News Archives

  • UMKC Recognizes Outstanding Alumni at the 2023 Awards Celebration

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

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

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

  • UMKC Music Composition and English Professors Win Fulbright Honors

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

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

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

  • UMKC Medical Students Celebrate Match Day

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

  • UMKC Pharmacy Students Study Abroad in Belize

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

  • Costume Design Program Named Among Top 10 in the Country

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

  • Seven Things You Need to Know About Clancy Martin

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

  • UMKC Women’s Council Supports Graduate Scholars

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

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

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

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

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

  • UMKC Pays Tribute to Trailblazing Leader in Diversity

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

  • Philosophy Professor, Founder of Honors Program, Celebrated

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

  • Pete Buttigieg Visits UMKC To Announce $10 Million Grant

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

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

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

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

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

  • Deep-rooted KC Family Includes Generations of Roo Alumni

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

  • Celebrating the 2023 TAASU Freedom Breakfast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • How This Freshman Made Key Career Contacts in First Semester

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

  • 5 Questions with Chiefs Philanthropy and Community Programming Coordinator

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

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

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

  • Jazz Studies Professor Featured on Grammy-Nominated Album

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

  • Championing Evidence-Based Dentistry to Students

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • UMKC Online Nursing Program Ranked Among Best for Veterans

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

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

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

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

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

  • Judge Steve Leben Named Stripp Professor of Law

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

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

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

  • UMKC Celebrates a Champion of Medical Education

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

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

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

  • Donation Process During UMKC Campus Closure

    Here’s how to give
    While the UMKC campus is closed during Winter Break, it’s still easy to make a year-end gift by observing the following guidelines. UMKC offices will be closed Monday, Dec. 26 through Monday, Jan. 2. All gifts must hit UMKC Foundation accounts by Dec. 31 to receive tax credit for the 2022 calendar year. Checks and cash need to be postmarked on or before Dec. 31. Credit card and stock gifts must hit the UMKC Foundation accounts by Dec. 31 to receive tax-credit for the 2022 calendar year. Checks and cash need to be postmarked on or before Dec. 31. The date UMKC receives and processes checks and cash from the mail has NO impact on a donor’s taxable year contributions. The “gift date” for the IRS is the date the donor relinquished control, not the date the gift is processed. Availability and Contacts The Office of Gift Processing will be available Friday Dec. 30 from 8 a.m. to noon to accept year-end gifts. The Office of Gift Processing will be closed during the remainder of winter break and will re-open with regular business hours on Tuesday, Jan. 3. The UMKC Foundation Office will be closed during winter break. A few staff will be on rotation remotely during the period. Should you have any inquiries during that time, please call 816-235-5778 and someone will return your call. For any stock gifts or wire transfers, please contact Tram Nguyen at for the transfer form and DTC instructions. Stock gifts must be received into the account on or before Dec. 31 in order to be reflected in 2022 tax period, per the IRS. Inquiries about all other year-end gifts can be directed to Sara Hampton at 816-235-5329 or via email to The Office of Gift Processing will also be taking calls at 816-235-1566 during the office hours listed above. Gift Timing Checks must be received in the Gift Processing office by Friday, , Jan. 13, 2023, in an envelope postmarked on or prior to Dec. 31, 2022, to be credited in the 2022 tax year. Gifts received after that date will not automatically be included in processing for the annual tax receipt. If the envelope received is postmarked after Dec. 31, it will be counted as a 2023 gift.Donors should send their checks to the address below: UMKC Office of Gift Processing 112 Administrative Center 5115 Oak Street Kansas City, MO 64112 Stock or Mutual Funds – Please contact Tram Nguyen at   for the transfer form and DTC instructions. Stock gifts must be received into the account on or before Dec. 31 in order to be reflected in 2022 tax period, per the IRS. In order to liquidate the stock gift, it is required to provide the donor’s name, number of shares, security, expected date of transfer and area for where the gift is intended. This information can be completed on the transfer form or sent via email. Stock gifts will not be liquidated until confirmation of this information is received. Mutual funds take an additional 3-5+ business days before posting to our account. Please advise your donors to have their brokers initiate any mutual fund transfers no later than Dec. 20. Regular equity stock takes 24 hours to post to our account. Credit card transactions must be received by the Office of Gift Processing by noon Dec. 31 to run that day and count as a year-end gift. Credit card gifts will be accepted through the online UMKC Foundation website until midnight on Dec. 31 and will be reflected as a 2022 gift. Any online credit card gifts received after midnight Dec. 31st will be dated in January.Gifts received after hours may be deposited in the night deposit box located beside the Cashiers Office at Admin Center 112 and will be processed the following business day. Credit card gifts received through the lockbox will be dated the following business day.Pursuant to Curators Rules 208 and 212, all gifts should be transferred, with original documentation (including postmarked envelopes), to the Gift Processing Office within 24 hours of their arrival to any school, college or department. Additional Reference Information Dec 23, 2022

  • Med Students Organize a Big Gift from Santa

    Parade of exotic cars delivers toys and gifts to Children’s Mercy-Kansas City Hospital
    Santa drives a Lamborghini. A Ferrari. Take your pick of sports cars, police cars and fire trucks, too. That was the case on December 11 when a couple of UMKC School of Medicine students who also happen to be car enthusiasts organized Operation Santa’s Sleigh, a parade of more than 30 exotic cars with police and fire department escort that delivered nearly $11,000 of toys and gifts to Children’s Mercy-Kansas City Hospital. “Many kids get sick and find themselves in the hospital during the winter holidays, which is supposed to be one of the happiest times of the year,” said UMKC medical student Rohan Chakrabarty. “We work closely with Children’s Mercy Hospital, so we chose to partner with them in a toy-drive project with a car-enthusiast twist.” Chakrabarty and classmate Dylan Hailey are self-described car fanatics. Earlier this year the two decided to put their passion for cars to work organizing car shows and related charity events to benefit causes related to health care. The pair organized their first event, a car show with the theme Cars Beyond the Boulevard, last May to benefit Care Beyond the Boulevard, a mobile medical clinic that serves the homeless and poverty stricken in downtown Kansas City. With the help of some of Kansas City’s leading car clubs, their show drew nearly 300 cars and raised more than $12,000 for the clinic. “We had some goals in mind about how many cars we wanted and how much money we wanted to raise and we smashed all of them,” Hailey said. “It was awesome. We were just so stoked by how successful it was.” It was enough that the pair went a step further in September, working with a lawyer the pair created their own non-profit organization. The 0-to-60 Foundation partners with some of Kansas City’s top car clubs, such as KC Exotics & Supercar Club and the Dream Team Car Club KC, to organize charity events. “They have been super welcoming of us and, honestly, they really have become our friends and the community people we can turn to if we have questions about things,” Chakrabarty said. “We just used our passion and started networking with a bunch of these people. Obviously, they have a shared passion with us with cars and they liked hearing our story.” Chakrabarty and Hailey put together an executive board for the 0-to-60 Foundation and with the help of medical students Lara Makhoul, Shelby Soukup and Isabella Boedefeld and others, assembled teams of nearly 50 students from throughout the UMKC community to help the cause. The next idea was to create one big event that anyone – car enthusiast or not – could get involved with. That became Operation Santa’s Sleigh. Reaching out to local companies and doing fundraisers, the foundation raised $10,832 dollars. More than 20 UMKC students and car club members then met to participate in two toy buying events at local Target stores. The first event filled more than 12 shopping carts with purchases. The group also reached out to the Kansas City police and fire departments, which agreed to get involved and provide an escort for an exotic car parade that totaled nearly 50 vehicles from Kansas City’s World War I Memorial to Children’s Mercy to deliver the toys. Many of those went to the hospital’s Snowflake Shop, which will allow families and patients to pick up gifts at no cost. Others will go to units throughout the hospital that can be used communally, Chakrabarty said. “I can’t imagine being a kid during Christmas and having to be in a hospital, not to mention the other struggles those families are experiencing during this time,” said Chakrabarty, who had his own hospital experience as a child who underwent an open-heart surgery. “You put all that together and it made me feel like this would be something good for us to do.” Chakrabarty and Hailey say they already have their next event in mind, organizing another car show to help Care Beyond the Boulevard raise funds to purchase and equip a new clinic bus. “We think we could definitely blow some of the donations that we’ve had so far out of the water,” Chakrabarty said. “We’re thinking really big and want to make sure we make a really big impact. We have the gears turning in our heads.” Of course, Chakrabarty is willing to admit that there may be a little more than altruistic motives behind their efforts. “Some of these events are selfish for us because we get to see all the cars, and in some cases get to drive some of these cool cars,” he said. “That’s really awesome. It kind of comes full circle.” Dec 20, 2022

  • UMKC Celebrates 2022 Mid-Year Commencement

    More than 800 degrees conferred
    Kansas City’s university welcomed more than 800 graduates and their families at T-Mobile Center for the 2022 Mid-Year Commencement Ceremony Sunday. University of Missouri-Kansas City Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Jenny Lundgren, Ph.D. presided as Chief Marshal of the event. “We are delighted to be here today at the beautiful T-Mobile Center to continue our new tradition of celebrating our graduates at iconic Kansas City locations,” said Lundgren. UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal reminded graduates of their perseverance. Agrawal said that having lived through numerous challenging events such as terrorist attacks, wars, economic hardships and a global pandemic, graduates have already shown they are up to any challenge.“You have acquired the knowledge, confidence and skills you’ll need to navigate an ever-shifting landscape,” said Agrawal. “More challenges surely await you, but I know, and you know that you are up those challenges.”Two-time Emmy Award winner, UMKC alumnus and announcer for the Washington Nationals baseball team Bob Carpenter (B.A. ’75) gave the keynote address. Carpenter told graduates to expect the unexpected as things do not always go to plan. But he stressed that even in adversity, attitude is everything.“I hope as we go along, wherever you go in your career or in your life, that you have a spirit of gratitude,” said Carpenter. Carpenter also advised graduates to keep a positive mindset and to share their success with others. “Don’t ever leave out a word of encouragement for those who you are working with, or those who you are working for,” said Carpenter. “When you achieve success, stop and think, ‘What did I do to get here, how do I stay here and who helped me get here?’ Then take that success and use it to help somebody else.”Following the event, graduates met their loved ones for hugs, photos and celebrations of their achievements. Dec 18, 2022

  • UMKC Researcher Studying Innovative Approach to HIV Prevention

    Joseph Lightner analyzed program through the Kansas City Health Department
    There’s a shift happening in HIV prevention and care, and UMKC public health researcher Joseph Lightner, Ph.D., is gathering the data to back up that shift. According to Lightner, an assistant professor in the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies, HIV is no longer a disease of behavior, but a disease of poverty. The current medications used to treat the disease are so effective that a person with HIV who is following the regimen can live their life with a nearly undetectable amount of HIV in the blood. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, there is an overwhelming body of clinical evidence firmly establishing that when HIV is undetectable it becomes untransmittable, a concept the scientific community has dubbed U=U. Thus, encouraging and maintaining treatment for HIV is a powerful weapon in fighting the disease. Researchers like Lightner are looking at interventions, beyond antiretroviral therapy, that help individuals with HIV successfully achieve an undetectable viral load, the amount of HIV in the blood. One such initiative Lighter studied is KC Life 360, a program through the Kansas City Public Health Department that provides housing and employment support to low-income, uninsured and under-insured persons living with HIV in racial and ethnic minority communities. According to Lightner, it’s a critical group in HIV prevention, since most new HIV cases are occurring in these marginalized individuals. That knowledge has led the HIV care community to adopt a housing-first model nationally because data shows that homelessness and housing instability are major threats to HIV management. “When someone is living on the street, they're not going to take their meds. It's not feasible for an unhoused person to carry around a three-month supply of their HIV meds,” Lightner said. “If we get these individuals housed and they have a safe place to take and store their medications, downstream that translates into treatment as prevention and reduces later infections.” In conjunction with the Kansas City Health Department, Lightner examined the outcomes of the intervention to improve housing and employment for the individuals in KC Life 360. His research found that the individuals within the study were 25 times more likely to be housed and twice as likely to have improved their employment status. Most importantly, the data showed that the viral suppression improved among those within the study. “What I want people to see from this research is that to solve the HIV epidemic, it's going to take multi-level interventions that focus on the whole person," Lightner said. "These are people who want to be members of society just like anybody else." Although Lightner’s primary research focus within public health is physical activity, he continues to come back to HIV research. His team also has studied how HIV stigma affects individuals professionally and socially, as well as how best to provide treatment to those living with HIV. He said that the good thing about public health is that it’s broad, and the research methods translate from one field to another. For Lightner, there’s also a deeply personal connection to HIV research. “As a gay kid growing up in the 1980s, my family always told me that AIDS is a death sentence if you are gay. Couple that with having an uncle die of HIV/AIDS complications in the 1990s, the disease has been a part of my life since childhood,” Lightner said. “I think many gay men have similar experiences. By doing this research, I hope we can destigmatize the disease and make the world a better place for our friends and family.”   Dec 15, 2022

