News Archives

  • UMKC to Conduct Virtual Commencement in May

    Students will also have opportunity for-in person celebration in December
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City is planning a virtual commencement for May graduates, with details to be influenced by a survey of graduates and their families. The decision is in keeping with the announcement by the University of Missouri System that all four UM universities were postponing in-person spring commencement exercises, with each university making individual plans to celebrate graduates. UMKC will conduct a two-pronged commencement celebration, with May graduates invited to participate in both the virtual commencement in May and to walk the stage in traditional cap and gown in December. All students who completed requirements for graduation will still have degrees conferred upon the regular schedule.  In a letter to pending graduates and their families from Chancellor Mauli Agrawal and Interim Provost Jenny Lundgren, they said: “We know what a treasured tradition and milestone commencement is for our graduates who have worked long and hard for their diplomas. At the same time, we must address the need to keep our campus community, as well as our graduates’ families and loved ones, safe and healthy.” The university plans to distribute a survey to pending graduates and their families during the week of April 6, soliciting ideas and input to help plan the virtual commencement. “In May, we fully intend to find a fun, creative way to celebrate graduation and commencement virtually, with survey input from our graduates,” they wrote. “In December 2020, we also will plan to host our biggest in-person commencement celebration ever, inviting May and December grads to march across the stage and receive their diplomas.” Apr 02, 2020

  • A Pioneer Woman in Medicine

    Marjorie Sirridge, M.D., was a champion for women in medicine and a fixture at the UMKC School of Medicine
    In recognition of Women’s History Month, we are recounting the impact of women in STEM at UMKC. A deep appreciation for medical humanities and an emphasis on empathy and compassion for her patients were hallmarks of Marjorie Sirridge, M.D. They are also bedrocks of the curriculum at the UMKC School of Medicine, where Sirridge was a fixture from time of its inception until her death. Sirridge earned her medical degree in 1944, graduating first in her class from the University of Kansas School of Medicine. She dropped out of medicine for a time when told it was improper for women to become pregnant while doing their post-graduate residency. She later returned to medicine and had worked for more than a decade in private practice and on faculty at the University of Kansas School of Medicine when she and her husband, William, received a new calling. They were recruited to serve as two of the three founding docents for the new University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine when the School opened in 1971. Sirridge spent the remainder of her career in numerous leadership roles at the school including a tenure as dean. While serving as a docent, Sirridge established the UMKC Program for Women in Medicine to help female students and physicians succeed in a male-dominated system. Due in part to her influence, the UMKC School of Medicine boasts one of the highest rates of female students among the country’s co-educational medical schools. Longtime School of Medicine Dean Betty M. Drees, M.D., remarked following Sirridge’s death in 2014 at the age of 92, how Sirridge had enriched those around her. “We have all been extremely privileged to have worked with Dr. Sirridge for many years and have been enriched by her tremendous wisdom and guidance,” Drees said. “Her contributions to the School of Medicine are many and are sure to have a lasting and positive impact on future generations of physicians.” Sirridge was honored in 2010 by the Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine with the Alma Dea Morani, M.D., Renaissance Woman Award. In 2003, the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine (NLM) created a traveling exhibit called Changing the Face of Medicine: Celebrating American Women Physicians. Sirridge was one of the pioneering women included in the exhibit that now exists online to honor the achievements of women who excelled in their medical careers. Marjorie and William Sirridge endowed the Sirridge Office of Medical Humanities and Marjorie Sirridge became its first director in 1992, building a program of courses in medicine and the humanities that other medical schools in the country have copied. She later endowed a professorship in medical humanities. In 2011, the Kansas University Women in Medicine and Science organization established the annual Marjorie S. Sirridge, M.D., Excellence in Medicine and Science Award. “There have been many ups and downs,” Sirridge said in her Changing the Face of Medicine biography. “But I have never felt that I made the wrong decision when I decided to be a physician.” Mar 31, 2020

  • UMKC Researcher Awarded $3.3 Million Grant to Prevent Diabetes

    Jannette Berkley-Patton will focus on overcoming health barriers with African Americans
    The National Institutes of Health awarded a $3.3 million grant to Jannette Berkley-Patton, professor, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, to help improve diabetes prevention outcomes with African Americans. “This is an extension of what we’ve been doing in the School of Medicine with Project FIT, which stands for Faith Influencing Transformation” says Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., director of the UMKC Health Equity Institute and the Community Health Research Group. With Project FIT, nearly 900 people have participated in the program and more than 200 medical, physician assistant, nursing and health studies and psychology students have been trained as FIT health coaches to help deliver the program. At UMKC, Berkley-Patton has won other significant grants that focus on improving the health of African Americans, and each centers on health inequities and community-engaged research with African American community-based organizations, including places of worship because of their cultural importance. This new five-year grant, which starts on April 1, will include similar strategies. To date, Berkley-Patton’s work has been supported by more than $10 million in federal grants over the past 14 years. The grant will tailor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Diabetes Prevention Program, an evidence-based lifestyle change intervention, with 360 African American pre-diabetic participants recruited from Truman Medical Centers. The program includes 22 group sessions that take place over one year and primarily focuses on eating healthier and exercising regularly. Preventing diabetes can help stave off other associated chronic health issues including blindness, kidney failure and heart disease.  People who participate in the CDC program aim to lose 5 to 7 percent of their body weight and exercise 150 minutes per week, which have been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes by up to 60 percent. The program has also been found to outperform pre-diabetes drugs such as Metformin. However, African Americans typically don’t fare as well, especially women and those with low incomes. Some of the issues include barriers such as cost of the program, transportation, childcare, access to healthy food and places to exercise. These barriers are often referred to as social determinants of health. “With the grant, we’re trying to address every barrier related to social determinants,” Berkley-Patton said. “The most successful outcomes are correlated with attending the sessions – the more sessions attended, the better the outcomes.”  The grant will support linking Truman Medical Centers patients to FIT Diabetes Prevention Program classes in their home communities via church, community center or neighborhood association settings. The program will be culturally-tailored for African American adults. The program is at no cost to the participant – typically it costs $450 per year. In addition to Truman Medical Centers, program partners include several urban Kansas City churches, Calvary Outreach Network, YMCA, Chestnut Resource Center, KC Care Health Center, Children’s Mercy and the University of Kansas. Although the grant begins this week during a pandemic that has Americans sheltering in place and working from home, the first year of the grant is a planning year. “With this grant, we are looking forward to further refining our current Project FIT program to have trained UMKC students and community members working side-by-side as FIT coaches,” says Carole Bowe Thompson, project director, UMKC Community Health Research Group. The program will be launched by this time next year. “We are looking forward to getting started,” Berkley-Patton said. “We want to show participants that here’s a premiere program designed just for you.” Mar 31, 2020

  • UMKC Researcher Helped Lead Studies Published in New England Journal of Medicine

    John Spertus is renowned for his work in cardiac outcomes
    UMKC School of Medicine researcher John Spertus, M.D., M.P.H., is part of two large NIH-funded clinical studies published Monday, March 30, in the New England Journal of Medicine. The studies indicate eliminating unnecessary surgeries for cardiac patients could save the United States hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Spertus serves as professor of medicine and is the Daniel J. Lauer, M.D., Endowed Chair in Metabolism and Vascular Disease Research at the School of Medicine, and Clinical Director of Outcomes Research at Saint Luke’s Hospital. The studies looked specifically at coronary-artery disease patients who had high-risk blockages with at least 10 percent or more of the heart muscle being at risk. One focused on patients with preserved kidney function and the other targeted patients with end-stage kidney failure. That latter group has largely been excluded from almost all cardiovascular trials, despite having a high prevalence of coronary artery disease and death, Spertus said. Both studies, conducted in unison, examined the most important outcomes for patients, hospital visits (including heart attacks and death) and patients’ symptoms, function and quality of life. Participants were randomized to undergo invasive angiography and surgeries with aggressive medical therapy or aggressive medical therapy alone. The goals of the medical treatment were cholesterol reduction, blood pressure control, aspirin and medications to treat chest pain. The studies in patients with preserved kidney function showed that invasive medical procedures provided no reduction in hospital visits, but did improve patients’ symptoms and quality of life, if they had chest pain within a month of entering the trial. These health status benefits were evident within three months and sustained out to four years. “Importantly, this benefit was only observed in patients who had angina, chest pain, and not in asymptomatic patients,” Spertus said. “There is no indication for these procedures in patients whose symptoms are well-controlled with medications alone. If we avoided revascularization in asymptomatic patients, we could potentially save about $500 million to $750 million a year in the United States alone.” Among patients with very severe kidney disease, there was no significant difference in hospital visits or in patients’ symptoms and quality of life.  “While disappointing, this is a very ill patient population for whom an aggressive, invasive treatment strategy does not seem to offer much benefit,” Spertus said. The NEJM published four papers from these two studies, one for each trial focusing on the clinical events and another for each trial focusing on the quality of life outcomes. Spertus was involved in writing all four and is the lead author on the two quality of life papers. He and his team designed, analyzed and led the health status, quality of life components of both trials. Spertus is the author of the Seattle Angina Questionnaire (SAQ) that used in the studies. It is widely recognized throughout the world as the gold standard for quality of life measurement in cardiac medicine. “Our group has led its use and analyses in multiple studies and quality improvement efforts,” Spertus said. “In light of these findings, the SAQ may start becoming a routine part of clinical care in cardiology.” Mar 30, 2020

  • Luke Bryan Steps Up for UMKC Students

    Country music superstar makes gift to student emergency fund
    Country music superstar Luke Bryan has donated $8,000 to a new emergency fund set up to help students at the University of Missouri-Kansas City cover unexpected expenses related to returning home, food, housing and other issues stemming from the coronavirus epidemic. The donation came from the proceeds from Bryan’s annual Farm Tour. Bryan typically makes contributions to colleges and universities near Farm Tour stops. Bryan was scheduled to perform at a farm in Louisburg, Kansas in October 2019, but the concert was moved to the Sprint Center due to weather issues. “UMKC is extremely grateful for the gift provided by the Luke Bryan Farm Tour in helping launch our emergency support for our students,” said Lisa B. Baronio, chief advancement officer and UMKC Foundation president. “Luke Bryan represents the values of many in the Heartland and has always generously supported the communities where he has performed. “Many of our students are strongly impacted by this pandemic and are in need of resources such as food, funds to travel home, and even support to pay their bills,” Baronio continued. “Students often work in the service industries that have shut down, including restaurants and retail stores, and need your help. Within the first 24 hours of launching this site, multiple students have reached out asking how they can apply for a micro-grant. We encourage you to do what you can to help our students during this challenging time.” Bryan has been named "Entertainer of the Year" by both the Academy of Country Music Awards and the Country Music Association. Donate to the Student Emergency Fund Mar 27, 2020

  • UMKC School of Education Launches Major Expansion and Fundraising Efforts

    The Institute for Urban Education kicked off a $15 million capital campaign to help support enrollment growth and programming additions for student...
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Education is launching major efforts to expand its Institute for Urban Education, which prepares students and teachers for success in urban classrooms. The institute recently kicked off a $15 million capital campaign with support of the newly appointed Dean's Fundraising Council, co-chaired by Leo Morton, UMKC chancellor emeritus and DeBruce Companies COO; and Jerry Reece, former CEO of Kansas City real estate agency ReeceNichols. The $15 million campaign aims to support enrollment growth, programming additions and staff support for the Institute for Urban Education as it works to address the need for more highly motivated, exemplary teachers in K-12 classrooms in greater Kansas City area school districts. Programming additions include: Adding a graduate education component to the Institute for Urban Education's existing undergraduate program Opportunities for career changes — the Master of Arts in Teaching, a four-semester program for people with bachelor's degrees in any area interested in teaching Additional services to partner schools, professional development in diversity, equity and inclusion and culturally relevant instruction, masters degrees and certifications Enrollment-growth tactics include: Grow Your Own: a comprehensive approach to developing pipeline programs for future Institute for Urban Education students/teachers in local K-12 schools. The program aims to add more teachers of color, particularly males, who view urban education as a social justice profession. Expanded scholarship opportunities, including the Sherman Scholars program, which will provide more than 150, $15,000 annual scholarships over five years to support students in both graduate and undergraduate teacher prep programs. Staffing additions: new associate director for urban education, 2.5 staff coordinators and a recruiter “Supporting urban education continues to be a top priority for UMKC,” said Justin Perry, dean of the UMKC School of Education. “The expansion of the Institute for Urban Education provides us unique opportunities to help address the teacher shortage in Kansas City, and help place more well-equipped teachers in classrooms who reflect the population of the students they serve. We are excited to continue working with our partner schools as we support our community's efforts to shape the future of the Kansas City education system it deserves.” The institute partners with the following greater Kansas City school districts to develop pipeline programs for future teachers: Kansas City Public Schools, Kansas City Kansas Public Schools, Center School District and Hickman Mills School District Founded in 2005, the Institute for Urban Education prepares and supports teachers for success in urban classrooms by focusing on social justice, multicultural education, diversity and equity. The institute has remained a locally focused program, recruiting students from neighboring communities who want to remain in the greater Kansas City area for their careers. Mar 26, 2020

  • Engineering Alumnus Uses Tech Experiences to Track COVID-19

    Riddhiman Das (B.S.C.S ’12, M.S.C.S. '19) is part of a Kansas City team developing White House-endorsed app designed to track users’ locations
    From student entrepreneur to product architect for Kansas City’s renowned EyeVerify (now Zoloz) to co-founder and CEO of six-month old digital startup TripleBlind, School of Computing and Engineering graduate Riddhiman Das has set off on yet another groundbreaking venture that, this time, could help solve the global COVID-19 pandemic. The seven-member TripleBlind startup was recently featured in Startland News following the White House’s expected endorsement of a new coronavirus tracking app, Private Kit, they designed to help the government keep tabs on where the contagious disease is spreading while maintaining the privacy of everyday citizens. “Solutions for COVID-19 are top-down. The government wants to track everything from where you’ve been to who you’ve encountered, but that can be overreaching,” Das said. “Our team wanted to install citizen-first private tracking to keep users’ data private while still helping to track the virus.” Private Kit is a voluntary app that smartphone users can install to track where they’ve been in recent days without having to rely solely on their memories. Should they need to get tested, they can choose to make their data available for health experts to determine if they need to test others as well. Das said the added benefit of the app is that if users decide not to download it immediately, they can do so later and allow it to import their location data from Google or Apple maps applications. In addition to the White House, foreign governments around the globe are also endorsing the use of Private Kit, as well as, the city of Kansas City, Missouri; Boston; Washington, D.C.; the World Health Organization; the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control. TripleBlind enables entities to safely provide and consume sensitive data and algorithms in encrypted space, without compromising privacy or security. The company worked on 100% of Private Kit’s development until recently when they began working with students from Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to help bring the app to life. Das credits his career successes to his student experiences at UMKC. “UMKC has been phenomenal,” Das said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today had it not been for Bloch E-Scholars or the skills I learned at the School of Computing and Engineering and Zoloz, which also started at UMKC.” His advice for students following his footsteps? “Optimize your resume. Do a lot of internships. And a variety of them so that you can diversify your experiences.” Mar 26, 2020

  • On A Mission: Personal Protective Equipment for Those on the Front Line

    So far, UMKC has found and donated needed PPE to area hospitals
    The need for personal protective equipment — called PPE — is one of the most serious challenges facing healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Every healthcare institution in the U.S. has a critical shortage of PPE and no help is on the way in terms of federal stock to replenish the supply. The call to inventory PPE at other sites that have available stock is one way to provide the help needed by hospitals, and that is why the University of Missouri-Kansas City is on a mission to find and share currently unused PPE. So far, UMKC has located and given about 20,000 masks, tens of thousands of pairs of gloves and hundreds of gowns to local hospitals. “What we are doing on the UMKC Health Sciences Campus is working with our colleagues across the university to identify PPE that can be deployed to those hospitals most in need, and we are sharing that precious equipment,” said Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., interim dean at the UMKC School of Medicine. Jackson, who specializes in infectious disease, is a national expert on the new coronavirus. She said proper PPE is crucial. "Caring for patients with COVID-19 in our hospitals requires institutions to provide explicit guidance so staff can identify patients that need hospitalization and use all measures to prevent spread to other patients, and to themselves.” - Mary Anne Jackson, M.D.   “As the COVID-19 pandemic engulfs the United States, there are gaps in our scientific knowledge to tell us how many have been infected, and to identify the full spectrum of symptoms and signs. Adequate and reliable testing to help us correctly identify cases has not been widely available,” she said. “Still, the patients come and we care for them. Caring for patients with COVID-19 in our hospitals requires institutions to provide explicit guidance so staff can identify patients that need hospitalization and use all measures to prevent spread to other patients, and to themselves.” To date, Italy, the hardest-hit country in the world, has seen an enormous number of cases; 20% of those infected are the doctors and nurses caring for the patients, Jackson said. “Across the country, we are already seeing New York in a desperate situation,” Jackson said. “California, Washington state and now Louisiana, all are seeing a steep uptick in cases that threaten to overwhelm the healthcare system within the next week, and states like ours are only weeks behind unless we strictly enforce social distancing to reduce spread. That is why schools and businesses are closed and our mayor has issued a stay-at-home order. We face caring for patients without bed capacity, ventilators or the PPE needed to keep our workforce safe and operational.” “What we are doing on the UMKC Health Sciences Campus is working with our colleagues across the university to identify PPE that can be deployed to those hospitals most in need, and we are sharing that precious equipment.” - Jackson, M.D.   Within minutes of being asked if the UMKC School of Dentistry had surplus PPE it could part with, Dean Marsha Pyle and her colleagues rounded up a large inventory of boxes filled with gowns, masks and gloves that are not being utilized as the dental clinics have closed to all but emergency patients. Later, the UMKC schools of Nursing and Health Studies and Biological and Chemical Sciences also donated. KC STEM Alliance at the School of Computing and Engineering gave 500 pairs of goggles. These were brought to local hospitals where staff said supplies were critically low. “We do know that everyone wants to help and there has been a grassroots effort to have the community sew cloth masks. A recent study of cloth masks cautions against their these are not the protection that healthcare workers can use in the healthcare environment at this time." - Jackson, M.D. Students from the UMKC Schools of Medicine and Dentistry led by Stefanie Ellison, associate dean for learning Initiatives at the School of Medicine and Richard Bigham, assistant dean of student programs at the School of Dentistry, are collaborating to identify other sources in the community and coordinating efforts to collect and distribute these vital supplies to local healthcare workers on the front lines. Others in the community that may be willing to donate their supplies include: Nail, hair, tattoo and piercing salons Local carpenters and maintenance workers, especially if contracted with apartment complexes, professional painters, drywallers, construction/machine operators, welders Professional colleagues in veterinary medicine Others in the local and regional dental community Warehouses (such as UHaul), mechanics, auto shops Cleaning services, or any organization that employs janitorial services or cafeterias Any organization with nursing stations (pools, gyms, schools) “We are also aware that our colleagues at Missouri S&T have developed a prototype for a face shield and N95 respirators (a protective mask designed to achieve a close facial fit with highly- efficient filtration of airborne particles) that could be mass produced, and we’re actively looking for community resources to do so,” Jackson said. “We do know that everyone wants to help and there has been a grassroots effort to have the community sew cloth masks. A recent study of cloth masks cautions against their use: moisture retention, reuse and poor filtration may result in increased risk of infection so these are not the protection that healthcare workers can use in the healthcare environment at this time." Shortages of PPE are severe and increasing because of hoarding, misuse and increased demand, according to the World Health Organization. There is clear data that pricing for surgical masks has increased sixfold, N95 respirator prices have tripled and even gown costs have doubled. The governor of New York has criticized the price gouging that prevents him from getting the masks he needs in the most urgent of situations there. The WHO has shipped 500,000 sets of PPE to 27 countries, but supplies are rapidly depleting and that stock won’t nearly cover the need. It estimates that PPE supplies need to increase by 40%, and manufacturers are rapidly scaling up production and urging governments to offer incentives to boost supplies, including easing restrictions on the export and distribution of PPE and other medical supplies. This from WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: "This cannot be solved by WHO alone, or one industry alone. It requires all of us working together to ensure all countries can protect the people who protect the rest of us." To donate to the UMKC PPE initiative, please email Stefanie Ellison at and Richard Bigham at Mar 25, 2020

  • UMKC Innovation Center Resources for Business Owners During COVID-19 Outbreak

    The place for entrepreneurs offers a hotline, help and advice
    The UMKC Innovation Center is always a go-to for small-business owners and entrepreneurs, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is now more than ever. The center, which includes KCSourceLink and the Missouri Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UMKC, has added resources to help businesses throughout the coronavirus outbreak. Looking for funding updates and business help during the coronavirus outbreak? KCSourceLink has created a portal of business resources to help business owners navigate these challenging and uncertain times. Updated regularly. In fact, the Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Funding became available for businesses in Kansas and Missouri on March 21. Call the KCSourceLink hotline at 816-235-6500 or email to get connected with resource partners that can help complete paperwork and answer your questions. Are you an entrepreneur? Take this survey from KCSourceLink to help community leaders and decision makers assess your needs and activate resources during the coronavirus outbreak. The Missouri SBDC at UMKC continues to offer online classes to help entrepreneurs and business owners start businesses and navigate challenges. “Typically, economic recessions trickle down to small businesses, but with this situation, restaurants and retailers are on the front end,” said Maria Meyers, executive director of the UMKC Innovation Center and founder of KCSourceLink and SourceLink. “Even when their doors might be closed, we’re here to keep financial advice and resources open.” Entrepreneurs and small businesses create 58% of net new jobs in the Kansas City metro area. These are young and small firms with fewer than 20 employees. According to the the KCSourceLink survey data so far, our small businesses are hurting right now. 75% need financial assistance. 60% are worried about revenue dropping. 15% are concerned they may have to close. What consumers can do to help small business right now: Buy curbside lunch/dinner from local restaurants. Shop local – buy gift cards, order online What government officials can do to help small businesses right now: Provide immediate financial support that enables small business to continue paying their employees – consider community/corporate supported short-term grants Help small businesses manage cash flow by delaying tax payments Extend benefits to solopreneurs What Kansas City area entrepreneurs are saying: The pressure to adapt quickly is immense. Our cashflow depends on clients coming in every day, there is no reserve. We have had to close up shop and file for unemployment. We adjusted our food service offering to delivery/pick-up/to-go only and this week had to close up completely. We won’t be in business without capital help. We will have to find online work to support ourselves and our business, leaving us unable to gear this back up when the virus has run its course. Once things settle down, my clients will likely be busy recovering and they may have to adjust their budgets which may cut my work. Mar 23, 2020

  • UMKC Cited for Commitment to First-Generation College Students

    First-gen Forward designation recognizes universities that improve experiences and advance outcomes of first-gen students
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City has been included in the 2020-21 cohort of First-gen Forward Institutions in recognition of its efforts to support first-generation students. The First-gen Forward is a designation given by the Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and the Suder Foundation. The designation recognizes colleges and universities that have demonstrated a commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students. Selected institutions receive professional development, community-building experiences, and a first look at the Center’s research and resources. About 40 percent of current UMKC undergraduates are first-generation college students, defined as those who do not have a parent with a college degree. UMKC initiatives for first-generation students include a First Gen Roo program designed to increase student success and satisfaction, with targeted goals for GPA, retention and graduation rates. Program goals are to facilitate campus navigation and integration, academic preparation and success (expectations, time management, note-taking, study skills, test-taking strategies); and social preparation (decision making, financial literacy, culture of higher education and strategies for success). The program begins with a week-long First Gen Roo Summer program immediately prior to the start of the fall semester which include early move-in, meals, resource workshops, academic sessions, one-on-one meetings with program staff, social events and more. During the fall semester, first generation peer mentors provide additional support in meeting the program goals. The program was pioneered by the College of Arts and Sciences and will be expanded to all UMKC academic units in Fall 2020. The university was also cited for the First Gen Proud program, a campus-wide initiative for first generation faculty, staff, alumni, and current students as well as supporters who were not first gen themselves, designed to recognize and celebrate the supportive, energetic, and inclusive first-generation community at UMKC. “Now in its second year, First-gen Forward institutions continue to lead the nation by their commitment to first-generation student success. The 2020-21 cohort consists of diverse institutions across the nation and we are pleased to welcome UMKC for their long-term commitment and demonstrated strategies for scaling first-generation student initiatives,” said Sarah E. Whitley, senior director of the Center for First-generation Student Success. UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal said support for first-generation students is a key component of the mission of UMKC.“We respect our first-generation students as trailblazers for their families and communities,” Agrawal said. “Their success is our community’s success, and as Kansas City’s only public research university, we play a critical role in enabling and empowering that success.”“First-gen Forward is an exciting opportunity for UMKC to join an elite community of professionals prepared to share evidence-based practices and resources, troubleshoot challenges, generate knowledge, and continue to advance the success of first-generation students across the country. We are excited to see a groundswell of activity from the First-gen Forward cohort and know that UMKC will be a significant contributor,” said Kevin Kruger, president and CEO of NASPA. Mar 23, 2020

  • A Match Day Like No Other

    School of Medicine conducts virtual Match Day celebration
    Match Day 2020 was like no other. Because of coronavirus concerns, the usual bustle bordering on bedlam at the School of Medicine was replaced by quiet, empty hallways. There also was a video-streamed and email presentation of where the more than 100 graduates-to-be will serve their medical residencies, leaving them to smaller individual celebrations. Interim Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., addressed students, their families, faculty and friends with a video message. She congratulated the UMKC Class of 2020 for its hard work of the past six years and called Match Day a rite of passage that is this year all the more significant in light of the pandemic gripping the nation. “When facing pandemics in the past, physicians have recognized a professional duty to care for patients, even in these difficult circumstances,” Jackson said. “That is why today I emphasize the human side of medicine. Today you promise to commit to put patients first, to always try to be worthy of the privilege of caring for patients, and that you will continue to pursue the education that ensures the care you provide is cutting edge and the best practice.” Students and their residency matches were revealed as part of the on-line video production. Just more than half of the UMKC class will be headed to a primary care residency in internal medicine, family medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, or pediatrics. That exceeds the national average and is in line with the school’s mission to provide primary care for the Kansas City area, Missouri and the rest of the Midwest. While students celebrated at home, some took to social media to share their good news. Student couple Mike VanDillen and Ariana Foutouhi were excited to find that they matched together. See their post below.  The students won assignments in 27 states and the District of Columbia, from Massachusetts to Hawaii and California to Florida. Missouri had 31 of the placements, followed by 11 in Illinois, 10 in Florida, eight in Texas, five in Kentucky and four each in Kansas and California. And, as usual, some are headed to the top names in medicine, including Mayo, Stanford, the Cleveland Clinic, Harvard, the University of Chicago and UCLA. Twenty-two will stay at UMKC and its affiliate hospitals; a baker’s dozen will be elsewhere in Missouri and Kansas. Internal medicine was the top category with 39 placements — eight of whom will move on to sub-specialties after a year — followed by 14 in pediatrics or medicine-pediatrics, nine in family medicine, seven in general surgery, six each in anesthesiology and emergency medicine, and five in obstetrics/gynecology. Jackson said in her message that the soon-to-be residents will join the front line of physicians and health care professional across the country playing a key role in caring for patients and responding to the current health crisis. “Know that you as resident providers will take the knowledge you’ve learned here, that you will be a partner in the preparation and response that is critical at this time, that you will be the calm that stabilizes those who are afraid, and that you will be the kind, compassionate physician that is the hallmark of our School of Medicine,” Jackson said. “Congratulations as we celebrate with you today, Match Day 2020.” Mar 23, 2020

  • Enactus’ FeedKC Launches New Web App

    UMKC students help direct food from restaurants to food banks, especially needed now
    With the demand at food banks growing, UMKC Enactus students have developed a new app to help restaurants donate excess food to local pantries for people in need. Three years ago, UMKC Enactus students discovered 1 in 8 Kansas Citians struggles with hunger daily. Meanwhile, over 40 percent of food produced in the U.S. is thrown away. For the past two years, the team of UMKC students has been manually transporting food from local cafeterias, including at UMKC and Rockhurt University, to food banks across the city. To date, they have created 6,000 meals for those in need. Now they’ve developed an app that connect locally-owned restaurants and cafeterias with excess food directly to food banks serving Kansas Citians in need. And with that need growing, due to coronavirus complications of schools being shut down and some employees getting fewer hours, the demand for food is higher than ever. The new app provides a safe, tax-deductible way for restaurants to donate food and help feed the hungry. Restaurants can post produce close to its sell-by-date, prepared food that hasn’t been used, is still in the kitchen or was a leftover. A local food pantry can request it and work out a time to transport it. When the food is picked up, you’ll receive a form detailing the donation which can be used for tax purposes. You can learn more about the process on the FeedKC website. The app was developed by a member of the team and graduate of UMKC. FeedKC is currently recruiting both restaurants and food banks to begin using it. “With the launch of the web application, the team hopes to see an increase in their number of community partners,” said Caitlin Easter, who inherited the project from the former project leader, Andrea Savage, earlier this year. “Our team has been working so hard to perfect our web application so that we could launch a product that we are truly proud of!” Learn more about the FeedKC app online. Check out the team's story on KCTV5.  Mar 19, 2020

  • UMKC School of Computing and Engineering Announces New Center for Urban Stormwater Research

    The research consortium will tackle flooding issues in Kansas City
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Computing and Engineering is teaming up with KC Water and other stakeholders — including FEMA , Unified Government and the Army Corps of Engineers — to launch the Center for Urban Stormwater Research (CUSR), a research consortium focused on tackling urban flooding in Kansas City. John Kevern, Ph.D., professor and civil and mechanical engineering department chair will serve as director of the center. Kevern regularly works with KC Water, including School of Computing and Engineering alumni like Tom Kimes (B.S.C.E. ’87), manager of stormwater engineering, and Jose Lopez (B.S.C.E. ’15), watershed planner. “Climate change is rapidly impacting engineering designs related to flooding across the globe,” Kevern said. “The Center for Urban Stormwater Research will help provide novel and innovative solutions to those challenges in Kansas City.” The center’s first project will focus on a FEMA grant exploring ways to educate the public about the risks of flooding.  “Our hope with the center is to see Kansas City manage stormwater in a way that leads the nation and turn the city’s ‘wild rivers’ into community assets,” said Tom Kimes, manager of stormwater engineering at KC Water.  The School of Computing and Engineering will recognize KC Water as Organization of the Year at its annual Vanguard Awards, originally scheduled to take place on April 2. The new event date is to be determined. The Vanguard Awards celebrates excellence in computing and engineering and will also recognize Sherry Lumpkins, principal at Blue Symphony, LLC; George White Jr., civil engineer at GLMV Architecture; and PREP-KC. Mar 19, 2020

  • Managing the Transition to Online Courses

    Professor Leigh Salzsieder shares his thoughts on the move
    University of Missouri-Kansas City students and faculty are wrapping up their first week of exclusively online classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We checked in with seasoned online instructor Leigh Salzsieder, chair of the department of accountancy and associate professor of accounting at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management, about making the move to online. How long have you taught online courses? How has the technology improved since you began teaching online? I have been teaching online since 2017 and have seen a couple of big improvements. First, the textbook publishers’ ability to run their digital content native in Canvas makes designing and delivering a course significantly easier. Another big improvement is the development of high-functioning apps for mobile use. Canvas and Zoom both do very well on a mobile device. Did you have any concerns when you started teaching online? My biggest concern moving from in-person to online teaching was that I would lose the ability to connect with my students. While things are different online, I can honestly say that in many ways it is more humanizing. For example, I have never met so many of my students’ children and pets. In an online synchronous environment where students are logging in from home, it is common for a toddler or pet to wander on screen. Those sorts of interactions allow for student-to-student and student-to-faculty interactions to have more personal meaning. It probably sounds silly, but it is really cool! What did students think of the switch to online classes? Any surprising reactions? Most of the students have really enjoyed the online synchronous delivery. The added flexibility has been the students’ favorite part. In previous classes, I have had students join class from all over the world, and even from airplanes (although the connection wasn’t great). What are the benefits of online courses? Challenges? The biggest benefit for students is flexibility. It also allows them to pause and replay course content that they’re struggling with and need to revisit. In addition, having a significant portion of the material online allows students to interact with it on their terms. I have had students tell me they listen to lectures while working out, while driving, etc. Online integrated content also allows students to get quality feedback on content at any time day or night. That’s not to say I’m answering questions at 2 a.m., but my online content is answering their questions with detailed feedback on practice sets. There are challenges to moving online, particularly for faculty. The change from in-person to online instruction can be a little scary. There are also costs to learning and adopting new technology, training and course certification, learning and creating new ways of assessing student outcomes, etc. Managing students online is also different than managing students in-person. It takes some time to get used to using discussion boards and other tools that facilitate meaningful interaction both peer-to-peer and with the instructor. "Most of the students have really enjoyed the online synchronous delivery. The added flexibility has been the students’ favorite part."—Leigh Salzsieder You're a member of eLearning Online Faculty Advisory Committee for UM System. What type of things do you work on for that group? Our group is advisory to the eLearning Strategy and Implementation Oversight Committee which is the actual decision-making body for eLearning and includes provosts for the four system campuses and system-level representatives. Our group was created with the intention of providing a faculty voice directly to the Oversight Committee regarding the eLearning enterprise. Any tips for students who are new to online learning? Professors? I think my tip for students would be to establish a routine. Having content available 24-hours-a-day often leads to procrastination. When I ask successful students how they do it, having a routine is the most common response. For professors, I would say try not to make your mind up about eLearning before you give it a chance. I’d also recommend that faculty utilize the resources available to them. We have faculty all over campus that are extremely effective online in areas you might not realize. For example, I serve on the eLearning Online Faculty Advisory Committee with Amanda Grimes from the School of Nursing and Health Studies and Kati Toivanen from Art and Art History, both of whom have excellent online courses.  Mar 19, 2020

  • Political Science Professor Awarded Carrie Chapman Catt Prize

    Research focuses on women and politics
    Rebecca Best, assistant professor of political science at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, was one of seven awarded a Carrie Chapman Catt Prize for research on Women and Politics from the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University. Best is also an associate faculty member of the UMKC Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program. Best’s research study, “Gendered Reintegration of Veterans and Political Representation of Women in the United States,” will examine whether there are gender differences in how certain types of reintegration experiences influence a veteran’s interest in and willingness to vote, run for office or engage in activism. The study will also explore whether factors such as marital status and dependent children have a gendered effect on the willingness of veterans to engage in politics. The award, valued at $2,000, will be used to fund a survey of military veterans, at least 40% of whom will be women. We spoke to Best about her research on women and politics. What got you interested in researching women’s military service? Several years ago, I went to Fort Leavenworth to give a presentation on women in rebel groups. Through that visit, I got connected with Kyleanne Hunter, a doctoral candidate at the University of Denver who had previously served as a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. We had similar ideas about why women engaged in political violence, in that we both believed that women’s reasoning was not fundamentally different from that of men, though their circumstances and the options available to them might be different. We started studying veteran women because it turns out to be much easier to survey and interview military veterans than to interview women in rebel groups (though scholars like Mia Bloom and Angie Nichols among others have been doing excellent work interviewing former rebel women).   What do you hope happens as a result of your research? Primarily my research goals are to better understand social science phenomena, but I also think that there are often important policy implications of social science research. With this project I am interested in better understanding how gender creates unique challenges for veterans reintegrating into society. I hope that a better understanding of these challenges will contribute to the development or programs and support networks designed to ease the transition out of military service. I also hope that this research can call attention to the contributions of the many women who have served and are serving in the United States military – including political scientists like Dr. Ky Hunter, Dr. Angie Nichols, and Dr. Theresa Schroeder. Finally, I hope that we can get a better sense of the causes of the gender gap in political representation and the types of policies that might help to further reduce this gap. Tell us about the research this award will help with? This award will help me to fund a survey of veterans of the United States military (both male and female). The purpose of the study is both to understand the gendering of reintegration experiences and how different reintegration experiences influence the willingness of veterans to run for office. This project builds on work by Jennifer Lawless and Richard Fox who find that an important cause of the gender gap in political representation is that women are less likely to run for office – for a variety of reasons including concerns about their own electability, family concerns and not being recruited to run. Specifically, Lawless and Fox surveyed men and women from several backgrounds that are common among lawmakers (law, education, entrepreneurship and political activism). The money from the Catt prize will allow me to extend this work to military veterans, tailoring the survey to experiences of veterans. Who are the women who influence your work the most? I have been lucky to be surrounded by supportive women here at UMKC and in my field of political science. Within my department, Beth Vonnahme, Debra Leiter and Mona Lyne have all been important mentors, sounding boards for new ideas and friends. There are many women doing exciting work in political science and international relations right now – and more than I can name here have impacted my own work. A few influential women include Cynthia Enloe, whose work on women, gender and international relations is both a lot of fun to read and incredibly insightful; Mary Caprioli, whose work evaluates links between gender inequality and armed conflict; Barbara Walter who uses strategic theory to resolve puzzles surrounding civil conflict resolution; Kelly Kadera who both consistently promotes other women in conflict studies and publishes innovative research on interstate conflict as well as women and gender in international relations; Carla Martinez Machain who studies arms transfers, military deployments, and air strikes, in addition to being an excellent mentor and friend for other women in political science; and Jakana Thomas, Alexis Henshaw, and Kanesha Bond, who have all published really interesting empirical evaluations of women in rebel groups. How do you influence others? The most impactful part of my job is teaching UMKC students. In doing that, I hope to help students see the relevance of academic work to both public policy and their own lives. For example, in my conflict resolution class students read academic literature on negotiating strategies and we discuss examples of implementing these strategies both in larger scale political negotiations (like peace processes) and in negotiations over salary and benefits. Similarly, I ask my students to consider how the theories we discuss in class are reflected in the stories they read in the news from negotiations with the Taliban to protests in Iran. I’ve published some of my own thoughts on these and other issues in public forums such as the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage, the Conversation and Political Violence @ a Glance. Mar 18, 2020

  • Schools of Pharmacy, Medicine in U.S. News Rankings

    Pharmacy in top 25%; Medicine makes debut
    The UMKC School of Pharmacy was tied for 31st in U.S. News and World Report Best Grad Schools rankings released Tuesday. That put the school in the top one-quarter of the 134 U.S. pharmacy schools that were rated. “This is a testament to the quality and resilience of our hard-working students, and to the dedication of our faculty and staff,” said Dean Russell Melchert. “It’s great to be recognized nationally as we pursue our mission to improve health throughout our state and region through education, research and community engagement.” The U.S. News pharmacy rankings are based solely on surveys of academics at peer institutions. The UMKC School of Pharmacy ranking was up from 36th in 2016, when U.S. News last surveyed for pharmacy programs. The UMKC school also has had great success matching its graduates. The Class of 2020 had an 81% initial match rate, the program’s best ever. In addition, “pharmacist” tops a CNBC list of top-paying professions right out of school, with a median annual salary of $123,670. The UMKC School of Medicine also joined the rankings for the first time this year, placing 75th for primary care medical schools and 88th for research medical schools. U.S. News said its rankings covered 122 accredited medical and osteopathic medical schools that participated in the rankings, out of 189 that were asked. “Our school is known for excellent clinical training and great success in residency matching. We also offer expanding research opportunities.” — Interim Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D. UMKC, whose innovative six-year program takes most of its students right out of high school, has not participated in past surveys because its program is so different from others in the United States. Interim Dean Mary Anne Jackson, a 1978 graduate of the program, thought it was time to join the survey. “Our school is known for excellent clinical training and great success in residency matching, throughout the Midwest and at Mayo and other top institutions,” Jackson said. “We also offer expanding research opportunities and have placed students in the top National Institutes of Health student research program for several years in a row.” The medical school rankings were based on a weighted average of indicators, seven for the primary care rankings and eight for research. Some indicators were quality assessments by academic peers and residency directors. But most were objective data submitted by the schools, such as research activity, student test scores and acceptance rate. The UMKC school rated in the top one-third, for example, in faculty-student ratio, on a par with Stanford, the No. 4 school overall, and ahead of 78 other schools. It also did well in the percentage of its graduates going into primary care. Dean Jackson said it took a "yeoman's effort" to compile and submit the required data for the first time, and she thanked the school's leadership team including Vice Deans Steven Waldman, M.D. '77, J.D., and Paul Cuddy, Pharm.D., M.B.A., for their efforts.    Mar 18, 2020

  • Alumnus Provides Specialty Care to Those in Need

    Kevin J. Blinder to receive the UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Achievement Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. In 2020, UMKC is honoring Kevin Blinder (M.D. ’85) with the School of Medicine Alumni Achievement Award. Kevin Blinder (M.D. '85) As an ophthalmologist, Blinder is a leading specialist of vitreoretinal diseases — which affect the back of the eye and fluid around it. A partner at the Retina Institute in St. Louis, Blinder is also a professor of ophthalmology at Washington University and has trained countless residents and fellows in retina education. In addition to teaching, operating and seeing patients, he has an interest in clinical research and has been an investigator in more than 30 clinical trials dealing with a variety of vitreoretinal pathology. He spoke with us about his specialty and time at UMKC. Did you know you wanted to pursue ophthalmology while getting your degree? I had no idea what area of medicine that I was going to specialize in early on. All I knew is that I wanted to be a physician and that I wanted to be in the six-year medical program that UMKC offered. I had an interest in ophthalmology throughout medical school and chose my specialty after taking the elective offered at UMKC with Dr. Felix Sabates. You find time to participate in clinical research in addition to your other roles. Where does your passion for research stem from? We learned early on in medical school the way to advance medicine is to ask questions and pursue answers. Clinical research attempts to answer these questions, from the simplest to the most complex. We can offer our patients cutting-edge technology that otherwise may not be available outside of the research protocol and benefit those that participate in the students and many other future patients. You travel monthly to Quincy, Illinois, to serve patients without access to specialty care. How did you get involved with the clinic there? I was approached many years ago by one of my former roommates from medical school, Eric Sieck, to come to his office in Quincy and provide retinal care. I take an entire crew with me for what is usually a 15-hour day to provide care for patients who would otherwise potentially go untreated. It has been very fulfilling to provide this service and to work in the same office as one of my classmates and dearest friends from my medical school days. What is a memory that stands out from medical school? I think the most vivid and profound memory that I still have nightmares about is the night I was on call during a docent rotation when the Hyatt Regency walkway collapsed. We were asked to first assist in the ER, triaging and treating survivors as they were brought in over from the hotel. Then they asked for volunteers to go to the scene where people were trapped underneath tons of concrete to assist with rescue efforts; 114 people were killed, and 214 people were injured. I would like to think that we played a role in saving those 214 people who survived. Meet the rest of the 2020 UMKC Alumni Awardees Mar 06, 2020

  • Alumna Driven by Passion for Patients

    Theresa Maxwell to receive the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies Alumni Achievement Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. In 2020, UMKC is honoring Theresa Maxwell (M.S.N. ’01) with the School of Nursing and Health Studies Alumni Achievement Award. Theresa Maxwell (M.S.N. '01) Maxwell’s 30 years in nursing has been driven by her expertise in gastroenterology — disorders of the stomach and intestines — and her passion for its patients. As an ostomy specialist and nurse practitioner at Digestive Health Specialists in St. Joseph, Missouri, Maxwell works closely with physicians to provide the best specialty care in the region. She even started her own business, Image Specialties, when she felt that companies were substituting items where they shouldn’t, overbilling and subscribing to generally unscrupulous practices. Additionally, Maxwell contracted with nursing homes, home health agencies and hospitals to provide pre-operative teaching, in-services and educational programs. We spoke with her recently about her path in nursing. How did you choose your specialty of gastroenterology? I liked surgical nursing and any procedures that I could do. I identified a need for an ostomy and wound-specialized nurse and became one. The ostomy specialty was by far the most rewarding nursing that I had ever done, much to my surprise. Most of my patients, especially the ones who are ostimates, appreciate me. Nursing is frequently an underappreciated profession and I like being where I feel needed and appreciated. You’ve worked in a variety of settings, including a hospital, surgeon’s office and as a home health clinician. Did you enjoy one workplace more than the others? I really enjoyed having my own practice, except I was the worst boss that I have ever worked for! I believe each job that I’ve held had its role in making me more well-rounded and independent. Tell us about your role at Digestive Health Specialists. What is a typical day like for you? I have clinic every morning which includes seeing patients for a variety of issues including office procedures. Most mornings, I am the only provider in the office, so I will usually triage any calls or walk-ins that occur as well. I do another clinic in the afternoon, then I go to the hospital for rounds or work in my office charting and doing administrative duties. Mar 06, 2020

  • Honoring a Pioneering Pharmacist, Educator and Researcher

    Jerry L. Bauman to receive the UMKC School of Pharmacy Alumni Achievement Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. In 2020, UMKC is honoring Jerry Bauman (Pharm.D. ’78) with the School of Pharmacy Alumni Achievement Award. Bauman has had a distinguished 40-year career as a pioneering clinical pharmacist, educator, practitioner, researcher and leader. Currently editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy, Bauman was dean and distinguished professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy for nearly 12 years. His research on the clinical pharmacology of cocaine and cardiovascular drugs, specifically anti-arrhythmic medicines, earned him international recognition. He recently spoke with us about his career. You were the first pharmacist elected as a fellow of the American College of Cardiology (ACC). How did that feel? I was extremely proud to be elected as such. Today, there are quite a few pharmacists who have been elected as fellows in the ACC and I feel as if I, in part, paved the way. Shortly after I was elected, the ACC office called me because they thought I had misprinted my degree — that is how I knew I was the first. "The Pharm.D. program transformed me into a confident and competent clinical pharmacist."—Jerry Bauman Tell us about your internationally-recognized research on the clinical pharmacology of cocaine and cardiovascular drugs. I developed an interest in arrhythmias at UMKC and Truman Medical Center and then at the University of Illinois at Chicago, I was fortunate to be working with an incredible group of electrophysiologists. There, I began to study drug-induced arrhythmias and eventually saw the similarities between cocaine and anti-arrhythmic agents. We then defined the electrophysiology of cocaine and found agents that could reverse its effects. The agent was sodium bicarbonate, which is still recommended and came from my experience at Truman Medical Center. How did UMKC contribute to your success? I can’t overemphasize how it contributed to my success. The Pharm.D. program transformed me into a confident and competent clinical pharmacist. I used the knowledge and skills I developed there to create my academic career, including research programs and teaching style. Meet the rest of the 2020 UMKC Alumni Awardees Mar 05, 2020

  • ‘The CEO’ Leads On and Off the Court With Her Own Business

    Jonaie Johnson juggles the demands of college basketball and the rigorous Entrepreneurship Scholars program
    Get to know our people and you'll know what UMKC is all about. Jonaie Johnson ‘22 Hometown: Chicago, Illinois Degree Program: Business administration with an emphasis in entrepreneurship High school: Kenwood Academy Jonaie Johnson has a history of success. The sophomore women’s basketball guard is recognized as a team leader following a high school basketball career where she was recognized with All-Conference honors her sophomore and junior years, and earned All-City, Second Team All-State, Chicago Tribune Third Team All-State and Kenwood Academy Player of the Year during her senior season. But not all of her accomplishments were on the court. Johnson was valedictorian of her 8th grade class and graduated 5th in her high school class with a 5.1 GPA. Johnson is seen as a leader on the Western Athletics Conference champion Kansas City Roos women’s basketball team, but is also excelling in the Bloch School Entrepreneurship Scholars (E-Scholars) program. She is developing her first product, Interplay, a dog crate designed to provide remote interaction – including video and audio access, locking and unlocking features and the ability to provide food and water – for a dog and its owner through a mobile app. Why did you choose UMKC? It was a combination of things. I was recruited for basketball, but I really had no idea about what UMKC was like. I had other schools recruiting me, so I wasn’t sure UMKC would be for me. But once I came here and was on campus, I loved it. And then once I realized that it was one of the few schools where you could major in entrepreneurism on the undergraduate level, that was the decision maker for me.  Why did you choose your field of study? I developed the idea for Interplay for a project when I was in high school. My aunt was always leaving our family events to go home to feed her dog. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to do that remotely?” I want Interplay to be the Apple of dog crates. My freshman year, I attended an event and was seated with Mary and Tom Bloch. They mentioned the Entrepreneur of the Year program at the Bloch School and asked me if I was going to be there. I actually didn’t know about it, but I offered to volunteer to help people to their seats. I was wondering about the companies that were presenting and someone told me that they were part of the Entrepreneurship Scholars (E-Scholars) program. I had a clipboard with the seating assignments, but underneath I had my business model. That night I had the opportunity to talk with Ben [Gruber, director Regnier Institute] and I was able to show him my plan. That’s how I ended up in E-Scholars. “I want Interplay to be the Apple of dog crates.”- Jonaie Johnson What are the challenges of the program? The biggest challenge for me is time management. On top of the course work, in college you have a lot of events and activities going on around you and you want to hang out with friends. The freedom itself is an adjustment because you don't necessarily have your parents guiding you and telling you what to do and what not to do. Being able to stay focused and manage my time is a challenge. But I do have fun! I enjoy school and working on my company. I’m kind of a nerd. I love learning.  What are the benefits of the E-Scholars program and participating in athletics?  There are a lot in both cases. The E-Scholars program laid the foundation for my company. They took me from a simple idea to a viable business. When I came into the program, my company was nothing more than a cool idea for a product. Their resources, connections and mentors took me from an idea to a viable business. Their coursework taught me how I should strategically go about starting my venture to avoid many mistakes entrepreneurs make when starting a company. Their continuous support and help throughout the program, and even after I graduated from E-Scholars, has been a major key in the success I’ve had thus far with my company.  When it comes to starting my career, I know companies are always looking for college athletes. Even some of my mom’s managers at Eli Lily are always asking when I’m going to graduate. We have the time management, discipline and the ability to work with others that we learn in the team setting. Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself? I've learned how hard I can work, what I can really do and how mentally strong I am. I've always known it about myself, but my experiences in college have enhanced that. What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor? When I went to talk to Jonae Hone, who is a mentor in residence in the E-Scholars program, about my company, she told me, “Do what you do best and hire the rest.” That’s the thing that keeps me going. I know I can’t master and be strong at everything, but I can understand what and how things need to be done and work with others who can complement my skills. What is one word that best describes you and why? Driven. Because I consistently strive to be the best me in any and everything I do. I’m very goal oriented, and I don’t stop until I achieve my goals. What’s your greatest fear? Not reaching my greatest potential. “"I enjoy school and working on my company. I'm kind of a nerd. I love learning.”- Jonaie Johnson Do you have a role model? Absolutely. It’s my mom. I’m an only child, and we have a really tight-knit relationship. From a young age, she was one person that I could look up to. She was a Mary Kay director and got the pink Cadillac in a short amount of time. Now she’s a pharmaceutical rep and she’s always one of the top sales representatives. She always goes above and beyond. Were you always interested in sports in general or basketball specifically? I’ve always been a competitor. Growing up, I loved sports. I started out playing baseball. I was the only girl on the all-star baseball boys’ team and I made the all-star game. When I had to transfer over to softball I didn’t really like it. It was softer to me, and I liked baseball more. But in between seasons when it was cold outside, my mom put me in basketball. It took off from there.    When you started playing did you think you would play in college? When I started playing competitively, I was determined to play in college. My mom was so worried about how she was going to pay for college and where the money was going to come from. I always told her “Mom you’re not going to have to worry about college. I’m going to get an academic scholarship or a basketball scholarship.” I was pretty confident about that. We’ve heard that sometimes your teammates call you “the CEO.” Do you see yourself as a leader? I do, but my mom always tells me that I don't necessarily walk in the room and try to take charge and take the lead. People just naturally flock to or look to me as a leader. I usually don’t want it, but it comes. There are a lot of young girls who come to watch your games. Do you see yourself as a role model? What would you tell them about pursuing sports in college? I’m usually so focused during the game, that sometimes I forget that they may see me as a role model. But, I would tell them that if they find a passion and have a heart for it, to work hard and just let it happen. If it’s meant to be, everything will fall into place.   Mar 05, 2020

  • UMKC Staff Awarded for Excellence in Service

    Annual ceremony recognizes contributions
    Excellence at UMKC is not just the standard for our students, it is the standard for everyone who lives, works and visits our university. For more than 1,300 staff members, excellence in customer service and quality of work are not just university values, they’re personal ethics, and the annual Staff Awards event gives our campus community a chance to recognize those who make a difference at UMKC. On the morning of March 4, hundreds of staff members gathered for the annual Staff Awards celebration in the James. C. Olson Performing Arts Center to celebrate a commitment to student success, diversity and inclusion, engagement and outreach and research and discovery. The celebration also included milestone anniversaries, staff who were a part of the 2019 graduating class and staff who completed leadership development courses offered through the university. “Whether you work directly with our students, coordinate programs and services for the greater Kansas City community or provide support to keep this university running, what you do here matters.” - Interim Provost Jenny Lundgren Congratulations to the 2020 Staff Awards recipients 40-year Milestone Anniversary Kevin McCarrison 2019 spring, summer and fall graduates Emily BrownCynthia ChristyMegan FrasherRussell FriendHilary McNeilJulie MyerBailey WaltonSybil Wyatt Supervisory Development Series Graduates Casey BauerLaura BegleyKenneth BledsoePetra BrickerAndrea BrownEmily BrownLauren ButlerAllan DavisKinglsey KakieJessica KeithBridget KoanAlia KrzyzanowskiTamica LigeDerek LongDea MarxAshley MasonBrenton McCoyAngela McDonaldLaura MoorePatricia MullinMike NorrisNikhilia Donti ReddyEmily ReebHea Kyung ShoemakerAmber SotoCasey StauberRichard ThomasSeth TracyJodi TroupAlmaz Wassie Administrative Leadership Development Program Graduates John AustLaura BegleyChad BristowAmber DaughertyJeffery HeckathornMakini KingBecky MarkleyKady McMasterSarah Mote Staff Council Dedication Award Alexandra Schumacher Living the Values Awards Selena Albert, School of Computing and EngineeringSilas Arnold, School of Biological and Chemical SciencesNancy Bahner, School of PharmacyAyleen Bashir, Innovation CenterJennifer Parker Burrus, ConservatoryElizabeth Couzens, School of LawRoland Hemmings Jr., Student AffairsKristen Kleffner, School of MedicineRandy Krahulik, Intercollegiate AthleticsAudrey Lester, College of Arts and SciencesJennifer Lyles-Maqsood, School of Nursing and Health StudiesGuadalupe Magana, School of EducationShana Malone, Office of Registration and RecordsLindsey Mayfied, Strategic Marketing and CommunicationsTanya Moore, School of DentistryGene Pegler, Henry W. Bloch School of ManagementHeather Swanson, Finance and AdministrationLaura Taylor, National Museum of Toys and MiniaturesGail Williams, University LibrariesSandy Wilson, Office of Research Services University Staff Awards Excellence in Student Success – Kaitlin Woody, External Relations and Constituent EngagementExcellence in Research and Creative Works – Stephanice Griffin, School of Computing and EngineeringExcellence in Engagement and Outreach – Christina Davis, School of Computing and EngineeringExcellence in Multiculturalism, Globalism, Diversity and Inclusion – Anthony LaBat, University LibrariesExcellence in Planning, Operations and Stewardship – Kevin Mullin, College of Arts and SciencesChancellor’s Staff Award for Extraordinary Contributions – Ted Stahl, Office of Human ResourcesRising Star Award – Ivan Ramirez, Office of Multicultural Student Affairs Learn More About UMKC Mar 05, 2020

  • School of Education Cancels Annual Urban Education Forum

    Recognition of former mayor Sly James will postponed
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Education has cancelled its annual Urban Education Forum scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, March 12. Featured speaker Marilyn Cochran-Smith, Ph.D., is unable to travel to Kansas City due to Coronavirus concerns. The School will postpone its presentation of the Hugh J. Zimmer Award for Excellence in Urban Education to former mayor Sly James. Details regarding the new presentation date are to be determined. The biennial award is given to individuals who have affected a systematic and broad-reaching impact on urban education through policy development, program design and implementation and philanthropy.  The Urban Education Forum brings together teachers, administrators, school counselors, social workers and community members to learn from thought leaders about expanding quality education in the greater Kansas City community and is sponsored by the School of Education. Mar 04, 2020

  • Vision Researcher Awarded $1.16 Million Grant to Battle Glaucoma

    Peter Koulen receives third NIH grant in the past year
    UMKC School of Medicine vision researcher Peter Koulen, Ph.D., has received a $1.16 million grant for a study to battle vision loss and blindness. Backed by the National Institutes of Health National Eye Institute, his research will investigate how a mechanism that allows nerve cells to communicate effectively could lead to the development of new treatments for glaucoma. Glaucoma is a major cause of irreversible vision loss and blindness in the United States and worldwide. The disease causes degeneration in the retina and optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. Preventing the death of these cells is currently the only feasible way to prevent vision loss due to glaucoma. In the past year, Koulen has won two other major NIH research grants. His current study of new chemical compounds to treat and prevent age-related macular degeneration received a $1.16 million grant. He is also part of an innovative $1.5 million project exploring a novel tissue-preservation method that could help meet far-reaching clinical needs in ophthalmology and other fields of medicine This new glaucoma research will focus on alternative strategies directly targeting the damaging effects of the disease on the retina and optic nerve. “Just like elevated blood pressure predisposes patients to stroke, high pressure inside the eye is a predisposing factor for glaucoma,” said Koulen, professor of ophthalmology and director of basic research at the Vision Research Center. “There are currently several therapies available to patients to reduce abnormally high eye pressure, but when these therapies fail or cease to be effective, glaucoma and the accompanying vision loss continue to progress.” Koulen’s project will determine how to boost the cell-to-cell communication that retinal nerve cells use to defend themselves from disease and injury. The hope is this will protect these cells from the damaging effects of glaucoma. If successful, Koulen’s research will result in new drug candidates that would contribute to “neuroprotection” as a strategy to treat and prevent glaucoma. New therapies could potentially act in concert with current eye pressure lowering drugs. Other areas of medicine, such as cancer treatment, have effectively employed the concept of using complementary drug action in combination therapies. Mar 04, 2020

  • Swan Lake Challenges Conservatory Student’s Mental and Physical Stamina

    Erica Lohman performs in one of the most recognized ballets of all time
    Get to know our people and you'll know what UMKC is all about. Erica Lohman Anticipated Graduation: 2021 Academic Program: Dance, Conservatory Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana High School: Mt. Vernon High School Erica Lohman, a senior studying dance, chose the UMKC Conservatory because she knew the dance department allowed students to take leaves of absence to participate in professional performances. Since she’s been a student she’s toured with had the opportunity to perform with the Kansas City Ballet in The Nutcracker, and most recently, Swan Lake.  Have you performed with ballet companies like this before? Yes! I grew up dancing at a ballet school in my hometown that put on two full-length ballet productions a year, so I definitely have a soft spot for these types of productions. I took a leave of absence to dance professionally with Albany Berkshire Ballet in 2018, where I performed in their annual tour of The Nutcracker in the northeast United States. I also performed with the Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company last fall before participating in Kansas City Ballet’s productions. Lohman, left, rehearsing for Swan Lake; image courtesy of Kansas City Ballet, photography Courtney Nitting What does it feel like to be on a stage with seasoned professionals?  I have looked up to the dancers in Kansas City Ballet for many years, so at first it felt very strange and a little intimidating to be dancing alongside them. That being said, both the dancers and the artistic staff were encouraging throughout the rehearsal processes for both The Nutcracker and Swan Lake. Once I got used to dancing the challenging choreography with these professionals, I really enjoyed myself. I feel inspired by these amazing artists, and dancing with them has motivated me to keep working hard and pushing myself to someday reach their level of skill and artistry. Was the experience what you expected it to be? Swan Lake is a very popular ballet with iconic music, so I knew what to expect with the structure of the choreography. I also knew just how hard it was going to be and how much we had to get done in rehearsals. I was part of the corps de ballet, or the 24 women who dance as the swans. We had to be precisely together and in line at all times. We spent a lot of time in rehearsals going over details like which way to tilt our heads and which wrist to cross in front of the other. It even gets as specific as how we place our fingers.  “I realized that half the battle was learning to trust myself and stay mentally calm.”- Erica Lohman Because of this precision and how much the swans dance, doing a full-run of the ballet takes immense mental and physical stamina. For me, I realized that half the battle was learning to trust myself and stay mentally calm. It’s easy to get caught up in being “perfect” and not making any mistakes. Once I let go of those negative emotions, stayed present on stage with the other dancers, and turned to the music to carry me through, I enjoyed myself so much. The music at the end of Swan Lake is so beautiful, and it’s empowering to finish strong alongside 24 women who I admire more than anything. I was so moved during my last show I actually ended up crying tears of joy during that moment onstage!  Have you performed with other Conservatory students in professional productions?  There were three of us in Kansas City Ballet’s The Nutcracker this year. But UMKC dance students really get awesome professional gigs all the time! I am so proud to be a part of this dance department and feel as though it keeps getting stronger and stronger.   Mar 04, 2020

