients

    Graduating students are recognized for their outstanding academic performance, community leadership and service
    Thirteen graduating UMKC students have been named Dean of Students Honor Recipients in recognition of their accomplishments on campus and in the community. Every semester, exceptional graduating students are honored with this designation. These students maintain excellent academic standards while actively participating in university activities and community service outside of the classroom. The Spring 2023 honorees’ accomplishments include founding new service organizations, being published in peer-reviewed journals, holding leadership positions in student organizations, volunteering in the community and more. “These students embody what it means to be a Roo with their dedication to academics, service and community," said Michele D. Smith, Ph.D., vice provost for student affairs and dean of students. “I am thrilled to recognize them for their many accomplishments and look forward to the bright futures ahead of them.” Students shared reflections on their time at UMKC at a special breakfast celebration in their honor. Some excerpts: Shaan Patel: “UMKC has taught me so much about what it means to be a good physician, student and person. One of my attending (physicians) once said that being a physician is not just about treating the disease, but it is about treating the person. Through my clinical experience at UMKC, I have learned so much about caring for the underserved and how quality of health is impacted by so many factors separate from disease pathology. I have been inspired by my attendings who have been critical in helping patients beyond the hospital setting.” Emily Puthawala: “I am a non-traditional student, and tomorrow will be the first time I hold a diploma since my high school graduation eleven years ago. I would like to recognize one very special group of people. This group has not only made my time at UMKC special, but I believe they are what makes the UMKC experience so unique and inspiring: my fellow non-traditional students. One will be attending medical school in the fall, one will be interning at the World Health Organization, and another will be taking the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) with me this September. With an average student age of 26, UMKC is dedicated to supporting and nurturing students like us as we strive to achieve our wildest dreams, something for which I am forever grateful.” Meredith Clark: “One of the most important things UMKC has taught me through my program is that you won’t have to go through the experience alone. The last four years have been no easy feat by any means, but my faculty, classmates, staff and administration have all been there to help me be the best dentist I can be. I have been shaped by the people at the dental school in more ways that I can count. I am continually awed by the time and energy the faculty put into investing into my future as a dentist but also by the energy they put into getting to know me and my personal life as well. It’s a true testament to the environment created within the dental school.” Congratulations to the Spring 2023 Dean of Students Honor Recipients! Olaide Bankole, School of Science and Engineering Meredith Clark, School of Dentistry Erin Galakatos, School of Medicine Jordan Grimmett, School of Medicine Jordan Held, School of Medicine Faith Kapp, School of Medicine Mahnoor Malik, School of Medicine Darryl Monroe II, School of Pharmacy Sage Morgan, Conservatory Christy Nwankwo, School of Medicine Shaan Patel, School of Medicine Emily Puthawala, School of Science and Engineering Lanisha Stevens, School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences May 15, 2023

  • UMKC Celebrates 2023 Commencement at T-Mobile Center

    The ceremonies were held on May 13, 2023
    More than 1,800 students became alumni on Saturday as The University of Missouri-Kansas City had its May 2023 Commencement ceremony in the heart of Kansas City. “You have acquired the knowledge, skills and the confidence to navigate an ever-shifting landscape in the days and years to come. Chart your future in pencil because more challenges surely await you,” said Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “But I know that you are up to those challenges because you have a degree from UMKC. You are ready for whatever comes next.” National ABC News Anchor and UMKC alumna Rhiannon Ally (B.A. ‘05) congratulated the new graduates. The Raytown, MO native's almost 20-year career included a front row seat to history, documenting events including the Boston Marathon bombing, the war in Ukraine, Hurricane Katrina and the Ghislaine Maxwell trial. “If you find what you love, push through those hard days. Things will get better if you are committed to improving every single day,” said Ally. “You hold the power to change the future, no matter what your profession is.” Following Ally’s address and the recognition of individual graduates, the class enjoyed taking part in the tradition of moving the tassels from the right of their caps to the left to symbolize the individual's movement from candidate to graduate. May 13, 2023

  • UMKC to Lead Development of Microelectronics Hub in Missouri and Kansas

    $1 million federal cooperative agreement launches team to generate suppliers of microchip materials and create highly trained workforce
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City on behalf of the University of Missouri System has received a $1 million 24-month federal cooperative agreement to lead the development of a microelectronics hub across Missouri and Kansas. The $999,480 award from the National Science Foundation’s Regional Innovation Engines Program is funded through the CHIPS and Science Act, signed into law earlier this year, to significantly boost U.S. production of microchips and other microelectronic components. The initial cooperative agreement will launch Critical Materials Crossroads, an industry, government and academic team working to establish a microelectronics base in the Midwest and promote technical and economic development in the region. This planning award could lead to $160 million in additional funding over the next 10 years to help launch new businesses and educate the future critical-materials workforce. This collective will leverage partnerships with universities and businesses in Kansas and Missouri to drive the growth needed for this new hub, providing microelectronics manufacturers with the needed workforce, materials and innovation to develop domestically sustainable and profitable critical goods. According to the original proposal, goals for the collective include: Coordinate, facilitate and mentor creation of about 70 small businesses in Missouri and Kansas, which will account for more than 4% of the two states’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2032, creating an average of 1,000 new jobs per year. Become the one-stop solution for regional microelectronic needs and generate an increasing corporate footprint and business relocation from other regions. Create and maintain a pipeline of targeted degree/certificate holders to meet workforce needs. Be the catalyst and trusted partner for U.S. microelectronics industrial base research. Launch entities to provide centralized business support services and funding for startups. Supply a significant amount of mid-tier microelectronics critical materials to U.S. prime-tier manufacturers by 2030. “UMKC is proud to take the lead on behalf of the University of Missouri System and its four universities on this exciting effort to create a new industrial base in our region focused on computer chips and other microelectronics,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “The potential for business formation and job creation is extraordinary, and we’ll be working with partners throughout Missouri and Kansas to make it happen.” Anthony Caruso, Curators' Distinguished Professor of Physics and Electrical Engineering and UMKC Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, is the principal investigator for the grant. “Our goal is to realize a self-sustaining Kansas-Missouri microelectronics industrial base that will become profitable without the need for government subsidy,” Caruso said. “That requires reinventing manufacturing practices. To meet this grand challenge, the team will focus on synergistic and symbiotic partnerships that leverage the unique natural resources, manufacturing and transportation capacity of Missouri and Kansas. The ultimate goal is to develop marked improvements in regional educational attainment and economic growth.” Microelectronics – specifically semiconductors or computer chips – underpin many aspects of day-to-day life, including medical equipment, cars, industrial machinery and consumer electronics. U.S. semiconductor manufacturing has declined significantly since the early 1990s, leaving the country reliant on imported microelectronics, which many see as a threat to both economic growth and national security. The team includes institutions of higher education, representation from local and state governments and industry partners, including all four universities in the UM System, the University of Kansas, Kansas State University, Wichita State University, Central Missouri State University, Wichita State University Tech, Lincoln University, Harris-Stowe State University, St. Louis University, Metropolitan Community College, Integra Tech, Nitride Global, EaglePicher, MEMC-Global Wafers, Radiation Detection Technologies, Brewer Science, Doe Run, Enersys, U.S. Strategic Metals, ThREE, KC Rising, National Security Crossroads, KC Area Development Council, KC Digital Drive, Missouri Department of Economic Development, PortKC, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Missouri Tech Alliance, Entrepreneurship KC, KC Rising, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and startups Homebase, Bravas, Balto, Pierian, Torch, Potter, Nidec, Digital Ally and Crosstalk. May 11, 2023

  • Bloch School Graduate Headed to the Big Apple as a Technology Consultant

    Business student and Missouri Air National Guard staff sergeant Henry Meeds reflects on the UMKC opportunities that have prepared him for post-grad...
    Roos don’t just dream, they do. Our students turn ideas into action every day. Get to know our people, and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Henry Meeds Graduation year: (BBA ’22, B.S. '23)UMKC degree program: Dual Degree, Business Administration and Accounting Hometown: Fairway, KS Fresh off the completion of his accounting program, Henry Meeds is starting a new adventure. The May 2023 graduate is headed to New York City to work at the Big Four accounting firm, PwC, a job he had lined up months before graduation. “My experience at the Bloch school has definitely helped me get into this position with PwC,” Meeds said. “The reason I went into consulting is because I don't want to be stuck in the same industry, doing the same job every day.”Meeds became connected with PwC after participating in the company’s diversity-based internship program in 2021. He learned about the company, the technology they use and developed an action plan for a nonprofit organization. He returned for a second internship in the summer of 2022, where he focused on technology consulting and implemented the rollout of Workday for a health care company. By the time the summer was up, he had an offer to come on full-time after graduation as a technology consultant. “I think my experience at the Bloch school has definitely helped set me up,” Meeds said. “Being in a smaller class allowed me to ask questions and get mentorship from those professors. I have a lot of professors that I've been able to talk to you about certain aspects of business. For that reason, I think I bring something new to the table for the company.” Despite having a full-time job lined up, Meeds didn’t rest on his laurels the last year of his accounting program. He was one of four Bloch Consulting Lab students to work with Vantage Airport Group, the vendor management company for the recently opened single-terminal KCI – the $1.5 billion terminal is considered Kansas City’s largest infrastructure project. Meeds and his peers helped support the company with hiring, developing an internship program and conducting an economic impact study. Meeds said after all the work he’s put in with the airport, taking off from there for New York will be a moment to remember, knowing that what he’s worked towards will have a big impact on his hometown, KC citizens and his career moving forward. “It’s really symbolic,” Meeds said. “Working with the airport and helping implement this great amenity for Kansas City was great. When I leave this month, it will make me feel great just having a piece of KC, while leaving a little bit of myself behind.” He said the mentorship from experienced professors and participating in the Bloch Consulting Lab helped sharpen his understanding of consulting services and information technology in a way that will benefit him as he begins his career. “Working in this consulting position definitely helped me improve my consulting skills before heading out to New York City,” Meeds said. “We’re getting hands on with every part of the project, similar to what a partner might be doing at PwC. And we’re doing it all ourselves.”While balancing his commitments as a staff sergeant in the Missouri Air National Guard, he didn’t fall short on his academic responsibilities. Last spring semester, Meeds received notice of being deployed to Germany and took the initiative to complete course work and exams ahead of schedule. Following his return, he headed straight to New York City to complete his internship with PwC. His advice to other active military students is to always be ready to be called to duty."Being a military student, and have having done this for the past four years, I am fully aware that things happen,” Meeds said. “I get a step ahead of all my classes to make sure that I'm ready to go.” May 05, 2023

  • Graduate Student in Creative Writing Program Wins National Poetry Prize

    Poem by MFA candidate Shannon Moran will be published in Hayden’s Ferry Review
    Shannon Moran, a Master of Fine Arts student in the English department Creative Writing Program, is a winner of this year’s AWP Intro Award in poetry for her poem, “Sadie.” The national award, open to all U.S. MFA students, is sponsored by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. Moran, originally from Baltimore, is one of eight winners in the Poetry category. According to the association, the Intro Journals Project is a literary competition for the discovery and publication of the best new works by students. “Sadie” will be published in an upcoming edition of Hayden’s Ferry Review. “This award means so much to me because, to be considered, your institution's faculty must first nominate your work,” Moran said. “Being nominated by the MFA faculty here at UMKC, all incredibly brilliant and accomplished writers, felt like a testament to both my work and the program overall.’ She described “Sadie” as an epistolary poem in offset couplets. “The poem addresses themes of addiction and the guilt that comes from recovering and moving on while a loved one continues in the cycle, as well as the complex feelings one has toward the person who initially introduced them to that world,” Moran said. “There is a certain grief that comes from losing someone who isn't gone, from feeling like you've both escaped and abandoned them, from mourning a love that feels everpresent and yet absent--a ghost of itself. This piece is incredibly close to my heart, which made sending it out into the world a bit scary. I am grateful that it has been received well and will find life on the page.” English Professor Hadara Bar-Nadav, Ph.D., is Moran’s thesis advisor. “Shannon Moran’s ‘Sadie’ is a breathtaking elegy for a friend,” Bar-Nadav said. “With striking language and imagery, Moran’s poem crosses time and space in this tribute of both love and loss.” Students in the UMKC Creative Writing Program have won the award multiple times since the program was founded in 2008. Most recently, Mary Henn won in 2020 and Emily Standlee won in 2021. May 03, 2023

  • Touchdown Kansas City: Roo News Covers NFL Draft

    Cristian Martinez had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cover the NFL Draft as a student journalist
    Cristian Martinez stands on the football field at Central Middle School, microphone in hand. He looks over at Roo News photographer Julia Kapros and gives her a thumbs-up. Martinez is with sports journalists from all over the country, waiting to interview prospect Will Levis for the NFL Draft in Kansas City. Unlike other journalists in the crowd, he’s still in college. Martinez is the sports editor for the UMKC student newspaper, Roo News. “Being at the NFL Draft is a dream come true,” Martinez said. “I’ve always dreamt of covering big events. That I can go to this and learn from some of the best in the business at such a young age is spectacular.” Covering three days of events for the NFL Draft in Kansas City didn’t just give Martinez the opportunity to interview top draft prospects such as Levis and Zay Flowers, an experience he described as “surreal.” He also got to learn from nationally known sports journalists, both by watching them and talking with them. “I spoke with Daniel Jeremiah, Joel Klatt and Charles Davis,” Martinez said. “I asked them about their careers, and Davis gave me advice about doing play-by-play and color commentary. Getting to ask them for career advice was amazing and something I’ll never forget.” "Opportunities will always present themselves, but you have to chase them." — Cristian Martinez In high school, the Raytown native knew he wanted to attend college in Kansas City. Although he initially considered a university traditionally known for its journalism program, the opportunities that come from being in the heart of the city won him over. “When I think of the opportunities I’ve had at UMKC, I don’t even know where to begin,” Martinez said. “I attended the groundbreaking for the Kansas City Current, I’ve worked for ESPN to cover Kansas City Chiefs home games, I did play-by-play for the Summit League Basketball Tournament in Sioux Falls and I cover UMKC sports. Sometimes I think about all the things I have done up to this point and it just blows my mind.” Martinez wants to be a sports broadcaster and writer, but he is working hard to learn all aspects of the journalism field. In his words, he wants to be a “Swiss army knife” when he graduates, prepared for wherever his career may take him. He credits the opportunities and professors at UMKC, including Steve Kraske, Bill Bell and Jeffri Chadiha, for helping him become an accomplished sports journalist already. Martinez has one piece of advice for students considering UMKC: take advantage of what the city offers. “There’s so much you can do here, no matter what career you’re pursuing. Opportunities will always present themselves, but you have to chase them. They won’t just come to you.” May 01, 2023

  • 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

  • This UMKC Alumna is a National ABC News Anchor

    ABC World News Now co-host and Good Morning America correspondent Rhiannon Ally is a Kansas City-area native with a passion for telling stories
    Rhiannon Ally (B.A. ‘05) has always had an inquisitive mind. “I had been asking questions since I was a little girl. To anyone and everyone,” she says. As the anchor of the national ABC News program, “World News Now” and a correspondent on "Good Morning America," 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,” said Ally. “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.”The Raytown native co-anchored the Emmy-Award-winning 10 p.m. newscast for Kansas City’s NBC affiliate KSHB-TV alongside her husband, Mike Marusarz (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. “Journalism is still a job that takes a great deal of sacrifice. I’ve been doing this 15 years and I still have to work many holidays and weekends. It is not a job you take for the glamour of being on TV because there is so much more to it than that.” Apr 24, 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

  • UMKC Seeks New Dean for Renowned Medical School

    Leader will guide innovative six-year B.A./M.D. program, extensive research portfolio and further development of UMKC Health Sciences District
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City has launched a national search for a new dean for the university’s acclaimed School of Medicine. The new dean will replace Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., who has announced her pending retirement from the deanship. The new dean will lead one of the nation’s top urban-serving medical schools as it drives transformative change to improve and innovate medical education and health care in the region. The UMKC School of Medicine has been an innovator in medical education since its opening in 1971, when it launched its unique and innovative six-year dual BA./M.D. degree program admitting students directly from high school. The school also offers a traditional four-year program for students who have completed an undergraduate degree. The school has two campuses: one in Kansas City, Missouri, in the heart of the UMKC Health Sciences District; and one in St. Joseph, Missouri, where students receive a rich clinical education at a premier rural health system. The next dean will be charged with shaping a broad strategy for the UMKC Health Sciences District. The district, formed in 2017, set its goal to become a premier academic health district, engaging in cutting-edge biomedical research and entrepreneurship, delivering state-of-the-science health care and educating the next generation of health-care professionals. Central to that strategy will be leveraging the potential of the forthcoming UMKC Healthcare Innovation and Delivery building, designed to serve as a catalyst for developing the Health Sciences District into a major regional academic medical center that can generate billions of dollars in jobs and economic impact for the Kansas City region. Expanding the school’s research mission will be another important responsibility for the new dean. With more than 20 core faculty and 40 endowed professors and endowed chairs, the school’s research strengths include vision science, neuroscience, prenatal addiction, trauma/shock, maternal fetal medicine, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, surgical safety and implementation science. The school has received more than $23 million in NIH-sponsored research in the most recent year. Co-chairs of the search committee are Charlie Shields, President and CEO of University Health, one of the school’s clinical partners; and Kevin Truman, dean of the UMKC School of Science and Engineering. The full committee includes representatives from other clinical partners, faculty from the School of Medicine and other health professions schools in the UMKC Health Sciences District, School of Medicine alumni and UMKC medical students. The national health-care leadership firm Isaacson, Miller is conducting the search. For more information, contact managing associate Nicholas Strand, 617-933-1913, nstrand@imsearch.com; or search coordinator Lileana “Lily” Sethares, 617-933-1889, lsethares@imsearch.com. Mar 30, 2023