  • Student Success Stories Ahead of 2022 Mid-Year Commencement

    Students reflect on their hard work and achievements during their time at UMKC.
    On Sunday, December 18, UMKC’s newest graduating class will walk across the stage, receiving their diplomas after years of hard work and dedication. Each grad embarked on an individual journey full of professional and personal growth, culminating in a commencement celebration in front of family, friends and peers. Here’s an overview of two such journeys. Amelia Hess – Master of Arts in Counseling – School of Education, Social Work & Psychological Sciences Amelia Hess began her collegiate journey at another school, but didn’t find her place among that university community. She switched to UMKC for her sophomore year and earned her undergrad and, eventually, her master’s degree. “It’s a microcosm of the Kansas City community. You have all these different people coming here, different majors, different programs,” Hess said. “I was very, very much involved in high school and so I knew when I got to college, I wanted to continue that.” She found her place at UMKC through involvement with campus organizations, including the Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA), serving as president and the student MC for the Pride Breakfast; the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI); and Roos for Mental Health. She also worked as a residential life coordinator at the Hospital Hill apartments. “I found places where I could be my different selves,” Hess said. “I found places where I could really enjoy studying psychology and the professional world, but I also found the SAGA council where I could have a leadership position on a queer organization which is hard to find in other places.” Throughout her career at UMKC, she met with professors, leaders and fellow classmates who have helped her set up her post-graduation plans at an area mental health facility as a therapist associate. “I’m going to help them implement what they call a psychedelic assisted therapy program, which is kind of a new area of mental health and therapy where people are being administered medicinal treatments for depression, anxiety, PTSD,” Hess said. “I get to take leadership and apply some of those other skills I developed along the years to help create a program and hopefully get it to the point where hopefully one day new grads will come and work there with us.” Hess credits her willingness to get involved in different groups at UMKC with helping her feel prepared for the next steps in her career. “I think UMKC, since it is in the metropolitan area and it is a bigger school with more opportunities and connections to the city, is a great opportunity for someone who wants to change schools because you’re supported, but you’re also treated like an adult,” Hess said. Christian Dang – Bachelor of Science in Biology – School of Science and Engineering Originally from about 2.5 hours away in Springfield, Missouri, Christian Dang landed at UMKC after looking for an affordable education that also allowed for a change of environment. “I love Kansas City because of the diversity and everything it provides,” Dang said. “I really like the size of UMKC. It’s like a medium sized institution so it’s not too small or too large and I feel like you can really make more meaningful connections with faculty members that way.” Dang’s interest in biology started in high school, but when he got to UMKC, he gained a passion for research. “I still am interested in medicine, but I’m also interested in research, which I’ve been involved a lot with at UMKC,” Dang said. “And I really do think UMKC provides a lot of ways to get involved in research no matter what discipline you are in.” A four-year Honors Program student, Dang presented his project, “A Self-Directed Mutagenesis Approach for Examining the Drosophila Tribbles Recognition Degron in the C/EBP Transcription Factor SIBO,” at the Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunities (SUROP) Poster Symposium. He also served as a student reviewer and marketing and design coordinator for UMKC’s undergraduate research journal, Lucerna. He said commencement “is going to be a surreal moment for me having spent these last four years here at UMKC and knowing what a difference it has made in my personal career and personal development.” After graduation, Dang will travel to Bethesda, Maryland, where he will take part in fellowship at the National Institute of Health (NIH) where he will conduct biomedical research in the Muscle Energetics Laboratory. Only 24 percent of applicants were selected over the past year, according to the NIH. “It’s definitely humbling, knowing that you’ve been given this opportunity that not everyone has been able to receive,” Dang said. “Knowing to acknowledge the work you’ve done to get this part of your life and knowing people have trust in you that you’re doing to do great things in your life, and you continue to put in the work and effort to be the best you can.” Dang credits the opportunities provided by UMKC for setting him up to succeed after receiving his diploma and believes others can achieve the same whether they are from the area or from farther away. “Even from outside Kansas City I would recommend going here for college just because of the community here and the ease of meeting faculty members and peer mentors who will help you and the wide range of student organizations that are available here,” Dang said. “There’s really a lot to offer at UMKC that I feel not a whole lot of people know about.” Dec 15, 2022

  • Starr Women’s Hall of Fame Announces 2023 Class of Inductees

    Organization honors Kansas City influential women, past and present
    From a protector of parks to a pioneer in LGBTQIA advocacy, from a former U.S. senator to a Major League Baseball owner, from groundbreakers for women in finance to champions of human rights, neighborhoods and Latino issues – the 2023 inductees into the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame have made extraordinary and enduring contributions to their fields of work. The UMKC Starr Women’s Hall of Fame will induct its fifth class honoring Kansas City women leaders on March 21, 2023, at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.  The Kansas City community has benefited from the work of outstanding women from its earliest beginnings, and the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame recognizes their extraordinary accomplishments. The Hall of Fame recognizes women with noteworthy ties to the Kansas City area who have made important and enduring contributions in their fields of work. Alicia Starr and Michelle Wimes are co-chairs of the 2023 induction ceremony. “We are honored and excited to recognize these remarkable women who dedicated their time and talents to improving Kansas City for all its citizens,” Starr says. “We celebrate their inclusion in the Hall of Fame so that their stories will inspire future generations of women in Kansas City and beyond.” The Hall of Fame includes a Wall of Honor on display in the UMKC Miller Nichols Library, as well as an archive of important papers, images and artifacts of the enshrined members. Money raised from the induction event will assist in further development of the digitization and acquisition of materials for the Hall of Fame archives, ensuring that the works of these exceptional women will be accessible in perpetuity not only to community members, but also to researchers world-wide. The eight outstanding women in the 2023 class of inductees will be honored in a ceremony on Tuesday, March 21. Festivities will commence at 4 p.m. at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Sponsor opportunities are available at Event speaker and individual ticket information will be released in January 2023. The new inductees are: UMKC alumna Karen L. Daniel (MS ’81 accounting) is a recognized leader in Kansas City. The first African American woman to be a Major League Baseball owner since her addition to the Kansas City Royals ownership group in 2020, Daniel is retired executive director, CFO and president of Global Finance and Technology Solutions at Black and Veatch. She was the first African American female to chair the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and has been a leader and advocate for restoration of the Liberty Memorial Tower at the National World War I Museum and Memorial. She has created a legacy fund for scholarships to support Black college students. President Barack Obama named Daniel vice chair of the Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa in 2015. Anita B. Gorman has been an advocate for area parks, recreation and conservation for six decades. She fought to save the Native American Hopewell archaeological site, which became a part of the Kansas City Parks system. In 1979, she was the first woman appointed to the Kansas City Parks and Recreation board. In this role she raised funds to establish a conservation center in the urban core of Kansas City. Gorman was the first woman to chair the Missouri Conservation Commission and helped establish the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation. She received the Pugsley Medal from the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration in 2017 for her contribution to the promotion, development and conservation of public parks in the United States. Lea Hopkins has been an advocate and activist for LGBTQIA communities for more than four decades. She co-founded the Christopher Street Association, a gay and lesbian advocacy organization, in 1977 and organized the first Pride parade in Kansas City in 1979. She founded the Kansas City Gay Injustices Fund, which provided legal support for LGBTQIA people who were arrested based on their orientation. She was a member of the inaugural leadership team of the UMKC Gay Students’ Union. Hopkins is an accomplished poet, watercolor artist and collagist. UMKC alumna Alice Kitchen (MPA ’89) has been a longtime advocate for human rights, healthcare and children and women’s issues. She is co-founder of the Women Quality Coalition and the Child Protection Center. A longtime director of social services at Children’s Mercy Hospital, she was a board member of the Kansas City Housing Authority who helped with neighborhood cleanups and worked to help young mothers obtain health insurance. She was honored by the White House as a Champion of Change for her work on education for the Affordable Care Act in 2015. Community activist and a leader for the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council in Kansas City, Mo., Margaret J. May served as the executive director of the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council from October 2001 to December 2017. During her tenure, the council became a community development corporation that develops new housing and rehabilitates existing homes. The Downtown Council of Kansas City recognized May in their first class of Urban Hero Awards in 2005. She has served on the City of Kansas City Plan Commission and the Kansas City, Missouri Community Development Entity, which is now known as Alt Cap. Sen. Claire McCaskill has dedicated her life to serving women, families and her community. An accomplished attorney, she was the first woman elected as Jackson County, Missouri prosecutor, and the first woman to be elected U.S. Senator from Missouri. In 2004, she defeated incumbent Governor Bob Holden in the Democratic primary, becoming the first candidate to defeat an incumbent Governor in a primary election in state history, although she lost in the general election. She served as a U.S. senator from Missouri from 2007 to 2019. During her term in the Missouri House of Representatives, she chaired the civil and criminal justice committees. She is currently a political analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. Barbara Pendleton paved the way for Kansas City women interested in careers in finance. She started her career in banking as a messenger with City National Bank. She became chairperson of City Bank at Crown Center and retired as an executive vice president of United Missouri Bancshares, Inc. An active volunteer in community organizations, she was often the first woman member, officer or president. A founding board member of the Central Exchange, she also chaired the UMKC Women’s Center Advisory Committee. She worked for several mayors, including Mayor Kay Barnes, who appointed her to work on downtown Kansas City revitalization. UMKC alumna Freda Mendez Smith (BA ’80) is a champion and advocate for the Latino community in Kansas City. A current advisory board member for the Women’s Foundation of Kansas City, she has worked with MANA de Kansas City  for four decades, serving as a board member of the national organization twice. Smith is an advocate and mentor to members of the Latino population who encourages people to become engaged in community service, including serving on local boards of directors. She has been a volunteer board member at many community organizations including the UMKC Hispanic Advisory Board, the UMKC Women’s Council, Greater KC Hispanic Heritage and Mattie Rhodes Center. The Starr Women's Hall of Fame recognizes extraordinary Kansas City women and preserves the history of their accomplishments. To date, The Hall of Fame has inducted 37 Kansas City women, half of them posthumously. “These women are social reformers, volunteers, philanthropists, business executives, civic leaders, activists and educators,” Wimes says. “They are neighborhood leaders and grassroots organizers, from yesterday and today, both famous and unsung. They are movers and shakers whose tireless commitment to community has made Kansas City a better place to live.” The Hall of Fame is a repository for their legacies, offering an extensive archive of these women’s activities and achievements available to researchers, educators and historians. Stuart Hinds, curator of special collections at the Miller Nichols Library, says it’s imperative to preserve these stories. “These women have had a significant influence on the history and development of the region. Collecting these stories of Kansas City women ensures a more inclusive and thorough historical narrative. Preserving and more importantly, publicly sharing, these stories, allows girls and young women to learn how to overcome the challenges they encounter as they move forward in the world as women.” A permanent display honoring Hall of Fame members is now open to the public on the third floor of the Miller Nichols Library at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The library is at 800 E. 51 St., Kansas City, Missouri. By sharing their stories, the Hall of Fame encourages and inspires women everywhere. Biographies of all of the inductees are available at The Hall is named in honor of Martha Jane Phillips Starr, a legendary activist and philanthropist who blazed a trail for family issues and women's rights. 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. Starr died in 2011 at the age of 104. The hall of fame is made possible through the Starr Education Committee, Martha Jane Starr’s family and the Starr Field of Interest Fund, which was established upon her death through the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. The idea for the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame stemmed from Starr Education Committee members. The civic organizations that advocate on behalf of women and family issues and have signed on in support of the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame include: American Association of University Women, American Business Women’s Association, Association for Women Lawyers of Greater Kansas City, Central Exchange, CBIZ Women’s Advantage, Girl Scouts of NE Kansas and NW Missouri, Greater Kansas City Chamber’s Executive Women’s Leadership Council, Greater Kansas City Women’s Political Caucus, Jackson County Missouri Chapter of the Links, Inc.; Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri; KC Metro Latinas, Kansas City Athenaeum, Kansas City Young Matrons, OneKC for Women, SkillBuilders Fund, Soroptimist International of Kansas City, Soroptimist Kansas City Foundation, UMKC, UMKC Women’s Center, UMKC Women’s Council, UMKC Women of Color Leadership Conference, United WE, WIN for KC, win|win, Women Leaders in College Sports, Women’s Public Service Network, Zonta International District 7 and Zonta Club of KC II. Dec 14, 2022

  • New Fundraiser Passionate about Higher Education

    School of Dentistry welcomes Daniel Barwick
    Daniel Barwick, Ph.D., has joined the UMKC School of Dentistry as director of philanthropic giving and executive director of the school’s Rinehart Foundation. He brings 20 years of fundraising experience to help lead those efforts with Dean Steven B. Haas. Barwick, who most recently was director of development at Indiana State University, points to the school’s growth potential and the opportunity to support its community service focus through its oral health clinics. Those clinics are set to expand with the planned construction of a new interprofessional health sciences building on the Health Sciences Campus. Barwick said he is excited to be starting at UMKC during the initial stages of that project. “Education is a noble endeavor, and it’s amazingly rewarding to be a part of that process,” said Barwick. “Whether I am a fundraiser, a teacher or an administrator, as long as I’m helping to educate people, I’m part of something that I love.” Barwick has worn many hats in his 30-plus years in higher education. He started as a professor of philosophy, moved into philanthropy and then transitioned to the role of president of Independence Community College in Kansas. He still gets recognized occasionally from those years in Independence, when the school was featured in the Netflix series “Last Chance U” in 2018 and 2019. Born and raised in New York state, Barwick grew to love the Midwest while attending graduate school at University of Iowa, where he earned a master’s degree in philosophy. His time in Kansas cemented the central Midwest as his home, and when the position at UMKC opened up, he knew it would be a perfect fit. Outside of his day job, Barwick stays busy with higher education content creation. He has written books on philosophy and higher education leadership and hosts the podcast and blog The Mortarboard, which focuses on solutions in higher education from an administrator’s perspective. He has a passion for cooking, specializing in French cuisine (even though he said his signature dish, eggplant pecorino, hails from Italy). Barwick and his wife live in live in the Kansas City area and have two grown daughters. Dec 09, 2022