  • 5 Questions with a Prison Researcher

    An interview with Janet Garcia-Hallett
    The Urban Institute recently awarded grants to improve the conditions of prisons in five states including Missouri. University of Missouri System researchers are playing a central role, including Janet Garcia-Hallett, assistant professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The 4.5-year research project will be piloted at Moberly Correctional Center, a 1,800-bed minimum/medium-security facility located 35 miles north of Columbia, Missouri. It houses two intensive therapeutic communities for individuals committed to personal growth and sobriety. It provides opportunities for incarcerated individuals to give back through programs such as Puppies for Parole and Restorative Justice. It also offers 48 courses and groups that build skills in areas such as anger management, parenting, employability preparation, cognitive interventions, addiction management and understanding the impact of crime on victims. We spoke to Garcia-Hallett about the research project. What got you interested in researching correctional facilities? It was personal. Growing up in Harlem in the 1980s and 1990s, I saw how mass incarceration affected the community. I saw the adversity my community faced with rampant substance abuse, and when encountering the criminal justice system. I’d see people go missing when they were incarcerated. And I’d see people return home from incarceration, and try to regain stability. I grew up with friends who became wrapped up in the criminal justice system or who were killed or committed suicide as a result of the systemic oppression. Because of this, I became interested in finding ways to address the systematic oppression embedded in carceral systems. What will your role be in improving the Missouri correctional center? What do you hope happens as a result of your research? We will work using community-based participatory research — getting involvement from not only those who live there, but also those who work there. The first step will be interviewing and conducting focus groups to inform climate surveys about the prison environment. I hope that our research will encourage data-driven change and help all people impacted by the system — establishing a more humane and rehabilitative environment for those who live there and also improving the working conditions for those who work there. Tell us about the book you’re writing. “Invisible Mothers” (scheduled to publish in 2022 by University of California Press). It’s about mothers who were incarcerated; I interviewed 37 mothers in New York City about their experiences navigating motherhood after incarceration. I saw much of incarceration research was based on men, and I was interested in researching formerly incarcerated women. Over two-thirds of incarcerated women are mothers, and this book is about them and putting them at the forefront to show how their gender, racial-ethnic background, and maternal roles make their experiences unique. As I’m navigating motherhood myself now, this resonates even more with me. Who influences you the most? My mother, Sandra Garcia, who is Afro-Latina. She endured the hardships of Honduras and came to the U.S. to find a better life and to establish better circumstances for her children to excel. She has always motivated me to aim high, to do things for the greater good and to give back to my local community and home country. How do you influence others? I’m a first-generation college student, and I list that on my email signature at UMKC – ‘First Gen Proud.’ Many of my students are first gen, too. By seeing that I finished college and went on through graduate school to obtain a Ph.D., this often serves as a source of empowerment. I also find that, as a woman of color, many of my underrepresented students come to me for information, advice or solace, and I am more than happy to serve in this capacity.   Feb 26, 2020

  • Alumnus' Business Focuses on Craft Beer and Community

    College of Arts and Sciences selects John Couture to receive Alumni Award
    Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. In 2020, the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences is honoring John Couture (B.A. ’96) with its Alumni Achievement Award. In 2012, Couture launched Bier Station, the first spot for sampling and enjoying craft beer in Kansas City. In addition to being an award-winning nationally recognized destination for beer enthusiasts, he’s worked hard to make his business a civic asset with an emphasis on giving back to the community. He spoke to us recently about his time at UMKC. Your major at UMKC was communication studies. How does that help you in running a business? Communication is vital to everything we do. Our relationships with breweries are dependent upon strong communications. We try to always be professional, but friendly, and collaborative, which goes a long way to helping keep a business healthy. How did you come up with the idea for a craft beer shop? How did you put it in motion? I went to Europe with my best friend in 2006. We were always big craft beer fans, and we really appreciated how laid-back European pubs were. They were much more family-friendly than America. A few years later, I was researching online and saw the craft beer tasting/bottle shop concept that was hot in the Northwest, but not in the Midwest yet. Bier Station was the Midwest’s first craft beer tasting/bar/bottle shop, and we’re definitely known for our family-friendly neighborhood vibe. Selfishly, I also wanted to make sure my daughters would feel comfortable visiting me at work. Couture, pictured right, stands with representatives from Children's Center for the Visually Impaired as they receive their donation check. Bier Station maintains an ongoing, community-focused charitable fundraising program. Since January 2017, the pub has raised more than $160,000 for causes ranging from veterans’ programs to animal shelters to suicide prevention – as well as the UMKC Women's Center, Kansas City Athletics and Kansas City’s NPR affiliate station, KCUR. Why is it important to you to support and be active in the community? Sometimes I still can’t believe I have a job that revolves around beer. I feel very fortunate. I also feel we have a duty to give back to our community. It helps give our staff a sense of pride to know when they come to work and pour a beer for a fundraiser, it’s for a great cause. What advice do you have for students who’d like to follow in your footsteps? Be confident, but respectful and always think of others in everything you do. I’ve found that a little bit goes a long way when you take others’ wellbeing into consideration with your everyday work life. Meet the rest of the 2020 UMKC Alumni Awardees Feb 26, 2020

  • Making Black History

    ‘Doing something so remarkable that it does not fade from people's minds.’
    In celebration of Black History Month, we asked student leaders to reflect on the idea of making history – as opposed to studying or celebrating history. Participants include: Jordan Grimmett, president, Men of Color InitiativeHometown: St. LouisAge: 20Major: Six-year BA/MD program at UMKC School of Medicine  Justice Horn, SGA presidentHometown: Blue Springs, MissouriAge: 21Major: Business Management  Alexis Jackson, secretary, The African American Student Union (TAASU)Hometown: St. LouisAge: 22Major: Health Science Cameron Johnson, president, Multicultural Student Organization CouncilHometown: St. LouisAge: 21Major: Biology  What does it mean to you, personally, to “make history”? Grimmett: Making history can be attained in countless ways, but there are commonalities between them: inspiring others, making change or doing something so remarkable that it does not fade from people's minds. So, to me, making history means giving back to the less fortunate, staying true to yourself and fighting for what's right. Johnson: To me, making history means leaving a legacy that people who come after you can use to be better versions of themselves; and to get to places that, before you, they would have a harder time reaching. Horn: As UMKC’s first multicultural, openly gay student body president, making history means that I represent my community, but also those who came before me. I represent several disenfranchised communities, and representation matters. That is why I make history: to break through barriers in sectors that have never seen anyone from my community. Who are the people alive today who have made black history? What have you learned from them that you apply in your own life? Jackson: People like Beyoncé, LeBron James, Barack and Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Robert Smith have made black history. These major figures have taught me that the sky is the limit and not to hold out on my dreams for anyone. Grimmett: A few that have inspired me frequently are Barack Obama, LeBron James and Oprah Winfrey. They all have been leaders in their respective careers and have paved the way for others like them to be successful in similar ways. As a future health-care provider, I take these lessons personally because I’m aware of the disparities that exist in certain communities and I know that I will have a strong platform and resources to support and fight for those that are less fortunate. Johnson: Barack Obama, Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, Jay Z, Simone Biles, Claressa Shields, 50 Cent. What I have learned from them is to raise the bar against all odds. I have also learned to follow your dreams, even if the people around you won't understand at the time. Do you know anyone personally who you would call a black history-maker? What have you learned from them? Johnson: Every person that breaks down barriers for people in their family is making black history. We come from generations of overcoming oppression, so yes, if you are doing things that you never thought you could do, then that is black history. Congratulations are in order. Grimmett: Dr. Kevin McDonald, the vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Virginia. I was fortunate to meet him through a program called MOCHA (Men of Color, Honor and Ambition) that strives to provide development in various aspects of life and academics to men of color in high school and college in an effort to increase academic success, retention and future success as leaders. Horn: I know a lot of people I would call history makers and many of them are here at UMKC, leaders such as Athletic Director Brandon Martin, NAACP President Kayla Pittman, Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Inclusion Susan Wilson, MSA President Cameron Johnson, TAASU President Brandy Williams and many more. Those are people I look up to because they are making history every day.  Why does making history matter? Horn: For our community to advance and make strides, we must have a seat at the table. When big decisions are being made and/or policy is set, there must be someone from our community representing us and advocating for us. Always. Grimmett: We need acts of excellence to continue inspiring others to follow their dreams. There have to be leaders and innovators who aren't afraid to take risks for the advancement of mankind. Do you believe that you will make history? As an individual? As part of a community? Horn: I believe I will continue to make history because I’m pursuing a career in a profession that hasn’t seen a lot of people like me. I plan on pursuing a career in politics, and my end goal is being Missouri’s first African American governor. Grimmett: There is not a lot of African American representation in medicine, so in part I hope to make history as an individual, but also make history by building a community of African American physicians that can be the face for aspiring individuals in younger generations. Johnson: I do believe that I will make history, not because I seek to be famous but because everything that I do is for the benefit of those around me. That kind of dedication to the cause has a good chance at getting recognition, and if it doesn't, that doesn't make the contribution to my people any less historic. Jackson: I believe I will make history by contributing to our society, by volunteering to make change and helping keep policy makers in office that support all people and recognize their struggles. What are your goals in terms of making history? Jackson: My goal is to excel in my career, to let other black and brown girls know that anything is possible. Grimmett: Graduating medical school and becoming a physician will open many doors. I want to create scholarships and programs that will help increase the population of underrepresented minorities attending college and entering medical school. Feb 25, 2020

  • Interest in Helping Native Americans Leads Student to Dental School

    Shanon Black, mother of three, pursues healthcare field to work on reservations
    Get to know our people and you'll know what UMKC is all about. Shanon Black '22Hometown: Lawrence, KansasDegree Program: Doctor of Dental SurgeryHigh school: Lawrence High School An interest in healthcare and a focus on making a difference for Native American communities led Shanon Black to the UMKC School of Dentistry.  While the program is as challenging as she expected, the mother of three is successfully juggling school and life. Shanon Black knew she wanted to be on the frontline of health care and make a difference for Native American communities. Initially, she was focused on medical school because of the shortage of native doctors on reservations. But one of her professors suggested she explore dentistry. “I decided to take a look,” Black says. “A representative from the UMKC diversity office visited Haskell University later that week.” Black, who had completed her associate’s degree, had enrolled in Haskell to finish her bachelor’s degree in environmental science when the youngest of her three children went to school. But it didn’t take her long to realize that her heart was in healthcare. After attending the informational meeting, Black realized that many of her interests were a strong fit with dentistry. "I could tell that this school cared about the students and not just student numbers." - Shanon Black “Dentistry is on the frontline of healthcare, which is important to me. And I used to make jewelry and really enjoyed it, so I’m familiar with crafting small objects and the need for perfection.” That night, Black researched the need for native dentists. At the time there were fewer than 100 native dentists in the United States. According to the American Dental Education Association, of the more than 11,000 dental school applicants in 2018, only 23 were Native American. “There are never enough Native American dentists to reach all the geographically isolated reservations,” she says. “So there is a great need. After I discovered that, I decided that dentistry was where I needed to be.” Black shadowed dentists and dental specialists as part of her research to decide if dentistry was right for her. She was fascinated by pretty much everything she saw. “I learned that dentistry is awesome. I knew I was moving in the right direction.” She applied to the dental program at UMKC and other schools. After her interview, she knew that UMKC was where she wanted to be. “Everyone was so enthusiastic, kind and accommodating,” she says. “I could tell that this school cared about the students and not just student numbers. The prospect of dental school was a little daunting, and everyone at UMKC made me feel like I was already family and I hadn’t even been accepted to the program yet.” Black has discovered that academically dentistry is similar to medical school and challenging on many levels. Last semester she was enrolled in 25.5 credit hours and managing the lab work from three labs.  “It’s a lot of pressure,” she says. “But there are a lot of support programs, too. As intense as it can be, it’s good to know that there is tutoring, administration and peer groups that can see me through the rough times. No one has ever made me feel like a burden when I have gone to them with fears. I have only ever been met with concern, compassion and problem solving. This attention has been vital in navigating the coursework.” Beyond coursework, the dental program has taught Black a lot about herself. “I’ve learned that control is an illusion and my fight to be in control is and will always be a losing battle. So I need to be able to roll with what comes my way and stop trying to master plan everything. I also learned that I can’t accomplish my goals alone.” From staff members to upperclassmen to her fellow classmates, Black is constantly inspired by their dedication and service to others. “I’m surrounded by people who entered the program to care for people. All of them want to make the world a healthier, happier place for everyone. It makes me want to constantly do better.” Feb 25, 2020

  • Bobby Watson's Inspiration in Life and Music

    Watson’s father instilled love and respect of music and family
    Bobby Watson, renowned saxophonist and retired UMKC jazz studies professor, grew up with four brothers all one year apart. His father, who quietly and consistently taught his children to create an interesting life and value their relationships with each other, has been his lifelong inspiration. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and the Kansas City, Missouri City Council issued a resolution for Watson at the Feb. 27 meeting. The resolution stated: “Honoring Bobby Watson on the occasion of his retirement for his twenty years of dedicated service to the Conservatory and UMKC as the Distinguished Professor of Jazz Studies.” He thinks his father’s influence was critical to his success.  Who was one of your greatest inspirations when you were either a child or young man? My father. He flew airplanes and taught pilots to fly at ground school for the Federal Aviation Administration. He was an artist and an inventor – he held patents on several of his inventions. But everything centered on his love of music. He played saxophone in church and at home. He would stand in a corner and play because he thought the sound was the best there. What about his accomplishments inspired you? He wasn’t a boastful man. He taught us humility. As young black men he wanted me and my four brothers to be good public speakers, so we had Toastmasters at home. We stood at a podium and spoke with no microphone. "He really taught me how to listen."-Bobby Watson He kept us safe. When we wanted to play basketball, he built a basketball court for us and our friends at home. When we wanted to play pool he put a pool table in the basement so we wouldn’t go to pool halls. When we wanted to ice skate, he made a skating rink in the yard. Usually, I thought he was right. There were five brothers in my family and he taught us that you don’t fight with your brother. Once when we were young, I got in a tiff with one of my brothers. He told us to sit on the sofa and hug each other. Then he went out to cut the grass. And then he trimmed the bushes. Then he stopped and fixed himself a glass of lemonade – all while we were holding each other looking out the window and crying and wondering when he was going to let us let go. We didn’t fight after that. How have you incorporated his values into your life? He really taught me how to listen. When I talk to people, I listen. If you’re thinking about what you’re going to say next, you’re not listening. I don’t want to go back and forth like you see today. I’ll talk, you listen. You talk, I’ll listen. Feb 24, 2020

  • Father's Struggle Leads to Daughter's Success

    Tamica Lige’s father overcame poverty and discrimination to provide his daughter an avenue to success
    Tamica Lige, STAHR program coordinator of diversity at the School of Medicine, feels fortunate to have been inspired by so many people in her life, from her childhood clarinet instructor to writer Toni Morrison. But her biggest influence was her father. What about your father’s accomplishments inspired you? My dad, Henry Edward, Lige Jr., was one of six kids who grew up in the projects of Montgomery, Alabama, in extremely impoverished and segregated conditions. He was 11 years old at the time that Martin Luther King Jr. led the Selma to Montgomery march. Dad lived through the civil rights movement, experienced the rampant racism of the Deep South and watched his parents struggle to gain equal rights. Like so many young black men who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and underperforming schools, my dad saw sports as the ticket that would give him a chance at a better life. He played football in high school and was recruited to play collegiate football at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. "Dad lived through the civil rights movement, experienced the rampant racism of the Deep South and watched his parents struggle to gain equal rights."-Tamica Lige I can only imagine the culture shock he faced with upon arrival to the predominately white town we called home. While in Manhattan, my dad met my mom, a white woman from Shawnee, Kansas, and began his family with her. My parents came from two completely different worlds. My dad’s family was disgusted with him for dating a white woman, and my mom’s ridiculed her for dating a black man. It was commonplace for my dad and us kids to be addressed with racial slurs by our own family members. The constant microaggressions, blatant acts of racism and mistreatment could have broken my dad’s spirit, but instead, he used it as fuel to be a better man. He was one of the most kind, caring and accepting people I have ever known. He embraced any and every one he encountered and made a conscious effort to have genuine exchanges of experience with people who were different than him. My dad overcame so much adversity in the 54 years he walked on this earth that I can’t help but be inspired by him. His soul smiled so bright despite all of the terrible things he had gone through. He was my biggest cheerleader. He was always right there on the sidelines to tell me I could and would be able to do whatever my heart desired.    Feb 24, 2020

  • Everyone Counts

    UMKC community encouraged to complete U.S. Census
    UMKC – and Missouri – needs your help. March 12 is the first day you can respond to the 2020 census. And for the first time in American history, individuals will complete the U.S. Census online. The state of Missouri needs everyone to complete the survey. The count impacts federal student loans; federal research grants; campus funding; campus improvements, including labs, buildings and classrooms; health and social services; federal legislation; and students’ future careers. Many professionals working in medicine, social work, nursing, science, research or public health are also heavily dependent on federal funding. College students benefit from federal student loans, legislation, campus funding, campus improvements, and health and social services. The U.S. Census Bureau has made an internet link available. The department will also mail cards with PIN numbers to be used for filling out the census. People can still answer census questions by mail. By responding to the census, you can help bring resources and representation to your community and campus. To help ensure everyone is counted, including hard-to-reach communities such as college students, a number of campus and community events will be scheduled. One event will be April 1, which is Census Day. Specific activities are still in the planning stage and will be announced soon. The U.S. Constitution requires a census every 10 years. The census covers the entire country and everyone living here. The Census Bureau conducts the decennial Census, the American Community Survey, the economic Census and many other surveys and is the leading source of quality data about the nation’s people and economy. Federal funds, grants and support to states, counties, academia and communities are based on population totals and breakdowns by sex, age, race and other factors. Individuals’ data are confidential and federal law protects census responses. Answers can only be used to produce statistics. The census is also important for redistricting and fair representation. Every 10 years, the results of the census are used to reapportion the U.S. House of Representatives, determining how many seats each state gets. Quick facts about Missouri Missouri has nearly 6 million residents, and is the 18th most populated state in the U.S. 338,515 students were enrolled at universities, colleges and community colleges in Missouri in fall 2019. In 2017-18, 104,364 Missourians were awarded $431,411,598 in Pell Grants based in part on census data. Census survey data are one factor to determine the funding for many programs in higher education. Feb 24, 2020

  • Community Leaders Taking Nominations for Prestigious Starr Women’s Hall of Fame

    The Starr Women’s Hall of Fame recognizes Kansas City women of distinction
    Every two years, an independent panel of Kansas City community leaders selects local women of significance for the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame. This year, the panel is once again seeking nominations for women with noteworthy ties to the Kansas City area who have historically or more recently made important and enduring contributions in their fields of work. The nomination form and full directions for making a nomination are available online. The deadline for submitting a completed nomination packet is June 30. Twenty-six Kansas City women have been inducted into the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame, half of them posthumously. Members of this select group include philanthropists, business executives, women’s and civil rights activists, political leaders and more. You can read more about the inductees online. The Women’s Hall of Fame is named after Martha Jane Phillips Starr. A Kansas City philanthropist and women's rights leader, Starr was one of the first women to serve on the UMKC Board of Trustees. She played an important role in establishing the university’s Women's Council and the Graduate Assistance Fund, which today provides financial assistance to female students. UMKC’s annual Starr Symposium is named after and endowed by her. Starr died in 2011 at the age of 104. The Starr Women's Hall of Fame is funded by her family, the Starr Education Committee and the Starr Field of Interest Fund. It is also supported by 27 leading women’s organizations throughout Kansas City. Make your nominations for Starr Women’s Hall of Fame by June 30. Submit a nomination Feb 24, 2020

  • Student Team Wins Journalism Innovation Competition With Deepfake Fighting Tool

    Two School of Computing and Engineering teams pitched their ideas for fighting fake news during the University of Missouri School of Journalism’s D...
    Columbia, Mo. — A web-based tool known as, which harnesses artificial intelligence to detect synthetic or deepfake videos and images made with AI, won the 2019-20 Missouri School of Journalism’s Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute student innovation competition and a $10,000 prize.  Defakify won second place and $2,500, while Fake Lab received $1,000 for third place. Deep Scholars also participated, but did not place in the competition. Read more. Feb 21, 2020

  • UMKC Students Awarded for Program that Detects Fake News

    Five interdisciplinary RJI Student Innovation Competition teams tasked with developing tools to fight against deep fakes and fabricated content pit...
    UNEWS - Digital media has made all sorts of information increasingly accessible, and as a result, the deliberate spread of disinformation has become an increasingly important issue. Known by the relatively new term “fake news,” this false information rose to prominence during the 2016 election, with governments and internet companies desperately making efforts to fight it. Fortunately, students in the UM system are now working to combat fake news by creating programs that can recognize fabricated photos, videos and audio. Students developed verification software as a part of the Student Innovation Competition at the University of Missouri’s  Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI). Read more. Feb 21, 2020

  • Superheroes Don't Always Wear Capes

    Alumnus Vladimir Sainte addresses mental health in children through writing and social work
    Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you'll know what UMKC is all about. Vladimir Sainte, LCSW Hometown: Queens, New York UMKC degree program: B.A., sociology ’07, Master of Social Work ‘10 Vladimir Sainte is helping children by carrying forward the mentoring he received as a young man. Originally from Queens, New York, his mother sent him to live in Kansas City with his uncle, William Jacob, hoping he would be a good mentor for Sainte. Her strategy was a success; Jacob instilled a love of learning and a desire to give back. Could you tell us a little about your work? I’m a team leader for client care in mental health at Truman Behavioral Health, and worked previously as a counselor and crisis clinician. I also write children’s books to create inclusive literature to increase awareness of diversity and tolerance.   "With power comes great responsibility."-Vladimir Sainte Why did you choose this career/field? As an undergraduate, I knew I wanted to get my master’s degree.  I took Introduction to Social Work with Grey Endres. He’s this great guy who wears Hawaiian shirts and superhero belts to class. He showed me that social work can be a profound and beautiful career – where you get to play with kids all day!    How did you become an author? I was working with a black boy who was struggling with his identity. I was looking for a book that might help him and I couldn’t find anything, so I decided to write one myself. I wrote “Just Like a Hero” – a story about Will, a black boy who is coping with daily struggles – to highlight the importance of personal value. I didn’t expect it to escalate, but I’m happy it’s been recognized. My books are designed as a reminder of how important we all are. The other reason I focused on a young black boy in my first book is because I wish I’d had something like this growing up. Throughout my career, I’ve seen that some people in the African American culture can treat mental health issues as taboo. If we know someone who has mental health issues – that person is crazy. We don’t talk to them. It’s like a plague. And we act as if we ignore it, maybe it will go away.  I wanted to reach diverse backgrounds through boys or girls who look like me.  "We need to accept people as they are – shine the flashlight on that – and let them know if things are difficult that it’s not going to be this way forever.” What did you most appreciate about UMKC? Meeting my wife, who was in the social work program with me. We were friends first. She has been my rock and my pillar through my career and my books. I can be in the clouds – she is analytical. She’s instrumental to my process. How did UMKC and your UMKC connections help prepare you for your career? Elaine Spencer-Carver, School of Social Work’s director of field education, saw the potential in me. I saw Grey Endres as a mentor. He taught my last undergraduate class and I told him I’d applied to the MSW program. He helped place me in my practicum at Gillis Center my last year in the program and it became my first job. Do you have a personal motto or words you live by? I love comic books, and Spiderman’s motto has always resonated with me. “With great power comes great responsibility.” As a social worker, I am an agent of change – that has great power. Kids learn through their environments. If we’re stressed, they feel that. We need to show acceptance, support and compassion.  We need to accept people as they are – shine the flashlight on that – and let them know if things are difficult that it’s not going to be this way forever. Who has been a great influences in your life? My uncle, William Jacob, who was an engineer in Kansas City, was very influential. When I was a 16-year-old kid living in New York, I hung out with kids who weren’t interested in school. I wasn’t interested in school. I had terrible grades and was searching for connection, which I found with the wrong group of people. He and my mother came up with the plan for me to move to Kansas City so he could mentor me. He saw my potential, even though I didn’t. Every Tuesday night after watching The Andy Griffith Show, he’d sit down with me to do one hour of algebra. I hated it, but he pushed me. He made me enjoy education. With his influence, I saw a future for myself. "Every Tuesday night after watching The Andy Griffith Show, he’d sit down with me to do one hour of algebra.  I hated it, but he pushed me.  He made me enjoy education. With his influence, I saw a future for myself.” How are you now using your influence to impact others? I hope I’m helping to break down the stigma of mental illness by raising awareness in children. For me, that’s through creating books that talk about mental health. It’s important for kids to understand that it’s OK to be anxious or depressed, but you have worth. You are important. Mental health struggles don’t signify or create a boundary. My first book, “Just Like a Hero,” is about a young black boy, and the second, “It Will be Okay,” is about a Latina girl. The third and fourth books also feature children of color with their own challenges. Recently, I spoke at Turner Middle School. A girl came up to me after my presentation and thanked me. She said she’d struggled with feeling sad for herself, and that she doesn’t feel important. My presentation helped her understand that she can talk about that. It was breathtaking to hear. Feb 19, 2020

  • UMKC Theatre Again Named a Top 10 Costume Design Program

    Hollywood Reporter names UMKC to its Top 10 list
    For the third year in a row, Hollywood Reporter has included UMKC Theatre in its list of Top 10 Costume Design schools. “Many incoming grad students think that they can only have significant training and careers on the coasts,” said Lindsay W. Davis, UMKC Theatre professor of costume design. “Three times in a row validates our training program, because we already know that all our graduates work in the entertainment industry.” UMKC Theatre offers a single comprehensive M.F.A. degree in costume design and technology, which has been key to its success. Students learn many skills including drawing, painting, sketching and learning how to construct a garment with techniques in fabric manipulation, millinery, tailoring and pattern drafting. Doug Enderle was the first M.F.A. costume design graduate from UMKC in 1981. He received an Emmy for his work as a senior lead costume designer for The Walt Disney Company. Other notable alumni include Tom Houchins, costumer on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy;” and Jonathan Knipscher, lead tailor on the Hugh Jackman film “The Greatest Showman.” Pheobe Boynton (M.F.A. ‘08) is a freelance costume designer and technician. She was costume supervisor on the Norwegian and Oceania cruise lines; and also designed for the Discovery channel group, YouTube Red, The Los Angeles Opera, Kanye West, Kansas City Repertory Theater, Legendary Digital, Relativity Media and Theatrical Arts International.  Here’s where other UMKC Theatre graduates are working: HBO, The Metropolitan Opera, The Los Angeles Opera, on Broadway, London’s West End, the Market Theatre in South Africa, as well as opera companies in Brazil, Italy and throughout the U.S. Recent graduates have worked at regional theatres such as Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., The Roundabout Theatre in New York City, The Cleveland Play House and The Old Globe in San Diego. Feb 17, 2020

  • UMKC School of Dentistry Offers Free Dental Screenings

    Need free work done on your teeth? UMKC dental school is looking for you
    The School of Dentistry at the University of Missouri-Kansas City was featured in the Kansas City Star while needing a few good — or not so good — mouths for student's clinical exams. Fox4KC also highlighed how patients could be eligible for free dental work and cleaning while helping UMKC dental students earn their degree. Feb 13, 2020

  • Changing of the Guard at a Prized Literary Institution

    Editor-in-Chief Robert Stewart is bringing 44-year career to an epilogue
    As critically acclaimed longtime editor Robert Stewart prepares his final issue of New Letters, successor Christie Hodgen, Ph.D., reflects on the past and future of the award-winning UMKC magazine and its publishing house partner, BkMk Press. New Letters was founded just one year after the University of Kansas City, which became UMKC, Hodgen said, “so it might be said that in a sense, we are the most enduring living artifact to the university’s intellectual life and ambitions.” The English department faculty member makes a compelling case for her bold assertion. Indeed, New Letters has published some of the nation’s greatest 20th and 21st century authors, including J.D. Salinger, e. e. cummings, Marianne Moore, Pearl S. Buck. Edgar Lee Masters and May Sarton. In 2008, Stewart was awarded the magazine industry’s highest honor, the National Magazine Award in Editing. The magazine has regularly placed original work in the highly regarded annual award anthologies the Pushcart and Best American. Together with partners BkMk Press and New Letters on the Air, it is the only literary enterprise in the country boasting not only a magazine and book press, but also a weekly radio program. “It might be said that in a sense, we are the most enduring living artifact to the university’s intellectual life and ambitions.” - Christie Hodgen Hodgen credits Stewart for the magazine’s ongoing sterling reputation. “Robert Stewart has worked for New Letters magazine for more than forty years. As editor-in-chief for the last eighteen years, he has not only maintained but in fact furthered the magazine’s reputation for excellence,” she said. “Under the surface of these awards—which are flashy and exciting—is an almost monk-like devotion to the work. A tremendous amount of care is given not only to the selection of the content for each issue of the magazine, but to the integrity of its presentation. Bob is publishing with posterity in mind. “It is worth mentioning, too, that Bob is also an accomplished poet and essay writer, with multiple critically acclaimed books of poetry and essays to his credit. Like many great editors, his eye for talent is so honed because he possesses so much himself.” “The magazine’s mission is to ‘discover, publish, and promote the best and most exciting literary writing, wherever it may be found’ and frankly, I can’t think of a better job.” - Christie Hodgen New Letters and BkMk play a significant role in the university’s educational mission. Working with the departments of English and Communication Studies, they offer UMKC students internship opportunities in magazine and book publishing, and radio production. “These internships have introduced countless students to the skills they require to enter the workforce as editors, writers, publishers, and producers,” she said. Stewart praised the choice of Hodgen as his successor. “After spending 44 years on the staff of New Letters—the latest 18 as editor of the magazine, press, and radio series—I am heartened, relieved, and overjoyed to know that UMKC literary publishing and broadcasting will be led by someone I so much admire,” he said. “Christie Hodgen is a great writer, herself; her love and understanding of literary art will reshape and invigorate our work.” Hodgen recognizes the weight of responsibility she is taking on, to students, to the community and to American literature. “We are an important part of the arts community here, sponsoring and co-sponsoring a number of prizes and readings, and hosting the region’s most robust calendar of literary events,” she said. “The magazine’s mission is to ‘discover, publish, and promote the best and most exciting literary writing, wherever it may be found’ and frankly, I can’t think of a better job. I am looking forward to both continuing to publish the voices that already make New Letters a great magazine, and also scouring through the slush pile to discover new voices. “We really do read all submissions, hoping to discover and promote those new voices.”  She is looking to add more than just new voices. “First and foremost, I see my job as maintaining the magazine’s tradition of excellence. In addition, I am undertaking a project of digitizing our 86 years of back issues, with the hopes of being able to host these online, making our rich history available to the public,” Hodgen said. Readers can also look forward to a user-friendly digital version of the magazine. New Letters is a not-for-profit entity that depends on donations for a share of its funding. Feb 13, 2020

  • The Couple That Rules Together, Stays Together

    Law graduates navigate work and love — at home, at the office and on television
    If you ask Dana Tippin Cutler (J.D. ’89) and Keith Cutler (J.D. ’89) whether they thought, in their wildest dreams, they’d ever have their own television show, they’d tell you “heck no!” In fact, Dana says when she first got the call from a production company several years ago looking for a husband-and-wife team to preside over a new courtroom TV show, she hung up. “I thought it was a joke. I have a friend who likes to jerk my chain and I thought he was pranking me,” Dana says. She didn’t buy it until the production company called back and confirmed they were not, in fact, pranking her. Dana was sure her husband, Keith, wouldn’t go for it, but to her surprise, he agreed to learn more. Two years later they’re the hosts of the Emmy-nominated daytime TV show Couples Court with the Cutlers, the first time a married couple has ever presided over a TV courtroom. Finding the balance in law and love Couples Court with the Cutlers specializes in, you guessed it, couples — helping them find resolutions and move forward. The Cutlers travel back and forth to Atlanta, where the show is filmed, several times a year to shoot new episodes. This allows them to keep up with a demanding TV schedule while still managing the family law practice they manage with Dana’s father and another associate. On the show, the Cutlers are given a little more leeway than regular courtrooms allow; they’re able to laugh and keep up their natural banter, show expression when they hear wild stories and provide real advice to the couples standing before them. On the show, they draw from their experiences practicing law, but also from practicing marriage. Left: The couple on their first date during college in Atlanta, Georgia. Right: Keith and Dana on their wedding day in 1989, at the Second Baptist Church in Kansas City. “As lawyers, you learn a lot with different experiences, and the trial work we do in our regular jobs has trained us to think on our feet. We were building up for the show and didn’t even know,” Keith explains. He adds that after 37 years of being together — or as Dana puts it, joined at the hip — “we know a little something about relationships.” The Cutlers met in the 1980s while getting their undergraduate degrees in Atlanta — Dana attended Spelman College and Keith attended Morehouse College. They have enjoyed joking and pestering each other ever since. Despite living and working together every day, the Cutlers say they don’t think that’s too much time together. They truly enjoy each other’s company. “We’re like the columns of a church. They’re working together but not on top of each other,” Dana says. “We have different hobbies and interests at home, and when we’re in the office we’re working on different things as well.” Dana works primarily as an education attorney, representing charter schools, while Keith works as a civil defense trial attorney. Keeping a community focus The Cutlers don’t think of themselves as celebrities, but their unique job does require them to occasionally play the autograph-and-selfie game at the movies or the grocery store. Most times, the Cutlers say, people are just surprised to discover that two of their favorite TV stars live in Kansas City. The show currently airs in more than 100 U.S. television markets, and episodes are also available on YouTube. Dana and Keith on the set of their TV show, Couples Court with the Cutlers. Kansas City is important to the Cutlers, though, not just because they live and practice law here, but because they care about the community and being civically engaged. “At UMKC, they stressed being a good lawyer for the community,” Keith says. “One of the best things about UMKC is their emphasis on the practical side of law, which contributes to the learning experience that a lot of students don’t get until after law school.” As you can imagine, the Cutlers are big supporters of the UMKC School of Law. Both have been honored with the school’s Alumni Achievement Award — Keith in 2008 and Dana in 2018 — and Keith is an adjunct professor. It’s important to them to help young lawyers achieve the same level of success they have, wherever that may be. “We’re like the columns of a church. They’re working together but not on top of each other. We have different hobbies and interests at home, and when we’re in the office we’re working on different things as well.” —Dana Tippin Cutler “I didn’t appreciate how accessible and relatable the faculty were at UMKC until I realized that law school wasn’t like that for everybody,” Dana says. “It’s the same thing we enjoy about the judges we work with in Kansas City.” Their advice for future attorneys? A law degree is one of the most versatile degrees you can have. Even if you don’t want to go to court, which is one small part of the job, there are plenty of other things you can do. A TV show, perhaps? This story originally appeared in the UMKC magazine, Perspectives, vol. 29. Feb 13, 2020

  • Students Sink Their Teeth Into School of Dentistry Discounts

    Half-off prices on many basic procedures now are available for anyone with a valid UMKC student ID
    The pace and costs of college can make getting good, affordable dental care seem daunting, but at UMKC, the School of Dentistry can help. Services at the school’s clinic often cost less than what private practices usually charge, and now the school is offering further discounts to UMKC students. “University students often avoid visiting the dentist for financial reasons,” said Yasmin Hussein, a fourth-year dental student. “However, what many UMKC students do not know is that UMKC’s dental clinic provides very affordable prices for dental care. UMKC students receive a 50 percent discount on top of the already low prices, not to mention the convenient location and excellent facility.” The added discounts for students, which started this semester, offer a basic evaluation with X-rays for new patients or an emergency visit for just $10 and, as Hussein noted, half off any further basic services needed, such as taking care of a cavity. Hussein’s classmate, Rachel Slenker, also agreed that the clinic’s location, just a few minutes north of the main campus, was ideal for busy students. “The dental care they receive is very thorough,” Slenker said. “Because it's a learning environment, all of our work is getting checked by a dental professional, sometimes multiple. Many of my patients have said our close attention to detail and the ‘many eyes that see their teeth’ are the main reasons for attending the clinic.” “I have worked with several dental students who are seeing UMKC students receiving the new discount. They are so grateful to be able to take care of their dental needs at an affordable cost.” — Linda Seabaugh, DDS, clinical assistant professor One of their supervisors, Linda Seabaugh, DDS, said it was particularly rewarding seeing her students provide care for other students. “I’ve seen many UMKC students come through the clinic, but one stands out to me,” said Seabaugh, a clinical assistant professor and director of ergonomics at the dental school. “He was a patient of one of our students and had quite a bit of dental work done. He would have benefitted greatly from reduced fees at that time. As it turns out, he is now a first-year dental student. He already has a unique perspective as a dental school patient, which will serve him well when he sees his own patients.” Seabaugh, who taught at the school in the 1990s and returned about three years ago, added, “I have worked with several dental students who are seeing UMKC students receiving the new discount. They are so grateful to be able to take care of their dental needs at an affordable cost.” The clinic’s patients get high-quality care at a good price, and they help the next generation of dentists prepare for their careers. “Most of my time is spent working with students in the clinic as they treat patients,” Seabaugh said. “The clinic is a critical element of dental education … when dental students transform into dentists. It is amazing to watch how much the students learn and how their skills develop. Not only do they advance their knowledge and skills, they provide much needed dental services to members of the community, many of who would not otherwise be able to afford dental care. In addition, our students have the privilege to work with many diverse individuals and apply our core values of excellence, compassion, integrity and justice.”  Affordable Dental Care for UMKC Students $10 – Initial screening, examination and X-rays for new patients only $10 – Emergency visit 50% off – UMKC’s already low prices (does not apply to care in Advanced Education Program clinics) Call 816-235-2100 for an appointment. More details on the program are here.     Feb 13, 2020

  • UMKC Seeks Developer to Restore One of KC's Most Endangered Properties

    UMKC is seeking submissions to develop the Epperson House
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City is looking for a developer that would work with the university through a public-private partnership to restore a historic home on its campus. Read the Kansas City Business Journal story. Feb 12, 2020

  • Engineering Faculty Develops Technology to Remove Harmful Chemical from Wastewater

    Professor Megan Hart received $354,000 from the Department of Defense to continue work on PFAS
    PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl substances) solutions can be found everywhere, even in the places you least expect. It’s a lab-made compound of synthetic material that has been in use since the 1930s. Wrinkle-resistant clothing, nonstick cookware and firefighting foam are just a few of the many things that contain this material, incorporating it into our daily lives and, quietly, causing harm.  Assistant Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering Megan Hart received $354,000 in funding from the Department of Defense’s Strategic and Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) for a two-year project focused on destroying PFAS in concentrated liquid waste streams through a series of lab-based tests. Though the actual project won’t begin until May, Hart is already hard at work conducting chemical engineering experiments in her lab as she figures out the best way to destroy the harmful material, which she said is no easy feat. “Traditionally, people incinerate the wastes containing PFAS, but there is growing evidence that it becomes airborne and redeposits in the soil around the smelters,” Hart said. “This is the first time a SERDP grant has been awarded at UMKC and we are very excited,” - John Kevern, civil and mechanical engineering department chair One of Hart’s research focuses is groundwater and geochemical influences on soil stability, so she’s naturally excited by the opportunity to put on her gloves and experiment in the lab. She developed a treatment technology that combines two major methods for PFAS removal in water – pH and free-radical destruction. The technology is engineered to release hydroxyl radicals (a type of free radical with the most active chemical properties. They have a high reaction rate and cause the most harm among the free radicals) into a solution that passes through it. Those radicals are then excited with UV light to form free radicals, which attack and destroy the PFAS in groundwater and waste water solutions. Hart says that some PFAS are easier to destroy than others but all of them are destroyed using the method she developed. “Traditionally, people incinerate the wastes containing PFAS, but there is growing evidence that it becomes airborne and redeposits in the soil around the smelters.” - Megan Hart Hart was able to leverage an existing relationship with Geosyntec, who funded previous work on novel remedial treatment technologies for PFAS. “This is the first time a SERDP grant has been awarded at UMKC and we are very excited,” said John Kevern, civil and mechanical engineering department chair. PFAS has been part of a larger conversation surrounding environmental sustainability and its negative effects on the human body. As an example of how serious the issue is, Hart mentioned an ongoing lawsuit where airline employees claim their uniforms — containing PFAS for wrinkle-resistance — are making them sick. The issue has also been raised in some ongoing presidential campaigns. “I’m excited to start working on this project, and can’t wait to get back more results to share,” Hart said. In addition to the SERDP grant, Hart will be working on a separate project to remove PFAS material from consumer-based products including popcorn bags that contain PFAS material to keep them from combusting in the microwave. She said that she’s equally excited to begin that work in the near future. Explore research at UMKC Feb 12, 2020

  • UMKC Seeks Partner to Restore Historic Epperson House

    University wants to reopen century-old mansion to campus and community
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City is seeking a developer to engage in a public-private partnership to restore and reopen the historic Epperson House on Volker Campus. The Gothic Revival style mansion, designed by architect Horace LaPierre and constructed from 1919 to 1923, was originally built as a large single family home of approximately 24,000 gross square feet on five primary levels. The home originally had 54 rooms, six bathrooms, multiple elevators, a swimming pool, a billiard room, a barber shop, an organ loft and a tunnel linking the east and west basement levels. A Request for Interest document, issued Jan. 9, seeks proposals to develop building uses and programming that support the goals of UMKC and the community and provide financial resources for the restoration and operation of the facility, plus design and construction services. Responses will be accepted through Feb. 20. The house was acquired by UMKC (then called the University of Kansas City) in the 1940s and originally served as a dormitory for Navy pilots in World War II, then as housing for university students, then as home to a number of university schools and programs. The building has been closed since 2011. The Request for Interest calls for proposals “to complete the historic restoration of the Epperson House exterior, interior public spaces and grounds; along with a strategic renovation and repurposing of the private spaces for compatible market-rate revenue-generating office or hospitality uses that support the urban engagement mission of UMKC, the desire of the community to see the house restored and the interests of the developer while covering the operating costs of the facility.” Interested parties should contact Robert A. Simmons, associate vice chancellor for administration, at or 816-235-1354. “One of our responsibilities as a public university is to be proper stewards of our legacy. Epperson House is a treasure for not just our campus, but for the Kansas City community,” said Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “With this invitation, we are seeking a team of partners to work with us to bring that prominent and grand building back into the daily life of our campus and our community.” Feb 10, 2020

  • Former Exchange Student Listed Among 2020 Forbes Under 30 in Brazil

    Mateus Borges studied mechanical engineering at UMKC from 2014 to 2015
    Research and discovery is not just a goal at UMKC, it’s who we are. It’s what we do. Through hands-on learning experiences – undergraduate and graduate research, internships, volunteerism and real-world classroom assignments – our students are prepared to excel anywhere. One-time Roo, 2014-15 mechanical engineering exchange student and agribusiness entrepreneur, Mateus Borges was listed among the 2020 Forbes Under 30 in Brazil for his entrepreneurship and innovation in helping farmers purchase fertilizer, seeds and chemicals online. Borges credits his research experience with civil and mechanical engineering professor Travis Fields on parachute and aerial vehicle systems as the inspiration that led to his interest in using drones to support agricultural work in Brazil. Though he isn’t currently working with drone technology, Borges used his business and technology background to co-found a tech company in 2016 – shortly after graduating from the State University of Campinas – that later became Orbia, a joint venture with Bayer CropScience. Through Orbia, medium to large-scale farmers have a seamless way to purchase the supplies they need for growing and harvesting their plants. Borges said the platform provides supplies for nearly 140,000, or 65% of the land of, soybean farmers in Brazil. “UMKC was empowering for me to be able to use technology to solve real-world problems,” Borges says. “That changed the way I saw internships and I’m able to use that in my career path.” Borges was part of a Science without Borders exchange program, a partnership between the School of Computing and Engineering and the State University of Campinas. He was nominated in the e-commerce and retail category of Forbes Under 30 and still has plans for his company to expand. “Our goal is to become a global company and help reshape how agribusiness is done around the world.” Feb 10, 2020

  • UMKC Conservatory Professors’ Podcast Explores Pulitzer Prize in Music

    Andrew Granade and David Thurmaier invite you to join their music conversations
    So, you don’t have time to read about all 73 winners of the Pulitzer Prize in Music? No problem. Just download the new podcast “Hearing the Pulitzers,” hosted by two UMKC Conservatory professors. The first episode, which launched Feb. 1, is an introduction to the podcast and the hosts Andrew Granade, associate dean of Academic and Faculty Affairs and professor of Musicology; and David Thurmaier, chair of the Music Studies Division and associate professor of Music Theory. They gave opening thoughts on the history of the music prize and the concept and meaning of the Pulitzer Prize. Going forward, each 30-minute episode will examine and analyze a Pulitzer Prize in Music composition and composer. The discussion, interspersed with musical segments from the award-winning piece, will review the composer’s work and why it was chosen for the award. At the end of each episode, each will share whether he thought the piece was a “hit” or a “miss” for winning the Pulitzer Prize. “The list of winners is fascinating because it features classical music household names like Aaron Copland, Charles Ives, and Samuel Barber,” Thurmaier said, “but there are also quite a few obscure or forgotten composers that will allow us to discover new music alongside our listeners.” Zhou Long, Bonfils Distinguished Research Professor of Composition at UMKC, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music for his first opera, “Madame White Snake,” in 2011. His work will be a featured episode. Granade and Thurmaier have been teaching together for several years and enjoy the experience of bouncing ideas off each other from their different discipline perspectives. Granade is a musicologist and researches music in its historical and cultural contexts. Thurmaier is a theorist and studies the way musicians and composers make music. “Dave and I are both scholars of American music and were discussing, especially after Kendrick Lamar’s win two years ago, why the Pulitzers in music seemed largely irrelevant to American culture when the prizes in writing were so important,” Granade said. “That lead us to think about what we could learn about American music culture by exploring each winner in turn. We thought it might be fun to make a podcast where we could invite other people outside our classroom into the conversations we regularly have together.” The podcast series starts with the first award in 1943, “Secular Cantata No. 2. A Free Song,” by William Schuman. It posted Feb. 8. With 73 award winners to explore, Granade said he expects the project to take three years. New episodes are available every two week. After all 73 award winners have been featured, Granade and Thurmaier will update the podcast yearly when new prize winners are announced. Dale Morehouse, associate professor of voice-opera, recorded the introduction used for each episode. Tristan Harris, UMKC music composition undergraduate student, recorded the podcasts. Granade and Thurmaier received a Sight and Sound Subvention from the Society for American Music to cover the costs of equipment and hosting the podcast online. “Hearing the Pulitzers” is available on iTunes, Google Play and Podbean. You can also follow “Hearing the Pulitzers” on Facebook and Twitter. Feb 10, 2020

  • Kansas Voters Moving Away From Caucuses For Presidential Primary

    UMKC political science chair says traditional primaries have their drawbacks
    While caucuses can cause issues, UMKC Political Science Chair Greg Vonnahme explained on KCTV5 that traditional primaries also have their drawbacks. Feb 08, 2020

  • School of Computing and Engineering Touts Most IEEE Student Scholarship Recipients In United States

    Eight from UMKC were selected to receive $7,000 in scholarship funding over the course of three years
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Computing and Engineering has more IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Power and Engineering Society scholarship recipients than any other school in the country. 135 students — eight from UMKC — across the United States were selected to receive $7,000 in scholarship funding over the course of three years to help defray educational costs. “It's a great honor — 'a feather in our cap,' as the saying goes — for us to have eight PES Scholars within the School of Computing and Engineering, the largest number of scholarships among all US engineering programs. IEEE is highly regarded within the engineering community around the world, and this accolade speaks to the quality of education we provide our students at UMKC,” said SCE Dean Kevin Truman. The goal of the IEEE PES Scholarship Plus Initiative is to encourage undergraduate students to pursue careers in power and energy engineering. In addition to scholarships, the program also facilitates internship/co-op experiences, mentorship opportunities and special recognition as a PES Scholar. Scholarship amounts are $2,000 for the first two years and $3,000 the third year. Feb 07, 2020

  • Nontraditional Engineering Alumnus Gives Back With a Scholarship

    Jason Painter builds solid future for his family and future students
    Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you'll know what UMKC is all about. Jason Painter '12 Academic Program: Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering Hometown: North Kansas City, Missouri Jason Painter (BSME ’12) always liked school, and math was his strong point. But following high school graduation, he decided college wasn’t for him. He married his high school sweetheart and started working in residential construction. But after a few years, he began to reconsider his decision to forego a college degree. “I felt like I was failing,” Painter says. “I went through a spiritual awakening and realized college was the answer.” Painter talked to his wife, Tiffany, and she was supportive, even though it meant Jason would have to work nights and go to school during the day to make it happen. But the couple agreed college was the right decision and that they needed to stay close to home. “We weren’t going to uproot our family, so I went to visit UMKC. I fell in love with the campus the first time I walked around.” While the Painters were committed to his getting his degree in engineering, the reality was more challenging than they anticipated. “Going to work, going to school and having a family at the same time was incredibly emotional and physically and mentally draining.” Painter was a third-shift janitor at an elementary school. He did his homework in a closet during his breaks.  “I am so glad I had the opportunity to go to school, but the saddest part was coming home at 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning when my wife was getting ready to leave for work. I’d be able to see my son for five minutes.” While it was a challenging situation for his family, was it justified? “Absolutely. Hard – but worth it.” Experiencing this challenge inspired Painter to give back, even while he was in school. UMKC Missouri Society of Professional Engineers coordinator Jane Vogl recalls that he invigorated the MSPE student chapter while he served as president. “He tripled the membership and was always looking for ways for the SCE engineering students to gain hands-on knowledge through field trips to super structures,” Vogl says. “He arranged visits to the Harry S. Truman Dam in Warsaw, Missouri and the Iatan Power Plant in Weston.” In addition, Painter volunteered for competitions and the E-Week blood drive. His giving did not stop when he graduated. Painter has recently established a $5,000 scholarship for non-traditional students in engineering. “Knowing that there are other people who are struggling inspired me to give back,” Painter says. “I had people cut me down and tell me I couldn’t do it. But I had a lot of help from my professors. I graduated cum laude. Sometimes, I can’t believe I got through it. I just want to help other people.” Dahn Phan is the first recipient of the Jason and Tiffany Painter Scholarship. Phan is a non-traditional student who is studying electrical and computer engineering. “My family immigrated to the United States during the Vietnam War with nothing besides the clothes on their back hoping for a fresh start to life,” Phan says. “Growing up, my parents did everything they could to provide food on the table and to give me and my brothers the necessities to succeed in life. With their sacrifice and dedication, I am proud to say I will be part of the first generation graduating from college.” “I had people cut me down and tell me I couldn’t do it. But I had a lot of help from my professors. I graduated cum laude. Sometimes, I can’t believe I got through it. I just want to help other people.” -Jason Painter Painter’s scholarship helped make that success possible.  “Receiving this scholarship motivated me to maintain my GPA and has given me the opportunity to complete my final semester in engineering school,” Phan says. “I’ve been able to take time off of work and be more involved with school organizations and activities. This helped me build leadership and team-working skills, which I knew employers wanted.” Phan met Painter during the School of Computing and Engineering scholarship luncheon last semester and they had the opportunity to learn more about each other’s families and their personal paths. “I got to know a little more about Jason’s family and his history as a non-traditional student. After meeting him and learning that he works as a controls engineer at Kiewit, he inspired me to becoming a controls engineer as well.” Phan is anticipating graduating this spring. He has accepted a job with the Global Product Development Division of General Motors in Detroit. Painter’s future is also bright. He is in the midst of a 2-3 year power plant project at Kiewit. His goals are both simple and significant. “I feel as if I made it already!” he says. “My goal is to be a good father and be there for my son.  I missed out on a lot of the early years. My wife deserves a lot of the credit. She gave me constant affirmation that it would all be worth it. I’m just looking forward to our life together.”   Feb 07, 2020

  • KCUR Leading ‘America Amplified 2020 Election’ Initiative

    KCUR leads community engagement efforts as part of 2020 election season
    As the election season kicks off, the “America Amplified: Election 2020” initiative, led by KCUR 89.3, a service of University of Missouri-Kansas City, announces eight public media networks that will produce innovative journalism from community engagement efforts. Yahoo Finance reported the story $1.9M ‘America Amplified: Election 2020’ initiative announces partner stations. This story was also picked up by Investor Network. Feb 04, 2020

  • UMKC Law Student Doubles As Super Bowl Broadcaster

    UMKC law student Hannah Bassham was a sideline reporter for the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory.
    University of Missouri-Kansas City law student Hannah Bassham had a sideline view of the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Feb. 2. Missouri Lawyers Media reported the story ‘The greatest experience of my life’: UMKC Law student doubles as Super Bowl broadcaster. (Subscription required)   Feb 02, 2020

  • Chiefs Are Super Bowl Champions

    UMKC joined in the celebration of the Kansas City Chiefs winning the Super Bowl
    The UMKC victory tweet for the Kansas City Chiefs was featured. ‘Meant to be’: Leaders, celebrities react after Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory KSHB – February 2, 2020 Feb 02, 2020

  • Donors Strike a Chord with New Scholarships Honoring World-Renowned Faculty

    Individual and foundation giving have common theme for UMKC Conservatory student success
    Bobby Watson and Vinson Cole have been influential professors at the UMKC Conservatory in addition to being internationally recognized musicians. Cole recently retired from his role as Professor of Voice and Watson will step away from his role as the William D. and Mary Grant/Missouri Professor and co-coordinator of Jazz in the fall of 2020. In recognition of their outstanding commitment and contributions to the UMKC Conservatory, local donors have created scholarships in their honor to provide future students the opportunity to follow their passions.  Bobby Watson A renowned saxophonist, composer and native Kansas Citian, Watson has worked with jazz icons such as Max Roach, Louis Hayes and Wynton Marsalis. For three decades, Watson lived in New York City and performed with and composed for some of the most acclaimed jazz performers in the world. He has recorded 28 records and appears as a leader on dozens of recordings.  In 2000, he returned to Kansas City and joined the faculty of the UMKC Conservatory. While teaching at the Conservatory has been a passion – “I bleed blue and gold,” he says – it has never been his intention to stay forever.  "I bleed blue and gold." - Bobby Watson  “I thought after 20 years I’d stop and reflect,” Watson says. “It seems like the right time. I’m still young enough to go on the road. And we’ve brought the school to a high level.” Long-time Conservatory and Watson enthusiasts, Sarah and Jim Weitzel, have shared a passion for music since they first married. When they learned of the musician’s retirement, the news was bittersweet.  “When Bobby announced that he was retiring so that he could play, we wanted to honor that,” Sarah Weitzel says.  Wanting to recognize Watson’s contribution to the Conservatory and provide opportunities for future students, the couple decided the timing was right to establish an endowed scholarship in Watson’s name. “We didn’t need to name the scholarship after us,” Weitzel says. “We don’t have a legacy in jazz – Bobby does. We are hoping other people will contribute to the scholarship in his honor.” Watson was overwhelmed by the gift. “I was speechless, humbled, honored and flabbergasted,” Watson says. “It’s a great honor and a great gift. Every scholarship that we can award our students is life changing.” Vinson Cole Vinson Cole, (BM ’72) is an American tenor and retired Professor of Voice. He was flattered when he received the news from Michael Fields, on behalf of the Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts - Commerce Bank trustee, that the foundation wanted to establish an annual scholarship in his name to benefit students at the Conservatory. “Vinson Cole was the perfect choice for a named scholarship at the UMKC Conservatory,” Fields says. “The Richard J. Stern Foundation is committed to excellence in the arts in Kansas City, and Vinson definitely represents the highest standards of excellence.” "I listen for what someone can do – open their heart, their soul, their body and mind.” - Vinson Cole Fields notes that Cole is perhaps better known internationally than he is in the city where he was raised, however Richard Stern certainly knew Cole and followed his career. “It’s nice to be recognized for what I’ve done, especially in Kansas City,” Cole says of his hometown. Cole began singing as a young child and has fond memories of his voice teacher. “He had so much knowledge,” Cole remembers. “I wanted everything. I would ask and ask and ask. All I wanted was the work.” Cole’s career has been successful by any measure. He is internationally recognized as one of the leading artists of his generation. A frequent guest of the most prestigious orchestras throughout the world, he has collaborated with some of the greatest conductors of this era.  When he teaches, his focus is firmly on his students. In auditions, he pays attention to the voice, but his focus is broader.  “I listen for what someone can do – open their heart, their soul, their body and mind.” Beyond the honor of the recognition of his dedication, Cole knows first-hand how significant scholarships are to students. “It’s great that there is help for people who want to come to school who can’t afford it,” he says. “I know a lot of students who come to school and always need money. I was always spending my money on music when I was in school – mounds of sheet music.” While today’s students usually store their music on iPads, their expenses are still significant.  “These scholarships will be significant awards for talented students, and we are grateful for donors like the Weitzels and the Stern Foundation who generously support Conservatory programs and students,” says Conservatory Dean Diane Petrella. “Bobby and Vinson have been valuable members of our community and we look forward to keeping them involved with the Conservatory. Their legacies at UMKC will live on through the students who receive the gifts of these scholarships.” For additional information on the Bobby Watson and Pamela Baskin-Watson Scholarship or the Vinson Cole Scholarship contact Mark Mattison at Jan 31, 2020

  • Student’s Fellowship with Chiefs an ‘Electric Experience’

    Meghan Dohogne, Arrowhead Art Collection Fellow, works with team, artists on community outreach projects  
    Name: Meghan DohogneHometown: Cape Girardeau, Missouri High School: Notre Dame Regional High School  Undergraduate Degree: History with minors in Painting and Art History, McKendree University, Lebanon, IllinoisGraduate Degree: Master’s Degree in Art History from UMKC in 2016UMKC degree program: Interdisciplinary PhD with a core discipline in history, secondary in humanities consortium. IPhD student Meghan Dohogne is an Arrowhead Art Collection Fellow. The position is more specific than a general internship and connotates a higher level of specialization and achievement, which is important because only graduate students are eligible to receive it.  What is the Fellowship Program with the Arrowhead Art Collection at Arrowhead Stadium and why did you apply? The fellowship is a partnership between the UMKC History Department and the Kansas City Chiefs. I applied for it as my graduate research position through the department. The length of each fellow’s tenure is dependent on a few factors and varies based on their position in the program.  What kind of work do you do? The AAC fellow is responsible for supporting the Arrowhead Art Collection. Day to day, I work with artists for the outreach events we participate in throughout the community. Recently we ran an African mask-making workshop at Central Middle School lead by AAC artist Lonnie Powell.  Another responsibility I have is to support recent acquisitions by collaborating with Sharron Hunt, chairwoman of the collection, to write the education materials. In addition to the educational materials, I support press events that are typically covered by many news outlets around the city.   Another area I have chosen to focus my fellowship around is community partnerships and raising awareness for the collection. Each day is an opportunity to support the organization that has given me so much insight into the engine that is professional sports. What are your career goals? I am excited at the number of opportunities I am preparing for, but I haven’t settled yet on exactly which direction I will pursue. I currently co-own a research company called D2 Research with fellow UMKC graduate student Poppy Di Candeloro. We pursue arts management and historical research. Working with different organizations and members of the community has been extremely rewarding.  What has it been like working at Arrowhead this season? Holy smokes, working for the Chiefs organization right now is electric. I’m thankful for the opportunity to have experienced this season with a great group of people who all want to see the Chiefs do well. As for the collection, everyone should come see it! It’s a fine example of Regionalism and a lot of care has been put into its inclusion as part of the Arrowhead experience.  What advice do you have for someone considering an internship or fellowship? Finding a place where your creativity is embraced and celebrated is great for your personal career growth. I have been able to spearhead some events that have given me the opportunity to really develop professionally. The Chiefs have placed a lot of trust in me and allowed me the space to try out some big ideas.  Jan 30, 2020

  • TeamSmile Gets a Kick Ahead of the Big Game

    UMKC dental students provide care through the efforts of Chiefs player Dustin Colquitt and TeamSmile
    There are plenty of reasons to smile with the upcoming Chiefs’ Super Bowl. Chiefs’ punter, Dustin Colquitt, has long championed TeamSmile, a national advocacy group that provides children in need with a life-changing dental experience through the power of sports. Since the organization’s inceptions, UMKC School of Dentistry students and faculty have also worked hand-in-hand in this amazing effort. TeamSmile is in the news due to the generosity of Colquitt, who went above and beyond for a recent patient and a longtime Chiefs fan. At a recent home game – for which they were his guest – he surprised the family with a trip to the Super Bowl. Little did they know, it’d also be the first Chiefs Super Bowl in 50 years. Each year, UMKC students and faculty team up to volunteer at three TeamSmile events – at Kansas City Chiefs, Royals and Sporting KC. The students see about 300 children, providing provide initial screenings, X-rays and recommendations for what care the kids need for that day. Accompanied by UMKC School of Dentistry faculty members Becky Smith, Eileen Cocjin and Michael McCunniff; 18 dental students from two dental student groups, Students Take Action and the Pedodontic Dentistry Club, volunteer at the outreach events. According to Smith, it’s the breadth of care provided at TeamSmile events that impresses her when she participates. “The impressive thing about TeamSmile is the variety of procedures that are provided,” Smith says “They don’t limit themselves to just preventative care like fluoride and sealants. These kids are getting everything from extractions to root canals.” “They look in the mirror and see what we’ve done, and they realize, ‘Oh my gosh, this kind of changed my life.’” — Dustin Colquitt Started in Kansas City, TeamSmile has gone nationwide, partnering with oral health organizations as well as professional and college athletic teams. It began in the Arrowhead Stadium parking lot now has partnering with 17 NFL franchises, providing millions of dollars in free dental care. "I have participated at four Team Smile events including at the Chiefs stadium," says Tara Craven, D.D.S. '21, and president of Students Take Action. "The kids love coming to get their teeth checked and the program has a whole day of activities planned for them. When the players come to visit they all light up! They love the high-fives and fist bumps offered by the players — including Dustin Colquitt! The volunteers all love seeing the players as well and it’s an amazing day full of giving back and helping kids get jazzed about taking care of their teeth!"  So why is Colquitt involved? For him, it’s the kids’ reactions that really drive home the importance of dental care and how TeamSmile can help. “We feel like in 20 minutes, we can change a kid’s trajectory, meaning that a lot of our kids are hiding what they have going on in their mouth,” Colquitt says in a promotional video. “They look in the mirror and see what we’ve done, and they realize, ‘Oh my gosh, this kind of changed my life.'” According McCunniff, UMKC became involved with TeamSmile nearly at the inception of the organization. In 2007, co-founder Bush was planning his first one-day outreach event at Arrowhead Stadium but needed portable equipment since his existing dental practice equipment wasn’t going anywhere. Not only did UMKC provide the equipment, but also student and faculty volunteers. For McCunniff, he hopes the opportunity inspires his students to come up with their own initiative. “I challenge the students that when you get out in the field, make your own legacy with an initiative like this,” McCunniff says. Although he hasn’t heard, yet, of a former student take him up on that challenge, he has received the next best thing. According to McCunniff about half of the participating dentists in the Kansas City-based TeamSmile events are alumni of UMKC. “The kids love coming to get their teeth checked ... When the players come to visit, they all light up! They love the high-fives and fist bumps ... it’s an amazing day full of giving back and helping kids get jazzed about taking care of their teeth!” — Tara Craven, D.D.S. '21 According McCunniff, the school even has an alum who worked on both sides of the organization. Prior to dental school, alumni Caitlin Silverstein (DDS ‘16) was a staff member for TeamSmile. Once in school, she continued to volunteer at every event and now as dental practitioner herself, McCunniff sees her at nearly every event. The example of the commitment to TeamSmile is a testament to the UMKC School of Dentistry, says Dean Marsha Pyle. “Instilling in our students the importance of volunteerism is a pillar of our institution,” Pyle says. “By showing our students how meaningful these experiences can be, we hope to encourage a lifelong passion for giving back.” Jan 30, 2020