  • UMKC Pharmacy Students, Faculty Receive Top National Honors

    Student chapter of American Pharmacists Association recognized for its excellence in community engagement initiatives
    The UMKC School of Pharmacy continues to draw national recognition for its excellence in developing programs that engage, educate and improve the health of the community it serves. The American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) selected its UMKC chapter from nearly 130 chapters across the country to receive the top national awards for the school’s local community engagement initiatives as well as a number of individual awards and recognitions, at a national meeting and exposition March 24-27 in Phoenix.  The school received the organization’s Patient Care Award for most outstanding local initiatives, the Over The Counter Medicine Safety Award that focuses on safe medication practices and the Operation Diabetes Award for efforts to raise awareness and reduce complications associated with type 2 diabetes. “Many chapters only focus on the national initiatives, but not our crew,” said faculty advisor Cameron Lindsey, Pharm.D. The awards acknowledge the combined efforts of students at the UMKC School of Pharmacy’s three campuses in Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield. They recognize pharmacy programs that excel in creating opportunities for student participation while raising the standards of leadership, professionalism, membership, patient care and legislative advocacy among student pharmacists nationwide. Chapters are evaluated based on originality of their programs, the number of chapter members involved, impact on the community, benefits to student pharmacists and collaboration with other healthcare organizations.  UMKC received the Patient Care Award for student efforts in developing a ROOt 4 Health program that raises school-aged children’s awareness about healthy food and activity choices. The chapter also started Operation Self-Care, which strives to reduce the stigma around mental health and encourages good practices for wellness. This was the second consecutive year that UMKC has received the No. 1 national award for Over The Counter Medicine Safety, based on students’ efforts to educate elementary, middle, and high school students about safe medication dosing and risks associated with over-the-counter medications. UMKC students also educate adults about safe dosing for children in their care.  As part of Operation Diabetes, students at all three of the schools’ campuses screened patients in rural, suburban and urban venues, and referred those found at high risk for further care. “Our students never cease to amaze me with their innovative ways to reach patients where they are,” Lindsey said. “They continually provide health education, screening and vaccinations to audiences across our state from many backgrounds. This is on top of their busy academic and work schedules. They are an example to all of us to leave the world better than they found it. I am excited to see that their hard work is being recognized on the national stage.” Lindsey also was honored with the Linwood F. Tice Friend of APhA-ASP Award, which recognizes an individual whose long-term services and contributions have benefited the APhA–ASP and student pharmacists in general. Russ Melchert, dean of the School of Pharmacy and current president of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, commended the school’s APhA-ASP chapter faculty advisors: Lindsey, Jordan Rowe, Kathryn Holt, Angela Brownfield, Sarah Cox, Brandi Bowers and Lisa Cillessen. “Students clearly followed the excellent examples set by their mentors serving as advisors and all of our faculty and staff who assisted them in getting where they are,” he said. APhA-ASP Individual honors and recognitions: Allison Eppenauer, third-year student on the Kansas City campus, received the national APhA Student Leadership Award and an APhA Foundation Scholarship.  Hadia Malik, fourth-year student on the Kansas City campus, served on the APhA-ASP National Executive Committee as a member-at-large. Karissa May, third-year student on the Kansas City campus, competed in the National Patient Counseling Competition. Daphne Boggs, second-year student on the Springfield campus, served as chapter delegate to the APhA-ASP House of Delegates. Alex Steury and Makaela David, second-year students on the Springfield campus, and Allison Eppenauer, third-year student on the Kansas City Campus, gave a platform presentation highlighting the chapter’s “Policy and Advocacy Literacy Certificate” that was a regional finalist in the Innovating Programming Award. Megan Maetten, second-year student on the Columbia campus, presented a poster on “Evaluating student and graduate pharmacist perception of knowledge and confidence level when addressing topics related to the opioid epidemic at the UMKC School of Pharmacy.” Faculty member Yifei Liu served as the APhA-APRS delegate to the APhA House of Delegates Jordan Rowe presented a PharmTalk about “Lessons Learned Initiating an Interprofessional LGBTQ+ Clinic Providing Gender Affirming Care with a Safety-Net Health System.” UMKC APhA-ASP Awards 2022 APhA-ASP Division A 2nd Runner-Up, National Chapter Achievement Award (Top 10 in the US) 2021 APhA-ASP Division A National Chapter Achievement Award (Top 4 in the US) 2020 APhA-ASP Chapter of the Year (No. 1 in the U.S.) 2019 APhA-ASP 1st Runner Up in Chapter Achievement (Top 7 in the U.S.) 2018 APhA-ASP Chapter of the Year (No. 1 in the U.S.) 2017 APhA-ASP 1st Runner Up in Chapter Achievement (Top 7 in the U.S.) 2016 APhA-ASP Chapter Achievement Award (Top 4 in the U.S.) 2015 APhA-ASP Chapter Achievement Award (Top 4 in the U.S.) 2014 APhA-ASP 1st Runner Up in Chapter Achievement (Top 7 in the U.S.) 2013 APhA-ASP Chapter Achievement Award (Top 4 in the U.S.) 2012 APhA-ASP Chapter of the Year (No. 1 in the U.S.) Mar 30, 2023

  • This Dentistry Student Plans to Use His Pro Soccer Background to Help KC Kids

    Dental student and soccer talent Edgardo Leiva needed coaches for his youth soccer business and his fellow students were the talent pool he needed.
    Roos don't just dream, they do. Our students turn ideas into action every day. Get to know our people, and you'll know what UMKC is all about. Edgardo LeivaAnticipated graduation: 2023Academic program: Doctor of Dental Surgery, UMKC School of DentistryHometown: San Pedro Sula, Honduras Dental student Edgardo Leiva rose through the competitive ranks of soccer, from the Honduran National Team to college soccer in United States. His playing career came to an end as his career as a dental student ramped up. He soon transitioned to coaching in addition to his dentistry studies. His sought-after coaching skills were in such high demand that he formed his company, Soccer Roots, where he began hiring additional coaches, including many of his fellow dental students. How did your soccer career begin? I started playing competitively when I was 12 or 13, eventually participating in the developmental program for the Honduran national team. But the situation in Honduras became too difficult for my family, so my mom brought us to Miami, where my grandmother was living. When we first moved there, it was very difficult. My mom had to work multiple jobs. What was your path to UMKC? I played soccer at a couple of colleges in the Midwest, eventually landing at UMKC to play for the school’s soccer team. As my collegiate playing career was ending, I knew I needed to figure out something else to do. I always wanted to go into dentistry, but to do that I needed to put my focus on my academics. What opportunities have come to you while at UMKC? My academics really started taking off when I began working in the research lab of Ryan Mohan, a professor in the UMKC School of Science and Engineering. I met Ryan at a soccer camp where I was coaching his kids. Getting more involved in research really helped me focus on my academics but I always kept up coaching. How did your coaching career develop? I was coaching recreational teams for Sporting Brookside, a Kansas City soccer league. The league includes both recreational teams that are open to all and a competitive side where players try out to participate. The parents liked the structure of my recreational practices and were interested in me providing additional coaching to their kids who wanted to transition to the competitive side. That’s when I started my company, Soccer Roots, which now oversees the Elite Program within Sporting Brookside for players interested in additional training to help them continue to the higher levels of the sport. How have your fellow dentistry students helped with that? The workload grew to where I had seven teams. On the weekends I would coach 15 games, but it was getting out of hand. I started with hiring our class president and a close friend of mine, Morgan Engelbrecht, to help with the admin side of things. Also, I always need coaches, and I was meeting dentistry students who had soccer experience, even a few who played at the collegiate level. I thought, what better people to coach these kids than my friends in the dental school? I’ve had as many as 14 coaches on my payroll, with eight being dentistry classmates. How has soccer shaped you as a person? I’m so grateful to soccer because I would not be where I am now. It provided me a pathway to becoming a dentist by molding my character. It taught me discipline, responsibility and how to work hard. I owe soccer a lot, and I’ll always be involved in the sport. How did the structure of coaching help you in your academic pursuits at UMKC? When you’ve been in soccer for so long, teaching someone to kick a ball is not something that comes naturally. You have to think back on how to dissect the process to be able to teach it. It’s the same in academia, where you learn the process and are able to dissect everything you learn. What can you take from soccer that will help you as a dentist? Playing soccer -- and especially coaching -- has helped me in dealing with my patients. Dentistry is basically coaching. We coach our patients to keep good oral hygiene and teach them the skills to achieve that. Do you have any plans to incorporate soccer into your dentistry career? One of my goals before I graduate is to create a nonprofit soccer camp that incorporates oral health. I’m coordinating with the pediatrics department at the UMKC School of Dentistry, where we would offer free soccer camps. One of the rotations is going to be an oral health screening. Ultimately, I would like something that connects my two passions while making an impact on the next generation. Why is it important for students to cultivate interests outside of the occupation they’re working towards? It’s important to have balance. I learned from one of my mentors that you can’t just look at teeth all day. You’ll be so much more fulfilled when you’re engaged in things you’re passionate about. Mar 28, 2023

  • How is This First-Gen College Student Finding Success?

    She’s part of UMKC Professional Career Escalators in the business track
    Roos don't just dream, they do. Our students turn ideas into action every day. Get to know our people, and you'll know what UMKC is all about. Ariela LaraAnticipated graduation year: 2026UMKC degree program: engineering and business track, Professional Career EscalatorsHometown: Ozark, Missouri Ariela Lara, a first-generation college student emerging from the foster-care system, arrived on campus with no idea what to expect, or what was expected of her. That changed quickly though, thanks to her participation in the Professional Career Escalators program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. It’s a comprehensive career-development program designed to propel students from their academic studies to high-paying careers by providing a dedicated, GPS-guided path from enrollment to career success. “Here at UMKC, they really care about you being able to succeed,” Lara said. “There are so many resources to help you. I really benefit from having a mentor to help me not only navigate college, but help me understand how I can be successful in my career. And the program really helps you make connections.” The Professional Career Escalators program provides students with a unique, trademarked system of personalized support and services, preparing students for careers in four key areas of workforce demand: law and justice, engineering and business, education and health care.   Each semester, students participate in the five Professional Career Escalators core experiences: career guidance and development; experiential learning opportunities (such as job shadowing and internships); mentoring with faculty experts and community professionals; graduate and professional school preparation; and leadership development. The program is helping Lara narrow her focus. “Business is such a broad field, and it can be hard to narrow down to what you really want to do,” she said. “I wanted to go into a program that would let me be creative, but I didn’t want to go into the arts. In high school I took a business class, and I joined DECA (formerly Distributive Education Clubs of America). I realized that I was good at it, and I loved it. And as I started to learn more about business, I fell in love with marketing.” How has your college program inspired you? Seeing so many people working so hard to be successful really motivates and inspires me to want to be that way and do that. Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself? That I am more ambitious than I thought. All I can think about is how much I want to succeed, and that I will do anything I have to. What are your feelings about being a first-generation college student? It is something I am immensely proud of. I am the first in my family to explore this realm. They never had this opportunity. Do you have any scholarships? Coming from the foster-care system, I am paying for all my college costs. I have been fortunate to be able to receive many scholarships for this year and they mean a lot to me. I worked really hard in high school to be able to receive scholarships. What other extracurricular activities are you involved in at UMKC? I am in First Gen Roo, Bloch Ambassadors, Bloch Launchpad and Enactus.   Mar 28, 2023

  • UMKC Music Composition and English Professors Win Fulbright Honors

    Blanton and Haber to spend research year abroad
    Two UMKC faculty members have been selected to work abroad as Fulbright Scholars for the 2023-24 academic year. Virginia Blanton, Ph.D., Curators' Distinguished Professor, will go to the Ruusbroec Institute in Antwerp, Belgium, to research English nuns who sought refuge in Catholic Flanders during the Reformation. Yotam Haber, D.M.A., associate professor of music composition in the UMKC Conservatory, will go to the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance in Israel to further develop the cross-fertilization of his creative work with traditional Jewish liturgical cantillation practices. The Fulbright Program, the flagship international academic exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, has fostered mutual understanding between the United States and other countries since 1946. The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program sends American scholars, artists, faculty and professionals abroad to lecture and/or conduct research for up to a year. Blanton has had a long-term research focus on medieval women and their relationship with books. In Antwerp, she will focus on the Birgittines of Syon, a wealthy and influential community near London, who refused Henry VIII’s directive to close their community and went to Flanders. “They cultivated and circulated devotional reading material, and yet no one has investigated Belgian repositories for their lost books or for evidence of their time in Antwerp and the surrounding region,” Blanton said. “I will be working in various archives and libraries across Flanders to identify books and other materials, as well as organizing a series of workshops that will bring together researchers who focus on Birgittines in Sweden, England, Belgium, Italy, Spain and beyond.” “One of my career goals was to secure a Fulbright to a multilingual country, and Belgium – where there are speakers of Dutch, French, German as well as multiple other immigrant languages – is ideal,” she said. “I was a French major in college and my daughter attends a French-immersion school, so it was important that I seek out an opportunity where we could be immersed in a culture that is not primarily Anglophone. “I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity, and I look forward to representing UMKC in my time abroad.” Haber was born in the Netherlands but grew up in Israel until the age of 5, when his family relocated to Africa. “Most of my family is in Israel, and I have visited many times for short periods since my childhood, but have never stayed for an extended period,” Haber said. “For the last decade or so, I have been focused on writing music that intermingles Italian Jewish liturgical practices with my own contemporary musical voice. This fascination with Italian Jewish traditions, rather than ‘straight from the source,’ is born from my own nomadic existence. The Fulbright allows me to finally spend time in Israel, learning about how those liturgical cantillation practices originated. In addition, I am excited to immerse myself in the new music community of Israel.” “I am honored to receive this award,” he said. “I’m very curious to engage with composition students in Israel and learn about the cultural, political, religious and other factors that drive and inspire them.” Mar 23, 2023

  • UMKC Dentistry Researcher Using Artificial Intelligence for Early Cancer Detection, Increased Survival Rates

    Rose Wang’s research received grant funding from the National Institutes of Health
    The traditional tissue biopsy method of cancer diagnosis has been around for more than 50 years. The method finds the presence of cancer, but frequently too late to treat it successfully. As a researcher at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry, Rose Wang, Ph.D., focuses on establishing a system to identify the risk of cancer through artificial intelligence and infrared technology. She is confident that this method, designed to intercept precancerous lesions before they become a deadly form the disease, can be applicable to other forms of cancer as well. The scientific community has taken note of the promise behind Wang’s research. She received a $430,000 developmental research grant in January for her innovative research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “We’re not trying to diagnose cancer itself,” Wang said “We are creating a system to detect high-risk precancers and to prevent them from becoming cancer. If we’re able to detect it early on, there’s more we can do about it, and the treatment is more effective. I’m very excited about that.” Wang is studying the application of artificial intelligence, such as machine learning, to analyze the biochemical data from tissue samples using infrared spectroscopic imaging, a device that provides higher dimensional data than traditional imaging methods, such as a microscope. She uses both specialized software and open-source computer programs to train machine learning models to extract the most important information from what the spectroscopy shows. The level of detail is immense, with each pixel providing thousands of variables across different wavelengths. “Manually reviewing the data is almost impossible,” Wang said. “that’s why we need to use machine learning to extract the important information and to train models for automatic risk stratification.” Wang has pulled together an impressive research team from not only the UMKC School of Dentistry, but also the UMKC School of Science and Engineering as well as the University of Kansas Medical Center. Her multidisciplinary team covers a wide range of expertise: infrared spectroscopy and imaging, clinical pathology, artificial intelligence, oral biology and cancer biophysics. The current gold standard for cancer detection is the histopathological diagnostic approach, cutting tissue sample for a biopsy. The sample is then sent to a pathologist to be visually evaluated for the presence of cancer. "Pathologists spend years to train their eyes to see those morphological anomalies and say cancer or no cancer,” Wang said. The pathologist looks for what is called morphological changes of cells and tissues. Unfortunately, these changes don’t show up until the cancer is already progressing. According to Wang, the problem is that 70% of all oral cancers are diagnosed at late stages, leading to a low 50% survival rate at the five-year mark. Precancerous lesions are not cancer but have increased risk of becoming cancer. According to Wang, pathologists don't yet know how to differentiate which precancerous lesions, known as dysplasia, will transform into cancer. Sometimes the cells just stay in the precancerous state without becoming cancer. If the pathologist finds mild or moderate abnormalities, frequently clinicians will opt to observe the problem area over time. "But what if the patient did come back in a year and suddenly they have cancer from even mild dysplasia?" Wang said. "Right now, there is no reliable way to determine which precancerous lesions will become cancerous." The other issue is the subjectivity of the traditional process. Wang said two well-trained pathologists can provide different diagnoses for the same tissue biopsy.  “The system we are developing will provide objective and quantitative diagnostic information and facilitate clinicians to make better management plans for their patients,” Wang said. “Oral cancer survival is highly stage-dependent, and early detection can significantly improve patient survival rate. If we can catch them early, we can save lives.” Mar 23, 2023

  • UMKC Recognizes Outstanding Alumni at the 2023 Awards Celebration

    15 alumni and one family honored
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City Class of 2023 Alumni Achievement Awards ceremony celebrated and recognized the accomplishments of UMKC alumni. In addition, the ceremony generates funds to supports student scholarships. In the last decade, the Alumni Awards event has garnered more than $1 million in scholarships and immediate student aid for UMKC. “I am always excited for the Alumni Awards because they recognize hard work, dedication and resilience,” Chancellor Mauli Agrawal said. “No one achieves this level of success without tenacity – and excellent preparation. It’s an honor to recognize our alumni’s achievements, and it’s always a joy to be with you for this event.” Alumnus Sean O’Brien, (J.D. ’80) was recognized as the Alumnus of the Year. He received the highest honor bestowed by the UMKC Alumni Association for his career of freeing the wrongly convicted. After directing the Missouri Capital Punishment Resource Center for 15 years, he returned to UMKC as a visiting professor and later became a full professor. He credits his education at the UMKC School of Law for providing the foundation for his success. “UMKC School of Law prides itself on producing practice-ready lawyers, and that was true in my case.” Complete list of awardees: Alumnus of the year: Sean O’Brien (J.D. ‘ 80) Bill French Alumni Service: Patricia Macdonald (B.L.A.) Defying the Odds: Rev. Carl Moore (B.M.E. ’68) Spotlight Award: Bruce Bubacz Legacy Family: The Accurso Family School of Biological and Chemical Sciences*: Beth Harvill (Ph.D. ’95) Henry W. Bloch School of Management: Ramin Cherafat (MBA ’02) School of Computing and Engineering*: Ken Gerling (B.S.C.E. ’91) Conservatory: Charlie Corcoran (M.F.A. ’01) School of Dentistry: Cesar Sabates (D.D.S.’87, A.E.G.D. ’88) School of Dentistry-Dental Hygiene: Heather Samuel (B.S.D.H. '90, M.S.D.H. '91) School of Education*: Chris Brown (Ph.D. '93) School of Law: Scott Bethune (J.D. '88) School of Medicine: Arif Kamal (B.L.A., '04, M.D. '05) School of Nursing and Health Studies: Shweta Palakkode (B.H.S. '15) School of Pharmacy: Craig Norman (B.S. '83) If you were unable to attend the event, but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. *Nominations were collected before UMKC Forward realigned academic units. Next year, awardees will be named in their new academic units: School of Science and Engineering, School of Humanities and Social Sciences and School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences. Mar 23, 2023