  • Top Photos of 2022

    A look back at some of our favorite memories
    Our campus photographers spend each day documenting the stories of our students, faculty, staff and community. Each year they compile some of their favorite images of the connections formed, memories made and moments shared for us to enjoy. Here are the top photos of 2022. Dec 09, 2022

  • Search Underway for New Dean of School of Nursing and Health Studies

    Leader will continue school’s pursuit of excellence in teaching, research and service
    UMKC has launched a search for an inspiring and innovative leader to serve as dean of the School of Nursing and Health Studies. The dean is the senior academic and administrative officer of the school and is responsible for providing the leadership and vision necessary for setting strategic, operational and financial directions. In those roles, the dean has overall responsibilities for developing an effective collegial environment that supports excellence in teaching, research and service. “Preparing the next generation of nurses and health professionals is an essential mission to improving health outcomes and increasing health equity,” said UMKC Provost Jennifer Lungren. “Our new dean will pursue academic and community partnerships that enhance nursing practice, education, research and lifelong learning.”   In addition, the dean will: Evaluate changes in health care, higher education and research, and lead the school in planning strategies to maximize the contributions of the faculty, students and alumni in improving health care; Engage in fund-raising and alumni engagement in support of opportunities to grow the school’s reputation, resources and impact; Build strong working relationships among the broader university, as well as external partners and stakeholders in the region; and, Demonstrate national and international leadership in the improvement of health care, health care policy and higher education of students in nursing and health sciences. The search committee is chaired by Dean Russ Melchert of the UMKC School of Pharmacy. The full roster of the search committee is listed below. Others will have the opportunity to provide input during the campus interview portion of the search process. The committee aims to conclude the search by the end of the spring 2023 semester. Full search committee Russ Melchert, Dean and Professor, UMKC School of Pharmacy Jamie Hunt, Teaching Associate Professor, Nursing and Health Studies and BHS Program Director Joseph Lightner, BSPH Program Director and Assistant Professor Cynthia Russell Lippincott, Professor, Nursing and Health Studies Kristin Metcalf-Wilson, Assistant Research Professor and Associate Director for Clinical Training Eduardo Abreu, Associate Professor, Nursing and Health Studies Victor Arellano, Senior majoring in Public Health Ashley Rivera, Roo Advising, Natural and Health Science Advisor Chris Liu, Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies Joy Wheeler, Chief Executive Officer at Girl Scouts of NE Kansas and NW Missouri Dec 09, 2022

  • UMKC Researcher Receives $2.2 Million NIH Grant to Explore Expanded COVID-19 Testing

    Trial is a continuation of Jannette Berkley-Patton’s Faithful Response to COVID-19 project.
    Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., director of the UMKC Health Equity Institute and a professor in the Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics at the School of Medicine, has received a nearly $2.2 million, two-year grant from the National Institutes of Health for a project designed to increase testing and treatment for COVID-19 by partnering with African American churches and health agencies.  The effort is part of an NIH initiative called Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics-Underserved Populations (RADx-Up); a consortium of community-engaged research projects designed to increase access to COVID testing in underserved communities.   The randomized trial will study the effectiveness of a religiously tailored intervention in motivating adult African American church and community members to be tested and to seek treatment for COVID-19.  Working with 12 community churches in the Kansas City area, the program will engage the help of pastors to promote testing and demonstrate to their congregations how testing works. Among other services, the churches will also offer rapid COVID testing and provide support and referrals to treatment to those who test positive.  “Our project will examine whether people really want to get tested and seek treatment if we use a religiously tailored approach,” Berkley-Patton said. “We will work collaboratively with our churches to encourage people to not only get the rapid COVID test, but to get treatment that could potentially help reduce their symptoms and likely keep them out of the hospital.  “We’re hoping this approach can be informative not only for this study but for other types of rapid diagnostics that can lead to treatment, especially if the referral is made quickly and support is provided.”   The new grant-funded study is a continuation of Berkley-Patton’s Faithful Response to COVID-19 project, a two-year, NIH-backed clinical trial that started in January 2021 to promote COVID-19 testing with the African American community with the support of churches and other faith-based and community organizations.  Those efforts were so successful in testing and raising awareness that the Jackson County Legislature awarded a $5 million grant to support Our Healthy Kansas City Eastside, another UMKC Health Equity Institute project that administered nearly 13,000 COVID vaccinations to members of Kansas City’s minority and underrepresented communities in just 18 months. The county recently extended that program as well with the support of an additional $5 million grant.  “In the early days of the pandemic, COVID testing was not available to everyone. Access to testing was particularly limited in underserved communities, which led to the NIH initiative RADxUP,” Berkley-Patton said. “In the initial project, we are demonstrating that people will take the test at a church site – and even more so when the efforts are religiously and culturally tailored.”  The new study will examine the beliefs and practices of those in underserved communities toward rapid COVID-19 self-testing. Researchers also will study the effectiveness of contact tracing as well as care services such as referrals to treatment, health insurance and community resources.  “With this model, many of our Faithful Response materials are packaged in an easy-to-use toolkit that our community partners helped to create, and can be disseminated in print or electronic formats,” Berkley-Patton said. “We’re hoping the toolkit can be widely disseminated across the country if we can show that the first Faithful Response project was effective and double that up with efficacy of the second project.” Dec 08, 2022

  • Dental Dedication and Good Cheer

    School of Dentistry alumni share a unique link to the Kansas City Chiefs
    The connection between cheerleading and the field of dentistry is quite clear for Ashley Hobbs (B.S.D.H. ’11). As a member of the Kansas City Chiefs cheerleading squad, she used her athletic skills to pump up crowds and keep them smiling at Arrowhead Stadium. Now, as a dental hygienist, she’s still focused on bright smiles – but she’s using a different set of skills to motivate and engage with her patients. “You are their oral health coach,” Hobbs said of her patients. “As a cheerleader, you bring positivity, and you lift everyone up. I do the same for my patients. You are encouraging them to not only improve their oral health, but their overall quality of life.” Hobbs is a pediatric dental hygienist, a proud alumna and a faculty member at UMKC. And from 2013 to 2016, she was also a Chiefs cheerleader, a unique experience she shares with other School of Dentistry alumni. The school counts several former Chiefs cheerleaders and at least one Chiefs drumline member among its alumni ranks. These alumni have taken valuable lessons into their careers from their days on the sidelines. For Hobbs, Tim Albright (D.D.S. ’21) and Kathryn Teruya (D.D.S. ’22), the experience reinforced the importance of discipline, teamwork and putting people first. Smiles in the Crowd and in the Chair As a member of the Chiefs drumline, the KC Rumble, from 2016 to 2020, Albright was energized by the crowd. Now he gets that feeling from the gratitude of his patients. Whether it’s an undetectable filling or a straightened Invisalign finish, the smiles of his patients take him back to his days drumming in front of 70,000 screaming fans. “I still experience euphoria whenever I have a solid crown,” Albright said. “Your patient is happy, they’re gleaming. It’s the same look I would get playing music for people. It keeps me going.” Time in front of fans was not limited to game day. The Rumble and the cheerleaders had public appearances throughout the week. These opportunities to connect with people prepared them for future chairside interactions. “Everybody has something they’re passionate about. With people who may be apathetic about their dental care, you’re trying to find what sparks them,” Albright said. “Once you find their icebreaker, you’re able to make that connection.” Public appearances also provided Hobbs an opportunity to hone her pediatric skills. There were often kids excited to meet the cheer squad. Those conversations laid the groundwork for the six years she’s practiced in pediatric dentistry. “Just learning how to interact with them,” Hobbs said. “I took everything that I learned from the Chiefs and applied it to my work in pediatrics.”   Discipline in Dance, Drumming and Dentistry Whether drumming or dancing, a common thread emerges: discipline. All three credit the discipline required to succeed in their respective crafts with helping them manage the rigors of dental school. That discipline was formed back in seventh grade for Albright, when he took up drumming and would practice until midnight every night. Dental school changed his perspective, however. “I don’t think you need 10,000 hours to master something anymore,” Albright said. “I learned in dental school about the importance of deliberate practice.” Discipline is also essential in cheerleading because of the demanding schedule. For Hobbs, cheering for the Chiefs felt like a full-time job on top of her full-time job as a hygienist. She had weekly appearances and daily five-hour practices in addition to long game days. She also had fitness testing, mandatory training sessions and extra time in the gym. “I was newly graduated and new to the dental hygiene profession,” Hobbs said. “It was a struggle juggling both lives.” Hobbs and Teruya said their love of dance drove them to take on the arduous schedule. Hobbs has a degree in dance and lived in New York, performing with professional dance companies before coming to UMKC. She taught dance while in dental hygiene school. Dance has been a presence in Teruya’s life since she was three. A former Miss Hawaii (she was crowned in 2017), she’s an experienced dancer in hula, ballet and jazz. She credits the perfectionist nature dancers have to her success in dentistry. “We always joked on our (Chiefs) dance team that a lot of us are type-A people,” Teruya said. “That correlates well to dentistry. We like things orderly and in a particular way.” Although the pull toward dance was strong for both Hobbs and Teruya, their priority was always UMKC. Hobbs was laser-focused on becoming a full-time faculty member. Teruya juggled many activities while at the dental school, including the Chiefs cheer squad from 2020 to 2021. But the pursuit she valued most was that of future dentist. “First and foremost, I moved from Hawaii to Kansas City to be a dental student,” she said. Team and Community in the Dental Practice The cheerleading schedule was grueling, Hobbs and Teruya admitted. But they loved being part of a team of women who lifted each other up, both literally and figuratively. “It’s much more than just dancing on the sidelines,” said Hobbs. “It became a sisterhood where you were supportive of one another and you were in it together.” During Teruya’s time at UMKC, her two teams joined together for TeamSmile, an event at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium with Chiefs players, coaches and cheerleaders during which UMKC students and faculty provide dental care to underserved children. She got to participate as both a student and a cheerleader. “It was one of my favorite memories,” Teruya said. “It was really special to be able to celebrate my classmates and connect with the kids.” The moments standing in front of a crowd at “the loudest stadium in the world” may now be only memories for Hobbs, Teruya and Albright, but those memories serve a purpose. The discipline formed, strong bonds made and feelings that come with energizing a crowd have all made an impact on who they are as dental professionals. The dedication, sense of community and drive to help people connects the worlds of cheer and dentistry. “Every single year a student will ask, ‘were you really a Chiefs cheerleader?’ and every time I wonder, ‘when will this not be a thing anymore?’” Hobbs said. “But those are some of the best memories of my life and I wouldn’t change it.” Dec 05, 2022