  • Media Outlets Highlight UMKC Announcement of Test-Optional Admissions

    UMKC's announcement of a new test-optional admissions process made headline news throughout Kansas City and beyond.
    UMKC going to test-optional admissions Kansas City Star How Much Influence Will UC’s Faculty Have? Inside Higher Ed  UMKC eliminates mandatory ACT, SAT scores from admissions process KSHB UMKC makes admissions now test-optional KCTV5 UMKC decides to not consider ACT scores in enrollment. Hour 3 1/29/2020KMBZ Radio At UMKC, students are more than test scores. New admissions policy is about inclusion Kansas City Star Why are so many US universities going test-optional?Study International ACT, SAT scores are no longer required for admission to UMKCAssociated Press   Will University of California dump SAT and ACT? Not yet University Business UMKC admissions become test-optional University News Jan 29, 2020

  • Student Headed to Miami to Cover Super Bowl

    Hannah Bassham's job with Tico Sports has her covering the first Chiefs Super Bowl in 50 years
    Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you'll know what UMKC is all about. Name: Hannah Bassham Hometown: El Paso, Texas High School: Pembroke Hill Undergraduate Degree: Criminal Justice from Texas Christian University (TCU) UMKC degree program: J.D./MBA joint degree program Anticipated graduation year: May 2020 for my J.D. and December 2020 for my MBA Third year law and business student Hannah Bassham is also in her third year with Tico Sports, which provides the official Spanish language coverage of the Chiefs. She spoke with us recently about how she landed the job, her role in Super Bowl LIV and her scoring prediction for Sunday. How did you get involved with broadcasting and Tico Sports? I have been a big Chiefs fan since I was a young girl. After undergrad, I was searching for the perfect law school to attend. At the same time, I came across the opportunity to join the Tico Sports family. They were looking for a Spanish-speaking female who was also a football fanatic to join their broadcast team and asked if I would work for them. Since UMKC has a wonderful law school and Tico Sports had a great opportunity for me to be connected with Chiefs football, I realized Kansas City was the perfect place for me to move to and I have been pursuing these two passions ever since. What’s your role with Tico Sports? Tico Sports produces the Chiefs’ official Spanish radio broadcast. In my first year with Tico Sports I worked as a spotter and statistician in the booth to support the color and play-by-play commentators during the broadcast. I was promoted to work as a sideline reporter during my second year with Tico, and this year, along with being the sideline reporter for the broadcast, I took on the role as host of our halftime show. Our halftime show often features interviews with players and community leaders as well as commentary on other games around the league. After each game, I go into the Chiefs locker room for interviews and attend the post-game conference to hear Coach Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes speak to the media. What will you be doing on Super Bowl Sunday? On Super Bowl Sunday I will be in Miami working for Tico Sports as a sideline reporter. As a sideline reporter, I report on weather conditions, injured players, stadium atmosphere and provide general commentary on what I see from my vantage point on the sideline next to the Chiefs bench. I will also host our halftime show which I now call “El Mejor Show de Medio Tiempo” (The Best Halftime Show). You can listen to our broadcast by downloading the Chiefs app and clicking the “radio” prompt in the upper right corner to select the “Tico Sports Español Radio” option or by tuning into La Mega 1160 AM and KPPZ-LP 100.5 FM in Kansas City. Is there a way you see using both your law and broadcasting experience together in the future? I truly hope that my experiences in both law and broadcasting will merge at some point in the future. Law school has been such an incredibly challenging learning experience and along with my experience in broadcasting, I have grown so much in just three years. I can’t help but to think my experiences in both fields have given me new skills that will help me in any career to come. Guess for final score on Sunday? I anticipate seeing a high-scoring game this Sunday with both teams scoring over 28 points. That being said, if I have learned anything from these past few weeks, it is that the Chiefs are unpredictable and wildly entertaining to watch week in and week out. Bassham with her Tico Sports coworkers outside Arrowhead Stadium. Courtesy of Tico Sports. Favorite thing about covering the Chiefs? My favorite thing about covering the Chiefs is having the opportunity to see such an amazing organization at work. I love getting to work side-by-side with talented people who make the Chiefs who they are. As a whole, the Chiefs organization is humble, hard-working, brilliant and grateful to be in the position they are today. I am ecstatic just to be a spectator to the incredible achievements that the entire organization has accomplished together. Jan 29, 2020

  • UMKC Offers Test-Optional Admissions

    Standardized test scores no longer required in applications
    Responding to strong evidence that high school grades are a more reliable predictor of college performance than standardized test scores, UMKC is joining the growing movement to make such test scores an optional component of the admissions process. * With this move, the university is providing more opportunities for qualified people to pursue a college degree. Under the test-optional admissions process, if applicants have performed well in high school, they do not need to take a standardized test, such as the ACT or SAT, to be considered for admission. If an applicant does decide to take such a test, reporting the scores to UMKC is optional. “This is a better way. Now it's the UMKC way.”— Alice Arrendondo, director of admissions   “We made this decision as part of our ongoing commitment to create opportunity. It is in the best interest of the people who live in our community, the workforce needs of our employers and the overall economic development of Greater Kansas City and the state of Missouri,” said C. Mauli Agrawal, chancellor of UMKC. “We are proud to be the first university in the UM System to adopt this approach, as we join a growing number of U.S. colleges and universities—more than 1,000 so far—who have established similar practices.” Applicants remain free to take standardized tests and have the scores reported to UMKC. These scores also will continue to play a role in admission to certain specialized programs and some scholarship opportunities. “This is a better way," said Alice Arredondo, director of admissions at an announcement event. "Now it's the UMKC way.” “For UMKC to become test-optional will be a game changer for students like me. I get test anxiety ... and I worried whether I’d get accepted into UMKC.” — Sadie Billings, senior  The move to test-optional admissions, however, is an evidence-based, educationally sound approach. There is substantial evidence that these tests are less-reliable predictors of the academic potential of traditionally underserved applicants. According to “Defining Access: How Test-Optional Works,” a 2018 study commissioned by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, applicants who chose not to submit standardized test scores with their college applications ultimately graduated at rates equivalent to—or marginally higher than—those who did submit scores. “For UMKC to become test-optional will be a game changer for students like me,” said Sadie Billings, a communications major who will graduate in May. “I took the ACT six times – six times! — only to score the same each time, one point short at 21. I get test anxiety anyway, and I worried whether I’d get accepted into UMKC.” Billings, who made a 4.0 in high school, eventually was accepted at UMKC with a strong recommendation to take mentoring and academic-coaching classes. Now a senior peer academic leader, she’s applying to graduate schools because she wants to work in higher education in programs that help students like her who have what it takes to succeed — no matter the test score on a standardized test.  “This is a change in admissions practices, not a change in the academic standards we enforce. The value of a UMKC degree, and the educational attainment it represents, are unchanged,” Agrawal said. “We are committed to providing every qualified individual an opportunity to leverage their talent and effort to contribute to our economic development and find life and career success.” Learn more about Test-Optional Admission *Pending University of Missouri System Board of Curators approval. Jan 29, 2020

  • Art Inspired By Worms

    UMKC Gallery of Art exhibition features a collaboration between art and science
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City Gallery of Art and The Stowers Institute for Medical Research present a new exhibition, “Body of Inquiry: The Art, Biology and Being of Flatworms,” with an opening reception from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 30, at the UMKC Gallery of Art, Room 203 in the Fine Arts Building, 5015 Holmes St., Kansas City, Missouri. The exhibition asks the questions, What if you could clone yourself from a small piece of your fingertip? What if you could self-regenerate? What if you were essentially immortal? Scientists have found the answers in the planarian flatworm and local scientists are sharing that through art. “For the planarian flatworm, these human fantasies are reality,” said Nowotarski. “And they’re all around us all over the world, from fountains in Barcelona, to lakes in Mexico, to nearby Brush Creek.”    The exhibition is a collaboration between art and science, two seldom, yet undeniably intertwined, fields. In the multi-disciplinary exhibition “Body of Inquiry,” sensory perception, curiosity, and creative problem-solving converge in order to provide both valuable insights into an unseen world, and beautiful art from an unlikely source. Four intergenerational local artists put the exhibition together. They include retired Kansas City Art Institute fiber chair Jason Pollen, recent KCAI graduate William Plummer, and Stowers Institute artists and research scientists Mol Mir and Steph Nowotarski. They wanted to understand and expand upon the connection between art and science, so they plunged into local waterways and emerged with a greater appreciation for the complexities found there. They explored the role of the planarian flatworm in our local ecosystem then translated their findings to a broader scope. This exploration facilitated the cross-disciplinary dialog which led to Body of Inquiry. This immersive installation celebrates the joy of discovery, inviting visitors to engage with and observe planarian flatworms in a variety of perspectives. Explore our interpretations and examine your own through the use of video projection, live planarians, and visual responses from each artist. This exploration offers insight and helps to answer the question: what can these flatworms teach us about being human? The UMKC Gallery of Art hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The exhibition runs through March 7 at the UMKC Gallery of Art. Jan 27, 2020

  • Celebrating the 30th Annual TAASU Freedom Breakfast

    Alumnus Chiluba J. Musonda reflects on his experiences as an immigrant while honoring the legacy of Dr. King
    The African American Student Union (TAASU) Freedom Breakfast was created to not only commemorate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. but to promote unity and harmony within our community and celebrate the university’s values of diversity, inclusiveness and respect. This year marked the 30th anniversary of the breakfast and saw student tributes in music and dance. Alumnus Chiluba J. Musonda (B.B.A. ’09, M.P.A. ’12) spoke about his journey from Lusaka, Zambia, to Kansas City, Missouri. Student dancers Ivyana Robinson, left, and Jayla Johnson perform during the TAASU Freedom Breakfast. Musonda’s migration to the United States began with five words in a Yahoo search: mid-sized American colleges – affordable. Sifting through more than a hundred results, he applied to four universities. UMKC was the first and only university to respond. “I am no different than any immigrant that comes to America,” says Musonda, now director of operations at Kansas City Museum and author of “Home Away from Home.” “Everyone comes seeking a ‘better life.” He stresses that what most people fail to recognize is the bravery and emotional cost that comes with leaving your family, home and country behind. Musonda recalled a moment in 2007 when he received a call from his sister saying that his mother was robbed at gunpoint in Zambia. He realized then that there was nothing he could do to help and the feeling of being alone in the U.S. sunk in. He cites UMKC and the people around him with helping him pull through the dark moments. “Each one of us has a responsibility to help others,” Musonda said as he encouraged attendees to remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Members of TAASU honored UMKC staff member Todd Wells with The Dr. Joseph Seabrooks Jr. Leadership Award. Pictured from left to right: Blessing Onwundinati, Brenda Reed, Makini Morrison, Jayesha Griffin, Brandy Williams, Todd Wells, Jarinar Robinson. Jan 24, 2020

  • Alumna Helps People Heal from the Inside Out

    Lauren Thompson draws on diverse background for unique brand of wellness
    Earning degrees in dance, psychology, and counseling and guidance with a minor in gender and women’s studies may sound like a meandering path to a career, but alumna Lauren Thompson (B.F.A. ’09, B.A. ’09, M.A. ’12) knew she could make all her interests come together. Thompson’s unique brand of wellness comes together at her Pilates studio, Thrive Pilates, in Kansas City’s Westside. But her work goes far beyond what happens in that cozy space. The connections she makes with her clients are aimed at benefitting the whole person — not just their body composition. So many interests, so little time  Thompson will be the first to tell you: It wasn’t exactly a straight path to her current line of work. Thompson says people were often skeptical when they learned she was pursuing such different courses of study. She got the same question many college students get when selecting a major (or two) without a crystal-clear job description: “What are you going to do with that?” Anyone asking that question hadn’t realized the connection between mind and body, she says, “but I was living it. It was so clear to me how those degrees worked together. Eventually, everyone else caught up.” As an undergraduate at UMKC, Thompson would dance for six hours a day, then go to her psychology classes. Along the way, she also decided to get a minor in gender and women’s studies. And she didn’t stop with her undergraduate degrees. A year after graduation, she was back at UMKC, pursuing her master’s in counseling and guidance, with a focus on mental health. Around this time, Thompson started teaching Pilates and yoga classes, a way to combine her backgrounds in dance and psychology that would turn out to be a crucial thread through her many work experiences. When she was offered a job working with sex offenders in maximum security at Lansing Correctional Facility in Leavenworth County, Kansas, she took it. Though that job offered many challenges, Thompson calls it a “blessing” — just another step on the path to where she is today. Making her own way in the wellness world  During this time, Thompson was teaching and exercising less, usually taking only one yoga class a week. She was frustrated that she wasn’t moving her body more, so she put formal counseling aside and went back to teaching yoga and Pilates full-time. But even the studios where she taught brought some frustration. “I couldn’t really teach the way I wanted to teach,” she says. “And I couldn’t control the messaging, which I am hypersensitive about because of my knowledge of mental health.” She realized it was time to open her own studio, incorporating her wide range of training and experiences. She wanted to meet the multifaceted needs of women from both physical and mental health perspectives, and her diverse background gave her the skills she needed to do it. “I think the important thing is to not compare yourself to other people. There’s so much wasted energy for women on comparing. I feel lucky that I had the training early to help me block that.” —Lauren Thompson “One of the things that we address is that a lot of exercise and training is developed for the male body. That can be a problem for a number of reasons,” she says. “It’s not as if women can’t do these things, but there are times when many exercises are not appropriate.” Thompson notes that the constant physical fluctuations of women’s bodies — menstruation, pregnancy and menopause — deserve acknowledgement in the wellness world. “Men’s health is relatively linear. They don’t experience the same kind of cycles that women do,” Thompson says. “We know that girls playing soccer experience significantly more ACL tears correlating with menstruation. It’s similar to the hormones from pregnancy that cause joints to be less stable.” In addition to being in tune with individual physical needs, Thompson pays close attention to her language. “The idea of ‘skinny equals healthy’ is false, and that mentality is mostly what we hear from the fitness industry,” she says. “I think it’s shame-based, and shame-based motivation never works. Intensity is not going to treat you well.” Thompson practices the balance that she preaches. While work is important to her, she is active in the Kansas City arts and dance communities, using her Conservatory training to choreograph and participate in collaborative art projects. She also works on zoning and development issues in her Westside neighborhood, which has become popular with developers. While managing her work in wellness, art and community development, Thompson works hard to stay healthy and grounded. “I think the important thing is to not compare yourself to other people. There’s so much wasted energy for women on comparing. I feel lucky that I had the training early to help me block that.” This story originally appeared in Perspectives magazine, vol. 29. Jan 24, 2020

  • 12th Annual MLK Lecture Recounts Waves of Athlete Activism in America

    Renowned sports activist and sociologist Harry Edwards was featured speaker
    Speaking to a full crowd of community members during the 12th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture Series, Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Inclusion Susan Wilson said that “we’re still fighting civil rights struggles from economic to social justice” in the United States. She reminded attendees, who piled into Pierson Auditorium to hear from sports activist and sociologist Harry Edwards, Ph.D., that the struggle is not over that King was fighting to overcome. Each year the Division of Diversity and Inclusion brings social-justice thought leaders to UMKC to provide insight and advocacy to current rights issues of education, economic and justice inequalities. The goal of the lecture series is to encourage the campus and Kansas City community to build upon the courageous, non-violent activism of civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and to increase awareness of present day avenues to advocate for social justice through free thought, action and scholarship. This year’s discussion was a timely fit as discourse surrounding former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protest against police brutality and, even more fitting, the Kansas City Chiefs are headed to the Super Bowl. Here a few takeaways from Edwards' lecture. “The challenges of our circumstances are diverse and dynamic. Our struggle, therefore, must be multifaceted and perpetual and there are no final victories.” Each wave of athlete activists — more times than not — is directly tied to a social justice movement in the broader community. Wave 1: Plessy V. Ferguson and Establishing Legitimacy Edwards shared that to understand resistance athletes, we must begin at the turn of the 20th century — the collapse of reconstruction and the passing of Plessy vs. Ferguson: racial segregation under the guise of separate but equal public accommodations. This law is what led to the development of viable, vibrant and parallel black social and cultural institutions — historically black colleges and universities, fraternal and community organizations and sports — constituted by an ongoing resistance amongst black people. “Human rights emphases carried the perceived potential to enhance the dignity and respect of black people.” Achievement by black athletes on the world stage became a feature of African-American resistance to the oppression imposed upon them in America under Plessy vs. Ferguson. This model of black excellence was a direct contradiction of race-based claims of black inferiority and would be reiterated throughout history. Excellence at home through black sports teams and excellence abroad led to the first wave of athlete activism: an effort to establish the legitimacy of blacks in America. Wave 2: Establishing Access Edwards said America underwent a talent pool shortage after WWII due to war casualties, which is what ultimately caused sports officials to fill gaps with black talent in revenue-producing sports like baseball, basketball and track and field. “When you look at collegiate athletics, blacks are virtually underrepresented, especially when it comes to giving scholarships… except in basketball, football and track and field.” According to Edwards, athletes like Jackie Robinson modeled the path for the larger civil rights movement in American society and served the interest of advancing the black struggle against racial segregation and oppression, as well as mainstream sports. “Women have always been a part of every movement, but this movement is about women.” He shed light on how sports was a reflection of what was happening in the broader society and how athletes were the first to take nonviolent direct action against racism and oppression years before King led nonviolent protests in the South. Black clergy and community organizers were taught nonviolent direct action so that sports spectators knew how not to respond when they witnessed their star athletes’ mistreatment on and off the field. “They knew that if there had been a riot in the stands, it would spill into the streets and vice versa if players fought back on the field” and that would hinder them from furthering their push for access both in sports and the community. “The culture of sports has not changed. It is about a transactional reality.” Wave 3: Human Rights – Why Should We Play Where We Can’t Work? After the onset of desegregation and, largely due to what civil rights accomplished, millions of people were left leaderless and hopeless. The trajectory of efforts of young, militant blacks such as the Black Panther Party, shifted to the concern for human rights and human rights development. “Human rights emphases carried the perceived potential to enhance the dignity and respect of black people,” Edwards said. He further explained that it was no longer enough to have access, athletes demanded respect and dignity. He used Muhamad Ali as a prime example of how black athletes fought for dignity and respect for race, name and religion and drew a line to highlight how Ali’s fight opened the door for Barack Obama to eventually become the 44th president of the United States. The third wave of resistance athletes — Ali, Jim Brown and others — was fueled by the Black Power Movement. Each movement has a trending expiration date of about six years, 10 at the most. There was no movement by 1972. Edwards said there were athletes between 1972 and 2012 who were prominent, but not as remembered because most athlete activists are tied to larger movements. “The culture of sports has not changed. It is about a transactional reality.” Wave 4: Black Lives Matter Edwards tied Kaepernick’s protest to the Black Lives Matter movement and the quest for social justice, further noting that current activists have social media at their disposal and are able to use their power and influence to call on their followers to protest. “This generation is about the exercise of power.” Wave 5: Gender Equality The WNBA donates $5 of every ticket sale to Planned Parenthood. “Women have always been a part of every movement, but this movement is about women.” Young women are more dependent on services offered under the Affordable Care Act and nonprofit health care clinics. Edwards said if those go away, it will constitute a direct threat on the existence of women’s sports, and women are already beginning to react to it. “The challenges of our circumstances are diverse and dynamic,” Edward said. “Our struggle, therefore, must be multifaceted and perpetual and there are no final victories.” It’s not the activists who created the struggle, Edwards said, but the athletes who are participating in their leg of the struggle. He said there will always be a movement, which is why we’re constantly in pursuit of forming that more perfect union. “It will never be perfect but the struggle to get there is what will be part of what is in the very fabric and soul of American society.” Learn more about Diversity and Inclusion at UMKC Jan 23, 2020

  • On MLK Day, School of Dentistry Volunteers Service for Thousands of Smiles

    Students, faculty and staff assemble 2,000 dental-supply kits
    From the outside, the UMKC School of Dentistry looked quiet Monday morning, befitting a day when classes were out and its clinics were closed. But inside, the cafeteria and second-floor hallways were abuzz with volunteers doing service befitting Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The volunteers’ mission: assemble 2,000 dental-care supply kits for distribution to points of need throughout the community. It was the second year for the dental school’s MLK Day of Service, and the number of kits was double the output of a year ago. “It’s great to see everyone here volunteering,” said Shurouk Alkharabsheh, a third-year dental student. “I missed last year and wanted to take part this time. It’s good to do something productive with the day.” Ryan Greenway, a second-year dental student, agreed: “I enjoy volunteering, and was bummed when I missed the event last year. But now I’m here! It’s also a nice break from our routine.” Students got the dental-kit day of service going a year ago, and it has had the full support of School of Dentistry leadership. Dean Marsha Pyle was on hand Monday morning and took a brief break from her assembly line to praise the effort. “I’m grateful that our faculty, staff and students have created this opportunity to do good in the community,” Pyle said. “It’s a team effort — and Kansas City loves its teams! It’s great to see this special effort on this special day, when we don’t have our usual commitments.” Most of the kits were packed with an average adult in mind, with items including a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and information on the school’s clinical services and free dental cleanings available to the public. But one station packed kits suited to children, and another included supplies of use to older residents and people with dentures. “I’m a big believer in volunteering, so this fits right in with my ideas. I participated last year and really enjoyed the sense of community.” - Mark Dallas Richie Bigham, assistant dean for student programs, said the kits were bound for several places, including the City Union Mission, a program to help the homeless that’s on the original site of the dental school. The school also added a sock drive this year, as socks are an often-requested item at some of the locations that receive the dental kits. Just as the kits will benefit the wider community, the volunteer corps this year drew from outside the dental school. One group came from St. James United Methodist Church, which also was sending volunteers to other locations around Kansas City for MLK Day. “We’re happy to help here at the School of Dentistry,” said one parishioner, Phyllis Jackson, “and we have other volunteers today at Hospice House, Rose Brooks, Harvesters and other locations to honor the memory of Dr. King.” Faculty and staff from the School of Dentistry rounded out the volunteers, including Mark Dallas, M.S., research assistant in the Department of Oral and Craniofacial Sciences. “I’m a big believer in volunteering, so this fits right in with my ideas,” said Dallas, who joined the school in 2001 along with his wife, Professor Sarah Dallas, Ph.D. “I participated last year and really enjoyed the sense of community.” The volunteers had started the day at 8:30 a.m. with a half-hour video on Dr. King’s legacy, and then they made fast work putting the kits together. By 11 a.m., they reassembled to be thanked by Jeffery Primos, director of business affairs, and then to make their first delivery, to nearby Ronald McDonald House. The project will make a difference for hundreds of people, Primos said, “and embody what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for.” Jan 20, 2020

  • Prison Research and Innovation

    $200,000 Urban Institute grant supports corrections research, offender rehabilitation
    University of Missouri System researchers will play a central role in a new initiative aimed at improving the prison environment in Missouri. This week the Urban Institute, with support from Arnold Ventures, announced a $200,000 grant to support a collaborative effort between university researchers and the Missouri Department of Corrections. Missouri was one of one five states chosen for phase 1 of the Prison Research and Innovation Network, along with Colorado, Delaware, Iowa and Vermont. Janet Garcia-Hallett, assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, is part of the research team. The team, led by Kelli Canada and Clark Peters of MU, received an annual grant of $100,000 to support their work in the project. Canada and Peters co-founded the Center for Criminal and Juvenile Justice Priorities. Other researchers involved are Ashley Givens, assistant professor of social work at MU; Beth Huebner, professor of criminology and criminal justice at University of Missouri-St. Louis. “We are excited to partner with the Department of Corrections on this important work,” Canada said. “This collaboration speaks to the land-grant mission of the University of Missouri, as our research findings will be put to use to improve lives in communities across the state.” The researchers will conduct climate surveys and collect data to provide objective analysis to the Department of Corrections for the research pilot project.   “I am a firm believer in using research and data to make good decisions,” Missouri Department of Corrections Director Anne Precythe said. “We’re thrilled to work with the University of Missouri, to join the network and to implement evidence-based practices, policies and programs that advance our goal of improving lives for safer communities.” The 4.5-year research project will be piloted at Moberly Correctional Center, a 1,800-bed minimum/medium-security facility located 35 miles north of Columbia, Missouri. The prison is the inaugural site of the Missouri Veterans Project and the state’s first dorm for veterans. It houses two intensive therapeutic communities for offenders committed to personal growth and sobriety. It provides opportunities for offenders to give back through programs such as Puppies for Parole and Restorative Justice. It also offers 48 courses and groups that build skills in areas such as anger management, parenting, employability preparation, cognitive interventions, addiction management and understanding the impact of crime on victims.  “We look forward to supporting Missouri in its efforts to employ research and data to improve prison culture, operations, and design while creating more humane and rehabilitative correctional environments,” said Nancy La Vigne, vice president of justice policy at the Urban Institute. “Missouri’s leadership and commitment to transparency and accountability will help spur lasting change for people who live and work in prisons.” Jan 14, 2020

  • UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies Ranks in Top 30 for Eighth Year in a Row

    U.S. News & World Report ranks online graduate programs
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Nursing and Health Studies ranked No. 26 among the nation’s best online graduate nursing programs of 2020 by U.S. News & World Report, giving it at least a Top 30 ranking for the eighth year in a row. The UMKC ranking, released today, is the highest of any university in Missouri or Kansas. Last year, UMKC also ranked high at No. 19. “The UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies is proud that our online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program continues to be recognized as one of the best in the nation," said Joy Roberts, interim dean. "For the past two decades, UMKC MSN graduates have been demonstrating excellence in nursing care throughout Missouri, Kansas and the Midwest." 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 Family Nurse Practitioner Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Nurse Educator Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Ph.D. Doctor of Nursing Practice U.S. News began ranking online education in 2012. The categories include faculty credentials and training; student engagement; admissions selectivity; peer reputation; and student services and technology. U.S. News began their data comparisons with more than 550 institutions that had accredited graduate degree programs in nursing. Among the ones that replied, more than 180 said they offered online graduate nursing programs. The number of online nursing programs is continually growing nationwide. Jan 14, 2020

  • Criminal Justice Professor Uses Sticky Notes to Humanize Crime Statistics

    Seven questions with Ken Novak
    In January 2019, criminology and criminal justice professor Ken Novak noticed an unusual pattern of homicide cases in Kansas City and casually decided to track them using color-coded sticky notes and posting them on his office door. He intended to spark a conversation. On each note he recorded the date, victim name, victim demographic and the location. Orange for gun violence, blue for other, yellow for unknown and purple for officer-involved. He wanted students and colleagues to stop and ask questions, to take in what was happening and be led to help find a solution. He detailed his findings on Twitter at the start of 2020. What stuck out to you the most about the homicide rate last year? The thing that stuck out to me in general was the number of gun-related homicides – it’s clear that guns are involved in nine out of every 10 homicides. “I hope this humanizes crime statistics. Behind every homicide is a victim and grieving families experiencing unimaginable trauma.” 151 homicides in one year? That’s a lot. Is that the highest it’s ever been? There were several years in the 1990s when the raw number of homicides was higher. In fact, there were more homicides in 2017 than in 2019. But I believe it’s better to examine the population-adjusted homicide rates and compare Kansas City’s rates to national trends. In the 1990s, the national homicide rate was almost twice as high as it is today. Since then, the national rate trended downward, where Kansas City’s homicide rate is stable. In 2019, Kansas City’s homicide rate was roughly six times higher than the national rate, and this disparity between Kansas City and the U.S. is the highest it has ever been. What can we attribute to the heightened rate of gun violence in our city? Several different factors contribute to the heightened rate of gun violence in Kansas City. First: Research demonstrates that cities and counties in states with lenient gun laws have more gun homicides, even after considering other factors. Second: There is a culture of gun violence in Kansas City, as well as in other urban areas in Missouri, perhaps due to the availability of guns. Using guns to settle disputes and arguments is normative in Kansas City, so we run the risk of viewing this violence as normal because it is what we have become accustomed to expect. Additionally, many homicides are a result of retaliatory violence. “Settling the score” with guns rather than the criminal justice system has become normalized behavior. Third: Many affected by gun violence do not view the criminal justice system as effective, fair, impartial or transparent. Only about half of homicides are cleared by the police, and only about 20% of non-fatal shootings result in an arrest. When witnesses and victims don’t see people being held accountable for their actions, they are less likely to cooperate with detectives and prosecutors. Add in the fact that witnesses and victims may also fear retaliation if they cooperate, their motivation to collaborate with the police goes down even further. It’s a vicious cycle. “There is no single solution to this problem, and there is no single strategy we can implement...” Your goal when you started posting these notes on your door was to start a conversation and you’ve done just that, especially with the recent wave of media coverage after your Twitter thread. What do you hope the community will take away from your findings? I hope this humanizes crime statistics. Behind every homicide is a victim and grieving families experiencing unimaginable trauma. It’s easy to lose sight of this fact. I also wanted to draw attention to how homicide victimization clusters by demographics. Young black males experience a disproportionate amount of victimization – about 95 times higher than the general U.S. population. The burden and trauma of homicide is not shared equally across everyone in KC. You were previously on the board for KC NOVA (the Kansas City No Violence Alliance). What community initiatives are you currently involved in to help solve criminal justice issues in Kansas City? I am currently working with the Kansas City Police Department on a hot-spot policing initiative in the most violent areas in eastern Kansas City — where many of these shooting occur. I am also working with the police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms on an initiative to link shootings by examining ballistic evidence left behind at crime scenes. Both of these are sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice. “In 2019, Kansas City’s homicide rate was roughly six times higher than the national rate, and this disparity between Kansas City and the U.S. is the highest it has ever been.” Interesting! We’re looking forward to hearing more about those initiatives as they progress. What about those of us in the community? What can we do to help solve the gun violence issue? There is no single solution to this problem, and there is no single strategy we can implement. Kansas City needs a violence-reduction portfolio of strategies. We have learned some crime prevention strategies work better than others do and, over time, science has developed evidence-based solutions to reduce crime. Citizens should demand evidence-strategies be given priority within this portfolio. You mentioned that you started this as a casual effort. Are you planning to do it all again this year? I don’t think I’m going to do this in 2020. I never intended this to be an annual exercise. Learn more about faculty research Jan 13, 2020

  • Researcher Working to Prevent Age-Related Vision Loss

    $1.16-milion NIH grant award explores macular-degeneration treatment
    Backed by a $1.16 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, UMKC School of Medicine vision researcher Peter Koulen, Ph.D., is studying new chemical compounds to treat and prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss and blindness among older adults. As many as 11 million people in the United States have some form of age-related macular degeneration. “AMD affects a significant and increasing portion of the U.S. population, with age being a predisposing factor,” said Koulen, director of basic research at UMKC’s Vision Research Center. “This research will contribute to improving health care and the prevention of blindness.” His project, funded by the NIH National Eye Institute, will focus on the preclinical development of novel antioxidants that have the potential to be both preventative and therapeutic in nature. The compounds could prevent the deterioration and death of retina nerve cells and supporting cells. The retina cannot regenerate these cells, therefore, their loss as a result of AMD leads to irreversible damage to one’s vision. If successful, these new antioxidants being developed by Koulen’s research would be effective in both preventing the disease from progressing and treating already existing damage. The research focuses on dry AMD, a form of the disease that affects the majority of patients. Effective therapies are lacking for this form of the disease, in which cells are gradually lost over time resulting in blindness.   Medications developed as a result of the study could also complement existing treatment designs for the wet form of AMD that is more aggressive and affects a smaller number of patients. Jan 10, 2020

  • UMKC Professor Wins Grant for Using One Health Data

    Gerald Wyckoff is one of three local scientists awarded nexus of human and animal research funding
    BioNexus KC and the Hall Family Foundation awarded Nexus of Human and Animal Health Research Grants to three local researchers including Gerald Wyckoff, Ph.D., professor at UMKC. Each researcher was given $50,000 to further the Path to 2025 regional vision: Kansas City is a global leader at the nexus of human and animal health benefitting all our citizens and the economy. This nexus is called One Health. Wyckoff, with the joint University of Missouri-Kansas City and Kansas State University 1Data project, will work on creating a set of highly curated potential therapeutic target genes for rare disease. Wyckoff works with the School of Pharmacy and School of Biological and Chemical Sciences. Building on this, the project will construct an algorithmic approach to screening for new therapeutics in over 3,400 rare disease genes, creating a new resource and tool for precision medicine in the rare disease space. By taking a One Health approach, and using computational techniques, 1Data plans to address the major problem of the lack of availability of treatments for rare disease and do so in a way that benefits both animal and human health. Jan 07, 2020

  • Winter Break Reduced Operating Schedule

    Hours and services limited during break
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City will conduct reduced operations, with most offices and departments closed, from Dec. 25 through Jan. 1. Normal business operations will resume on Jan. 2. December 25 through January 1 has officially been designated as winter break for the University of Missouri System. The campus will be closed with exception of a few offices. Here are a few more details about specific services. Emergency In case of emergency, contact UMKC police at 816-235-1515. UMKC Dental Clinic UMKC School of Dentistry Clinic reopens at 8 a.m. Jan. 2. Year-End Donations You are welcome to make on-line donations via credit card here. The Office of Gift Processing will only be available Monday, Dec. 30, and Tuesday, Dec. 31, from 8 a.m. to noon to accept year-end gifts. Inquiries can be directed to (816) 235-1566 or The UMKC Foundation will also be taking calls at (816) 235-5778. Any checks must be in an envelope postmarked prior to Dec. 31, 2019 in order to be credited in the 2019 tax year. Please address donations to: UMKC Office of Gift Processing112 Administrative Center5115 Oak StreetKansas City, MO 64112 For any stock gifts or wire transfers, please contact Katherine Walter at Stock gifts must be received into the UMKC Foundation’s brokerage account by Dec. 31, 2019 to be counted in the 2019 tax year. Mutual funds should be initiated no later than Dec. 20 to be transferred on time. Thank you for supporting UMKC and enjoy the winter break!   Dec 20, 2019

  • Alumna Tells Tales of Westboro and Bison

    MFA leads to rich and varied freelance career
    Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about.  Name: Anne Kniggendorf '14UMKC degree program: MFA in Creative Writing and Media Arts, College of Arts and Sciences Alumna Anne Kniggendorf attended the MFA Creative Writing program on the G.I. Bill. While she always had a passion for writing, she did not see herself as a journalist. But her freelance career has been full of delightful surprises.  Tell us about your current position. I’m a freelance writer in Kansas City. I started freelancing for the Kansas City Star in 2014 and I still write for them occasionally. I write for KCUR 89.3, the Kauffman Foundation, and have written for Flatland Magazine a few times. I’ve also written for national magazines and twice for international journals. How did you choose your field of study? Writing has been my favorite activity for as long as I can remember. I got to a point when I was in my mid-30s when I felt that I’d hit a wall. I needed more tools to write the way I wanted to be able to. What brought you to UMKC? I wanted a writing program near home and UMKC seemed perfect. What was your favorite thing about UMKC? I enjoyed all of my classes, professors and assignments. My favorite thing was the chance to reopen the part of my mind that had to work with whatever someone else assigned me--which is what I’ve been doing ever since.  What did you learn about yourself while you were here? At UMKC, I learned that I was holding myself back from being a writer. I saw that Kansas City is home to a community of writers who are generally willing to help each other, and that all I needed to do was show up and work to be a part of it. “At UMKC, I learned that I was holding myself back from being a writer.” - Anne Kniggendorf Who was the most influential faculty or staff member at UMKC? As far as working hard and diligently, Whitney Terrell encouraged me more than anyone else. He was in charge of The Kansas City Star internship at the time, and he selected me for that program. How did the internship affect how you viewed the field? I don’t think I’d be doing what I’m doing now if I hadn’t had the opportunity at The Star. Learning how to work with an editor and write under a deadline was a lot different from writing for leisure. I hadn’t worked with deadlines since my early 20s, and I had to write a book review every week for an entire semester. At the same time I was learning how to work that hard at writing, I was writing my thesis and taking two or three other classes. What are the challenges of your field? I told myself until I was about 37 that writing isn’t a job. I think lots of people in the arts feel this way, because it’s culturally accepted that no one in the arts makes much money. The exceptions are so few. There’s no writer who expects to grow up to be the next Stephen King. What are the benefits? Every assignment I take is different from the last one, and I meet new people all the time who are really fascinating and eager to talk to me about what they love doing. What has been one of your favorite freelance assignments? I just did a story for KCUR with Megan Phelps-Roper (granddaughter of the late Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church) about her new book “Unfollow.” Because I grew up in the area and heard about the Westboro members’ picketing, I was really interested in being able to sit with her ask about her experiences. I had a great learning opportunity when I did a story about a buffalo ranch.  Amy and Michael Billings are interested in conserving bison in an effort to preserve the ecosystem of their land. As it turned out, conservation and slaughter are compatible. If you want to save something, you need to eat it. How did UMKC help you reach your current position? In a very real way, the internship at The Star that I got while I was in the program put me on the path I’m on now, but beyond that, the feedback about my work from the professors and other students really highlighted my strengths and weaknesses in ways I hadn’t seen before. What are your goals for the future? I want to keep writing for media outlets and organizations. I’m also working on two books. “Secret Kansas City,” which is part of a series about weird, mysterious, unexpected or goofy stories about individual cities, will be published in fall 2020. The publisher found me and asked me to write it. I’ve been working on my own book for six years. It’s about the relationship between military service and the liberal arts. I think’s there’s a connection, and I don’t think it’s smart to separate them. I have the whole narrative in place, but I just don’t think it’s as succinct as it needs to be.  Would you recommend the MFA program? Yes, it strengthened my writing in a lot of ways. The process of giving and receiving feedback was helpful. But one of the things that was really significant was getting the opportunity to write across genres. It’s been super valuable and not every MFA program has that. While I wasn’t initially interested in poetry, I enjoyed those classes. And there’s a lot to be learned from poetry courses – like word economy – that have helped in journalism. Playwriting and learning about writing dialogue helped with choosing quotations to support the ideas in my articles. Every day when I’m writing I’m thinking what can I do to draw people into the story? What’s the point that will make someone care enough to keep reading?” Those are things I learned in the MFA program. “Every day when I’m writing I’m thinking what can I do to draw people into the story? Those are things I learned in the MFA program.” - Anne Kniggendorf What is one word that best describes you? Tenacious. Do you have a motto you live by? Don’t panic... What is your advice for a student entering UMKC? If you study what you really want to know about, whether that’s in a larger sense like your degree program, or on a smaller scale like topics you choose for papers, you’ll learn more and work harder than if you study something you imagine would be good to know, or that someone else wants you to learn about. Dec 20, 2019

  • Helix Prize for Architecture Students Shows Dedication to Details

    Winner Alexa Radley thrives in challenging program
    Alexa Radley carefully lifts the roof of the model of her prize-winning design in the unusually quiet studio space of Katz Hall. She points to colorful, geometric art that spans a large section of the wall. "I suggested having a local artist create a mural here,” she says of her design for a community center in the Lykins neighborhood in Northeast Kansas City. “I think that would really help make it their own.” Museum board, basswood, heavy-gauge wire and tiny plastic people are the tools that the students of the Architecture, Urban Planning and Development program use to translate the needs of their clients into physical solutions at the annual Helix Prize competition for the second-year students. For this year’s class, these models — diminutive in scale — represent the strengthening of a neighborhood in the development of a new Lykins Square Community Center. “While this is not a real project, we did meet with representatives of the neighborhood association, and they gave us feedback on what the neighborhood would want,” says John Eck, associate teaching professor. “The neighborhood owns the site and sees it as a possible ‘real’ location.” Eck says there were a couple of interesting challenges with this project, especially as the residents included gym space as part of their wish list. “One of the biggest challenges was the insertion of a fairly bulky building into a very modestly-scaled residential neighborhood. No one wants a giant new building looming over their home, but at the same time the design needed to accommodate the program and address the large scale of the park.” In addition, the slope of the site is significant. “There’s a drop of about twenty feet from the back of the site to the front sidewalk,” Eck says. “Finding a way to “step” the program down, both indoors and outdoors, while maintaining accessibility for all is no small feat.“ Radley came to the AUPD program after a year in community college. With equal strengths in art, design and math, she thought architecture might be a good fit. “I interned with A3G in Liberty, Missouri,” she says. “It’s a small firm of women architects. It was a great way to see if I would enjoy the field.” Her experience assured her that architecture was her path. She was accepted into the program and will continue to Kansas State University as part of a partnership between the two universities. "You get really close to the people in the program."    -Alexa Radley For the Helix Prize, students had seven weeks to outline their objectives and approaches, complete structural drawings and build their models.  “It’s a big project,” Radley says. “There are a lot of small components. Dealing with the topography of the sloped site was a real challenge.” When she began her design, she envisioned the roof as a ramp, but as the design evolved, she incorporated angular silhouettes to mimic the roofs of the neighborhood. “That’s when I really started to love my project,” she says. Radley’s design is nestled into the landscape, creating the feeling that the neighborhood both surrounds and protects it. Her building has more movement than some of her classmates, whose designs relied largely on right angles. She included orange panels on the exterior as a warm and inviting accent.  But one of her favorite components was the mural. “The community representatives really love it,” she says. This year’s jurors included Gail Lozoff, neighborhood representative; Mike Frisch, department chair, AUPD; Katie Kingery-Page, landscape architect and Kansas State University representative; and Anthony Luca. And despite what might look like an intimidating and very personal process to have professionals critique their student projects, Radley did not find the process daunting. “Most of the jurors have been through the process, so they understand what it feels like. Their feedback is very constructive and they focus on strengths as well.” Radley and the runner-up, Anna Greene, will both receive scholarships to Kansas State next year. Radley is looking forward to their transition. "You get really close to the people in the program,” she says. “We’re all in the same classes and studio together, which is more intimate. Most of us are going on to K-State next year.” While she loves the field and the program, she cautions that it’s not for everyone. “The program itself is challenging and not everyone who has an interest decides to tough it out,” Radley says, as she carefully replaces the roof of her model. “If you’re not 100% committed, you’re not going to make it. There were 36 first-years in my class. We’re down to eight.” Eck is not surprised that Radley is one of the remaining eight. “Alexa’s design process and work ethic is actually what was most striking to me. She has a remarkable ability to put her head down, focus, move forward, and get it done. The end product is important, of course, but learning how to get there is even more important. Design studios are about teaching design process; the project is just a vehicle to do that.” Dec 18, 2019

  • UMKC Pitches In for Better Missouri Roads and Bridges

    Professor John Kevern will help lead a UM System effort to bring cutting-edge technology and research to bear on the state’s transportation issues
    Missouri’s roads and bridges need an upgrade, but state funding is tight. A new entity, the Missouri Center for Transportation Innovation, will combine academic research with industry partners and other stakeholders to create novel transportation solutions. Innovative solutions are needed to address crumbling roads and bridges across Missouri. A new collaborative center within the University of Missouri System hopes to accelerate the future of transportation-related research by connecting academic minds and industry leaders. The Missouri Center for Transportation Innovation (MCTI) will share academic research from each of the four UM System universities — UMKC, MU, UMSL and S&T— with the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to maximize the impact of state-funded transportation research, and to attract large-scale, federal grants to pursue research on the cutting edge of transportation. Built around a common theme of innovation, MCTI research interests will include connected and autonomous vehicles; transportation safety; advanced materials for pavements and bridges; recycling and sustainability; resilience; big data in transportation; congestion relief; and transportation policy and economics. Bill Buttlar, the Glen Barton Chair in Flexible Pavement Systems at the MU College of Engineering, will serve as the center’s director for its first three years, joined by John J. Myers, professor of civil engineering and associate dean of the College of Engineering and Computing at S&T as the deputy director. John Kevern, professor and chair of civil and mechanical engineering at UMKC; and Jill Bernard Bracy, assistant teaching professor in the College of Business Administration and assistant director of program development for the Center for Transportation Studies at UMSL; will also help lead MCTI by serving on the center’s operations cabinet. “Combining the strengths of the UM System universities with MoDOT through the MCTI is a clear expression of our  mission to foster research that benefits the people of Missouri, the nation, and the world,” UM System President Mun Choi said. “Building effective connections between our universities and the state will accelerate research breakthroughs and support economic development and improve transportation safety.” The base funding for MCTI will be provided through the MoDOT state planning and research funding. Myers notes that new transportation-related laboratories at both Missouri S&T and UMKC will also help facilitate the expansion of transportation-related research capabilities at all four UM System universities. The $32 million Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center at UMKC, scheduled for a fall 2020 opening, will include leading-edge high-tech research and development capabilities. And next spring, the $6.5 million Clayco Advanced Construction and Materials Laboratory (ACML), currently under construction at Missouri S&T, will combine civil infrastructure testing and analysis techniques with the development of new infrastructure materials and construction methods in the ACML. Dec 17, 2019

  • Pharmacy Students Help Missourians Battle the Bug

    School held 59 flu-shot events throughout the state
    ‘Tis the season for colds and flu. And this fall, UMKC School of Pharmacy students were again busy battling the bug. Third-year pharmacy students participate each year in a pharmacy-practice experience that includes learning to administer immunizations. This year, that involved giving 2,676 flu shots to patients at 59 immunization events throughout Missouri. This is the eighth year the School of Pharmacy has been part of the flu shot initiative. It started in 2011 as a collaborative effort with the University of Missouri System Healthy for Life wellness program to administer the shots to faculty and staff. “We have enjoyed an excellent collaboration with Healthy for Life,” said Val Ruehter, Pharm.D., BCPP, director of experiential learning. “In Kansas City, we also collaborate with Children’s Mercy, where we participated in flu shot clinics for its Family and Friends program.” The collaborations expanded this year in Kansas City to include Hy-Vee Pharmacies, where students assisted with in-store clinics. In addition, immunization events were held at the John Knox Village retirement community. Students at the Springfield campus collaborated with Alps Pharmacies and its locations in local businesses, and senior assisted living and nursing care centers; and Walgreens and its locations in local businesses, schools, veterans organizations and homeless charities. Clinics were also held at both Lawrence Drug and Sunshine Health Mart for patients at these pharmacies. Students from all three UMKC School of Pharmacy campuses participated. In Kansas City, students participated in 14 immunization events and administered 1,453 flu shots. Springfield campus students participated in 44 events and gave 930 shots. And students from the Columbia campus administered 293 immunizations.  “These collaborations engage students in a variety of activities and allow us to demonstrate the knowledge, skills and impact that pharmacists can have on community health and wellness,” Ruehter said. “Our students were well-prepared, engaged and represented themselves as knowledgeable health care professionals.” All vaccines administered by students are given under required protocol with oversight by a physician. Certified immunizer faculty members take the lead in managing the protocol and supervising the student training and immunization events. The regional American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists organization honored the UMKC School of Pharmacy earlier this year with an Operation Immunization chapter award. It recognized the extraordinary contributions pharmacists provide to improving vaccination rates in their communities. The UMKC chapter also received the national recognition in 2012. Dec 17, 2019

  • Celebrating 1,000 New Grads During Mid-Year Commencement

    Class of 2019 graduates honored
    Nearly 1,000 students received their degrees during University of Missouri-Kansas City mid-year Commencement exercises on Saturday, Dec. 14. Festivities began with the College of Arts and Sciences Graduation with Distinction Luncheon where alumna Liz Cook (M.F.A. ’14) offered advice for the 70 students graduating with honors. “You may not have all the answers right now, but you have the skills to find them,” said Cook, who works at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and as a writer for The Pitch. Liz Cook, pictured left, with Chancellor Agrawal and fellow College of Arts and Sciences alumna, Anne Kniggendorf,  pictured right. Among the students graduating with recognition were the Dean of Students 2019 Honor Recipients. Faculty and staff nominate students for their academic excellence, leadership and service. Ten Roos were honored this fall. Shahodat Azimova, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences Shelby Chesbro, School of Medicine Jordann Dhuse, School of Medicine Lindsey Gard, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences Fiona Isiavwe, Bloch School of Management Leah Israel, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences Anna Lillig, School of Nursing and Health Studies Zach Randall, School of Medicine Marcella Riley, School of Medicine Landon Rohowetz, School of Medicine Student crowd surfs in celebration outside Swinney Center after graduation. On Saturday, Swinney Center was packed with students and their families celebrating the milestone of graduation. Chancellor Agrawal congratulated students saying, “You are ready to take on the world.” During the Henry W. Bloch School of Management ceremony, alumnus Mike Plunkett (B.S. ’91) addressed students. Plunkett is the co-founder and COO of PayIt, an award-winning digital government platform that simplifies doing business with state, local and federal governments. As students move forward in life, he encouraged them to: Dream: Get in the habit of visualizing attainable goals on a daily basis. Work: The absolutely necessary step to making your dreams a reality. Hope: Have the determination to be positive in life, even when things aren’t going well. Give: Enrich your life by giving to others. Alumnus Mike Plunkett offers advice to the class of 2019. Student speaker Ian Njoroge encouraged his fellow graduates saying, “Believe that you will find opportunities. Look for opportunities and you’ll see that opportunities are looking for you.” Dec 17, 2019

  • Alumnus’ Determination to Bring Music to Kansas City’s Youth

    Darryl Chamberlain has helped more than 200 students learn to play instruments
    At 10 years old, Darryl Chamberlain (B.A. ’15, ’16) walked to school composing music in his head. Despite having no formal training and no instruments in his home, the music still came to him at an early age. Now, more than 40 years later, Chamberlain is actually composing some of those melodies for the Kansas City children in his A-Flat Youth Orchestra. Since its creation, Chamberlain has helped more than 200 students learn to play instruments, many of whom wouldn’t have had access to music lessons otherwise. Chamberlain’s journey from 10-year-old sidewalk composer to volunteer orchestra director is an unlikely one, made possible through remarkable hard work and tenacity. A winding road to music (and back) At 17, Chamberlain begin attending a church full of energetic young people like himself. The church had a youth choir Chamberlain longed to join, but he didn’t know how to sing or play an instrument. Instead, he hung around the choir practices and one day noticed a guitar leaning in a corner. With a few minutes’ instruction from the bass guitarist and the devoted study of a Mel Bay guitar book, Chamberlain taught himself how to play. Then, another stroke of luck: The church needed a place to store their piano after a storm, and Chamberlain’s house was nearby. A few months later, and Chamberlain had taught himself piano, too. “There are among us Beethovens and Bachs and Mozarts and Schuberts and Schumanns and so many more. They are among us, and sometimes they get a chance to surface, because they came from a community that supported music and allowed them to grow.” – Chamberlain Over the next few decades, Chamberlain continued to learn and teach music while he, as he puts it, “created a life.” He got married, worked as an auto mechanic, earned an associate’s degree from the Electronics Institute and got a job at Texas Instruments. Community need becomes personal mission In 2004, Chamberlain moved back to Kansas City from Texas and found himself at the American Royal Parade. When he had left Kansas City back in the 1980s, the parade had been full of Kansas City high school bands. By the early 2000s, he was concerned to see none performing. He started talking to educators in the area and discovered the need for music education was great, but funding wasn’t always available. In 2005, Chamberlain decided to create a youth orchestra for kids who might not have access to music otherwise. He began buying instruments for his project, which has now become as the A-Flat Youth Orchestra. He purchased most of the instruments out of his own pocket, starting with just the money he earned playing piano at a local church. He was a familiar face at local pawn shops and spent hours searching listings on eBay and newspaper classifieds, looking for any instrument that looked playable (or at least fixable). Today, the orchestra owns enough instruments to outfit two-and-a-half concert bands. Bassoons, violins, cellos, guitars, flutes, drums and more, are all owned by A-Flat Music Studio, Inc. and loaned or rented to students who want to play music. Recently, a woman saw a Kansas City Star story about the orchestra and donated a harp. On Saturdays, the instruments show up in places like the W.E.B. DuBois Learning Center, in the hands of dozens of young people, many of whom wouldn’t have had access to an instrument elsewhere. More than 30 students play in the orchestra, ranging in age from seven to 19. Chamberlain has recruited five other teachers to help instruct various sections. His motto? “There will not be a child in this city who wants to study music but can’t because money is an issue.” Chamberlain’s love for teaching is apparent. It’s part of what led him to UMKC in 2009, eventually earning two bachelor’s degrees: one in secondary education–social sciences and another in history. His studies at UMKC were a natural fit, he says, giving him access to formal education in the areas of art, history and teaching that he’s informally enjoyed his entire life. Chamberlain with members of the A-Flat Youth Orchestra at a performance at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The power of giving kids a chance When asked about the particularly memorable moments from his 14 years directing the orchestra, a few come to mind, Chamberlain says: The day a student who had been struggling blurted out, “I’m doing it! I’m actually reading!” Receiving an invitation to a graduation party for one of his students who had earned her M.D. Seeing the students play at the Kauffman Center in bow ties. Once, a young man asked him why he “dresses up” for rehearsal. Chamberlain explained to him, “I dress up for you, because it’s the kind of respect I want to extend to you. I want you to know you’re worth it.” The next week, that same student came to class in slacks and shiny dress shoes, looking, as Chamberlain put it, “like a million bucks.” The important thing, Chamberlain says, is giving kids a chance. Because if we can teach music, we can also teach discipline, character, tenacity, all those little things that make a person — and a community — great. In the process, you might help a child discover a part of themselves they didn’t know existed. “There are among us Beethovens and Bachs and Mozarts and Schuberts and Schumanns and so many more,” Chamberlain says. "They are among us, and sometimes they get a chance to surface, because they came from a community that supported music and allowed them to grow.” Support the Youth Orchestra This story originally appeared in Perspectives magazine, vol. 29. Dec 17, 2019

  • UMKC, KU Developing Digital Course for Formerly Incarcerated Women

    NSF funds $1.4 million project meant to improve eligibility for jobs
    There are currently more than 1 million incarcerated women in the United States. According to Baek-Young Choi, associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering, women are the fastest growing segment of the prison population, increasing nearly 834% nationwide within the last 40 years. Yet prison education systems are still primarily designed with men in mind. Choi, alongside co-principal investigator Sejung Song, Ph.D. and a group of graduate-level students, is partnering with a team of faculty from the University of Kansas on a $1.4 million National Science Foundation-funded project – led by Hyunjin Seo, Ph.D., associate professor in the KU School of Journalism – to help women exiting prison advance their technology skills in hopes of improving their eligibility for better job opportunities and their ability to support their children’s education. “Many women going into prison were underprivileged to begin with, and then in prison there’s a lack of access to the internet,” Choi said. “This leaves women vulnerable because when they are released, it’ll be difficult for them to find good jobs and have positive influences on their children as well.” The NSF’s advancing informal STEM learning (AISL) program that supports this project seeks to engage the public of all ages in learning STEM in informal environments, and may serve as a template for workforce preparation efforts. The scope of the program the two institutions are designing consists of curriculum planning, developing a three-course learning management system (which Baek-Young and team are building), engaging with potential program participants and potential community partners as well as leveraging regional resources for additional support. The UMKC STEM team will co-lead education sessions and curriculum development alongside KU, build the online learning system and participate in experiential research to understand the challenges of women-in-transition with respect to acquiring technology skills and analyzing effects of different education models – face-to-face (in public libraries), hybrid (a combination of on-site and online) and online only. “We really want this program to be informed by research, so we do a lot of research to learn what the participants’ needs and interests are, and incorporate that into the STEM curriculum,” Choi said. “We also want to know what the most effective way of teaching STEM is for this population, so we’re testing multiple modes of education.” Course 1 - Introduction to computing The introductory course will teach computational thinking, which is not only helpful for understanding technology but also for everyday problem solving skills. Choi said the team hopes that this program will help improve women’s self-esteem and confidence as they face new challenges and how they feel about themselves as their attachment and sense of belonging evolves in this group, which will help their employment in the long run. Course 2 – Web basics The course will lead women in learning basic website elements, HTML and development environments. Course 3 – Web advanced The course will teach women website building for business, which would include form building and use of FinTech tools. This course is a combination of hybrid and online-only courses. The duration of each course depends on the needs of the women, but the project team is anticipating 12 to 16 weeks per course while the full project, including research and development, will last about three years. The team kicked off the project in September 2019, and will use this first quarter for planning and preparation, followed by leading educational sessions and, finally, analyzing results by August 2022. They’re also hoping to garner industry and other support to enrich and sustain the program. Choi said they’ll have potential users try out the learning management system before it officially launches. Learn more about this project Dec 17, 2019

  • Honoring An Engineering Student

    Brian Dieckman (1996-2019)
    Brian Dieckman, a senior in the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Computing and Engineering, died after a motorcycle accident in Lee’s Summit.  Dieckman was a mechanical engineering major and research assistant performing work for an Office of Naval Research project. “Brian was a diligent, hard-working and careful student, balancing a full courseload with aspirations of studying materials science in his graduate career,” said Tony Caruso, professor and assistant vice chancellor for research at UMKC. “He was kind and thoughtful, and his sense of humor helped him quickly make friends in his cohort,” said Stephan Young, a Ph.D. student who was Dieckman’s mentor. “Brian had an incredibly bright future, and will be greatly missed by those fortunate enough to have known him.” Here is information about his services. Dec 16, 2019

  • Celebrating UMKC Police Sgt. Timothy Layman and His 40 Years of Service

    Timothy Layman (1957-2019)
    Sgt. Timothy Joe Layman of the UMKC Police Department died unexpectedly due to health complications. Layman (1957-2019) had been an officer with the UMKC Police Department for 40 years, and was the longest serving police officer in UMKC PD's history. Layman graduated from UMKC with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1985; and a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science and math in 1985. Layman graduated from the Independence Police Academy in May 1979, and began his decades-long career as a UMKC police officer. He was employed as a UMKC sergeant at the time of his death. “Sgt. Layman had dedicated his life to proudly serving UMKC and the community,” said UMKC Police Chief Michael Bongartz. “Tim was the heart and soul of the UMKC PD, and our memories of him will never be forgotten.” Layman’s professional memberships included International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation - Law Enforcement Executive Development Association (FBI - LEEDA) and National Association of Clery Compliance Officers and Professionals (NACCOP). Layman, of Blue Springs, is survived by his wife of 40 years, Rebecca Brooks Layman; son, T.J. Layman, Jr.; and his parents. Here is information about his services. Dec 13, 2019