  • Starr Women’s Hall of Fame Welcomes Actor and Activist Geena Davis

    Speaker celebrates the work of women at induction ceremony
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City welcomed Geena Davis, actor and founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at this year’s Starr Women’s Hall of Fame event at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. She highlighted the institute’s influence on raising awareness of gender parity in conversation with Madeleine McDonough, moderator and chair of Shook, Hardy and Bacon. The Starr Women’s Hall of Fame inducted eight women who have been catalysts for positive change in Kansas City and beyond at the event. Alicia Starr, event co-chair, opened the celebration with Curt Crespino, UMKC vice chancellor of External Relations and Constituent Engagement, and highlighted the significance of the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame archives in honoring outstanding women who have had an influence on Kansas City, and preserving their stories and accomplishments to inspire future generations of women. Special guest and Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas recognized the significance of the inductees’ achievements and the importance of mentorship and recognizing the accomplishments of strong role models, noting that representation matters, and community-based recognition creates opportunities for women of all ages. Toccara Cash (M.F.A. ’08),  award winning actor, voiceover artist and public speaker, noted the importance of highlighting women’s achievements in her introduction of Davis. “It’s important to tell women’s stories. Women don’t get enough attention for their accomplishments.” Davis became more aware of gender parity in media when her daughter was 2. Noting the lack of women characters in movies and television, she decided to act. Through research, she realized awareness was the key to change as much gender bias was unconscious. “We need to take charge of the message,” she said. Davis noted first steps included making information available. The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media researches and shares data on unconscious gender bias to raise awareness and measure change, noting that media depiction of parity is often worse than reality. She cited statistics that media depicts of men in STEM roles in a 15-1 ratio to women; law is 13-1. She noted that the ratios are better in reality, and that the media is creating a reflection that is worse. “The United States makes 80% of media worldwide,” she said. “We can influence parity. If it happens on screen, it will happen in real life,” Davis said. In addition to Davis, previous speakers at the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame events have included First Lady Laura Bush and daughter Barbara Bush, Ashley Judd, “Good Morning America” host Robin Roberts and Chelsea Clinton, daughter of President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 2023 Starr Women's Hall of Fame Inductees The Starr Women's Hall of Fame is held biannually at UMKC, and is dedicated to recognizing extraordinary Kansas City women and preserving the history of their accomplishments. These women are social reformers, volunteers, philanthropists, civic leaders, activists and educators. They are movers and shakers whose tireless commitment to community has made Kansas City a better place to live. This year’s inductees are: Karen L. Daniel (MS ’81, accounting) is a recognized leader in Kansas City. The first African American woman to be a Major League Baseball owner since her addition to the Kansas City Royals ownership group in 2020, Daniel is retired executive director, CFO and president of Global Finance and Technology Solutions at Black and Veatch. She was the first African American female to chair the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and has been a leader and advocate for restoration of the Liberty Memorial Tower at the National World War I Museum and Memorial. She has created a legacy fund for scholarships to support Black college students. President Barack Obama named Daniel vice chair of the Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa in 2015. Anita B. Gorman has been an advocate for area parks, recreation and conservation for six decades. She fought to save the Native American Hopewell archaeological site, which became a part of the Kansas City Parks system. In 1979, she was the first woman appointed to the Kansas City Parks and Recreation board. In this role she raised funds to establish a conservation center in the urban core of Kansas City. Gorman was the first woman to chair the Missouri Conservation Commission and helped establish the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation. She received the Pugsley Medal from the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration in 2017 for her contribution to the promotion, development and conservation of public parks in the United States. Lea Hopkins has been an advocate and activist for LGBTQIA communities for more than four decades. She co-founded the Christopher Street Association, a gay and lesbian advocacy organization, in 1977 and organized the first Pride parade in Kansas City in 1979. She founded the Kansas City Gay Injustices Fund, which provided legal support for LGBTQIA people who were arrested based on their orientation. She was a member of the inaugural leadership team of the UMKC Gay Students’ Union. Hopkins is an accomplished poet, watercolor artist and collagist. Alice Kitchen (MPA ’89) has been a longtime advocate for human rights, healthcare and children and women’s issues. She is co-founder of the Women Quality Coalition and the Child Protection Center. A longtime director of social services at Children’s Mercy Hospital, she was a board member of the Kansas City Housing Authority who helped with neighborhood cleanups and worked to help young mothers obtain health insurance. She was honored by the White House as a Champion of Change for her work on education for the Affordable Care Act in 2015. Margaret J. May, community activist and a leader for the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council in Kansas City, Mo., served as the executive director of the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council from October 2001 to December 2017. During her tenure, the council became a community development corporation that develops new housing and rehabilitates existing homes. The Downtown Council of Kansas City recognized May in their first class of Urban Hero Awards in 2005. She has served on the City of Kansas City Plan Commission and the Kansas City, Missouri Community Development Entity, which is now known as Alt Cap. U.S Senator Claire McCaskill has dedicated her life to serving women, families and her community. An accomplished attorney, she was the first woman elected as Jackson County, Missouri prosecutor, and the first woman to be elected U.S. Senator from Missouri. In 2004, she defeated incumbent Governor Bob Holden in the Democratic primary, becoming the first candidate to defeat an incumbent Governor in a primary election in state history, although she lost in the general election. She served as a U.S. senator from Missouri from 2007 to 2019. During her term in the Missouri House of Representatives, she chaired the civil and criminal justice committees. She is currently a political analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. Barbara Pendleton paved the way for Kansas City women interested in careers in finance. She started her career in banking as a messenger with City National Bank. She became chairperson of City Bank at Crown Center and retired as an executive vice president of United Missouri Bancshares, Inc. An active volunteer in community organizations, she was often the first woman member, officer or president. A founding board member of the Central Exchange, she also chaired the UMKC Women’s Center Advisory Committee. She worked for several mayors, including Mayor Kay Barnes, who appointed her to work on downtown Kansas City revitalization. Freda Mendez Smith (BA ’80) is a champion and advocate for the Latino community in Kansas City. A current advisory board member for the Women’s Foundation of Kansas City, she has worked with MANA de Kansas City for four decades, serving as a board member of the national organization twice. Smith is an advocate and mentor to members of the Latino population who encourages people to become engaged in community service, including serving on local boards of directors. She has been a volunteer board member at many community organizations including the UMKC Hispanic Advisory Board, the UMKC Women’s Council, Greater KC Hispanic Heritage and Mattie Rhodes Center. How the Starr Women's Hall of Fame archives work at UMKC Mar 22, 2023

  • UMKC Medical Students Celebrate Match Day

    Stories of an untraditional medical student and two siblings who fulfilled their dreams
    Tears flowed down his cheeks as UMKC medical student Keith Loftin embraced his wife on Match Day inside the UMKC Student Union, holding a letter in his hands that spelled out the next four years of their lives. His misty-eyed parents looked on as well as he read the news. Loftin had matched in a residency position at Samaritan Health Services in Corvallis, Oregon, where he will enter his preferred specialty of psychiatry. “It’s amazing to be here with all these people who have supported me, all the people who care about me,” Loftin said. “It’s all kind of surreal right now.” Loftin was one of the 112 members of the UMKC School of Medicine class of 2023 that participated this year’s National Resident Matching Program. Like many in the class, he was elated at receiving his first choice of residency positions. “I found psychiatry and realized how much I connected with it and how much I loved working with my patients and decided this is where I need to be,” Loftin said. “It felt like this is where I belonged.” His journey to becoming a physician, however, took a different path than the rest of his classmates, most of whom are half his age. UMKC medical student Keith Loftin celebrated his match in psychiatry with his wife and children. Prior to moving with his wife and two children to Kansas City and entering medical school, Loftin was a high school science teacher in Jefferson City, Missouri. Before that, he spent nearly seven years in the Army working on Chinook helicopters, then returned to school to earn a master’s degree in education. All the while, Loftin, who earned a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and science at the University of Missouri before joining the Army, said he harbored a hidden desire to become a doctor. “I was teaching a class for high school students who wanted to enter health care and they kept asking me why I hadn’t gone to medical school,” he said. “After about the 100th conversation my wife and I had about it, she finally said you know what you need to do and that started the ball rolling.” With the backing of his wife, and while still teaching his high school classes, Loftin began the tedious process of studying for the MCAT exam and preparing to become a full-time student again for the first time in nearly 17 years. “Medical school was a challenge, but doable,” he said. “I faced a lot of personal challenges.” During his time as a medical student, Loftin underwent multiple surgeries for back injuries from his time in the Army and helped his wife through the loss of her mother. His efforts paid off on Friday. Loftin applied for residency positions in psychiatry at hospitals across the country from Oregon to Florida, knowing the day would come when he would have to move his wife, a 17-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son again. “It’s a little tough,” he said. “It’s not so bad for me. I moved six times to different duty stations when I was in the Army. It’s going to have its challenges, moving my family, but I know my son is excited about it.” Brother and sister While Loftin celebrated with his family, Mozammil and Sumaiya Alam were enjoying the day with family and friends as well. The brother and sister from Kansas City, Missouri, had the unique experience of going through Match together. Mozammil received his desired match in neurology and will be headed to the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix. Sumaiya matched in internal medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. “I’m going to Atlanta,” Sumaiya screamed. “ I started crying before I even opened my envelope. This is what I was dreaming.” Mozammil was sharing a similar excitement. “There is so much joy right now,” he said. “We both got the matches we wanted.” While the two were able to lean on each other for support throughout medical school, they were also able to turn for advice about the residency process to their brother, Mobashshir Alam, a 2018 graduate of the UMKC School of Medicine and now a gastroenterology fellow at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. “He was really helpful in guiding us through the match process,” Sumaiya said.  Mozammil said having his sister by his side helped as they have gone through the same highs and lows of medical school together. “We definitely have relied on each other for multiple things,” he said. “During the interview season we were always there to support each other.” Nearly half of the UMKC students who matched will be entering residency programs in one of the primary care specialties. Internal medicine drew the largest number of students with 19, followed by family medicine with 11 and pediatrics with nine. A growing number of graduates will also be going into psychiatry, which had 11 matches. Twenty students will remain in Kansas City to do their residencies at UMKC School of Medicine-sponsored programs. Overall, 33 UMKC grads – about a third – will stay in Missouri for their residency programs. See the full list of UMKC School of Medicine students who matched in programs across the United States from Honolulu, Hawaii, to New York. School of Medicine Dean Mary Ann Jackson, M.D., congratulated the class, calling Match Day a defining moment in their journeys. “The lessons you learned here will carry you through your career,” Jackson said. Mar 17, 2023

  • UMKC Pharmacy Students Study Abroad in Belize

    Students from all three of UMKC School of Pharmacy campuses participated in clinical rotations with nonprofit organization
    Today’s pharmacists fill a multitude of roles as health care providers, but even this was a new one for UMKC pharmacy student Natalie Bishop. Bishop is one of three UMKC pharmacy students who spent a month doing a clinical rotation at Hillside Health Care International, a small nonprofit clinic in Eldridgeville, Belize, a tiny community just miles from the port city of Punta Gorda. During her stint at Hillside, a young boy suffering from acute asthma came to the clinic for a refill on his inhaler. Bishop and the clinic pharmacist explained to the patient how using a spacer, a short plastic tube attached the inhaler, would help deliver the medication to his lungs more effectively and help him better manage his asthma. Seemingly simple resources, such as a spacer for an inhaler, can be a luxury in this part of the world. The clinic pharmacist and Bishop did the next best thing, cutting up a plastic bottle and strategically applying some duct tape to craft a needed spacer for their patient to use with his inhaler. Lily Edwards in the pharmacy at Hillside Health Care International. “They don’t have all the resources down there like we do here, so to be able to think on your feet and use what you do have is important,” Bishop said. “It was so cool seeing the pharmacist make one right there and help the patient moving forward.” After Bishop, a pharmacy student on the Columbia, Missouri campus, returned home after completing her rotation, Lily Edwards, a student at UMKC’s campus in Springfield, Missouri, took her place in Belize. The two shared similar experiences. The clinic in Eldridgeville is largely made up of volunteers who support a small handful of physicians and one full-time pharmacist. That meant when Bishop and Edwards weren’t working side by side with the staff pharmacist, they found themselves working on their own. “It really pushed me a lot to know things because resources are limited there,” Edwards said. “I didn’t get to look everything up before I had to answer a question. I really had to know my stuff and be ready to recall it.” “It really pushed me a lot to know things because resources are limited there.” - Lily Edwards said.   Carlos Olivas, a student on the Kansas City campus, completed the same rotation in January. While Bishop, Edwards and Olivas served the same role at the clinic, collaborating with doctors, medical students and physician assistant students while dispensing medications and counseling patients, Olivas said their situations were different. “I was actually fortunate enough to have two other pharmacy students there with me,” Olivas said. “We were able to kind of team up together where Natalie and Lily didn’t have other pharmacy students with them to help.” That came into play on mobile clinic days. Each week, doctors and students would load a van with essential medications and travel from 45 minutes to three-hours from their home clinic to remote regions and villages where they would see as many as 40 to 50 patients in a day. One long trip took Edwards and her team to a village that had not received medical care for three years. Operating out of a building with no electricity or running water, Edwards was the lone pharmacist on the team, dispensing medications and counseling patients. Before the day was over, the team had run out of antibiotics before running out of patients. Edwards was forced into problem solving mode. “Doctors are coming to me saying, ‘I want this antibiotic for an ear infection,’ and I’m telling them, ‘I’m sorry, what’s your next choice? I have this,’” said Edwards, who looked back on the experience as both stressful and extremely rewarding. “It was incredibly eye opening. It definitely pushed me further than I thought was possible.” Problem solving became part of the regular routine for the student pharmacists as they were often dealing with limited supplies, answering questions about available medications and determining proper dosings. "I definitely developed a lot of communication skills throughout the time I was there.” - Carlos Olivas “That was really a neat experience getting to collaborate with (physician assistant and medical students) and show them what a pharmacist can do, the knowledge that we have,” Bishop said. “It was fun to work with them because they didn’t realize what we learn. We don’t diagnose patients, but we have to learn about the diagnosis so that we can recommend the right medications.” Carlos Olivas working with a patient during a pharmacy rotation in Eldridgeville, Belize. Those collaborations made for a rewarding experience that Olivas said he wasn’t expecting. “The discussions were very open,” he said. “They would come to us whenever they needed any kind of expertise in our realm of ‘what is the dosing’ or ‘what do we have?’ Being able to have those open discussions was great and I definitely developed a lot of communication skills throughout the time I was there.” Not all of their time was spent in the Eldridgeville clinic or the mobile clinics. The three also found themselves enjoying time in another public health service role, visiting local schools and participating in public health fairs, doing everything from blood-pressure checks to diabetes screenings. Olivas spoke to a group of school children about the need for and benefits of good nutrition and exercise. While interacting with a particular classroom of 30 to 40 third- and fourth-grade students, all smiling and laughing with him, the students at one point began telling him what they knew about carbohydrates and cholesterol. “I was like, you’re in third or fourth grade and you’re talking to me about that,” Olivas said. “It was really cool.” Mar 16, 2023

  • Costume Design Program Named Among Top 10 in the Country

    For the sixth year in a row, the program was ranked among Top 10 by The Hollywood Reporter.
    The Master of Fine Arts in costume design program is noted in The Hollywood Reporter for its training in both costume design and production, its emphasis on digital graphic skills, entrepreneurial approaches to the field and environmentally conscious practices. “We are thrilled that our outstanding costume design program is earning this well-deserved recognition,” Courtney Crappell, dean of the Conservatory, said. “When you see UMKC listed with these other top-10 schools, you get a much clearer understanding of the level of excellence and top-value we offer here in Kansas City.” The Hollywood Reporter also made positive mention of the plan to completely revise the curriculum for Fall 2023. Program head Brandon McWilliams said the changes come from a desire to reflect current trends in live entertainment design. “We’re making space in our coursework for emerging technologies and digital graphic skills, and we want to help our students develop entrepreneurial toolkits,” McWilliams said. “Our overall focus though remains the same – to prepare practitioners to be successful costume designers, managers and technicians.” McWilliams arrived at UMKC in August 2022 and has been impressed with the program, particularly its students. An alumnus of another institution on the Top 10 list, Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, McWilliams appreciates the recipe for success at the Conservatory. “It seems like this place has always offered students an experience so balanced in practical and theoretical approaches that it makes for a really well-prepared and adaptable artist,” McWilliams said. “It’s our students that set us apart, there is such a long-standing trend of success in the profession and in academia from our graduates.” UMKC was ranked among the University of Southern California, David Geffen School of Drama at Yale and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. Here’s the full list. Mar 15, 2023