  • Back to Their Roots

    UMKC School of Dentistry and alumni rising to meet the need in rural communities
    Only 10 of the 219 counties that make up Missouri and Kansas have enough dental care providers, according to the Rural Health Information Hub. The majority of these dental deserts are in rural communities, which, historically, face challenges in recruiting health-care professionals. The UMKC School of Dentistry is working to end this dental drought through a number of measures, including a new scholarship aimed at students from rural areas. The scholarship is enabling its first recipient, third year dental student Katie Roe, to fulfill her dream of owning a practice back in her hometown. Hometown homecoming Roe’s path to a dental career began in middle school. She and her mother visited their town’s only dentist, Lynn Otte (D.D.S. ’79), to discuss what kind of opportunities the field of dentistry could hold for a young girl from Herington, Kansas. Through the years, Roe and Otte formed a connection and began discussing plans for Roe to eventually take over Otte’s practice. Roe had always envisioned owning a practice in Herington, but was considering working for another dentist while she paid off her school costs. That is, until she found out she’d be the first recipient of the Dan Root Memorial Scholarship. Now she plans to buy the practice after she graduates. “I still remember that first discussion we had about dentistry,” Otte said. “And Katie’s just kept working in that direction ever since, which has been wonderful.” The scholarship was established by Glenda Root in honor of her late husband, Dan, who founded Root Dental Laboratory, where he worked closely with many UMKC dentistry alumni. The transformational scholarship will cover a full year of Roe’s tuition. It doesn’t end with her. Thanks to the Roots’ donation, UMKC estimates it will be able to award three or four full-tuition scholarships annually, beginning next year. The scholarships will go to students with a demonstrated financial need, with preference given to students from rural areas. “This scholarship allows me to focus on what’s most important to me — helping people,” Roe said. “It doesn’t just impact me; it impacts my immediate family, my future family, the patients. The ripple effect of this scholarship is amazing.” Roe has long been dedicated to her hometown of Herington, about 50 miles south of Manhattan, Kansas, population 2,129. Her loyalty was solidified when her brother was diagnosed with a serious health issue and the people in Herington rallied behind her family. “Everyone in town stepped up to help us in our time of need,” she said. Encouraging rural Roos Richard Bigham, assistant dean for student programs at the UMKC School of Dentistry, said he hopes lifting some of the financial burden will make scholarship recipients more willing to return to their rural roots and fill the need. Many students worry whether they can maximize their earning potential in rural areas. According to Dean Steven Haas, practices in rural areas show lower gross income compared to urban practices. The flip side is that urban practices can suffer greater losses and failure rates due to overhead costs and competition, among other things. Haas said that a newly opened rural practice can be financially successful in one year and subsequently generate a stable earning for a dentist. These shortages are not limited to dentistry, as the entire health-care field is grappling with a maldistribution of health-care providers. Beyond scholarships, Haas said the school has incorporated courses into its curriculum that explore some of the challenges rural populations face, such as the Community-Based Dental Education course. The school is also working to get students out to rural areas through some of these courses, particularly through externships at community health centers across Missouri and Kansas. According to Melanie Simmer-Beck (R.D.H. ’94, Ph.D. ’13), each year, about half of the third-and fourth-year students who take the class choose health-care centers based in rural communities, and a number of them come back with job offers in-hand. Simmer-Beck is both the chair of Dental Public Health and Behavior Sciences and the director of the UMKC Students Training in Academia, Health and Research (STAHR) Dental Scholars program at the School of Dentistry. STAHR is a pipeline program that addresses shortages in both rural and urban areas of Missouri. The program also includes the schools of medicine and pharmacy, and focuses on increasing the number of students from economically and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds, while helping students better prepare for the rigors of health sciences programs. “The dental school has always been committed to seeking out students who come from rural areas, hoping they have a strong desire to return and give back,” Haas said. “Scholarships like the Dan Root Memorial Scholarship are an amazing act of philanthropy.” Ample opportunity for alumni Justin (D.D.S. ’07) and Sadie (B.S.D.H. ’05) Ebersole began mapping out their plans for practicing in a rural area on their first date, when they were students at the UMKC School of Dentistry. “He told me, ‘I’m a small-town boy and I’m going to a small town in Kansas, so if you want to live in the city, you should probably move on,’” Sadie said. They’ve made for a great “small town team” ever since. The Ebersoles own Parsons Dental Care in Parsons, Kansas. Justin is the practicing dentist. Sadie started as a hygienist, but has transitioned to office manager, while still practicing one or two days a week. The couple settled on Parsons, near Justin’s family farm in neighboring Chautauqua County, because they found a practice that met all their criteria. After graduation, they joined the practice in Parsons and acquired sole ownership in 2020. “We did some serious research when evaluating practices,” Justin said. “I would strongly encourage people to look at all the numbers: how many active patients, how many dentists are in that town and the surrounding area.” The Ebersoles agree the most rewarding part of owning a small-town practice is getting to know their patients. In the years they’ve been in Parsons, they’ve been able to watch families form and kids grow up. “Those bonds that you build are so cool,” Justin said. “I see great-grandparents, grandparents and all the way down.” It also doesn’t hurt that business is good. The Ebersoles hope practitioners realize the significant need in these rural areas also means opportunity. “We have no need for an advertising budget,” Justin said. “There are more patients than you can ever handle. I never imagined how well we would do. That’s been a huge bonus.” While it may be a bonus, Sadie stresses the decision to practice in a rural area shouldn’t only be a financial choice. According to her, a practitioner considering a rural setting needs to feel a personal connection to the area. The Ebersoles love how immersed they are in the Parsons community. “I would just encourage people to maybe step outside their box and go to some of these places that are rural and are looking for a dentist. Just give it a chance,” Justin said. “Be open minded about all the benefits of living in a small town.” Dec 01, 2022

  • Five Questions with Amanda Davis

    Meet the new UMKC Foundation president
    Alumna Amanda Davis, (MPA ’02) begins her role as UMKC chief advancement officer and president of the UMKC Foundation this week. Her vision for the role is based on her history at the university. Davis is a five-generation Missourian and an alumna of the UMKC Bloch School of Management where she earned her master’s in public administration. She was a fundraiser for the Red Cross in New Orleans and other nonprofits before falling in love with higher education and returning to Kansas City to work at the UMKC School of Law. Her most recent role was assistant vice president for campaign leadership at the University of Oklahoma Foundation, where she developed programs and policy to accelerate advancement outcomes. Her focus on identifying gift opportunities and prospects contributed to more than $300 million in annual fundraising results and the launch of a $2 billion comprehensive campaign for OU.   What are you most looking forward to in your new position as UMKC Foundation president? I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to put the education that I received at the Bloch School of Management to good use to help the university grow and continue to succeed. Part of that is to improve the university’s advancement in an overarching sense, and also grow partnerships with existing donors and alumni.  As an alumna, how does it feel to be back on campus? Honestly, it’s thrilling. There is so much going on at both campuses. It’s very exciting to come home to UMKC at this particular moment. The chancellor’s leadership is visionary, which dovetails with the visionary leadership we are seeing across Kansas City and complements the incredible strength of the UMKC Foundation board. It’s an exciting time for me to step back in and to be able to make positive change and continue to build UMKC. How does your experience as a student impact your perspective as UMKC leadership? I have an incredible enthusiasm for this institution, particularly in its current iteration. I came to UMKC at the exact time in my life that allowed me to discover philanthropy as a career. It's incredibly meaningful to be able to take a skill set that I learned from UMKC, and then come back and use those skills to benefit the institution. I hope my work at UMKC enables other students to feel at home here and have the opportunity to earn an education in their given field so they can go on to do great things. When you think about the best teams that you’ve been a part of, what about them stands out in your mind? Two things stand out to me. One, on the best teams there is a safe psychological space to take risks and to do the best you can do. And two, it’s important to have a cohesive direction from leadership so everyone knows what their role is and that they are all rowing in the same direction. What do you think is the key – or keys – to successful fundraising? Considering everything from the donors’ perspectives is essential. It’s important to recognize that many of our most engaged donors may be giving in different ways. Perhaps they give an annual gift, but have also planned an estate gift, or are passionate about supporting a specific program or student service. It’s essential to consider how their interests in giving intersect to understand how they feel about the university and how it feels to be the donor from outside the organization. One more – what is something about you that would surprise people? One of my passions is costume making. I inherited that gene from my mother, who always made us fabulous Halloween costumes. That’s where I learned the transformative power and fun of costumes. When I moved to New Orleans in my twenties, I was the person my friends came to for help with their Mardi Gras costumes. Nov 30, 2022

  • Seven Named Dean of Students Honor Recipients

    Students are recognized for their outstanding scholastic performance, community leadership and service
    These seven students’ accomplishments include being published in peer-reviewed journals, beginning new student programs at UMKC, involvement with student government, leadership in diversity-focused organizations on campus, extensive volunteer work with community organizations and more.  Every semester, exceptional graduating students are honored with this designation. These students maintain excellent scholastic performance while actively participating in university activities and community service outside of the classroom. "Our students embody the values of UMKC with their dedication to their academic success and service to the university and surrounding communities," said Michele D. Smith, Ph.D., vice provost for student affairs and dean of students. “As the Dean of Students, I am proud to recognize their achievements and know without a doubt they all have successful futures ahead of them." Students shared their memories of their college years at a special breakfast celebration in their honor. Some excerpts: Francesca Moisson: “My proudest accomplishment has been the creation of the Peer Mentor Program for MD students. During my matriculation to medical school, I sought out a peer mentor to facilitate the jarring transition, including moving to a new city with few personal ties and preparing for the academic and mental challenges medical school presents. Realizing that a formal mentorship did not exist, I collaborated with administration and faculty to bring this need to fruition. We created a formal mentorship program for incoming MD students in which they are paired with a first- or second-year student based on interests, backgrounds and goals. This incoming class will serve as the third year of the mentorship program.” Carlyn Euritt: “When I was choosing where I wanted to go to college, I was drawn to UMKC because I knew it was an institution where I could get access to the best opportunities to achieve my academic goals. As I reflect on these past four years, UMKC has exceeded my expectations for what I had expected my undergraduate years to look like. I have conducted ophthalmology research alongside Dr. Peter Koulen, gained an excellent education from passionate professors within the School of Science and Engineering and even learned Spanish. It is also through UMKC that I have achieved my proudest accomplishment yet, which is being published as a co-author alongside Dr. Koulen and other scientists within his lab.” Congratulations to the Spring 2022 Dean of Students Honor Recipients! Hailey Armbruster, School of Science and Engineering Christian Dang, School of Science and Engineering Carlyn Euritt, School of Science and Engineering Karl Manoza, School of Science and Engineering Nathan Meshau, School of Humanities and Social Sciences Francesca Moisson, School of Medicine Turquoise Templeton, School of Medicine Nov 30, 2022

  • Political Science Professor Weighs in on Geopolitical Ramifications of USA and Iran in the World Cup

    Tensions have been rising between the two nations for generations over human rights abuses, nuclear facilities and women’s rights.
    Despite the fact that his squad has played one of the World Cup’s top teams to a draw right before having to win or go home Tuesday, USA Head Coach Gregg Berhalter was fending off questions about the deeper political meaning of his team’s match against Iran. No matter how much he and his players want to frame it that way, UMKC associate political science professor Dr. Debra Leiter said it’s just not possible. “The United States has identified Iran as one of its rivals and Iran has certainly targeted the United States as its key geopolitical rival,” said Dr. Leiter. Read more. Nov 29, 2022

  • A Key Decision: Faculty Journey to Select New Steinway Pianos

    Generosity from donors enables the UMKC Conservatory to expand their Keyboard Area
    The UMKC Conservatory has purchased two new Steinway & Sons pianos for performances by students, faculty and guest artists. In September 2021, then-Interim Dean Dr. Andrew Granade traveled with keyboard faculty Alon Goldstein, Thomas Rosenkranz, and Karen Savage to the Steinway & Sons factory in Astoria, Queens to preview, test and select the pianos. The Conservatory also worked with Gordon McNelly, president and owner of the Steinway Piano Gallery in Lenexa, Kansas. After careful consideration, the group selected a Hamburg Steinway D, purchased with funds from a generous grant by the Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts, and a Steinway model B, purchased with a gift from Mr. Michael Waterford. Rosenkranz, associate professor of piano and coordinator of the Keyboard Area stated, “The keyboard area at UMKC is extremely grateful to the generosity of the donors that supported the purchase of two new Steinway grand pianos. Steinway pianos have a coloristic range and projection that is in a class all their own, and we believe that these new instruments will inspire and benefit our faculty and students for generations to come.” Granade was also grateful to bring the prized new pianos home, noting, “The Conservatory is thankful for the many donors who also made contributions toward the purchase of these pianos, as their generosity made the selection possible. The Hamburg Steinway will be on White Recital Hall stage for performances by students, faculty and guest artists and is truly a world-class piano.” Nov 29, 2022

  • A Musical Legacy

    Annette Luyben continues her family’s history of supporting musicians
    Anette Luyben, who grew up working in her family’s eponymous music store on Main Street in Kansas City, has lived her life surrounded by music and musicians. While the shop has moved online and narrowed its services, she continues to fuel the music community in Kansas City through gifts to the UMKC Conservatory.  In the past two years she has established four endowed scholarships for Conservatory students and contributed materials to the LaBudde Special Collections. “My father opened the business in 1948,” Luyben said of the music shop.  "There should be a sign above the door that says, ‘The nicest people in the world walk through these doors.'”—Annette Luyben While the first location of the store was farther south on 63rd Street, most people are familiar with the trim brick building on Main Street with the red door and red and white striped awning, with “Luyben” in distinct, linear black lettering.  “I was there from the time I was 5 years old. Later, when I went to Westport High School, I would walk over to the store to work after school. During college I worked there during the summers.” Luyben’s sold sheet music, musical instruments and supplies, and also provided lessons for students. She remembers her parents hiring their first Conservatory student to work in the shop in 1955. “They hired Don Shoberg, a student who had come in to buy a reed,” she says. “My mom liked him and asked if he wanted a job. He worked for us for 63 years.”  Shoberg (B.M. ’58; M.M. ’64, music composition) was the first of more than 200 students of the UMKC Conservatory who would come to work with the Luybens. “It has been a strong bond,” she says. Despite her respect for the business and the delight of the many friendships she made there, she did not start out to make music her life’s work. “I have a degree in American history and economics, and I taught high school for 15 years,” said Luyben. Luyben quit teaching and went to work in the shop when her father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. “I knew if the business was going to continue that my mother was going to need more help,” she says. “It was totally my choice. I was proud to be Bob Luyben’s daughter.” The Luybens’ connection with the Conservatory included relationships with customers who had first come to the shop as children. American operatic tenor Vinson Cole, (B.M. ’72) would visit the shop as a child, Luyben recalls. As a high schooler, Grammy award-winning opera singer Joyce Di Donato was another regular visitor at the Luybens’ shop.  “We were blessed to have so many wonderful customers. I used to say, There should be a sign above the door that says, ‘The nicest people in the world walk through these doors.'” That good will did not stop with the relationships that the Luyben family had with the students through employment and commerce. Annette Luyben is an enthusiastic and dedicated supporter of UMKC students and programs. She donated significant documentation from the shop archives to the UMKC LaBudde Special Collections this year. But her focus —and joy — is in supporting scholarships for students. “When my mother passed away, we asked that people support a scholarship at the Conservatory in her name in lieu of flowers.” When Robert Luyben died in 1993, she added his name to the scholarship and shifted the requirement to support students studying clarinet. But her generosity did not end there. She has established three named scholarships in the last two years.  Shoberg, who worked at the shop for those many years, died in May 2021. He remembered Annette Luyben in his estate, and her first thought was to use the money to honor Shoberg with an endowed scholarship in his name. "I'm the messenger . . . I'm happy there’s scholarships in place that other people can give to."— Annette Luyben “Don was very active at UMKC. He was on the UMKC Alumni Association Governing Board and was very active with the Conservatory Alumni and Friends Governing Board. A scholarship seemed like the best way to honor him.”  When Luyben’s close friend Richard Williams died six months later, she thought contributing to the scholarship in his name would be a fitting tribute to Williams’ dedication to the Conservatory for his work as assistant professor of piano and voice.   “When I called Mark Mattison and told him that I wanted to contribute to Richard’s scholarship, he let me know that there wasn’t a scholarship in Richard’s name,” said Luyben. With some of the money remaining from Shoberg’s estate, Luyben committed to establishing the Richard L. Williams Memorial Scholarship, which is available to students studying percussion. “Richard was in our store all the time. He’d been with the Conservatory for 40 years and was close friends with Don. The day I talked to Mark I went out to get the mail and there was another check from the settlement of Don’s estate. It was enough to endow the scholarship.” Rather than seeing herself as the significant philanthropist she is, Luyben credits her late friends. “I’m the messenger,” she says. “It’s Don and Richard up there doing this. I'm happy there’s scholarships in place that other people can give to.” Her most recent gift is an endowment for the Karen Richie Greer Memorial Scholarship in Percussion in honor of Karen Ricci Greer, (B.M.E., ’63). Greer, a Kansas City native and gifted percussionist, was a part-time member of the Kansas City Philharmonic at the age of 15. By the time she was 20 years old, she had joined the philharmonic full time. Greer and Luyben became close friends in their adulthoods and attended many Conservatory events together. After Greer’s death Luyben attended a performance by percussionist Isaiah Petrie. “He blew my mind,” she remembers. “The following week I reached out to Walter Greer and said, ‘I saw this musician play and he’s remarkable. It made me think of Karen. Do you want to establish a scholarship with me in her name?' And he did.” Luyben waves away the idea that she could be spending this money on herself. “These people deserve to be remembered,” she says. “It’s important. Don was incredible. Richard Williams and Karen committed so much. They deserve to be remembered in some other way than on a tombstone.” Nov 29, 2022