  • Satellite Campus Feels Less Remote When You Have a Sense of Home

    Third-year pharmacy student Raeann Kilgore discusses her passion for community pharmacy and why she chose to attend the UMKC School of Pharmacy at ...
    Growing up in a small Missouri town riding horses on a cattle ranch is a part of Raeann Kilgore’s core framework. She loves rural life. She enjoys the tight-knit community she grew up in and interacting with people. So when it was time for the University of Missouri graduate to choose where she would attend pharmacy school, she chose the UMKC School of Pharmacy satellite location in Columbia. “I chose the Columbia campus based on its location from home as well as the class size,” Kilgore said. The petite, long-haired blonde from Green City, Missouri, isn’t interested in pursuing a career in big pharma — she would much rather have a large impact on improving access to health care in rural areas where she can connect with patients whose lives are similar to that of her family’s. “I recognize the need for health care in these areas and have always had a strong desire to return to my community to provide health care in some form,” Kilgore said. “While going to office hours in person isn’t really an option, my professors are more than willing to make arrangements to schedule a Zoom meeting or phone call, and they’re generally great at responding to email.”  Though she’s always been interested in medicine, it was a job shadowing experience she had with an independent pharmacy in high school that got the small-town woman interested in pharmacy. She fell in love with the personalized service and relationships the pharmacy had with its patients, employees and other care providers. That’s where she sees herself in the future. “It helps to have relationships with patients because you have more personal connections with them and, as a farm girl myself, I can relate to them. I know their lifestyle and what kinds of things they’re doing. It’s a more holistic health care experience for both parties.” Kilgore has already taken the initiative to immerse herself in diverse learning experiences to help her prepare for her pharmaceutical career. She spends her spare time volunteering at Cedar Creek Therapeutic Riding Center, a local horseback riding stable for people with disabilities in mid-Missouri. “Cedar Creek gives me a sense of home away from home,” Kilgore said with a slight twang in her accent. “It also allows me to deal with diverse populations and broaden my perspective of health care. It teaches me how to communicate and bond with patients over a common passion.” “It helps to have relationships with patients because you have more personal connections with them and, as a farm girl myself, I can relate to them.”  Given her expert riding experience – she’s been riding since she was three years old – Kilgore serves as a horse leader, guiding and directing the horse while patients ride. For people with disabilities, horse riding simulates a walking experience with the way their hips move as the horse is led around the stable. “I once worked with a patient who had cerebral palsy. He had a particular horse he rode and, over time, learned to give commands. I nearly cried the first time I saw him ride by himself without me as a guide,” Kilgore recalled. According to Cedar Creek founder Karen Grindler, that patient eventually went on to ride at the American Royal. In addition to her volunteer work, Kilgore is involved in numerous organizations through the School of Pharmacy and works as a pharmacy intern at University Hospital. “My involvement in the American Pharmacy Association and other organizations gives me a chance to provide service to the community like blood pressure and blood glucose screenings, immunizations, drug take-back and other services that give me more career experience.” “Being surrounded by like-minded individuals who are all passionate about the pharmacy profession has really given me inspiration to put 100% into everything I do at school and the organizations I’m involved with.”  Being based on a satellite campus, professors are nine times out of 10 not physically in the classroom. The satellite campus is a hallway of classrooms located in the lower level of the Mizzou Academic Support Center. When Kilgore goes to class, she’s sitting among her peers in front of a large projector screen where they can see the professor – usually based in Kansas City – teaching. Every chair has a microphone and a button, so if Kilgore needs to ask a question, she can press the button and wait to be called on. When she has the floor, she can speak directly into the microphone. “Whether having the professor physically here or not is a challenge can be debatable,” she weighed. “While going to office hours in person isn’t really an option, my professors are more than willing to make arrangements to schedule a Zoom meeting or phone call, and they’re generally great at responding to email.” That’s not to say satellite students don’t have professors to turn to. They have on-site faculty and advisors and the dean for the School of Pharmacy works closely with students. “I love our class. We’re like a small family,” Kilgore exclaimed in her cheerful, high-pitched voice. “Being surrounded by like-minded individuals who are all passionate about the pharmacy profession has really given me the inspiration to put 100% into everything I do at school and the organizations I’m involved with. Doing so will allow me to be the best pharmacist I can be in the future and provide the newest services and best care to my future patients.” “I recognize the need for health care in these areas and have always had a strong desire to return to my community to provide healthcare in some form.”     With only a semester left of her third year of pharmacy school, and having just completed the OSCE (objective structured clinical examination) – which she and her classmates “nearly freaked out over” in preparation – she’s looking forward to seeing where she matches for residency next year. She’s hoping to land in Washington, D.C., with the National Community Pharmacists Association. Thinking ahead to the pharmacy school experiences she wants to carry into her career, Kilgore said she hopes to take away friendships that last a lifetime, knowledge to improve patients’ lives and leadership skills to someday lead her own team of community pharmacists. Dec 11, 2019

  • Research Study Can Help People Get Healthier

    Enhanced Lifestyles for Metabolic Syndrome trial will test group vs. self-directed approaches
    Many who set goals for the new year place top priority on becoming healthier. Now a national study can help take the guesswork and expense out of accomplishing a more active lifestyle. University of Missouri-Kansas City is one of five research sites in the U.S. for this study, which focuses on helping those at risk for metabolic syndrome. UMKC is looking for participants. Metabolic syndrome is a bundle of risk factors caused by common lifestyle choices that can lead to serious conditions such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease and cancer. Currently, one-third of Americans have metabolic syndrome, up from one-fourth a decade ago. Over the next two years, with funding from the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund, the Enhanced Lifestyles for Metabolic Syndrome (ELM) Trial, developed at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, aims to enroll 600 people who are at high-risk chronic disease and are interested in managing this risk by optimizing their lifestyle. In addition to UMKC at Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City, the other sites are Rush in Chicago; University of Colorado Denver; Geisinger Health System in Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, Pennsylvania; and Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. The Kansas City study site is overseen by a prestigious UMKC School of Medicine team of principal investigators: endocrinologist Betty Drees, M.D., dean emeritus of the school and Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., director of the Health Equity Institute; and Matthew Lindquist, D.O. “Metabolic syndrome is a serious condition because it is so common, and it can silently increase risk of heart disease and stroke without early warning symptoms,” Drees said. “Research into how to stop it early and keep it controlled is very important in preventing heart disease in individuals and in the population as a whole.” Starting in January, participants will engage in the program for six months, and then will be followed for an additional 18 months, to allow for an assessment of how well they have been able to sustain the good habits they developed and the health benefits they received. “We know that making these small lifestyle changes can have a big impact on people who have health issues that indicate they may have metabolic syndrome. Plus, everyone who participates will receive a free Fitbit. Other lifestyle-change programs can cost upwards of $500, but ELM will be free to our participants, which is awesome.” - Jannette Berkley-Patton The ELM program provides tools, methods and support for healthier eating, increased physical activity and stress management. Guidelines include making vegetables half of every lunch and dinner, exercising for at least 30 minutes on most days, and learning to be less reactive to stressors. The Rush team has been studying a group-based version of ELM for nearly a decade. The group approach, which has been shown to be effective, requires participants to attend meetings. While those can be helpful, they're time-consuming and may be inconvenient; from a public-health standpoint, groups are expensive and labor-intensive. So researchers want to know: Can we simplify this treatment? Can participants get the same or better health results under their own direction, with only minimal contact with the program? “Metabolic syndrome is a serious condition because it is so common, and it can silently increase risk of heart disease and stroke without early warning symptoms. Research into how to stop it early and keep it controlled is very important in preventing heart disease in individuals and in the population as a whole.” - Betty Drees For this study, a "self-directed" program will be compared to a group-based program, with the best lifestyle information available in clinical practice today provided in both.. Everyone in the self-directed arm will be assigned to a coordinator, and will receive a Fitbit activity tracker, access to the program's website and monthly tip sheets for six months. In the group-based program, participants will get most of those things, too. But instead of the tip sheet, group members will meet for an hour and a half weekly for three months, biweekly for an additional three months, and monthly for 18 months after that. They will also have access to the ELM website. They will learn, for example, to distinguish when they are eating because they are hungry from when they turn to food because it is available or they are bored or sad. Participants in both arms of the program will report for three follow-up visits so their progress can be assessed. They will receive lab results and physical measures after each visit. “We are hoping we can learn how self-guided and group support programs can help people eat healthier and move more,” Berkley-Patton said. “We know that making these small lifestyle changes can have a big impact on people who have health issues that indicate they may have metabolic syndrome. Plus, everyone who participates will receive a free Fitbit. Other lifestyle-change programs can cost upwards of $500, but ELM will be free to our participants, which is awesome.” How to participate Participants in the study must be ages 18 years or older, not have diabetes, speak English, be willing to commit to a healthy lifestyle and have at least three of metabolic syndrome’s five risk factors: Central fat (waist circumference of 40 inches or more for men, 35 inches or more for women) High blood pressure High blood sugar Low HDL cholesterol Elevated triglycerides A condition of enrollment is a willingness to participate in either arm of the trial. Participants will not get to choose. To participate in the Kansas City area, email or call Alex Lyon at (816) 404-4418.     Dec 09, 2019


    The 3 most important things you need to know about our new data sciences institute — plus its coordinator
    Data scientist is the “sexiest job of the 21st century,” and now the University of Missouri-Kansas City is boosting that excitement and appeal for people in Greater Kansas City. Introducing the UMKC Institute for Data Education, Analytics and Science (IDEAS). “Shortly after I arrived in Kansas City, I realized UMKC had enormous capabilities and opportunities in data science,” said Chancellor Mauli Agrawal, who created the institute. “There are exciting possibilities here for us, and for potential science and technology partner organizations throughout our community.” The vision of the institute is positioning UMKC as the top option for data science training in the region, building on the university’s strengths in biomedical informatics, big data analytics, image analysis, digital humanities and geospatial analysis. The coordinator of the new institute is Brent Never, associate professor at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. There are no other specific faculty members attached to IDEAS. It is a space for all, with a focus on fostering connections to generate new ideas — pun intended — and move quickly on promising opportunities. Never is a public-policy expert who uses city data to analyze abandoned housing, and was interviewed about his work by Lester Holt on NBC Nightly News. “Scholars looking at real estate are often looking at how to finance new development, but I think about how we can empower communities to tackle distressed housing and vacant lots,” said Never, who last year with research partner and Bloch colleague, Jim DeLisle, won the national Alteryx Excellence Award. Focus areas for UMKC IDEAS: 1. Workforce development The institute will have vibrant educational opportunities for UMKC students and area professionals, positioning UMKC as the premiere source for data science in the region. This will mean evening and weekend opportunities, for both technicians as well as executive education. Pilot workshops have been held with more on the way. For UMKC students, it means they can earn data-science bonafides no matter their major. “A philosophy major could apply her knowledge of ethics to the real concerns around privacy. A music composition student could use patterning in music to understanding trends in data,” Never said. “All students enrich our learning.” 2. Accelerating research UMKC features strong research areas across the board. Examples include the Center for Health Insights at the School of Medicine, the Center for Big Learning at the School of Computing and Engineering and the Center for Economic Information at the College of Arts and Sciences. “The goal is to foster more collaboration and get more faculty in the mix,” Never said. This will help spur more grant and contract development. “Data science is inherently complex and needs a full range of participation from all disciplines.” 3. Industry partnerships IDEAS will be professional problem solvers for regional businesses for companies such as H & R Block, Cerner and engineering firms. “We’re partnering with industry and government to help provide new insight, something they might not be able to do in house.” Grant Opportunity An exciting opportunity is the Collaborative Data Science Grant Program, which helps UMKC faculty and research staff get their data science ideas off the ground. The funds, up to $25,000, can be used to conduct pilot projects, skill up in new techniques, or develop collaborative relationships with data scientists around the country. The deadline for submission is December 16, and submission materials can be found here. For more information, contact Never at Dec 09, 2019

  • Education Major Went from English Language Learner to Soon-To-Be Teacher

    Astrid Vega’s career aspirations are inspired by her life experiences
    Astrid Vega '22 Hometown: Kansas City, Kansas High School: J.C. Harmon High School Degree program: Education Astrid Vega was five years old when she and her family moved from Mexico to the United States. As the product of two Spanish-speaking parents and a native Spanish speaker herself, starting school was a challenge due to the language barrier she had to overcome. Thankfully, she had teachers who were willing to work with her as she learned to speak English. Fast forward several years later, the sophomore pre-elementary education student has the opportunity to pay it forward while working with English Language Learners (ELL) at Northeast Middle School as part of an Introduction to Language Acquisition and Diversity course (English 250) offered through the UMKC School of Education. “I get the freedom to chart my own path and define my career.” – Astrid Vega “I wanted to become a teacher because I want to work with kids, and I like to give back,” Vega said. “My teachers always pushed me to do my best and I want to impact kids and help them succeed.” As a young mom, Vega’s college experience is nontraditional. She came to UMKC as a freshman interested in studying nursing but had to take time off to raise her son. After re-enrolling in school — this time at Metropolitan Community College — she changed her major to education. “My parents didn’t go to college, but they always stressed the importance of going and finishing. And now I tell my younger sisters and my son ‘I made it, so you have to make it. No ifs, ands or buts.’” Upon receiving her associate’s degree in education, Vega is back at UMKC working to complete her bachelor’s degree. Inspired by her own life experience and the School of Education's English 250 course, she’s considering becoming a teacher for English Language Learners. “It’s amazing to see the students grow and, working a lot with Spanish-speaking kids, I like being an inspiration to help them see what they can become.” Northeast Middle School is Kansas City Public School's district hub for English Language Learners. Children of various international backgrounds are bussed from all over the Kansas City metro to Northeast Middle for ELL classes. In class, children are grouped by comprehension level and UMKC students spend one day a week for 13 weeks working with them on reading and comprehension activities. “It’s the small moments like seeing two children with different backgrounds and native languages speaking with one another in English that give me the most joy.”– Quinlinn O’Donnell, ELL teacher, Northeast Middle School The Spanish-speaking students in Vega’s group were so excited that she speaks their language and can help them, although Vega says she tries to balance between Spanish and English so that they can practice communicating in both languages. “I come up with different lesson plans and fun activities beyond what’s expected because I want them to learn,” Vega said. “I didn’t have Hispanic teachers growing up but my teachers were supportive and helped me learn more than I thought I could. The teachers at Northeast do an amazing job with the kids in the ELL class.” The valuable lesson of diversity and inclusion reveals itself throughout the classroom as students are encouraged to help one another find creative ways to figure out how specific words in their respective languages translate to English. “I wanted to become a teacher because I want to work with kids and I like to give back. My teachers always pushed me to do my best and I want to impact kids and help them succeed” - Astrid Vega “It’s tough sometimes because these kids are trying to adjust to learning a new language on top of adjusting to a new home life as several of them are new Americans, but it’s the small moments like seeing two children with different backgrounds and native languages speaking with one another in English that give me the most joy,” said Quinlinn O’Donnell, Northeast Middle ELL teacher. “Or when a word they’ve been struggling with finally clicks and I’m like ‘Yes! You get it!’” ELL students, some of which are refugees, are from countries all over the world ranging from Mexico to Myanmar to Somalia. Vega said it's experiences like working with ELL students at Northeast that she enjoys most about her education at UMKC. “I get the freedom to chart my own path and define my career,” Vega said. “I think teaching ELL will open up a lot of opportunities for me. I wish I can continue working with the students and seeing how far they go.” Learn more about School of Education programs Dec 09, 2019

  • Associate Professor Michael Wei Receives Top Honors for Book Publication

    ‘Applied Linguistics for Teachers of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners’ selected as one of IGI Global’s Core Reference Titles for 2019
    IGI Global, a leading international academic publisher, called “Applied Linguistics for Teachers of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners” an essential scholarly publication that seeks to contribute to TESOL (teaching English to students of other languages) and language teacher education programs. The book, co-written by Michael Wei, associate professor and TESOL program director in the Division of Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies at the UMKC School of Education, covers every aspect of applied linguistics for ESOL teachers: morphology, syntax, semantics, phonetics and sociolinguistics — to name a few. “Strong language instruction is especially crucial given the fact that ELLs represent the fastest-growing segment of the student population in U.S. schools (ELLs make up about 10% of the total student population) and fall behind their native English-speaking peers and struggle academically in the K-12 setting,” Wei said. Wei, the 2019 recipient of the UMKC Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, has more than 25 years of experience working with English language learners. He’s taught TESOL programs in elementary and secondary schools in the U.S., middle schools in China, and at the university level in China, Thailand, and the U.S. He joined the UMKC faculty in 2006, and teaches graduate courses in applied linguistics, English grammar, second language acquisition and research methods. “’Applied Linguistics for Teachers of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners’ contains impactful and highly cited content that prompts thought-provoking discourse and inspires further discoveries, making it a pinnacle publication from our full collection of 5,300+ reference books,” according to IGI Global This is the seventh book Wei has published in addition to one book translation, 28 chapters and articles and a translated film among other published works within his research areas — second-language acquisition, phonetics, reading/writing English as a second language and learning environments. This publication is geared toward teacher candidates in TESOL programs across the globe and provides knowledge about linguistics for ESOL teachers who are going to teach about 5 million ESOL students in the nation. Learn more about Wei's research and teaching Dec 09, 2019

  • Examining Body Image in Women

    Ph.D. student Frances Bozsik's research on what constitutes the ideal female figure made international headlines
    Frances Bozsik, a UMKC doctoral candidate in clinical psychology, has made international headlines for her research on body image. Now she's inviting women to participate in research for her dissertation. She's conducting an online study examining body image in adult women, and is recruiting women between the ages of 45 and 60. People should feel free to take and/or pass along to others in their network. Participation is entirely online in a survey format. If interested, participants may enter their email address at the end of the survey to be sent a $10 VISA e-gift card. Email addresses will not be associated with responses.  Bozsik's research on what constitutes the ideal female figure earned media coverage around the globe. “It’s really exciting,” said Bozsik, who is working to complete a clinical health psychology Ph.D. in 2020. “The study reflects the trend people are noticing that fitness and nutrition – vs. thinness – is the ideal.” Models used in social media postings, or more than a decade’s worth of Miss USA beauty pageant winners, tell us that thin female bodies are still rated as attractive. However, U.S. women’s perceptions of what constitutes the perfect female figure have evolved in recent years to more of a muscular and toned ideal. This is according to Bozsik, who led a study published in 2018 in the journal Sex Roles. Dec 08, 2019

  • Kansas City Business Journal Writes Cover Story About UMKC Entrepreneurial Support

    Whiteboard to Boardroom helps KC startups turn ideas into commercialization
    The Kansas City Business Journal details how the UMKC Innovation Center's Whiteboard to Boardroom program helps local healthcare startups transition from from lab success to commercialization. Featured was UMKC Professor Gerald Wyckoff, at right, who created a computerized system that predicts problematic drug interactions.  Dec 06, 2019

  • 12 Teams Advance in UM System Pitch Competition

    UMKC students pitch ventures in Entrepreneurship Quest Student Accelerator
    Twelve student entrepreneur teams from UMKC will move on to the next round of the UM System pitch competition. Last week, 20 teams pitched their ventures at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. All of the student entrepreneurs were solving problems through their business ventures that ranged from tech products to beauty products to apps and platforms to connect busy parents. Teams pitched in 10-minute time slots with 5 minutes for the pitch and 4 minutes for questions and answers. The next round of the UM System EQ Pitch Competition is in March 2020. Here are the 12 ventures: Pegasus Project Thomas Murphy, business administration, undergraduate; Kyla McAuliffe, business administration, undergraduate; Abdulmajeed Baba Ahmed, mechanical engineering, undergraduate; Ami Khalsa, computer science, undergraduate Project DescriptionPegasus upfits traditional bicycles to run with battery-electric-power assistance. The company is intent on creating an alternative and affordable transportation option for all residents. The target audience identifies as low-income, which drives Pegasus to provide a more effective and reliable mode of transportation for individuals to reach jobs, school and communities. An included bus pass will help manage instances of inclement weather. The team said market-rate customers will experience value from Pegasus’ cost leadership strategy, because an upfit will cost half the price of an equivalent quality new e-bike. Vortex Cooling Systems Jordan Berg, mechanical engineering, undergraduate      Project DescriptionAccording to Berg, there is an unmet demand for a business to create and sell direct water-cooled central processing units and graphics processing units. He said Vortex Cooling Systems would provide in-house integration of a cooling system and processor to create a much more powerful system than what is currently on the market. By professionally bonding a cooling system to the CPU, the thermal resistances present in currently-available cooling systems would be bypassed and the new cooling system would perform far better. The customer could then purchase the CPU and cooling system combo directly from the company instead of purchasing each component separately. Other business capabilities would include retrofitting customers current CPUs with a cooling system, or custom chained cooling system based on customers’ requirements. The goal of the company would be to keep up with the customizable nature of the gaming community. Koil Hair Dryer Konnie Wells, mechanical engineering, undergraduate; Zion Guerrier, mechanical engineering, undergraduate Project DescriptionThe product is a hair dryer designed to help individuals with curly and coily hair textures to dry and/or straighten their hair. The student entrepreneurs said customers will no longer have to buy multiple devices to straighten or dry their hair, because attachments will be made specifically for curly and/or coily hair types. The hair dryer will also have an ergonomic handle that has better sensors to offer great heat control and power control. In addition, Wells and Guerrier said the attachments will be strong, because coily hair can place a large amount of resistance on them compared to the resistance from straighter hair textures. The hair dryers will be available online or can be bought in stores, giving customers a device tailored specifically for them. Good Bitter Best Jennifer Agnew, business administration, graduate Project DescriptionBecause many of bars and restaurants in the Kansas City area use generic bitters, or make them in-house, Agnew plans to offer local bitters that are made from locally-sourced ingredients. Agnew said giving bars and restaurants access to a local company will allow them time to mix more creative drinks without the mess, hassle and expense of making their own. Providing local bitters would also allow for drink menus to change with the seasons or different events rather than sticking with one flavor all year. Good Bitter Best has already created a line of bitters, giving Agnew the bittering agents and experience with what works best to get the most flavor out of the ingredients. Recipe Tree Nathaniel Worcester, computer science, undergraduate Project DescriptionWorcester believes the industrial food service and restaurant industry needs an across-platform recipe sharing application that supports different file-types. As the market stands, recipe sharing applications do not support file transfer in their native file format (docs, .txt, pdf, video, etc). Worcester said this requires the chef to manually update and replace old recipes by filling in fields in a recipe sharing application. Where the tech world has moved to “drag and drop,” functions, he said the food industry still uses the equivalent of static html applications that do not allow multimedia or anything outside a filled out form. File-sharing applications provided by Apple or Google Drive are currently being used in many instances in the food-service industry, but these programs do not support role-based access for files to allow the employee to edit, change or share a recipe where they should only be able to view it. Because of the hassle, Worcester said some companies are still using paper recipe books. Compost Collective KC Kyle McAllister, business administration, graduate         Project DescriptionCompost Collective KC solves two fundamental problems – the first is a global issue. McAllister said food waste is a major threat to the environment and is produced in the United States at an alarming rate. Approximately 30% to 40% of all waste going to landfills in the U.S. is food. He said that equates to approximately 33 billion pounds of food in landfills per year. That volume would fill the entire Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, each day for an entire year. McAllister said this is a problem because food waste breaks down in a landfill without oxygen and, as a result, the process emits methane gas. Depending on the study, McAllister said methane gas has 25 to 84 times the climate-change impact than carbon dioxide. Given this issue, people are looking for more sustainable alternatives. McAllister cited a recent Yale study that found that 70% of Americans think environmental protection is more important than economic growth. McAllister believes Compost Collective KC can help solve the second problem – give people a simple way to have a positive environmental impact by composting.                                                                                   Vest Heroes Fahad Qureshi, medicine, undergraduate/graduate Project DescriptionWhen Qureshi started shadowing physicians, he saw an unexpected problem when any surgical operation involving an X-ray or radioactive imaging technology requires the health care professional wear a heavy lead vest and skirt – the equipment was very heavy and often weighed between 30 and 69 pounds. Because failure to wear protective gear results in carcinogenic radioactive exposure, wearing of protective equipment is required by law. When questioned, Qureshi said surgeons complained of back pain and hindered operational mobility due to the excess weight. In addition, Qureshi said the pain worsened for physicians as they worked long surgeries and as they aged. To solve this problem, Qureshi realized he needed to add an engineering element to his medical background. He started an apprenticeship with a local engineer and learned how to work with his hands. Qureshi said his eyes were opened to the problem-solving nature of the field. He soon started constructing his own prototypes in the fashion of the pulleys and levers. The prototype consisted of a lead vest/skirt with a tether. This tether was hooked to a cord that ran to a small hook on a ceiling. Finally, the cord was connected to a weight that offset the weight of the vest. In this way, a simple pulley was created. He contacted an interventional nephrology practice that uses radioactive imaging called A.I.N. in Chicago who allowed him to build a model in the operating room with special sterile materials. Qureshi used a 50 pound weight to make a 60 pound vest and skirt feel like just 10 pounds. The physicians at the practice were astounded and asked for more, citing their immense need. Unity Gain Travis Fields, business administration, undergraduate Project DescriptionFields is creating a 21st century solution to the fragmented local music scenes left in the wake of the 20th century recording industry. Unity Gain is a brand, anchored by a live music venue, artist’s hostel and a 24-hour diner built on local music communities offering local and touring musicians the resources, networking and support necessary to make their musical careers sustainable. By offering hostel-style sleeping quarters for touring musicians, as well as membership based production studios, digital marketing resources, mentorship and more to musicians, Fields said Unity Gain will create a community and value that will attract top talent, and in turn, the live music fans and supporters in those communities. Fields also expects to build relationships with the influencers of tomorrow. Pythagorus Adeesh Parvathaneni, medicine, undergraduate/graduate Project DescriptionPythagorus provides an online service that would allow young people and athletes to have physical therapy whenever and wherever they would like it. By providing an online physical therapy experience using a webcam, the application would use copyrighted code to detect angles and thus, the exercise that the young person made. Therapists can then let patients know whether or not they did the exercise right. The program would also count the amount of reps completed, allowing a physical therapist to use the software to prescribe a workout to a young athlete through a video demo. The patient could then complete the exercises under the guidance of the software. Parvathaneni said the application differentiates itself by not only its marketing strategy, but by being the sole company that allows for physical therapy online. In addition, he said the solution is proprietary and utilizes Intel OpenVino software, which leverages deep learning technology. DivviUp Brad Starnes, information technology, undergraduate    Project DescriptionDivviUp would solve the problem of sharing or splitting automatic payments between peers. Currently, Starnes said consumers have to put one card on file if they plan use auto pay, and use other methods to get funds to their peers or make multiple payments to their merchant for a simple bill pay. DivviUp would allow consumers to put a virtual card on file with their merchant for monthly recurring transactions to then be separated by an algorithm for each person’s portion of their transaction via an ACH withdrawal. The DivviUp team integrated with a third-party banking service, Plaid, which allowed them to conduct real-time balance checks on consumers’ individual accounts prior to allowing the transaction to go through on a monthly basis. They utilize user input of each person’s percentage of the transaction to charge the dollar amount to each user’s checking account each month. Plaid allows them to check each user’s account to see if they have their specified amount, and if not, they send a notification rejecting the transaction. Starnes said this program gives the opportunity to transfer funds and re-attempt the transaction when funds are available. DivviUp will utilize data entered by the consumers on a mobile app, specifying what utility company in use, to market to those companies for an online API integration to reduce cost. EEG Controlled IoT Devices Syed Jawad Shah, computer science, graduate (PhD) Project DescriptionShah has identified a problem for people who are physically disabled and don't have an effective communication medium. EEG Controlled IoT Devices is a brain-computer interface that directs IoT devices to take certain actions. It is an assistive and non-invasive technology that enables physically challenged individuals to complete their daily tasks with some degree of independence. They can also communicate with others in a more effective manner. Examples would be turning the light on or off or calling for help. The device also enables health care providers to provide better services to patients. The interface uses deep learning technology to learn distinct patterns in EEG signals and associates them to trigger certain actions on IoT devices. For example, a patient with no ability to move or talk can turn on a light in a dark room by thinking of an illuminated light bulb. In this way, Shah hopes his product will increase users’ confidence and provide positive a experience. Genalytics Greyson Twist, bioinformatics and computer science, graduate (PhD) Project DescriptionThe core of Genalytics is to prepopulate data from experts in line with current FDA approved and supported/drug gene interactions in the required/proprietary format. Access is shared across all possible target customers but the interface and interaction may differ. In direct-to-consumer, uploaded relevant demographic information as well as genomic information, customers can present a potential medication, via barcode scanner or the drug NDC code. The system will screen the active ingredients and the genomic data, and return a red light or green light based on the results. A green light means it is safe, based on known information to take the medication. A red light means that some concerns exists. With the red/negative indication, the team would like to provide alternative medication options, such as a product minus the offending active ingredient, or suggestions to consult a pharmacist or doctor for dose adjustment guidance. Read about the last pitch competition Dec 06, 2019

  • Top Stories of 2019

    Growth and accolades abound
    The year 2019 was one of monumental growth as UMKC and its community partners expanded opportunities for students. We’re also proud of the many significant accomplishments of our Roos. These are just a few of our top stories for this year. Agrawal celebrates investiture with new initiatives Mauli Agrawal, Ph.D., announced his dedication to establishing a Community of Excellence through five signature initiatives: Roo Strong, a student success initiative; the UMKC Institute for Data Education, Analytics and Science (IDEAS); TalentLink, a skill development initiative; Health Equity Institute, a new initiative to ensure equal opportunity for improved health; and Building Pride, a mentorship program.   Significant gifts support capital improvements and student success The Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation committed $21 million to support programming and capital improvements for the Henry W. Bloch School of Management and RooStrong, a new student success initiative. The Sunderland Foundation committed $15 million for capital improvements to the Bloch School of Management, School of Dentistry, University Libraries, the School of Law and the School of Computing and Engineering.   Bloch Family promotes student success by generating $20 million in scholarship funding About 800 students will benefit from scholarship programs established by the Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation, the H & R Block Foundation and matching funds from the University of Missouri system. University bids farewell to champion and supporter Henry Bloch Entrepreneur, philanthropist and tireless UMKC supporter Henry Bloch died in April. His legacy will live on through the people he loved and the organizations to which he was committed.    Former First Lady Laura Bush visits campus First Lady Laura Bush and First Daughter Barbara Pierce Bush were in conversation about their experiences in the White House and their family connection at the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame luncheon, which honors the legacy of women leaders in Kansas City.   UMKC composer named to American Academy of Arts and Letters Chen Yi, Lorena Searcy Cravens/Millsap/Missouri Distinguished Professor of Composition, was inducted in the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an honor society of the country’s leading architects, artists, composers and writers.   School of Dentistry unveils state-of-the-art training lab A multimillion-dollar makeover provides students with fully-equipped, ergonomically-correct work stations that is among the newest and largest in the U.S.   UMKC researcher helps discover new strain of HIV Carole McArthur, M.D. ‘91, Ph.D., of the School of Dentistry, made news around the globe as part of a team of scientists who discovered a new subtype of HIV, which can be traced back to the Democratic Republic of Congo.   UMKC business students represent the U.S. in global competition Three Bloch School of Management students represented the U.S. in the Unilever Future Leaders’ League, a global business-case competition in London. Students from 26 countries participated. Elevating Athletics Kansas City Athletics had a banner year under the leadership of Athletics Director Brandon Martin, Ph.D.  The Roos returned to the Summit League, launched a new fighting Roo logo and a bold basketball court redesign.  Dental student delivers patient’s baby at clinic A fourth-year student in the School of Dentistry started her first day of her new externship eager to treat as many patients as she could. Aliah Haghighat was prepping the tooth of her second patient when the woman’s water broke.      Dec 06, 2019

  • UMKC Researchers Present at UM System Collaborative Summit

    Four College of Arts and Sciences professors share sustainability ideas
    Four University of Missouri-Kansas City professors from the College of Arts and Sciences presented their research at the UM System Collaborative Summit, “Converging Disciplines to Support Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” Nov. 20 at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. In 2015, member states of the United Nations adopted “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” to support global action toward peace and prosperity for all nations. The agenda includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to guide the global community in critical action to sustain the health and wellness of our planet and its inhabitants. The UM System Research Summit focused on several of these goals, including: no poverty; zero hunger; quality education; gender equality; affordable and clean energy; decent work and economic growth; reduced inequity; and peace, justice and strong institutions. Presentation topics and brief descriptions for the four UMKC professors at the UM System Collaborative Summit are listed below. View session one and session two from the summit on YouTube. Caroline Davies, associate professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Studies, on “Teaching the Sustainability Development Goals through Undergraduate Research and Community Engagement.” The presentation described community engagement via a large format course around sustainability and the impacts of hands-on projects for students and community partners. To date there have been nearly 600 sustainability projects across the Kansas City metropolitan area. Linwood Tauheed, associate professor and IPh.D. director of Economics, on “The ecological and community economic development: A methodological reconciliation.” There is a significant conflation in the definitions of three concepts – resources, assets and capital – both in economic theory and in common usage. This conflation creates a cognitive frame in how the use of resources is discussed, which is biased in favor of increased resource usage, and leads to justifications for risk-taking behavior associated with increased resource usage and its effect on the global climate. A reconceptualization in the definitions of resources, assets and capital can help to normalize the framing around resource usage, and help bring to the forefront the liabilities of increased resource usage. This is a reconceptualization needed within ecological economics, if it’s to generate public support for its goal of creating an environmentally sustainable economy that simultaneously improves human well-being.  Jacob Marszalek, associate professor of Psychology, on “Promoting the development and assessment of social justice advocacy.” A cornerstone for building institutions that promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development is to help their individual members (e.g., those in the helping professions) develop social justice advocacy (SJA), a pillar of Development Education. An important component of any type of education is assessment, and the Social Issues Advocacy Scale (SIAS; Nilsson, Marszalek, Linnemeyer, Bahner, & Misialek, 2011) was developed to measure the competency of SJA in students in the helping professions, and has been translated and used both nationally and internationally. The SIAS has been used to develop mastery profiles of SJA in students in clinical and counseling psychology, nursing and education, which may be used to assess growth in SJA attributes over the course of an academic program. The scale has been further developed into the SIAS-2 to account for a broader array of SJA dimensions, and ongoing research is refining a short form version for greater usability. Sunghyop Kim, professor of Architecture, Urban Planning and Design, on “Equity in transportation mobility and safety: Issues in an aging Society.” Aging population poses substantive equity issues. Safe mobility is critical to ensure a good quality of life regardless of one’s age. However, older adults often must deal with transportation disadvantages. Older adults who cannot drive face significant mobility challenges. A significant increase in bankruptcy rate and a growing financial insecurity among older adults pose added concerns. Gender and racial gaps in mobility exist among older adults. Older women, older minority women in particular, are more vulnerable than older men in meeting their mobility needs. Older adults aged 65+ are more likely than any other age groups to be fatally injured in pedestrian crashes. A number of recommendations have been made to address older adults’ transportation issues. However, specific strategies to promote safe and affordable mobility of older adults are still underexplored. Dec 05, 2019

  • Favorite Photos of 2019

    Images capture memorable moments of campus life
    When we look back over the year, words often fail to describe exactly what we experienced or what it felt like to be present during certain moments. That’s where photos come in. Our university photographers Brandon Parigo and John Carmody excel at capturing what life here at UMKC is really like. We caught up with them to look at their favorite photos from 2019, and discuss what made each image memorable. Trashcano (image above) “Any time you can photograph an explosion, it’s a good day,” Brandon says. No further explanation needed. Petting Zoo The featured animal in the event before spring finals was, of course, a baby kangaroo, John says. Soccer The women’s soccer team is conducting a focused moment of quiet before a game, a meaningful part of their pre-game routine. Brandon also says that the “Roo Up” that follows is one of the most genuine expressions of school spirit that he has ever seen. Therapy horses  Two therapy horses joined a nursing class, thanks to assistant professor Sharon White-Lewis who raises miniature horses and teaches about their benefits. John wonders “who knew there was such a thing?” Well “Parks and Recreation” fans sure do, hey Li’l Sebastian! Basketball Stillness and concentration are part of what makes this photograph special. Brandon notes that he likes the unique formation of her hand and the way she lingered in that exact position until she made sure the ball went through the net. Even the referee at the edge of the frame is focused on the ball, giving off the feeling that everyone in the room was holding their breath. Marcus and Daphne at Miller Nichols Library For Brandon, this photo shows how fun students can be, and how willing they are to go the extra mile to support campus. The expressions seen in the photo are also genuine reactions to the goofiness of Brandon’s directions, which makes him feel like he is reflected in this shot as well. Snowball fight Brandon appreciates the spontaneity of the photoshoot, capturing the impromptu snowball fight and all the action and movement in this particular shot.   Cross Country John remembers how the brutal weather conditions including a two-hour lightning delay meant lots of mud, but the Roos still made a good showing. Avanzando event The dancing and celebrating on the patio of the Student Union reflected a unique side of UMKC that Brandon says he would love to see more of on campus. Fall dance concert Brandon loves how the shot was taken right as the lights were fading out, making the photo appear to be a blending of black and white and color. He also feels that this image complements the emotion and symbolism conveyed in this performance. Dec 05, 2019

  • UMKC Nursing Dean at the Right Place, Right Time to Save a Life

    Joy Roberts’ CPR skills were pressed to action
    Ever think about giving up a few hours for CPR training? You never know how important they can be.  That’s what Joy Roberts, interim dean at the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies, learned first-hand this month when her CPR skills were called to action. Roberts and her daughter were attending a museum fundraiser in Columbia, Missouri. Her daughter, a Mizzou student studying textiles, was among those presenting artwork at the event. While the crowd viewed the displays and mingled with refreshments, Roberts suddenly heard a loud crash, thinking someone had knocked over a table. But her daughter could see that a man had collapsed. “Mom,” she said, “you need to get over there.” “With the holiday season right around the corner, I would encourage people to think about giving the gift of a CPR class to loved ones. As I know first-hand, it could really turn into the gift of life for someone else.” - Joy Roberts, interim dean at the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies Roberts described the scene as chaotic, with people literally screaming and unsure of what to do. She reached the man at the same time as another patron was coming to help. That woman said she was an ICU nurse.  “Good,” Roberts said, “because I’m an old ICU nurse.” The man had no pulse, no circulation and was not breathing. Roberts performed mouth-to-mouth and the other nurse did chest compressions. “When you’re in the thick of something like that, you have no sense of time,” said Roberts, who couldn’t guess how long they worked on the man. Finally, he took a few breaths and they got a faint pulse – a sign it’s time to stop CPR.  The man was still unconscious but was moving air on his own. Soon, emergency personnel arrived and transported him to a hospital. His current condition is unknown. Fortunately, the delegation of duties worked out well for the two of nurses. “She was quite a bit younger so it was probably for the best that she handled compressions,” Roberts said. “And I talk a lot, so I have a big oxygen capacity.” As a nurse practitioner, Roberts has been called to scenes where her CPR skills were needed and she had access to other medical equipment. But this was the first case where she was armed with only her knowledge of CPR. And in this situation, it appeared the two nurses were the only patrons in the group that knew how to perform the life-saving procedure. Roberts says it was unclear if the museum had an automated external defibrillator (AED), a portable device that can diagnose and treat life-threatening cardiac events. But she encourages people to note if and where their building has an AED -- and to learn how to use it. “Knowing CPR is something that was really instilled in me at an early age. It’s such an important skill to have.” - Joy Roberts Studies have shown that children as young as 9 can learn and retain CPR skills. Roberts was ahead of the curve, having her first CPR class when she was just 7 years old, part of her hometown’s community CPR training following the drowning of a local high school student.  “When you’re 7 and say, only 40 pounds, it’s not easy getting that mannequin’s lungs to go down,” she said. Roberts took the training again in high school as a required class, something she hopes catches on in more districts across the country. According to the American Heart Association, more than 350,000 emergency-medical-services (EMS)-assessed out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur annually in the United States. Of that group, only 46 percent receive the immediate care needed before professional help arrives. “Knowing CPR is something that was really instilled in me at an early age,” said Roberts. “It’s such an important skill to have.” Inspired by this experience, both her daughter and a UMKC faculty member have already signed up for CPR training - and the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies is training its students, faculty and staff Dec. 19. Roberts is encouraging other people and employers to do the same. “With the holiday season right around the corner, I would encourage people to think about giving the gift of a CPR class to loved ones,” she said. “As I know first-hand, it could really turn into the gift of life for someone else.” Be a Life Saver The following groups provide CPR and other life-saving training: American Heart Association American Red Cross The YMCA In addition to these groups, many cities may offer these types of trainings. Contact your local municipality for more information. Dec 03, 2019

  • UMKC Health Professions Students and Coterie Theatre Have Important Message for Kansas City Teens

    Dramatic collaboration shows the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV
    Gus Frank begins to share his story with a group of Kansas City teenagers. For about 20 minutes, he describes how this local high school basketball player discovered that he is HIV-positive and must now live with consequences. But the story is not really his own. It is, however, the unnerving and true story of a Kansas City teen whose life has been dramatically changed forever. Frank is actually a fourth-year medical student at the UMKC School of Medicine acting in the production, “The Dramatic STD/HIV Project.” The partnership brings together health professions students from UMKC, the University of Kansas and Coterie Theatre actors to provide Kansas City teens with the facts about sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS. “Some of the highest STD rates are among our youth and young adults ages 15 to 24. Education, knowledge and prevention are an important step in changing this risk to our youth.”  —Stefanie Ellison, M.D. In the roughly hour-long program — a 15- to 20-minute scripted presentation followed by an often-intense question-and-answer period — a professional actor from the Coterie pairs with a medical, pharmacy or nursing student to discuss the dangers of the diseases with audiences from eighth grade through high school. “We’re there to inform the youth of Kansas City,” said Frank, now in his second year with the project. “We’re not doing this to tell them what they should do, but to inform them of the facts. We want them to be able to make their own informed decisions when the time comes.” Evolution and impact Joette Pelster is executive director of the Coterie Theatre and a co-founder of the project. She started the program with the theatre’s artistic director Jeff Church, an adjunct theater instructor at UMKC, and Christine Moranetz, then a faculty member at the University of Kansas Medical Center. That was 26 years ago when the AIDS epidemic was at its height, becoming the one-time leading cause of death among Americans ages of 25 and 44. Wanting to create an educational program with credibility, Pelster reached out to the local medical community for help. She first enlisted aid from the University of Kansas School of Nursing. The UMKC School of Medicine joined the program in 2004, followed by the UMKC School of Pharmacy in 2008 and the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies in 2015. “We wanted to do something that would have an impact,” Pelster said. “A lecture wasn’t going to do it. This was a perfect partnership because their weakness was our strength. We brought the acting, they brought the medical content and credibility. That’s why it’s lasted so long.” “We’re there to inform the youth of Kansas City. We want them to be able to make their own informed decisions when the time comes.” —Gus Frank, medical student  UMKC faculty members Stefanie Ellison, M.D., at the School of Medicine and Mark Sawkin, Pharm.D., at the School of Pharmacy, serve as medical directors. They provide the actors with training on such things as current trends in infection rates, symptoms, testing and treatment. They also compile and routinely update a huge binder loaded with information to prepare the actors for what might be thrown at them during the question-and-answer portion of the program. Each actor has a copy of the binder that is updated throughout the year and training updates occur at least twice a year so that troupe members have current facts to share with at- risk students.  “UMKC was very influential in our talking about STDs because the incidence rate was rising so high,” Pelster said. “They are integral to the project and training for the question-and-answer periods that are vital to the project.” “This is still relevant 25 years later,” Ellison said. “Some of the highest STD rates are among our youth and young adults ages 15 to 24. Kansas City has an increased incidence of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis. Nationally, one in five new HIV diagnoses is in patients ages 13 to 24, and 20 percent of new diagnoses are among patients from ages 14 to 19. Education, knowledge and prevention are an important step in changing this risk to our youth.” The production Since 2008, the program has averaged more than 210 presentations a year in junior highs and high schools throughout the Kansas City Metro area. Through last school year, it had been presented 4,495 times, reaching more than 194,000 Kansas City teenagers. This year’s cast includes 14 UMKC medical students, two UMKC pharmacy students, one UMKC nursing and health studies student, two University of Kansas nursing students and 17 professional Coterie actors, one a graduate of the UMKC theatre program. “I would share with them that this (prescription) is something you’ll have to take the rest of your life; you’re stuck with it. Just being able to embed that in their memory by telling these kids was really helpful.” —Krista Bricker, pharmacy student  Every presentation pairs one male and one female of different ethnicities, helping to make the team more relatable to its audience. Each actor follows one of six different scripts to present the true story of a Kansas City teen that has contracted an STD or HIV/AIDS. The productions require little theater other than the actors’ monologues, slides projected on a wall or screen behind them and music to help present each story. They take place in intimate settings of a single classroom of maybe 15-20 students to auditoriums filled with as many as 100 or more students. The actors say the small classroom sessions sometimes produce the most intense interactions because the students in their smaller, tight-knit setting become less inhibited during the Q&A periods.  “It feels like we’re talking student to student,” said Madison Iskierka, also a fourth-year medical student. “It doesn’t feel like you’re sitting in a lecture listening to someone preach about whatever you’re learning. It’s very personal and I like that.” Frank admits feeling some early awkwardness when talking about such a sensitive subject with a young audience. But that faded after a few presentations. “It’s something that we need to make not weird,” he said. “We need to destigmatize all the sexual education about HIV and all other STDs. If we could make those things something that is easier to talk about and comes up in conversation more often, it would probably make people more aware and more willing to get tested and get treated if they do have something.” The actors are trained to hit on a list of key points during the question and answer sessions to highlight abstinence as the only sure way to avoid contracting infections, as well as discussing risky behaviors and sources of transmitting the diseases. “We wanted to do something that would have an impact. A lecture wasn’t going to do it. This was a perfect partnership...we brought the acting, they brought the medical content and credibility. That’s why it’s lasted so long.” —Joette Pelster, Coterie Theatre  Krista Bricker, a fourth-year UMKC pharmacy student, was among the cast of student actors a year ago. She said she often leaned on her pharmacy background and honed in on the medications when sharing the hard reality of what is involved for patients living with these diseases. “I would share with them that this is something you’ll have to take the rest of your life; you’re stuck with it,” she said. “Just being able to embed that in their memory by telling these kids was really helpful.” Frank reflects on the story of the local teen he portrays. He is determined to get the details as perfect as possible during each presentation because if not, he says, “I’m messing up someone’s personal story.” And for the young people hearing that story, Frank has one more message: “This could have been anyone. It could have been your classmate. It could have been you.” Dec 03, 2019

  • Congratulations to the Fall 2019 Honor Recipients

    10 students honored for academic excellence, leadership and service
    Ten Roos will be honored as Dean of Students Honor Recipients this fall.  Graduating students who have excelled in both academic achievement and service may be nominated for the honor. This program recognizes the exceptional students who maintain high scholastic performance while actively participating in university and community leadership and service activities outside of the classroom.  Shahodat Azimova, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, nominated by Tammy Welchert Shelby Chesbro, School of Medicine, nominated by Jignesh Shah and Betsy Hendrick Jordann Dhuse, School of Medicine, nominated by Stefanie Ellison Lindsey Gard, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, nominated by Mary Osbourne and Tammy Welchert Fiona Isiavwe, Bloch School of Management, nominated by Jessica Elam and Krystal Schwenker Leah Israel, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, nominated by Tammy Welchert Anna Lillig, School of Nursing and Health Studies, nominated by Ursula Gurney Zach Randall, School of Medicine, nominated by Stefanie Ellison Marcella Riley, School of Medicine, nominated by Nurry Pirani Landon Rohowetz, School of Medicine, nominated by Peter Koulen and Betsy Hendrick Dec 02, 2019

  • University of Missouri-Kansas City Dental Student Delivers Baby

    The American Dental Association featured the amazing story of a UMKC dental student who delivered a baby
    Aliah Haghighat had just finished prepping her patient’s tooth before a restoration and was about to get the lead doctor to inspect her work, when her patient tells her something shocking. This story was also picked up by Becker’s Dental Review. Read the ADA story. Nov 29, 2019

  • First-Generation College Student Navigates College By Learning About Her Heritage  

    Mentor in the UMKC Avanzando program assists in journey
    The heart of UMKC is our campus community. With lots of opportunities, it’s easy to develop student mentorship teams. And these rich relationships—our Dynamic Duos—are some of our best success stories. When Aricela Guadalupe first arrived at UMKC, she spent a lot of time thinking about her parents - would she make them proud? Would she have what it takes to succeed in college? As a first-generation college student, she was eager to take advantage of the opportunity she’d been given. But the path to graduation seemed uncertain. “It was honestly scary, because you don’t know what to expect,” she says. “You doubt yourself. ‘Am I going to be able to do it? Am I doing this right?’ You don’t want to mess up.” Guadalupe’s parents immigrated to the United States from a small Mexican village. Growing up, their main concern had been getting food on the table, not filling out college applications or studying for exams. They came to the U.S. so their children would have opportunities they’d never been able to aspire to. Now, Guadalupe was living the dream her parents always wanted for her, but the transition to college was intimidating. Thankfully, she had an important resource to turn to: She was a member of the Avanzando program, which offers academic support and mentoring to Latinx students. “It’s such a joy. It’s such a rewarding experience. And it’s a way of paying back all the opportunities I have had in life. If I hadn’t had mentors, I wouldn’t have come as far as I have.” - Clara Irazábal-Zurita Through Avanzando, Guadalupe was connected with Clara Irazábal-Zurita, director of the Latinx and Latin American Studies Program and a professor in the Department of Architecture, Urban Planning + Design. Irazábal-Zurita quickly became a trusted friend and advisor, never more than a few buildings away on campus.  When asked how a mentor can help a student, especially a first-generation student like Guadalupe, Irazábal-Zurita’s answer is simple: They can help “with everything.” “We’re here to be friends, to be companions in their journey of education, of growing up in general and maturing as people,” she says. “It is important that students have an opportunity to chat with others who can guide them through the experience, and sometimes even vent with the frustrations that come naturally with that process of growth.” For Guadalupe, knowing she has a friend and advisor just a call, text or email away has made the college experience a lot less scary. “I just know she’s there, that I have someone to go to to ask for guidance and advice,” she says. “I know I have someone to talk to.” Guadalupe, a business administration major with an emphasis in management, says her goals for the future are to graduate from college and begin a career she likes, whatever that may be. She is also learning more about her history and culture as a Latinx and Latin American Studies minor. She dreams of owning a business of her own someday, but for now, she’s happy with what she’s pursuing at UMKC: studying, networking and meeting new people in groups like Avanzando and the Latinx Student Union. “I just know she’s there, that I have someone to go to to ask for guidance and advice. I know I have someone to talk to.” - Aricela Guadalupe Her advice for future students? Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there or ask for help. “Don’t be scared. Just talk to people,” she says. “Because everyone is going through the same thing. You never know, maybe they’re scared to make friends, too.” Irazábal-Zurita also has a message, but for the parents and families of new college students. “Instead of advice, I would want to congratulate families in general, and Latino families in particular, because they invest a lot in supporting their children to come to college and to do well in college,” she says. “Keep doing what you’re doing and realize that this is an investment for the long term.” Mentoring students like Guadalupe, she says, is just as beneficial for her as it is for the students. “It’s such a joy. It’s such a rewarding experience,” she says. “And it’s a way of paying back all the opportunities I have had in life. If I hadn’t had mentors, I wouldn’t have come as far as I have. I wouldn’t be where I am today. It’s very important for me to help out - to be that building stone for others who come behind me.” Learn more about the Latinx and Latin American Studies Program   Nov 26, 2019

  • Activist Shares His Painful but Hopeful Journey at UMKC Pride Lecture

    Shane Bitney Crone’s story is the topic of a documentary
    Shane Bitney Crone was banned from the funeral of the love of his life. He went unmentioned at the ceremony and in the obituary. His partner’s family turned on him because he was the other half of a loving, committed gay couple. Crone shared his sorrow and ongoing recovery at the 13th annual UMKC Pride Lecture Nov. 21. For Crone, telling his story is hard. But necessary, he said. “It is so important that we have these conversations and share these stories, because it’s in telling these stories that we open people’s hearts and minds,” he said. Crone and his partner, Tom Bridegroom, had been living together for more than five years when Bridgegroom fell to his death from a rooftop in 2012 while seeking a better angle for a photograph. As a couple, they traveled the world, started a successful business and promised to get married when it would be recognized by the federal government. After the fall, Crone was initially not permitted to enter Bridegroom’s hospital room, though sympathetic hospital staff eventually ignored the rules and let him in. Bridegroom’s family had all the legal rights to his body, property and services. They shut Crone out completely, refusing to even tell him the day, time and site of the funeral.  On the one-year anniversary of Bridegroom's death, Shane uploaded a video to YouTube called "It Could Happen to You." His goal was to demonstrate that common humanity that we all share. The video went viral within a matter of days and has since been viewed more than 20 million times on social media. “It is so important that we have these conversations and share these stories, because it’s in telling these stories that we open people’s hearts and minds.” Hollywood producer Linda Bloodworth-Thomason was inspired by the video and approached Crone about turning his story into a feature-length documentary. The film, “Bridegroom: A Love Story, Unequaled,” premiered at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival where it was introduced by former President Bill Clinton. Today, Crone travels the world to show the film and, more importantly, ignite conversations that he hopes will lead those prejudiced against the LGBTQIA community to open their hearts and minds to think in different ways. After showing the film, Crone took questions from the audience. One asked how he managed to pick up the pieces of his life following that painful tragedy. “That first year was dark,” Crone responded. “I reminded myself what Tom would have wanted, and he would not have wanted me to stay in that space.” In the seven years since Bridegroom’s death, Crone has become a speaker and activist, and found a new love. He’s now engaged. “I want to think that Tom would be happy for me.” Nov 25, 2019

  • Winter Prep: Make Ice Melt That is Environmentally, Pet Friendly

    David Van Horn, associate chemistry professor, talked to KSHB about rock salt variations that are harmful to pets and the environment
    “When you go to the store, you will now find a magnitude of products. Some get down to different freezing levels...typically any salt [sodium chloride] will work. Some are touted as being more environmentally safe or pet friendly, so those are with calcium chloride or magnesium chloride as their ingredients,” David Van Horn, associate chemistry professor at University of Missouri-Kansas City, explained. More. Nov 20, 2019

  • Alumna Founds Unique Retail and Dining Destination

    Rachel Kennedy Cuevas founded Iron District, an innovative dining and retail court made of shipping containers
    Big things come in small packages. Rachel Kennedy Cuevas’ new business development is proof of the proverb. Cuevas (B.B.A. ’98) is the brains behind Iron District, a new restaurant-retail destination made of 18 shipping containers in an industrial neighborhood at 16th and Iron in ever-growing downtown North Kansas City. The container park is a rare hybrid of two popular fast-casual dining concepts: food trucks and food halls. Cuevas takes a small group on a tour of the containers, where red, green, yellow and blue boxes — some double-stacked — form a rectangle where picnic tables are arranged inside the center forcommunal eating. “There’s not much like this in the U.S. except in Las Vegas,” Cuevas says. “And the businesses there are mostly bigger brands.” The Iron District containers — including one with a rooftop bar — offers plenty of home-grown eating and beverage options to choose from: vegan, ice cream, coffee and even an avocado bar. And it’s her own Cuban fusion restaurant, Plantain District — originally a food truck — that led to the Iron District in the first place. Cuevas founded Plantain District after eating a Cuban sandwich with her husband, Yvan Cuevas (B.B.A. ’98, MBA ’00), who had lived in Cuba. The two met while they were students at the Bloch School of Management. After taking a few bites, she had a revelation: “I can make something better.” “The food truck thrived because I had the business education and hired chefs to do the cooking — a recipe for success,” Cuevas says. “UMKC, through the Bloch School, gave me the business background, and that’s why I’m now a developer working with other entrepreneurs.” After its creation in 2014, Plantain District motored along swiftly, catering at food truck rallies, corporate events and weddings. But the nature of the business made Cuevas anxious: a livelihood based on an expensive kitchen that could be sidelined by a flat tire. “It means collaborating with others. It means fostering a community, which is one of my favorite parts of business.” — Rachel Kennedy Cuevas Though her fears never played out, they led to the Iron District concept. The size of shipping containers are roughly the same dimensions as food trucks and don’t include the threat of engine failure. She pitched the concept to North Kansas City leaders and was greeted with enthusiasm. “It means collaborating with others,” Cuevas says. “It means fostering a community, which is one of my favorite parts of business.” After more than two years of working on the container park, Iron District finally opened in October 2019. Vivid art murals greet customers from the sides of the containers, along with a diversity of culinary options. Cuevas fervently talks about future plans, including adding walkways between containers. Cuevas considers Iron District a proof-of-concept incubator for startups. The restaurants and businesses, including clothing boutiques and a wellness center with a rotating schedule of yoga and massage practitioners, have short-term leases. One container is devoted to conference space and can be rented hourly to entrepreneurs for meetings. “If any businesses outgrow their space, I’ll consider that a win,” Cuevas says. “It means they can attribute some of their success to what we’ve built at the Iron District.” This story orginally appeared in Perspectives magazine, vol. 29. Nov 20, 2019

  • UMKC Vision Researcher Exploring New Technique of Cryopreservation

    Peter Koulen is part of $1.5-million NIH grant working on novel tissue-preservation method
    Surgeons around the world currently perform more than 240,000 corneal transplants a year to address a wide range of eye diseases. Researchers and physicians, however, estimate as many as 10 million patients could benefit from the procedure if enough viable tissue was available. The University of Missouri-Kansas City Vision Research Center is part of a $1.5-million National Institutes of Health grant-funded project exploring the capability of a novel, ultra-fast technique of cryopreservation — the use of extremely low temperatures to preserve living cells and tissues — that could help meet those far-reaching clinical needs in ophthalmology and a number of other fields of medicine. The NIH awarded a grant to CryoCrate, a Columbia, Missouri-based company active in biomedicine working with the University of Missouri-Kansas City Vision Research Center. The new two-year award is for $1.5 million and includes a subcontract of $722,870 to the UMKC Vision Research Center. It is a follow-up NIH grant for earlier collaborative work between CyroCrate and UMKC. With current techniques, many types of cells and tissues, including cornea tissues, cannot be preserved at all or lose their function when subjected to the freeze-thaw process of cryopreservation. Peter Koulen, Ph.D., professor of ophthalmology, endowed chair in vision research at the UMKC School of Medicine and director of basic research at the UMKC Vision Research Center, and Xu Han, Ph.D., president and chief technology officer of CryoCrate, jointly developed a new cryopreservation technique to preserve the viability and functionality of cornea and bioartificial ocular tissues. This new phase of funding will allow Han and Koulen to extensively test and refine the technology before taking it to the clinics. So far, traditional methods of cryopreservation have been unsuccessful to preserve and store human corneas for use in patients because cells critical for cornea function are lost during freezing. Corneas need adequate numbers of such cells to be present and properly functioning in the grafted tissue for the surgery to be successful. This currently limits storage of corneas to refrigeration, which is insufficient in delaying the deterioration of cornea tissue beyond a few days and creates numerous clinical challenges shared by other areas of transplantation. CryoCrate is headquartered at the Missouri Innovation Center. It commercializes a new cooling method that better preserves tissue in a frozen state with only negligible mechanical damage to the tissue. The technology is co-developed and co-owned by CryoCrate and UMKC. It also eliminates the need for so called cryoprotectants, chemicals that facilitate successful recovery of live tissue from freezing, but pose a range of medical and regulatory challenges. International patents pending and patents by CryoCrate and UMKC protect the technology and will enable CryoCrate and Koulen’s team at UMKC to address the urgent worldwide clinical needs and rapidly evolving fields of transplantation medicine. The new funding allows Han and Koulen to further develop an upgraded system that is equally effective in the cryopreservation of whole corneas and large bioartificial tissue. This would enable long-term storage of the tissues and could make them more readily available when and where needed for clinical use and research. Early tests at the UMKC Vision Research Center detected no statistical difference in the number and quality of the cells that determine cornea health and function when comparing corneas cryopreserved using the new technology with fresh cornea tissue. This level of efficiency in preserving corneal tissue has not been achieved before with traditional corneal cryopreservation techniques. If further tests prove to be equally effective, the goal is to introduce the new cryopreservation products for clinical use in patients following completion of the new grant and regulatory steps of product development. Nov 20, 2019

  • Mock Disaster Very Real for UMKC Nursing Students

    Large-scale emergency preparedness event held in Missouri
    For Julie Miller, treating 65 patients in three hours in a makeshift medical tent really brought home the importance of being prepared when faced with the unexpected. Miller, a UMKC nursing student, recently participated in Missouri Hope, a national emergency preparedness event held each year at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville. Presented by the Consortium for Humanitarian Service and Education, the $2.4 million immersion exercise prepares students and professionals to manage a community’s needs when disaster strikes. Complete with patient actors, students are challenged with emergency scenarios including a water rescue and several mass casualty situations. They also participate in a high-ropes course, designed to help train for patient transports when steps or elevators are unavailable due to building damage or power outages. Sharon White-Lewis, an assistant professor at UMKC, led a group of 16 students during Missouri Hope, which spans four days and three nights. UMKC was one of two nursing schools in the country providing student participants, who were joined by members of the military, homeland security, fire fighters and police. “The Missouri Hope exercises are the only immersive exercises that train students to prepare for our worst days,” said White-Lewis. “Nurses deployed to these disasters are thrust into circumstances facing devastating destruction, dangerous situations and ethical dilemmas, all while trying to help survivors with severely limited resources and personnel. As the world keeps facing both man-made and natural disasters, our UMKC graduates will be prepared.” According to Miller, at the time the opportunity was presented, there has been a deluge of natural disasters in the news. “A string of tornadoes and hurricanes had just happened, and I would sit and think, I wished there was something I could do that would be helpful.” Missouri Hope was the answer. The UMKC Nursing and Health Studies Alumni Board also saw the importance of this experience and offered its support. Because disaster simulations require supplies students normally wouldn’t have – such as disposable stethoscopes, duct tape and mylar blankets – the board stepped in and provided funding to acquire these items for the students. By design, participants aren’t given a great deal of prep or lead up before the exercise, said White-Lewis, as organizers want to stay as close to the reality as possible. But she does provide students training in a few care techniques that are unique to emergency situations: makeshift gurneys and wound coverage, improvised splints and emergency triaging. Miller said triage is particularly hard on health-care providers as it goes against everything they’re taught. For example, in a hospital, nurses work to make sure patients have all the care needed to get back in good health. But in an emergency, it’s a judgment call on how much time to spend on each patient. “When you’re out at a disaster and there are 50 victims in a field, you have to figure out how you can do the most good for the most amount of people,” said Miller. “On the spot, you have to perform a rapid assessment and decide if you can help that person or not and sometimes, you have to make hard decisions.” “With 3 million nurses in the United States alone, the more nurses that know what to do in a disaster, the more we maximize our ability to save lives. It’s as simple as that.” - Sally Ellis Fletcher Miller says the exercise felt like a real disaster from the moment it began. She compared it to her experience in the UMKC patient simulation lab, where students interact with high-tech mannequins. While that offers valuable learning, it can feel artificial and require a bit of acting, she says. But at Missouri Hope, there was no feeling of having to act, as she treated every patient with the immediacy of an actual disaster. The Consortium for Humanitarian Service and Education sponsors two other Hope initiatives – one in New York and one in Florida. All three provide unique disaster scenarios that would apply to that particular geographic area. Last year, UMKC students and faculty took part in both Florida Hope and New York Hope, and the school plans to continue that effort. Sally Ellis Fletcher, associate dean of students at the school is a strong advocate for disaster preparedness opportunities for students. She believes these experiences will have lasting effects. “Disasters aren’t planned; they can happen anywhere or at any time,” she said. “With 3 million nurses in the United States alone, the more nurses that know what to do in a disaster, the more we maximize our ability to save lives. It’s as simple as that.” Learn more about the School of Nursing and Health Studies Nov 20, 2019

