Five UMKC State of the University 2024 Highlights

Chancellor announces research achievements, student-success milestones and major building initiatives

UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal delivered the annual State of the University address on April 3, highlighting the significant achievements Kansas City’s university has accomplished in the past year.

“Today, we bear witness to how we at UMKC are breaking the norm to create a transformative university that can change lives and push the boundaries of excellence,” Agrawal said. “In the next few years, we are poised to achieve the most elite level of research excellence, accelerate our students’ success, and we are literally changing the face of our campus with signature building projects that support our highest strategic goals.

“If excellence in everything we do, big or small, is our goal, then in the pursuit of excellence we can never be satisfied with status quo.”

1. Research

Maria Spletter in research lab.

With recent, rapid growth in its research enterprise, UMKC anticipates achieving a Carnegie R1 designation in the next two to four years. To put that in perspective, only 146 universities out of 2,800 four-year institutions currently have R1 research status, putting UMKC into a prestigious group.

The R1 designation will make it easier to attract even more world-class faculty and students, and to receive more research funding and partnerships with other R1 institutions.

 “It will accelerate the creation of new knowledge to serve society and to enrich our students’ classroom experiences, and exposing students to high-quality research is a proven way to enhance their career outcomes,” Agrawal said. “Our students, graduate and undergraduate, deserve the very best. And the same could be said for our community.”

 UMKC is Kansas City’s only public research university and has played a crucial role in various Missouri research projects including major roles in two tech hub designations from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, which hold the potential to unlock hundreds of millions in research funding for UMKC, the University of Missouri System, Missouri and Kansas.

2. Student Success

Students from UMKC's First Gen Roo program.

UMKC achieved several milestones in student success during the 2023-24 academic year including:

  • The largest class of first-time college students in UMKC history in 2023, success it hopes to continue in Fall 2024
  • Significant increases in transfer student applications for Fall 2024
  • Increases in domestic graduate student enrollment
  • Highest student retention and graduation rates in a decade, thanks to innovative new programs like First Gen Roos, which gained national recognition when the Center for First-Generation Student Success named UMKC a First Scholars program, the center’s second-highest designation

UMKC is also rolling out new degree programs in the next year, creating degrees of high relevance to students that also capitalize on key community strengths and workforce needs.

Upcoming programs going through final approvals and preparation include:

  • A bachelor’s degree in architecture in the School of Science and Engineering, starting in 2025.
  • A Master of Legal Studies program through the School of Law.
  • Eight new Ph.D. programs in electrical engineering, computer engineering, civil engineering, computer science, economics, education, humanities and natural sciences starting in Fall 2025.
3. Major Building Initiatives and Updates

UMKC plans major changes to its physical facilities to meet key strategic goals. Here are some of them:

Healthcare Delivery and Innovation Building

Image rendering of the Healthcare Delivery and Innovation Building

UMKC will begin construction in June on the $120 million Healthcare Delivery and Innovation Building, the largest capital in its history, when it begins clearing out a parking lot at 25th and Charlotte. A celebration is planned for this September. This building -- home to combined space for dental and medical programs as well as research space for health equity, biomedical engineering and data analytics center -- is scheduled to open in 2026.


Image rendering of the Foodiverse

After the spring semester ends, food service in the Student Union, with the exception of Starbucks, will close to make way for the Foodiverse. Opening in January 2025, this food venue will have more options, from a grill and salad bar to pasta and an allergen-free zone. Chick Fil A will reopen in January 2025, too.

Student Success Space

Image rendering of the student success space.

Work on new student success space will begin this summer on fourth floor of the Miller Nichols Library. Programs including Supplemental Instruction and Academic Support and Mentoring, will move to that new space.

Pedestrian Plaza

Image rendering of pedestrian plaza.

51st Street between Cherry Street and Rockhill Road will open as a pedestrian plaza this fall, providing campus and community gathering and green spaces.

Streetcar Stop

Image rendering of UMKC Streetcar stop.

The Kansas City Streetcar will pull up to the UMKC front door in mid-2025. UMKC is working on plans for retail and a possible arena space near this public transportation hub.

UMKC School of Medicine-St. Joseph Campus

Image rendering of UMKC School of Medicine-St. Joseph campus

A grand opening for a medical education building on the UMKC School of Medicine-St. Joseph campus is slated for next year, expanding the university’s work in preparing the next generation of doctors for Missouri’s rural areas.

UMKC Conservatory Expansion

Image rendering of UMKC Conservatory expansion

A sneak peek of a UMKC Conservatory expansion showed off future plans for enhancing the university’s performing arts programs.

4. Partnerships

UMKC faculty and staff in Royals gear.

The Chancellor celebrated UMKC’s move to think outside the norm when it comes to partnerships that benefit students. As one example: UMKC is a proud higher education partner with all four  professional, major-league sports teams: the Kansas City Chiefs, the Kansas City Current, the Kansas City Royals and Sporting KC. These partnerships provide students with unique learning opportunities such as job shadowing, mentorship, internships and leadership development.

5. Strategic Engagement and Fundraising


This past fiscal year, UMKC broke its all-time record in annual philanthropic production with $94 million.

As for this fiscal year, UMKC already surpassed its annual goal of $45 million and that doesn’t count Giving Day, which broke a record for single-day giving by raising in excess of $430,000, more than triple last year’s total.

“As you know, our community’s support is so much more than dollars,” Agrawal said. “We have an incredibly dedicated cadre of top leaders from throughout Kansas City who freely share their time and energy to help make UMKC top-class."

Published: Apr 3, 2024

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