  • Measures and Bars

    UMKC faculty bring music program to prison, inspiring hope
    Faculty members Yotam Haber and Owen Belcher routinely step into a world apart from academic music, yet one that vividly demonstrates the universality of the art. The pair formed a UMKC chapter of Musicambia, a New York-based nonprofit that works with incarcerated prisoners on composing and performing music. Twice a month, they cross the threshold of the Lansing Correctional Facility in Lansing, Kansas —about a 40-minute drive from campus —to make music with the men incarcerated there. “Musicambia has been on my radar since about 2017. I’ve been wanting to work with them since my previous position (at the University of New Orleans),” Haber said.  When he came to UMKC in Fall 2019, he met Belcher, another new member of the faculty who had a similar interest. Haber suggested they connect with Musicambia to launch the local program. “It was thanks to my collaboration with Owen  and a generous gift from the Kauffman Foundation that allowed us to bring Musicambia here and help us launch our program at Lansing,” Haber said. Musicambia began as a branch of Carnegie Hall’s Musical Connections Program at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in 2013, and then incorporated as a separate non-profit in 2014. The national Musicambia organization contacted the wardens at several prisons in the Kansas City region. “Lansing was both the closest and the most willing to work with us,” Belcher recalled. Following the established Musicambia roadmap, the relationship began with the organization’s Founder/ Artistic Director Nathan Schram and Program.  Director Elliot Cole leading an intensive five-day songwriting session at Lansing along with Haber, Belcher and three of their students. Since then, Haber, Belcher and the students have been returning to Lansing twice a month to continue the music program. “I was pretty nervous that first day,” Belcher recalled. “But due to the intense nature of the five-day schedule, you get over the nerves and initial shyness pretty quickly. I'd say it took about an hour or two to begin developing a sense of mutual trust. It's a lot to ask of a group of men to sing in front of each other and in front of strangers. It's a vulnerable thing to do, and the prison environment is not one that traditionally rewards vulnerability.” The program involves creating music, as well as performing it.  "In our work at Lansing, we guide our participants in the process of creating, from the germination of a tiny musical kernal to a full concert. We are not playing music to the students; rather, we facilitate their own vision," Haber said. "It's deeply fulfilling to see this come into fruition. It's the reason I'm an educator, not just a composer." As for the impact, "I don't want to speak for the participants, but I would hope that our program offers them an outlet to express themselves musically, a chance to work out their artistic ideas and develop their musical abilities," Belcher said. "Our program is designed to be collaborative. What this means in practice is that, although UMKC faculty and students often lead activities, we try to be more like musical partners rather than operating under a traditional teacher-student scenario. If we wind up giving advice or helping answer questions, that arises organically." Belcher said his motivation stems naturally from his scholarship in music theory. "My discipline stresses the need to become more inclusive and involve the community; this is also an important goal for the university," he explained. "Incarcerated people are not just underserved —in many cases they aren't served at all."  Haber also pursues a deeper purpose. "Being in prison is, in large part, not a rehabilitative or positive experience. Most of the incarcerated population will eventually be released, and from my experiences and conversations, they want to build better lives for themselves and their families," Haber said. "Making music together can be a deeply fulfilling, shared, positive experience. I hope that in some small way, this project helps their wellbeing, their sense of purpose and brings some joy." Nov 29, 2022

  • 'Our Healthy Eastside Kansas City' awarded $5 million from Jackson County

    The Jackson County Legislature approved another $5 million grant Monday for a group that's made an impact in improving the health of East Kansas Ci...
    Dr. Jannette Berkley-Patton, UMKC School of Medicine professor and director of the UMKC Health Equity Project, is in charge of the effort. Read more. Nov 22, 2022

  • Our Healthy Kansas City Eastside Receives $5 million for Community Health Initiative

    Funding from Jackson County will expand health services on Kansas City’s Eastside
    The Jackson County Legislature approved $5 million to continue community health initiatives through Our Healthy Eastside Kansas City, based on the success of the coalition’s impact on COVID-19 and community health from its original funding in 2021. Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., professor in the UMKC School of Medicine and director of the university’s Health Equity Institute, is leading the project. The funding will expand COVID-19 vaccinations, health screenings, reproductive services to address infant mortality and successful diabetes prevention programs in Kansas City’s Eastside. This funding is a continuation of the program’s initial $5 million grant. Our Healthy KC Eastside is a community-wide initiative that promotes and delivers widespread COVID-19 vaccinations and other health services to residents on the east side of Kansas City. More than 60 community organizations and health agencies are partnering with OHKCE to support healthy lifestyles through vaccine events and health screenings such as blood pressure checks, diabetes screenings and dental education. OHKCE health agency partners include the UMKC schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Pharmacy and Nursing and Health Sciences, Children’s Mercy Hospital and University Health. As part of the OHKCE initiative, more than 3,000 Kansas City residents completed surveys on their health beliefs, which showed that indifference or fear was not always behind low vaccination rates. Often, transportation or access to healthcare were factors. Providing healthcare delivery in community hubs on weekends and evenings provided better availability. “This is a significant advance in assuring accessible and preventative health services are available to Jackson County residents,” Berkley-Patton says. “Our success with Our Healthy Eastside Kansas City is evidence that working collaboratively with community and health partners can greatly increase the reach of health care in the most underserved neighborhoods and have a positive impact on our entire community.” “As a provider of community health and regional health education, UMKC recognizes the significance of this funding on our community,” UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal says. “We thank the Jackson County Legislature for their leadership on this issue, and congratulate Dr. Berkley Patton on her dedication to high quality healthcare delivery to every citizen of Jackson County.” Nov 21, 2022

  • The High Priest of Sound

    The fine-tuned eccentricities of Paul Rudy.
    Paul Rudy has always been fascinated with sound. He’s ridden the sound waves to many impressive achievements as a composer, performer, Guggenheim Fellow, Fulbright Fellow, artist and sound healer. He’s currently the Curator’s Distinguished Professor, but his path to UMKC and the honorary title “High Priest of Sound” was as winding as the labyrinth he created on his Kansas farm.“I understood the power of sound when I was a kid,” Rudy recalled. “My sister was watching a horror movie, and I was behind the couch playing. I heard this sound, and I stood up and started watching. It totally sucked me in. That movie scared the crap out of me! But I knew it was that sounds that drew me in.”Rudy’s fascination with sound continued into his college career, even when he thought it wouldn’t.“I did a jazz trumpet degree at Bethel College in Newton, then I quit music altogether and became a mountain climber and carpenter for four or five years,” he said. “That wasn’t stimulating my brain enough, though. I’ve been chasing my tail my whole life.”The chase would bring him back to music in the late 80’s, when he joined a composition class at Wichita State University. It was there that he composed a piece of music his instructor described as graduate work. Invigorated by this taste of success, he applied for a music composition program at the University of Colorado and earned an assistantship in the program. "Over the last ten years, I've started to love teaching. It went from being part of the job to something I really look forward to doing." — Paul Rudy “I discovered the studio, and I fell in love with actually making and sculpting sound,” Rudy reminisced.“That’s why I went the electronic route.”It was this interest in electroacoustic music that would provide him with another opportunity in his academic career. This time, at UMKC’s Health Sciences Campus, working in tandem with Dr. Gary Sutkin, professor of surgery and associate dean of women’s health. Together, the two are studying how sounds in the operating room can affect health outcomes for patients during surgery.“Paul is a scientist,” said Sutkin of his colleague. “When I think of people in the Conservatory, I think of creators, musicians and artists, but I never think of science. And yet, Paul’s brain thinks like a scientist. He comes up with scientific principles, questions for us to analyze, and then he’s really good at analyzing data and distilling it down to what we need to answer our questions.”“I think my study with electroacoustics and knowing how the brain processes sound brought me to the operating room study,” Rudy says. “Sound is vibrating on us, acting upon us all the time. Every time we hear sound it’s not just hitting our ears; it’s hitting our whole body. There was a part of me that was excited about offering something other than just the study of music. This seemed to be an opportunity to take that work into a deeper, more significant arena, and it’s still unfolding.”“We’ve been studying it for about two or three years, and we’re going to study it for about another 20,” said Sutkin, only half-jokingly. “We’re not the first ones to measure the sound environment, but I think we are the first ones to really delve into what we call ‘speech communication interference,’ when someone says something, and the other person doesn’t hear them. There are so many machines that are making loud noises, multiple conversations going on. We’re measuring those interferences, then I think we can make recommendations.”Those recommendations could one day save lives by changing the very nature of how operating rooms are built and managed. For now, the pair are happy with the success they’ve seen, having been published in one medical journal, with a second article currently under review.Rudy considers research a part of his creative process, satisfying his analytical side so as not to hinder creative flow while making his art. “The brain is really good at cataloging and organizing things, but the spirit knows how to make the best use of it all.” That was the realization, Rudy says, when creating became fun. “I felt like I had all these resources starting to really work together and complement each other.”Rudy’s creative spirit carries well beyond music. Settled on 70 acres, north of Lawrence, Kansas, you’ll find Harmony Farm, a home as interesting and eccentric as the man who lives there.“It’s become a canvas, of sorts, that I photograph and that I use to make modern day ‘Nazca Lines,’” says Rudy, referring to massive and mysterious geoglyphs etched across Peru’s Nazca Desert. While Rudy openly admits to keeping a quiet social life outside of the farm, he’s ever eager to share his passions with students at UMKC.“Over the last ten years, I've started to love teaching,” Rudy says. “It went from being part of the job to something I really look forward to doing. Part of what I love is staying in touch with young people.”“Paul is one of the most generous people I know, and one of the most open thinkers,” said Andrew Granade, former interim dean of the Conservatory. “I’ve been on dissertation graduate committees with him many, many times with his students, and they all sound like themselves. He has a unique ability to listen to them, respond to them and help them grow into the artist they need to be.”Rudy challenges his students to find fresh perspectives, and he does so with zest, teaching a general education course he calls the artist in society. “I’ve had students tell me they’ve never seen a piece of art before, I’ve had students tell me they’ve never had a conversation with someone they disagreed with before,” Rudy says. “And I just love seeing what happens when they have those new experiences. Part of my job is mentoring them into those new experiences. I present them with some really uncomfortable stuff, sometimes purposefully, for them to learn how to witness what happens in them when things get uncomfortable.”"Paul is very Socratic in his teaching style,” said Granade, “I imagine the first couple of weeks it’s a little bit uncomfortable for them, because any time you have your beliefs or thoughts challenged, it’s uncomfortable. But what he’s doing is basically saying this is the role of the artist, literally the role of the artist in society is to open up these dialogues.”Rudy says he wants students to think about the ways they act and react. How do they navigate obstacles? How do they learn and grow? It's a practice he recently had to exercise himself. But through a painful experience, he says he’s found one of his proudest moments.Rudy’s long-time friend, poet Jay Hopler was 51 years old when he lost his battle with cancer in June. The two had studied together at the American Academy of Rome in Italy.“In 2017, Jay was thinking about a poem that would describe himself, and he asked me, ‘If I were a piece of music, what would I be?’” Rudy says the melody was instant. “I heard the music in my head. That doesn’t happen often. Most of the time, it’s hard work, but I knew exactly what Jay sounds like.”Holding up a copy of still life, Hopler’s final published book of poetry, Rudy turned to the last page of the closing entry, where just a few bars of music were included with the poet’s words.“It’s the second-to-last line, even,” he notes. “I don’t think anybody’s ever done that before. A little piece of music, describing this poet, is part of his obituary poem. I didn’t know that until I saw the final copy of the book. I’m actually considering making a whole piece in memoriam of him to celebrate his amazing words and amazing life.”It's there Rudy shows his spirit again. His spirit for life, healing and creation through sound, even when faced with the loss of a friend. It’s this unique mindset that has pushed him to find success time and time again, both personally and professionally.“For me,” Rudy says, “the bottom line is, 'Is what I’m doing interesting?' If not, is it the thing I’m doing? Or the way I’m doing it?” Adding, “It’s usually the latter.”It’s this ability to reshape his own perspective that’s given Rudy new love for everything he does.“I think that’s when my academic career started to change. When I realized it’s not the responsibility of my job to give me fulfillment, that’s my responsibility to find fulfillment in what I’m doing. I love these interesting collaborations that I’m constantly on the lookout for. Teaching is one of those collaborations between me and the generation that’s going to rule the world someday. How cool is that?” Nov 17, 2022