  • 5 Top Instagrammable Spots on the UMKC Volker Campus

    Student ambassadors take you on a quick tour
    As campus ambassadors, we’re always showing prospective students all around UMKC. There are a ton of cool spots to snap a pic. Here are five of our favorites – all within about a short walk around the Volker Campus.  1. Miller Nichols Library and Learning Center The library is a great place to hang out because not every place is a quiet spot, plus it’s super photogenic. The Minecraft-esque lime-green-and-emerald study area as you enter literally has us leaping for joy. 2. UMKC Student Union Rooftop Of course we need to mention nearly every student’s favorite spot to hang when the weather’s still nice. There are lots of fun angles – whether you’re lounging atop or looking at it from afar. 3. Big Stairs on Oak Street This pedestrian gateway to Volker Campus is one of the most defining features of UMKC. As you walk up — and up, and up — you’re surrounded by scenes of campus and Kansas City. Another bonus: you get a decent workout. 4. Archipenko Sculptures Plenty of other colleges have typical, traditional columns, but few can claim a pair of funky abstract sculptures by the internationally-acclaimed Alexander Archipenko, who was an artist-in-residence at UMKC. Fun fact: the two painted, sheet-iron sculptures are actually identical — one is just rotated 90 degrees from the other to give the appearance of two different sculptures. 5. Epperson House Everyone wants to go inside this 56-room Tudor-style mansion that was built in 1923, but it’s closed to the public until a future use of this turreted, brick building is determined. However, it’s definitely an interesting enough place to snap a selfie. The house’s claim to fame is that it’s reportedly haunted – boo! Nov 18, 2019

  • UMKC Bloch School Honors Hometown Entrepreneurs

    34th annual celebration recognizes Cerner founders and Kansas City leaders
    “Everything that Henry touched was heart and soul first,” said Roasterie founder Danny O’Neil in a warming tribute to the late Henry W. Bloch. That’s just one of the many lessons Bloch shared with a community of entrepreneurs who sat at his feet and sought his wisdom. And, in true Henry Bloch fashion, the 34th Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, hosted by the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management, was celebratory of the collaborative work it takes to turn dreams into reality. “In the past few years, we’ve been saying ‘let’s make Kansas City America’s most entrepreneurial city,’ and we’ve worked together to make that happen,” said UMKC Innovation Center Director Maria Meyers, the Marion and John Kreamer Awardee for Social Entrepreneurship. Meyers founded KCSourceLink, a repository of resources for entrepreneurs in the Kansas City region that has been replicated across the nation. Many of the 2019 honorees shed light on their climbs to success, the leaps of faith it took to get their ideas off the ground and the support from the Kansas City community it took to not give up. People, passion and persistence were the rippling themes of the evening. “Persistence is the most important character trait for an entrepreneur. It’s essential for success,” said Kansas City Entrepreneur of the Year Michael Rea. “During the difficult times, knowing what you’re fighting for will get you through.” “Kansas City is a town built by entrepreneurs,” - Cerner co-founder Cliff Illig, International Entrepreneur of the Year/Entrepreneur Hall of Fame inductee Rea, founder and CEO of Rx Savings Solutions, added that he didn’t start his company because he thought it would make him rich but because he thought it was the right thing to do. “If you’re not actually creating a change or making a difference in someone’s life, so what?” repeated Zach Anderson Pettet, managing director of Fountain City Fintech at nbckc bank, in his recollection of lessons Bloch passed down. “Through their entrepreneurial spirits, our honorees have shown what it takes to grow an idea into a successful business and that education these days is more than just about landing your dream job. Education, now, is about creating your dream job,” said Brian Klaas, dean of the Bloch School. Which is what junior business administration major, Ali Brandolino, leans on to find her drive and success in college – through entrepreneurial experiences as a member of UMKC Enactus. “I’ve realized that my idea of entrepreneurship wasn’t changing the world myself, but inspiring others to change the world. I’m a social entrepreneur and I hope to create my own social venture someday,” said the Enactus vice president and Student Entrepreneur of the Year. “There’s a long-existing theory that suggests when you dream out loud – when you speak your ideas into the universe – they are more likely to come back to you,” said Tom Bloch. “We could say that’s what happened for Cerner co-founders and Entrepreneur Hall of Fame inductees Neal Patterson, Paul Gorup and Cliff Illig. From an idea generated around a park bench to one of the largest healthcare technology companies in the world 40 years later, Cerner employs more than 29,000 associates in 26 countries worldwide. Illig shared gems from the founders’ journey for attendees to take away. Treat employees as business associates Create a collaborative culture to tackle complex problems together Share the success with your team Get all of your employees in a room and talk “I’ve realized that my idea of entrepreneurship wasn’t changing the world myself, but inspiring others to change the world." - Ali Brandolino “Kansas City is a town built by entrepreneurs,” said Illig. Recalling words from co-founder Neal Patterson, he said “the only way that Kansas City can grow and thrive is through the efforts of its entrepreneurs. We’re not going to attract the big national companies to relocate or headquarter in our city. We have to grow our own.” All proceeds from the Entrepreneur of the Year awards directly benefit the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s student and community programs. The Regnier Institute at the Bloch School focuses on connecting students and community members with a comprehensive combination of world-class research, renowned faculty, cutting-edge curriculum and experimental programs driven to deliver results and nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs. Learn more about the Regnier Institute Nov 18, 2019

  • From Doughnut Shop to Fed: The Unlikely Journey of Mary Daly

    News 3 Now and Channel 3000 in Wisconsin picked up a story from Matt Egan, CNN Business, about UMKC Alumna Mary Daly
    Mary Daly earned her bachelor’s degree in 1985 in economics and philosophy from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. That’s when she achieved what she calls her “escape velocity.” A podcast interview by CNN’s Poppy Harlow is also available online. Read the Channel 3000 story. Nov 16, 2019

  • Childhood Dream of Medicine Inspired by Family and the Farm

    While Marlena Long grew up caring for livestock, her lifelong plan has been curing patients
    Marlena Long '25Hometown: Paris, MissouriHigh School: Paris High SchoolDegree program: Six-year B.A./M.D. Marlena Long has always loved science. But it was her exposure to life, death and medicine—through farm life and personal experiences—that led her to the six-year B.A./M.D. program at UMKC. “My grandfather died when I was 7 years old. We would travel to the cancer center in Columbia, Missouri, and I would sit with my grandpa while he received chemotherapy treatments,” Long says. “I noticed how the doctors and nurses made my grandpa feel better, and I knew that I wanted to do that someday. Ever since then, I have dreamed of being a doctor.” Long shadowed with a cardiologist while she was in high school. Just as the medical professionals who treated her grandfather influenced her, this experience further confirmed her interest in becoming a doctor. "I have learned so much about myself in just the first month at UMKC.  Now I know I have a very bright future in front of me if I continue to work hard." Marlena Long   Long completed her associate’s degree at Moberly Area Community College before coming to UMKC. She says the classroom experience gave her an idea of what to expect, but getting acclimated to college life has been different. “The courses have been intense,” Long says. “I have been able to learn so much in my short time here due to my professors working so hard to make sure I understand what I need to for my future. But there are advantages, too. Not taking the MCAT decreased the time I need to receive my degree, and I’m able to start clinic work my first year.” While Long is taking her studies seriously, she is also making the time to make connections. “I didn’t know my roommate before school started, but we are close friends now. All my friends have different backgrounds, but I’m the only farm kid,” says Long, who grew up raising pigs and cattle on her family farm through 4-H and the National FFA Organization. “They are really curious about it. I’m planning a trip home with them this winter so that they can see the piglets that I’ll be showing next summer.” While Long grew up exposed to the practice of animal medicine, she was never interested in being a veterinarian.  "The biggest advantage is understanding the circle of life." “That seems like my parents’ life,” she says. “My mother works at BASF (a company that develops chemical products for agriculture with a focus on sustainability). She told me she may be able to help me get a job in that business. But I want to be a doctor.” Regardless of her career choice, Long does value her experience growing up on a farm. “There’s so much responsibility. When it’s snowing outside on Christmas morning, you still have to go outside and heat up the water for the animals to drink,” she says. “But the biggest advantage is understanding the circle of life. I’ve seen animals be born, do all the things they are supposed to do and then pass away. I learned that so early.” Long showed her pigs at the American Royal this fall. She’s confident and comfortable moving through the rows and pens of the livestock. While she is very independent, she still visits home a lot and has one foot firmly on her home turf. “I’m going to be a doctor, but I don’t think I’ll ever stop showing pigs.” Long smiles and nods slowly. “I mean, my kids will show pigs.”     Nov 14, 2019

  • UMKC Will Honor Cerner Founders, Other Entrepreneurs During Awards Ceremony

    From the Kansas City Business Journal: The UMKC Bloch School Entrepreneur of the Year awards program honors several entrepreneurs
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is gave a nod to Cerner Corp. this year in the annual Entrepreneur of the Year awards program. Read more. Nov 13, 2019

  • Henry W. Bloch School of Management Entrepreneur of the Year Awards Honor Visionary Leaders

    Cerner founders among UMKC honorees for 34th annual event
    KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The University of Missouri-Kansas City has announced the honorees for its 34th Annual Entrepreneur of the Year awards. The celebration is sponsored by the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the university’s Henry W. Bloch School of Management.   The event is Friday, Nov. 15 at Bloch Executive Hall, 5108 Cherry St., Kansas City, Missouri. A Venture Showcase and Reception begins at 5:30 p.m. with the awards program following at 7 p.m. Here is ticket and sponsorship information. Past inductions for the Bloch School’s Entrepreneur Hall of Fame are included in the program. "This year’s Entrepreneur of the Year Awards is particularly meaningful for us as we celebrate the lessons we learned from our friend, the late Henry Bloch; lessons that we are responsible to carry on and teach the next generation of young, ambitious entrepreneurs."   - Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal The Entrepreneur of the Year Awards event is an iconic Kansas City tradition started in 1985. Beyond its philanthropic cause, this event is a valuable forum where Kansas City CEOs, entrepreneurs, business owners, industry legends, world-class faculty and students alike are able to celebrate a common passion. The event celebrates entrepreneurial spirit and serves as a source of inspiration to future generations of innovative entrepreneurs. All proceeds from this event directly benefit the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s student and community programs. The Regnier Institute at the Bloch School focuses on connecting students and community members with a comprehensive combination of world-class research, renowned faculty, cutting-edge curriculum and experimental programs driven to deliver results and nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs. Nov 12, 2019

  • Crescendo – Together We Rise

    More than 300 students, faculty perform in annual concert
    The talent of more than 300 University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory faculty and students was on display Nov. 8 at Crescendo. Held in the stunning Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts, Crescendo is the signature event for the UMKC Conservatory and a scholarship fundraiser for UMKC Conservatory students. This year’s gala and concert raised more than $600,000 as of event night and the total is expected to increase as donations continue to come in. “Many of these young artists would not have the opportunity to pursue their dreams without your patronage,” said Conservatory Dean Diane Petrella before the concert. “Since moving Crescendo to the Kauffman Center in 2012, we have raised over $2.5 million in scholarship funds.” In addition to raising scholarship dollars, this year’s Crescendo accepted donations to the Conservatory’s piano fund to improve the quality of the piano inventory. Pianos play a critical role in Conservatory programs. The average age of the current piano inventory is 42 years old, with the condition of these instruments deteriorating under the near constant use they are subjected to on a daily basis. Last June, The Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts generously awarded the Conservatory a $75,000 grant to use towards the purchase of new pianos. The Conservatory is currently in a campaign to match that grant by raising an additional $75,000 through private donations. The goal is to purchase a new concert grand piano for the White Recital Hall stage on the UMKC campus. As Crescendo has also grown over the years, Petrella said they have actively sought ways to expand the impact of the performance. Three years ago, the Conservatory began hosting an annual special matinee performance, busing middle and high school students from all over the Kansas City area to the Kauffman Center. For many of the children, this was the first time they’ve experienced a performance of this caliber in a setting this spectacular. “These performances not only support our efforts in community outreach, but also help us to connect with local talent to recruit the next generation of artists to the Conservatory,” Petrella said. This year, through grant and private funding, the Conservatory expanded this outreach to two performances, with more than 2,500 students attending matinees earlier in the day. The fast-paced performance began with Masquerade (2013), Anna Clyne (b. 1980) trans. Dennis Llinás, performed by the Conservatory Wind Symphony, Professor Steven D. Davis, conductor. It was quickly followed by O Clap Your Hands (1920), Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-958), sung by the Combined Choral Ensembles with Professor Charles Robinson as conductor. UMKC piano students delighted the audience with Galop-marche á huit mains (1898), Albert Lavignac (1846-1916); followed by Libertango (1974), Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) arr. Jeff Scott, performed by the UMKC Graduate Fellowship Woodwind Quintet and Professor Celeste Johnson as coach. UMKC Brass students also played “Nimrod” from Enigma Variations (1898-99), Edward Elgar (1857-1934). The program then featured a scene from An Italian Straw Hat (1851), Eugene Labiche (1815-1888) Marc-Michel (1812-1868), and translated by Professor Felicia Londré. The Conservatory Orchestra, with Conductor Professor Adam Boyles, performed Music to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (1947), David Diamond (1915-2005), 1. Overture. Allegro Maestoso. The UMKC Jazz Combo entertained with Night and Day (1932), Cole Porter (1891-1964) arranged by Zak Jonas; followed by Precious Lord (1938/1996), Thomas A. Dorsey (1899-1933) arranged by Arnold Sevier, sung by Conservatory Singers and with Professor Eph Ehly as conductor. Courtesy of Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company, the audience was tantalized by Sweet in the Morning (1992) with choreography by Leni Wylliams (1961-1996), music by Bobby McFerrin and restaged by Professor DeeAnna Hiett. Wrapping another amazing year, Crescendo’s last performance was “Make Our Garden Grow” from Candide (1956), Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990), performed by the Conservatory Orchestra, Combined Choral Ensembles and Professor Adam Boyles as conductor. The 2019 Crescendo honorary co-chairs were Julie Quinn and Teri Miller; and Mark Sappington and David McGee. Co-Chairs were Marylou Turner and Michael Henry. Nov 11, 2019

  • Composition Faculty Yotam Haber Wins International Prize

    Conservatory's Yotam Haber is one of three winners of the 2020 Azrieli Music Prizes
    The Conservatory is pleased to note that Associate Professor of Music Composition Yotam Haber is one of three winners of The Azrieli Foundation awards. Haber has won the Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music. Established in 2014, the biennial Azrieli Music Prizes offer opportunities for the discovery, creation, performance, and celebration of excellence in music composition. The release notes, "The Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music is awarded to the composer who displays the utmost creativity, artistry, and musical excellence in proposing a response to the question – "What is Jewish music?" – in the shape of a musical work. 2020 Commission winner, Yotam Haber, has been awarded to write a new song cycle for voice and ensemble. His new work – Estro Poetico Armonico III – will continue baroque composer Benedetto Marcello's "telephone game" of hearing and re-hearing music he transcribed in a Venice Synagogue, and remembering and misremembering." Nov 11, 2019

  • Focusing on Mental Health

    Chancellor Agrawal and UM System launch initiatives to improve wellness
    Chancellor Agrawal’s new initiative at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Roos for Mental Health, is part of the university’s commitment to maintaining a culture of care. Did you know that one in four adults will be affected by mental illness at some point in their lives? And that nearly two-thirds of people don’t seek treatment because of stigma, discrimination or lack of understanding? Roos for Mental Health is aimed at reducing the stigma around mental illness, creating opportunities to enhance self-care for students, faculty and staff and offering education about the importance of nutrition, physical activity and communication. “Seventy-five percent of serious adult mental illness starts by the age of 25 and these conditions are better managed when diagnosed and treated early on,” says Kathryn Brewer, visiting assistant professor and co-chair of Roos for Mental Health. The initiative will kick off a year-long campaign during the Kansas City Roos men’s basketball game on Monday, Nov. 18, followed by activities throughout the week including a lunch-and-learn on Tuesday, Nov. 19, from noon–1 p.m. in Swinney Center. The topic will be how nutrition affects mental health. It is free to attend and open to students, faculty and staff. Sign-up through the IMLeagues website. “The program wouldn’t be possible without the work and dedication of the staff, faculty and students who are volunteering their time to the committee and at events,” says Brewer. In 2020, each month will focus on a related topic with corresponding events and resources. January: Drugs and Alcohol February: Eating Disorders March: Self-Injury April: Sexual Assault May: Mental Health June: PTSD July: Grief and Loss August: Happiness September: Suicide October: Domestic Violence November: Depression December: Stress and Anxiety “We take a holistic approach when looking at mental health and wellbeing — not just in terms of counseling but also by looking at things like exercise, healthy sleep patterns, social support and other activities that contribute to a healthy and balanced life,” says Arnold Abels, director of Counseling, Health, Testing and Disability Services and co-chair of Roos for Mental Health. “These initiatives will save lives. The incidence of mental health issues is on the rise for college students." —Kathryn Brewer, co-chair Roos for Mental Health “We are working to better utilize our existing services and develop more proactive strategies to address the needs of students, faculty and staff,” says Brewer. “The Sanvello app is a good example of that.” The Sanvello app offers on-demand help for stress, anxiety and depression. The University of Missouri System is making the app available for free to anyone who has a UMKC email address. Sanvello has a range of features including mood tracking, coping tools, guided journeys and community support to promote healthy habits and behaviors. “These initiatives will save lives,” Brewer says. “The incidence of mental health issues is on the rise for college students. Through Roos for Mental Health we’ll provide the resources and support to help students on their path to mental health and wellness.” Look for more information to come on Roos for Mental Health events, activities and resources. Nov 11, 2019

  • UMKC Researcher Helps Discover New Strain of HIV

    First time a new subtype of HIV-1 has been discovered since 2000
    Carole McArthur, M.D. '91, Ph.D., of the UMKC School of Dentistry and UMKC School of Medicine, was part of a team of scientists who discovered a new strain of HIV. The new subtype is referred to as HIV-1 Group M, subtype L—and is part of the Group M viruses that are responsible for the global pandemic, which can be traced back to the Democratic Republic of Congo. "In an increasingly connected world, we can no longer think of viruses being contained to one location," said McArthur, one of the study authors. "This discovery reminds us that to end the HIV pandemic, we must continue to outthink this continuously changing virus and use the latest advancements in technology and resources to monitor its evolution." In order to determine whether an unusual virus is a new HIV subtype, three cases have to be discovered independently. The first two for this subtype was discovered in 1980s and 1990s and this third was collected in 2001 but difficult to sequence until now. Today, technology allows researchers to build entire genomes at higher speeds and partnering scientists at Abbott had to develop new techniques in order to confirm the discovery. “This discovery reminds us that to end the HIV pandemic, we must continue to outthink this continuously changing virus and use the latest advancements in technology and resources to monitor its evolution.” – Carole McArthur, M.D., Ph.D. Mary Rodgers, Ph.D., one of the Abbott scientists who co-authored the study with McArthur, said identifying viruses like this one are like searching for a needle in a haystack; however, with new technologies it feels as though they are now “pulling the needle out with a magnet.” “This scientific discovery can help us ensure we are stopping new pandemics in their tracks," she said. Abbott’s Global Viral Surveillance Program monitors HIV and hepatitis viruses, specifically, to ensure the company’s diagnostic tests remain up to date. And now that this new strain has been identified, they are able to detect it. You can read the full release here. The study was published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (JAIDS). In the News Hundreds of outlets around the world published this discovery, including: CNN Daily Mail Forbes Kansas City Business Journal MSNBC Newsweek USA Today Nov 08, 2019

  • UMKC's VentureHub will move (onto 'purposeful collision path with entrepreneurs')

    The Bloch VentureHub's move to Plexpod Westport Commons was recently featured in the Kansas City Business Journal
    The Bloch VentureHub, a program of the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management, will get a new home in Plexpod Westport Commons. Read the story and view the photos. Nov 07, 2019

  • UMKC Bloch VentureHub Moving to Plexpod Westport Commons

    New location places Regnier Institute entrepreneurship facility at heart of KC startup community
    The Bloch VentureHub will join entrepreneurs from across Kansas City at Plexpod Westport Commons with permanent office space in the giant co-working building. The redesigned VentureHub will feature mentors on site, a resource library and open co-working hours for students and entrepreneurs. The Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, a program of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, announced a multi-year agreement this fall with Plexpod.  The Plexpod Westport Commons in Midtown Kansas City will be the new home of the Bloch VentureHub, which has moved from its previous location at 43rd and Madison streets. The historic Plexpod building once housed Westport Junior High School. A 2017 renovation transformed the 1923 structure into one of the world’s largest co-working communities, meshing a modern office space with eclectic whispers from the building’s past such as restored hardwood floors, metal lockers and a historic 600-person theater.  The Bloch VentureHub plans to offer Coworking Wednesdays where enrollees in the Institute’s Entrepreneurship Scholars program, program alumni, UMKC students and other entrepreneurs can work in the space and enjoy the benefit of Institute mentors on site and a resource library. The move to Plexpod puts the VentureHub on a purposeful collision path with entrepreneurs in Kansas City.  “The mission of the Regnier Institute is to take entrepreneurship beyond the classroom. This is a deliberate step to offer RIEI resources to the community,” said Andy Heise, assistant director.  In addition to housing active ventures, Plexpod hosts One Million Cups and community events. The building offers a rooftop deck with 360 degree views of Kansas City, a gourmet café, boardrooms, meeting rooms, and creative space – all intriguing options for hosting future Regnier Institute programs and events on key topics such as ideation, modeling, scaling the venture, and business basics in close proximity to entrepreneurs who can put the information to use.  The VentureHub’s new home places the Regnier Institute in the center of Kansas City’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Institute Managing Director for Venture Creation Bryan Boots oversaw the development of the agreement and said, “Being here will help the Regnier Institute stay close to the pulse of entrepreneurship communities.” Along with this new Plexpod annex, the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation will maintain its core offices in Bloch Executive Hall on the UMKC campus. The Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (RIEI) inspires and nurtures entrepreneurs and innovators through transformational education, research, and programs. RIEI offers formal entrepreneurship education to enrolled students at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and provides educational opportunities for members of the community who are looking for guidance and support as they prepare to launch new ventures. RIEI programs are designed to advance entrepreneurship and innovation across the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus, locally in the Kansas City region, and around the world. Nov 07, 2019

  • Scientists Discover First New HIV Strain in Nearly Two Decades

    CNN and a number of news outlets wrote about the research, co-authored by Carole McArthur at UMKC
    “This discovery reminds us that to end the HIV pandemic, we must continue to out think this continuously changing virus and use the latest advancements in technology and resources to monitor its evolution,” study co-author, Carole McArthur, a professor in the department of oral and craniofacial sciences at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said in a statement. Read more. Nov 06, 2019

  • Flatworms Inspire UMKC Gallery of Art Exhibit

    More about the exhibit was published in The Scientist
    Steph Nowotarski, an artist and postdoc in Alejandro Sanchez Alvarado’s lab at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, Missouri, studies how planarian flatworms (class Turbellaria) regenerate. “[I] can cut a 1 cm worm into multiple pieces, and each piece, regardless of where in the animal it was taken from, will make a whole new animal in just 14 days,” she says in an email to The Scientist.  Nowotarski is teaming up with other Kansas City–based artists to create an exhibit inspired by flatworm research in the University of Missouri–Kansas City Gallery of Art. Read more. Oct 31, 2019

  • Flatland Features Epperson House

    Kansas City religious leaders grapple with the notion of ghosts
    A few locations routinely pop up when taking inventory of haunted places in Kansas City. The most legendary of all local haunts is the Epperson House on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus, according to Darren Hinesley, a local expert on Kansas City hauntings and host of the podcast Creepy in KC. Hotels such as the historic hotel Savoy and places of worship such as St. Mary’s Episcopal Church also are thought by some to be scenes of paranormal activity. Read more. Oct 30, 2019

  • Author of “White Fragility” delivers Social Justice Book Lecture

    ‘Racism is a System, Not an Event’
    Author and scholar Robin DiAngelo, Ph.D., examined the unconscious and unintentional forms of racism at UMKC Diversity and Inclusion’s 13th annual Social Justice Book Lecture. DiAngelo is an associate professor of education at the University of Washington, and has been an educator and trainer on issues of social justice for over 20 years. Her book, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism, was released in June of 2018 and debuted on the New York Times Bestseller List. At the Social Justice Book Lecture, DiAngelo explained to a capacity audience that many white people simply do not understand the true nature of racism. They think of racism as deliberately offensive acts committed by people with clearly hurtful intent. Since they do not commit or condone such behavior, they believe they are not racist. What they miss, DiAngelo said, is that they live in, and benefit greatly from, a system that provides enormous advantages to white people from cradle to grave, in areas ranging from education to careers to health care to justice. Those advantages confer on white people a responsibility to educate themselves on the racist nature of society and its impact, and to approach that responsibility from a position of humility.  “Niceness is not anti-racism.” – Robin DiAngelo Numerous scientific studies over many years have demonstrated that all people carry unconscious biases, DiAngelo said; the difference for white people is that their biases are supported by legal authority and powerful institutions. Defining racism as intentional individual actions, she said, actually helps perpetuate the systemic racism of society by diverting attention away from it. “The white experience is deeply separate and unequal,” she said. And while white progressives often attribute racist actions and intent to conservatives, “white progressives produce the most daily toxicity for people of color.” “We are the ones who send our co-workers home every evening with stress, wrestling over whether they should address the unconscious indignities they endure from us.” DiAngelo’s closing thought: “Niceness is not anti-racism.” “Focusing on intent allows us to avoid taking responsibility for impact.”  About the Social Justice Book and Lecture Series The UMKC Division of Diversity and Inclusion’s Social Justice Book and Lecture Series brings to campus thought leaders from across the country and various fields to explore issues of social justice with our students, faculty and staff. The objectives of the series are to: Foster a sense of community on our campus through shared literature and relevant dialogue. Prompt participants to think critically about the historical context of social justice issues while focusing on current social justice challenges and the interdisciplinary thought and leadership skills necessary for solving such challenges. Provide a platform for further reflection, dialogue and action within our campus and greater communities through related coursework, gatherings and exposure to local, regional and national social justice projects and initiatives. Oct 30, 2019

  • Mental Health Caretakers on KCUR

    Psychologist Carolyn Pepper of UMKC Counseling Services was a guest
    A mental health diagnosis for one person can inadvertantly affect their family members and caretakers, and lead to confusion, concern and guilt. One mother shares her experience in caring for her adult daughter, whose bipolar disorder and schizophrenia often manifested itself as violence and tension. Her suggestion to other caretakers is to seek support. "I can't help her before I can help myself," she says. Listen here. Lori Mitchell, mother and caretaker of someone diagnosed as bipolar-schizophrenic Carolyn Pepper, psychologist, UMKC Counseling Services Oct 28, 2019

  • UMKC Dental Student Delivers Patient’s Baby at Clinic

    Patient came for a filling, left with a son
    The email subject line to UMKC School of Dentistry faculty read: “There is no limit to what our students can do!” The email detailed something completely unexpected that happened on fourth-year dental student Aliah Haghighat’s first day of an externship rotation at Samuel Rodgers Health Center in Kansas City. “It was definitely a day I will never forget,” Haghighat said. Oct. 21, 2019 It was Monday morning, the first day of her new externship, and Haghighat was eager to treat as many patients as she could. A woman was her second patient of the day, and everything was going great with prepping her tooth. As Haghighat stood up to get the lead doctor to check her work before the filling, the patient exclaimed that her water broke. Haghighat ran to tell the doctor, and then went straight back to help her patient. She remembers the woman was off the dental chair and was worried about the water everywhere. Haghighat assured her that it was going to be okay, and made efforts to try to call someone to give her a ride to the hospital. At this point, the lead doctor went to the other side of the clinic to get more help.  “It was definitely a day I will never forget.” -Aliah Haghighat Soon after, Haghighat remembers the patient saying the baby was coming and then jumping back on the dental chair. The only other people in the room at the time were Haghighat and a dental assistant. “We were both in shock and in disbelief of what was happening,” Haghighat said. The woman exclaimed “grab my baby,” and both Haghighat and the assistant reached down to grab hold of the baby boy and handed him carefully to the mother. The baby was crying and had a full head of hair. About 10 seconds later, the lead doctor came back and saw that the baby was delivered. She immediately called 911, and at this point, many providers from women’s health including a doctor came to help. Haghighat and the others used equipment to suction the baby’s mouth and covered both mom and baby in personal protective equipment gowns to keep them warm. “The patient only spoke Spanish...Thankfully, I am fluent in Spanish and was able to speak to her to keep her calm and translate for her as well.” -Aliah Haghighat The paramedics arrived within 10 minutes. The baby opened his eyes to a room full of people trying to help. The paramedics cut the cord and rushed the mom and baby boy to the hospital. “The patient only spoke Spanish so this entire incident was happening in Spanish,” Haghighat said. “Thankfully, I am fluent in Spanish and was able to speak to her to keep her calm and translate for her as well.” Haghighat thought back to a UMKC School of Dentistry course she took, Medical Emergencies, that prepares dental students for incidents that could occur in the dental chair. And this isn’t the first time she’s had to put what she learned in that course to work. Last year, Haghighat had a patient who had a 5-minute-long seizure in the UMKC dental clinic. “Although delivering a child was not a part of the curriculum, I feel that this class and the experience with a patient who had a seizure helped me remain calm,” Haghighat said. Nearly a week later, Haghighat remains both delighted and amazed at having helped deliver a baby. “I am overwhelmed with joy that everything went okay, and that both the mom and baby are healthy and happy,” she said. She called the patient’s husband later that day to make sure everyone was doing well. “This is an experience I will never forget, and I know now that I will be able to handle any situation while practicing dentistry,” she said. She has no thoughts, though, of switching her studies from dentistry to obstetrics. “I am definitely in the right profession.” Oct 28, 2019

  • Health for All Remains an Elusive Goal

    Community leaders discuss UMKC efforts to close gaps
    Health equity is a broad concept that encompasses differences in disease and mortality rates, and in access to healthcare services, among different population groups. It also includes differences in social determinants of health, such as poverty, exposure to toxins and access to healthy food. UMKC leadership quantifying and addressing these differences was the focal point of the UMKC Engagement Showcase, the university's signature event celebrating Engagement Week – a special week of engaged leadership, partnership and learning hosted by UMKC and the UM System. The event included a demonstration of the System’s new online Engagement Portal and a panel discussion on health equity led by the director of the new UMKC Health Equity Institute, Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., of the UMKC School of Medicine. Engagement with community partners by the UM System and its four universities is hardly a new phenomenon. Curt Crespino, UMKC vice chancellor for external relations and constituent engagement, noted that UMKC history is rooted in an enduring city-campus partnership. Marshall Stewart, chief engagement officer for the UM System, said what’s new is a more systematic and coordinated approach to engagement, including a transformation of the system’s Extension programs, designed to expand engagement beyond Extension’s original rural focus to forge engagement partnerships in every community and corner of the state.  “Urban and rural communities are facing very similar issues across Missouri. Our mission is to work together with all of our stakeholders to expand our impact by using our research to help transform lives,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “That spirit of connection to the city and engagement with our community was woven into the origin story of UMKC. And we are excited to take those efforts to the next level in collaboration with the efforts being led by the system.” Following are excerpted highlights of the health equity panel. Jannette Berkley-Patton, director, UMKC Health Equity Institute: “We spend billions on healthcare but are still one of the unhealthiest countries in the world.” The burden of health disparities rests primarily on groups outside the mainstream, including people of color, rural communities, veterans and seniors. Large federal grants allow for the creation of effective programs, “but what happens when the grant ends? Everything goes away. We need to figure out how to take the Cadillacs we create with these million-dollar grants and turn them into Pintos.” Rex Archer, director, Kansas City Health Department: “We need to change the structural issues that create the (health equity) problem.” These include issues with disparities in housing, poverty, education, safety and more. Mary Anne Jackson, interim dean, UMKC School of Medicine: In 2014, the Kansas City area had to contend with a large outbreak of a serious respiratory illness among school-age children. Researchers were notified early enough to identify the virus responsible and contain the outbreak. “We were able to address this in time because of the strong connections we have with people in the community who brought it to our attention.” Eric Williams, pastor, Calvary Temple Baptist Church: Conducting funerals for victims of gang violence and AIDS led Williams to involvement in public health. “Conversations about HIV were happening, but it was all on the down-low. (Berkley-Patton) helped us to understand that some of the things we were already doing were working” to change behaviors.  Rashaan Gilmore, founder and director, BlaqOut: BlaqOut surveyed gay African Americans about their health care priorities, and the top response was health care access. “It was because they didn’t feel welcomed by traditional providers. We asked them to recommend strategies to address that, and we developed interventions based on those results.” Bridget McCandless, former president and CEO, Health Forward Foundation: After 15 years working in a free health clinic, she changed her approach from providing care to impacting policy “because I saw that policy could be far more effective.” Citing a sampling of dramatic health disparities between local white and black populations, she said “there’s no excuse for us to have disparities like that.” Data analysis can empower highly effective strategies if we act on the findings. “We’re getting smart enough to figure this out. (Data-driven policy) can be the new germ theory; it can revolutionize the delivery and effectiveness of health care.” Oct 28, 2019

  • Academy Award Winner Kevin Willmott Headlines Writers for Readers Event

    Nov. 13 dinner celebrates the power of expression through creative writing and reading
    KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Kevin Willmott, the Academy Award winning screenwriter from Lawrence, Kansas, will be the featured speaker this year at the annual Writers for Readers dinner at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Willmott will discuss his screenwriting and filmmaking career, including his work on “BlacKkKlansman” and other collaborations with director Spike Lee, with local scriptwriter Mitch Bryan and author Whitney Terrell, UMKC associate professor of English. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas is also scheduled to speak. Writers for Readers is an event celebrating the power of expression through creative writing and reading. Proceeds benefit a new creative writing initiative co-sponsored by the Kansas City Public Library and UMKC, providing scholarships for UMKC graduate students in Creative Writing. The students will be teaching creative writing classes for underserved populations at the Kansas City Public Library and helping the library organize a new literary festival and a new literary award. Writers for Readers will take place at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13 in Room 401 of the UMKC Student Union, 5100 Cherry St. Tickets include dinner, open bar and admission to the event. For tickets, click here. Oct 25, 2019

  • Dance Major Finds Success in Musical Theater

    Shacura Wade is part of the national tour of The Lion King
    For Shacura Wade (B.F.A. ’15), the journey after graduation has been unexpected. “I thought the Broadway world was very cheesy and over-commercialized, so I didn’t think it had a place for me,” Wade says. But she had a change of heart two years ago, when she was cast as an ensemble member in the national tour of The Lion King. Now she performs on stages across the country, spreading a message she deeply believes in. “I always wanted to be a part of something that had a deeper meaning, and The Lion King is such a spiritual show,” Wade says. “It has a great story about unity and how everything is connected.” It also allows her to combine her love of dance with two other talents: singing and acting. Wade says the Conservatory curriculum helped prepare her for her current role because she was able to take classes in other performing arts disciplines, like music. “You don’t always get that variety at a lot of schools,” Wade explains. “That’s why [the Conservatory] produces such well-rounded dancers in general.” She also credits her teachers at the Conservatory for helping her develop skills that set her apart in auditions. “It’s a passion, it’s a hunger, it’s a confidence, it’s a boldness I feel as though I learned from the faculty,” Wade says. “You don’t really realize it when you’re in school, training every single day, and you’re exhausted. But when you get out in the world and allow your training to speak for itself? It separated me a lot." This story originally appeared in Encore, the UMKC Conservatory magazine. Oct 25, 2019

  • This Publicist Prides Herself on Being a Voice for the Culture

    How positivity and creative thinking are making Kiarra's dreams come true
    Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Kiarra Brown-Edwards is the entertainment publicist you want to meet. Recently named among the 2019 class of Forbes Under 30 Scholars, the former Conservatory dancer turned Communication Studies student has made it her mission to serve as a voice for the culture. And she isn’t afraid to get creative to make her dreams come true. Kiarra Brown-Edwards '19Hometown: Kansas City, MissouriHigh School: Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing ArtsUMKC degree program: Communication Studies Why did you choose UMKC? I transferred to UMKC as a dance major in the fall of 2016. I loved how elite the conservatory is here. I eventually changed my major from dance to Communication Studies because there’s so much more I want to do. People need to hear me. I realized, then, how great the Communication Studies department actually is. Choosing UMKC was a great decision for me. Not only do I love the people here, but I love that there are a great deal of faculty and staff who want you to succeed just as much as you want to succeed. College can be tough and the “real world” is tougher. At UMKC, students are accepted for who we are as individuals. Why did you choose communications? I chose to be a mass communications major because I enjoy, and also understand, the importance of being a voice for black and brown people. Whether it be politically or in the realm of entertainment, people of color are either under-represented or incorrectly represented, and I want to change that. The media industry always keeps me on the edge of my seat. There is always something to be learned … or unlearned. “Choosing UMKC was a great decision for me. Not only do I love the people here, but I love that there is a great deal of faculty and staff who want you to succeed just as much as you want to succeed.” What are the benefits and challenges of the program? The benefit of this program is being able to get that much needed one-on-one time with professors. In media, we have to put in extra work to perfect our craft no matter our focus. Being able to get that extra help or a pep talk from professors, who are also professionals, is a benefit that I value greatly. My challenge with this program is not having professors who look like me. Though I find a majority of Communication Studies professors valuable and an asset to students, I think it’s also important to not only maintain the diversity among students and professors alike. My experience as a black woman in media will be different than others in the same field. And not because I want it to be, that’s the reality. How do you find mentorship and connection in your field given that a lot of your field given that a lot of your professors themselves don’t look like you? I'm an active student member of the National Association of Black Journalists. It literally provides black students with everything we need in this field. Being a member has helped me meet other black professionals in media. Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself? Since entering college, I’ve learned how hard I will work for something that I believe in, no matter if anyone else believes it or not. I don’t settle for anything that I believe is less than what I deserve. This mindset, and knowing how to communicate this in the proper manner, has granted me many life-changing opportunities. “LinkedIn is the plug!” Since transferring to UMKC I have been actively involved with campus organizations. I was the president of Sister Circle, an organization for women of color from May 2016 to May 2018. Now I support by being a general body member. I am also a general body member of The African American Student Union and am also a contributing writer for U-News. On Tuesdays at 4:30 p.m. I have a radio show on K-Roo radio, “Your Weekly Dose with Ki & Los,” where we talk about culture, what’s happening around campus and current events in mainstream media. Wow! You do a lot on campus. What about off campus? Have you had any internship experiences? I have had a nice amount of valuable internships. I am currently a public relations and marketing administrative intern for IMPACT Strategies, a political advocacy firm founded by NPR Political Analyst and CNN commentator Angela Rye. My job is to oversee incoming interns, pitch ideas, news releases, prepare briefs and network with my across the country. There are several college students who intern remotely. Shout out to NABJ for giving the confidence to apply. My second gig is working for BET Networks as a public relations/talent escort. I coordinate guest check-ins, assist production with red carpet setup, escort celebrity talent to the various media outlets and assist with in-house show production. I began working with BET at the 2018 Soul Train Awards in Las Vegas and have worked every award show since. Most recently, I worked the BLACK GIRLS ROCK! 2019 show and got to see Angela Bassett in the flesh! I’m proud that I didn’t freak out. We have to learn how to not freak out around celebrities. I’ve also interned for a local television news station and help my friends with PR for the various projects and events they put on throughout the city. “Be kind, you never know who you'll meet.” You also recently received some big news -- your selection as a Forbes Under 30 Scholar. What does that mean to you? It means a lot. Being chosen as a Forbes Under 30 Scholar, I am granted access to the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit. This is one of the biggest leadership summits of the year with top-notch innovators and entrepreneurs. I will have access to leadership sessions and networking events with many of the amazing people who lead top companies we know of today. There were over 2,000 applications for the Forbes Under 30 Scholarship Program and only a few hundred were chosen. I am proud to be one of the only scholars chosen from the Kansas City area. The Summit be held Sunday, Oct. 27 to 30 in Detroit, Mich. I will be in rooms with Serena Williams, Kevin Durant, and 21 Savage to name a few. What are your plans after graduation? My goal is to land a job or fellowship in entertainment PR. I want to move to Harlem, New York. I’ve been to New York a few times and loved it — though I was the only one walking down the street smiling at everyone. I love the culture in Harlem, though, and hope to land a job that’ll allow me to be there. Which of your experiences at UMKC do you hope to take into your professional career? At UMKC I have had the pleasure of building relationships with all kinds of different people. And I walk away from every conversation having learned something new. It’s because I am kind and don’t judge a book by its cover. Going into my professional career, this is something I will take with me; be kind, you never know who you’ll meet. Oct 22, 2019

  • Alum Writes Sex Book for Son

    Kansas City poet Natasha Ria El-Scari is the author of 'Mama Sutra'
    When it comes to talking about sex, the accepted wisdom is that parents and kids alike would just rather not. But Kansas City poet Natasha Ria El-Scari doesn't think that's healthy. Neither does her college-age son, who says he's benefited from his mother's openness and candor in a way his peers are missing out on. El-Scari attended a historically black college, then went on graduate studies at UMKC, ultimately leaving academia to become a writer and tell the stories of "ordinary black women." The KCUR story ran in the Associated Press. Oct 18, 2019

  • UMKC School of Dentistry Unveils State-of-the-Art Training Lab

    Simulation lab is the newest in the U.S. — and among the largest
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry now includes a new state-of-the-art training lab for students, thanks to a multimillion-dollar makeover. The dental simulation lab is among the newest in the U.S. — and the largest. Before: first-and-second-year dental students worked on mouth models attached to metal rods, each euphemistically referred to by students as a “head on a stick.” Now: 110 fully-equipped, ergonomically-correct work stations feature head-and-torso simulated patients. Each also includes water for rinsing and suction– like a real dental operatory. “The lab is spectacular,” said Marsha Pyle, dean of the UMKC School of Dentistry, who has been advocating for the lab renovation for years. “This will give our students more real-life experiences before performing dental care on people.” The students were impressed, too, when they got their first chance to check it out.  “The lab feels so open and bright now,” said Bryce Boyd, a second-year dental student, after her first class in the new facility. “It felt like being in a real clinical setting, being able to drill with water and having to position ourselves properly around a patient. Last year, instructors always emphasized posture and positioning, but with the new work stations, we have to practice those things. I also think it will make the transition much easier next year when we are working on real patients.” Better ergonomic training — to eventually improve patient care and to help avoid disabilities later in dental careers — was a big reason why Pyle wanted the renovation. She also wanted to maintain the school’s reputation for high-quality instruction and its ability to recruit top students.  Pyle’s efforts to finance the $4 million project attracted substantial contributions from alumni, support from the school’s Rinehart Foundation and a generous match from the school’s Dental Alumni Association. The needed fundraising was completed when the Sunderland Foundation gave $2 million to the project, which not only included the lab renovation and equipment, but a new air handler and HVAC system for the space.  “It felt like being in a real clinical setting, being able to drill with water and having to position ourselves properly around a patient…I also think it will make the transition much easier next year when we are working on real patients.” – Bryce Boyd, student Cynthia Petrie, DDS, the department chair who oversees the classes taught in the lab, said that besides teaching proper positioning, the new mannequins and dental simulators manufactured and installed by the Dentsply Sirona “also replicate all the orofacial structures as closely as possible to human conditions. The students can practice using and manipulating dental instruments and handpieces in the same way that they will later do intra-orally on a patient.” Petrie said the stations also integrate training videos and simulated patient record-keeping software. “The entire lab space has been designed to be conducive for student learning,” she said. “Each station has its own monitor where the student can view educational resources such as photos and example videos of the exercises that they will perform. The stations are set in a way that faculty can navigate around the room and observe the students’ performance and provide appropriate instruction.” Student Nicole Kurlbaum, president of the school’s DDS Class of 2022, said: “I have worked as a dental assistant, and the new lab is much more like being in a real practice. I know years of planning and fundraising went into this project, and now we all can appreciate it.”  “The lab is spectacular. This will give our students more real-life experiences before performing dental care on people.” – Marsha Pyle, dean of the UMKC School of Dentistry Oct 17, 2019

  • UMKC School of Medicine Featured in U.S. News and World Report

    What to know about baccalaureate-M.D. programs
    Baccalaureate-M.D. programs range in length from six to nine years, according to U.S. News and World Report. For example, the University of Missouri-Kansas City has a year-round curriculum that allows students to complete their undergraduate and medical degree in six years. Yahoo Finance also published the story. Oct 15, 2019

  • AUPD Students Win APA Outstanding Student Project Award

    Fall 2018 Planning Studio class develops plan for the Westside
    Eight UMKC Architecture Urban Planning + Design students received the Missouri State American Planning Association Outstanding Student Project Award for “Visions for The Westside.” The project was part of the Fall 2018 Planning Studio class, and was completed in collaboration with the Hispanic Economic Development Corporation. The award recognizes an outstanding paper or class project that demonstrates the contribution of planning to contemporary issues; best applies the planning process; or applied planning research. Through research, the Planning Studio class found that the Westside, as other inner-city neighborhoods and particularly minority neighborhoods, has historically been affected by urban renewal, freeway construction projects and disinvestment, creating challenges that persist today. In addition, the Westside is experiencing gentrification as it attracts interest from contemporary downtown planning revitalization efforts and real estate pressures. Their findings showed as a demographic group, Latinx people face specific challenges that also demand planning interventions. The students synthesized the challenges and selected a few to focus on more deeply. They then searched for precedents of planning interventions that were successful elsewhere, distilled from those precedents lessons to be used in this project, tested multiple ideas for intervention and settled on the ones that made the most sense. The students learned scenario planning techniques and developed three different scenarios to envision a more sustainable and equitable Westside by 2030: Status quo remained within the current constraints and within the confines of current regulations and political mindsets and traditions. Reform gently pushed for improvements in regulations, traditions and/or typologies. Revolution radically pushed to transform the status quo so as to fully resolve the urban challenges identified in the neighborhood. The Missouri APA Student Project Award was presented Oct. 10 at the Awards Banquet of the Quad State Conference, the annual conference of the Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas chapters of the APA. Annamarie Weddle, AUPD alumna who worked on the project; and Michael Frisch, Ph.D., AICP, department chair and associate professor of the AUPD Department, accepted the award on behalf of Clara Irazábal- Zurita, Ph.D., UMKC AUPD professor who taught the studio course. AUPD students who worked on the project included Saphirah Pociluyko, Jesús Fernández, Rebeca Quiroz Villacis, Maitland Mehlhaff, Annamarie Weddle, Samantha Kaiser, Jenna Baker and Tyler Lehde.  “This is a wonderful achievement for our students and faculty,” Frisch said. Oct 15, 2019

  • Helpful Resources for Hispanic and Latinx Students

    Celebrating beyond National Hispanic Heritage Month
    As we wrap up National Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrating the influential and impactful contributions from those of Hispanic and Latino descent, we want to provide a quick list of resources for students looking to celebrate and connect throughout the rest of the year. Every year during National Hispanic Heritage Month, we enjoy listening to speakers through the César Chávez Lecture Series and attending campus and community events with food and music from the Latinx perspective. Celebrating culture, traditions, history and heritage is important to us at UMKC. And it’s important these students know they have access programs, organizations and opportunities to make them feel at home. Here is a list of some of the Hispanic and Latinx resources at UMKC. UMKC Division of Diversity and Inclusion The Division of Diversity and Inclusion thrives through the principle of teaching and learning through the broad areas of diversities within race, gender identity, sexual orientation, culture, nationality, learning style, educational level, life experiences and more. Events and programming engage students in socially constructed conversations and topics important to the multi-faceted purpose of culture. Multicultural Student Affairs Success is a key element for Multicultural Student Affairs. Aimed to encourage the value of diversity, the organization offers services such as a lounge and study meeting and event space for students to interact and fulfill academic goals. Additional programs such as monthly celebrations, staff-student academic check-ins and multicultural presentations serve to broaden students’ leadership roles and skills. Avanzando With over a hundred students and growing, Avanzando offers individualized support in increasing scholar retention, improving graduation rates and assuring a smooth transition into graduate school and careers post-graduation. Avanzando scholars are matched with a like-minded mentor who will link them to campus and outside resources beneficial to their future. Annual events throughout the year include leadership summits meant to embrace the Latinx identity and offer interactive workshops and self-development resources. The Avanzando Program is designed to support all Latinx Students on campus as well as Hispanic Development Fund and Agapito Mendoza Scholarship recipients Mi Gente! For and With Latinx For students who identify as Latinx, MiGente is a safe space for those to discuss acceptance of identity and important issues and topics touching the Latinx community and on campus. MiGente furthers the interest and celebration of the diversity within Latinx and Hispanic culture; creating social opportunities for those who are members. Contact Diversity and Inclusion or the employee affinity group MiGente for more information. Latinx and Latin American Studies Program Through the Latinx and Latin American Studies Program, students uncover the diversity of Latinx cultures within the U.S. and Latin America. Those enrolled are also connected to those within their culture who reside throughout Kansas City. Student interest in research, history and further expanding their education of Latinx culture is greatly supported through multiple internship and fellowship opportunities to finance their studies. Hispanic Law Students Association Created with the goal of diversifying the legal community, the Hispanic Law Students Association provides an array of networking opportunities through enforcing professional development skills and resources. HLSA, through fundraising and the importance of inclusion, works to increase support and membership in hopes of encouraging minorities in law. Latino Medical Student Association The mission of the Latino Medical Student Association is to create effective care for Kansas City’s growing Hispanic population and those of other underserved communities. Members of the association participate in community service activities and events (i.e. health fairs, informative sessions) benefiting the wellbeing of Kansas City community members. Spanish Department The Spanish Department offers multiple resources for students interested in effectively learning and using the language. In addition, they offer courses on Iberian, Latin American and South American culture, history and politics. The department’s faculty offers courses and conduct research on topics centered around and from the Spanish Golden Age, to contemporary Argentine culture. Association of Latino Professionals for America at UMKC The Association of Latino Professionals for America serves as a connection for Latinx leaders who are passionate about making an impact. With the goal of empowering and developing social and practical skills for Latino men and women in order to become leaders of character for their communities, the organization has been able to provide internship and career opportunities for its members. Sigma Lambda Gamma This historically Latina-based national sorority is committed to providing an outlet to all-things women empowerment. Their sisterhood strives to take responsibility and action within their global communities by implementing morals, ethics and education into their daily lives to serve as neighbors to other cultures through mutual respect and philanthropy. Get more information on requirements and the story of Sigma Lambda Gamma. Latinx Student Union Latinx Student Union is the base organization for Latinx students, culturally and socially. Students are impacted by an array of beneficial, lifelong skills dedicated to leadership, professionalism, unity, and strength. In addition, the organization work toward the goal of bringing awareness to UMKC students and faculty’s view and contribution to the Latinx community.  Oct 15, 2019

  • An Enduring Public Service Legacy

    UMKC remembers alumna and advocate Yvonne Wilson
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City is celebrating the life of former Missouri State Senator Yvonne Wilson (1929-2019) for her commitment and devotion to education, the university and the Kansas City community.   Yvonne Wilson (MA ’71, EDSP ’76) worked in the Kansas City, Missouri School District for 35 years as a teacher, principal and director of elementary education. In an interview with the UMKC School of Education she recounted always wanting to be a teacher. “I started teaching neighborhood children on my grandmother’s steps,” she said of the house in her segregated Leeds neighborhood. “I’ve never been anything other than a teacher.” Wilson attended Lincoln University and UMKC. She was an advisor to the UMKC School of Education and served on the advisory board for the Institute for Urban Education. The Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals recognized Wilson as a “Pioneer in Education” in 2007. Wilson began her career during desegregation and was the first African American principal of Rockhill Elementary and the first African American to serve as president of the Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals. As a principal at Woodland School, she introduced Samuel Rodgers dental care to each classroom and ensured each child received care.  An advocate of early education throughout the district, she advocated for pre-school programs and was a proponent of Head Start. A Starr Women’s Hall of Fame inductee in 2017, retired educator and Wilson’s nominator Marjorie Williams lauded the breadth of Wilson’s influence. “Wilson’s educational leadership was undisputed and continued though her retirement and beyond.” While Wilson was a teacher at heart, her community influence and broad career in education and public service exemplify her dedication to enriching the city through strong neighborhoods and schools. After retiring from education, she became a community activist, serving as a member of the Missouri House of Representatives and the Missouri Senate. As a tireless advocate for education, she was known for working across party lines.  Beyond her political commitments, Wilson volunteered for many community organizations including the Kansas City of Fountains Foundation, the Mid-America Regional Council Early Learning Board and the Kansas City Sister Cities Association.  Wilson led her classrooms, her schools and her community with a quiet courage and endless energy.  She focused on understanding others’ views and developing relationships to further the success of individual children and broad constituencies. Her legacy will be a timeless reminder of the possibility of a steadfast commitment to a love of learning. Wilson's services are scheduled for Friday, October 25, 2019. Details are available through Watkins Heritage Chapel.  Oct 15, 2019

  • Writers for Readers Event is Nov. 13

    Celebrate the power of expression through creative writing and reading
    Kevin Willmott, the Academy Award winning screenwriter from Lawrence, Kansas, will be the featured speaker this year at the annual Writers for Readers dinner. Willmott will discuss his screenwriting and filmmaking career, including his work on BlacKkKlansman and other collaborations with director Spike Lee, with local scriptwriter Mitch Bryan and author Whitney Terrell, UMKC associate professor of English. Mayor Quinton Lucas is also scheduled to speak. Writers for Readers is an event celebrating the power of expression through creative writing and reading. Proceeds benefit a new creative writing initiative cosponsored by the Kansas City Public Library and UMKC, providing scholarships for MFA students in Creative Writing. The students will be teaching creative writing classes for underserved populations at the Kansas City Public Library and helping the library organize a new literary festival and a new literary award. Writers for Readers will take place at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13 in Room 401 of the Student Union. Tickets include dinner and admission to the event. For tickets, click here. Oct 14, 2019

  • UMKC School of Medicine Searches for New Dean

    Committee announced; final candidates expected by spring 2020
    UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal has appointed a committee to lead a nationwide search for a new dean for the UMKC School of Medicine. Barbara Bichelmeyer, provost and executive vice chancellor, will chair the committee. The search committee will work with Isaacson Miller, an executive search firm specializing in academic medical centers and healthcare institutions. The committee will begin the search process in October, considering local candidates and those from across the country, with the goal of holding interviews with final candidates in spring 2020. Conducting a search in this fashion is considered a best practice for senior leadership positions at a university. Mary Anne Jackson, who has served as interim dean since July 2018, will continue to serve as interim dean during the search process. She was appointed the Special Advisor to the Chancellor on Health Affairs, and will assist in the search process. The American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Infectious Diseases will present Jackson with a Lifetime Achievement award on Oct. 28. Read a Children's Mercy article about her career. The search committee represents campus and community leaders in the health professions – people who understand the vital role that the UMKC School of Medicine plays in the overall health of our community and region, and the importance of strong, visionary leadership for the school. The committee is searching for a leader to build on the school’s reputation for innovative and highly effective medical education. Founded in 1971, the UMKC School of Medicine is a docent model of medical education in which students begin training directly after high school, completing a combined baccalaureate/Doctor of Medicine program, which allows students to graduate in six years with their medical degree prior to beginning residency. The school’s innovative curriculum provides students with early and continuous patient-care experience and fully integrates liberal arts/humanities, basic sciences and clinical medicine. Students begin learning about medicine and interacting with patients from the first day of class. They also learn the skills and attitudes that foster compassion, honesty and integrity. Hands-on learning and clinical experience are integrated throughout all the years of the program. Search Committee Barbara Bichelmeyer, chair, provost and executive vice chancellor, UMKC Jannette Berkley-Patton, professor, UMKC School of Medicine Denise Bratcher, physician, Children’s Mercy, and professor of pediatrics, UMKC School of Medicine Diana Dark, physician, and associate dean of Saint Luke’s Health Programs and professor, UMKC School of Medicine Marc Hahn, president and CEO, Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences Jani Johnson, CEO, Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City Peter Koulen, professor, UMKC School of Medicine Kamani Lankachandra, president, Truman Medical Centers medical staff, and professor and chair of pathology, UMKC School of Medicine Chris Liu, vice chancellor for research, UMKC Russell Melchert, dean, UMKC School of Pharmacy Paula Monaghan Nichols, professor and associate dean, UMKC School of Medicine Marion Pierson, physician, Village Pediatrics Megan Roedel, chief operating officer, Center for Behavioral Medicine of the Missouri Department of Mental Health Charlie Shields, president and CEO, Truman Medical Centers Gary Salzman, professor, UMKC School of Medicine Nathan Thomas, associate dean of diversity and inclusion, UMKC School of Medicine Kevin Truman, dean, UMKC School of Computing and Engineering Timothy Weber, student, UMKC School of Medicine Oct 10, 2019

  • UMKC Medicine Professor is a Champion to Her Patients for Breast Cancer

    American Board of Radiology featured radiologist Amy Patel
    Amy Patel, M.D. was one of five finalists for the Champions of Hope award. Patel is a breast imaging specialist at Liberty Hospital in Missouri and assistant professor of Radiology at the UMKC School of Medicine. Oct 08, 2019

  • Kansas City Athletics, Truman Medical Centers/University Health Announce Partnership

    Partnership to provide comprehensive care for student-athletes
    Kansas City Athletics and Truman Medical Centers/ University Health (TMC) are announcing the creation of a winning healthcare partnership. Kansas City Roos' Director of Athletics Dr. Brandon Martin and TMC President and CEO Charlie Shields say when a university and an academic medical center team up, it creates new and exciting opportunities.  Especially in areas that matter to the community, like health, education, and athletics. This partnership means TMC/ University Health will be known as the "Official Healthcare Provider of Kansas City Athletics." The providers at TMC/ University Health will help keep student athletes at their healthiest by providing quality, comprehensive care and education about living their healthiest lives. "Truman Medical Center's founding mission includes our commitment to partner with others in the community to improve the quality of life, and we believe this aligns with that goal. We would not be an Academic Medical Center without our very important partnership with UMKC's schools of Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing and Dentistry and this sponsorship is one more way of aligning with UMKC. As it works with us to keep the community healthy, we get to work with the university to ensure its student athletes stay in great shape, or get back on track after an injury. It helps that our academic clinicians train the doctors and health professionals of the future, staying ahead of the curve in healthcare. What's good for Kansas City, will be great for Kansas City Athletics," said Charlie Shields, president and CEO of Truman Medical Centers/ University Health. TMC/ University Health is proud to be highlighted on signage and videoboards at UMKC, but is equally proud to let its patients know about this new extension to the TMC/ University Health – UMKC partnership. Other assets include TMC/ University Health serving as the presenting sponsor of both the official athletics website,, and the soon-to-be released KCRoos app. TMC/ University Health will also be the presenting sponsor of the Roo Basketball Gala on Oct. 25 as well as KC's Crew, the official kid's club of Kansas City Athletics. "This new partnership with TMC/ University Health is another giant jump forward for the Roos," said Dr. Martin. "We're proud to work with our friends at TMC/ University Health to create a meaningful partnership that will benefit us all and set the bar for similar partnerships across campus." About Truman Medical Centers/ University Health Truman Medical Centers (TMC)/ University Health offer essential, state-of-the-art care to Kansas City. From a Level One Trauma Center, to the birthplace of nearly half of all babies born in Kansas City, MO, our dedicated experts provide a range of healthcare services. Caring for patients at both TMC/ University Health, our specialists treat chronic diseases, chronic pain, high risk pregnancies, sickle cell anemia and sleep disorders. Our state-of-the art Richard and Annette Bloch Cancer Center is home to comprehensive cancer care, designed to help our patients through their diagnosis and journey. TMC/ University Health's beautiful new outpatient care and day-surgery center- the only outpatient surgery center in downtown KC- offers 15 clinics and multiple primary care practices including the Sabates Eye Center, Plastic Surgery, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Orthopedics and Medical Imaging with Siemens 3D Mammography. We offer the area's most comprehensive behavioral health program in addition to a long-term care facility and multiple primary care practices throughout eastern Jackson County. TMC/ University Health is a primary teaching hospital for the University of Missouri-Kansas City Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Dentistry so our doctors are academic specialists who teach the providers of the future. About the University of Missouri-Kansas City The University of Missouri-Kansas City, one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 16,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Located in the heart of a thriving urban setting, the university is surrounded by arts, entertainment, culture and sports. The university engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience. The small class sizes give students a personal education and create a small-college feel, while Kansas City's metropolitan environment provides extensive opportunities for internships and networking as well as culture and entertainment. About Kansas City Athletics Kansas City Athletics is a NCAA Division I member and in its seventh year of membership in the Western Athletic Conference. Under the guidance of Director of Athletics Dr. Brandon Martin, the Roos field 16 varsity sports with 240-plus student-athletes. During the summer of 2019, the athletics department announced a new logo and re-branding, switching from UMKC Athletics to Kansas City Athletics. For more information, visit or follow us on social media @KCRoosAthletics. Oct 07, 2019