  • Seven Things You Need to Know About Clancy Martin

    Philosophy professor shares life insights and the subject of his latest book
    Clancy Martin, Ph.D, is a well-known professor of philosophy here at UMKC. He’s releasing his latest book: “How Not to Kill Yourself” Martin is scheduled to appear March 23 at the Kansas City Public Library and April 5 on NPR’s “Fresh Air.” In celebration, we wanted to get to know this popular professor a little better. Here are seven fun facts about Clancy Martin: Philosophy was not his first major choice. “I was a chemistry major, and I wanted to go to medical school,” Martin said. But how did he end up teaching philosophy instead of going to medical school? Like many students who end up on a new career path, he took a required elective. “I didn't even know what philosophy was,” he said. “Then I just had this amazing professor and read a couple of philosophers in that class. I didn't realize that people thought and wrote like this. It made me completely crazy about philosophy.” He was on the fence about going to graduate school. When Martin wasn’t sure whether to continue to pursue medical school or a graduate degree in philosophy, he turned to his father. “Normally, to be frank, he didn't give the best advice and I normally didn't listen,” Martin said. “But I called him and asked him ‘Should I go to medical school or graduate school in philosophy?’ He said ‘Son, all of my friends who are doctors, they complain about how they work all the time and have to deal with insurance. They have no home life. All of my friends who are professors, none of them are rich, but they're all really happy. So, I think you should go to graduate school in philosophy,’ and for once, I listened.” He used to be in the jewelry business. After Martin had his first child (bonus fun fact: she is currently getting her Ph.D. at her dad’s alma mater, University of Texas-Austin, but not in philosophy), he dropped out of school for a while. He had brothers in the jewelry business and decided to give working with them a try. “I thought, maybe I should just make a lot of money rather than be a professor, and I did that for six or seven years,” he said. “I was miserable, and whenever I would get really down, I'd drive to a college campus, just to walk around the campus and see the students. It would make me remember that life was worth living, until eventually I knew I had to get up and go back to graduate school. I had to become a professor because it's just where my heart was.” He's written for many popular publications, including the New York Times and Elle. When asked how he started writing for such a large gamut of publications, Martin looked to his heroes, the 19th- and the 20th-century existentialist philosophers. “Their driving idea is that philosophy should always be relevant to as many people as possible,” he said. “Basically, it should be relevant to the ordinary person on the street. And if we can't reach that person and speak to that person, then we're just not doing philosophy properly. I very strongly believe that.” His favorite experience with his writing (so far) has been his latest book, “How Not to Kill Yourself.” He says it’s because it was the hardest to write. It took him about five years. “It was the most serious self-interrogation that I've done in any of my work,” Martin said. “I think that, as a philosopher, part of your job is to try to go as deeply as you can and ask the questions about the meaning of life. This is when I have done my most thorough attempt yet to investigate that question. It had a life affirming quality to it.” His favorite part of Kansas City is Midtown. “I love being able to walk to school,” Martin said. “I love the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. I love that Kansas City has everything you want in a big city, but it still feels like a normal size. You never feel overwhelmed, like you can in a lot of big cities. This is just a place that feels right to me. I've had other job offers since I've been here, and I've never been tempted to leave because I love the city, UMKC and our students.” He wants the student body to know support is available across the UMKC campus. “If they are having feelings of worthlessness, anxiety, stress or fear, anything like this, reach out, not just to me, but all the faculty and staff at UMKC,” Martin said. “I would like our students to know that we are here for them as human beings and as people to help them in every way that we can. We’re not just an educational resource for them. We're a human resource for them. After they graduate, too. I always tell my students ‘Hey, once you’ve had me as a professor, you're stuck with me for life now. Anytime you need me, send me an email and I'll be there for you.’ And I know that's not just true of me, that's true of all of my colleagues who are faculty at UMKC. This is how we run things at UMKC, and this is one of the best things about our university.” Mar 13, 2023

  • UMKC Women’s Council Supports Graduate Scholars

    More than $2 million has helped enrich the academic careers of more than 2,000 women
    The UMKC Women’s Council celebrated 52 years of supporting women in graduate studies and honoring the 2023 awardees with a reception on March 2. This year, the group of 77 women received more than $100,000 from the Women’s Council Graduate Assistance Fund.  Since its inception, the fund has supported the academic achievements of more than 2,500 women with more than $2.2 million in graduate fellowships. Ghadah Almousa (Ph.D. ‘24) is researching deep learning solutions to detect and prevent cybercrime in social media. She’s interested in finding solutions to the spread of misinformation and malicious activities. These deep learning models can analyze large volumes of data from social media platforms and identify patterns that are indicative of cybercriminal activity, such as fake accounts, bots and malicious links. “There is amazing work going on at UMKC. I’m honored to be part of the process.” - Leslie Boe “Detecting and preventing cybercrime in social media is a challenging task,” Almousa says. “Cybercriminals are constantly evolving their tactics and using new techniques to evade detection. By using deep learning to detect and prevent cybercrime in social media, researchers can help to protect users from scams, fraud and other malicious activities. Also, I have kids, and I want to make the social media environment as safe as possible for them.” Chancellor Mauli Agrawal with Bibie Chronwall, Ed.D., Ph.D. and Hazel Knutson. Funding from the UMKC Women’s Council will further her work by allowing her to attend top conferences on cybersecurity and publish her research. “I am very grateful for the people who provide this funding,” Almousa says. Rhonda Cooksey, (M.F.A. ’18, GRCT ’18,  Ph.D. ‘25 ) is writing her dissertation on representations of racial violence in 19th-century print culture. She received funding to present her research on 19th- century literature and society, and the print culture of the time, and attend a conference that focused on papers that were integral to research.  “The conference call for papers referenced Michael Foucault's concept of parrhesia as a means to interrogate truth--what is it--who tells it--and what are the consequences of telling the truth,” Cooksey says. “As editor of the Colored American Magazine (CAM), Pauline E. Hopkins spoke for agitation at a time when Booker T. Washington stood for accommodation. Hundreds of Black people were lynched every year, and he considered it safer for Black folks to accommodate segregation and not make waves.” The Women’s Council Graduate Assistance Fund support enabled Cooksey to network with colleagues with similar interests, research archives in the area and further her work on her dissertation. She feels this experience will enhance her career. Leslie Boe, ( J.D. ’01) is the current UMKC Women’s Council Board of Directors president, and has been on the board for five years. As a shareholder and director at Dysart Taylor McMonigle Brumitt & Wilcox, her work life is demanding. But after attending a Graduate Assistance Fund event, she was inspired by the graduate students and their groundbreaking work. “I immediately reached out to a board member to let them know I’d love to be involved in supporting the UMKC Women’s Council and its work,” Boe said. “The first year I reviewed applications I was stunned and impressed by the work of our applicants. There is amazing work going on at UMKC. I’m honored to be part of the process.” Established in 1971, the UMKC Women’s Council Graduate Assistance Fund supports UMKC women working toward post-baccalaureate degrees with up to $2,000 in funds that furthers their completion of graduation requirements and enriches their educational experiences. Mar 07, 2023

  • Advocate for Public Education Honored with Bill French Alumni Service Award

    UMKC honors Patricia Macdonald for a lifetime of service
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. UMKC is honoring Patricia Macdonald with its Class of 2023 Bill French Alumni Service Award. Patricia (Pat) Macdonald, a UMKC alumna with a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts and an American Cultures concentration, has always had a passion for urban public education. A product of New York public schools, Pat holds the conviction that “Great minds exist everywhere.” She has taken that conviction into service throughout her professional career. Macdonald has served as president for the UMKC Alumni Association Governing Board, a UMKC Trustee Board chair, a volunteer for Kansas City Public Schools and Pembroke Hill School, among many other service and leadership positions. She is currently on the boards of KCUR, the Kansas City Ballet, the Missouri Arts Foundation and Visit KC. In all her spare time, she has managed to lead the Strategic Ventures and Operations at the Healthcare Institute for Innovations in Quality at UMKC as a director. What inspired you to live a life of service? I can’t say I had a conscious epiphany where I said “I am going to lead a life of service,” but most of us are shaped by what we see, hear and experience on a regular basis. My father never told me to volunteer but he always had messages that equated to “do the right thing,” and he modeled that. He passed away when I was just 9, and fortunately for me, there were a number of women in my life who took special interest in my development and whom, as a result, I quietly admired and I watched very closely. I can say with great gratitude that I am shaped, in part, by them pouring into me, and me, watching them pour into others without talk or fuss but in very special and important ways, when they did not have to. You are involved in so many organizations – how do you manage your time? I only consider causes and tasks that I care about, I thoughtfully assess my capacity and I am candid about my capacity before fully accepting a leadership role or new task. The candor is fair to the organization and allows the organization to plan better. You say that taking opportunities to give back are opportunities to grow in your own personal and professional development; how have you grown? Opportunities to give back affords me opportunities to interact and develop relationships with people I ordinarily would not, which expands my social and professional aperture. Service has increased my ability to fully analyze situations and conditions which has contributed to my ability to develop win-win and broad-serving solutions. Service has expanded my network of knowledge and professional friends on whom I can call when I need solutions that are not in my personal skillset or personal knowledge base. What is your favorite UMKC memory? Having been a UMKC volunteer for as long as I have, I developed tremendous respect and admiration for UMKC faculty and staff. They support volunteers’ efforts at every turn and make sure the volunteer experience is accessible, fun and rewarding. In the fall of 2021, and because of my tremendously rewarding volunteer experiences and esteem for UMKC employees, I was excited to accept a professional position within UMKC. I did not think my respect for UMKC faculty and staff could be any higher but it skyrocketed beyond anything I could have imagined once I began to serve in a professional capacity. I have new insight into what it takes to make UMKC operate with excellence and I bow very low to those who have been serving the university professionally for years.  What is your proudest accomplishment? My kid! Allister Macdonald. He’s awesome. He’s funny, smart and just graduated with degrees in Kinesiology/Exercise Science and Spanish. He’s also an MMA competitor (I don’t like that part so much, thank goodness he’s good at it). Where can you be found on the weekends? What are your hobbies? On weekends, I can be found at the WERQ Dance Fitness studio in the northland having a blast in cardio hip-hop with friends, porch-sitting with my neighbors, reading and/or listening to a book and on Saturdays I am always tuned in to the Session and Soulsations on KCUR 89.3. About Alumni Awards Join us in honoring Patricia Macdonald and the other Class of 2023 awardees at an in-person event on the evening of March 10 at Plexpod Westport Commons. For more, visit UMKC's Alumni Association website. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. Mar 03, 2023

  • UMKC Student Develops Kansas City Women’s History Trail App

    Paid internship provides experience, peace of mind
    History student Katy Anielak (M.A.23) had created physical museum exhibits, but her paid internship to develop content for the Clio app led to unique opportunities. Anielak had participated in undergraduate research, and she wanted to further develop those skills. “I thought graduate research would be an excellent opportunity to do that while also focusing on topics I’m passionate about,” she says. Anielak was working with David J. Trowbridge, Ph.D., William T. Kemper Associate Research Professor of Digital and Public Humanities, on content for Clio, a free mobile app that provides guides for history and culture, and he mentioned that the Kansas City Women’s History Trail had not been developed. “I’m not originally from Kansas City, so the idea of the trail appealed to me to provide assessable information for others, but also to expand my knowledge of the city and the women who have shaped it over time,” she says. “I don't think I could have found an opportunity that worked around my course schedule as smoothly as this internship, and it helped with my success in both my classes and the internship itself.” - Katy Anielak Anielak had created physical exhibits before, but this research provided a unique opportunity to create digital content. She worked with UMKC faculty, public history organizations and nonprofits, such as the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education and Operation Breakthrough. “These interactions allowed me to connect with professionals and broadened my understanding of what goes into both career paths,” she says. “This opened my eyes to the importance of expanding and maintaining public history and nonprofit programs.” The flexibility of the internship worked well with her class schedule and enabled her to ensure that the quality of the exhibits were well-executed. “I don't think I could have found an opportunity that worked around my course schedule as smoothly as this internship, and it helped with my success in both my classes and the internship itself.” This is the scholarship and experience that the Digital Humanities programming was designed to encourage. “Katy gained confidence and experience as she conducted research that supported her efforts to create virtual museum tours,” Trowbridge says. “We believe that Katy’s virtual tour of the Kansas City Museum will serve as a model and learning experience as we support other historical and cultural organizations in Kansas City.” Mar 03, 2023

  • UMKC Pays Tribute to Trailblazing Leader in Diversity

    Reaner Shannon served 34 years at UMKC School of Medicine
    UMKC celebrated the memory and legacy of Reaner Shannon, long-time director and associate dean of minority affairs at the School of Medicine, with a special tribute on Feb. 24. Tyler Smith, School of Medicine associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion; and Shannon’s daughter, Pamela, unveiled a portrait of Shannon, who was a staunch promoter of diversity and equity within the school and throughout Kansas City for 34 years before her retirement in 2008. The UMKC School of Medicine is renowned for its unique six-year, combined BA/MD program that accepts students directly from high school, and its docent-based mentoring instructional model. Thanks in large part to the efforts of Shannon, it is recognized as a trailblazer in diversity and inclusion as well. Reaner Shannon died last July at the age of 85. Her husband, Henry Shannon, died just five months later, in December, at the age of 89. The unveiling ceremony took place at the conclusion of the school’s annual Dr. Reaner and Mr. Henry Shannon Lectureship in Minority Health. The Shannons established their annual lectureship that now takes place each February during Black History Month to create an awareness of health disparities and provide medical professionals, students, residents and the local community information about timely issues that affect underserved and minority communities. The list of those who have delivered the Shannon Lecture over the years is filled with local, regional and national health leaders. They include leaders such as: Jocelyn Elders, former U.S. surgeon general (2006) Gloria Wilder-Brathwaite, founder of Justice Speaks (2008) Louis Sullivan, former U.S. secretary of health and human services (2015) Nadine Gracia, deputy assistant secretary of minority health and director of the Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2016) Altha J. Stewart, president of the American Psychiatric Association (2019) Patrice Harris, past president of the American Medical Association (2021) Pamela thanked Smith and School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., for recognizing her parents and for the honor of keeping her mother’s legacy alive at the medical school. “Hospital Hill meant so much to my parents,” she said. “It’s where their careers began and where they ended. This has been like home for us.” Below the portrait that now hangs on a wall outside the School of Medicine’s theaters is a plaque honoring Shannon as “a leader, educator, scholar, researcher and mentor. She was a tireless advocate and activist for diversity, equity and inclusion for students, residents, fellows, faculty and staff at the UMKC School of Medicine and people in the Kansas City Community.” Former School of Medicine Dean Betty Drees, M.D., said Reaner and Henry Shannon “were such pioneers in the work that they did and left such a wonderful legacy.” Reaner Shannon began her career at the school as the main research lab technologist. In 1990, she left the laboratory to become the director of the School of Medicine’s minority affairs office. She became the school’s first associate dean for minority affairs in 1998, a post she held until she retired. Smith served as the keynote speaker for this year’s lectureship, addressing the importance of mentorship, coaching and sponsorship of “underserved-in-medicine health professionals.” She spoke about how Shannon was a champion of supporting and advocating for students. “Every medical school needs to have a person like a Dr. Shannon,” Smith said. “One of the joys she had was to serve as a mentor to students interested in science and in medicine.” Mar 01, 2023

  • Philosophy Professor, Founder of Honors Program, Celebrated

    UMKC recognizes Bruce Bubacz with Spotlight Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. The Spotlight Award is a little different, as it can recognize the excellence of almost anyone in the UMKC community whose accomplishments, leadership and public service have caused regional and national attention to be focused on the university and the metropolitan area. This year, the Alumni Association is honoring Bruce Bubacz, Ph.D., with its Class of 2023 Alumni Spotlight Award. Bubacz is celebrating 50 years of teaching at UMKC this year. Currently serving as the chair of the department of philosophy, he has also served as a professor in the School of Law, as dean in College of Arts and Sciences (now the School of Humanities and Social Sciences) and even as provost of the university. He was also the driving force behind the university’s Honors Program. “The positive impact Bruce has had on UMKC and, through UMKC, the greater KC community, cannot be overestimated,” said Bubacz’s colleague, Clancy Martin, Ph.D. “Every year he helps other colleagues get tenure, or win awards, or coaches them through work-life balance struggles, or advises others in the upper administration who rightly recognize his matchless experience, care and expertise.” Bubacz had much to say on receiving this award. As a non-alum, what drives you to be so dedicated to UMKC? I have learned as much during the past 50 years as have my students. UMKC has become my home. There is not a place on the Volker Campus that does not hold a memory; there are memories of all kinds. You have touched the lives of over 5,000 students during your tenure. How have your students inspired you? About a year after joining the faculty, I was attending a professional conference. One of my graduate professors asked me what UMKC was like. You must realize that faculty at the University of Washington in Seattle considered Kansas City to be rather exotic. I answered, “I teach at a very serious place. The students are serious as are my colleagues.” Nearly all of our students are here for a reason, they are not just “going to college.” They deserved to be taken seriously, and I take that to be an important commitment. What inspired you to start the Honors Program? The Honors Program was in fact the brainchild of several people on the faculty. It was thought that students could benefit from an accelerated program of study. I agreed to manage it through the early years. After six years it was secure, and I decided that fresh eyes could take it in a new direction. In addition to teaching, you also donate to the university. What drives you to give? Two main reasons. Many of our students have limited means and must work in order to make ends meet. I like to think that I can give some help to them. And I have wanted to memorialize two people who were important influences: my mother (through the Graduate Assistance Fund) and my dear friend Hank Frankel, through a scholarship named for him. What is your proudest accomplishment? On several occasions I was asked to serve in a leadership role in a situation that badly needed calm stability. I think I succeeded. Where can you be found on the weekends? What are your hobbies? When you get to be my age you are expected to downsize. So, we bought 116 acres in Benton County, Missouri. Maintaining the property takes some effort. For example, about 65% of the property is forest, with many trails cut through the trees, some easy, some demanding. The trails need to be groomed, so Joan and I drive through towing a large mower. We also have a 6-acre stocked pond, and a very nice house. This has been a great place for photography, which has been my favorite hobby since I was 10. I also enjoy wood working of all sorts. About Alumni Awards Join us in honoring Bruce Bubacz and the other Class of 2023 awardees at an in-person event on the evening of March 10 at Plexpod Westport Commons. For more details, visit UMKC's Alumni Association website. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. Feb 28, 2023