  • School of Law Students, Alumni Honored

    Achievements noted by legal organizations representing diverse communities
    Students and alumni from the School of Law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City were recently recognized with awards and scholarships by two local legal organizations with diverse memberships. The Jackson County Bar Association, which primarily represents Black attorneys, has recognized State Sen. Barbara Anne Washington (J.D., ‘97), a UMKC School of Law alumna, with the 2022 Lewis W. Clymer Award. Clymer was an assistant prosecuting attorney, assistant attorney general for Missouri, municipal court judge and circuit court judge. The award recognizes a minority attorney for their service to the community and their promotion of the integrity of the legal profession. The organization also awarded Kit Carson Roque, Jr. scholarships to third-year UMKC law students Sommari T. Muwwakkil II and Jamie Powell. The Roque scholarship is named in honor of UMKC School of Law alumnus the late Kit Carson Roque, Jr. (J.D., ‘76), who served as both a Jackson County Circuit Court judge and a civil rights attorney for the U.S. Dept. of Education. The Hispanic Bar Association of Greater Kansas City awarded three scholarships to UMKC law students: Alejandro Villalobos, Julia Hernandez and Myriam Paniagua. The scholarships were awarded at the organization’s 30th anniversary scholarship reception, which featured a keynote address by UMKC alumna Judge Justine E. Del Muro (B.A. ’78, J.D. ’84), a Jackson County Circuit Court judge. “Our School of Law is committed to providing opportunity for all to pursue an exceptional legal education,” said Dean Barbara Glesner Fines. “These awards demonstrate the strength of that commitment.” Nov 17, 2022

  • Emmy-winning Sportscaster to Speak at Commencement

    UMKC alumnus Bob Carpenter has done it all, from World Series to World Cup
    UMKC alumnus and voice of the Washington Nationals Bob Carpenter (’75) will speak at the mid-year commencement celebration for the Class of 2022 at the T-Mobile Center. The mid-year commencement will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18 at Kansas City’s downtown arena. There will be a single ceremony for all academic units. More than 1,000 graduates are expected to participate. Carpenter earned his bachelor’s degree in Radio-TV-Film from UMKC in 1975 and has fashioned a successful 47-year career in broadcasting.  He will be announcing his 40th season of major league baseball in 2023, his 18th for the Nationals.  Carpenter has also announced baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers, New York Mets and Minnesota Twins.  In 18 years with ESPN, he was a mainstay of their baseball, college basketball and football coverage.  He announced seven NCAA basketball tournaments and the Final Four in 2005 for NCAA International.  He hosted College Gameday and was one of ESPN’s primary soccer commentators for the 1982 and 1994 World Cups. Bob and his wife of 43 years, Debbie, have raised more than a half-million dollars for charity in their hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Bob says his two best life decisions have been 1) marrying Debbie and 2) coming to UMKC sight-unseen in January of 1974.   Nov 16, 2022

  • Conservatory Professor Awarded Commission from Chamber Music America

    Yotam Haber wins $15,000 to write a major new work
    Yotam Haber, associate professor of music composition, was awarded a $15,000 commission to write a new work for the Kahl and Nyce Duo. Haber’s commission is through Chamber Music America’s (CMA) Classical Commissioning program, which supports U.S.-based composers and ensembles who perform classical and contemporary music. The grants provided through the program support the creation and performance of new works by American composers. “The CMA’s Classical Commissioning program is prestigious and extremely competitive,” said Haber. “Receiving a grant from CMA is deeply coveted and I’m incredibly honored to have gotten one to write for the Kahl & Nyce Duo, two magnificent artists.” Haber’s commission will support his work composing a large-scale piece of music for saxophone, piano and electronics. This work will expand on ideas he first explored in “Resistance,” a trumpet piece he wrote for Don-Paul Kahl of the Kahl & Nyce Duo. “This recognition demonstrates how highly regarded Yotam is as a composer and our students benefit greatly from his knowledge as a professor,” said Conservatory dean Courtney Crappell. “We’re excited to see what he creates with this significant new commission.” Haber has earned several prestigious awards in the past, including the 2021 Benjamin Danks Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a 2017 Koussevitzky Commission from the Library of Congress, a 2013 Fromm Music Foundation Commission, a 2013 NYFA award, the 2008 Rome Prize and a 2005 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. Nov 15, 2022

  • UMKC Alumna, School of Medicine Faculty Member is 2022 Chiefs' Fan of the Year

    Amy Patel is headed to the Super Bowl as Chiefs’ nominee for NFL Fan of the Year
    The Kansas City Chiefs are on a roll in the National Football League and UMKC School of Medicine alumna and faculty member Amy Patel, M.D., is now part of the excitement surrounding Chiefs Kingdom. Patel, a 2011 graduate and assistant professor of radiology at the School of Medicine, is celebrating the team’s success as its 2022 Fan of the Year. With that, Patel is now the Chiefs’ nominee for 2022 NFL Fan of the Year. Patel learned of the honor earlier this year before the Chiefs’ home-opening game against the Los Angeles Chargers when she was awarded the game’s Lamar Hunt Legacy Seat that recognizes a community member who represents the spirit of Lamar Hunt, the team’s founder. “I got to meet (Chiefs’ owner) Clark Hunt and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell who shared the news with me,” Patel said at the time. “I am still in shock! But I feel so honored to have my work recognized as well as my love of the Chiefs.” As Chiefs Fan of the Year, Patel will receive two tickets to the Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, on Feb. 12 and will be invited to take in all of the game’s surrounding activities. Each of the NFL’s 32 teams selects a Fan of the Year. Through a combination of fan voting on the league’s web site that began this week and scoring by a panel of judges based on the individual’s enthusiasm, team fandom, inspirational story and community spirit, the NFL will select and announce its Fan of the Year at the Super Bowl. Patel is a breast imaging specialist and medical director of the Breast Care Center at Liberty Hospital. With a primary focus on breast radiology and research in breast health equity, artificial intelligence, and digital breast tomosynthesis, she helped to build a comprehensive breast care program in Liberty. Her love for the Chiefs began at an early age growing up in Chillicothe, Missouri. After earning her medical degree, she went to Harvard University, where she helped build a comprehensive breast care program at a local hospital. In 2018, Patel returned to Kansas City, where she is recognized as a champion of helping women achieve equitable access to breast care and a loyal fan of the Chiefs. Nov 11, 2022

  • Health Sciences Campus Welcomes New Director of Major Gifts

    Gus Sonnenberg is a 1997 graduate of the UMKC School of Law
    Gus Sonnenberg, a 15-year fundraising veteran, has joined the UMKC Foundation as senior director of major gifts for the Health Sciences Campus. He will work specifically with the schools of Nursing and Health Studies, Medicine and Pharmacy. Sonnenberg will work with the schools’ leadership to identify, cultivate, solicit and steward those who want to make an impact on student’s lives. He said he is making plans to meet with leadership, faculty and donors to understand the schools’ priorities and create a plan to move forward. He brings with him a strong record of success managing capital campaigns, having secured six- and seven-figure gifts. He has also led continuing education conferences and taught courses on educational foundation fundraising and leadership. Sonnenberg, a 1997 graduate of the UMKC School of Law, said he understands the role UMKC plays in serving the greater Kansas City area, and is excited about the work that can be done to advance programs and provide financial support for students. Sonnenberg is a Kansas City native who attended Rockhurst High School and Creighton University on an Army ROTC scholarship before law school. He started his legal career as an assistant prosecuting attorney in Cass and Jackson counties, working on everything from traffic tickets to felony trials. He was recruited to become general counsel for the General American Mutual Holding Company Receivership, where he managed the distribution of $1.2 billion dollars to individuals and companies around the world. After wrapping up the receivership, Sonnenberg changed careers and became director of development for Rockhurst High School. He has been active in the Kansas City Bar Association, St. Elizabeth Parish, Cub Scouts, Brookside Soccer, and the Jesuit Schools Network. He and his wife Julie, a physical therapist and founder of Empower Physical Therapy in Prairie Village, have four children and live in Leawood, Kansas. Nov 10, 2022

  • Legacy of Learning Inspires Scholarship

    UMKC alumnus and physics professor honors father’s dedication
    John Shaw, Jr., Ph.D. (M.S. physics ’76), watched his father go to night school and do his homework at the kitchen table to earn a college degree as he worked and raised a family. Shaw, a retired physics professor, established a scholarship in his father’s name to give other students the opportunity for academic achievement. “My father liked to be busy from the minute he got up in the morning to the minute he went to bed,” Shaw says. John Shaw, Sr. took correspondence courses early in his career as a technician with the Federal Aviation Administration. When he became a FAA instructor, Shaw’s mother suggested that he attend night school. “I never felt neglected by the fact that he went to school,” Shaw says. “When I was young, he would play catch with me, and read to me and my sister before we went to bed at night.” In addition, Shaw’s father, who was the first person in his family to graduate from college, was teaching him the value of education and perseverance through his own academic goals. He graduated from college two months before Shaw turned twelve. When Shaw’s father retired, he was deputy regional director for the FAA. “When I asked him of all the jobs that he had, which was his favorite, he said, ‘Teaching,’” Shaw says. “Urban universities offer opportunities that are out of reach for other schools. If you’re in Kansas City, the large employer base means it’s easier to get a job while you go to school." - John Shaw, Jr. This is something Shaw and his father had in common. By the time Shaw started college, he knew that he wanted to earn his doctorate and be a college professor; he taught physics at Northwest Missouri State until he retired in 2016. “Seeing my dad graduate was an extremely important event in my life,” he says. “I’d always loved learning, but when I saw him graduate and the professors in their full regalia, I began to realize that there was more to education than I’d realized. That was when I became more goal oriented.” Shaw is a proponent of urban higher education. He says that people may not understand that even students who receive scholarships and aid struggle to meet the financial demands of college. “Urban universities offer opportunities that are out of reach for other schools,” he says. “If you’re in Kansas City, the large employer base means it’s easier to get a job while you go to school. My father wouldn’t have been eligible for a scholarship in that situation. Urban universities offer paths to education with which rural schools can't compete.” Nov 09, 2022

  • Former Alumnus of the Year Endows Two New Scholarships

    Conservatory graduate Douglas Enderle makes surprise announcement at Crescendo reception
    Douglas Enderle (M.F.A. '81), the 2010 UMKC Alumnus of the Year, has endowed two new scholarships for UMKC Conservatory students, honoring two longtime friends. The Debra Joan Tucci scholarship will be awarded to a student in the Edelman Graduate Certificate in Performing Arts Management program. The Pamela Ann Carver scholarship will be awarded to a student majoring in Costume Design, the field in which Enderle built a stellar, Emmy-winning career as a senior costume designer for Walt Disney Entertainment. Enderle said he read an item in the E-Roos alumni newsletter about the new Performing Arts Management program, intended to prepare students for management positions at not-for-profit performing arts organizations. It immediately made him think of Tucci, a friend of more than 30 years, “who was always willing to help me in whatever I needed to do.” “I thought, what better thing could I do than to endow a scholarship in her name,” Enderle said. He decided to add a second scholarship in honor of Carver, who hired him to launch his career at Disney. “She has guided me throughout my career,” he said of Carver. “I thought this would be a good way for me to give back.” He is endowing the scholarships at UMKC because of the strong relationships he has formed here over the years, starting with Vincent Scassellati, the professor of costume design who hired Enderle as a graduate assistant. When Enderle was nominated for Alumnus of the Year in 2010, he formed new bonds with several people, particularly Curt Crespino, vice chancellor for external relations and constituent engagement; and Karen English, director of advancement for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. “These people have been instrumental in making my relationship with UMKC a huge success,” Enderle said. “They are the people who give of themselves. They are gems in this world, and that resonates with me because it seems that there are fewer and fewer of them to be found these days.” Nov 08, 2022

  • Crescendo Raises More Than $650,000 for Student Scholarships

    Annual benefit performance is the Conservatory’s largest fundraising event
    The 2022 Crescendo event raised more than $650,000 to support Conservatory student scholarships. Approximately 1,000 people attended the gala and performance Friday evening. Crescendo is a collage-style show, with performances from musicians, dancers and actors. Each piece flows into the next as a continuous performance. This year’s Crescendo included jazz, a strings solo, a piano solo, opera, dance, singers, various ensembles, a scene from the film “The 39 Steps” and more. “The Crescendo performance is the ultimate exercise in team effort,” said James Snell, Ph.D., associate dean for performance. “We start planning about one year out. In August, we establish the program repertoire and students begin to work on their pieces.” More than 250 students, faculty members and alumni performed in the show, held in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. This was the 26th annual Crescendo event. Alumni performers this year included trumpeter Hermon Mehari, operatic bass Scott Conner, operatic tenor Ben Gulley, pianist Crystal Jiang and dancer Caroline Dahm. Nov 07, 2022

  • Digital Journalism Professor Research Shows Inequities in Rural Broadband Access