  • Holocaust Survivor and Alumna Represented in Exhibit

    Judy Jacobs is one of 70 survivors photographed for "Lest We Forget"
    Alumna Judy Jacobs' portrait by Luigi Toscano is featured in "Lest We Forget," a Holocaust memorial exhibit at the World War I Museum and Memorial courtyard through Oct. 6. Judy Jacobs (MBA '77, Ph.D. '86) was the 2016 University of Missouri-Kansas City Defying the Odds Alumni Award recipient. She previously shared her powerful story with us. Here's our discussion about her childhood in Hungary and time in the Bergen-Belsen camp. What was your childhood like before that horrible day in 1944? My early childhood in Budapest was idyllic. We were an upper middle-class family, with a lovely home and an enviable lifestyle. I am an only child and my parents gave me all the attention I craved. I was also the only grandchild on my mother’s side. I had many aunts, uncles and cousins in Budapest. The relatives, coupled with a large number of friends, provided a happy environment. Although my father was a busy radiologist, he always had time for me. In the winters we ice skated together every day. My mother was credentialed in art and design. She and I spent many hours on craft projects and making doll clothes. I spent much of every summer with my maternal grandparents in Bekes, a small town in southeast Hungary, allowing me to enjoy the outdoor activities unavailable to a city dweller. There was more than one “horrible day.” The quality of our lives steadily deteriorated as anti-Semitism became institutionalized, beginning about the time Hungary joined the Axis in 1943. From then on, we increasingly felt the general effects of the War and were subjected to an ever growing list of restrictions because we were Jewish. The Nazis occupied Hungary on March 19, 1944, marking the beginning of the end for Hungarian Jewry. From then on our lives were defined by fear, deprivation and uncertainty. Our time outdoors was limited to a few hours in the afternoon. The Nazis often sealed off both ends of a given block and arrested all Jews there, who were easily identified by the yellow stars on their outer garments. Some were jailed, some were immediately deported to a concentration camp and others were marched to the Danube where they were shot into the river. We were barred from using any type of transportation and our mail and newspapers were censored. We never knew what would happen next. As a young child, I was always frightened. How do you describe life in Bergen-Belsen when sharing your story? Life in Bergen-Belsen was hell! The Nazis referred to us as subhuman, and treated us accordingly. We suffered no direct physical abuse, but the psychological degradation to which we were subjected is indescribable. During daily roll call, the Nazis brandished their whips and menacingly pointed their guns at us; they repeatedly called us vermin unworthy of living, filthy pigs and parasites. As a seven-year-old child I began to wonder if I really was a subhuman, filthy, Jewish pig. Our daily rations of about 350 calories were barely edible. There were bunks in our filthy and unventilated barrack; three abreast and three high. They were covered with dirty straw. Vermin of all kinds including mice, rats, bedbugs and fleas became our constant bedfellows. There was no hot water or soap. Such unsanitary living conditions and substandard diet caused extensive disease, but the Nazis provided neither medical care nor drugs or supplies. "I was seven years old in the concentration camp. I lived in constant fear, fear of Nazi terror, fear of being separated from my parents and fear of the unknown." —Judy Jacobs Many hopeless inmates spent most of the day on their bunks, with eyes glazed. My parents recognized the importance of maintaining their humanity. My father and some of his colleagues organized “clinics” for the sick. They had neither equipment nor supplies but they were able to provide a modicum of care, mostly in an advisory capacity. By helping fellow inmates, they were able to regain some dignity and, thus, their humanity. My mother, despondent as the rest, recognized the importance of morale and she taught drawing to some interested children. With no available art supplies, she used a stick and the dirt at her feet instead of drawing paper and pencils. I was seven years old in the concentration camp. I lived in constant fear, fear of Nazi terror, fear of being separated from my parents and fear of the unknown. I had nothing to do most of the time and just followed my parents around, intently listening to their conversations and always keeping my eyes cast downward, hoping not to be noticed. According to my birth certificate I was a seven-year-old child. In reality I was seven years old, but I had no opportunity to be a child. How were you liberated from Bergen-Belsen? We had come to Bergen-Belsen on the Kasztner Train, a rescue operation named after the man who organized it. Kasztner reached a deal with the Nazis whereby they agreed to transport a trainful of Jews (ultimately 1,686) to the safety of a neutral country for about $1,000 per person. They received a portion of the money in advance; the balance was payable when the train reached its destination. Instead of a neutral country, the train went to Bergen-Belsen. Desperate for money near the end of the War, the Nazis released us to Switzerland and received the balance due at the Swiss border. In June, we had gone to Bergen-Belsen in overcrowded, filthy cattle cars. Six months later, we left the train station in a heated passenger train, not knowing where we were headed. The Nazis provided edible food. I remember sardines and chocolate. We realize we had been freed as we heard the church bells of St. Gallen, Switzerland. Oct 03, 2019

  • An Interview with VIolinist and Composer Chen Yi

    IN Kansas City magazine catches up with the renowned Conservatory professor
    The magazine caught up with Chen Yi, a doctor of musical arts and Lorena Searcy Cravens/Millsap/Missouri Distinguished Professor in Music Composition at UMKC. Oct 01, 2019

  • UMKC Researcher Says After An Emergency, Ambulance Bills Can Be Staggering

    Christopher Garmon talks to The Sun Chronicle
    Christopher Garmon, an assistant professor of health administration at the UMKC Bloch School, specializes his research on surprise bills and says that ambulance bills can be staggering. Oct 01, 2019

  • Grad Landed Dream Job as Mental Health Nurse

    UMKC provided key connections and support
    Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Alauna Christian '19                Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri                                  High School: Clyde C. Miller Career Academy Degree program: Nursing Career: Nurse at VA Hospital and Signature Psychiatric Hospital Why did you choose UMKC? I selected UMKC because of its reputation for health-care professions. Initially I wanted to go through the six-year medical program when I decided to apply here. However, I realized the patient connection I thrived in was within the field of nursing. Visualizing the way nurses cared for my family members throughout their illnesses created a passion in myself to do the same for others. UMKC offered me a lot of different opportunities, including scholarships, internships and connections. They helped me develop my leadership skills and land the career I wanted in nursing.   Tell us about your internships. I completed an internship at the Kansas City VA Hospital in their VALOR Program. It allowed me to understand the socioeconomic struggles our veterans endure throughout their lives. I enjoyed working with this population because I learned a lot about critical care and mental illness. This experience confirmed my career aspirations to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner. "UMKC offered me a lot of different opportunities, including scholarships, internships and connections. They helped me develop my leadership skills and land the career I wanted in nursing."       Why do you focus on mental illness? I think mental health is definitely an aspect that has been ignored and is broken in the community. Growing up seeing people with mental health issues, and understanding how people in the African American community suffer from mental illness, I've always wanted to identify the reason behind that. And help people who have it. And not just the people who have mental illness, but the people and their families. What was the nursing program like? The challenges of the nursing program are time management and critical thinking. It is important to balance studying and clinical hours. The benefits to the program are the number clinical hours and variety of clinical sites offered. UMKC gave me the opportunity to visit several health-care facilities for the specialties within our program. For example, UMKC has clinical rotations for pediatrics, community health, mental health, obstetrics, critical care and many more. How has your program inspired you? It has inspired me to further my education in mental health and receive my Doctorate in Nursing Practice for psychiatric mental health. My future plan is to establish a nonprofit organization to assist those with mental illness and raise awareness within the community. UMKC has inspired me to evolve into a leader in the nursing community. What extracurricular activities were you involved in at UMKC? I was involved in a lot of student organizations on campus and held a lot of leadership positions. I was the president of the Student Council of Nursing and Health Studies, vice president of the Student Nursing Association, selection chair for the Mortar Board Honor Society and a mentor for nursing students. "Growing up seeing people with mental health issues, and understanding how people in the African American community suffer from mental illness, I've always wanted to identify the reason behind that." What UMKC experiences are you taking into your professional career? I hope to take the experiences of mentorship into my professional career as a nursing. I would like to help other students reach their career aspirations to become a nurse because I was also mentored into my position. The mentors at the Multicultural Student Affairs Office helped me to succeed during the first couple years of my college career.   Oct 01, 2019

  • UMKC Program Supports Grandparents Who Parent

    Second round of funding awarded
    Grandparents are increasingly becoming the primary caregivers for their grandchildren. The UMKC Psychology Department at the College of Arts and Sciences has recently received a second round of funding from the Health Forward Foundation for a program that supports grandparents in this role.   More than 2.5 million grandparents in the United States are raising grandchildren, according to the 2017 U.S. census. Compared to non-relative foster homes, the children living with their grandparents are more likely to have a permanent home, less likely to run away and are more likely to report feeling loved and stay in contact with extended family. “Our grandparents are fiercely independent and the idea of a ‘support group’ was not attractive.”    - Joan McDowd, professor of psychology and director of gerontology programs While this speaks well of the relationships, there are significant – and often overlooked - challenges for grandparents in this situation.  Recognizing the need, Joan McDowd, professor of psychology and director of gerontology programs at UMKC, has developed a program for these older adults who are managing a second round of parenting. “Four years ago, I stared exploring the possibility of collaborating with a community-based partner,” McDowd said. “I connected with Palestine Missionary Baptist Church and Senior Citizens Activity Center and started talking to people. We thought an intergenerational program would be interesting.” The team began to talk with grandparents in the community at churches and health fairs as well as the grandparents at Pemberton Park, an apartment complex specifically designed by the Housing Authority of Kansas City for “grandfamilies.” “We set up tables at health fairs to do a needs assessment,” McDowd said. “We threw a Halloween party so that the grandparents could take a break and the kids could have fun.” This informal information gathering led to a pilot project with Palestine Church hosting monthly meetings for grandparents. Once the team determined what was working, they submitted a request to Health Forward and received funding. “As a foundation, we are always interested in how to support collaborative efforts that bring in the stakeholders as part of a larger community-wide project,” Andres Dominguez, senior program officer for the Health Forward Foundation said. “This grant seeks to address a concern of engaging an intergenerational approach to sustained family well-being.” “The first year of funding allowed us to develop a series of meetings on topics that the grandparents had identified,” McDowd said. “We had lawyers address family law. We invited a financial planner to discuss preparing for the future. We hosted psychologists to talk about trauma and self-care.” In addition to these “Saturday Sessions”, the team tried to set up smaller support groups so grandparents could use one another as resources for emotional or practical support.  McDowd’s team created leaders’ manuals on how to organize a group and what subjects to cover.  They created YouTube videos where they play-acted how to handle difficult situations like managing someone who talks too much or the person who doesn’t talk at all. However, when the team tried to organize support groups, grandparents hesitated to join. “Our grandparents are fiercely independent, and the idea of a ‘support group’ was not attractive,” McDowd said. “But when we would ask what was working and what they wanted more of, they would often say, ‘More time to share our stories,’ or ‘More time to talk.’ But ‘support group’ had a negative connotation.”  Using this feedback, the team has now developed a program component called “Grandparents Café” that provides the opportunity for grandparents to break into small groups and discuss topics of the day. “If grandchildren are living with their grandparents, often it is because something bad has happened,” McDowd said. “Still there’s no law that says that if something happens you have to take your grandchildren. These people have stepped up.” Danita Hoard, B.A. ’16, M.S.W. ’19, worked with McDowd gathering information determining grandparents’ needs and developing the program manual.   “I was interested in this program because I was raised by my grandmother,” Hoard says. “It was great to see that these meetings allowed the grandparents to work through the trauma their grandchildren were facing, but also connect with other grandparents and programs. But it also made me aware that growing up my needs were being met, but I wasn’t aware of what of my grandmother experienced.” It's not unusual that even the people closest to these situations overlook the strain that grandparent caregivers are under. McDowd thinks that is why the program has been successful. “I’ve really seen the grandparents come out of their shells because they can relate to both the subject matter and each other. The speaker may be talking about the financial planning - that's all super important information, but when you get down to it, they are hurting and when a facilitator is addressing those issues it becomes much more powerful. What we're doing has become more powerful.” The success of these sessions – and the resulting sustainability plan - led to a second round of funding from the Health Forward Foundation. “Joan and her team have shown us that they have the ability to take what has already been accomplished and build on it,” Dominguez says. “Reinvestment can always add value to our grant work.  In addition, programs and projects like this are able to reach seniors and bring life to the concept of age-friendly communities. As this city and nation ages, and with baby boomers now being at the cusp of ‘retirement,’ projects that can share their findings and accomplishment can become models for replication.”   Oct 01, 2019

  • KCUR Reports on NextGen Precision Health Initiative

    UMKC has significant role to play in University of Missouri president Mun Choi's bold initiative
    KCUR's Up to Date hosted President Choi to discuss his ambitious NextGen Precision Health Intiative designed to push all four University of Missouri system campuses into the forefront of health care advances. UMKC's role will be to develop a center for excellence in data analytics. Sep 30, 2019

  • Meet the 2020 UMKC Alumni Awardees

    Sixteen alumni and one family will be honored April 24, 2020
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City Class of 2020 Alumni Achievement Award recipients includes a national leader in radiology, a corporate immigration attorney, a Latin Grammy award winner and the owner of Bier Station. Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes individual alumni and one family with top honors. This year's recipients will be inducted on Friday, April 24, 2020, when the Alumni Association will highlight each awardee's story and accomplishments during an evening program at the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center followed by a reception. University-Wide Alumni Awardees Alumnus of the Year: Alexander Norbash (M.D. ’86) An interventional neuroradiologist, a highly technical specialty that addresses life-and-death matters with techniques requiring high precision and composure, Alexander Norbash serves as chair and professor of the Department of Radiology, associate vice chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and adjunct professor of Neurosurgery at the University of California San Diego (UC San Diego). Norbash has been instrumental in inventing and implementing new technologies which are less invasive and more effective for treating strokes and brain aneurysms. He is currently president of the Society of Chairs of Academic Radiology Departments and president-elect of the American Roentgen Ray Society. Additionally, he’s founding chair of the American College of Radiology (ACR) Head Injury Institute that seeks to standardize reporting of traumatic brain injuries and has been funded by the Department of Defense. Prior to joining UC San Diego, Norbash was chairman and professor of Radiology and assistant dean for Diversity and Multicultural Affairs at Boston University. Spotlight Award: Mark McHenry (M.P.A. ’89) Mark McHenry retired as director of the City of Kansas City, Missouri’s Parks and Recreation Department at the end of 2018 but the accomplishments from his 44-year career there — including adding 34 parks, six community centers and doubling the size of the Kansas City Zoo — will endure for generations to come. McHenry’s leadership was evident not only in the region, but on a national scale as well. A member of the National Recreation and Parks Association since 1984, he was inducted into the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration in 2004 and served as president of the board in 2018. A perennial ambassador for UMKC, McHenry has lent his expertise to the university as a member of the Department of Public Affairs Advisory Council and helping to develop the executive master’s of public administration program. He recently joined landscape architecture and planning design firm Ochsner Hare & Hare, the Olsson Studio, to help with local and regional business development. This summer, he was appointed to the Missouri Conservation Commission by Gov. Mike Parson for a six-year term. The Bill French Alumni Service Award: James Polsinelli (J.D. ’67, H.D. ’13) Since starting a law firm in 1972 with two fellow UMKC alumni, James Polsinelli’s name has become synonymous with legal services in Kansas City. His trademark integrity, entrepreneurial spirit and adaptability have made his firm one of the city’s largest. In addition to a successful, 51-year legal career, Polsinelli is known for his ardent and longstanding support of UMKC and the Kansas City community. He currently serves as chair of the UMKC Board of Trustees and as a director on the UMKC Foundation Board. He supports the university’s students by sponsoring receptions at his firm, advocating for the university in Jefferson City and, in 2018, he co-chaired the UMKC Alumni Awards event that raises money for student scholarships. A hallmark trait of Polisnelli’s style is his ability to inspire others and empower them to act — whether he’s passing on his excitement for service or mentoring a new generation of lawyers. His passion for giving back to the community extends beyond UMKC and includes work with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, Rockhurst High School and the Kansas City Bar Association. Defying the Odds Award: Hagos Andebrhan (B.S.C.E. ’78) From a one-room household in Eritrea, a country in eastern Africa, to CEO of Taliaferro & Browne, a lead civil engineering firm in Kansas City, Hagos Andebrhan’s hard work and dedication have earned him success in the United States. The youngest of five children, Andebrhan came to the U.S. in 1970 to join an advanced airline pilot training program in Kansas City but ended up meeting his mentor and the founder of Taliaferro & Browne, Will Taliaferro, and changing careers. While completing his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and doctoral candidacy in civil engineering, Andebrhan worked full-time as a draftsman at Taliaferro & Browne as well as supporting his wife and children and family back in Eritrea. After Will Taliaferro’s death in 1990, Andebrhan and Leonard Graham, a fellow UMKC alumnus, purchased the company. Since then the company has grown to nearly 60 employees and has worked on numerous projects in Kansas City, including Berkley Riverfront Park, Science City in Union Station and the Kansas City Power and Light District. Legacy Award: The Edelman Family The Edelman Family’s UMKC legacy begins when 12-year-old Doris Tager fled Nazi Germany in 1938. Sponsored by members of the local Jewish community, her family traveled to the Netherlands and Cuba before arriving in Kansas City. She’d go on to attend the University of Kansas City (now UMKC) and graduate in 1947 with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and economics. That same year, Doris met her husband William Edelman, a fellow Roo who would graduate in 1954 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Doris had a successful career as a stockbroker and was the first female vice president and partner of B.C. Christopher and Company where she worked for more than 20 years. William served patients in the heart of Kansas City as a family physician for more than 50 years before retiring in 2001. Their oldest son, Mark (J.D. ’75), founded the Theater League, Inc., a not-for-profit community-based performing arts organization that presented the best of Broadway to Kansas City audiences for forty-two years. Youngest son Ron (J.D. ’82) opened one of the region’s most successful law practices — Edelman and Thompson — with James Thompson in 1994. Middle son Alan and his wife Debbie Sosland-Edelman, great supporters of UMKC, also connect with the university through their son Alexander (J.D. ’12). He started his own firm with two other UMKC alumni and was recognized by the National LGBT Bar Association as one of the “40 Best Attorneys Under 40.” School Alumni Achievement Award Recipients College of Arts and Sciences: John Couture (B.A. ’95) Owner/Operator, Bier Station School of Biological and Chemical Sciences: Carl Hoff (Ph.D. ’77) Professor of Chemistry, University of Miami Henry W. Bloch School of Management: Heather Humphrey (MBA ’11) Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Evergy School of Computing and Engineering: Bonnie Gorman (B.S.M.E. ’86) Director, Programs, Northrop Grumman Conservatory: Andrés Salguero (G.R.C.T. ’11, D.M.A. ’11) President/Teaching Artist, 123 Andrés School of Dentistry: Nick Rogers (D.D.S. ’78) Dentist, Rogers Family Dentistry School of Dentistry – Dental Hygiene: Cindy Sensabaugh (M.S. ’15) Senior Manager, Professional Education & Academic Relations, Philips School of Education: Mary Delac (M.A. ’98) Principal, Our Lady of Hope Catholic School School of Law: Mira Mdivani (J.D. ’99) Business Immigration Attorney, Mdivani Corporate Immigration Law Firm School of Medicine: Kevin Blinder (M.D. ’85) Partner, The Retina Institute School of Nursing and Health Studies: Theresa Maxwell (M.S.N. ’01) Nurse Practitioner, Office Manager, Digestive Health Specialists School of Pharmacy: Jerry Bauman (Pharm.D. ’77) Editor, Pharmacotherapy Publications; Retired from University of Illinois at Chicago Sep 30, 2019

  • Three Questions with Matt Ramsey of the Blue Man Group

    The UMKC Theatre alumnus reflects on his nearly 20 years in blue
    Matt Ramsey (M.F.A. '00) was hired as a Blue Man fresh out of grad school. What he expected to be a year-long stint has become a "bona-fide career." The internationally recognized Blue Man Group has entertained more than 35 million people in 25 countries with their unique performances that incorporate drums, paint and marshmallows. Ramsey recently spoke to us about his time in the group. What was the training like to become a Blue Man? It’s generally about a three-month process in which we teach the blocking, the music, and most importantly the acting. The last part is the hardest thing to learn: how the character thinks and behaves. For me, training to be a Blue Man was like an extension of graduate school. It’s a performance style that requires a mental and physical discipline that I was well prepared for after UMKC. The most bizarre part of training was practicing catching marshmallows in my mouth. Every day for three months. What are some of the most interesting things you've gotten to do with the group? I’ve had so many incredible experiences: throwing out the first pitch for the Chicago Cubs, performing on the Tonight Show and performing at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin. I’ve performed with The Roots, Neil Patrick Harris, Shaquille O’Neill, and this summer I was at a Mets game at Citi Field throwing t-shirts into the crowd with Mr. Met. Also, it’s me on the cover of the Blue Man Group album called Three. I think the most surreal moment was being an answer in Jeopardy. I was named in a question about Blue Man Group, to hear Alex Trebek say “Matt Ramsey” on Jeopardy was amazing! Ramsey in costume, left, before throwing t-shirts out at a New York Mets game and helping other Blue Men during a photoshoot, he's pictured out of costume top left. What keeps you coming back to being a Blue Man? I’m often asked if I get tired of doing the same show. There have been times, naturally, when I can’t believe I have to put on blue greasepaint again. But it’s not long before I’m reminded again how special it is to perform this character. The level of listening, commitment, and focus required to connect with a theater full of strangers without saying a word is an incredible feeling. It’s why I’ve stayed for this long- the connection on stage between the three Blue Men is something I’ve rarely experienced in other shows. It’s very satisfying. Sep 27, 2019

  • UMKC Theatre Presents 2019-20 Productions

    New season features exceptional talent, quality shows
    Rehearsals are underway for the first production of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Theatre 2019-20 season with “An Italian Straw Hat” on Oct. 18. “For decades, UMKC Theatre has been enriching the Kansas City theatre scene by providing actors, dramaturgs, costume designers, stage managers, production managers, sound designers and more,” said Kenneth Martin, UMKC Theatre chair and Patricia McIlrath Endowed Professor of Theatre. “We’re proud to continue that tradition with a strong first production, ‘An Italian Straw Hat.’ ” The Productions An Italian Straw Hat Oct. 18 through Oct. 27 in Spencer Theatre This is an undergraduate and graduate production by Eugène Labiche and Marc-Michel, and newly translated by Felica Londré, Ph.D., Curators’ Distinguished Professor. The show is directed by Ian Crawford, associate artistic director at Unicorn Theatre. Groom-to-be Fadinard gallops all over Paris on his wedding day in search of a straw hat to replace one his horse has inadvertently eaten. Followed in hot pursuit by his fiancée, her blustering father and a giant wedding party of her country relatives, Fadinard makes his way through increasingly ridiculous situations to try to save his big day. In a new translation by Londré, with a contemporary pop music score, this hysterical French farce is not to be missed. Tickets are $12 each. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the UMKC Central Ticket Office. Discovery Project Oct. 18 through Oct. 21 in Studio 116 of the Olson Performing Arts Center The Discovery Project is an opportunity for first-year MFA acting and design students to deepen and express the discoveries they are making in their first few months of training. It is a personal and creative lab. This production is free. Tickets are not required. Fall Intensive Nov. 14 through Nov. 18 in Room 105 of Grant Hall This is an undergraduate production directed by Heidi Van, producing artistic director at Fishtank Theatre. Annually, Fishtank Theatre works with UMKC undergraduate theatre students on a production that fuses form and idea in a devised piece based on the students’ themed class work. This production is free. Tickets are not required. The Moors Nov. 29 through Dec. 8 in Studio 116 of Olson Performing Arts Center This is a graduate production by Jen Silverman and directed by Kim Martin-Cotten. Two sisters and a dog live out their lives on the bleak English moors, and dream of love and power. The arrival of a hapless governess and a moor-hen set all three on a strange and dangerous path. “The Moors” is a dark comedy about love, desperation and visibility. Tickets are $12 each. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the UMKC Central Ticket Office. White Rose: We Defied Hitler Jan. 24, 2020, through Feb. 9, 2020, at Crown Center, 2450 Grand Ave., Suite 144 This is a graduate co-production with Coterie Theatre by David Meyers, and directed by Jeff Church and Markus Potter. Based on real events, “White Rose: We Defied Hitler” is a challenging new work that examines the role of ordinary people in extraordinary times. This gripping and intriguing play tells the true story of Sophie Scholl, a German college student who led one of the major acts of public resistance to the Nazis during the Second World War. The play contains little-known facts about Sophie, her brother Hans, and the civil disobedience of the White Rose movement in Nazi Germany. Scholl’s moral strength is tested while being interrogated for her crimes, leading her to question whether to save her own life or continue her righteous crusade. Tickets start at $15 each. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the Coterie Theatre. Blood Wedding March 6 through March 15 in Studio 116 of Olson Performing Arts Center This is an undergraduate production by Federico García Lorca and directed by Vanessa Severo. Two families in semi-mythical rural Spain are intricately bound in an unbreakable cycle of murder and revenge. The death-bound love triangle at the center of the play fuels these passions to a fever pitch and propels the story to its unstoppable tragic conclusion. An arranged country marriage between the children of rich landowners is about to take place. A past lover, himself in a loveless marriage, cannot allow the wedding to take place and spirits the bride away, who goes with him willingly on her wedding night. An entire town goes after the lovers in the middle of the night where pursuers and pursued plunge into a realm of deep darkness where the moonlight is not friendly and the forest not shelter enough. Tickets start at $12 each. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the UMKC Central Ticket Office. Playwright Showcase April 16 through April 20 in Room 105 of Grant Hall This is an undergraduate production. Playwrights and directors will be announced later. The show includes staged premieres by UMKC Theatre undergraduate, graduate and alumni playwrights performed by undergraduate actors. This production is free. Tickets are not required. Divided April 24 through May 3 in Studio 116 of Olson Performing Arts Center This is a graduate production and devised production about what sets Americans apart and what brings us together. It is co-created by Stephanie Roberts, associate professor of Physical Theatre; and the second year MFA Acting Ensemble. How do we cope in an increasingly divided nation? Where do we turn when the growing schisms within politics, race, gender, sexuality, religion and class have become part of our daily lives? Using physical theatre, interviews, music, comedy and personal storytelling, the second-year MFA acting students take on these questions to discover how looking at America’s divisions can ultimately bring us together. Tickets start at $12 each. For more information and to purchase tickets, contact the UMKC Central Ticket Office. About UMKC Theatre The UMKC Theatre program offers students intensive, hands-on experience for all aspects of theatre production. The department has an established tradition of working with local theatres so that its actors, designers and stage managers may benefit from working alongside local and national professionals. UMKC partners with the Unicorn Theatre, The Coterie, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Kansas City Actors Theatre and Fishtank Performance Studio, granting students the unique opportunity to establish relationships and build their professional career while earning their degree. Sep 26, 2019

  • Emeritus Professor Discusses Navy Suicides

    MedPage Today investigates cause of recent suicides on USS George H.W. Bush
    Charles Van Way III, M.D., U.S. Army Reserve Medical Command and emeritus professor of surgery at UMKC answers questions about the increase and military suicide prevention. Sep 25, 2019

  • Alumnus Acting in Starlight Production

    KCTV5 interviews alumnus Daniel Beeman
    Daniel Beeman discusses playing Cornelius in a touring production of the iconic Broadway musical, "Hello, Dolly!" at Starlight Theatre. Sep 25, 2019

  • UMKC Political Science Professor Breaks Down Impeachment Process

    KCTV interviews Benjamin Woodson
    Woodson outlines the possible next steps in the Trump impeachment inquiry. Sep 25, 2019

  • Hot Flashes Are More Than Annoying

    Healthline reports that research shows hot flashes could be a signal of higher risk of heart disease
    A new study from the University of Pittsburgh finds that frequent or persistent hot flashes could be a sign that a woman is at higher risk for heart attack or stroke. "Unfortunately, before now, there's not been a lot of studies of large numbers of women to really confirm what we know or what we don't know," said Tracy Stevens, a cardiologist with Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute and a professor of medicine at UMKC. The study will be presented at the North American Menopause Society. Sep 24, 2019

  • Theatre Production Named Must See

    Round up of most anticipated shows this year includes UMKC Theatre co-production
    In a national round up of most-anticipated productions by American Theatre, Jay Mcadams, executive director, 24th Street Theatre, Los Angeles, mentions the Coterie Theatre's co-production with the UMKC Theatre of The White Rose: We Defied Hitler by David Meyers, directed by Jeff Church. Sep 24, 2019

  • Is KC Still a Good Home Base for Artists?

    KCUR hosts area artists to discuss Kansas City's art climate
    KCUR hosted Davin Watne, artist and curator, UMKC Gallery of Art, Patricia Bordallo Dilbadox, artist, Front Space and Brandon Frederick, artist, Open House, to discuss the challenges and opportunities of living and working in Kansas City today. Sep 23, 2019

  • School of Computing and Engineering Receives $1 Million Grant to Help Transfer Students

    Transfer students will receive scholarships to replace off-campus work with paid undergraduate research opportunities
    On average, more than 80% of civil and mechanical engineering students at UMKC attend school while working. While that doesn’t seem so odd given the ever-increasing cost of higher education, trying to work and make ends meet can often stifle academic excellence. A team of faculty from the Schools of Computing and Engineering, College of Arts and Sciences, and School of Education, led by Darran Cairns, Ph.D., School of Computing and Engineering director of program operations, recently received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to break this cycle and increase bachelor’s-degree completion rates among engineering transfer students. Through a new program partnership with Metropolitan Community College, transfer students studying civil and mechanical engineering can follow an enrollment pathway into the School of Computing and Engineering and — rather than having to worry about a full-time job — receive a stipend to cover their expenses while working on undergraduate research and gaining more experience in their field of study. The team, which includes Michelle Maher, Ph.D., chair of educational leadership, policy and foundations at the School of Education and Jacob Marszalek, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and research fellow in the UMKC Urban Education Research Center, worked collaboratively to design a program that would have maximum impact for the students it aims to serve – primarily students from disadvantaged backgrounds. “We wanted to develop a holistic approach to create a culture of openness, curiosity and collaboration,” Cairns said. “Transfer students have a harder time fitting in because they're not freshmen and they also didn't come in with their peers, so they don't always feel empowered to get involved and lead.”-Michelle Maher, chair of educational leadership, policy and foundations; School of Education This new program will work to change that narrative by helping students free up more time to get involved in campus life and offering both peer and professional mentorship to get them through to graduation and into the workforce. “We’re paying students to get richer experiences.”- John Kevern, Ph.D., chair of civil and mechanical engineering, School of Computing and Engineering Of the $1 million grant, the majority will go toward student scholarships and provide students opportunities to perform research focused on improving urban infrastructure. The team is working with the city of Kansas City and local companies to identify livable city projects ranging from sidewalk repair to designing material for cool pavements to urban agriculture. “Our goals for this project are to increase the number of transfers from MCC and also track their journey – what gets them to come and what gets them to stay,” Marszalek said. The program will start in the fall with 24 students – eight first-year Metropolitan Community College students, eight second-year MCC students and eight first-year UMKC transfer students. The program also will impact Kansas City Public Schools, where the School of Computing and Engineering recently established a math academy for high school juniors and seniors taking classes in pre-engineering at Manual Career and Technology Center, with support from the Bloch Family Foundation. The center is using growth-mindset models to help students develop their abilities to persist with challenging math classes and overcome widely held preconceptions about who can and who can’t do well in math. Seniors from Kansas City Public Schools will be eligible to be part of the first cohort of students at the program in fall 2020. “This program essentially creates a support that travels with students from public school to college graduation,” Cairns said. “We also want them to be able to pay it forward and become peer mentors.” As part of the program, the department of civil and mechanical engineering will develop new courses and alter existing ones to maximize the impact on students. The program also helps to diversify the engineering field. As students get closer to graduation, they’ll be encouraged to apply for National Science Foundation fellowships that will help pay for graduate school as the NSF wants to see more students from underrepresented groups obtain graduate engineering degrees. “This grant speaks to the needs of Kansas City and the mission of UMKC to go above and beyond for our students,” Maher said. The team is also working with the director of engineering at Metropolitan Community College to identify students for consideration. Details on how to apply are still to come. Scholarship awards will be announced during the spring 2020 semester. Explore More Scholarship Opportunities Sep 23, 2019

  • Spotlight on Jill Meyer of UMKC Innovation Center

    Kansas City Business Journal and Startland News profile Meyer, senior director of technology ventures
    The Kansas City Business Journal and Startland News profiled Jill Meyer, newly promoted senior director of technology ventures for the UMKC Innovation Center.  Meyer will lead the center's early-venture initiatives. Sep 20, 2019

  • Why I Put Myself in Their Shoes

    Students take a stand against sexual assault and violence at annual Walk-A-Mile event
    A large crowd in high heels and sleek flats joined forces with the UMKC Women’s Center to raise awareness of sexual assault and violence. Walk-A-Mile in Her Shoes is an annual internationally coordinated event that invites participants to understand and appreciate women’s experiences in order to help change perspectives, improve relationships and decrease the potential for violence.    Bearing brightly colored signs and stepping out in leather pumps, many of the participants shared with each other the reasons why they march. Here is what a few of them said: “I love walking in heels. I’ve seen women in my life go through sexual assault. I want to support all the women in my life.” — Andrew Schappe, freshman, theatre performance “I’m walking to support women. They tell me their stories and anything we can do to help, I want to.” — Angel Rojas, senior biology, member of Sigma Phi Epsilon “It’s important as a fraternity member. We want to continue to show up and let people know you’re not too manly to walk. It’s a good cause.”— Nicholas Arriagoda, junior, business administration, member of Sigma Phi Epsilon “We always come out and show support. It’s important to show women as equals.”— Marissa Iden, junior, political science “I walk with my fraternity and friends. I feel like women’s rights are not talked about in society and needs to be fixed.”— Evan Stoner, freshman, accounting Helpful Resources If you or someone you know has experienced relationship violence, UMKC has several resources to help you. Here are some of the best places to start. UMKC Women’s Center advocates, educates, and provides support services for the advancement of women’s equity on campus and within the community. In addition to helpful resources, they host several events on campus throughout the year. The Office of Violence Prevention and Response has several resources on their website, like how to help a friend, how to get help for yourself and many other resources at UMKC and in the community. If you are dealing with sexual assault or harassment, the Title IX Office can help you get the support that you need. In addition, UMKC has made Not Anymore online training free and available to students so you can learn how to be proactive in preventing interpersonal violence in our community.  Sep 20, 2019

  • Celebrating Faculty for Excellence in Teaching and Research

    Kansas City mayor joined in night of recognition
    Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Quinton Lucas’ speech synopsis: Great UMKC faculty make Kansas City great. UMKC Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer and UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal led the celebration. “Our faculty work day in and day out creating a culture of care for our students, teaching and guiding them toward academic excellence,” Bichelmeyer said. “At the same time, faculty are publishing breakthrough research and award-winning creative works, and striving to achieve promotion and tenure. Most importantly, faculty challenge our students every day to maximize their full potential and reach their goals. UMKC faculty are a key reason why UMKC is the university it is today.” Among the evening’s honorees: Curators' and Governor's Awards New Curators’ Distinguished Professors in 2019 A curators’ distinguished professorship is the highest and most prestigious academic rank awarded by the Board of Curators of the University of Missouri. Virginia Blanton, College of Arts and Sciences, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of English Language and Literature Kun Cheng, School of Pharmacy, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Pharmacy Jane Greer, College of Arts and Sciences, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of English Language and Literature Jeffery Hornsby, Henry W. Bloch School of Management, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Global Entrepreneurship Joe Parisi, Conservatory, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Conducting/Music Education New Curators’ Distinguished Professors Emeriti in 2019 A curators’ distinguished professorship is the highest and most prestigious academic rank awarded by the Board of Curators of the University of Missouri. Joan FitzPatrick Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor of English Emerita Dennis Merrill, College of Arts and Sciences, Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor of History Emeritus Wai-Yim Ching, College of Arts and Sciences, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Physics Emeritus Max J. Skidmore, College of Arts and Sciences, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Political Science Emeritus Felicia H. Londre, Conservatory, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Theatre Emerita Jerry R. Dias, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Chemistry Emeritus Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching The Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching is presented to an outstanding faculty member from each participating higher education institution in the state based on evidence of effective teaching, effective advising, a commitment to high standards of excellence and success in nurturing student achievement. Kym Bennett, College of Arts and Sciences, associate professor, psychology Service and Engagement Awards Chancellor’s Award for Career Contributions to the University One of the highest honors for a UMKC empoloyee (faculty or staff) who has made significant contributions to higher education at UMKC over the course of his or her career and has significantly enhanced the mission of the university. Max Skidmore, College of Arts and Sciences, professor, political science Chancellor’s Award for Embracing Diversity This award recognizes and celebrates UMKC faculty, staff and registered student organizations that embrace diversity by celebrating diversity in all aspects of university life, creating inclusive environments, culturally competent citizens and globally-oriented curricula and programs. Sandy Rodriguez, University Libraries, assistant dean of special collections and archives Omiunota Ukpokodu, School of Education, professor, teacher education and curriculum studies  Chancellor’s Award for Community Engagement This award recognizes and celebrates faculty, staff, units and campus organizations that have made engagement with the community a central aspect of their approach to student learning and scholarship. Department of History, College of Arts and Sciences  UM System Awards Presidential Engagement Fellows Named by the UM System president, the fellows are tasked with fulfilling the university’s land-grant mission by sharing research discoveries with Missouri citizens in every county. They were selected for their excellent teaching, breakthrough research and creative achievements. Jannette Berkley-Patton, School of Medicine, professor, biomedical and health informatics Barbara Pahud, School of Medicine, assistant professor, pediatric medicine Gerald Wyckoff, School of Pharmacy and School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, professor, pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences  Teaching Awards Chancellor’s Early Career Award for Excellence in Teaching This award recognizes and celebrates UMKC assistant professors who have achieved excellence in teaching early in their professional careers. Rebecca Best, College of Arts and Sciences, assistant professor, political science Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching The university’s highest honor for excellence in teaching recognizes and celebrates UMKC faculty who are consistently superior teachers at the graduate, undergraduate or professional level over an extended period of time. Michael Wei, School of Education, associate professor, teacher education and curriculum studies Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching This award recognizes and celebrates teaching excellence among UMKC clinical and teaching faculty James Benevides, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, teaching professor in cell biology and biophysics Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Mentoring This award recognizes UMKC graduate faculty advisors with a long-established career at the university who have made significant contributions to higher education through exceptional mentoring. Loyce Caruthers, School of Education, professor, educational leadership, policy and foundations Elmore F. Pierson Good Teaching Awards Awarded annually to outstanding teachers in the Henry W. Bloch School of Management, and the Schools of Dentistry, Law and Medicine. Roozmehr Safi, Henry W. Bloch School of Management, assistant professor, management Michaelle Tobin, School of Law, associate clinical professor Amgad Gerges Masoud, School of Medicine, associate professor, internal medicine Tanya Villalpando Mitchell, School of Dentistry, professor, dental hygiene Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Researchers, Scholars and Artists Fenpeng Sun, College of Arts and Sciences, assistant professor, earth and environmental sciences Research and Creativity Awards  N.T. Veatch Award for Distinguished Research and Creative Activity Recognizes distinguished research and other scholarly or creative activity accomplished by UMKC faculty. Kun Cheng, School of Pharmacy, Curators’ Distinguished Professor, pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences Trustees’ Faculty Fellows Award Trustees are recognizing the very best faculty who distinguished themselves through scholarship and creativity. Jeffrey Price, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, professor, biology and biophysics Trustees’ Faculty Scholar Award Recognizes faculty members who show exceptional promise for outstanding future research and/or creative accomplishments. Benjamin Woodson, College of Arts and Sciences, associate professor, political science Promotion and Tenure Eduardo Abreu, School of Nursing and Health Studies, tenure with promotion to associate professor Carolyn Barber, School of Education, promotion to professor Jannette Berkley-Patton, School of Medicine, promotion to professor An-Lin Cheng, School of Medicine, promotion to professor Masud Chowdhury, School of Computing and Engineering, promotion to professor Reza Derakhshani, School of Computing and Engineering, promotion to professor Travis Fields, School of Computing and Engineering, tenure with promotion to associate professor Scott Fullwiler, College of Arts and Sciences, tenure with promotion to associate professor Orisa Igwe, School of Pharmacy, promotion to professor Jeff Johnson, Henry W. Bloch School of Management, tenure with promotion to associate professor John Kevern, School of Computing and Engineering, promotion to professor Sungyop Kim, College of Arts and Sciences, promotion to professor JeJung Lee, College of Arts and Sciences, promotion to professor Debra Leiter, College of Arts and Sciences, tenure with promotion to associate professor Zhu Li, School of Computing and Engineering, tenure Jennifer Owens, College of Arts and Sciences, tenure with promotion to associate professor Tammie Schaefer, Henry W. Bloch School of Management, tenure with promotion to associate professor Zach Shemon, Conservatory, tenure with promotion to associate professor Hye Young Shin, College of Arts and Sciences, tenure with promotion to associate professor Michelle Smirnova, College of Arts and Sciences, tenure with promotion to associate professor Kim Smolderen, School of Medicine, tenure with promotion to associate professor Massimiliano Vitiello, College of Arts and Sciences, promotion to professor Ben Woodson, College of Arts and Sciences, tenure with promotion to associate professor Promotion, Non-Tenure Track John Ball, School of Dentistry, promotion to clinical professor Kylie Barnes, School of Pharmacy, promotion to clinical associate professor James Benevides, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, promotion to teaching professor Scott Curtis, UMKC Libraries, promotion to librarian IV Kenneth Frick, School of Dentistry, promotion to clinical professor Monica Gaddis, School of Medicine, promotion to associate teaching professor Melanie Guthrie, School of Medicine, promotion to associate teaching professor Tamas Kapros, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, promotion to teaching professor Floyd Likins, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, promotion to assistant teaching professor Angellar Manguvo, School of Medicine, promotion to associate teaching professor Steven Melling, College of Arts and Sciences, promotion to associate teaching professor Dhananjay Pal, School of Pharmacy, promotion to research professor Natalia Rivera, Conservatory, promotion to associate teaching professor Amanda Stahnke, School of Pharmacy, promotion to clinical associate professor Yesim Tunkuc, School of Dentistry, promotion to clinical professor Henrietta Rix Wood, Honors College, promotion to teaching professor Sep 20, 2019

  • Professor Provides Perspective on Immunization Case

    Kansas City Star article on a recent case concerning an unvaccinated child features UMKC law professor, Ann Marie Marciarille
    UMKC Law professor, Ann Marie Marciarille clarifies exemptions and complexities of mandatory vaccinations in what she refers to as the "vaccine wars." Sep 19, 2019

  • Donating Our Mental-Health Expertise to Aid Venezuelan Refugees

    UMKC faculty and staff work together to help refugees make transition to Colombia
    Fewer human experiences can be more traumatizing than being a refugee in a foreign country. A team at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Nursing and Health Studies is easing some of that trauma through its expertise. Alex Azar, U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services, asked the Collaborative to Advance Health Services at UMKC to create training modules for first responders in Colombia to help Venezuelan refugees. This will help Venezuelans fleeing that nation’s ongoing economic crisis to get the mental-health assistance they need. The Collaborative oversees numerous federal grants and is home to several national-based centers that implement evidence-based clinical practices into substance use and mental health treatment. “We felt compelled and passionate to do this,” said Laurie Krom, program director of the Collaborative. “We wanted to help in any way we could.” “I have family members who live in the area so I know how difficult the situation is,” said team member Susan Garrett, assistant teaching professor at the School of Nursing and Health Studies, who has an aunt who worked for the Honduran embassy in Venezuela. “People are leaving their homes with only the clothes on their backs to walk to Colombia. We can’t even imagine what people are going through.” “We wanted to help in any way we could.” — Laurie Krom Because of the urgency, producing these training modules meant a quick turnaround time. The Collective delivered the scope of the project in just five weeks, a task which often takes a half year to do. And it was a volunteer project. Krom, Garrett and the rest of the team used nights and weekends of their personal time this summer to complete it. They collaborated with others from the Universidad Central del Caribe and National Latino Behavioral Health Association on expertise, translation and other tasks. The UMKC team, which also included the Collaborative’s associate project director Erin Hobbs and web developer Eric Barr, concentrated on the overall migration process in creating the four, 45-minute training modules translated in both Spanish and Portuguese. “People are leaving their homes with only the clothes on their backs to walk to Colombia. We can’t even imagine what people are going through.”— Susan Garrett The modules focus on what trauma means for different groups: men, women and children. One of the modules focuses on secondary trauma experienced by the workers at the border. “They’re suffering ‘compassion fatigue’ because they’re dealing with a lot themselves,” Krom said. The modules were delivered a few weeks ago to Colombia — and welcomed as much-needed mental-health assistance. “I really hope everyone knows how much you are appreciated for doing this on your own time,” said Pierluigi Mancini, project director of the National Latino Behavioral Health Association who traveled with Azar and other U.S. health officials to Colombia to help implement the project. “I wish I could have bottled the gratitude people expressed so I can share it with you — please know many people are grateful.” Sep 19, 2019

  • Poll Predicts Surprising Results in Kansas Race

    KCTV reports on a leaked poll that predicts GOP loss if Kris Kobach is the nominee
    UMKC political science professor, Greg Vonnahme, says that numbers reflected in a leaked poll are consistent with the results from 2018 when Kobach unsuccessfully ran for governor. Sep 18, 2019

  • Assistant U.S. Education Secretary Visits UMKC Student Success Programs

    Johnny Collett comes from Washington for first-hand look at Propel and International Center for Supplemental Instruction
    UMKC has been a pioneer in development of highly effective programs that promote success for a wide variety of students. A top education official visited campus to get a close-up look at two of them.  Mauli Agrawal and Johnny Collett sat in a meeting room at the University of Missouri-Kansas City to discuss the focus on student success that is becoming pervasive in American higher education. They agreed that the “sink or swim” attitude that held sway for generations is no longer workable; the nation’s skilled workforce needs are too great to allow universities to stand by and watch capable students fail. Agrawal is the chancellor of UMKC; Collett is the assistant U.S. secretary of education. They met after Collett toured two highly successful programs at UMKC: Propel, a certificate-granting transition program for young adults with intellectual developmental disabilities; and the International Center for Supplemental Instruction, a student peer-driven program based on out-of-class group study sessions, developed at UMKC in the 1970s. A recent study by Civitas Learning included Supplemental Instruction, founded by UMKC, among the top five student-success programs nationwide out of almost 1,000 reviewed. Agrawal compared the modern approach – research-driven student success programs designed to provide individualize support for students to reach their full potential – to the practice of genetically individualized medicine. “We all have an academic DNA as well,” Agrawal said. “Your educational needs will be different than mine.” Collett nodded in agreement, adding that his federal department is dedicated to success for all students. “When we say all, we really mean all. And all has to mean each,” Collett said. Collett began his campus visit with a tour of the Propel program; he was accompanied by Gerren McHam, special assistant for external relations for the Missouri Department of Higher Education. They were greeted by John Herron, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; and Alexis Petri, associate research professor of psychology, who directs the Propel program. Many of the 46 students currently enrolled in Propel live in on-campus student housing. Petri said they take 60 to 70 percent of their credits in standard classes with traditional degree-seeking students; 60 percent of the Propel students are eligible for Pell low-income tuition grants. Herron said having Propel students immersed in the mix of the general student body is a teaching opportunity for all students, and campus visitors as well. “We’re sending a message about what kind of place this is – a message about what we care about and what we value,” Herron said. Collett asked about concerns of parents about their students succeeding in the college environment. “Parents need to understand that this is a safe space for their student to bump into challenges, a place where we have support systems in place to help them meet those challenges,” Petri said. The tour then moved from Cherry Hall, home of the Propel program, to the Atterbury Student Success Center, where the International Center for Supplemental Instruction (SI) is housed. Julie A. Collins, Ed.D., executive director of the center, led that tour. Collins explained that SI is targeted to “high-risk” courses – courses necessary for graduation that have a historically high failure rate. Undergraduate students who have previously passed the course are hired to be peer coaches who lead small-group out-of-class study sessions focused on the hurdles individual students are facing.  A recent study by Civitas Learning included SI among the top five student-success programs nationwide out of almost 1,000 reviewed. Following the meeting with Agrawal and Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Barbara A. Bichelmeyer, Collett announced that the Department of Education had just released new guidelines on the use of federal funds for higher education programs for young people with disabilities. Collett said the department wanted to clear up confusion by stating that vocational rehabilitation and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funds can be used to support dual enrollment, comprehensive transition and other postsecondary education programs for students and youth with disabilities. Sep 18, 2019

  • UMKC Recognized for Excellence in Diversity

    Outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion brings national recognition
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City has received the 2019 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest publication focused on diversity and inclusion in higher education. Each year INSIGHT Into Diversity evaluates universities’ practices relating to recruitment and retention of students, faculty and staff.  The process also considers the universities’ leadership commitment and program support.  UMKC embraces a broad spectrum of diversities including race, ethnicity, culture, nationality, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, linguistic ability, learning style, religion, socioeconomic and veteran status, life experiences, educational level and family structure. “We are thrilled to be recognized for outstanding work in creating an inclusive environment for our students, faculty and staff.”—Susan Wilson Susan Wilson, Ph.D., vice chancellor of the division of diversity and inclusion, leads the university’s diversity organizational development strategy. “We are thrilled to be recognized for outstanding work in creating an inclusive environment for our students, faculty and staff,” Wilson said. “This award is even more special as we remember how far we have come as an institution. This accomplishment is truly a team effort, as many across campus worked with the Division of Diversity and Inclusion to reach this milestone.” The HEED Award and the Health Professions HEED Award are the only national awards that honor individual institutions for being outstanding examples of colleges, universities or health professions schools that are committed to making diversity and inclusion a top priority across their campuses. “The HEED Award process consists of a comprehensive and rigorous application that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees — and best practices for both — continued leadership support for diversity, and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “We take a detailed approach to reviewing each application in deciding who will be named a HEED Award recipient. Our standards are high, and we look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being done every day across their campus.” UMKC will be featured along with the other 92 recipients in the November 2019 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. It was the only college in Missouri to receive the recognition. The UMKC School of Medicine received a HEED award in 2018 and the School of Dentistry received the award in 2016. Sep 18, 2019

  • 3 New Ways UMKC and Metropolitan Community College Are Getting Students A Degree

    Partnership to provide affordable and accessible opportunities for Kansas Citians to succeed
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City and Metropolitan Community College are joining forces to create new opportunities for Kansas City area students for an affordable, accessible and successful college education. RooMentum is a series of programs designed to increase opportunities for student access to success in higher education in the Kansas City metro. Students who enroll in RooMentum will begin their studies at MCC but will have a dual enrollment in both institutions. The students will have access to student and academic support services at both UMKC and MCC, including libraries and financial aid. Academic advisors at each institution will work in tandem to co-advise students in the RooMentum programs. Chancellors Mauli Agrawal of UMKC and Kimberly Beatty of MCC signed a memorandum of understanding Sept. 17 that set up the RooMentum programs, and clarified transfer policies and procedures to assist students in making a seamless transition when transferring from one institution to the other. RooMentum will launch with three programs: 1. RooMentum “On Track” Program (Starting Fall 2019) is designed for first-time, full-time college students who may not qualify for direct admission into UMKC. This program will provide students an opportunity to explore academic and career interests, improve academic preparation and develop key academic strategies to enhance their success. Once students complete the prescribed RooMentum On Track curriculum at MCC, they will automatically be admitted to UMKC. 2. RooMentum “Pathways” Program (Starting Spring 2020) allows students to take advantage of dual enrollment and creates transfer pathways that promote successful completion of a bachelor’s degree in as few total credit hours as possible. Pathways allows earlier connection with major-specific opportunities at UMKC and eases transition to upper-level course rigor. 3. Bachelor of Applied Science (Targeted for approval in Spring 2021 and implementation in Fall 2021) – students will simultaneously work toward an Associate of Applied Science at MCC and a Bachelor of Applied Science at UMKC. The program provides an opportunity for returning students to complete a bachelor’s degree that builds on technical skills and experiences gained through the completion of a technical degree. “Today, we are announcing a major initiative designed to lower the barriers to college enrollment and college success that are too prevalent in this community, as they are in communities across the country,” Agrawal said. “With the adoption of these partnership programs, MCC and UMKC are living up to the promise, and the responsibility, of public higher education.” “Kansas City students are looking for affordable ways to attain an education that will help them get ahead,” Beatty said, “and this partnership with UMKC creates convenient and accessible pathways to a top-notch degree.”    Sep 17, 2019

  • Alumna New President at Local High School

    Siabhan May-Washington, BA '88, MA, '91 takes the helm at local school for girls
    The Catholic Key reports that Siabhan May-Washington, Ph.D. is the new president at St. Teresa's Academy, a Kansas City high school for girls. Sep 16, 2019

  • Research Aims to Tackle Trauma Related to Community Violence

    Research shows one in two youth have been exposed to community violence.
    WDAF-TV Kansas City reports on UMKC School of Medicine professor Jannette Berkley-Patton's research on the affects of community violence on youth. Sep 16, 2019

  • New Sculpture Finds Home on Campus

    Open Spaces public art donated by the R.C. Kemper Charitable Trust
    A new work of art will find a home on Volker Campus, thanks to a gift by the R.C. Kemper Charitable Trust. The sculpture, titled “Any Word Except Wait” by Flávio Cerqueira, is one of three pieces that are being gifted to the city of Kansas City, Missouri. The sculpture by Flávio Cerqueira, titled “Any Word Except Wait."  The public art was part of last year’s inaugural Open Spaces, a two-month citywide visual and performing arts festival that was a collaboration between the City’s Office of Culture and Creative Services and a private arts initiative to highlight Kansas City’s arts, culture and creativity. The event, which gained national media attention, expanded opportunities for residents to experience world-class art created specifically for our city. “Open Spaces 2018 illuminated the ability of public art to connect and unify people, enriching lives and communities through shared experience,” said Mary Kemper Wolf with the R.C. Kemper Charitable Trust. “The Trust is proud to underwrite the permanent placement of three significant works from the inaugural Open Spaces.” Sep 12, 2019

  • Not Taking Your Pills is a $300 Billion Healthcare Problem

    UMKC study shows solution with intervention technique
    Half of Americans who are prescribed medications don’t take them as directed. That’s a $300 billion healthcare problem, but a University of Missouri-Kansas City study shows progress using a personal-systems approach to taking medicine. The UMKC study tracked the medication practices of kidney transplant patients. UMKC Professor Cynthia Russell is the primary investigator on the Medication Adherence Given Individual Change — or MAGIC — study, recently published by the American Society of Transplantation and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons. Her team, funded by a $2.585 million National Institutes of Health grant, includes researchers from University of Missouri, Children’s Mercy, University of Tennessee and Indiana University. “Though they have received the ‘gift of life,’ about 75 percent of people with a kidney transplant struggle to take transplant medicines on time every day for the life of the transplant,” said Russell, past president of the International Transplant Nurses Society. “Without these critical medications, the kidney will not survive. Our goal is to help people keep their gift of life for a very long time. More kidneys will be available to those in need of this critical resource, since they won’t have to rejoin the transplant list.” “Though they have received the ‘gift of life,’ about 75 percent of people with a kidney transplant struggle to take transplant medicines on time every day for the life of the transplant. Without these critical medications, the kidney will not survive.”-Cindy Russell, Ph.D., UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies In the MAGIC study, Russell’s team used the SystemCHANGE intervention, which has been shown to be effective with difficult-to-change behaviors like exercise. With the intervention, the patient is taught to modify daily routines and habits. They track success using data from an electronic medication monitoring system. The SystemCHANGE approach moves away from traditional interventions that focus on motivation and intention and instead improves the patient’s ability to monitor small environmental changes and determine the effectiveness of the changes using data. The MAGIC study was conducted with 89 kidney transplant patients at Saint Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City; University of Kansas Medical Center; University of Missouri Healthcare in Columbia; Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. “...not only are kidney transplant patients able to benefit from this research, but patients with other diseases will soon gain from this model of scientific investigation.” -Mark Wakefield, M.D., University of Missouri Health Care The result: using SystemCHANGE “demonstrated large, clinically meaningful improvements in medication adherence.”  Russell’s recently published research represents a capstone of nearly 20 years of discovery to understand and improve medication adherence in transplant patients, said Mark Wakefield, M.D., director of the renal transplant program at University of Missouri Health Care.  “During this journey, she has successfully collaborated across disciplines and among institutions, which has allowed for a greater clinical impact among a more diverse population of patients,” Wakefield said. “As a result, not only are kidney transplant patients able to benefit from this research, but patients with other diseases will soon gain from this model of scientific investigation.”  “Our intervention with transplant patients is now being tested in other chronic illnesses such as heart failure, stroke and soon, chronic kidney disease,” Russell said. Sep 11, 2019

  • UMKC Professors Explore Effects of Contact Sports

    KCUR explores balancing the enthusiasm for football with concern for players' health
    KCUR's Ethics Professors consider the conflict of supporting sports that can lead to irreparable brain damage. Sep 10, 2019

  • Computer Science Faculty Honored for Making a Difference for Women in STEM

    Professor Yugi Lee receives Central Exchange award for her mentorship efforts
    The heart of UMKC is our campus community. With small class sizes and lots of opportunities, it’s easy to develop student mentorship teams. And these rich relationships—our Dynamic Duos—are some of our best success stories. As an internationally-recognized expert in computer science, Yugi Lee, professor of computer science at the School of Computing and Engineering, says her motto is that teaching and research are not separate. Throughout her 20-year tenure at the SCE, she’s continued to mentor and equip her students to survive in any work environment – teaching or industry – an experience she said also helps to inform her research and make a difference for women in STEM following her footsteps. It’s her impact and engagement with students that landed Lee among Central Exchange’s 2019 STEMMy Award recipients. Lee and mentee, Ph.D. student Mayanka Chandra Shekar, sat down to discuss the importance of mentorship and its significance for women in STEM. What makes faculty mentorship critical to the success of students? Lee: Students have their own goals. Sometimes they know what their goal is and they need someone to help guide and sometimes we help them identify their goals. That’s why it’s critical to have the right advisor, especially for graduate students. Sometimes their research may not be accepted, sometimes a project they’re working on may not go right and they get down. Additionally, mentorship is really important for female students in engineering where there aren’t many female faculty. “In the last five years I’ve been at UMKC, our number of female Ph.D. students in computer science has significantly increased. When I joined the program there were three of us, now we have between 15 and 20!” - Chandra Shekar How has your mentor inspired you? Chandra Shekar: How I perceive research is how Dr. Lee has taught me. She’s the most approachable faculty I’ve ever encountered. Every time there’s a new technology Dr. Lee says “let’s teach it,” because you become an expert through teaching.  I had limited exposure to research when I came to UMKC, but in my time here I’ve received a Google Lime scholarship, I’ve been selected to receive research funding from the School of Graduate Studies three times and has received the UMKC Women’s Council’s Graduate Assistance Fund scholarship five times. Lee: Mayanka is one of the more popular students in our department. She’s got a lot of energy and fresh ideas. Her presentation is great and she can teach almost anything. She’s currently supervising 10 master’s degree students and mentors five project groups, and will apply to a faculty position when she graduates. She even received a scholarship to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration, which is one of the largest conferences for women in technology. She is applying to some faculty positions. I think she will land somewhere great. What led you to UMKC? Chandra Shekar: When I came to UMKC in 2014, I had limited exposure to research. Where I’m from, in India, UMKC had positive reviews. I am only one of two students from my master’s program who came to the United States.  One of two? Wow! How many of you were there? Chandra Shekar: I received my bachelor’s and master’s degrees from a women’s college in India. We had 16 master’s students. Some are working, some got married and started families and two of us went on to pursue Ph.Ds. There just aren’t a lot of women in computer science. In the last five years I’ve been at UMKC, our number of female Ph.D. students in computer science has significantly increased. When I joined the program there were three of us, now we have between 15 and 20! I’m getting married in December so I’ll be learning to juggle marriage and completing my program. I graduate in May. "Teaching is part of the life cycle of research." - Yugi Lee What qualities make a good mentor? Lee: Understanding. It’s important to understand the student’s abilities and family situations. You have to be able to adjust to what’s going on with them and work with them to persist. Build a relationship with your students and be a support system for them. Finally, it’s important to be a good trainer and equip your students to be able to survive in any work environment – industry or teaching. What’s your favorite part about being a mentor? Lee: Relationships. I’ve overseen more than 20 PhD students in 20 years. Every year we have new faces coming in and sometimes I get students that challenge me in different ways. Each year students will have new questions, ideas, problems... Not all graduate students teach, but mine do. My philosophy is: teaching and research are not separate. Teaching is part of the life cycle of research. “All of her hard work has made such a difference in the lives of many.”   - Kevin Z. Truman, dean of the School of Computing and Engineering How has your mentor helped you grow as a person? Chandra Shekar: Dr. Lee has been a big source of support for me when I needed it – inside and outside of the classroom. When I was really sick, she supported me and motivated me to not want to stop learning. I was in the hospital coding! I was wheelchair-bound for a while and my mom came from India and stayed with me for close to a year. She and Dr. Lee helped me get around to my classes. They’ve been really fundamental women in my life. If you’re giving advice to a student on finding a mentor, what would you tell them? Lee: You have to meet every faculty member to find the best advisor or mentor. Sometimes without the right advisor, students won’t complete their degree program. You need good chemistry and you should have similar work styles. But if you don’t meet all the faculty, you won’t know who that person is. Finally, Yugi, what does your Central Exchange recognition mean to you? Lee: Recognition for women in STEM doesn’t come as often as it does for men. Computer science is a male-dominated field everywhere. I was the first female faculty member in our department only 20 years ago. While there are more women in the field than before, it’s important for women to have support systems. Central Exchange helps to create that. Women contribute a lot to STEM – we have a lot of creativity and pay close attention to detail…things you need in computer science. Kevin Truman, dean of the School of Computing and Engineering, nominated me to receive a STEMMy Award and I’m honored to have been selected.  Truman said of Lee’s honor: “Yugi is so deserving of this award, SCE and I are proud to have her as one of our leading faculty. All of her hard work has made such a difference in the lives of many.”  Lee will receive the WISTEMM Educator Award for full-time faculty in STEMM fields at the STEMMy Awards ceremony on Sept. 17. Read more UMKC mentorship stories Sep 09, 2019