  • Roos in Flight: UMKC Community Involved in Creation of New Airport Terminal

    Students, faculty and alumni were involved in the project from start to finish
    It’s only fitting that Kansas City’s university would be involved throughout the largest infrastructure project in the history of the city. The new KCI Airport terminal is open to travelers and UMKC students, alumni and faculty helped make it happen. Communication Before any construction happened, Joe McBride (B.A. ’86) had one of the earliest roles to play in the project: getting the community on board. As senior manager of communications for the Kansas City Aviation Department, McBride had to convince people of the need for a new terminal, a sometimes-uphill battle as many Kansas Citians liked the convenience of the old airport design. “I was happy that people had a sense of ownership of it,” McBride says. “That’s good.” After the project was approved, McBride monitored public meetings and comments to ensure that travelers’ concerns were taken into consideration during the design process. His role in the project was truly from beginning to end, as he also played a key role in planning the grand opening. “I think after all the labor and toil it will be, ‘Wow, it’s finally here,’” McBride said. “And watching people come into the terminal, checking in with the wow and the awe in their eyes, that’s going to be a fun, long, proud day.” Design For Kimberly (B.S.E.E. ‘95) and Trent (B.S.C.E. ’95) Robinett, the chance to participate in the design of the new airport had as much personal significance as professional. “The terminal project is one of those signature projects that impacts the entire city,” Kimberly said. “It is the first thing about our city that visitors experience. But beyond that, we are hopeful that the new terminal will improve the lives of Kansas City residents by making it more attractive for airlines to add additional connections out of Kansas City.” The Robinetts cofounded TREKK Design Group. TREKK helped develop the infrastructure for the new airport. This included locating and surveying existing utilities. “Our crews were challenged with untangling what looked like a bowl of spaghetti,” she said. From there, they worked with subcontractors to design critical systems for the new terminal, including drainage and ground service equipment. These systems have a substantial impact on travelers, but unlike food vendors or retail, travelers are usually unaware of their existence. But, according to Kimberly, recognition has never been front of mind for the Robinetts. “We are so grateful for the opportunities that we have had to work with leaders across Kansas City in building its future and making a meaningful contribution toward improving lives.” Engineering Led by CEO Hagos Andebrhan (B.S.C.E. ’78) and president Leonard Graham (B.A. ’74), Taliaferro & Browne Inc. is the lead landside civil engineer company for the terminal project. Although they’ve been involved in significant projects before, including renovations of Arrowhead and Kauffman Stadium and the Kauffman Performing Arts Center, they view this project as notable in its own way. “It is the largest single infrastructure project in the city’s history, and the largest construction project in which our firm has lead-design responsibility,” says Graham. “The KCI new single terminal project is probably one our proudest efforts yet.” The firm’s responsibilities included project management and coordination, design of roadways, including roundabouts and bridges, street and parking lot lighting, surface parking lots and utility relocation. And if that wasn’t enough, the firm was also responsible for designing the temporary traffic modifications that kept travelers moving to the old terminals throughout the project. “The new $1.5 billion KCI single terminal is a project like no other,” says Andebrhan. “It is a once in a lifetime project for the city and everyone involved in its construction.” Consulting Four students from the Bloch School of Management, Msgana Zegeye, Nicolas Hartung, Erik Klaas and Henry Meeds, consulted with vendor management company Vantage Airport Group. The students researched how to attract workers and meet their needs, particularly employees of the restaurants and other airport vendors. They made recommendations regarding which employment websites to use, transportation needs of employees, and how to recruit workers from downtown Kansas City. “Participating in a once-in-a-generation project and making a meaningful impact on my city has been an unforgettable experience,” Meeds said. Hartung added, “Not only did we gain real-word experience, we were also given the opportunity to be part of Kansas City’s history. Working on this project has showed me that a classroom is not the only way to learn essential skills in college." Art Kati Toivanen, professor of studio art, was one of 28 artists selected out of more than 1,900 applicants to create a piece of art for the new terminal. This piece is Toivanen’s first permanent commission in the city, and it represents an experience she knows well: traveling with family. Toivanen is from Finland and travels frequently to visit family. When her son was young, much of her luggage space was dedicated to his needs and entertainment. Her artwork, titled “I Spy Carry-on” is reminiscent of those days. “The collection of objects in the project reflects this universal experience of family travel,” Toivanen said. “It is my hope that the project will provide entertainment for both parents and children as they explore and discover familiar objects in the images.” Spoiler alert: look closely and you’ll find a kangaroo shape that signifies Kansas City’s university. Feb 27, 2023

  • Pete Buttigieg Visits UMKC To Announce $10 Million Grant

    The grant will reinforce the university as an innovator in environmental transportation
    U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg visited the University of Missouri-Kansas City to discuss a new $10 million federal grant awarded to the School of Science and Engineering to develop innovative approaches to improve the sustainability and equity of transportation infrastructure. The grant will provide $2 million annually for five years. "It's a big deal. To be among those selected really reflects well on this institution," said Buttigieg, who toured labs at the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center at UMKC while he was in town to visit the new Kansas City International Airport terminal. He discussed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law-funded grant with students. Robert Hampshire, deputy assistant secretary for research and technology, and chief science officer at the U.S. Department of Transportation, joined him. The grant was highly competitive: UMKC was among 20 selected from 169 universities to lead Tier 1 University Transportation Centers for underserved and disadvantaged populations. UMKC will work in consortium with Tennessee State University, Texas State University, the University of Louisville and Washington State University, and focus on preserving the environment. UMKC was the only university in the state of Missouri to be selected in this round of funding and was chosen because of its transportation research and project expertise in a city environment. The Plaster Center, from roof to ground floor, is built with labs that work on transportation innovations, including: Sidewalk technologies that won’t freeze in the winter and aren’t too hot in the summer Improved bus-stop surroundings for all seasons Drones that help inspect bridges and deliver packaged goods 3D printing that can simulate vehicle parts Methods to make more durable concrete for highways and road “With this grant, our urban, public-research university and its partner institutions will work collaboratively to perform cutting-edge research and to help build an environmentally responsible, 21st century U.S. transportation infrastructure,” said UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal. “It is a great opportunity for our students and our community.” UMKC is integrally involved in major transportation projects across Kansas City: Bloch School of Management students consulted on new employees’ transportation needs for the $1.5 billion KCI Terminal opening Feb. 28. Faculty and alumni have served additional roles on the project including construction, communications and art. The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority collaborated with the UMKC Center for Economic Information to better understand the economic impact of its zero-fare policy. The UMKC center’s analysis found the regional Gross Domestic Product will increase between $13 million and $17.9 million as a result of ZeroFare KC. In two years, the Kansas City Streetcar will have its southern-most stop at UMKC upon completion, extending the existing route from the River Market straight to the university’s doorstop. Ceki Halmen, UMKC associate professor of the natural and built environment, is program director of the grant. Hired in 2008 at the university, his research focuses on corrosion of steel and the breakdown of concrete, and finding ways to make more sustainable and durable materials to improve quality of life.“Transportation conveys substantial socioeconomic benefits but at the same time impacts the environmental systems,” Halmen said. “As transportation planners face the evolving challenges of aging infrastructure, funding constraints, climate change and shifts to multimodal transportation systems, guidance is needed on how transportation decisions impact the environment, especially for disadvantaged or overburdened communities.” Feb 27, 2023

  • Advocating a Path to New Scholarships and Successful Careers in Law School

    UMKC School of Law Campaign for Advocates is making a difference
    The UMKC School of Law is recognized consistently for the education and preparation of students focused on advocacy. The Campaign for Advocates is a $1 million campaign  initiated to increase’ opportunities for students in this area through support of scholarships and advocacy competition travel and expenses. The campaign has raised more than $600,000; lead gifts supported a faculty fellowship to fund coaching for the trial advocacy teams. Scott Bethune (J.D. ’88) and Kent Emison (J.D. ’81), are campaign co-chairs, and David Mayer (J.D. ’92), managing partner Monsees & Mayer, P.C., and Jim Bartimus (J.D. ’77) created the first two endowed scholarships to support the Campaign For Advocates. Mayer worked while he attended law school, and he knows the challenges that juggling school and employment present to law students. As a scholarship recipient during his time at UMKC, he is dedicated to supporting the Campaign for Advocates because of the assistance it provides. “Many students come to law school with debt from their undergraduate education,” Mayer says. “I know that potential students consider the available scholarship funding when they are choosing a law school. The more talent we can keep or attract is a bonus to the law school and Kansas City.” Stephanie Landers (J.D. ’23) is one of the first recipients of the Monsees & Mayer Endowed Scholarship. She was a teacher when she decided to go to law school. “I have always had a huge heart for helping people who don’t have a voice,” Landers says. “After 10 years of teaching I wanted to make a career change where I could truly advocate for people every single day.” Nervous about going back to school, Landers applied to 10 law schools and was accepted to all of them. One of the schools that accepted her offered her a full tuition scholarship. “When I was deciding, I remembered touring UMKC and seeing professors and students in the hallways having conversations,” Landers says. “It felt like family, and it felt like home. I accepted the offer from UMKC the next day. I knew it was where I was supposed to be.” Initially interested in family law, she participated in “Last Man Standing,” a mock trial challenge, her first year. “I fell in love with litigation,” Landers says. “I love being in the courtroom and advocating. The whole reason I came back to law school was to give hope to people who didn’t have a voice. That part of advocacy is important to me.” Even though Landers worked full time during law school, receiving the scholarship this year has been essential. “I’m sitting for the bar and the help with bar preparation has been critical.” Steve Leben, Douglas R. Stripp Missouri Distinguished Professor of Law, is committed to furthering opportunities for advocacy students. “We provide critical support to all of our students, but establishing endowed scholarships ensures that we can recruit more effectively,” Leben says. “In addition, the support is important for advocacy students who are unable to work as much as they’d like because of the preparation for advocacy competitions. These funds help our students, but also the potential clients who need their skills.”   Mayer knows that the scholarship funding will make a difference for the students. “I’m a firm believer in the quality of students who attend UMKC School of Law,” Mayer says. “We want to continue to attract the highest level of talent. It’s good for UMKC and the Kansas City legal community. That’s what made our firm want to give back – to UMKC and to the students at the School of Law.” Feb 23, 2023

  • Deep-rooted KC Family Includes Generations of Roo Alumni

    UMKC Alumni Association honors the Accurso Family with the 2023 Legacy Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. UMKC is honoring the Accurso family with its Class of 2023 Legacy Award. The Accurso family’s legacy at UMKC dates back to the 1940s when Joseph Accurso attended UMKC, then known as Kansas City University. Members of the family have graduated from nearly every program on campus, including the College of Arts and Sciences, Henry W. Bloch School of Management, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, School of Education, School of Law and School of Medicine. Left to right: Joseph Accurso and Tammy Dickinson Alumni include Joseph’s nephew, Lou Accurso (B.A. ’78, J.D. ’81) and Lou’s sons Christopher (B.A. ’11, J.D. ’14), Anthony (M.D. ’12) and Patrick (J.D. ’18). Many other family members have attended, including Michael C. Accurso (B.B.A.  '82), Melissa Accurso (B.A. '88), Joseph M. Accurso (B.A. '96), Tammy Dickinson (J.D. '98), Terri Accurso (B.A. '02, M.A. '12), Danielle Roy (M.S. '09) and Nicholas Accurso (B.B.A. ’20). “I chose to study at UMKC because it allowed me to obtain a world-class education while being able to hold a job,” Lou said. “It turned out to be the greatest single investment of my life. Being a Roo brings a sense of bonding among my family; it’s part of our commitment to the community.” Residents of Kansas City may recognize the name from the Accurso Law Firm, one of the city’s most well-known law firms. Founded by Lou in 1988, Lou and Christopher work in the firm as trial attorneys. Lou is a renowned attorney, with many successes in both state and federal courts. Left to right: Patrick. Lou and Christopher Accurso, Photo by Brandon Parigo | UMKC Lou’s son, Patrick, is currently an assistant prosecutor with the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, which has been a launch pad for several members of the Accurso family. Lou and Christopher both began their legal careers there, and Tammy Dickinson, sister to Lou, was an assistant Jackson County prosecutor for 15 years. “I knew that I wanted to be a trial attorney when I started law school, it was my second profession,” Tammy said. “There really wasn’t any other institution that I would have considered attending. I knew that I could get an excellent education in my hometown and would have opportunities that I couldn’t get elsewhere.” Tammy went on to become the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, where she worked to create the intensive drug treatment court program to provide sentencing alternatives for those convicted of drug-related crimes. The Accurso family’s impact goes beyond the courtroom. Anthony Accurso, Lou’s son, is an oncologist and hematologist in Hays, Kansas. “My family’s legacy at UMKC proved to me that I didn’t need to go to a prestigious private university or Ivy League college to receive a great education,” Christopher said. “Our family’s legacy demonstrates that anyone can receive an excellent education and find success in any number of professions with a degree from UMKC.” Feb 22, 2023

  • Celebrating the 2023 TAASU Freedom Breakfast

    Disabled But Not Really founder Wesley Hamilton shares his path to empowerment
    The African American Student Union (TAASU) Freedom Breakfast was created to commemorate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., promote unity and harmony within the UMKC community and celebrate the university’s values of diversity, inclusion and respect. This year marked the 32nd anniversary of the breakfast and included student performances. Michele D. Smith, vice provost for student affairs, dean of students, recognized the importance of TAASU and the Multicultural Student Association. “Love, peace and equity still have a way to go,” Smith said. “But we are committed to progress and change by developing and sustaining a culture of inclusion.” Keynote speaker Wesley Hamilton, Disabled But Not Really founder, spoke about his life growing up on Kansas City’s Eastside. Hamilton moved out of his family’s house at 16 years old. A single parent at 22, he was shot three times in the back just after his 24th birthday. TAASU Freedom Breakfast Contributors Left to right: Keichandra Dess-Burnett, Malowa Mays, Makiya Carmons, Noma Ruben, Jalyn Williams, Khalil Shelton, Khyra Curtain, Ta'Sha Lumpkins He spent three years in recovery from a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed below the waist. His rehabilitation led to a focus on health, and competition as an adaptive bodybuilder. Hamilton founded Disabled But Not Really, an organization designed to bring positivity and hope to the disabled community. “I have not had a lot of opportunity to celebrate my Blackness,” Hamilton said. “It’s good for people to see the journey.” Hamilton, who was featured on “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” in Kansas City, is focused on serving communities better to support mental health and self-esteem. “Slavery, Jim Crow, high levels of stress, anxiety and depression have a profound impact on our daily lives. We need to do more.” Feb 16, 2023

  • How Standing for Civil Rights Led This Alumni Award Recipient to UMKC

    Rev. Carl Moore (BME ’68) shares his journey through music, business and faith
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. UMKC is honoring Rev. Carl Moore (BME ’68) with its Class of 2023 Defying the Odds Award. Rev. Moore arrived in Kansas City in 1960 after one year at Alabama State College. During his time there, he was arrested for protesting racially inequality and not allowed to return to school. His mother put him on a train to Kansas City which led him to enroll in the University of Missouri–Kansas City that fall. Moore graduated from the UMKC Conservatory of Music with a degree in music education to embark on a career as a high school teacher, a business executive for IBM, as well as a senior pastor for over 24 years. How did UMKC prepare you for/contribute to your success? UMKC provided wonderful, caring and encouraging professors; I met great people and lifelong friends, assuring me that I had something to offer the world. What has music meant to your life? Music is a unifying force, generating love, happiness, a calming influence and a sense of joy. Music has stirred the deepest emotions in my life. How do you believe young people can make a difference in their communities? Young people can make a difference by focusing on education, making good choices, being role models and by setting high, but realistic, goals for their lives. What advice do you have for students who would like to follow in your footsteps? Students need to know “they can.” Paul, the Gospel writer, said, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” Feb 15, 2023

  • UMKC Alumnus of the Year Recognized for Career Freeing the Wrongly Convicted

    Sean O’Brien is also a School of Law professor
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. The university and the association are honoring Sean O’Brien (J.D. ’80) with the Class of 2023 Alumnus of the Year Award. O’Brien became interested in the practice of law at his first traffic stop. “I was 16 years old and the man who was running for sheriff came to my car after the police officer left,” O’Brien remembers. “My dad’s car had the candidate’s sticker on it, and he told me that since I was a constituent, he could arrange for the ticket to disappear.” When O’Brien recounted the story to his father, his dad was furious. “He called the man and told him that law should work for everyone,” O’Brien says. “That was my first lesson in equal protection, and it stuck.” Following law school, O’Brien experienced another defining moment in his career in the face of inequity. “At breakfast at a local business organization, the keynote speaker used the appointment of the honorable Fernando Gaitan’s (J.D. ’74) appointment as a springboard to everything wrong with the justice system based on his race. I walked out and turned in my notice without another job to go to.” “UMKC School of Law prides itself on producing practice-ready lawyers, and that was true in my case.” - Sean O'Brien A month later, O’Brien interviewed with Chief Public Defender Jim Fletcher. “It felt like coming home,” O’ Brien says. “They offered me a job on the spot. I took it and never looked back.” In 1988 Senator Tom Eagleton, Robert Popper, dean, UMKC School of Law , professors Ellen Suni and Nancy Levit wrote a grant to create the Missouri Capital Punishment Resource Center to recruit and train good lawyers  to assure that people sentenced to death have access to legal representation when they need it. Already recognized as a tireless advocate for the wrongly convicted, they hired O’Brien to run it. In some ways O’Brien feels that he never really left UMKC. After directing the Missouri Capital Punishment Resource Center for 15 years, Dean Emerita Ellen Suni hired him as a visiting professor. After two semesters he applied to be the permanent criminal law professor. He finds that if someone finds work that they are passionate about, it’s not really work, it’s a calling. “I am proud of the work I have done, but my feelings about it are complicated,” O’Brien says. “It is much harder to free an innocent person than it should be and much too easy to wrongly convict them in the first place. You never lose sight of how much these innocent men and women have lost during their years or decades of wrongful incarceration, and how deficient our social safety net is. “It’s a struggle for them to find work, health care and housing. Some do find good jobs and create happy, productive lives, but they all suffer some degree of post trauma stress injury, especially people exonerated from death row. The day they walk out is just the beginning of a new struggle.” O’Brien considers his most significant professional accomplishment the Supreme Court victory in Schlup vs. Delo, a landmark case which set the standard for innocence claims in federal habeas corpus proceedings. “It’s impossible to brief an innocence argument anywhere in the country without relying on Schlup. It has helped free hundreds of people from prison.” He credits his education at the UMKC School of Law for providing the foundation for his success. “UMKC School of Law prides itself on producing practice-ready lawyers, and that was true in my case.” But his proudest accomplishment is not related to his career. “I have two amazing daughters who are brilliant, creative and curious,” O’Brien says “I am prouder of them than anything I have done professionally.” Feb 14, 2023

  • How This Freshman Made Key Career Contacts in First Semester

    Colton Stewart is already meeting potential future employers through UMKC Professional Career Escalators
    Roos don't just dream, they do. Our students turn ideas into action every day. Get to know our people, and you'll know what UMKC is all about. Colton StewartAnticipated graduation: 2026Academic Program:  law and justice track, Professional Career EscalatorsHometown: St. Louis Colton Stewart understood early on the value of networking and making connections to long- term career success. When he learned that such connections are one of the primary benefits of a new university program, he made the cross-state leap from St. Louis to Kansas City to pursue his career in criminal justice. Stewart enrolled in the Professional Career Escalators program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. It’s a comprehensive career-development program designed to propel students from their academic studies to high-paying careers by providing a dedicated, GPS-guided path from enrollment to workforce. It didn’t take long for the program to deliver. “I am being connected to opportunities I had no clue existed, like a huge police job fair which granted me the opportunity to speak with many police departments as well as FBI, ATF and the Missouri State Highway Patrol,” Stewart said. “The Professional Career Escalators might also connect me to a paid police internship this summer, so the benefits of the program are extensive.” The Professional Career Escalators program is a unique, trademarked system of personalized support and services unlike anything being offered across the U.S. It prepares students for careers in four key areas of workforce demand: law and justice, engineering and business, education and health care. Each semester, students participate in the five Professional Career Escalators core experiences: career guidance and development; experiential learning opportunities (such as job shadowing and internships); mentoring with faculty experts and community professionals; graduate and professional school preparation; and leadership development. “UMKC has amazing connections to Kansas City and to the law enforcement field, so they can easily get their students paired to careers and opportunities,” Stewart said. Why did you choose your field of study? I chose criminal justice and criminology because it had been something I wanted to do since I was a kid. That is how I was sure I wanted to choose it. How has your college program inspired you? My program has inspired me to consider the impact of my field, and show me the value of doing what few people want to do. Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself? I have learned that some of the things I once valued so highly had no real value nor meaning. I learned to focus on the matters that will genuinely benefit me or those I care about, rather than attach myself to trivial matters Are you a first-generation college student? Yes. It means a lot to me. It means that I can do much more than my family before me and give much more to the family after me. It means that I have accomplished a great deal in the family as well, and that I am making a name for us. Do you have any scholarships? I have multiple scholarships. One for the Professional Career Escalators program, one for being a first-generation college student and one for being multiracial. They mean a great deal to me because they made me feel secure and accomplished. What other extracurricular activities are you involved in at UMKC? I am in Enactus, UMKC Men of Color, Kappa Sigma Fraternity, Inter-Fraternity Council and the FBI Academy.     Feb 08, 2023

  • How Did Union Station Become the Chiefs Fans’ Top Hot Spot?