    While the Federal Communication Commission estimates that 16 million people in rural America go without broadband Internet access, that number may ...
    Researchers Nick Mathews, assistant professor of digital journalism at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and Christopher Ali, the Pioneers Chair in Telecommunications and Professor of Telecommunications in the Bellisario College of Communications at Pennsylvania State University, conducted 19 interviews with families in a rural county in the East Coast who lacked adequate broadband connections. Read more. Nov 02, 2022

  • Involvement Key for UMKC PharmD Student

    Rewards come from caring for patients and connecting with colleagues
    Roos don’t just dream, they do. Our students turn ideas into action every day. Get to know our people, and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Calvin FlemonsAnticipated graduation: 2025Academic program: PharmDHometown: St. Louis  Why did you choose UMKC? I initially chose UMKC for two reasons: It was close to home, and it had a six-year pharmacyprogram compared to seven years at many other universities. I wanted to attend a universitythat was affordable and would allow me to get away from home, but not too far. UMKC isthe perfect distance that allows for independence and a college experience. The six-yearprogram was the big ticket that drew me to campus because I could obtain my PharmD in lesstime and for less money!  Why did you choose your field of study? Believe it or not, I did not always want to become a pharmacist. Originally, I wanted to become an engineer, but the math courses made me rethink my decisionquickly. However, I still liked math and also loved helping and caring for people. Afterresearching a multitude of careers in healthcare, I felt that pharmacy gave me that perfectbalance. What are the challenges of the program? No program is easy, but I would say time management and the heavy course load is challenging. In pharmacy school, there are some weeks when you have three exams, quizzes and homework all due in the same week. It never slows down. The load of the material and amount of studying is the most rewarding, but also the most challenging. You must figure out how to study effectively and utilize all your time efficiently.  What are the benefits of the program? The biggest benefit of the PharmD program is knowing all this material will equip you to carefor patients in the future. Knowing that people’s lives will be in your hands makes you excitedto learn new things every day and to challenge yourself to a new level. Another benefit ishaving the opportunity to work alongside other programs on the Health Sciences campus. Getting to interact with medical, dental and nursing students allows me to see multiple aspects of healthcare and how we all fit into this large puzzle.  How has your college program inspired you? My college program has inspired me to never give up and to not only represent myself, but allthose around me and coming after me. Attending a PWI (predominantly white institution),feeling like you belong and feel included can be a challenge sometimes. In this program thereare very few students who look like me, so I am inspired to encourage other students of colorto go into healthcare. Our representation is vital, and if my presence can help someone elsefeel inspired or interested in healthcare, then I am doing my part.  Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself? Comparing freshman year to me today is a 0 - 100 experience. During my journey in school, Ihave learned that I am very ambitious and want to get the most out of my experience here. Ilove being involved and interacting with others on campus whether it is students, faculty oradministration. I have also learned that I am - and want to continue to be - impactful on and offcampus. I believe the best way to make an impact is to give back and serve those around you.Through my time working with organizations, I learned that I could impact and help those around me,which is very fulfilling.  Are you a first-generation college student? If so, what does that mean to you? I am not a first-generation college student, but I am a first-generation pharmacy student. Mymother and father paved the way for me and my sister, and education has always been important. Being a first-generation pharmacy student however means everything to me because I amdoing this for myself, my family and my community. Knowing that Black men in healthcare arescarce, we need more of us to represent and make an impact and difference. Having theknowledge to improve and possibly change someone’s life is mind-blowing and I am gratefulevery day of the journey.  Who/What do you admire most at UMKC and why? I admire all of the student leaders that I get the privilege to work alongside. Seeing thesestudents show up to the task every time with no complaints and still uphold their academicsis motivational. There are many students who have taught me so much during my journey and Ihope to do the same for others around me.  What other extracurricular activities are you involved in at UMKC? I am very involved on both the Volker campus and Hospital Hill campus at UMKC. Being a partof these organizations allows me to challenge myself and give back to my campus and community! I am involved in 7 organizations: President of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. – Delta Rho Chapter; Vice-President of The National Society of Leadership and Success; President-Elect of The Student National Pharmaceutical Association; UMKC STAHR Ambassador; Treasurer of The Student College of Clinical Pharmacists; Treasurer of Black Student Pharmacists Organization; Financial Recorder of National Pan-Hellenic Council.  What do you hope to take from your experiences at UMKC into your professional career? I hope to make new connections with other UMKC students and faculty around me. I believe that lifelong connections with others is more important than any amount of coursework you could learn. Nov 02, 2022

  • UMKC Latinx Student Union Leads 2022 Cambio para Cambio College Division

    Greater Kansas City Hispanic Development Fund competition raises funds to support Latinx scholarships
    The UMKC Latinx Student Union raised more than $18,000 to support Latinx college scholarships in the Cambio para Cambio fundraiser competition, hosted by the Greater Kansas City Hispanic Development Fund. UMKC LSU was the leading college team for the fifth year in a row. Lauren Orozco, president, UMKC Latinx Student Union, is excited about her team’s accomplishments. “The most important thing to me about raising money for scholarships is that it reflects that UMKC is a home for Latinx students. We say we are Kansas City’s university, but it's the connections people make – with students, faculty, staff and alumni – at UMKC that build our community.  The Latinx Student Union has built a strong community within UMKC.” To raise funds, Orozco and her team solicited community donations and raffled items that included a professional photo shoot, pumpkin patch tickets, AirPods and a 65-inch Roku television. They organized  events, including a dance with a DJ in collaboration with the Latinx Education Collaborative, but Orozco was particularly excited that they were able to hold the Latinx Student Union Excelencia Breakfast this year. “For half a decade we have provided scholarships that help make a home for Latinx students at UMKC. It shows that the students here care about providing a safe and welcoming space for Latinx students coming to the university.” - Lauren Orozco “Even if we hadn’t raised the most funds this year, having the breakfast for our community was important to me. I felt the breakfast would be my legacy as president.” Orozco says collaboration with UMKC LSU members and partners has been critical to their success in raising funds for Cambio para Cambio. “Café Ollama, a Latinx owned coffee shop, did a promotion for us. I think that speaks to how present UMKC is in the community, especially with Latinx students. UMKC is home to so many different types of people, and being in the heart of the city makes it even more diverse.” She thinks providing scholarships for Latinx students is both important and exciting. “For half a decade we have provided scholarships that help make a home for Latinx students at UMKC. It shows that the students here care about providing a safe and welcoming space for Latinx students coming to the university.” Alex Perez (M.A. ’17), director of scholarship program at the Hispanic Development Fund, says Cambio Para Cambio funds two-thirds of the scholarships the organization awards, but the impact is even broader. “For many of our scholars, these scholarships provide hope and validation,” Perez says. “We are sending a message that their community has their back and supports their academic goals. All Cambio funds are raised with so much love, bringing to light the philanthropic power the Latina/o/x Hispanic community has when we come together.” The Greater Kansas City Hispanic Development Fund developed Cambio para Cambio (Change for Change) in 2017 to support college scholarships for Hispanic students. In 1984, HDF awarded $100 scholarships to 100 students. This year the organization raised $425,984 to support scholarships that they will award this spring. Nov 02, 2022

  • Lifetime of Research Leads to Prestigious Award

    Niemi named Curators’ Distinguished Professor
    Tina Niemi, Ph.D., knew she wanted to be an archeologist or a geologist from a young age. Now, as an Earth and Environmental Science professor at UMKC, she is inspiring the next generation of scientists.  Niemi, who teaches in the School of Science and Engineering, was recently named a Curators’ Distinguished Professor by the University of Missouri Board of Curators. It is the highest and most prestigious academic rank awarded by the Curators, and it is given to a select few outstanding scholars with established reputations. Growing up, Niemi said her mother kept a large rock garden in their backyard filled with all kinds of souvenirs from time spent hunting arrowheads on her grandfather’s farm. This started her love of archeology and geology. She went on to study both archelogy and geology for her undergraduate degree, geo-archelogy for her master’s and earthquakes for her Ph.D. Niemi specializes in geoarchaeology, sedimentology and active tectonics. Specifically, Neimi’s scientific interests include studying active faults, earthquake recurrence in the geologic and archaeological records, reconstructions of ancient environments, analyses of high-resolution geophysical data and the study of recent hurricane and tsunami sediment deposits. “It’s crazy to think I’m doing exactly what I dreamed about as a kid,” Niemi said. As a field geologist, Niemi and her students collect aerial imagery using drones and stratigraphic (rock-layering) data from outcrops, trench excavations and cores to build a deeper understanding of the history and nature of tectonic, climate and anthropogenic (human-influenced) environmental changes through time. One of Niemi’s favorite parts of being a professor is her connection with her students and research her student-led teams have conducted. Under her supervision, students have had the chance to participate in real-world research in Mexico, Guatemala, the Bahamas, India, Jordan, Turkey and on the San Andreas fault and New Madrid seismic zone. “I’m very proud to have mentored nearly 60 undergraduate research projects and have facilitated probably another 40 with my NSF [National Science Foundation] student research projects,” Niemi said. “I’ve had students put in their evaluations that it was life-changing – that it changed the trajectory of their careers.”  Along with Niemi, Massimiliano Vitiello, Ph.D., of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, was also given the award. Both were celebrated at the UMKC Promotion and Tenure event earlier this month. Oct 31, 2022

  • History Faculty named Curator’s Distinguished Professor

    Massimiliano Vitiello, Ph.D., one of two UMKC faculty honored
    The University of Missouri Board of Curators recently named Massimiliano Vitiello, Ph.D., of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences a Curators' Distinguished Professor. Vitiello conducts research on ancient history, Late Antiquity, Byzantium and the early Middle Ages, with an emphasis in Roman History. He is the M.A. program adviser for the history department and a faculty member in the Humanities Consortium. “The period I work on is the migration, the barbarian invasions for the Roman Empire,” Vitiello said. “This is all in the fifth, the sixth and the beginning of the seventh century AD. It's one of the fields, especially in the United States, that was established in the 1970s. It’s actually a fairly new field of study.” Vitiello was born in Rome, Italy. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Messina in Sicily in 2001 and a postdoctoral License in Mediaeval Studies from the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies in Toronto, Canada, in 2009. He has worked as a researcher in Germany, where he has held such awards as the Alexander Von Humboldt Fellowship, the DAAD Fellowship and the Heinrich Hertz Fellowship. He began teaching at UMKC in 2010 and quickly joined the tenure track. While at UMKC, he has been awarded the Trustees’ Faculty Scholar Award in 2015, the UMRBand the Norman Royall Professorship. He was also awarded early tenure in 2015. “The environment at UMKC has always been very nice,” Vitiello said. “You feel that you are supported. If there is any issue, you can always talk to the people above you and rely on the advice. They put you in a very relaxing atmosphere, which actually is very productive for the research.” Though already a highly decorated researcher, Vitiello feels very fortunate to receive this recognition from the Board of Curators. “To reach this point, especially like in a field like mine that’s a little bit less known than other fields, it makes me feel that what I've been doing matters,” he said. “I’m leaving a legacy that goes outside of the department, and that makes me feel good.” He also hopes this draws attention to the importance of Humanities across the University of Missouri System. “Our society is an expression of the way we understand the present, the way we understand the past, how we understand the legacies and humanity,” Vitiello said. “The humanities should not be underestimated. They don’t generate the big money, but they definitely generate good people, which is very important, especially now.” Oct 31, 2022