  • The Story of Steve Lewis the Midwest Chamber Ensemble's Founder

    The Kansas City Star profiles alumnus Steve Lewis
    The Kansas City Star profiles the Midwest Chamber Ensemble's founder alumnus Steve Lewis. Sep 07, 2019

  • UMKC School of Dentistry Focuses on Special Needs Patients

    Fox4KC focuses on scarcity of metro dentists caring for patients with special needs.
    Alumnus Seth Cohen, DDS '14 and Tom Vopat, DDS, UMKC School of Dentistry clinical professor support focus on sensitive care for patients with special needs. Sep 06, 2019

  • KCUR Explores Kansas City's Country Music Connection

    Chuck Haddix host of KCUR's Fish Fry and director of UMKC's Marr Sound Archives discusses history of music in Missouri
    Country music is thriving in the Kansas City area and Chuck Haddix weighs in on why. Sep 05, 2019

  • Alumnus and Legendary Comics Editor Dies

    Lee Salem signed "Calvin and Hobbes" and discovered "Cathy" for Universal Press Syndicate
    The Washington Post recognized alumnus Lee Salem, MA '73, a legendary comics editor who died September 2nd. Sep 04, 2019

  • Cerner to Layoff 250 Workers

    KCTV and Fox 4 interview Stephen Pruitt, Gottlieb Chair of Finance at the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management
    KCTV and Fox 4 interview Stephen Pruitt, Gottlieb Chair of Finance at the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management regarding Cerner reorganization. Sep 04, 2019

  • Sean Chen Joins Jonathan Wentworth Associates Roster

    Musical American Worldwide reports Sean Chen, currently a Millsap Artist in Residence at the UMKC Conservatory, joins Jonathan Wentworth Associates...
    Musical America Worldwide recognizes 2013 American Pianists Award Winner representation. Sep 03, 2019

  • UMKC Trustee John Sherman will buy the Kansas City Royals

    KCUR announces hometown team's sale
    Kansas City businessman and UMKC Trustee, John Sherman, will buy the Kansas City Royals. Sep 03, 2019

  • Professor of Criminology Discusses Causes of Gun Violence

    Kansas City Star article and editorial explore causes of violence
    Ken Novak, UMKC professor of criminal justice and criminology wrote a guest commentary on breaking the cycle of violence. Novak debunks the myth that heat causes an increase in crime. Sep 03, 2019

  • Meet the new artistic director of the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Stuart Carden

    Media report on new Kansas City Repertory Theatre's new artistic director, Stuart Carden
    Read the Kansas City Star article: 'A really wonderful guy': Meet the new artistic director of the KC Repertory Theatre Read the Broadway World article: Stuart Carden Named New Artistic Director of KCRep Read the American Theatre article: Stuart Carden Named New Artistic Director of the Kansas City Rep Sep 03, 2019

  • Cultural Competency in Health Care

    UM System grant funds speaker series
    The UMKC Health Sciences Diversity and Inclusion Council is hosting a cultural competency in health care speaker series through October. With financial support from a University of Missouri System Inclusive Excellence grant, sessions are free and open to students, faculty, staff and the community. The council found topics that will be especially beneficial to those at all four UMKC health professions schools: School of Dentistry, School of Medicine, School of Nursing and Health Studies and School of Pharmacy. “One of our goals is to provide educational programming that can make an impact on knowledge, self-awareness, attitude and cross-cultural skills,” said Tamica Lige, a staff member at the School of Pharmacy and chair of the council. Sessions are held in the UMKC Health Sciences Building, 2464 Charlotte St. Registration is encouraged for space considerations, but not required to attend. Maternal  Mortality Rate in African American Mothers Sept. 4, noon to 12:50 p.m., room 5301 Traci Johnson, M.D., UMKC assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, is leading the session. Creating Safe and Inclusive Spaces for the LGBTQIA Community: Session One – The Basics Sept. 25, noon to 2 p.m., room 4301 Kari Jo Freudigmann, M.S., assistant director, UMKC LGBTQIA programs and services, and Kimberly Tilson, B.S.N., R.N., nurse care manager, TMC Behavioral Health Community Access Program, LGBTQIA patient care advocate, are leading the session. Creating Safe and Inclusive Spaces for the LGBTQIA Community: Session Two – Application and Skills Oct. 3, 10 a.m. to noon, room 3301 Henry Ng, M.D., a public health LGBT health physician leader and advisor, will facilitate a panel of members from the LGBTQIA community and clinicians in a question-and-answer session followed by breakout sessions with video vignettes and small-group discussions. Biodiversity and the Medicines from Nature  Oct. 30, noon to 1 p.m. Cesar Compadre, Ph.D., professor in the department of pharmaceutical sciences and director of the Biomedical Visualization Center at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, is speaking about ethnopharmacology, the study of medicinal plant use in specific cultural groups and the study of differences in response to drugs by different cultures. Aug 30, 2019

  • 2019 Women Who Mean Business: Meet The Honorees

    The Kansas City Business Journal reports on the 2019 Women Who Mean Business Honorees including UMKC Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Barbara ...
    Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Barbara A. Bichelmeyer is named a 2019 Women Who Mean Business Honoree. She and her other awardees were recognized with newspaper profiles and a celebratory luncheon.  Aug 30, 2019

  • Ricky Kidd walks Out of Prison After 23 Years Following Judge's Ruling He's Innocent

    Media report on the release of Ricky Kidd from 23 years of wrongful imprisonment with the help of UMKC School of Law Professor Sean O'Brien
    Read the KMBC Article: Man Walks Out Of Prison After 23 Years Following Judge's Ruling He's Innocent Read the Fox4KC Article: Ricky Kidd Celebrates With UMKC Law Students Who Helped Him Walk Out Of Prison After 23 Years Aug 30, 2019

  • Project UK banks $50K JPMorgan Chase Foundation Investment Via 'United Effort' With UMKC Innovation Center

    Startland News reports on the $50K investment made to the UMKC Innovation Center
    The $50,000 investment from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation was awarded to the UMKC Innovation Center, which partners with Project UK to deliver programming, resources and develop curriculum, said Sarah Mote, marketing director for the center. Aug 29, 2019

  • Crocodiles Don't Need To Floss; They Just Grow New Teeth

    New York Daily News reports on new research about the ability of crocodiles to grow new teeth
    Current UMKC School of Dentistry student Brianne Schmiegelow is quoted on this topic and speaks about the implications it can have for the future of dentistry. Researchers at MU also contributed to this research.  Aug 29, 2019

  • Bloch Foundation Donates $21M to UMKC

    Media report on the Bloch Foundation gift to the UMKC Henry B. School of Management
    Read the Kansas City Star Article: More Money For UMKC's Bloch School: Foundation Donates $21 Million Read the Kansas City Business Journal Article: Bloch Foundation Donates $21M to UMKC Read the Associated Press Article: Foundation Gives $21 Million to Missouri-Kansas City School Aug 29, 2019

  • UMKC Featured in Walmart Promotional Video

    Two Roos get dorm room makeovers
    Walmart is releasing a new "Transform Your Dorm" video series on social, featuring three colleges across the U.S.--one of those being UMKC!  The filming took place this summer at the Hospital Hill Apartments and two students received dorm room makeovers. Grace Stohs, a studio art student, was featured in the first UMKC video released. Another video featuring Jacob Sumner, a nursing student, was released soon after.  The video producer, Brandon Lingle is a UMKC alum and thought it would be great to add his alma mater to the list of universities for Walmart to consider. And UMKC was chosen! UMKC Roos are Everywhere! Here are some of the behind-the-scenes shots from the video shoot.  Jacob Sumner, an accelerated track nursing student, is interviewed at the Hospital Hill Apartments. Behind-the-scenes with alumnus and producer Jacob Lingle.  Outside the video shoot at the Hospital Hill Apartments on a beautiful summer day. Aug 28, 2019

  • Two-Time Alumna on Her Path to Community Service

    Maggie Green's journey from pre-med to city government
    It’s apparent when meeting Maggie Green (B.S. ’12, M.P.A. ’17) that cycling and community are important to her. In fact, she biked through the rain to get to talk with us about her new job at Kansas City, Missouri Public Works serving the community. Green came to the University of Missouri–Kansas City as a student in the six-year medical school program. After a couple of years, she realized she was more interested in the public health part of medicine than being a doctor. Around the time she graduated with her degree in biology, Green began volunteering at a community bike shop in Kansas City, 816 Bicycle Collective. Going to the bike shop on the weekends and fixing bikes for people with no other means of transportation had a profound effect on her and sparked her drive to give back. She also began volunteering with BikeWalkKC, a bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organization. Soon, her one-day-a-week volunteering became a full-time position as director of programs. Left: Green in front of her office building, City Hall. Right: Yes, she rides her bike in heels! Photos courtesy of Maggie Green. “I was at a place at BikeWalkKC where I was really interested in learning more about nonprofit organizational theory and organizational management,” Green says of her decision to pursue a master’s of public administration degree at UMKC. She completed the program in a year and a half and learned about the importance of cross-sector collaboration. “I can’t underestimate how important it is for local government to work with nonprofits and vice versa,” Green said. “I’m proud of the work BikeWalkKC is doing and still care about the cause but I’m seeing a different way my work can have an impact in Kansas City and that’s exciting.” —Maggie Green Equipped with newfound knowledge, Maggie was ready to find a new way to serve the public. Her M.P.A. gave her a solid foundation to step into the position of public information officer for KCMO Public Works. The Public Works Department maintains public infrastructure by ensuring safe transportation for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists. In her new role, she serves as the link between the Kansas City community and the city’s engineers and crews. And she still bikes to work regularly. “I’m proud of the work BikeWalkKC is doing and still care about the cause but I’m seeing a different way my work can have an impact in Kansas City and that’s exciting,” said Green. Aug 28, 2019

  • UMKC Vice Chancellor of Diversity Honored in Kansas City Statue

    Susan Wilson listed among contemporary icons of the African American community at sculpture site
    The plaque below the sculpture is emblazoned with the names of giants, 18 in all, including  Lucille Bluford, Julia Hill, Mamie Hughes, Leon Jordan, Ollie Gates, Bruce Watkins — and UMKC Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion Susan B. Wilson, Ph.D. The plaque accompanies a statue, "Phoenix Rising Out of the Ashes," erected earlier this year at the redeveloped Linwood Shopping Center at the intersection of 31st Street and Prospect Avenue. Created by sculptor Ed Dwight, the artwork is a tribute to the perseverance and resiliency of the people in the surrounding neighborhoods, and their effort to overcome generations of oppression and neglect. Several plaques surround the sculpture; the one that includes Wilson is a salute to “the contemporary contributors to the progress, the legacy, the culture and the economic viability of Kansas City.”  There was no blue-ribbon committee appointed to choose the individuals to be honored. The artist made the decision on his own. “I looked for people who struck a chord within me,” as he did his research for the statue, Dwight said. He grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, but left decades ago and is a longtime resident of Denver. He combed through the Black Archives of Mid America, seeking inspiration. Wilson “teaches people the value of diversity and inclusion,” Dwight said. “That’s what I do through my art, and as I read about her, I felt some kinship with what she was doing.” Wilson has a long history as a diversity advocate, psychologist and educator. In her work as a community mental health director, she sought to bringing culturally competent care to central city African Americans. She led the implementation of Jackson County‘s first-ever mental health court, working with municipal court to divert non-violent individuals with mental health issues to treatment, not jail. She has served as a treating clinician for the Kansas City Chiefs and the National Football League. A UMKC vice chancellor since 2014, Wilson implemented a comprehensive, campus-wide plan for diversity and inclusion, built diversity and inclusion training programs and led efforts to conduct a climate survey. She has also worked with numerous school districts and community organizations to advance diversity and inclusion. Wilson had no idea the honor was coming. Dwight did not reveal the names of honorees in advance of the unveiling. “A friend texted me from the unveiling,” Wilson recalled. “I was shocked. It is very flattering to be on a plaque with some of the great leaders of Kansas City. With the kind of work I do, people don’t often know what kind of impact I make.”  Wilson said her post at UMKC is just one example of the university’s close ties to the metro Kansas City community. “Some universities can be like ivory towers on a high hill above their community,” Wilson said. “UMKC’s practice of hiring people with community connections is a real plus.”   Aug 27, 2019

  • Highlights from 2019 Week of Welcome

    Some great photos of our new Roos' exciting introduction to campus life
    A busy Week of Welcome officially kicked off the fall semester for our new Roos.  We welcomed newcomers to campus with some exciting events. Students received new UMKC gear and learned the fight song at Convocation. They learned how to start off on the right foot academically with an info session on campus resources. They also got to meet fellow students in Roo Groups at Unionfest. Then they cheered on our KC Roos during a double-header soccer match, and did so much more! Here are a few of our favorite photos from the week's activities. Aug 26, 2019

  • UMKC Student President Means Business

    With his eye on the Missouri governor’s mansion, Justice Horn has big plans to improve life on campus and beyond
    Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Justice Horn ’21Hometown: Blue Springs, MissouriHigh school: Blue Springs High SchoolDegree program: Business Administration  Justice Horn went from being a transfer student to UMKC Student Government Association’s first black and openly gay president in one semester. A former college athlete, whose coming out received national attention, he has shifted his focus and determination to serving the UMKC and Kansas City communities.   You started college at Northern State University in South Dakota as a wrestler and transferred to UMKC after your first year. How was the transition, and how was being a transfer student different than your experience as a freshman? I don’t feel as if I was treated differently when I came to UMKC even though I didn’t start as a freshman. I’m living proof that new people — black, white, Christian, Muslim — all over campus are accepted. I think that that is something that really makes us different from other schools. That’s why I’m happy to represent the university. There are so many examples of inclusion across campus. Are you a first-generation college student? I am not a first-generation college student, but my mother is. She returned to college at UMKC to finish her undergrad degree when I was in elementary school. I remember playing on the campus green with my dad and siblings while waiting for her to get out of class.  Your mother was the sole financial support for your family because of your father’s seizure disorder. How did growing up with the uncertainty of his health affect you? It was a really interesting environment. There was always some anxiety – you never knew what would happen next, or if this seizure would be the last one. But it gave me a constant feeling of understanding that you never know what people are going through. It made me aware of the need to always be kind.  “I’m living proof that new people — black, white, Christian, Muslim — all over campus are accepted. I think that that is something that really makes us different from other schools.”   Why did you choose UMKC? I chose UMKC for a couple of reasons. I had a life-changing experience that made me revaluate what would truly make me happy and I realized that I need to serve others. Last fall, I lost my friend and teammate, Curtis LeMair. This changed my life and pushed me to reevaluate what I was doing. I woke up one day and thought, “is being involved in wrestling really giving back to the world? Is that what I want to be remembered for?” That led me to UMKC. Do you miss wrestling? I do miss wrestling and I've been grappling with that for a couple of weeks. I miss the camaraderie of my teammates and my coaches, especially because they really gave me the faith and the strength to come out.   You’ve said that you were inspired by Michael Sam, who played at the University of Missouri and was the first openly gay NFL player, when you were considering coming out. While it’s impressive to be so open in such traditionally male, heterosexual environments, do you ever wish that someday sexual orientation won’t be of note?  I have been the first at a lot of things, but I’m aware of the shoulders I stand on and how my actions affect the people who come after me. That’s why I do it. I wonder when we will get to a day that it’s not a big deal, but that only happens when someone is first. We don’t talk about who the first woman student body president was here because it happened. It was a big deal! But now it’s the norm. We have to move through these firsts and it does take time. How does being back in Kansas City feel? It feels great, but also like a responsibility. I feel as if I need to set an example. I don’t want to compare myself to President Obama, but a lot of people have stereotypes about what a gay, lesbian or transgender person is like. It’s almost like being an ambassador for my community to break those old stigmas. That goes for me being in the LBGT community, but also being a person of color.   “I have been the first at a lot of things, but I’m aware of the shoulders I stand on and how my actions affect the people who come after me. That’s why I do it.” Scrolling through your Twitter and Instagram feeds it almost looks as if you were embedded in the Kansas City mayoral election. Rather than aligning with one candidate you were able to interact with several of the candidates. Was that intentional? Yes. During the election I knew that I wanted to run for student body president. There were people who wanted me to make an endorsement, but the city will be looking at transportation – including the new street car extensions – and housing around campus. I like getting involved, but I took a back seat and watched so that I would be better prepared in this role no matter who our next mayor was.    Do you see UMKC playing a role in the growth of the city? It seems like everyone is buying in at the same time. We have a new mayor and a new chancellor. We have a new athletic director, head basketball coach and Roo. The provost is launching her new student success plan. The best thing we can do is support each other and just – I’m not saying do nothing – but ride the wave.  Visit Campus  Aug 24, 2019

  • Changing The World Starts Here

    Innocent man’s freedom won by law students, professors
    University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law students, professors and members of the Kansas City community gathered Aug. 22 to celebrate the exoneration of Ricky Kidd. He was incarcerated for 23 years for a double homicide he did not commit. UMKC professors Sean O'Brien and Lindsay Runnels, along with as many as 50 different students from the UMKC School of Law, have worked on Kidd’s case since 2005.  “In law school classrooms, we can teach about law and procedure. But it’s when you have a client that you learn what it means to be a lawyer. What our students have learned working with Professor O’Brien and Ricky Kidd is how to have faith in a system that has been faithless and how to have hope in a situation that seems hopeless,” said Barbara Glesner Fines, UMKC School of Law dean. “Make no mistake, the past 23 years has been a severe challenge for my family and I. But today, I am much better. When you have strangers and volunteers dedicated to fighting for you, anything can happen. I feel like we were all exonerated. We kept on pushing. Everyone working on my case, and these law students, made the impossible possible." -Ricky Kidd O’Brien, who graduated from the UMKC School of Law in 1980, has been dedicated to justice since his early days as an attorney. He enjoys working with like-minded people, many of whom were and are UMKC students. They share a passion for seeking the truth and righting wrongs when they occur. “This mission is about love. It takes a village. The people who work behind the scenes, such as the law students, don’t receive recognition. Ricky is meeting people who have worked on his case for the first time. They all work behind the scenes. The Midwest Innocence Project gave their best people to work on the case.” – O’Brien Over the years, Kidd and O’Brien experienced many highs and lows. Kidd lost his case 11 times. “Make no mistake, the past 23 years has been a severe challenge for my family and I. But today, I am much better. When you have strangers and volunteers dedicated to fighting for you, anything can happen. I feel like we were all exonerated. We kept on pushing. Everyone working on my case, and these law students, made the impossible possible." - Ricky Kidd O’Brien was present last week when Kidd met his daughter Jasmine for the first time as a free man. She was five years old when he was incarcerated. Watch the emotional reunion, recorded by O’Brien’s wife.   Aug 23, 2019

  • Why Supplemental Instruction Is For You

    An easy, friendly way to get help with classes
    Sitting in a huge lecture room crammed with 200+ students can be a bit overwhelming. Leaving that lecture completely confused about what the professor talked out about is an even worse feeling. But don’t fret, that’s what Supplemental Instruction is for! Supplemental Instruction (SI) consists of student-led, free, weekly sessions where you can review the material that was covered in lecture. Here are the top four advantages of being in SI: 1. Student-to-student interaction SI is a great way to meet students in your classes and get interaction that you may not receive if you just go from the lecture hall to your dorm room to study. Each SI session is led by a student who’s been through the class and done well. They’ll lead a group of students like you are currently in the same course and you’ll work together to excel! 2. Higher Grades=Higher GPA It has been statistically proven that attending SI sessions greatly improves test scores, resulting in an overall higher grade in the class. So if you need a higher GPA to get into your major program, apply to graduate school or maintain your scholarships, attending SI sessions can help with that! 3. Less stress No one likes stressing the night before the exam, trying to cram five weeks’ worth of material into one night. Instead of sacrificing your sleep, start reviewing early by attending weekly SI sessions. Your SI leader has taken the class before and knows the professor’s teaching and testing style well. They are there to help you succeed! Their weekly sessions are designed to review the material in a fun way so you are fully prepared for each exam. 4. Become an SI leader After you’ve attended SI sessions and performed well in the class, you can apply to be a leader! Being an SI leader is a great way to get involved at UMKC (especially since UMKC is the International Center for SI) and help other students, just like your SI leader helped you. Through being an SI leader, you gain leadership and people skills, a relationship with the professor, and additional review of the material that will be covered on any professional school tests you may take. I cannot thank the SI program enough for helping me grow as a person and gain so much experience along the way. I think a lot of leaders can agree that it’s one of the most rewarding experiences at UMKC. We are always here to provide support to our fellow students and UMKC community! Aug 23, 2019

  • UMKC School of Pharmacy Awarded Grant to Prevent Opioid Misuse

    Collaborative Missouri task force to explore optimal opioid prescribing practices
    Once again, the University of Missouri-Kansas City is leading the fight against opioid misuse. With a grant from the Cardinal Health Foundation, the UMKC School of Pharmacy is partnering with the Missouri Pharmacy Association and St. Louis College of Pharmacy  to improve prescribing practices for pain management throughout the state of Missouri. The $120,000, two-year grant was awarded as part of the Cardinal Health Foundation’s new, nationwide Optimal Prescribing in Pain Management initiative. The initiative pairs schools of pharmacy with state pharmacy associations to develop strategies to drive the optimal prescribing of pain medications and the appropriate use of opioid medications in their states. In addition to Missouri, the other collaborators are from Maryland, Ohio, North Carolina and Wisconsin. The Cardinal Health Foundation, in partnership with the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA) and the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), is the national convener of the program. “We are honored to be a leader in this initiative, and feel fortunate we can canvas such a big area of the state,” said Heather Lyons-Burney, clinical assistant professor at the UMKC School of Pharmacy and the principal investigator on the grant. The UMKC School of Pharmacy features three campuses: in Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield. “Opioid misuse is not just an urban problem or a rural problem, it’s an everywhere problem. One thing is not going to fix this. We have to attack it from different angles.” Using the grant funds, Lyons-Burney will lead a task force that develops a “Training of Trainers” curriculum using current guidelines, evidence-based practices and proven intervention strategies for optimal prescribing practices. Following the curriculum development, faculty will deliver the program to pharmacists across Missouri through live trainings and virtual conferencing software. Trained pharmacists will then use strategies learned from the curriculum to educate prescribers on optimal pain management to improve patient health. “Opioid misuse is not just an urban problem or a rural problem, it’s an everywhere problem. One thing is not going to fix this. We have to attack it from different angles.” - Heather Lyons-Burney The goal is to help reduce long-term opioid dispensing rates in Missouri, increase the use of the prescription-drug monitoring program by pharmacists and health-care providers to identify those at risk and strengthen relationships between health professional organizations in the state through the support of joint educational and legislative efforts. “We are grateful for our partnership with the Cardinal Health Foundation, the Missouri Pharmacy Association and St. Louis College of Pharmacy,” said Russell Melchert, dean of the UMKC School of Pharmacy. “We have expert faculty leading the way.” UMKC has ongoing experience with preventing and assessing opioid misuse at national and local levels: The Collaborative to Advance Health Services at the School of Nursing and Health Studies, in partnership with the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, was awarded a two-year, $8 million federal grant in 2018 to address workforce capacity issues. The funding goes toward providing training and assistance to build the capacity of physicians and counselors to provide treatment. The Collaborative also started the KC Perinatal Recovery Collaborative in 2018 to improve family-centered addiction care for pregnant and parenting women and their families in the Kansas City metro area through cross-systems partnerships. The need is there: Missouri had a 358 percent increase in neonatal abstinence syndrome— called NAS — in just five years, between 2011 and 2016. NAS occurs when a mother uses drugs while pregnant or passes the substance through breast milk or the placenta. Infants born with NAS might experience a wide range of withdrawal symptoms including mild tremors and irritability, fever, excessive weight loss and seizures. Maureen Knell, a clinical associate professor in the School of Pharmacy, analyzes data from about 690 million outpatient clinic visits by patients who suffer from chronic pain not related to cancer. She and collaborators research opioid prescriptions to better determine what’s happening across the country. Aug 22, 2019

  • Catch Up On These 4 Big Campus Updates

    New faces, construction, major gift announcements and name changes reflect growth
    UMKC is constantly evolving, even in the quiet months of summer. Here’s what you might have missed while you were away. 1. Building for Success: Campus Expansions and Major Gift Announcements Hang on to your hardhats! Several buildings on campus have seen changes and more updates are on the horizon. While the infrastructure for the basement of the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center next to the School of Computing and Engineering’s Flarsheim Hall was visible last May, now the building is well above ground level. We look forward to watching construction throughout the year. Scheduled completion is 2020. The Marion and Henry W. Bloch Foundation has committed $21 million to support the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. The gift will be used to support the Henry W. Bloch School of Management via programming enhancements, expansion and renovation of Bloch Heritage Hall, and support programs that will help students during pivotal times in their university careers.Several buildings on both campuses will receive updates, thanks to a $15 million multi-school gift from the Sunderland Foundation. Flarsheim Hall will add a virtual reality lab, a clean room and other state of the art technologies that will bring it in line with the Plaster Center.  Henry W. Bloch School of Management will receive funds to renovate and update technology in Bloch Heritage Hall.  University Libraries will renovate the Miller Nichols Library third floor for a digital humanities and digital scholarship center and in preparation for the planned relocation of the State Historical Society of Missouri.  The School of Law will renovate classrooms to better accommodate the more interactive experiences between professors and students. The School of Dentistry will renovate the pre-clinic laboratory and include replacing dated equipment with state-of-the-art technology. 2. Haven't We Met? New UMKC Athletics Identity New look, new Roo. UMKC Athletics announced a new brand identity that features a fierce “fighting Roo.” While Walt Disney’s smiling original is beloved, this new Roo reflects the strength, determination and pride of Kansas City. A bold, new basketball court design features the Roo and the Kansas City skyline, showing our unfailing hometown pride. Kansas City pride shines through in a new interlocking “KC” mark. Shirts and hats featuring the new logos are available online and the full collection will be in the bookstores soon. 3. What’s In A Name? Academic-Unit Mergers The UMKC Department of Theatre, which attracts national talent and graduates outstanding theatre performers, designers and technicians, merged with the school formerly referred to as the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance. The new name of these wildly successful and creative entities is the UMKC Conservatory.  While the School of Biological Sciences and the department of chemistry had been neighbors and collaborators for years, they joined forces this summer as the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences.  4. Welcome To The Troop! Key Administrative Hires UMKC was thrilled to welcome two outstanding new members to our executive team this summer.  Lisa B. Baronio, EMBA, has joined UMKC as the president of the UMKC Foundation and chief advancement officer. She will lead corporate and foundation relations, major gifts and gift planning programs, endowment, capital campaigns, stewardship and advancement services. Yusheng (Chris) Liu, Ph.D, is the new UMKC vice chancellor for research. Liu brings more than 20 years of experience in working for public research universities as an educator and chief research officer, and he also served as a program director at the National Science Foundation, based out of the Washington, D.C., area. Aug 15, 2019

  • Bloch Family Foundation Makes $21 Million Investment in UMKC

    Gift to UMKC Foundation will be divided among three major initiatives
    The Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation is donating $21 million to the University of Missouri-Kansas City Foundation. The gift will be used to support the Henry W. Bloch School of Management via programming enhancements, expansion and renovation of Bloch Heritage Hall, and support programs that will help students during pivotal times in their university careers. This $21 million gift will be shared by three major initiatives: $11.8 million for programming within the Bloch School of Management; $8 million for infrastructure improvements to and expansion of the Bloch Heritage Hall building; and $1.2 million to support RooStrong, the university’s new program for increasing student retention, six-year graduation rates and career outcomes. This new gift comes less than a year after the announcement of a new $20 million scholarship program funded by $10 million from the Bloch Family Foundation and the H & R Block Foundation and $10 million from UMKC and the University of Missouri System. About 800 students will benefit over the next nine years from the earlier scholarship gift. “My parents believed in Kansas City, and they believed in UMKC as a key engine for progress in the community they loved.”— Tom Bloch “The commitment of the Bloch Family to Kansas City and to Kansas City’s university has been steadfast, highly impactful and beyond generous,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal, Ph.D. “This gift honors the memory of Marion and Henry Bloch by building upon the legacy they created with the Henry W. Bloch School of Management as the provider of premier business education that Kansas City needs and deserves.” Tom Bloch, chairman of the Bloch Family Foundation, said the gift demonstrates the continuing legacy of Marion and Henry Bloch.  “My parents believed in Kansas City, and they believed in UMKC as a key engine for progress in the community they loved. The Bloch Family Foundation has consistently supported growth through access to high-quality business education in greater Kansas City, and we are confident that the initiatives supported by this gift will advance that goal,” Bloch said. A portion of the generous gift will go toward the renovation and expansion of Bloch Heritage Hall. Lisa B. Baronio, EMBA, president of the UMKC Foundation and chief advancement officer of UMKC, added: “With two significant investments in UMKC immediately prior to the beginning of a new academic year, it is clear that the community recognizes the effect that UMKC has on transforming lives. The excitement is everywhere and it is contagious. The $21 million gift from the Bloch Family Foundation, and the $15 million gift from the Sunderland Foundation announced in July, demonstrate the commitment of Kansas City’s philanthropic community and their high regard for UMKC.” The entrepreneurial engine of the Kansas City region is fueled by graduates of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. Kansas City’s Business School is inspired by the innovative and civic mindset of its namesake. Henry W. Bloch co-founded the tax empire H & R Block and is considered one of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs. He embodied the philosophy of working hard, generating success and completing the continuum by giving back to the community through philanthropy and social entrepreneurship. Aug 13, 2019

  • Sunderland Foundation Awards $15 Million To Fund Five UMKC Projects

    Media report on the Sunderland Foundation gift that will impact hundreds of students
    Read the Kansas City Star Article: $15 Million Donation Will Fix Up Classrooms And Labs On UMKC's Campus Read the Philanthropy News Digest Article: Sunderland Foundation Awards $15 Million to UMKC For Renovations Read the Kansas City Business Journal Article: Sunderland Foundation Will Give $15M To Five UMKC Projects Aug 09, 2019

  • Companies Use Latest VR Tech To Train Employees

    KCTV5 featured the UMKC Augmented and Virtual Reality Lab to show how VR tech can help train employees.
    Educators at UMKC have taken note. In the spring 2019 semester, the college unveiled a facility dedicated to VR job education and training at the School of Computing and Engineering. Kevin Truman, the dean of the school, said the university is already planning on expanding the facility.  Aug 09, 2019

  • Debut Poet, Seasoned Fiction Writer Win 2019 BkMk Press Book Prizes

    Winners include Dara Yen Elerath of New Mexico, Scott Nadelson of Oregon
    BkMk Press at the University of Missouri-Kansas City announced the 2019 winners of its book prizes for poetry and short fiction. Dara Yen Elerath of Albuquerque, New Mexico, won the 20th John Ciardi Prize for Poetry for her manuscript The Dark Braid. Finalists included Brad Buchanan, Fay Dillof, Peter Krumbach, Emily Schulten, Emily Tuszynska, Roy White and Helen Wickes. “What makes these poems so engaging is the way the poet constructs them from contradictory elements. The works feel both personal and mythic,” said prize judge Doug Ramspeck. Scott Nadelson of Salem, Oregon, won the 18th G. S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction for his manuscript One of Us. Finalists included Corie Adjmi, Naira Kuzmich and Amy Foster Myer. “These stories challenge the ways we identify in terms of nation, race, class and religion; and ask readers to consider who really belongs,” said prize judge Amina Gautier. Each author will receive $1,000 plus book publication in fall 2020 by BkMk Press. The John Ciardi Prize for Poetry was founded in 1998 to honor the legacy of Ciardi, who taught for a time at UMKC and was a poet, translator and editor at The Saturday Review, and a commentator on NPR. BkMk Press founded the G. S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction in 2001 in memory of Chandra, who was an author and professor of English at UMKC. Previous winners of BkMk’s annual writing contests have gone on to receive wide literary acclaim. A full list of past recipients, as well as information on submitting to the 2020 contests, can be found online. Aug 08, 2019

  • Undergraduate Research Provides Foundation for Future M.D./Ph.D.

    Joseph Allen follows his passion for medicine and research
    Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Joseph Allen, ’20 Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico Degree program: Biology with an emphasis in biomedical sciences and a minor in Chemistry Why did you choose your field of study? I have always dreamed of being a doctor. The idea of being a part of something that has such a profound effect in peoples’ lives, inspired me to start on this challenging yet rewarding path. I chose biology and chemistry in order to obtain the foundation needed for a career in medicine. Shortly after my first semester, I was given an incredible opportunity to work as an undergraduate researcher in the School of Biological Sciences. I soon discovered that I had a passion for both medicine and research, so I decided to pursue both. With the education and training I am receiving at UMKC, I feel prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. How has your college program inspired you? Every day we hear stories about someone who is doing extraordinary things to help their community, the environment, and people around the world. I wanted to make a difference as well, but I wasn’t sure how to start being that kind of person and doing those kinds of things. I’ve now realized that all it takes is recognizing that something could be better, a commitment to see it changed, and a determined persistence to follow through. College has inspired me to have the confidence to not just dream of a better world but to make it a reality. "With the education and training I am receiving at UMKC, I feel prepared for the challenges that lie ahead." — Joseph Allen What extracurricular activities are you involved in at UMKC? I am the editor-in-chief of Lucerna, the UMKC undergraduate research journal. I lead the honors discussion sections for General Chemistry I and II, am on the Pre-Medical Society leadership board, and this semester I have been working with organizations across campus to start the first collaborative blood drive at UMKC this spring. Have you had and internship or job shadow? What did you learn? The past few years I’ve been studying the molecular basis of neurodegenerative disease in Dr. Ryan Mohan’s laboratory. Before coming to UMKC, I never thought I would have the opportunity to be engaged in leading-edge research, yet here I am. Being a part of this lab has taught me so many things. I’ve learned to think about problems in a different way, have confidence in my ability to understand and describe complex concepts, and never allow an experiment that didn’t work to hold me back. What are your lifelong goals? After graduating from UMKC, I plan to attend medical school and attain an M.D.-Ph.D. with the goal of becoming a neurosurgeon. This path allows me to combine my interest in medicine and research, and hopefully will give me the opportunity to be involved in some incredible things. In his free time, Joseph enjoys painting and drawing. He even considered pursuing a fine arts degree. Images courtesy of Joseph Allen. What do you do in your free time? I enjoy hiking, fishing, cooking, playing piano, or sitting down to a good book and a cup of coffee. Most people don’t know this, but I paint and draw quite a bit. I considered pursuing a degree in fine arts yet decided to keep it as something I could relax and enjoy doing in my free time. Visit Campus Aug 08, 2019

  • UMKC Faculty Awarded High-Priority Research Grants

    Five professors to participate in UM System’s Excellence through Innovation Program
    Five University of Missouri-Kansas City faculty members have been chosen to participate in innovative, high-priority research projects funded with more than $20 million in investments from the UM System and its four universities. System President Mun Choi, along with the four university chancellors and the system’s vice president for research and economic development, announced the series of investments Aug. 8, as the first stage of the system’s Excellence through Innovation research program. Participating UMKC faculty members are Praveen Rao, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering; Zhu Li, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering; Viviana Grieco, Associate Professor of History & Latin American and Latinx Studies; Tony Luppino, Rubey M. Hulen Professor of Law; and Douglas Bowles, Professor of Economics. The system-wide research investments support the UM System’s vision to advance opportunities for success and well-being for Missouri, the nation and the world through transformative teaching, research, innovation, engagement and inclusion. Choi has identified research as a key investment area along with areas such as affordability. Growing the research enterprise helps to attract research dollars, distinguished faculty members and students, many of whom engage in research as undergraduates. “Within the UM System, we have an outstanding group of faculty members who are committed to research excellence,” Choi said. “It’s our job as academic leaders to provide them with the opportunities and resources to significantly grow research efforts that are bold and transformative, especially as it pertains to our highest priority, the NextGen Precision Health Initiative and Institute. These projects will be critical to catalyzing the collaboration and infrastructure investments that are needed to grow extramural funding for our universities.” The invested funds will help train the next generation of leaders to meet workforce needs, create breakthrough discoveries to improve the human condition and convey the benefits of teaching and research to Missouri communities.  This year, there are 19 innovative research projects that will receive funding from the UM System and its four universities. The projects include research supporting the core instruments and infrastructure of the NextGen Precision Health Institute; research advancing the systemwide NextGen Precision Health Initiative; and research serving other key priorities of the System’s four universities. The selection of the 19 projects was the result of a formal proposal process with more than 115 proposals submitted. These projects will be funded up to $20.5 million, with $11 million from UM System and the remaining funds from the four universities. These strategic investments will achieve excellence in research and provide meaningful economic and workforce development to Missouri and beyond. The projects in which UMKC faculty are participating are listed below. The full list of 19 research projects is available online. Establishment of the NextGen Data Analytics Center Primary Investigators: Praveen Rao, UMKC; Prasad Calyam, MU Co-PIs: Zhu Li, Viviana Grieco, UMKC; Peter Tonellato, Deepthi Rao, Prasad Calyam, MU; Sanjay Madria, Missouri S&T; Timothy Middelkoop, Kannappan Palaniappan, Satish Nair, Ye Duan, Trupti Joshi, MU University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Praveen Rao and MU’s Prasad Calyam are leading a project to develop a hyper-converged computational hub that will be capable of analyzing and storing massive datasets to support the NextGen Precision Health Initiative as well as other collaborative research projects across the UM System. They are joined by Zhu Li and Viviana Grieco with UMKC; Peter Tonellato, Deepthi Rao, Timothy Middelkoop, Kannappan Palaniappan, Satish Nair, Ye Duan and Trupti Joshi with MU; and Missouri S&T’s Sanjay Madria. In the coming months, university leaders will coordinate with Rao and Calyam and other faculty colleagues to leverage this investment to develop the NextGen Data Analytics Center with donors and industry partners. Building a Convergent Research Community for Smart City Center Procurement PI: Bill Buttlar, MU Co-PIs: Tony Luppino, UMKC; Bimal Balakrishnan, Tojan Rahhal, Enos Inniss, MU; Kamal Khayat, S&T       This project seeks to advance system-level efforts to build a convergent research community around the concept of Future Urban Infrastructure, Integrating Smart Materials and Architecture – as envisioned in a National Science Foundation initiative backed by more than $50 million in funding. The goal of this proposal is to build and strengthen UM System research teams that can successfully compete for funding in this major national initiative, as well as gain support from industry and other agencies. Building Research Capacity for Geospatial-Enabled Data-Driven Discoveries (GED3) PI: Chi-Ren Shyu, MU Co-PIs: Douglas Bowles, UMKC; Eileen Avery, Grant Scott, Lincoln Sheets, Henry X. Wan, MU; Stephen S. Gao, S&T Geospatial information, such as data used to map health disparities, crime density, environmental exposures and countless other datasets, is foundational to developing solutions to our greatest challenges. However, time and effort are often wasted reorganizing and reanalyzing the same public sources of information. This highly collaborative proposal aims to create innovative tools to efficiently organize geospatial resource data in a community-based repository for use across the UM System and beyond. Aug 05, 2019

  • UMKC Faculty Named UM System Presidential Engagement Fellows

    Will make personal connections with Missouri residents statewide
    Three University of Missouri-Kansas City faculty members have been named UM System Presidential Engagement Fellows: Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D. and Barbara Pahud, M.D., both of the School of Medicine; and Gerald Wyckoff, Ph.D., School of Pharmacy and School of Biological and Chemical Sciences. The Presidential Engagement Fellows program was established to share faculty accomplishments with Missouri residents in their own communities. It allows faculty to make personal connections and deliver on the mission to disseminate and apply knowledge for the benefit all Missourians. To participate in the Presidential Engagement Fellows program, faculty members were nominated or self-nominated at the campus level based on their demonstrated excellence as well as their ability to communicate their research to the public. Fellows participated in a training and orientation session and represent the UM System at a minimum of three to five speaking events per year. This program is administered by the UM System Office of Engagement and Outreach. Jannette Berkley-Patton Berkley-Patton is a professor in the School of Medicine Biomedical and Health Informatics Department, the director of the Community Health Research Group, the director of the UMKC Health Equity Institute and adjunct faculty in the Department of Psychology. As a principal investigator of National Institutes of Health- and foundation-funded studies, she uses community-engaged approaches to develop and test prevention, screening and linkage to care interventions focused on HIV, STDs, hepatitis C, diabetes, heart disease and mental health in faith communities. Her research engages faith, community and health agency partners along with students and faculty in implementing these interventions to address health disparities using sustainable methods. Berkley-Patton’s research also extends to working with faith communities in Jamaica, West Indies on diabetes and heart disease prevention. She has been inducted into the KU Women’s Hall of Fame, awarded the University of Missouri System Cross-Cultural Community Engagement Presidential Award and appointed as a University of Missouri System Presidential Engagement Fellow. Speaker Topics: Sharing your passion with others to expand educational and career opportunities Conducting research in church settings: faith communities empowered to create change Engaging underserved communities in addressing health equity Education and research: Why your voice matters   Barbara Pahud Pahud is an associate professor of pediatrics at Children’s Mercy and University of Kansas Medical Center. She is the associate director of the NIH Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit at Children’s Mercy. Pahud received her medical degree from La Salle University, Mexico City, Mexico; her master’s degree in public health from Columbia University, New York; and completed her residency in pediatrics at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. Subsequently, she fulfilled a fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases from the University of California, San Francisco, followed by a fellowship in vaccine safety from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with Stanford University Medical Center. Pahud is the principal investigator for the National Institutes of Health Sunflower Pediatric Clinical Trials Research Extension (SPeCTRE) and for the Collaboration for Vaccination Education and Research (CoVER) study, as well as being a co-investigator in an ongoing CDC- and National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases-sponsored surveillance program for acute gastroenteritis and acute respiratory illness in children. She has also presented numerous abstracts and lectured internationally, nationally and locally. Speaker Topics: Improving the health of our communities through HPV vaccination Overcoming vaccine hesitancy – practical tips for talking to patients and families Prevention of influenza disease and deaths in our community Also able to discuss other vaccine related topics and tailor them to the specific group   Gerald Wyckoff About 30 million people in the U.S. live with a rare disease – about as many as suffer from cancer – but the majority of those 7,000 rare diseases have no cure. Many Missourians, therefore, are affected by a lack of needed treatments. For these desperately needed new drugs to be developed efficiently, we need an integrated, data-driven approach, whether the data comes from a human doctor or an animal veterinarian. This is the work that Wyckoff came to the University of Missouri-Kansas City to do. Growing up in New York, he earned his B.S. in biology from the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life where he learned to calculate trait heritability in cattle, and his Ph.D. in genetics from the University of Chicago, eventually studying human genetics. An affinity for computers led him to create complex programs and systems to support his work, starting the 1Data project to help integrate human and animal health data across state lines and institutional boundaries to compile data for more effective drug development. He has helped develop software applications for biology and chemistry, and this led to his entrepreneurial efforts outside of the academy as a founder of one company and co-founder of another, making use of the resources at UMKC and in the Kansas City region to launch his visions. This makes him keenly aware of workforce development issues and how the UM System helps meet the needs of Missouri small businesses. He has won the Missouri Governor’s Teaching Award in 2018 in part for his ability to take complex ideas and make them relatable to real-world applications and problems. Speaker Topics: How evolution contributes to our ability to create drugs to target diseases A “one-health” approach to data sharing that integrates data across animals and humans, from farms to pharmacies Precision medicine as a focus for study from bench to bedside   Aug 05, 2019

  • Sunderland Foundation Commits $15 Million to UMKC

    Fittingly, the significant gift will go toward campus renovations and construction
    The Sunderland Foundation investment will benefit both UMKC campuses in Kansas City — Volker near the Country Club Plaza and Health Sciences next to Children’s Mercy and Truman Medical Centers — by improving classrooms, laboratories and spaces for research and student support. “The Sunderland Foundation has been a supporter and advocate for UMKC for more than three decades,” Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal said. “We are honored and excited that they continue to invest in our growth and recognize that improving the function of existing resources furthers the university’s ability to engage students and the community and support research and development of new technology.” The Henry W. Bloch School of Management will receive $5 million for renovation and construction of the Bloch Heritage Hall, the original home of the Bloch School. While the state-of-the-art Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation opened in 2013, Heritage Hall has not received an upgrade since 1986. Heritage Hall incorporates the original Tudor-style Shields Mansion, built at the turn of the 20th century, and an addition that was completed in 1986. The renovation and technology update will support advanced teaching methods and anticipated enrollment growth, bringing this essential space in line with UMKC’s commitment to providing students tools for their success. University Libraries will receive $3 million for the renovation of the Miller Nichols Library third floor for a digital humanities and digital scholarship center, and in preparation for the relocation of the State Historical Society of Missouri, currently housed in Newcomb Hall. Beyond being a resource for students and faculty, the Miller Nichols Library is a recognized community resource for both historical enthusiasts and professional researchers. After the society raises an additional $3 million, the plan is to move the society's offices from Newcomb to the library next to the LaBudde Special Collections, enabling scholars and enthusiasts to optimize their research of the two rare collections on the third floor of the library. The School of Law will receive $3 million for renovations to classrooms and student services. The school will celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2020, and is one of only six law schools to have educated a U.S. president (Harry Truman) and a Supreme Court justice (Charles Whittaker). Its interactive classrooms and student success suite are key components of student-focused education. Renovating 40-year-old classrooms to better accommodate the more interactive experience between professor and students will attract new students and improve current students’ learning. The School of Dentistry will receive $2 million for renovations to the pre-clinic laboratory. Comprehensive dental care is shown to improve overall health and decrease risk of complications during dental procedures. The planned improvements will include replacing dated equipment with state-of-the-art technology that will enable simulation of patient care, proper exam positioning and clinical skills in an authentic learning environment. The School of Computing and Engineering will receive $2 million for the renovation of Flarsheim Hall that will reconfigure existing space in conjunction with the completion of the new $20 million Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center, scheduled to be finished in 2020. In 2018, the Sunderland Foundation provided the lead gift on the center, which will be a significant addition to the community as well as the university and will include a virtual reality lab, a clean room and other state-of-the-art technologies. The Sunderland Foundation was established in 1945 by Lester T. Sunderland, who served as president of Ash Grove Cement Company for 33 years. His grandson, Kent Sunderland, president of the UMKC Foundation, UMKC Trustee and former vice chairman of Ash Grove Cement, now serves as president of the Sunderland Foundation board of trustees. Since its inception the Sunderland Foundation has supported construction projects. “We focus on capital funding because building was at the heart of our business when my family owned Ash Grove cement,” said Kent Sunderland. “We understand the value of buildings that work for people. Providing resources for organizations that enhance Kansas City is integral to our family’s foundation mission.” Lisa Baronio, UMKC Foundation president and UMKC chief advancement officer, recognizes the significance of the investment in capital improvements as essential to student success. “The Sunderland Foundation understands that one of the significant components of excellent education is state-of-the-art physical space, technology and equipment that allow our faculty, staff and students to perform at their highest levels. We are grateful and excited to make these buildings reflect the same high level of quality as our human capital.” Jul 31, 2019

  • Breidenthal Foundation Commits $250,000 to UMKC Women’s Basketball

    Donors honor father’s enthusiasm for the team with valuable support
    The Breidenthal Foundation has committed $250,000 for a memorial gift to UMKC women’s basketball in honor of George Breidenthal, who was an avid sports fan. The gift is the largest in the women’s basketball team history. “This gift will undoubtedly elevate the program and prepare us for excellence for years to come.” — Brandon Martin, Ph.D., director of UMKC Athletics The donation will provide new opportunities for UMKC women’s basketball.  “The Breidenthals’ investment will help us tremendously,” said Jacie Hoyt, head coach of UMKC women’s basketball.  “These resources will help take our program to new heights in areas such as team travel and facility upgrades.” McKenzie Breidenthal and her brother Ben Breidenthal, who are Breidenthal Foundation co-presidents, are inspired by their late father. George Breidenthal was a community leader and avid sports fan, particularly for women’s college basketball in Kansas and Missouri.  “My dad’s giving was very heart-driven,” McKenzie said.  “If he saw people in need and he felt he could make an impact – whether it was in education, in the community or on the court- he did so.” The Breidenthals’ gift will make a significant difference for the women’s basketball team. “This gift will undoubtedly elevate the program and prepare us for excellence for years to come,” said Brandon Martin, Ph.D., director of UMKC Athletics. “We are grateful to have the Breidenthals as members of our Roo family.” In two short years as head coach Hoyt and her coaching staff have already had the most season wins in a decade. This gift from the Breidenthal Foundation will enable UMKC Athletics to improve experiences for both athletes and fans.      Jul 30, 2019

  • How Elite Steeplechaser Courtney Frerichs Starts Her Mornings

    In Runner’s World, UMKC alumna Courtney Frerichs shared how she begins her days during training and competitions.
    Courtney Frerichs, 26, has a thing for busting through — and leaping over — barriers. After establishing her dominance in the steeplechase at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and University of New Mexico, she joined the Bowerman Track Club (BTC), where she has become one of the best steeplechasers in the world alongside a talented team that includes fellow steeple star Colleen Quigley and distance powerhouse Shelby Houlihan. Read more. Jul 29, 2019

  • Preschool Classroom Outing Leads to Campus Service Project

    Berkley Center students’ message: ‘Don’t Litter’
    When people hear about school children tackling social issues, many may not think of the children being preschool age. At the Edgar L. and Rheta A. Berkley Child and Family Development Center on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus, preschool children learn valuable skills to become contributing citizens within the community. The center, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2018, was developed by the UMKC School of Education and an interdisciplinary team of experts who designed the state-of-the-art early childhood program. The Berkley Center recently received high marks in an accreditation review for this project-based learning. Children at the Berkley Center have participated in many service projects, including a food drive in May. A dozen children from a preschool classroom at the Berkley Center visited UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal and his wife Sue to share their service project and ideas for litter improvement on the campus. Their message was “Don’t Litter.” In late May, the children and their teachers found two birds tangled in plastic netting hanging from a bamboo structure. This inspired a conversation about how people and trash affect people in their environments. The next day when walking near the entrance to Cockefair Hall, the children noticed bits of the same netting they saw tangled around the birds and wanted to know where the trash came from. The children saw groundskeepers mowing over the same plastic netting that tangled the birds. “At that moment the children were compelled to reach out to the groundskeepers and explain what happened to the birds,” said Polly Prendergast, senior director of programs/projects at the Berkley Center. The groundskeepers talked to the children and explained the purpose of the netting, which is used to keep new grass in place. Back in the classroom, the children discussed what they saw and this sparked a long-term investigation, which is called project-based learning (PBL). “Facilitated by the teachers the children launched a service project to take action with a problem they saw regarding litter and discarded landscaping material on campus,” said Asia Whisenhunt Brockman, senior child development teacher. Using a mind-map strategy to organize the children’s ideas, thoughts and questions, the teachers helped the children take notes about their experience and formulate a plan to implement it. “They identified issues such as what they know about trash; why trash is not good for people, the environment and animals; ways to make sure trash fits in a can; and why trash may escape from a dumpster,” said Kelly McDonald, co-senior child development teacher. The children also interviewed a landscape contractor via a phone call and asked if there were safer materials for people to use that would not harm animals or people. The answer was yes, there is a biodegradable erosion control cloth made from cotton fibers.  “This is their service project – pretty cool for four and five year olds,” Prendergast said. The children named their team “UMKC Roo Litter Helpers.” Decked out in their personalized T-shirts, the children and their teachers regularly pick up trash around campus. But the service project didn’t end with that. Their discussion with UMKC groundskeepers and activities for their classroom service project led the children to want to talk with someone in charge about other litter on campus. That led to the meeting with the chancellor, which included a presentation of their ideas July 25. The children asked the chancellor to help them communicate with the greater UMKC community about preventing littering on campus. In return for their dedication to keeping the UMKC campus free from litter, Agrawal presented the children with a recycle bin that includes a “RooUp and Recycle” plaque thanking the Berkley Center children. Jul 29, 2019

  • Olympic Hopeful Finds Mentorship at UMKC

    Student-athlete already has health career at Children’s Mercy
    Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Bryce Miller ‘20 Hometown: Ashland, Wisconsin High School: Ashland High School Degree programs: Master's in Health Professions Education; Health Sciences ’18 Why did you choose UMKC? I was recruited to compete for the cross country and track and field team and decided to make the 10 ½-hour trek down from my hometown in northern Wisconsin. Little did I know, I would become much more accustomed to making this drive, as I committed to attend UMKC shortly after my visit. Initially, I was drawn in by the team culture, and was convinced that this could be a place for me to develop into a high-level athlete at the Division I level. I also liked the smaller campus feel paired with big city opportunity. You’ve competed in the 2016 Olympic trials for steeplechase (which involves running, jumping over hurdles and a water trap) and are competing this summer, too, for the 2020 games. What got you started with the steeplechase? I was originally a basketball player, and then competed in the Presidential Fitness competitions, and thought “hey, running is fun, and I’m pretty good at it”. When I came to UMKC, I’d never run the steeplechase – the coach, James Butler, remembered my basketball background and thought I’d be good at it. This was the same coach who urged Courtney Frerichs (UMKC alumnus and 2016 Olympian) to run the steeplechase because of her gymnastics background. Wow! That’s incredible. It sounds like you’ve had great coaching at UMKC. There are past and current coaches/administrative personnel in UMKC Athletics who have influenced me to become a better version of myself. My current coach, Brett Guemmer, has been a role model, mentor and leader for me during the past three and a half years. He’s someone I admire and strive to replicate as I grow as a person. I'm not sure where I could be without him, but I sure am glad to be in the position I am right now, and I owe a lot to him and his level of care that he has shown to me and the other athletes that he works with. Another person I admire at UMKC is Barb Bichelmeyer, provost and executive vice chancellor. I admire her ability to balance co-leading our university and maintaining relationships and connections with students such as myself. She has leadership characteristics and communication skills that we all could takes notes from. Why did you choose health sciences? I have always been terrible at answering the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I started at UMKC as undecided and used the first semester to explore my interests and see how they fit into the educational pathways that UMKC had to offer. I ultimately decided on the Bachelor of Health Sciences program because it would prepare me for a variety of career paths: public health, health care or research. I was able to further refine my educational focus by adding minors in exercise science and business administration. So, what are you doing now? My unique mix of classes allowed me to secure an internship at Children's Mercy in my final semester of the health science program, and upon graduating, I accepted a position as a graduate assistant researcher on Children's Mercy Energy Balance Research team. After several months of work on healthy lifestyles initiatives and research on adolescent activity, appetite and metabolism, I decided to further my education at UMKC in the Master of Health Professions Education program. My interest for this education program was inspired by experiences with my teachers, colleagues, coaches, teammates and co-workers at UMKC and Children's Mercy. How has your college program inspired you? My education at UMKC has inspired me to make change in the Kansas City community! I now have a passion for preventative health, healthy lifestyles promotion and improving health outcomes in at-risk populations. The course work has opened my eyes to areas of health concern and also developed my leadership skills to use when addressing these areas of concern in the community. Are you a first-generation college student? No, but I am the first of my siblings to attend college. I have twin brothers who are five years younger than me, so paving the way for them to be successful in school and sports is something I continue to push for. At the beginning of this school year, my dream of growth alongside them in school and sport came true. They committed to attend UMKC and run on the track and cross country teams! I was then granted a sixth-year medical hardship extension waiver to use my final season of track and field eligibility. My younger brothers and I competed in outdoor track and field together this past season. Younger-older brother rivalry! What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor? A professor once told me that the best way to prove that you actually know something, is by learning to teach it. If you can teach a concept, you will remember that concept. I have since used this approach in training with teammates and educational instruction. Which extracurricular activities are you involved in at UMKC (study abroad, student clubs, athletics, community volunteer opportunities,)? I finished my final semester on the UMKC track and field team. The past five and a half years have allowed me to travel around the country while representing UMKC and developing into the best version of myself as an athlete. UMKC's resources, my coaches and my teammates have helped me become a two-time NCAA Division I All-American in the steeplechase, a nine-time Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Champion and a 10th place finisher at the 2016 Olympic Trials in the steeplechase. Additionally, the memories I am most fond of as a captain for the Roos, were during our back-to-back WAC Championships in cross country. These team accomplishments definitely bring me the most joy and satisfaction. I have also been involved with the UMKC Student-Athletic Advisory Committee, the WAC Student-Athletic Advisory Committee, and the Mortar Board Honor Society. My favorite part of my commitment to these organizations has been the community outreach efforts carried out here in the city. I have been able to volunteer with more than 15 organizations over the past five years. Have you had an internship? What did you learn? I interned with the Weighing In team in the Center for Children's Healthy Lifestyles and Nutrition department of Children's Mercy. I gained experience in research, health promotion and preventative health education. I accepted a research position on the Energy Balance Research team, in the same department this summer and continue to work with the Weighing In team in communications. What do you hope to take from your experiences at UMKC into your professional career? During my undergraduate education and current master's degree classes, a common learning theme and area of personal development for me has been leadership. As a captain on the UMKC track and field and cross country teams for two years, these classes proved valuable for translating concepts into practice. As I've progressed further in health studies, my interest has drifted more into the leadership and teamwork aspects of healthcare. What is one word that best describes you? Dynamic. I am not afraid of change and I want to always strive for progress. As I've grown here at UMKC, so have my connections and responsibilities, making it difficult to balance them all. With constant adjustment—and advice from those around me—I've found ways to embrace challenges and opportunities. For me the most important key to continuing to be dynamic has been framing situations in a positive light and surrounding myself with like-minded people. Read Other UMKC Stories About Mentorship Jul 25, 2019

  • Kansas City Takes Data-Driven Approach to Addressing Blight

    Government Technology recently featured a collaboration between the city and UMKC
    The article in Government Technology features the "The Abandoned to Vacant project," led by UMKC Professors James DeLisle and Brent Never of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. Read more. Jul 24, 2019

  • Olathe North High School Graduate Named UMKC Trustees’ Scholar

    Kansas City’s university awards seven for 2019
    Sofia Martinez, a spring 2019 Olathe North High School graduate, has been named a University of Missouri-Kansas City Trustees’ Scholar. When Martinez begins philosophy studies at UMKC in the fall, she will receive a scholarship valued at $60,000 over four years. Her award is supported by the UMKC Board of Trustees, the founder of the scholarship program. Martinez was a member of the Diversity Student Council, Eagle Service Club, Hispanic Leadership Club, Lowrider Bike Club, Latina Leadership, Leadership Olathe, Mock Trial, Student Council, Relay for Life, marching band, symphonic band and wind ensemble. Martinez was on the honor roll 2015-2018, was a Questbridge finalist in 2018, Hispanic Heritage Month Student in 2017, and received the Gold Presidential Award for community service 2015 through 2017. She was a member of the Good Shepherd choir; and volunteered for the Good Shepherd Quince retreat and Saturday scholars. In the essay submitted to the Trustees’ Scholars selection committee, Martinez said she has learned to be resilient and charitable. “With the help of people at UMKC, I hope to become an immigration lawyer and help build a bridge for people like me,” Martinez said. “As a philosophy major, I would be able to use what I know as I pursue a law degree. As I continue down this path of self-discovery, I know that UMKC can provide an environment where I can really establish my role in helping my community.” The Trustees’ Scholarship provides educational fees and on-campus room and board for the first two years. In the third and fourth years, the package provides educational fees and $2,000 for room and board. Each Trustees’ Scholar also receives $500 toward books each year. To qualify as Trustees’ Scholars, students must meet at least two of the following three criteria: score a minimum ACT Composite of 30, rank in the top five percent of the graduating class, or have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or more in a 17-class core curriculum. Trustees’ Scholars must enroll full time, be seeking an undergraduate degree and commit to living on campus for the first two years. The UMKC Trustees’ Scholars Program is unique in that it aligns students closely with corporate sponsors, who give students access to their professional knowledge and experience, insight into the inner workings of the company or institution they represent, and a strong mentor relationship throughout the college experience. Students have opportunities to network and find internships or jobs through the Trustees and their connections in the community. The UMKC Board of Trustees is a non-profit organization established by civic and community leaders to support the University. Members advocate on the University's behalf, provide community feedback and forge partnerships to help the University achieve its strategic priorities and financial objectives. Jul 24, 2019

  • Battle High School Graduate Named UMKC Trustees’ Scholar

    Kansas City’s university awards seven for 2019
    Taylor Hamilton, a spring 2019 Battle High School graduate, has been named a University of Missouri-Kansas City Trustees’ Scholar. When Hamilton begins nursing studies at UMKC in the fall, she will receive a scholarship valued at $60,000 over four years. Her award is supported by the UMKC Board of Trustees, the founder of the scholarship program. Hamilton was a member Student Council, track and field, A+ Program, HOSA-Future Health Professionals and Science Club. She was on the “A” honor roll 2015-2018; was named Panera Associate of the Year in 2018; received the Science Department Choice Award in 2016; was an all-state track and field athlete in 2016; received the Spartan Excellence Award in 2016 and 2017; and received the Principal’s Award in 2016 and 2017. Hamilton worked at Panera Bread Company and was a clinical student at the Lenoir Woods Nursing Home in Columbia, Missouri. In the essay submitted to the Trustees’ Scholars selection committee, Hamilton said she plans to obtain a degree in nursing from UMKC and further her education to become a physician’s assistant. “Working as a physician assistant with a medical degree from UMKC, I will have the opportunity to shape the future of health policies,” Hamilton said. “Further, I will educate people so they can remain healthy or regain their health.” The Trustees’ Scholarship provides educational fees and on-campus room and board for the first two years. In the third and fourth years, the package provides educational fees and $2,000 for room and board. Each Trustees’ Scholar also receives $500 toward books each year. To qualify as Trustees’ Scholars, students must meet at least two of the following three criteria: score a minimum ACT Composite of 30, rank in the top five percent of the graduating class, or have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or more in a 17-class core curriculum. Trustees’ Scholars must enroll full time, be seeking an undergraduate degree and commit to living on campus for the first two years. The UMKC Trustees’ Scholars Program is unique in that it aligns students closely with corporate sponsors, who give students access to their professional knowledge and experience, insight into the inner workings of the company or institution they represent, and a strong mentor relationship throughout the college experience. Students have opportunities to network and find internships or jobs through the Trustees and their connections in the community. The UMKC Board of Trustees is a non-profit organization established by civic and community leaders to support the University. Members advocate on the University's behalf, provide community feedback and forge partnerships to help the University achieve its strategic priorities and financial objectives. Jul 24, 2019