    These two super-proud alums lead the success
    No doubt and nothing subtle about it, aside from Arrowhead Stadium, Union Station is Kansas City’s most popular spot for celebrating the Chiefs inside and out. At night, the massive 109-year-old beaux-art limestone building exterior is illuminated in the team’s colors, a glowing red-and-gold beacon in the skyline. Step through the doors any time of day, and there’s a gigantic fan zone to match. An enormous Chiefs flag hangs from the ceiling of Union Station’s Grand Plaza. And in other prominent spots, there’s a large screen with Chiefs season highlights surrounded by historic and modern artifacts, a store packed with red merchandise and a brilliantly lit AFC Champions marquee sign designed for seriously stellar selfies and photo ops. Two Roos and their creative teams are at the center of it all. George Guastello (B.B.A. ’82, M.B.A. ’84) has been president and CEO of Union Station since 2008. Michael Tritt (B.S. ’86) has served as the Union Station chief marketing officer for the past decade. George Guastello, president and CEO of Union Station, at left, stands next to Kansas City Chiefs CEO Clark Hunt and former Chiefs player Bobby Bell at Union Station.  “We add to the experience each year,” Tritt said. Indeed, baby goats in Chiefs jerseys that appear on weekends have been added to the mix because, duh, the Chiefs have a quarterback destined to be the Greatest Of All Time. Rewind to three years ago when Union Station was the rally center of the championship parade after the Chiefs won the Super Bowl in 2020. “Union Station has the size, location and history to make it the most popular destination to host such festivities,” Guastello said. “For more than a century, the monument has been the scene of celebrations of every size and for every reason. Wartime reunions. Business gatherings. Proposals. Weddings. Civic events. And millions of moments that write personal stories to last a lifetime.”  KC Wolf, Kansas City Chiefs mascot, stands next to Michael Tritt, chief marketing officer of Union Station. The flag in the background mentions the 2023 NFL Draft, which will be held in April at Union Station. Another Roo connection to Union Station: UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal is on its board of directors. “Union Station is happy to host every one of these special moments and humbled by the outpouring of gratitude we receive as a result,” Tritt said. Attendance this year to Union Station’s fourth annual Fan Zone is expected to set a new record, with more than 160,000 guests visiting the lights, sounds and selfie opportunities made available by Union Station and its community partners. And yes, they’re ready to host another rally, fingers crossed, with even more crowds who are part of the devoted Chiefs Kingdom.  Feb 08, 2023

  • 5 Questions with Chiefs Philanthropy and Community Programming Coordinator

    Working for the Super Bowl-bound team was first job for UMKC alumnus
    All of Kansas City is cheering for the Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory. Ishmael Shumate, BBA ’20, MBA ’22 will be at the game as a fan and employee. Why did you choose UMKC? And what made you decide to pursue your MBA? I was born and raised in Kansas City, and I have always known UMKC has a reputation for excellence and high-quality education. I thoroughly enjoyed my undergraduate experience in and outside of the classroom and wanted to continue my education at UMKC. How has it helped you pursue your career? What I learned at UMKC continues to impact me in my career. I continue to use what I learned at UMKC in my day-to-day responsibilities at the Kansas City Chiefs. Another benefit is that the teachers were not only teaching, but truly engrained in the Kansas City business community. This led to a multitude of opportunities and connections throughout my short career. Working with the Chiefs must be amazing! Tell me how that came about and how your Bloch MBA helped. I always knew that I wanted to be in the nonprofit sector. While I was pursuing my MBA at UMKC, I was a nonprofit accountant and I learned about the financial components of operating a nonprofit. This helped me to connect with others in this sector and learn more about the management and fundraising components. When I learned about the opening at the Kansas City Chiefs, I had the skills they were looking for in an applicant. I applied, got an interview and the rest was history! What do you do in your current position? I am the coordinator of philanthropy and community programming at the Kansas City Chiefs. My job responsibilities include working with the Hunt Family Foundation, player foundations and Kansas City Chiefs community programs. Last question, are the Chiefs going to win the Super Bowl? On a daily basis, I see how the players, coaches, trainers and business staff at the Kansas City Chiefs give their all each day. You always want to win, so I hope this hard work will pay off and we will be crowned as champions at Super Bowl LVII!   Feb 06, 2023

  • Award-Winning Actor, Activist Geena Davis to Headline Event

    The Starr Women’s Hall of Fame induction to honor extraordinary women who have made their mark on Kansas City
    Geena Davis, whose acting and activism have elevated gender parity, will be the featured speaker at the March 21, 2023, induction ceremony for the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame. Geena Davis Interview on KCUR “Up to Date” Transcript (DOC) Download audio Davis’s award-winning work in television and film and as the founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media has established her as an industry leader in drawing attention to gender equality on screen. “We are proud and honored that Ms. Davis is headlining this event,” Alicia Starr, co-chair of the hall of fame planning committee said. “She’s a shining example of the achievements that we honor through the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame – community enhancement, leadership and the development of opportunities and recognition for women’s accomplishments, as well as developing resources that further women’s opportunities. Her focus on research and empowering women and girls is directly in line with our objectives in honoring Kansas City’s influential women.” Davis secured her first film acting role in “Tootsie” in 1982. She has been a working actor since,  starring in popular movies like “A League of Their Own” and “Thelma and Louise.” She received an Oscar for her starring role in the “The Accidental Tourist” in 1988 and a Golden Globe for her turn as America’s first female president in the 2005 television series “Commander in Chief.” In 2019, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored Davis with a second Oscar, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, in recognition for her work to achieve gender parity in film and television.  Beyond industry accolades, Davis’s work exemplifies the vulnerability and triumph of women’s successes professionally and personally.   The Emmy Awards presented Davis with the Governor’s Award in 2022 for her groundbreaking work with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media, which she founded in 2004 to create gender balance, foster inclusivity and reduce negative stereotyping within the family entertainment media. The organization uses data-driven research, education and advocacy to empower and inspire content creators to provide inclusive content. In addition, they have developed research tools for content evaluation: Geena Davis Inclusion Quotient (GD-IQ) and Spellcheck for Bias. This year’s induction event is at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Tuesday, March 21, 2023, at 4 p.m. Tickets are available through the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The Starr Women’s Hall of Fame is dedicated to recognizing extraordinary women and preserving the history of their accomplishments. These women are social reformers, volunteers, philanthropists, civic leaders, activists and educators. They are neighborhood leaders and grassroots organizers, from yesterday and today, both famous and unsung. They are movers and shakers whose tireless commitment to community has made Kansas City a better place to live. The Hall of Fame is a repository for their legacies. By sharing their stories, the Hall of Fame encourages and inspires women everywhere. Biographies of the past inductees are available at Starr Women's Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is named in honor of Martha Jane Phillips Starr, a legendary activist and philanthropist who blazed a trail for family issues and women’s rights. The Hall of Fame is made possible through the Starr Education Committee, Martha Jane Starr’s family and the Starr Field of Interest Fund, which was established upon her death through the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. The idea for the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame stemmed from Starr Education Committee members. A permanent display honoring Hall of Fame members is open to the public on the third floor of the Miller Nichols Library at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The library is at 800 E. 51 St., Kansas City, Missouri. The civic organizations that advocate on behalf of women and family issues and have signed on in support of the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame include: American Association of University Women, American Business Women’s Association, Association for Women Lawyers of Greater Kansas City, Central Exchange, CBIZ Women’s Advantage, Girl Scouts of NE Kansas and NW Missouri, Greater Kansas City Chamber’s Executive Women’s Leadership Council, Greater Kansas City Women’s Political Caucus, Jackson County Missouri Chapter of the Links, Inc.; Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri; KC Metro Latinas, Kansas City Athenaeum, Kansas City Young Matrons, OneKC for Women, SkillBuilders Fund, Soroptimist International of Kansas City, Soroptimist Kansas City Foundation, UMKC, UMKC Women’s Center, UMKC Women’s Council, UMKC Women of Color Leadership Conference, United WE, WIN for KC, win|win, Women Leaders in College Sports, Women’s Public Service Network, Zonta International District 7 and Zonta Club of KC II. Buy Tickets Now Feb 01, 2023

  • Jazz Studies Professor Featured on Grammy-Nominated Album

    Carl Allen is the drummer on a record nominated for Best Large Jazz Ensemble
    Carl Allen, William D. and Mary Grant/Missouri Endowed Professor of Jazz Studies, is the drummer on “Remembering Bob Freedman,” a tribute album to the celebrated music arranger nominated for a 2023 Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble. When asked about the Grammy nomination, Allen said it was a pleasant surprise. His casualness about the nomination could be because he’s been featured on Grammy-nominated ‑ and Grammy-winning ‑  records before. It could also be because Allen’s focus in music isn’t on awards, but the love and community involved in making it. “Competition and music don’t always go together for me, I don’t like keeping score,” Allen said. “It’s the love and support – all of the awards and accolades should never overshadow the music itself.” Allen’s belief in community is part of what drew him to teaching. He is in his second year at UMKC; prior to that, he taught at Juilliard for 14 years, including six years serving as artistic director of jazz studies. “One of the reasons why I’m drawn to teaching is I really enjoy helping young people, “Allen said. “When you see a person who has a gift and burning desire to get better, you want to try and create opportunities for them. I’m trying to create a nurturing environment here where people feel supported.” The environment is part of what drew him to UMKC. Allen’s predecessor as professor of jazz studies, Bobby Watson, is also personal friend of many years. When Watson retired, Allen knew the opportunity was worth pursuing. “I knew I wanted to be part of a program that was respected by leadership. When the music is respected, you can get traction to really get things done,” Allen said. “When I came for the interview and met the dean and faculty, I felt that the music was really respected and part of a larger vision.” “When you see a person who has a gift and burning desire to get better, you want to try and create opportunities for them. I’m trying to create a nurturing environment here where people feel supported.” - Carl Allen In his time at UMKC, Allen has created more opportunities for students and faculty to be a part of that larger vision.  He invites in faculty who may not traditionally be involved in the jazz program so that his students are exposed to more perspectives and teachings. He also brings in guest artists to teach workshops and master classes. “Professor Allen has played with many of the greats, and he has countless anecdotes and information that he shares with students,” said Pete Fucinaro, UMKC Conservatory graduate student in music. “I don’t think there has been a single musician or record I have mentioned that he has not heard. He is deeply invested in the music and traditions.” “Part of the jazz tradition is ‘each one, teach one,’” Allen said. “You should always try to help people because other people helped you, it’s how we further the music. Relationships and resources are cyclical, you’ve got to create relationships with people.” Relationships have contributed to Allen’s success in music, including his most recent Grammy nomination. Allen has played with Ron Carter, legendary bassist featured on “Remembering Bob Freedman,” many times throughout his career. When asked to play with Carter at the Jazzaar Festival in Switzerland in a concert to honor Freedman, he knew he couldn’t pass up the opportunity. He didn’t know it would lead to a Grammy nomination. “Playing with Ron, that’s history. He’s in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s most recorded jazz bassist,” Allen said. “When I got the call to play at the festival, there was no talk of an album – it was just the festival and a couple of concerts. They recorded the festival performance and here we are.” You might think that earning Grammy nominations and wins is a highlight of Allen’s career. But when asked about highlights, Allen told the story of a former student of his who went on to become a professional musician. “When I think about all of things I’ve done and the people I’ve played with, making an impact on people is just as important to me,” he said. “The way I see it, I’m just a vessel. I’m just an instrument being used to try and help people.” Jan 31, 2023

  • Championing Evidence-Based Dentistry to Students

    Joanna Scott shares love for numbers and helping people
    Early in Joanna Scott’s career, she quickly saw the incredible opportunity dentistry offered her in affecting the health of patients. “I was in pediatric dentistry for a long time,” she said. “You see a 4-year-old child come into a clinic where they already need to have all their teeth extracted because they didn’t have the toothbrush training they needed for proper oral hygiene. It’s heartbreaking and you can really see how big of an impact you can have.”Scott earned her Ph.D. in biostatics from the University of Washington in 2008. She teaches research methodology and biostatistics to UMKC School of Dentistry advanced-education students who have already graduated from dental school and are pursuing specialty certificates in areas such as orthodontics or periodontics. “I grew up loving math, but I really wanted to use math to help people,” Scott said. “Biostatistics was a beautiful marriage of using mathematical skills to directly impact people.”Her students develop the abilities to fulfill the research requirements for their degrees and learn to utilize evidenced-based dentistry with their patients. Evidence-based care enables them to provide their patients with cutting edge care, whether that’s determining the best material or the best technique for any unique case they encounter. Scott’s passion for numbers is attracting recognition by the dentistry profession beyond UMKC. She received the Leaders in Evidenced-Based Dentistry award for Dental, Oral & Craniofacial Research from the American Dental Association (ADA) and The American Association. The national award recognizes significant contributions to the implementation and advancement of evidence-based dentistry.“These are skills the students can use for the rest of their careers,” Scott said. “They’ll be able to evolve with the industry and make connections with the causes of certain diseases while identifying specific risk factors.” Jan 30, 2023

  • How to Get the Most Out of Law School? Compete.

    Alumni reflect on how mock trial prepared them for courtroom success
    For many students at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, getting involved on campus helps to lay the groundwork for a successful career. For many alumni, getting involved in mock trial competitions during their time at UMKC has made for an especially easy transition from the classroom to the courtroom. Anthony McDaniel (B.A. ’11, J.D. ’15) and Jared Frick (J.D. ’15) are two such alumni whose experience in mock trial prepared them for their practice today.  Both competed on UMKC’s National Trial Advocacy Team, or mock trial, as it’s commonly known. The team is a part of the UMKC School of Law Trial Advocacy Program, which is consistently ranked among the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report, this year ranking #31 – up 23 places from 2021. The program is designed for students who want to be a trial attorney and want to learn how to effectively represent clients in a courtroom environment without the pressure of a verdict. McDaniel, now an attorney at Guin Mundorf, LLC in Kansas City, said his time on the team taught him skills he will carry with him for the rest of his life, both in his career and everyday interactions. “In trial team, they teach you how to think like a lawyer. Then they teach you how to use those skills and present like a lawyer,” McDaniel said. “What makes a good trial attorney is the ability to capture a lot of information and then break it down to present it to someone in a way that is relatable and to take it to the next level — make it persuasive. That’s exactly what mock trial teaches you.” McDaniel first became involved in mock trial competitions during his undergraduate years. That experience helped spark his interest in applying to law school. He described his time in UMKC's undergraduate mock trial as preparation for law school competitions. “In trial team, they teach you how to think like a lawyer." - Anthony McDaniel “It teaches you how to talk like a lawyer and how to present like a lawyer, whereas in law school, you get down to the finer points about courtroom presentation and rules,” McDaniel said. “But I always just loved the idea of standing in front of people and trying to persuade them to see things my way.” Much the same can be said about his former teammate and friend, Frick, who was recently appointed partner at Young, Kuhl & Frick, LLC in Lee's Summit. “What drew me to (mock trial) was the theatrics of it all. I was a musical education major for my undergrad, so I was into musical theatre and marching band and enjoyed the entertainment factor of everything,” Frick said. Frick competed in the Last Team Standing Competition, the initial exposure first-year law students get to a mock trial environment, and he knew it was something he was going to continue. “It was really helpful because when you enter the unknown of having to talk to opposing counsel or a client or presenting evidence, it can be nerve-racking,” Frick said. “So, participating in mock trial took the mystery out of that and showed me that there really is no magic formula to it – it just takes practice.” The two went on to compete in several competitions, including the National Trial Competition. The competition, established in 1975, is the oldest and most prestigious trial competition in the country. UMKC School of Law has attended the national tournament multiple times over the past ten years. The competition attracts more than 140 law schools and involves more than 1,000 law students each year. Students are judged on opening statements, direct examinations, cross examinations and closing arguments. “You learn how to tell a story,” Frick said. “You learn how to craft a theme and theory in a case and how to hit that throughout your case. You learn how to control your witness and how to not ask questions you don’t know the answers to. You learn the appropriate impeachment techniques. That all translates into real life and real practice once you graduate.” Their team was coached by Michaelle Tobin, clinical professor of law at UMKC. She has coached mock trial for the past ten years. Tobin said the competition looks like a “mini version of a real trial without the real-life pressure of client representation.” Each team is given a case file to study and rehearse for six weeks. Tobin said teams practice and refine their arguments over that time, as well as scrimmage with one another. Competitions last about three hours from start to finish. Tobin said the whole process is directly designed to prepare students for the professional world. “Knowing how to analyze a case, knowing how to compose an opening and closing statement, how to do a direct and a cross – all of those are skills that you are going to directly use in ligation,” Tobin said. “We take it from opening to close, but what you learn about how to present yourself in the courtroom — how to ask questions, how to analyze a case — can effect everything that you do even if you never try a real case in front of a jury.” Tobin said one of the most important lessons mock trial competitions teach students is the importance of listening. “When you get into practice and you have real clients, if you don’t listen to them, you are never going to be a good attorney. Listening is an essential skill, even in mock trial, where you don’t have a client but you have a teammate, a witness and a judge,” Tobin said. Frick said Tobin is the one who taught him that. “She taught me how to be a more active listener and not just think about what I’m going to say next. You see that a lot in trials, and everyday life, where someone immediately responds when you make a statement. In the courtroom, if you are focusing on your next question, you are going to miss something,” he said. "In the courtroom, if you are focusing on your next question, you are going to miss something.” - Jared Frick For him, McDaniel said mock trial was all about understanding that being in the courtroom is more than just a show. “A lot of people think it’s all about public speaking or presentation, but I think if you talk to most of us who participated in trial team, they will say that’s a peripheral skill. It’s more about the desire to help people and the ability to understand people,” McDaniel said. In addition to listening, Frick said one of the most important things mock trial taught him that he frequently utilizes today is “rules of evidence and how to handle evidence.” “Not only did I learn the full grasp and understanding of it, but it also helped me understand how to get things into evidence and how to make appropriate objections. I think a lot of young lawyers who are right out of school struggle with that, and I see it in the courtroom,” Frick said. “Because I had that experience in mock trial, right after graduation I felt really comfortable in the courtroom.” McDaniel said his experience “unquestionably” made him into the trial attorney he is today. “One of the things I love about being a lawyer is that we’re problem solvers before we’re anything else. Trial team really taught me, whether I’m putting together a grill at my house or I’m in a courtroom, it’s about taking a complex issue and breaking it down and building it back up. If you can understand the pieces, you can build anything.” McDaniel said he uses that method of thinking – breaking down information and rebuilding it – in his time now as an undergraduate mock trial coach and adjunct trial advocacy professor.  “I love being able to share the things I learned and pass that on. I have had so many students who come up to me and say, ‘I loved what we talked about because I used it an interview, and it helped me get a job recently.’ That’s the kind of thing I’ve had the opportunity to pass on, and it feels really great. Jan 27, 2023

  • This UMKC Law Alumna Has Dedicated Her Career to Children, Special Victims

    Prosecutor Audrey McCormick continues tradition of strong female advocates
    Prosecuting cases involving child abuse and neglect, domestic violence and sex crimes takes a special type of person, according to Audrey McCormick (J.D. ’10). “I think there are really only two kinds of attorneys when it comes to this subject matter,” McCormick said. “You either want to do it, or you want to stay as far away from it as possible, because it is just something that’s too overwhelming.” Luckily for McCormick, she’s been able to find balance while pursuing her passion — advocating for children and fighting for victims — while also raising a family and mentoring her staff.  “This work is so important to me,” McCormick said. “If I didn't have it, I think I would just be so bored and unfulfilled that I wouldn't know what to do with myself. I’m happy to continue doing this work for as long as anybody will let me.” McCormick, a 2020 recipient of the Missouri Bar Foundation’s prestigious Lon O. Hocker Award, began her career as an attorney for the Missouri Children’s Division. Since joining the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office in 2016, she has ascended the ranks to her current role of trial team leader in the special victim’s unit. McCormick says her professional experience has been shaped largely by the numerous strong female role models she’s encountered as a young lawyer. “It's a collective, and I think there is a sense of camaraderie between women in the law, particularly,” McCormick said. McCormick said she’s thankful for those female colleagues who paved the way so young lawyers like herself could focus solely on the quality of their work as opposed to what they might be wearing in the courtroom.  “I can't say that I have ever felt I had to overcome anything other than just a legal argument,” McCormick said. “Maybe that's unique to me. Maybe that is more of a statement on how far things have come in the past decade or so.” McCormick says she’s heard plenty of stories about women who felt pressure to answer phone calls from the maternity ward or didn’t even disclose that they had children. “That's the type of stuff that I had heard from some of the older generations of female attorneys — you show no weakness. You work like you don't have a family. And you basically have to try to outwork all the men — and then some — in order to get ahead.” Now a mother of three and mentor in her own right, McCormick feels compelled to provide that same level of support she received to upcoming young female attorneys in her unit. “The majority of what I do right now is mentorship — supervising my staff and ensuring that they are supported in the work that they do, because it's obviously very important, but it is also very hard,” McCormick said. “I try to be mindful of that same thing — that work-life balance. There are attorneys working so hard that we'll have to say, ‘I think you are on the fast track to burnout.’ We try to prevent that from happening, too, because we like to keep good attorneys in the unit and in the office. We've got a lot of really passionate, really great attorneys that we work with.” McCormick continues, “It’s nice to be able to step into those shoes and hopefully do as good of a job as my bosses have done for me in the past.” One of McCormick’s current supervisors, Jill Icenhower, chief trial assistant of the special victim’s unit for the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, said McCormick’s “unmatched ability” in preparing children for trial sets her apart from her peers. Most often, those children are being brought in to talk about horrific experiences of abuse, so they're often terrified to come into a courtroom. “She has got this innate ability to talk to children and make them comfortable and really relate to them and explain to them how a trial's going to work,” Icenhower said. “She shows them around the courtroom, and she meets them at their level and uses language that they can understand. She walks them through the entire process until they feel comfortable with what's going to be happening and does it in such an empathetic manner.” Icenhower continues, “I've watched her do closing arguments that are astounding. But it is those quieter moments in watching her prepare a child for trial and seeing a child relax and feel like, ‘I can do this now.’ That, to me, is the hallmark of a fantastic attorney. You can't teach that to someone.” Icenhower said that McCormick’s ability to relate to kids is so well known that she is routinely asked to go to trial by people outside of the special victim’s unit in cases involving child witnesses. “It's just something to behold,” Icenhower said. “I know that one of the judges, after watching Audrey do a direct exam of a child, told her afterward that it was one of the best direct exams he has ever seen done in a trial.” Navigating the heavy emotional toll of this type of work can be challenging, and that’s something McCormick has learned to manage over the years. “I have a little compartment in my brain, and that's where that stuff goes, for the most part,” McCormick said. “Now, are there days where it is overwhelming? Absolutely. Are there days where you want to give up because the system is overwhelming, and it doesn't seem like you're making enough progress? You're not getting what you want to see happen for these victims. Of course, all of those things happen.” McCormick stresses the importance of having a strong support system in place to serve as a safety net, especially in the inevitably difficult moments. “You've put all this time, all this effort, all this emotion into your case and your victims, and you just pour your soul into it,” McCormick said. “If it doesn't go your way, that is crushing for a lot of trial attorneys. Having that support system there — family, friends, colleagues — is crucial to help build you back up and continue to work in this field, if that is what you're passionate about.” Win or lose, McCormick says she marks the end of each trial in much the same way. “I go home, I take off my trial attorney hat, I put my mom hat on, I put a smile on, and I have a good weekend with my family.”   Jan 27, 2023

  • Why Study Architecture at UMKC? Design Challenge Winner Says KC Location is Key

    Helix Prize offers students challenges, opportunity
    Roos don't just dream, they do. Our students turn ideas into action every day. Get to know our people, and you'll know what UMKC is all about. Isaiah HoultbergAnticipated graduation: 2023Academic Program: Architectural StudiesHometown: Salina, Kansas Isaiah Houltberg is this year’s winner of the annual UMKC Architecture and Urban Planning and Design Helix Prize competition and scholarship grant. Every fall, Helix Architecture + Design sponsors the Helix Prize, a competition and scholarship for UMKC second-year Architectural Studies students. Professor John Eck teaches the studio, and faculty and members of the architectural professional community judge the competition. This year’s competition was to create a design for the “Kansas City Experience Music Project,” a concept based on a similar project in Seattle. Houltberg has been interested in architecture as a child and had the unique opportunity to take architecture and drafting in high school that inspired him to pursue the field in college and as a career. Houltberg and John Eck, practicing architect and associate teachng professor Why did you choose UMKC? I chose UMKC for its urban setting and its architecture program. UMKC has a sister program with Kansas State University. We did our first two years at UMKC and 3 years at KSU. What are the challenges of the program? Architecture is a very demanding program. On top of regular project deadlines and assignments, I commit many out of school hours to work. I will often spend all day in the studio and come in on the weekends. A higher-level understanding of design is also a challenge, whether that is coming up with three different design ideas in studio or creating a case study of a building. But at the end of the day, I enjoy it and it’s worth it. What are the benefits of the program? It's a very unique five-year fast track program, which is nationally recognized as one of the best. Plus, the added benefit of doing the first two years at UMKC is its urban setting. How has your college program inspired you? Seeing how much hard work it takes to be successful has really encouraged me to keep pushing through no matter how stressful it can get. Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself? Personally, I have used my experience so far to refine some of my learning strategies. I have been able to figure out where I excel and lack in when it comes to how I learn. Are you a first-generation college student? I am a second-generation college student. Seeing my extended family take their education in directions that they genuinely love and enjoy encouraged me to pursue an education. Who do you admire most at UMKC? I admire my architecture professors for their professionalism and the unique knowledge and views they bring to every lesson. Also, I admire my classmates’ creativity and talent and their perseverance to stay in such a challenging program. What other extracurricular activities are you involved in at UMKC? I am the head lifeguard at the Swinney Center. What do you hope to take from your experiences at UMKC into your professional career? Personally, I want to take the views and experience from the professors who work in an urban setting. I think this helps further my understanding of architecture and satisfy myself as a designer and architect. Jan 24, 2023

  • UMKC Online Nursing Program Ranked Among Best for Veterans

    U.S. News ranks online master’s program nation’s 11th best
    The online master’s program in nursing at the University of Missouri-Kansas City has been ranked among the nation’s best for military veterans by U.S. News & World Report. The rankings released today placed the program offered by the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies at No. 11 in the nation. “Veterans and active-duty service members gain the most from distance education that is affordable, accessible and reputable,” the organization stated. “The 2023 Best Online Programs for Veterans rankings measure these factors in consideration of financial benefits available specifically to people with military experience.” The full list of U.S. News rankings is available at www.usnews.com/online. “We are extremely proud that our programs have once again been recognized for educating top quality nurse practitioners and nurse educators. Only an exceptional faculty and strong community support can make that happen year after year,” said Joy Roberts, interim dean of the school. “The ranking for veterans demonstrates our commitment to serving those who have served all of us.” The program’s overall ranking was unchanged from last year, remaining in the nation’s Top 50 programs at 46th in the U.S. – the 11th consecutive year the program has been ranked among the nation’s Top 50. The nursing category included 203 different schools. To qualify, programs must have “performed well enough on a multitude of factors – including program reputation, faculty credentials, retention rates and graduate debt loads – to earn a qualifying Best Online Programs ranking.” The UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies is a pioneer in distance-learning programs, offering online advanced degree programs since 2002. The programs offer busy professionals a high-quality but convenient way to further their careers and meet the needs of an evolving health care system. Online students are expected to participate in online discussions as if they are present in the classroom. Technology offers two-way communication in real time via multiple modes. Students also experience on-site learning through summer institutes where they are required to attend clinical training or dissertation work sessions, and deliver presentations to classmates and faculty. UMKC offers a variety of online graduate nursing tracks, including Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and other options: Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGNP) Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP) Nurse Educator (NE) Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) Primary Care and Acute-Care (AC PNP) Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) Ph.D. Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Jan 23, 2023

  • Want to Practice Law? Generations of Attorneys Say UMKC is the Place to Be

    Families graduate from the Trial Advocacy Program and make their careers right here in Kansas City
    Kansas City is known as the City of Fountains, as a soccer city and, of course, for its barbecue. But to many UMKC School of Law alumni, it is also known for being a great place to practice law. The Trial Advocacy Program is elite, evidenced by competitive mock trial and moot court teams, and many alumni credit the city and the people for its success. We talked to three legacy families about what makes the Trial Advocacy Program so successful and why they’ve made law school at UMKC a family tradition. Dollar Family For the Dollar family, practicing law is a family affair. Tim (J.D. ’84) is a founding partner at Dollar, Burns, Becker and Hershewe. His son Joshua is currently in his third year of law school at UMKC. Two of his children, Lauren (J.D. ’17) and Jordan (J.D. ’19), have joined the practice within the last few years. The firm also boasts UMKC alumni in founding partner Tim Becker (J.D. ’91), whose son Josh Becker (J.D. ’15) is also a partner in the firm.  The Dollar family’s start with the legal profession began when Tim was a child and spent several summers in the office of his father’s attorney, Max Foust (J.D. ’54). Little did he know at the time, his journey through law school would open the same opportunity to many students down the road. At the time Tim attended UMKC, the Trial Advocacy Program was limited to 12 students. He felt strongly that the program should be expanded to accommodate more students. After graduation, he and several classmates took action. “We designed an expanded Trial Advocacy Program that would involve members of the legal community serving as adjunct professors — free of charge — to make the program available to any student who wanted to experience Trial Advocacy,” said Tim. “To our shock, the faculty adopted that program. That was the first time the Trial Advocacy Program expanded, and now it’s really made its mark nationally with all the work that’s been done since then.” Lauren, Jordan and Joshua are three such benefactors of the expanded program. Lauren participated in the 1L Mock Trial Competition, Mock Trial team, and took moot court and trial advocacy classes. Jordan also took part in the 1L Mock Trial Competition, continuing with the team through his 2L and 3L years. Joshua took first place at that same 1L competition in 2021. They credit these experiences with preparing them for practice. “You may get a great education somewhere, but you have to marry it with practical experience. Everything from trial skills, to moot court to negotiation — I think UMKC has set themselves apart in their focus on practical experience.” - Tim Dollar   “I felt like the competitions, both the oral arguments for moot court and the mock trial competitions, really helped develop my skills in trial advocacy,” said Lauren. “They were able to teach me more than I could learn in just a class. I’m very thankful for both the classes and the competitive side that gave you even more experience.” Jordan added, “I feel like the competitions especially provide an opportunity to develop and hone your skills in ways that I don’t think are available in a classroom setting. Dealing with a case over a semester provides experiences that translate directly to practice more than any class I took.” “You may get a great education somewhere, but you have to marry it with practical experience,” said Tim. “Everything from trial skills, to moot court to negotiation — I think UMKC has set themselves apart in their focus on practical experience.” In addition to practical skills, the ability to build lasting relationships in the community is what drew the Dollars to UMKC. “The alumni of the Trial Advocacy Program are invested in preparing the next generation for the practical world,” said Lauren. “They give back in teaching and educating our students. So not only do you get to network with these great attorneys and judges, but they’re the ones teaching you and making sure you’re prepared.” “My advice to anyone, as it was to my kids, is if you want to practice in the KC area, then UMKC is the place to be,” said Tim. “In addition to academics and practical experience, you are encouraged to plug in with the legal community. You can start to develop those relationships while in law school, and I think you’re miles ahead of someone who might go to an Ivy League school and then drop into Kansas City without having that network.” Accurso/Dickinson Family Lou Accurso (J.D. ’81), founding partner of The Accurso Law Firm, knew in high school that he would become an attorney. “I was influenced heavily by the Watergate hearings,” said Lou. “Those were broadcast my senior year, and I remember seeing these amazing senators and committee members who were all lawyers. It was captivating the way they could ask questions and follow up on investigations.” Lou may have been the first of the Accurso family to attend UMKC School of Law, but he certainly wasn’t the last. His sister, Tammy Dickinson (J.D. ’98), nephew Michael Accurso (J.D. ’96) and sons Christopher (J.D. ’14) and Patrick (J.D. ’18) are all alumni. The school’s numerous opportunities to get practical experience is part of what drew them all to UMKC. In Christopher’s case, it changed his plans entirely. “When I went to law school, I wanted to get my law degree and be some sort of sports agent,” he said. “Then a good friend, unbeknownst to me, signed me up to be his partner for the first ever 1L Mock Trial Competition. We had a blast, and that was the end of my Jerry McGuire moment.” Lou, Tammy and Christopher all worked in the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office immediately after graduating law school. Tammy and Christopher credit the Trial Advocacy Program for preparing them for the courtroom. “For me, the biggest tool UMKC offered was the prosecutor’s clinic (now called field placement),” said Christopher, who now works at The Accurso Law Firm. “I got my Rule 13 certification and spent a year and a half interning at the prosecutor’s office. I was trying bench trials and handling dockets and really using those tools I learned in mock trial in the real world. I had a lot of facetime with judges and attorneys, so by the time I graduated and got hired on, I was able to step right in.” "....a good friend, unbeknownst to me, signed me up to be his partner for the first ever 1L Mock Trial Competition. We had a blast, and that was the end of my Jerry McGuire moment.” - Christopher Accurso Tammy, former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, added, “It’s almost like you have a head start on everybody who didn’t do that — especially if you want to be a trial attorney. I started interning under Rule 13 as soon as I could.” For Lou, that real-world experience came in the form of trial practice, a course started by then-Dean Patrick Kelly that gave students the opportunity to prepare and conduct jury trials in insurance cases leading to binding verdicts. “It was irreplaceable,” said Lou. “As a matter of fact, it even helped me on the bar exam. One of the questions they asked was to draft a lawsuit and include all the claims and parties. If I hadn’t practiced it, I don’t think I would have known what to do.” Practical experiences, both in and out of the classroom, help form relationships that last through a career. “My dad always told me that it's best to go to law school where you want to practice,” said Christopher. “I knew UMKC would give me plenty of opportunities to work with actual practicing attorneys. That’s one aspect of UMKC I really like; you have practicing attorneys giving you real world advice and experience while teaching you in your classes.” Hobbs Family The Hobbs family’s law school legacy begins with J.R. Hobbs (J.D. ’81), founding partner of Wyrsch Hobbs & Mirakian, P.C. and an adjunct professor. J.R.’s son and daughter-in-law Jackson Hobbs (J.D. ’18) and Sarah (Kanoy) Hobbs (J.D. ’18) followed. J.R. credits the environment at UMKC for fostering meaningful relationships that translate into effective networks in the legal community. “I think there’s a collegial atmosphere that permeates the school,” said J.R. “People want to do well, but they want to do it parallel to each other and not stumble over each other. In the end, it’s about relationships.” The Hobbs family is unanimously of the opinion that’s what sets UMKC School of Law apart: the relationships you build while in school. “Those relationships you’re building in law school are the same relationships you’ll build on in practice. It is immeasurably beneficial.” - Sarah (Kanoy) Hobbs Those relationships are of particular benefit to students in the Trial Advocacy Program due to the geographic location of the school. “We straddle two different districts in federal court that also happen to be in different federal circuits,” said Jackson. “If you want to practice here, there’s no better place to go to law school and get real-world experience. The proximity to a city like Kansas City just can’t be found anywhere else.” As a legacy student, UMKC School of Law had always been on Jackson’s radar. But he said there were two primary reasons he was drawn to UMKC: the networking possibilities to start a career in Kansas City and the opportunities to participate in various mock trial and moot court activities. In his first year, he participated in the Last Team Standing Trial Advocacy Competition. Following that experience, he joined the trial team in his second and third years for competitions across the country, including the National Trial Competition and Tournament of Champions. Jackson also competed in the school’s Ellison Competition and on the national moot court team. J.R.’s sons Jackson and Eric both married UMKC Law graduates: Eric met his wife Molly (Callender) Hobbs (LL.M. ’14) when they were attending law school at the University of Denver.  Jackson (J.D. ’18) and his now wife Sarah (Kanoy) Hobbs (J.D. ’18) met at UMKC School of Law. Like Jackson, Sarah participated in the trial team. As the first in her family to go to law school, she didn’t have the background to understand how beneficial UMKC’s competitive teams could be for her as she looked at different law schools. The relationships among alumni are what drew Sarah to UMKC. “That was one thing that struck home with me — the people that you’re going to be practicing with when you leave law school — there’s a good chance that they went to UMKC,” Sarah said. “Those relationships you’re building in law school are the same relationships you’ll build on in practice. It is immeasurably beneficial.” Jan 20, 2023