  • Lee’s Summit North High School Graduate Named UMKC Trustees’ Scholar

    Kansas City’s university awards seven for 2019
    Tia Kahwaji, a spring 2019 Lee’s Summit North High School graduate, has been named a University of Missouri-Kansas City Trustees’ Scholar. When Kahwaji begins biology/pre-dental studies at UMKC in the fall, she will receive a scholarship valued at $60,000 over four years. Her award is supported by the UMKC Board of Trustees, the founder of the scholarship program. Kahwaji was a member of the National Honor Society, French Club, French Honor Society, Speech and Debate, youth government, orchestra and the tennis team. She was in the top one percent of her class, was math student of the year for three years, Questbridge College Prep Scholar, Questbridge National College Match finalist and KC Scholars award recipient. She also tutored elementary school students. Kahwaji worked at Applebee’s; volunteered six hours a week for a local dentist; gave free tennis lessons to low-income elementary students; volunteered at Coldwater, an organization that provides food and resources to families in need; and participated in a biyearly cleanup program. In the essay submitted to the Trustees’ Scholars selection committee, Kahwaji said she believes a degree from UMKC will help her achieve her dreams. “Coupled with my passion for biology is my desire to help others,” Kahwaji said. “I strive to be a catalyst for change in low income and minority communities in Kansas City. With my degree, I can cultivate change through volunteering in places where dental care is not as easily accessible by the people.” The Trustees’ Scholarship provides educational fees and on-campus room and board for the first two years. In the third and fourth years, the package provides educational fees and $2,000 for room and board. Each Trustees’ Scholar also receives $500 toward books each year. To qualify as Trustees’ Scholars, students must meet at least two of the following three criteria: score a minimum ACT Composite of 30, rank in the top five percent of the graduating class, or have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or more in a 17-class core curriculum. Trustees’ Scholars must enroll full time, be seeking an undergraduate degree and commit to living on campus for the first two years. The UMKC Trustees’ Scholars Program is unique in that it aligns students closely with corporate sponsors, who give students access to their professional knowledge and experience, insight into the inner workings of the company or institution they represent, and a strong mentor relationship throughout the college experience. Students have opportunities to network and find internships or jobs through the Trustees and their connections in the community. The UMKC Board of Trustees is a non-profit organization established by civic and community leaders to support the University. Members advocate on the University's behalf, provide community feedback and forge partnerships to help the University achieve its strategic priorities and financial objectives. Jul 24, 2019

  • Saint Pius X High School Graduate Named UMKC Trustees’ Scholar

    Kansas City’s university awards seven for 2019
    Gavin Ott, a spring 2019 Saint Pius X High School graduate, has been named a University of Missouri-Kansas City Trustees’ Scholar. When Ott begins business administration studies at UMKC in the fall, he will receive a scholarship valued at $60,000 over four years. His award is supported by the UMKC Board of Trustees, the founder of the scholarship program. Ott was a member of Students Against Destructive Decisions, Vincit Christus (Christ Conquers), the Business Club, Student Council, Interact Club Youth Rotary and was a student-athlete. Ott is an Eagle Scout; and was a National Merit Commended Scholar, Missouri Bright Flight Scholar and KC Junior Scholar. Ott was a team lead for Eighteen Ninety event space; and worked at Centurion Moving and Storage and St. Therese North School. In the essay submitted to the Trustees’ Scholars selection committee, Ott said he believes a degree from UMKC would help him become successful. “I full-heartedly believe in the limitless possibilities a UMKC education will provide me, and accordingly, the vastness to which I will be able to give back to educating our young community, our future leaders and pioneers,” Ott said. The Trustees’ Scholarship provides educational fees and on-campus room and board for the first two years. In the third and fourth years, the package provides educational fees and $2,000 for room and board. Each Trustees’ Scholar also receives $500 toward books each year. To qualify as Trustees’ Scholars, students must meet at least two of the following three criteria: score a minimum ACT Composite of 30, rank in the top five percent of the graduating class, or have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or more in a 17-class core curriculum. Trustees’ Scholars must enroll full time, be seeking an undergraduate degree and commit to living on campus for the first two years. The UMKC Trustees’ Scholars Program is unique in that it aligns students closely with corporate sponsors, who give students access to their professional knowledge and experience, insight into the inner workings of the company or institution they represent, and a strong mentor relationship throughout the college experience. Students have opportunities to network and find internships or jobs through the Trustees and their connections in the community. The UMKC Board of Trustees is a non-profit organization established by civic and community leaders to support the University. Members advocate on the University's behalf, provide community feedback and forge partnerships to help the University achieve its strategic priorities and financial objectives. Jul 24, 2019

  • A JAG's Journey to Wine Country

    Jill James Hoffman's U.S. Naval career took her from UMKC Law to Italy and California — and wine entrepreneurship
    Jill James Hoffman has lived a life of discovery, from her time at UMKC School of Law to practicing law around the globe with the U.S. Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG) to becoming a California entrepreneur. Today, Hoffman (B.A. ’86, J.D. ’89) runs Qorkz Wine (pronounced “corks”), an e-commerce platform connecting wine lovers with a network of small producers. She still practices with the Naval Reserve JAG, and makes time for skiing at Lake Tahoe, sailing on San Francisco Bay and serving on the Sausalito City Council. Hoffman, who grew up in Liberty, Missouri, spent some time with us recounting her journey. What drew you to UMKC? I spent my first two years of college in a small town, and I missed living near a large city. UMKC was/is a great school and allowed me to return to Kansas City. It was kind of a no-brainer — I could go to a wonderful university, live on the Plaza and go to a great school in a lovely urban environment. After undergrad, I was lucky enough to be admitted to UMKC School of Law, so I stayed. My reasoning was that attending law school in Kansas City would afford me greater opportunities for summer clerkships and creating contacts during my time in law school than in the smaller towns where MU and KU schools of law were located, which turned out to be true. How did you end up in the Navy? I always wanted to practice litigation, specifically criminal law. The appealing thing about the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps was that I could practice criminal litigation anywhere in the world with my Missouri bar license. Acceptance was competitive and has become even more so since then; however, I was accepted and was commissioned as an ensign. I reported for active duty after taking and passing the Missouri Bar. I completed three active duty tours: two years at Naval Legal Service Office, Treasure Island, San Francisco; two years at Naval Support Activity, Naples, Italy; and my last active duty tour was at Naval Legal Service Office West, San Francisco. Since I left active duty, I have been in the Reserves. My specialty is as a litigator in the Military Justice Pillar of our Reserve community. What was your introduction to wine? I really became interested in wine when I was stationed in Naples for two years in the early 1990s. In addition to a fascinating and exciting litigation practice all over Europe and the Middle East, I tasted a lot of excellent locally produced wine. For the first time, I really experienced good food and good wine as an everyday experience. Restaurant meals included the option of the “vino da tavola” (table wine), which we almost always chose. How did you make the leap into the wine industry? When I returned to San Francisco, which had been my first duty station, I began exploring the California offerings in earnest. At the same time, I became fascinated as an attorney by the regulatory challenges of the small producers, who were of the greatest interest to me, probably stemming from my time in Italy when we tasted such great wine produced by the restaurant owners or other local vintners in small quantities. At the time, there was the explosion of the internet as a sales channel for direct-to-consumer sales and a gradual opening of direct sales to states other than California, through two or three U.S. Supreme Court cases. The small producers were a growing and largely underserved community with regard to legal services that specialized in that area of law. I started doing more outreach to that community of small winemakers about seven to eight years ago. The idea for Qorkz Wine as an e-commerce platform to help facilitate the direct-to-consumer sales channel for the 5,000+ small producers evolved from there. I left the law firm at the end of 2014 to start Qorkz Wine. "As an entrepreneur, I see the value in not just the business proposition of a successful and profitable venture, but how this effort can support and maintain an important part of the California wine industry." — Jill James Hoffman What's the appeal for you in running this business? The appeal is seeing the opportunity and challenge to enable the small producers to access the direct-to-consumer sales channel, which from a business perspective is their best and most profitable channel, but also the most underutilized. It is a constant and challenging but exciting puzzle every day. As an entrepreneur, I see the value in not just the business proposition of a successful and profitable venture, but how this effort can support and maintain an important part of the California wine industry. How is your UMKC education relevant in your life today? The habits instilled by a law degree come into play every day. Almost every effort I am involved in somehow references back to the legal perspective, from working and developing Qorkz Wine and my Naval Reserve work, to volunteer efforts with my son’s schools, on the Sausalito City Council or other volunteer efforts. My experience has been that as an attorney, particularly a litigator, I become a source of empowerment and ability for whatever effort in which I engage. These organizational and analytical skills, as well as the basic Midwestern Kansas City work ethic, integrity, toughness and grit, are embedded in my DNA. This article was featured in Res Ipsa, the UMKC School of Law alumni magazine. Jul 24, 2019

  • Blue Valley High School Graduate Named UMKC Trustees’ Scholar

    Kansas City’s university awards seven for 2019
    Nikita Joshi, a spring 2019 Blue Valley High School graduate, has been named a University of Missouri-Kansas City Trustees’ Scholar. When Joshi begins history studies at UMKC in the fall, she will receive a scholarship valued at $60,000 over four years. Her award is supported by the UMKC Board of Trustees, the founder of the scholarship program. Joshi was a member of the National Speech & Debate Association, National Honor Society; and was a Blue Valley High School Social Studies Scholar honoree and Kansas Honor Scholar. Joshi worked at Kumon Math and Reading Education Center as a tutor and was a volunteer for March for our Lives and Eastern Kansas VA. Her extracurricular activities included the Blue Valley Young Progressives Club, UNICEF Club and was a mentor for the incoming freshman class at her high school. In the essay submitted to the Trustees’ Scholars selection committee, Joshi said she wants to share her passions with people and spark action to create something better for the future. “With an education from UMKC, I know I would get the personal attention I need in order to become a truly well-rounded individual and compelling champion of changes,” Joshi said. “Whether I choose to become a filmmaker documenting the stories of Syrian refugees, an environmental lawyer for the World Wildlife Fund or a congresswoman, I know that UMKC will help me develop the skills I need in order to leave my mark on the world.” The Trustees’ Scholarship provides educational fees and on-campus room and board for the first two years. In the third and fourth years, the package provides educational fees and $2,000 for room and board. Each Trustees’ Scholar also receives $500 toward books each year. To qualify as Trustees’ Scholars, students must meet at least two of the following three criteria: score a minimum ACT Composite of 30, rank in the top five percent of the graduating class, or have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or more in a 17-class core curriculum. Trustees’ Scholars must enroll full time, be seeking an undergraduate degree and commit to living on campus for the first two years. The UMKC Trustees’ Scholars Program is unique in that it aligns students closely with corporate sponsors, who give students access to their professional knowledge and experience, insight into the inner workings of the company or institution they represent, and a strong mentor relationship throughout the college experience. Students have opportunities to network and find internships or jobs through the Trustees and their connections in the community. The UMKC Board of Trustees is a non-profit organization established by civic and community leaders to support the University. Members advocate on the University's behalf, provide community feedback and forge partnerships to help the University achieve its strategic priorities and financial objectives. Jul 24, 2019

  • McCluer North High School Graduate Named UMKC Trustees’ Scholar

    Kansas City’s university awards seven for 2019
    Lanisha Stevens, a spring 2019 McCluer North High School graduate, has been named a University of Missouri-Kansas City Trustees’ Scholar. When Stevens begins psychology studies at UMKC in the fall, she will receive a scholarship valued at $60,000 over four years. Her award is supported by the UMKC Board of Trustees, the founder of the scholarship program. Stevens was vice president of Rhoer Club, Sigma Chapter, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority; member of the Principal’s Student Advisory Council; and president of the youth division of Restoration House Community Church. She was inducted into the National Honor Society, an all-state finalist in the string orchestra, member of the National Spanish Honor Society, McCluer North Stars “A” Honor Roll student, St. Louis Post-Dispatch “A” Honor Roll student and a student-athlete. Stevens was awarded the McCluer North Celebration of Excellence-Middlebury College Memorial Book Award in 2018. She was an A+ tutor and volunteer for the Police Athletic League and McCluer North Special Olympics. In the essay submitted to the Trustees’ Scholars selection committee, Stevens said she wants to serve as a voice for people who have a mental illness by becoming a counseling psychologist. “My future career goals of studying psychology and going on to a graduate degree program in counseling will be cultivated in the psychology department at UMKC”, Stevens said. “Working with faculty that are dedicated toward the field of mental health across disciplines is exciting.” The Trustees’ Scholarship provides educational fees and on-campus room and board for the first two years. In the third and fourth years, the package provides educational fees and $2,000 for room and board. Each Trustees’ Scholar also receives $500 toward books each year. To qualify as Trustees’ Scholars, students must meet at least two of the following three criteria: score a minimum ACT Composite of 30, rank in the top five percent of the graduating class, or have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or more in a 17-class core curriculum. Trustees’ Scholars must enroll full time, be seeking an undergraduate degree and commit to living on campus for the first two years. The UMKC Trustees’ Scholars Program is unique in that it aligns students closely with corporate sponsors, who give students access to their professional knowledge and experience, insight into the inner workings of the company or institution they represent, and a strong mentor relationship throughout the college experience. Students have opportunities to network and find internships or jobs through the Trustees and their connections in the community. The UMKC Board of Trustees is a non-profit organization established by civic and community leaders to support the University. Members advocate on the University's behalf, provide community feedback and forge partnerships to help the University achieve its strategic priorities and financial objectives. Jul 24, 2019

  • Francis Howell High School Graduate Named UMKC Trustees’ Scholar

    Kansas City’s university awards seven for 2019
    Isabelle Daab, a spring 2019 Francis Howell High School graduate, has been named a University of Missouri-Kansas City Trustees’ Scholar. When Daab begins biology/pre-medicine studies at UMKC in the fall, she will receive a scholarship valued at $60,000 over four years. Her award is supported by the UMKC Board of Trustees, the founder of the scholarship program. Daab was a member of the National Honor Society, HOSA-Future Health Professionals, Viking Leadership Academy, cross county and basketball. She worked at the Garden Villas of O’Fallon, completed A+ service hours at Meadows Parkway Early Childhood Center, volunteered with basketball camps, St. John’s Church of Christ and the Salvation Army. In the essay submitted to the Trustees’ Scholars selection committee, Daab said she wants to help athletes with injuries. “I hope to someday use my UMKC degree to begin a nationwide program that will be implemented within high schools and competitive sports clubs that will teach athletes knee injury prevention tactics in hopes of saving many young athletes from the tortuous experience of destroying their once healthy knees,” Daab said. “Obtaining a UMKC degree arms me with a background of undergraduate research and opportunities to develop connections with figures that have expertise in sports medicine.” The Trustees’ Scholarship provides educational fees and on-campus room and board for the first two years. In the third and fourth years, the package provides educational fees and $2,000 for room and board. Each Trustees’ Scholar also receives $500 toward books each year. To qualify as Trustees’ Scholars, students must meet at least two of the following three criteria: score a minimum ACT Composite of 30, rank in the top five percent of the graduating class, or have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or more in a 17-class core curriculum. Trustees’ Scholars must enroll full time, be seeking an undergraduate degree and commit to living on campus for the first two years. The UMKC Trustees’ Scholars Program is unique in that it aligns students closely with corporate sponsors, who give students access to their professional knowledge and experience, insight into the inner workings of the company or institution they represent, and a strong mentor relationship throughout the college experience. Students have opportunities to network and find internships or jobs through the Trustees and their connections in the community. The UMKC Board of Trustees is a non-profit organization established by civic and community leaders to support the University. Members advocate on the University's behalf, provide community feedback and forge partnerships to help the University achieve its strategic priorities and financial objectives. Jul 24, 2019

  • Berkley Center Recognized with High Marks in Accreditation

    Children receive outstanding care and education at the UMKC Berkley Child Development Center
    The Edgar L. and Rheta A. Berkley Child and Family Development Center at UMKC has received an outstanding assessment from the National Association of the Education of Young Children.  The Center received high marks in each of the ten categories, with nine receiving 100%+ approval ratings. Polly Prendergast, senior director of programs/projects at the Berkley Center, says the accreditation is significant for many reasons. Beyond being an unbiased measure of the quality of education, it is a valuable tool for people searching for high quality early education. “NAEYC Accreditation helps parents find the best possible early childhood experience for their child. Also, it is a mark of quality for the teaching staff and administration,” Prendergast says. “Schools and organizations who voluntarily go through a rigorous accreditation process of evaluation are demonstrating their level of competence in a field and their commitment to providing the highest level of quality in early learning.”  “The faculty and staff at Berkley come to work every day with a passion to make change in these little people.” Katie Anton, parent NAEYC assesses child care agencies in ten areas; relationships, curriculum, teaching, assessment of child progress, teachers, family and community, relationships, physical environment, leadership and management and health.  Prendergast and her colleagues were thrilled with their accreditation results. “While we have received high scores consistently over the years, it is thrilling to know our hard work and continuing quality improvement is validated.” The Berkley Center’s parents recognize and celebrate the faculty and staff’s commitment to excellence.  “The faculty and staff at Berkley come to work every day with a passion to make change in these little people,” Katie Anton, UMKC director of scholarships and Berkley parent says. “They are intentional in everything they do and strive daily to grow healthy minds and bodies.”  The University of Missouri–Kansas City Edgar L. and Rheta A. Berkley Child and Family Development Center  was established in 1993. The UMKC School of Education and an interdisciplinary team of experts worked together to develop a state-of-the-art early childhood program. Berkley is part of UMKC School of Education, and serves as a learning laboratory for early childhood students. As a NAEYC nationally accredited program, Berkley enrolls children of UMKC employees, students, and the community. We offer full day twelve month a year early care and education. Building an equal relationship between family, child, and teacher is a cornerstone of our philosophy. Jul 24, 2019

  • Youth Innovators Supercharged To Take On STEM

    School of Computing and Engineering Expands Access to STEM Through Summer Camps
    What happens when 57 curious kindergarten through sixth grade students visit campus for one week? They turn their curiosity into innovation. At least that's what happened this summer when children from across the Greater Kansas City area spent a week at UMKC participating in a new day camp experience, Camp Invention, at the School of Computing and Engineering. An extension of the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Alexandria, Virginia, Camp Invention is a national program designed to keep kids engaged and help them build skills for the future. Throughout the week, these junior inventors work through activities that help them see ideas through from concept to creation while learning problem-solving collaboration, creativity and, of course, STEM. The theme for this year was “Supercharged.” “This year, through our partnership with Google Fiber, we were able to provide scholarships for students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to attend the camp,” said assistant dean Marjory Eisenman. That also helped to diversify the group and ensure that all kids were welcome to participate without having to worry about cost.     “We had to make things to throw hay into a box!” said Elise, explaining her favorite activity of the week. Campers took on four challenges during camp that allowed them to use their imagination for creative problem solving: Farm Tech: Children manage their own farm as they learn the basics of running a business. Deep Sea Mystery: Using lessons and advice from Hall of Fame Inductees, children work in teams to invent island-survival tools and underwater equipment and navigate their way back home. Innovation Force: children create a device to retrieve the stolen ideas, they learn about the importance of collaboration and patents. DIY Orbot: Children explore frequency, circuit boards, motors and gears as they use real tools to reverse engineer a remote-controlled DIY Orbot, which is the students’ personalized version of a small bot. The 57 campers were led through the activities by a combination of local teachers, SCE students and seventh- through ninth-grade youth who served as classroom instructors, interns and leaders in training. “Getting students to help out with the camp sells the kids on UMKC or, at the very least, studying STEM,” said Eisenman. Camp Invention is just one way the SCE works to expand access to STEM. The school also hosted a biomechanical camp for high school students this summer and worked with 15 students on measuring the force of impacts on the musculoskeletal system, operating the school’s motion capture lab and high-tech equipment for 3D printing and bone analysis. SCE also offers year-round youth activities through its affiliate organization KC STEM Alliance, a collaborative network of educators, business partners and organizations that inspires interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math careers to generate a robust workforce of related professionals for our community. Get Involved With The SCE Jul 18, 2019

  • Mission to Mars

    School of Computing and Engineering grad helped design the parachute system for the Mars 2020 mission
    John Bazin (B.S. '15, M.S. '16) spoke with us about his job designing the parachute for the Mars 2020 rover mission's spacecraft. Tell us about your current position. I am a design engineer at Airborne Systems in Santa Ana, California. I design and develop aerodynamic decelerators for a number of government organizations. I have been working on the Mars 2020 Rover Parachute system for the past year.  How did you end up working on the Mars 2020 parachute system? Not a lot of people have experience designing or working with parachutes in the engineering community. I worked with parachutes with Dr. Travis Fields at UMKC. I used to do drop tests in the atrium in Flarsheim Hall. I was fortunate enough to win a student paper competition and have a paper on parachutes published. I met one of the supervisors at Airborne Systems at the conference I went to where I was presenting that paper. Having the research experience and a master's degree set me apart from the rest of the group. That, combined with good communications skills, are the reasons I believe I was chosen to work on the program. Did you have to learn about Mars in order to work on the parachute system? For example, how does a parachute deploy differently in Earth's atmosphere compared to Mars'? Yes, there was a lot of research and work that I had to do to prepare myself for the program. I did this research on work time and was given about a week to learn what I needed to so that I could immediately start contributing. The learning never stops though, that was just the amount of time they gave me to get as familiar as I could with the system before I started doing work. Mars' atmosphere is more than twice as thin as Earth's atmosphere. It has just enough density that you have to deal with it, otherwise it will destroy the spacecraft. Our parachute deploys at more than twice the speed of sound. It is about 60 feet in diameter and deploys in less than 0.5 seconds. These harsh conditions require it to be incredibly strong. The parachute we have developed and tested so is the biggest and strongest supersonic parachute that has ever been built. What is a typical day at work like for you? It's hard to know what I'm going to be working on past a week or two. Tasks change priority and things come up all the time that you have to be able to adapt to. I would say though it's about 80 percent desk work and 20 percent field work, which is nice. I got to go to the largest wind tunnel in the world and see our parachute deployed under rigorous test conditions. After the test was over, the wind speed was lowered to about 20 miles per hour and we were allowed to walk around the tunnel with the parachute inflated. It was by far the most amazing and spectacular thing I have ever seen in my life. To learn more about the Mars 2020 mission, visit Jul 18, 2019

  • Alumna's Research Suggests That Early Church Women Served As Clergy

    College of Arts and Sciences graduate Ally Kateusz's research is presented in the National Catholic Reporter.
    Ally Kateusz has found artifacts that depict women at the church altar in "three of the most important churches in Christendom." Jul 15, 2019

  • KU Partners with UMKC Professors to Launch $1.4 Million Project for Women Exiting Prison

    Topeka Capital-Journal reports on partnership between KU and UMKC Computing and Engineering professors.
    A research team led by a KU faculty member earned a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation to improve technology skills of women leaving prison and hungry for skills useful in landing a job or continuing their education. The KU team will collaborate with Baek-Young Choi and Sejun Song, associate professors in the School of Computing and Engineering. Jul 11, 2019

  • Volcano Field Research Leads Students To An Explosion of Opportunities

    NPR showcases UMKC geosciences undergrads who attended summer workshop
    Summer can be a busy time for university faculty members, especially field scientists. They often spend weeks getting up close and personal with their chosen research subjects. As an assistant professor in the UMKC Department of Geosciences, Alison Graettinger is a big proponent of taking students into the field to get this firsthand experience. Last summer, she took several students to study volcanic eruption simulations in Buffalo, New York. Volcanoes can be difficult and often dangerous test subjects. The simulation workshop was an exciting opportunity for volcanologists to get together and study rapid-fire eruptions in a safe environment for the first time. A recent article by NPR documented the exciting work that took place at this workshop. Accompanying Graettinger were undergraduate students Julia Boyd and Sierra McCollum as well as graduate student Kadie Bennis. So what do students get to do in the field and why is it important for students to have these experiences? At the simulation workshop, both Boyd and McCollum performed meaningful analysis. Boyd measured the shape of the craters created by the explosions because it can be used to better understand explosion histories. McCollum participated in an experiment with re-melted lava to research the kinds of particles formed during eruptions. “Field experiences can shape a student’s future career. Exposing students to different, world class scientists all conducting different research allows students to see just how open their options are. It blows their mind how much is out there.” -Alison Graettinger   Upcoming field experiments are allowing students Alex Bearden and Joseph Nolan to build off previous student work. Bearden and Nolan have plans to travel to Diamond Craters in Oregon to conduct a drone study of crater sizes. Their work will directly benefit from the measurement techniques Boyd analyzed at the simulation workshop. Last year, another student, Emma Reynolds, traveled to Idaho to study particles ejected in a 4-million-year-old explosion. Reynolds is another student taking part in field research with Graettinger this summer.  At field camp, Graettinger gives students a broad introduction to geology, allowing them to experience many different facets of geological research. Adding to the student experience is learning how immersive field research is and how different that is from what students experience in a classroom. Graettinger said a typical day out in the field includes a full day of hands-on work, which then becomes the main topic of discussion over dinner. The ever-present focus on research allows more time for questions and provides an environment of constant discovery and learning. “Field experiences can shape a student’s future career,” Graettinger said. “Exposing students to different, world class scientists all conducting different research allows students to see just how open their options are. It blows their mind how much is out there.”  One of Graettinger’s most valuable pieces of advice is to sample everything. She thinks it is important that students get the opportunity to experience new things and meet people that they wouldn’t otherwise meet in their classrooms, noting that these encounters can ultimately change their lives. Learn More About Student Research Opportunities Jul 09, 2019

  • Political Science Professor on the History of American Patriotism

    Max Skidmore on KCUR's Up To Date
    Curators' Distinguished Professor of political science and Thomas Jefferson Fellow, Max Skidmore, was on KCUR's Up To Date to discuss American patriotism through the years. Jul 08, 2019

  • Business and Communications Student Finds Success and LGBT Support at UMKC

    Trae Tucker has experienced connections through involvement and internships
    Get to know our people and you'll know what UMKC is all about. Trae Tucker, '20 Hometown: St. James, Missouri High School: St. James High School Degree programs: Business Management and Communications Why did you choose UMKC? I chose UMKC because it gave me a place where I could be my true self. In high school, when I hadn't come out of the closet yet. I wanted to be who I was. I looked up gay-friendly colleges in the U.S., and UMKC came up. I was like, hey, that's in Missouri! I think I found my home. Why did you choose your field of study? The reason I chose my field of studies is because my father owns a family business back in my hometown, and while growing up I knew that business was just something I gravitate towards. And I love talking to people, and I wanted to learn deeper on how to effectively have good conversations that I can implement into my field of work. What do you like about the business and communications programs? Hands down the connections that you can establish through the Bloch School are profound. However, with that being said, you have to be willing to put yourself out there and introduce yourself to those connections. The resources are there, but you have to willing to reach out to grasp the opportunities. As for the communication degree, it is funny, but the biggest benefit that I have had would be learning how to effectively listen because that is such a big factor in being a great communicator. I remember starting in the program and I was too much of an active extrovert to really listen when spoken to and I learned that you miss so much when you aren't effectively listening to the one speaking to you. My programs have inspired me to really reach for my goals and aspirations. I think that the environment you are in plays an extremely important role when getting your degree. If you aren't being told that you can reach your goals, you won't fully believe in yourself. The support you get in programs at UMKC is amazing and imperative when looking for a place to foster your ambitions and goals. Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself? Coming to college has opened my eyes to a more worldly view. College has also taught me to learn to be okay with entering into uncomfortable situations because it is in those moments when the most personal growth happens. For example, it isn't comfy to give a speech in front of hundreds of people, but after accepting and entering into that uncomfortable situation, I have grown and found a further belief in myself and what I can do and accomplish. What do you admire most at UMKC? I admire all of the amazing and loving people that I have met while in college. College is such a melting pot of different people with different views and I could not be more thankful for that. I am constantly being challenged on my views and what I believe in and a lot of the times it gives me a broader perspective on life and how people live in the world. I think that is such a valuable lesson to learn for any person both in and not in college. What extracurricular activities are you involved in at UMKC? I am involved in a range of things here at UMKC such as sitting as the president of the LGBT Affairs Council, formal chair for my fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon, resident assistant in Oak Street Hall, an ambassador for the Bloch School and intramurals here on campus: volleyball and basketball. I love all of these organizations and they all have played a part of making my college experience great! Do you have any scholarships? LGBT Leadership Scholarship: this award means the absolute most to me because it helps me feel welcomed and included in such a diverse community. It also gives others like me - a member of the LGBTQIA community - a chance to learn and enjoy college with less of a financial stress. Resident Life Assistant Scholarship: this is also a near and dear scholarship to me because it allows me to have free room/board and meal plan. Without that, it would be 100 times harder living at UMKC. Res Life is absolutely amazing, and I love working for them. Bloch Student Ambassador Scholarship: this is a great scholarship where I get to meet new and prospective students wanting to come to UMKC. The best part is I get to give my personal experience, and get to meet people from all over the United States. Have you had any internships? Yes, I have worked in New York City in TriBeCa with a PR firm called Bollare where I worked on the events team. The biggest thing that I learned while interning with Bollare was how to work effectively and efficiently. It is a very fast-paced environment, and it pushed me to new limits that I am extremely happy to have learned about myself. I also have interned in Los Angeles in Hollywood where I was a resident director for a company called Dream Careers. This is where we had students from around the world who wanted internships in L.A. My job was to help these students get acclimated into L.A. so they knew where the closest pharmacy, stores, etc. were. Also, if there were housing issues, I would directly assist in resolving those problems. We also took the students on different adventures around L.A. For example, going to a Dodgers baseball game and taking a weekend trip to Las Vegas. I learned a lot about myself at this internship, too. Specifically that age is just a number, and even if you are a younger person working in a "big boy/girl" position, if you are talented enough to do the job, then you can do it. What do you hope to take from your experiences at UMKC into your professional career? I hope overall I can take the things I have learned here, specifically how to work effectively in groups, and bring that into my professional career. Like it or not, we are moving more and more towards group work, and I have learned to love working in groups and how to communicate to have an effective group. Jul 05, 2019

  • 3 Steps to Launching an Undergraduate Research Project

    How to find the right research topic and support
    Research isn’t solely for faculty and graduate students. At UMKC, undergraduates have researched the evolution of galaxies, helped develop more environmentally-friendly formulas for concrete, and studied the effects of disrupted sleep on the stress levels of college students. UMKC encourages undergraduate students to conduct research as a key element of their bachelor’s degree program. It can play a critical role in gaining hands-on experience in your field of study, learning to think creatively and develop problem solving skills, gaining an understanding of research methods and ethics, and exploring potential careers. And as an undergraduate, you can do abroad, apply for undergraduate research and national fellowships, and earn academic credit for individual research and creative projects. Here’s a step-by-step guide to launching your undergraduate research project: 1. Decide on your research area of interest. What stimulates your curiosity? What do you enjoy reading and learning about? What questions do you have that don’t seem to have answers — yet? Look for faculty (see Step Two) who have explored similar topics or ideas, can help steer you in a productive direction and help you focus on something that is doable in one or two semesters of part-time research. “Don’t be afraid to research a topic you don’t fully understand,” says Joseph Allen, an experienced undergraduate researcher majoring in biology and chemistry. “As long as you go in with an open mindset and are willing to put in the work required to achieve understanding, who knows what fascinating things may result?” A good way to get a feel for undergraduate research is to explore EUReka! Courses (Experiences in Undergraduate Research). EUReka classes are offered in disciplines and departments from across the university. Students can search for EUReka classes in Pathway as an "attribute" of any section of a course. 2. Find a faculty mentor. If you know a faculty member with experience in your field of interest, send them an email or catch them during office hours. If you don't have someone in mind, browse this list of undergraduate research contacts for suggestions. You can also browse the undergraduate research database to find faculty who share your interests. It includes faculty profiles as well as more specific information about their research projects and artistic endeavors. “Find articles written by the faculty member you’re interested in, especially ones related to their current research, and thoroughly read them,” Allen advises. “It is so beneficial to walk into a conversation with a faculty member and be able to pull out copies of their articles, highlighted with notes in the margins, and ask questions about what they are working on.” 3. Ask for money to fund your research: Complete a SEARCH or SUROP application. SEARCH grants (Students Engaged in the Arts and Research) provide up to $1,250 in reimbursable research expenses undertaken during the academic year; SUROP grants (Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunity) provide students with a $2,000 tuition grant and cover reimbursable expenses (up to $1,250) for projects undertaken during the summer session. You can complete your SEARCH or SUROP application online. The extensive opportunities – and support – for undergraduate research really set UMKC apart. It’s up to you to take the initiative to make it happen. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, it’s a great way to add value to your undergraduate experience. Jul 05, 2019

  • Ask the Pharmacist: Managing Your Type 2 Diabetes and Side Effects

    Experienced Pharm.D. Alan Carter answer questions in Healthline about Type 2 Diabetes
    Alan Carter, Pharm.D. and 2019 UMKC School of Pharmacy Alumni Achievement Awardee, answers questions for Healthline about managing Type 2 Diabetes and side effects. Jul 03, 2019

  • LGBTQIA+ Programs and Resources at UMKC

    A guide to some of the ways we work to create an inclusive and affirming campus
    This introductory (and non-exhaustive) guide is just the beginning! Find more LGBTQIA+ resources and programs online, on social media, via email or stop by the Rainbow Lounge (more on that below!). Rainbow Lounge This is the official LGBTQIA resource space at UMKC. The Rainbow Lounge (located on the third floor of the Student Union) is intended as a welcoming space for students, regardless of sexual or gender diversity and expression. Affectionately referred to as our LGBTQIA living room, students can find literature, recreational opportunities and lounge space for, about and by the UMKC LGBTQIA student community. Students gather in the Rainbow Lounge, the official UMKC LGBTQIA resource space. Gender-Inclusive Housing Gender-inclusive housing is available in all UMKC residence halls. Students may request to live alone, with another person or a group. Preferred Name Policy UMKC acknowledges that many students use names other than their legal name to identify themselves. Although a chosen/preferred name doesn’t change your official name in educational records (financial aid, transcripts, etc.), it will be displayed in the Pathway student center, Pathway class roster and grade roster. Additionally, a preferred name may be used to change your student ID and displayed in other university maintained software applications such as Canvas or Moodle. 2019 UMKC Ally photo. Scholarships UMKC has a number of scholarship opportunities for LGBTQIA+ students, including our Empowerment Fund, created to support students who experience loss of financial support from their family after coming out. Other scholarships include: College of Arts and Sciences LGBTQIA Scholarship LGBTQIA Leadership Scholarship LGBTQIA Emergency Grant  Student Organizations Our student organizations reflect the interests of our students and include: Delta Lambda Phi LGBTQIA Health District Alliance Pride Alliance LGBTQIA Student Affairs Council UMKC School of Law OUTLaws UMKC Trans+ Additionally, be sure to check out upcoming events that help us reflect on the history and culture of LGBTQIA+ people, as well as highlighting current issues facing our communities, including LGBTQIA Pride Month, Lavender Graduation and the Pride Lecture Series.   Jul 02, 2019

  • Roos in Shakespeare in the Park

    Theatre alumni and students help produce the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival's 33rd production
    A recent In Kansas City article about the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival got us thinking: How many UMKC students and alumni have had a hand in productions over the festival’s 27 seasons? We reached out to Sidonie Garrett (B.L.A. '94), executive artistic director of the festival, to help us uncover the answer. Her response? More than 1,000 Roos have helped with the festival’s 33 productions. More specifically, she estimates there have been around 270 onstage actors and musicians and 735 offstage folks, from technical directors to choreographers. This year, for the first time, the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival’s production in the park is Shakespeare in Love, a play not written by the man himself but, instead, a fictional account of him writing Romeo and Juliet. We were lucky enough to go behind the scenes and shadow a few alumni to see what goes into putting on the festival’s newest and biggest production to date. If you’ve attended Shakespeare in the park this year, you’ve likely passed by Katherine Gehrlein (pictured left, M.F.A. ’17), director of operations and community relations, and Mariah Roady (B.F.A. ’15), development and marketing associate. The two work together to ensure everyone is set before the gates open. They serve as run-of-house managers for the nearly 2,000 guests that come to see the play on any given night. Photo by Brandon Parigo. Petey McGee (B.A. '17) plays Nol, Benvolio and Samson in Shakespeare in Love. Photo courtesy of Heart of America Shakespeare Festival. Colin Fowler (pictured right, M.F.A. '19), assistant stage manager, readies the set by making a bed on the second level with production assistant Joy Covington. Photo by Brandon Parigo. Afton Earp (M.F.A. '17), production stage manager, sets up her binder which includes lighting and sound cues for the entire performance. Photo by Brandon Parigo. Actors Marianne McKenzie (pictured left, B.A. '15) and Matthew McAndrews, who received his theatre and law degrees from UMKC in 2012 and 2018, respectively. Photo courtesy of Heart of America Shakespeare Festival. See Shakespeare in Love through July 7 at Southmoreland Park! More information on the play Jul 01, 2019

  • Democratic Debates Recap with Economics Professor

    Linwood Tauheed talks with Sputnik International
    On this episode of The Critical Hour, Wilmer Leon is joined by Daniel Lazare, journalist and author and Linwood Tauheed, associate professor of economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City as they discuss the most recent democratic debates. Jun 29, 2019

  • Moments in KC history that set the stage for Stonewall

    Stuart Hinds talks with KCTV5 about the momentum building to the event
    On the anniversary of the Stonewall event, a pivotal moment in LGBTQ+ history, Stuart Hinds shared some of our region’s history and how it helped set the stage. KCTV5 interviewed him after he spoke at Unity Temple at the anniversary event. Hinds is the curator of special collections and archives at UMKC Libraries, which includes the Gay and Lesbian Archives of Mid-America. The mission of GLAMA is to collect, preserve, and make accessible the materials that reflect the histories of the LGBT communities of the Kansas City region. Jun 29, 2019

  • Vaccine Opposition isn’t the Reason Thousands of Kansans Miss Shots

    Professor Barbara Pahud talks about vaccines with KCUR
    Researchers peg those who reject all vaccines based on religion or other beliefs at just 1 to 3 % of the population, says Barbara Pahud, M.D., a specialist in infectious diseases at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City and an associate professor at University of Missouri-Kansas City. She was interviewed by KCUR for the story. Jun 28, 2019

  • New UMKC Vice Chancellor for Research Shares Vision for Bright Future

    Yusheng (Chris) Liu’s career provides unique experience for research success
    Following a national search, the University of Missouri-Kansas City has named Yusheng (Chris) Liu, Ph.D. as its new Vice Chancellor for Research. Liu brings more than 20 years of experience in working for public research universities as an educator and chief research officer, and he also served as a program director at the National Science Foundation, based out of the Washington, D.C., area. He starts Aug. 1 in his new role at UMKC. “With his stellar blend of leading research activity at a university, background in leadership at a federal research agency and experience as a faculty member and researcher, we are thrilled to welcome Dr. Liu to UMKC,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “He should be able to make  an immediate impact in the top-priority work of expanding our research capabilities and elevating the research enterprise at UMKC.” “I truly believe in the power of science, innovation, entrepreneurship, education and policy to change the world,” Liu said. UMKC is the only public research university in greater Kansas City, and works in partnership with the community to solve its most important challenges through research-infused teaching, service and discovery activities. Liu will lead the way for UMKC to help accomplish aggressive research goals in science, technology and the humanities. The strategic plan includes a goal to double annual research grants from $29.2 million in 2018 to $60 million by 2028. “UMKC research makes a significant impact, and we look forward to working with Dr. Liu in growing our initiatives and taking our work to an even higher level,” said UMKC Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Barbara Bichelmeyer. “His leadership will infuse our discovery enterprise with renewed energy and an expanded scope that will benefit our students, faculty, staff and our community.” Liu most recently served as associate vice president for research at California State University, Fullerton, the largest of the 23 campuses in the Cal State system, where he was a tenured professor. He managed operations for the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects, working closely with research center directors, faculty, deans, chairs and community business partners to promote research and innovation. In addition, Liu administered two annual grants programs to enhance both STEM and non-STEM research, teaching and creative activities. “I truly believe in the power of science, innovation, entrepreneurship, education and policy to change the world,” Liu said. “UMKC, with its dynamic new chancellor and outstanding faculty and staff, has the potential to become a global resource for addressing our most significant challenges.”   Jun 27, 2019

  • Hallmark Names UMKC Alum as Next President and CEO

    Mike Perry to take leadership of KC-based company
    For only the second time in the company’s history, it will be led by someone not part of the founding family. Perry has been with Hallmark for 30 years, having previously served as the president of Hallmark Greetings and the president and CEO of Crayola, part of Hallmark’s portfolio of businesses. The story was covered by the Kansas City Star and the Kansas City Business Journal. Jun 26, 2019

  • Roo Qualifies for Olympic Marathon Trials

    Quinlan Moll qualifies at race in Minnesota
    Next year, we could very well see a former UMKC distance runner competing on the world stage for Team USA. Fox4KC interviewed Quinlan Moll, who recently qualified for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. He is a former Roo athlete and is currently studying law at UMKC and working at a metro law firm. UMKC Athletics also talked to Moll about this major achievement: "Crossing the finish line was a pretty amazing feeling, I was tired from the race but also pumped up from adrenaline and excitement. It was a special moment, so I tried to just soak it in."  Jun 26, 2019

  • Justice Horn featured in Outsports

    UMKC SGA president talks about career aspirations and coming out in college
    Justice Horn describes himself as “African American, Caucasian, Polynesian and Native American, Christian and openly gay.” The student body president of the University of Missouri-Kansas City first gained prominence coming out as an openly gay wrestler at his previous college, Northern State University in South Dakota. Outsports interviewed Horn about his experiences as an LGBTQ+ athlete as well as his career aspirations. Jun 26, 2019

  • The 3 Big Things You Need To Know About Dorm Life

    Tips for how to make the most of campus living
    After living in residence halls for most of my years at UMKC, I can say without hesitation that dorm life creates a happy college experience. That said, here are a few tips to help you make the most of life on campus. 1. Take advantage of the convenience. My car doesn’t leave the parking lot for week-long stretches. I can walk to classes within minutes. The same goes for the dining hall, restaurants, coffee shops and grocery store. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is a block away. So is the Country Club Plaza for shopping. Or if I want to get to work, I can jump on a bus – there’s a RideKC stop less than a 5-minute walk away. If I want to get together with friends, they’re in the room next to mine, down the hall, on another floor or in a nearby building. 2. Handle conflicts respectfully. One of the challenges of living in a residence hall is having to juggle other people’s schedules, especially when they shower and sleep. Yes, you’re living in close quarters with people, so there are bound to be things that get on your nerves or you might irritate others yourself. This is one of your first mini adult life lessons that prepare you for life in the real world, in the workplace with colleagues. So don’t do a passive-aggressive thing like leave a complaint on a sticky note. Instead, have a face-to-face conversation. Nearly every time, this approach will help resolve issues peacefully without letting bad feelings fester and linger. 3. Savor this time in your life. Never again will you get to live with your best friends in one place. The fun times of experiencing college together before you enter your post-graduation career are gifts each day. Life is all about experiences. Research shows that relationships are the key driver of happiness, and strong, lifelong relationships form in the dorm. Don’t take these moments for granted. Jun 24, 2019

  • Why Kansas City is a Great Place to Start Your Career

    And UMKC is located in the heart of it all
    Kansas City has it all, and offers many opportunities in a variety of fields. These are just a few of the reasons why KC is a top place to kick off your career.   1. World-class businesses call Kansas City home. Recognized corporations and organizations call KC their home. Children’s Mercy is one of the best-known hospitals in the Midwest and across the U.S. Other big names like Garmin, Sprint, Burns & McDonnell, among others, operate worldwide and have their headquarters in the Kansas City area. These companies offer great opportunities and help allow you to develop your career in any field you choose. Most of them offer internships that are great options to complement your studies at UMKC. 2. You can get experience while completing your degree. Being in the heart of a city is amazing! I didn’t realize how cool it was until I started looking for my first internship. There are so many fields you can look into, and so many companies you can work for. If you start early on getting internship experience, you can easily change fields or companies every semester. While being part of the Bloch School of Management, I have had great opportunities and growth while completing internships. Then during your senior year, some students have the opportunity to work a part-time job and turn it into a full-time job right after graduation. Being in a big city is also great to build a network. It sounds cliché, but nowadays it is all about the connections you are able to build with people around you. 3. Kansas City is growing … fast! I have been in Kansas City for four years now, and there is a huge difference between Kansas City now and the one I met four years ago. The Streetcar is one of the biggest projects that has influenced the growth. It’s a great way to connect the city, and it is also great for tourists. Construction will begin soon to extend the Streetcar from the Crossroads Arts District to UMKC. In addition, Kansas City International Airport has begun construction on a major, four-year renovation. It will be a one-terminal airport that will serve as a big hub in the Midwest. Projects like these are bringing lots of new employment opportunities to the city. More companies are moving in, not to mention all the successful startups emerging. Check out Startland News for some of the top startups in Kansas City.   Jun 24, 2019

  • Why It's OK To Have An Undecided Major

    And how University College can help you find the right fit
    Deciding a major is a big decision, and there’s no harm in taking your time. Here’s why it’s ok to leave that major undecided. You might change your mind. Research shows that around 30% of students will change their major within the first three years of college. That means time and money lost. “I came into fall semester of freshman year planning on majoring in computer science … I assumed that it would be something I would enjoy because I like technology and I like working with computers,” says Jennifer Rangel, sophomore. “I later learned that it was something I actually really disliked, and realized that I solely chose that major because I was too scared to go into a university undecided.” Jennifer came to this realization while in University College (UCollege), which allows students at UMKC to explore their interests among the 100+ majors, emphasis areas and minors and then transition into academic units with a plan for graduating. "I have been able to learn more about myself to realize and understand that going the business route with design is something that I would be more interested in." — Jennifer Rangel It's a good opportunity to learn more about yourself. Exploring your interests, pinpointing your skills and considering different careers offers options for finding a major (and career) that you’ll enjoy and excel at. Besides, isn’t college is a time for personal growth? “[UCollege] allows you to take your interests, your dislikes, your learning style and many other things into account when you are thinking about your career,” Jennifer says. “I enjoy graphic design and the creativity that comes along with it. And while I have thought about studying graphic design in art school, through UCollege, I have been able to learn more about myself to realize and understand that going the business route with design is something that I would be more interested in.” Students in UCollege choose one of four mega majors and participate in a journey career assessment and seminar series with faculty and advising staff. No judgment. Don’t let having an undecided major scare you. There are a lot of career and major options out there. Research fields that you’re interested in, learn more about majors offered and when you’re ready, make the choice you feel is right for you. Jun 24, 2019

  • UMKC Professor Inspires Student to Finish College and Keep Learning

    Massimiliano Vitiello’s interesting history class was the turning point for Jordon Fanciullo
    The heart of UMKC is our campus community. With small class sizes and lots of opportunities, it’s easy to develop student mentorship teams. And these rich relationships—our Dynamic Duos—are some of our best success stories. Jordon Fanciullo came to UMKC as a transfer with two demoralizing college experiences behind her. A first-generation college student, she commuted 30 minutes from home in Lee’s Summit and worked to pay for costs not covered by scholarships. She was beginning to think that higher education was beyond her abilities. But a history professor in a night class that she didn’t even want to be in flipped her perception of herself.  “He fostered an environment of concern and care that made it so I did more than survive; I have thrived at UMKC.” -Jordon Fanciullo “After every test I turned in, after every paper I wrote, he would tell me, ‘You’re really good at history, have you ever thought about being a historian? You have some serious potential in this,’ ” Fanciullo says. “Dr. Massimiliano Vitiello saw something in me that I didn’t see,” Fanciullo says. “He fostered an environment of concern and care that made it so I did more than survive; I have thrived at UMKC.” With Vitiello’s mentorship, Fanciullo graduated Magna Cum Laude in May 2019 as an Honor Scholar. Vitiello is a UMKC 2018 Honoree for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Researchers, Scholars, and Artists for his work with Fanciullo and other students. “Jordon developed a strong sense of confidence,” Vitiello says. “She is absolutely growing as a young scholar with great potential and great intellectual curiosity.” Vitiello, an associate professor who specializes in ancient history and late antiquity, holds a Royall Distinguished Professorship within the College of Arts and Sciences. The night class Fanciullo took with him was European History to 1600. Vitiello’s love of ancient history ignited a fire in Fanciullo. “When somebody’s passionate about what they’re teaching it’s easy for you to get passionate about it,” Fanciullo says. She switched majors from criminal justice to history and languages and literatures and dug into the study of antiquity. Vitiello helped her win a SEARCH grant to do undergraduate research, which took her to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Fanciullo’s research won a Prize of Distinction at the UMKC Symposium of Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship. “Mentoring students has been extremely satisfying for me because I have seen my students go on to develop their work in interesting ways, as Jordon has.” -Massimiliano Vitiello “I love being able to share my love of history with my students,” Vitiello says.  “It is wonderful to see students grow and develop their own thoughts and interpretations as a result of the combination of their passion and research. “Mentoring students has been extremely satisfying for me because I have seen my students go on to develop their work in interesting ways, as Jordon has,” he says. Fanciullo attributes her success to the confidence Vitiello instilled in her. “He would stay after class, respond to email after email, and calm every self-deprecating worry,” she says. “He’s done so much for me. He has set me up for success.” Vitiello didn’t know Fanciullo’s struggles as a first-generation and transfer student. Until she nominated him for the mentor award, he had no idea how important his mentorship was to her. But he could see her change before his eyes. “It has been a privilege to witness her finding her path and developing her confidence with her work,” he says. “When somebody’s passionate about what they’re teaching, it’s easy for you to get passionate about it.” -Jordon Fanciullo   Jun 24, 2019

  • College Budgeting 101

    Your guide to smart financial planning
    Oh, the joys of coming to college! You’ve been waiting for this time to experience what this "adulting" business is all about. For many students, college is the first time you’ll be on your own. That means you’ll be making your own decisions — including financial ones — without your parents’ input. Here are a few tips to help you navigate the college budgeting landscape and avoid common pitfalls. Managing College Costs Students often forget that the cost of college is more than just tuition and books. You’re going to need notebooks for class, a new laptop, dorm decorations, a parking pass and more. Keep track of your expenses so that you know what’s coming up. It’s best to try to plan for everything and limit the amount of surprises that may surface. That way you have the funds to cover any expenses your financial aid does not. If your class schedule allows, work part-time when you’re in college. Especially, if you can land a job on or near campus. If you need something to wear to your interview, check out the Professional Wardrobe Program for interview and professional attire. Student discounts are too good to pass up! There are a variety of spots both on campus and around town that offer student discounts. You can also use Roo Bucks at select off-campus locations, so don’t lose your ID. It can come in handy. Budgeting and Saving If you learn to budget now, you’ll be set for the future. Budgeting keeps manage your finances and helps guide your spending.  Keep a track record of your spending patterns, and do a monthly assessment of what you’re spending money on so you can make adjustments accordingly. It’s better to overestimate your expenses and underestimate your income. This helps create some cushion so you’ll always have a little left over after bills and other obligations. If you get a financial aid refund, don’t spend it. Put it back into your savings account for a rainy day. Always comparison shop so that you can get the best prices and best value. There are apps on your phone that will price compare for you. Credit Cards If you use them wisely, credit cards can actually help you build up your credit. but think carefully before you decide to apply for one and think carefully before you swipe. Keep these things in mind if you’re looking to apply for a credit card: Get one card with a low APR rate. Never spend more than you can afford to pay back. Keep track of your expenses.  Think before you use. Do you really have to charge it or would another payment method work just as well?  If you get a credit card offer in the mail, don’t feel obligated to accept it. Budget documents are living and should be constantly reevaluated, so if things change over time, it’s easy to make an update. If you need help getting started, visit the Office of Financial Aid for additional tools and resources you can use to start your journey toward financial wellness. Jun 24, 2019

  • UM System Celebrates the Launch of NextGen Precision Health Initiative

    The initiative of all four universities will benefit Missourians through advances in medical science discoveries, treatments and economic growth
    University of Missouri System leaders and state and national officials broke ground June 21 on the NextGen Precision Health Institute at the University of Missouri-Columbia, a central facility supporting a systemwide precision health initiative. The event also served as an official launch for the NextGen Precision Health Initiative, which harnesses and supports the research activities of the system’s four universities and health system. The initiative is expected to accelerate medical breakthroughs for patients in Missouri and beyond, increase collaboration among UM scientists and industry partners, attract research funding, generate jobs and train a new generation of health-care scientists and practitioners who will help Missouri address the health-care needs of the future. “UMKC will harness its deep strengths in data science and bioinformatics to collaborate with the NextGen Precision Health Initiative. The outcomes research UMKC is leading is transforming lives, and transformation through research is exactly what this initiative plans to deliver.” -Chancellor Mauli Agrawal “Today is an exciting day not only for the University of Missouri System and our four universities, but also for the state of Missouri as a whole,” President Mun Choi said. “The NextGen Precision Health Initiative will help us translate fundamental research from laboratories to effective treatments and devices, which will benefit all Missourians as well as the rest of the world. As the boldest and most innovative investment in our history, this initiative and facility will stand as enduring symbols of our commitment to the state of Missouri and will advance medical science and our highly skilled workforce for generations to come.” The approximately 265,000-square-foot, five-story precision health facility will provide space for more than 60 principal investigators, about half of whom will be newly recruited in areas such as engineering, medicine, veterinary medicine, animal sciences and arts and science. It will be located on the MU campus near University Hospital at the northwest corner of Hospital Drive and Virginia Avenue. University administrators, students, faculty and staff as well as dignitaries such as U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt and Missouri Sen. Caleb Rowden attended the groundbreaking. “Precision medicine has the potential to completely transform health care delivery in this country. The NextGen Precision Health Initiative will accelerate progress toward new medical breakthroughs at this pivotal time in the medical research space,” Blunt said. “One of my top priorities in Congress has been establishing a pattern of sustained, increased federal investment in medical research. I’m proud to see Missouri become home to this brand new facility where students will have the opportunity to work alongside experts and researchers developing new treatments for the most costly and deadly diseases.” The event also featured MU Chancellor Alexander N. Cartwright, University of Missouri-Kansas City Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal, Missouri University of Science and Technology Interim Chancellor Christopher G. Maples and University of Missouri-St. Louis Chancellor Thomas F. George. “Missouri’s flagship university — home to the nation’s most powerful university research reactor and 13 schools and colleges across the arts, sciences and humanities — is excited and poised to bring our comprehensive breadth of expertise across disciplines to this innovative research facility,” Cartwright said. “Cross-discipline research space of this magnitude is rare and will help us tackle grand challenges like treatments for cancer and heart disease. This important work will undoubtedly attract federal and industry funding, and bolster MU’s role among America’s leading research institutions while contributing to the economic development of our region and state.” The initiative will involve every UM university and be especially impactful for students, who can learn side-by-side with leading researchers. “The University of Missouri-Kansas City will harness its deep strengths in data science and bioinformatics to collaborate with the NextGen Precision Health Initiative,” Agrawal said. “The outcomes research UMKC is leading is transforming lives, and transformation through research is exactly what this initiative plans to deliver.” At Missouri S&T, student Carley Hamann is already engaged in experiential learning at the construction site. The senior in mechanical engineering plans to pursue a career in construction and is interning with The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company over the summer, which is part of the NextGen project team. The $220.8 million facility is the UM System’s top capital priority and is funded through a combination of private and corporate support, contributions from MU and the UM System and the state of Missouri. In FY20, which begins July 1, the state has designated $10 million for the institute.  “I am grateful to the people of Missouri and our elected leaders for understanding the power of this investment,” UM Board of Curators Chair Jon Sundvold said. “I am confident the NextGen Precision Health Initiative will foster breakthroughs that can improve the lives of those in our state and beyond — both improving health care and bringing jobs to our state.” Elizabeth Loboa, vice chancellor for strategic partnerships and dean of engineering, has served as a leader of the project. “The NextGen Precision Health Initiative will feature shared facilities that will foster partnerships among researchers of different disciplines and from different organizations and will help us emerge as a global leader in biomedical research,” Loboa said. “It will also greatly enhance our ability to recruit and retain the most talented researchers.” Last year, an independent study found that the UM System and its four campuses have a $5.4 billion economic impact on the state of Missouri through direct employment, job creation and research funding. The development of the NextGen Precision Health Institute is expected to add to that figure significantly as a catalyst for additional economic growth, said Mark McIntosh, another key leader of the project and vice president for research and economic development at the UM System and vice chancellor for research and economic development at MU. “This facility will play a crucial role in MU’s future as a transformational leader in improving health by taking advantage of our longstanding culture of multidisciplinary research and integrating biomedical research under one roof,” McIntosh said. “Collaborators will include the best researchers from around the country, including our best and brightest from colleges and schools across the UM System, who will work together to conduct leading-edge research that improves our quality of life.” James Abbey, senior director for strategic innovation for the UM System and MU, serves as project manager for the facility while Burns & McDonnell has been hired to do detail programming, equipment planning, building and site design. The expected completion date for the facility is Oct. 19, 2021. The announcement was also covered by Health IT Analytics.  Jun 21, 2019

  • English Professor Gives Insights on Asian American Rom-Com

    Anthony Sze-Fai Shu interviewed on KCUR’s Central Standard
    Associate English Professor Anthony Sze-Fai Shu, was a guest on Central Standard for a panel discussion on Always Be My Maybe, a new Asian American romance-comedy movie. Jun 20, 2019

  • Student Government President Talks Career and Life

    Justice Horn interviewed for The Examiner
    The Examiner interviewed Justice Horn on the fast track to a political career he hopes will one day find him sitting in the Missouri governor’s mansion. After enrolling at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in January, Horn was voted the Student Government Association president, where he works with 423 different organizations and oversees a budget of $1.9 million. Jun 20, 2019

  • UMKC Athletics to Return to Summit League

    Athletic Director Brandon Martin talks about the benefits
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City has accepted an invitation to return to the Summit League. The story ran in several media outlets, including: KSHB and Kansas City Star. Jun 20, 2019

  • UMKC Athletics Rejoins Summit League

    Move will mean closer geographic competition, significant cost savings
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City has accepted an invitation to rejoin the Summit League. UMKC Athletics will begin play in the Summit League during the next athletic year, effective July 1, 2020. UMKC has notified the Western Athletic Conference of its intention to withdraw from that conference, effective June 30, 2020, after seven years in the league. The Summit League will bring UMKC back into the orbit of a conference with teams mostly from the Midwest. The Summit League has a 36-year history of Division I athletics and has produced 12 NCAA champions. UMKC becomes the 10th member of the Summit League in 2020-21, joining University of Denver; Purdue University Fort Wayne; University of North Dakota; North Dakota State University; University of Nebraska Omaha; Oral Roberts University; University of South Dakota; South Dakota State University; and Western Illinois University. “We’re thrilled to have the UMKC Roos back in the Summit League,” said Summit League Commissioner Tom Douple. “We are looking forward to the 2020-21 season.” “We’re thankful to the WAC and their commitment to Division I excellence. We accepted the invitation to return to the Summit League because, after careful review, we believe it will help us achieve our goals for UMKC Athletics,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal, Ph.D. “Under the leadership of Athletics Director Brandon Martin, we are elevating UMKC Athletics and creating a fan experience that is more engaging for our students and our community. A move to the Summit League will support those goals.” The move will also help with another priority — streamlining the budget of Division I athletics. UMKC Athletics Director Brandon Martin, Ph.D., says that a move to the Summit League will save significant costs. Martin said the move, coupled with facility improvements at Swinney Center where basketball and volleyball games are played, will benefit the campus and the Kansas City community. “These changes are about competitive excellence, positioning our student-athletes and teams to win conference and NCAA post-season championships,” Martin said. “This also will help inspire our Roo Nation, elevating the fan experience, creating rivalries and partnerships that make games not only competitive but fun and exciting. This, coupled with fiscal savings, is a win-win.” At its meeting Thursday in Columbia, the University of Missouri Board of Curators approved the move to the Summit League. “Athletics is an important part of the college experience and we support the vision of UMKC to elevate its competitiveness, support its student-athletes and further engage the campus community while creating a sound fiscal foundation,” said Jon Sundvold, chair of the Board of Curators. “It’s an exciting time for the university.” “We’re thrilled to have the UMKC Roos back in the Summit League,” said Summit League Commissioner Tom Douple. “We are looking forward to the 2020-21 season.” Jun 20, 2019

  • Professor Interviewed on Ethical and Constitutional Questions Surrounding Abortion

    Edward Cantu interviewed on KCUR’s Up to Date
    University of Missouri-Kansas City Professor of Law Edward Cantu was a guest on KCUR’s Up to Date. He and another professor discussed the ethics of granting rights to a fetus, and the legality of limiting a woman's right to privacy.  Jun 19, 2019

  • UMKC Alum Managed Quinton Lucas’ Mayoral Campaign

    John Stamm interviewed on Fox4KC about successful campaign
    As campaign manager, the 28-year-old John Stamm had a direct hand in everything including fundraising, advertising, debate preparations and getting out the vote, among other responsibilities. He talked with Fox4KC about his role, which was a first for the UMKC graduate who majored in business and philosophy. Jun 19, 2019