  • Hall Family Foundation Awards $15 Million to UMKC for Healthcare Innovation and Delivery Building

    The state-of-the-art facility will position the district as a premier academic medical district and help propel health care equity in the region
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City announced a $15 million gift from the Hall Family Foundation, which will help fund an innovative new medical and dentistry building in the UMKC Health Sciences District. The University of Missouri-Kansas City announced a $15 million gift from the Hall Family Foundation, which will help fund an innovative new medical and dentistry building in the UMKC Health Sciences District. The university has secured $95 million toward the $120 million cost of a new Healthcare Innovation and Delivery Building on the corner of 25th and Charlotte. The new building will enable UMKC to provide leading-edge health care education, attract top students and researchers and advance care for disinvested populations. In addition, the project will serve as a catalyst for developing the UMKC Health Sciences District into a major regional academic medical center that can generate billions of dollars in jobs and economic impact for the Kansas City region. The new multi-story building will house dental teaching clinics and expanded medical school teaching facilities. In addition, it will provide space for the UMKC Health Equity Institute, the university’s Data Science and Analytics Innovation Center and its new Biomedical Engineering program. "We are grateful to the Hall Family Foundation for its investment in our students and the Kansas City community,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal, Ph.D. “The Healthcare Innovation and Delivery Building will further solidify the UMKC Health Sciences District as a national leader in medical education and health care as well as support our mission of increasing health equity in the Kansas City region and beyond.” U.S. News and World Report listed the UMKC School of Medicine as one of the top medical schools in the nation for primary care and it was the highest-ranked in Missouri in 2023. Its graduates practice in 71 counties in the state and its students and faculty members provide thousands of hours of free health screenings and services each year. The new building will provide advanced technology to enhance physician training and provide more doctors to meet a critical need of providers in the region. It will also house the new Biomedical Engineering program, providing proximity with doctors and engineers to support the innovation of new medical technologies. The UMKC School of Dentistry is the only public dental school in the state of Missouri and is a major low-cost provider of dental care in the region. UMKC dentistry students serve more than 13,500 community members each year and provided more than $630,000 annually in free dental care to community members at its clinics from 2016-2022. The new building will allow UMKC to see more patients and update the technology at the clinics to streamline care and create more efficient visits for patients and provide industry-leading education to students. In addition, the new space will increase ADA accessibility for patients with physical limitations. Furthermore, the building will house major community outreach and research initiatives, such as the UMKC Health Equity Institute, designed to identify and address health disparities, and the Data Science and Analytics Innovation Center, which supports innovation in personalized healthcare. “The Healthcare Innovation and Delivery Building will provide immeasurable benefit to the Kansas City community for generations to come, and we are proud to support it,” said Mayra Aguirre, president of the Hall Family Foundation. “Our Foundation’s mission is to support and fund projects that enhance the quality of human life for all Kansas Citians. This new building will enable UMKC to expand its important work in equitable and inclusive health care delivery and we are inspired by the collaboration between UMKC, Children’s Mercy Hospital and University Health that improves the lives of people in our community.” The latest gift to UMKC is not the first investment the Hall Family Foundation has made in the UMKC Health Sciences District. In 2018, the organization provided $75 million in funding for the Children’s Mercy Research Institute dedicated to pediatric medical research. Gov. Mike Parson signed legislation in July from the state of Missouri that appropriated $40 million for the UMKC Health Innovation and Delivery Building, contingent on a funding match. Since then, UMKC has received $30 million from the Sunderland Foundation, $15 million from the Hall Family Foundation, and $10 million in federal funding secured by Sen. Roy Blunt for a total of $95 million to date. “UMKC is a leader in the Kansas City community and that is thanks, in large part, to the support of our partners. We are thankful they share in our vision of creating a cutting-edge healthcare hub that will provide state-of-the-art care to everyone in our community,” said Amanda Davis, chief advancement officer and president of the UMKC Foundation. Formed in 2017, the UMKC Health Sciences District is a partnership among UMKC and 12 neighboring healthcare institutions. The district houses the UMKC schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Health Studies and Pharmacy in a single, walkable campus, allowing for greater interprofessional training and research collaboration. Learn more about the Healthcare Innovation and Delivery Building. Jan 19, 2023

  • Judge Steve Leben Named Stripp Professor of Law

    Leben is the fourth UMKC faculty member to earn the honor
    The newest Douglas R. Stripp Missouri Distinguished Professor of Law Steve Leben brings a wealth of experience in the courtroom to the position. Leben joined the UMKC School of Law faculty in 2020 as a visiting professor after 27 years as a Kansas judge – the past 13 as a member of the Kansas Court of Appeals – and 11 years of law practice in Kansas City. “I’ve seen in the past two years the great training we give our students, and I’m glad to fully join UMKC’s well-recognized advocacy program,” Leben said. Advocacy — essentially the art and science of persuasion — takes many forms. UMKC School of Law has long had a strong reputation in both trial and appellate advocacy education. The school’s advocacy program is A-rated by National Jurist magazine, and the school is ranked 31st in the country for advocacy by U.S. News and World Report. Professor Leben's leadership is already evident. Just this month, UMKC Law students competed in the national moot court regionals and both teams took away top honors and one team member was named Best Oral Advocate. As the undefeated winning team, UMKC Law will be heading to the national finals. Leben brings both expertise and scholarship to elevate the advocacy program. He is a nationally recognized expert on procedural justice, and he has trained judges around the United States on how to improve perceptions of fairness in court proceedings. In 2014, the National Center for State Courts gave him its highest award for a judge, the Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence, in recognition of his work on procedural-justice issues. Leben is an elected member of the prestigious American Law Institute, an officer of the American Bar Association Judicial Division’s Appellate Judges Conference and past president of the American Judges Association. He becomes the fourth faculty member to serve as the Stripp Professor of Law, following S. Rafe Foreman (2011-2019), Robert Klonoff (2003-2007) and Andre Moenssens (1996-2002). In his role as the Douglas Stripp Professor, Leben said he would focus primarily on enhancing the school’s appellate advocacy program. “I want to bring more appellate judges in from around the country to participate in our competitions and speak to our students,” he said. In addition to appellate advocacy, Leben teaches another important form of advocacy in his legislation course, in which students learn about public policy advocacy and the legislative process. The Douglas Stripp Professorship was created and funded by Bebe and R. Crosby Kemper through the R. Crosby Kemper Charitable Trust and Foundation. It is named for Bebe Kemper’s father, a lifelong Kansas City resident and internationally known trial lawyer, who practiced law in Kansas City for more than half a century until his death in 1983. Stripp worked alongside Charles Evans Whittaker (J.D. 1924) in Kansas City before Whittaker was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Stripp’s passion was mentoring young attorneys in the art of persuasion and advocacy. Professor Leben will carry on this legacy as the Stripp Professor. Jan 17, 2023

  • Patricia and John Morgan Academic Advancement Fund Supports UMKC Student Retention, Achievement

    Consistent and significant funding enhances student success, degree completion. Photo by Brandon Parigo | UMKC
    For the past decade, the Patricia and John Morgan Academic Advancement Fund has supported UMKC programs that help students successfully navigate their college experience.  The fund’s most recent gift of $60,000 over two years supports students from the time they are introduced to UMKC through the transitions that follow – from acceptance to enrollment and beyond – with graduation as the goal. Summer Bridge Scholars, an intensive eight-week program for incoming first-year students to help prepare them for college at UMKC, is one of the programs the Morgan Fund supports. In addition to their classes, students participate in programming on careers, culture, academic skill-building and community engagement. “Funds from the Patricia and John Morgan Fund help our students become connected to the Kansas City community,” Megan Elsen, associate director of Academic Support and Mentoring, says. “We work in conjunction with our Multicultural Student Affairs office to develop programming that expose students to the city’s history and the different cultures that Kansas City offers, including tours showcasing the city’s varied food, music and art opportunities, to give them a taste of the community. Tuition, room and board and the extracurricular activities are possible because of the support from the Morgan Fund.” Laura Casey, academic success coordinator for Summer Bridge Scholars, notes that the fund supports a broad range of students. “A large majority of our students are first-generation and low-income,” she says. “We see lower (high school) GPAs and ACT scores, if students submit them, so they may need additional academic support, which we provide.” Summer Bridge students may have more basic needs as well. “We provide backpacks, school supplies, and put together welcome packages that include sheets, towels and a laundry basket, because a lot of students who live in the dorms don’t have what they need. Literally, we have students show up with just a duffel bag.” In addition, new students are introduced to established UMKC programs within the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs including Avanzando, a support and resource program for Latinx students; African Americans Cultivating Excellence (AACE); and Emerging Research Scholars, which offers high-achieving, historically underrepresented students research projects in their field of study with faculty mentors. These programs are based on the belief that connecting students to the UMKC community is essential to their success. “It’s important to get students engaged early in their college experience, and the majority of the Morgan funding goes toward helping our scholars in the AACE and Avanzando Mentoring Programs get connected to the community as a whole,” Keichanda Dees-Burnett, assistant dean of students for student support and director of Multicultural Student Affairs, says. “We want them to be knowledgeable about the resources available to them and have a good start so that they can succeed.” The AACE and Avanzando Programs are designed to increase persistence and graduation rates for first- and second-year students by providing individualized support to help not only support the cultural identity of scholars, but to also help them reach their academic and career goals. Roland Hemmings, Jr., assistant director of Multicultural Student Affairs, knows that students who don’t become connected early may wait too long to ask for help – if they ask at all. His approach to student support is not a set formula. “Every year the needs of students change, so there isn’t a cookie cutter approach,” Hemmings says. “We have general programming that addresses common barriers to student success, but we take the time to talk with students individually about what help they need and help them find the right direction,” Hemming says. Dees-Burnett notes that staff spend a great deal of time with students reinforcing that there are people and resources at UMKC who are eager to help them. “They may be intimidated, but we tell them, ‘Everybody here is working for your success.’ We encourage  them to ask questions so they don’t find out they are making a mistake that could have been avoided.” Hemmings agrees. “We are reinforcing that it is better to ask questions early, so we create a safe space where they understand that everyone is here to help and support them .” The support of the Patricia and John Morgan Advancement Fund has been critical to student success. “Significant and consistent support from the Morgan Fund is providing life-changing opportunity for UMKC students,” Jennifer Lundgren, Ph.D., provost and executive vice chancellor, says. “The success of these students will impact their futures, their families and our community for generations.” Jan 10, 2023

  • UMKC Celebrates a Champion of Medical Education

    Harry S. Jonas served as second dean of the UMKC School of Medicine
    Harry S. Jonas, M.D. (1926-2022), the second dean of the UMKC School of Medicine, helped establish the school’s unique six-year B.A./M.D. program and successfully defended the model against significant challenges. As an administrator, Jonas effectively guided the fledgling medical school through serious early doubts from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the national accrediting organization for medical schools, which questioned the school’s unconventional six-year program that accepted medical students directly out of high school. Today, the model is generally accepted as a means to educate outstanding physicians. Jonas was also known as a champion of those under his watch. Students and faculty who knew him well remember him as an extraordinary instructor and mentor who valued his students. In return they held him in equally high esteem. Jonas, dean from 1978 to 1987, died just before Christmas. Nearly 700 physicians earned their medical degrees from the school during his tenure as dean. One of them, Michele Kilo, M.D., ’84, remained in close contact with Jonas following his time at the medical school. Kilo said she and many of her fellow alumni shared similar experiences and fond memories of their former dean. “Dr. Jonas’ impact on my life and my career and my years at the UMKC School of Medicine will always be remembered,” Kilo said. “His legacy of warmth, true caring and excellence in all endeavors will live on and never be forgotten.” Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., ’78, current School of Medicine dean, met Jonas for the first time as a medical student in 1974. Jonas served as chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Truman Medical Center, now University Health, at the time. “His passion for teaching students and residents was exceptional, and I knew with him at the helm we were learning the state-of-the art practices in all aspects of women’s health,” Jackson said. Jonas served two years in the Navy during World War II before returning home to complete his undergraduate and medical degrees at Washington University in St. Louis. He moved to Independence, Missouri, in 1956 to become a private-practice physician and found himself drawn to academia. His work in academic medicine started as a volunteer instructor in the residency program at Kansas City’s General Hospitals 1 and 2. He was recruited to serve as the hospitals’ first chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a role he continued to serve when Truman Medical Center replaced the old General Hospital. He took on a new role in 1978 when he was chosen to become the second dean of the UMKC School of Medicine, where he had also served as both an assistant dean and chairman of the Council on Evaluation. “Different deans do different things,” Jonas said in a publication celebrating the school’s 25th anniversary. “Some are researchers, some are planners that go inside their office and close the door and plan for the future and then there are others who are very externally oriented. I was probably in that category.” Kilo said, “He was approachable to School of Medicine students in ways that are remarkable and not typical of most deans, including greeting us by name, holding wonderful dinners at his home that always included medical students in a warm and inviting environment, and showing his interest in each of us personally, not just our grades or our career goals, but how we were doing as human beings and whether we were thriving socially.” Following his tenure as dean, Jonas spent more than a decade with the American Medical Association in Chicago where he served as assistant vice president, and as secretary of the LCME, the body that once questioned the UMKC model. He returned to Kansas City in 2000 to play another key role in the development of the School of Medicine’s curriculum. As a special consultant to the dean, Jonas was instrumental in creating a new geriatrics curriculum for first-year medical students. That program continues today, pairing students in a year-long mentoring experience with residents of John Knox Village, a Kansas City-area retirement community. Kilo said Jonas served as her mentor, listening and providing guidance recently as she was in the midst of making a major career change. Likewise, when Jackson became interim dean of the medical school in 2018, Jonas made a point of connecting with her to share his experiences and wisdom for achieving success in her new role. “He invited me to lunch to impart his knowledge and advice,” Jackson said. “He continued to come in person to important School of Medicine events and attended our 50th anniversary gala in June of 2022. All who knew Dr. Jonas could be confident that he was promoting our school locally, regionally and within national circles. He will be greatly missed.” Jan 09, 2023

  • UMKC Receives $12.97M Grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation for Entrepreneurship Programming

    Grant provides support to continue and expand entrepreneurship programs on the UMKC campus and across the Kansas City region.
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City has received a historic five-year, $12.97 million grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to build upon its national leadership in entrepreneurship programming and impact in the Kansas City region. The grant funding will support a variety of efforts, including new and existing programs across campus. UMKC and the Kauffman Foundation have a shared mission of supporting diverse communities, and the grant will help each continue to reach underserved groups that may not traditionally have access to entrepreneurial resources. “UMKC has a number of programs designed to help reduce barriers to entrepreneurship,” said Philip Gaskin, vice president of entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation. “We believe that expanding and aligning these programs will drive interest and success in entrepreneurship and result in a diverse pool of new businesses in the region.” The grant is a result of a partnership among nationally recognized programs at UMKC: UMKC Innovation Center, the Henry W. Bloch School of Management Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the UMKC School of Law. “This grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a clear endorsement of the work we’re doing across the university and in our surrounding communities to support entrepreneurship,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. The initiative will accomplish a variety of goals. It will build on and expand the university’s existing commitment to interdisciplinary collaborations, allowing increasing numbers of undergraduate and graduate students to explore entrepreneurship across campus.  Additionally, it will increase community connections, expand the availability of impactful educational resources for diverse entrepreneurs, implement a stronger technology commercialization system to move UMKC research innovations to market and provide more avenues for all areas of campus to participate in entrepreneurial activities. “This grant allows UMKC to grow our programs and invest even more in both cross-campus and community entrepreneurial initiatives,” Agrawal said. “We are thrilled to work with the Kauffman Foundation and current and future partners to build upon our strong foundation and create more opportunities for the region’s innovators and entrepreneurs.” Jan 05, 2023