  • 2023 Alumni Awards This Weekend

    Sixteen alumni and one family will be honored March 10
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City Class of 2023 Alumni Achievement Award recipients includes a criminal defense lawyer who has argued (and won) before the United States Supreme Court, a civil rights activist, a national CEO and a legacy family whose name is well-recognized in the Kansas City legal community. Each year, UMKC recognizes a select group of alumni for their amazing and inspirational accomplishments. The event offers a chance to share the achievements and successes of graduates UMKC sends out into the world each year at Commencement. The Alumni Awards ceremony is one of the university's largest events to support student scholarships. In the last decade, the Alumni Awards event has garnered more than $1 million in scholarships and immediate aid for UMKC students. Join us in honoring the Class of 2023 awardees at a celebration at 5 p.m. on March 10 at the Westport Commons. Visit UMKC's Alumni Association website to learn more about this year's event. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online. University-Wide Alumni Awardees Alumnus of the Year: Sean O'Brien (JD '80) O'Brien is a nationally recognized criminal defense lawyer, with successes in the United States Supreme Court and federal and state courts across the country. At least 17 innocent and wrongfully convicted individuals have been exonerated largely due to his efforts, and he has personally been responsible for at least 24 individuals being removed from death row. Prior to returning to UMKC to teach in the early 2000s, he served as the chief public defender in Kansas City, Missouri. From 1985 through 1989, he served as executive director of the Missouri Capital Punishment Resource Center, now the Public Interest Litigation Clinic. In addition to teaching Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure and Wrongful convictions at the UMKC School of Law, O'Brien is the director of various pro bono criminal defense clinics, including the Death Penalty Representation Clinic, Public Defender Appeals Clinic and the Public Defender Trial Clinic. He continues his work in criminal defense through these clinics. Spotlight Award: Bruce Bubacz This year, Bubacz will celebrate his 50th year of teaching at UMKC. He has touched the lives of more than 5,000 students over the course of his tenure. He is a Curators' Teaching Professor of Philosophy and professor of Philosophy and Law. He joined UMKC in 1973 and served as founding director of the College Honors Program, a program for academically talented undergraduates, from 1979 until 1985. He chaired the Philosophy Department from 1987 until 2000 and served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences between 2000 and 2002, served as chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics from 2004-2005 and as provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs from 2005 until 2007. He was also the chair of the Philosophy Department to UMKC Forward academic realignment in 2022. The Bill French Alumni Service Award: Patricia Macdonald (BLA) Macdonald has a long history in nonprofit management, research, strategic planning and resources development. She is the Director of Strategic Ventures and Operations for the Healthcare Institute for Innovations and Quality at UMKC, the past president of the Mid-American chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, chair of the UMKC Alumni Association Multicultural and Community Affairs Committee and a past president of the UMKC Alumni Association. She has participated in numerous campus activities, from search and selection committees to gala planning. In 2016, she was awarded the CASE VI Volunteer Service Award given to those who have demonstrated tremendous service for higher education institutions in the Midwest. Defying the Odds Award: Rev. Carl Moore (BME '68) While attending college at Alabama State in the spring of 1960, Rev. Moore was arrested for protesting racial inequality. As a result, he could not return to the university in the fall -- so his mother put him on a train to Kansas City, where he began attending UMKC. After graduating with a degree in music education, Rev. Moore taught high school music for three years before taking a job as a sales representative for IBM, where he stayed for the next 24 years. At the age of 40, Rev. Moore felt called to ministry and began taking courses at the New Orleans Seminary and the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta and accepted his first pastorate at a small church. Rev. Moore continues in ministry today at Allen Temple AME Church in Woodstock, Georgia, where he has consistently grown his congregation yearly. Legacy Award: The Accurso Family The Accurso Family's legacy at UMKC dates back generations. Joseph C. Accurso attended what was then Kansas City University and laid the path for many generations that followed to become Roos. Family members include Joseph’s nephew, Louis Accurso, who earned his BA from UMKC in 1978 and his JD in 1981. Just seven years later, he founded one of Kansas City's most well-recognized law firms: the Accurso Law Firm. His sons, Christopher (BA '11, JD '17); Anthony (BLA '12, MD '12) and Patrick Accurso (JD '18), went on to continue the legacy. Countless other family members have also attended including Michael C. Accurso (BBA '82), Melissa Accurso (BA '88), Joseph M. Accurso (BA '96), Tammy Dickinson (JD '98), Terri Accurso (BA '02, MA '12), Danielle Roy (MS '09) and Nicholas Accurso (BBA ’20).Members of the family have graduated from nearly every program on campus, including the College of Arts and Sciences, Henry W. Bloch School of Management, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, School of Education, School of Law and School of Medicine. School Alumni Achievement Awardees *   School of Biological and Chemical Sciences: Beth Harville (Ph.D. '95) Senior Executive Vice President and Provost, Drury University Henry W. Bloch School of Management: Ramin Cherafat (MBA '02) CEO, McCownGordon Construction School of Computing and Engineering: Ken Gerling (BSCE '91) Vice President Transmission & Distribution, Burns and McDonnell Conservatory: Charlie Corcoran (MFA '01) Award-winning scenic designer School of Dentistry: Cesar Sabates (DDS '87, AEGD '88) Former President, American Dental Association. Dental Practice, Solo General Dentistry School of Dentistry- Dental Hygiene: Heather Samuel (BSDH '90, MSDH '91) Retired Professor of Dental Hygiene, Johnson County Community College School of Education: Chris Brown (Ph.D. '93) Chair, Division of Counseling and Psychology, UMKC School of Law: Scott Bethune (JD '88) Founding member, Davis, Bethune & Jones, LLC School of Medicine: Arif Kamal (MD '05) Chief Patient Officer, American Cancer Society School of Nursing and Health Studies: Shweta Palakkode (BHS '15) Health Policy Analyst, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services School of Pharmacy: Craig Norman (BS '83) Senior Vice President of Pharmacy, H-E-B *Nominations were collected before UMKC Forward realigned academic units. Next year, some awardees will be named in their new academic units: School of Science and Engineering, School of Humanities and Social Sciences and School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences. Oct 27, 2022

  • Disability is Used to Stigmatize, Silence or Exclude People, Advocate Says

    Kim Nielsen, Ph.D., spoke about the history of disability in the United States and why it matters to all of us
    Disability is central to U.S. history and shaped the body of the nation, according to Kim Nielsen, Ph.D., an award-winning historian and disability justice advocate. Nielsen, a distinguished professor of disability studies at the University of Toledo, delivered the 2022 Social Justice Lecture at UMKC on Oct. 20. She spoke about the history of disability in the United States, why it matters at this moment in time and what disability justice really looks like. She illustrated her talk with stories from history and her personal life. Nielsen first became interested in disability history when writing - or, as she said, procrastinating on - her dissertation. She was reading far-right-wing publications from the early 1900s when she came across lists of the most dangerous women in America. To her surprise, Helen Keller was on several of these lists. Keller was an author, outspoken advocate for disabled and marginalized peoples and a co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union. She was wary of being too involved in politics because she was viewed in terms of her deafness and blindness. “The assumption that disability equated political incompetency effectively silenced her, while her disability did not. It was attitudes, not disability, that was the problem,” said Nielsen. “The story of U.S. history is the story of independence, autonomy and ruggedness. But it’s also a story in which dependence is bad, including any weakness or reliance on others. Disability is stigmatized partly because of this.” “Disability is not the end of the world. In fact, it can be quite fine. Letting go of ableism will make life easier for all of us."      - Kim Nielsen Helen Keller’s story was just one example Nielsen gave of the times throughout history that disability was used to stigmatize, silence or exclude people. Several of her stories made the point that disability was used in history to justify racism, sexism, homophobia and more. At different points in history, the concept of disability was used to control immigration, legitimize homophobia and keep women from attending college. “The categorization of bodies as disabled has always been entwined with other power hierarchies,” said Nielsen. “The definition of disability was shaped by homophobia, antisemitism and classism.” This moment in time is pivotal for disability justice, Nielsen says. Covid left approximately 19 million people disabled, either temporarily or permanently. The pandemic also contributed to mental health needs for many people. Additionally, experiencing racism can leave physical, emotional and psychological trauma. “This is our contradiction and our crisis. We are at this national, and perhaps global, moment in which disability justice and activism are flourishing, but ableism and disregard for people with disabilities is also flourishing.” When speaking on disability justice, Nielsen gave a statement she described as simple but radical. “Disability is not the end of the world. In fact, it can be quite fine. Letting go of ableism will make life easier for all of us. I believe that if we’re comfortable with disability and dependence, we can more easily ask for help. None of us can do everything. Knowing when and how to ask for help is a really good thing.” Nielsen is a historian focused on disability history and justice. She is a distinguished professor of disability studies at the University of Toledo. Nielsen is the author of the widely used “A Disability History of the United States,” multiple other books and articles, and co-editor of the award-winning “Oxford Handbook of Disability History.” In addition, Nielsen has received two Fulbright appointments, numerous scholarly prizes, and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. She received her Ph.D. at the University of Iowa.   About the lecture series: The Social Justice Book and Lecture series invites participants to think critically about the historical context of social justice issues and foster a sense of community and dialogue surrounding the issues. Students, particularly first-year students, engage with the chosen book through related coursework, projects and initiatives. The series is part of Social Justice Month, a time for thought-provoking reflection and engagement for the campus community. A series of events throughout the month focuses on social justice issues at both the local and national level. Oct 21, 2022

  • Exploring Degree Programs, Finding Herself

    Ophelia Griffin chose UMKC and discovered their passion and self
    Roos don’t just dream, they do. Our students turn ideas into action every day. Get to know our people, and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Ophelia GriffinAnticipated graduation: 2025Academic program: University College, moving into communicationsHometown: Lee’s Summit, MO Why did you choose UMKC? I took a gap year after high school graduation because of COVID. I had a plan for college, but I knew I couldn’t mentally do it under quarantine. I was working during my gap year and some of my friends were going to UMKC. They said it was a great place to be yourself, so I applied and now I’m here! I love it, it’s such a good place to be. You are currently an exploratory student in University College and plan to major in communications. Why did you choose communications? I love making connections with people and just talking with them. I hope to be a business manager, or maybe own my own business one day! What are the challenges of being an exploratory student in University College? Understanding myself and the type of person I am, coming to terms with what I’m good and not so good at, has been a challenge for me. Just learning about who I am as a person has been a journey. What are the benefits of being an exploratory student? Exploring everything UMKC offers has been really cool. I love hearing from other students what they want to go into; a lot of my classmates want to do really cool things that I didn’t even know were possible. I just think it’s great to see people having different interests and exploring their options. How has University College inspired you? I was an orientation leader, and I tell students going into University College that they’ll find out what they’re supposed to do and where they’re supposed to be. The College planted a seed in me and allowed me to blossom into the person that I am. It helped me understand who I am and what I can accomplish here. I love it. What do you think you’ve learned about yourself since being at UMKC? I’m a really hard worker and that I try to succeed in everything I can. I’ve also learned that it’s okay to have slip-ups; it’s not the end of the world and I can bounce back. You’re vice president of the University Theatre Association, a senator in Student Government Association, member of UMKC Democrats and a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority. What inspired you to get involved in so many organizations? I have no sense of time management and love saying yes to things. My first year at UMKC, my advisor, Rachel, sat me down and told me that getting involved is key to a good college experience. I’ve met so many people here who inspire me to get more involved because I love having so many connections on campus. Who do you admire most at UMKC? As a whole, the theatre group really inspires me. Everyone contributes to making theatre a good, safe place to be. Our president, Hannah, is one of the most hard-working people in the program. She gives 110% and I feel so lucky to be her vice president. I’m just inspired by what she does and how she does things. What are you most proud of during your time at UMKC? My grades - I was worried about taking a gap year before starting college. But I’ve realized that I’m a smart and capable person, and my grades have never been better. Is there anyone who is a mentor to you on campus? Rachel Hughes, she was my boss when I was an orientation leader. All summer during orientation, she made sure that we had fun and made students feel at home. What do you hope to take from your time here into your professional career? I hope to start my own inclusive business one day, mainly because of the experience I’ve had here at UMKC. It’s so diverse and so inclusive to everybody. I want a business that shares the same amount of love for people. Oct 21, 2022

  • Sunderland Foundation Gives $30 Million to UMKC Health Sciences District Project

    New cutting-edge educational facility will serve as a catalyst for growth and position the district to become a premier academic medical district
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City announced a $30 million gift today from the Sunderland Foundation to help fund a new state-of-the-art medical and dentistry building in the UMKC Health Sciences District. The project will escalate momentum for expanding the district into a major regional academic medical center that can provide innovative health care, attract top medical students and researchers and generate billions of dollars in jobs and economic development, while advancing care for the underserved. The multi-story, $120 million Healthcare Innovation and Delivery Building will house new dental teaching clinics and expanded medical school teaching facilities. In addition, it will provide space for the UMKC Health Equity Institute, the university’s Data Science and Analytics Innovation Center and its new Biomedical Engineering program. “We are grateful to the Sunderland Foundation for their investment in taking the Health Sciences District to the next level, spearheading an academic medical center with extraordinary community benefits,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “This gift -- by a local foundation that supports making big positive change in Kansas City -- is an investment not just in a building, but in a truly big, longer-term vision. We believe our new building will escalate momentum to exponentially expand the Health Sciences District in coming years to become the major regional academic medical center that we know it can be.” On hand today to help announce the gift was Gov. Mike Parson, who in July signed legislation from the state of Missouri to appropriate $40 million for the building. This appropriation came with a challenge to the Kansas City community to raise the additional funds needed. “We are proud to support the efforts of UMKC to improve educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math to expand health care access in the state of Missouri, particularly in rural areas,” Parson said. “Missourians will reap the benefits of increased collaboration between health care services and the data science and biomedical engineering programs that will share the building. This partnership could help further health outcomes through new, innovative solutions right here in Missouri.” Grants from the Sunderland Foundation focus on brick-and-mortar projects for established organizations to foster a stronger, safer and more vibrant future for the communities it serves. “The Sunderland Foundation is proud to give to UMKC’s efforts to transform the Health Science District,” said Kent Sunderland, chairman of the Sunderland Foundation. “The cutting-edge facilities will provide innovative training opportunities for tomorrow’s doctors, dentists and healthcare leaders who will improve prosperity in our neighborhoods, cities and state. The Sunderland Foundation and UMKC share a mission of caring for the underserved and lifting neighborhoods.” UMKC is one of only 20 universities in the country where schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Health Studies and Pharmacy share a single, walkable campus, an arrangement that facilitates interprofessional training for students and opportunities for research collaboration among the health sciences. Additionally, the new building will create opportunities for increased collaboration among UMKC and its health district partners including University Health and Children’s Mercy, which allows for a greater capacity for finding health solutions and providing patient care. This project will expand UMKC’s mission to elevate health equity across Kansas City, including many initiatives that work with the underserved including UMKC’s dental clinics, the Sojourner Clinic and the Center for Health Equity, which works through a network of churches in the urban core. Oct 19, 2022

  • UMKC Celebrates Transfer Students

    National Transfer Student Week is October 17-22, but resources are available year round
    All Roos are welcome, and we want to make sure our transfer students have what they need. Even if you’re a new student, you’re already part of the UMKC family. National Transfer Student Week celebrates transfer students at UMKC and provides critical resources for academic and career success. Supported by the Office of Student Involvement, the Honors Program and Admissions transfer students have the opportunity to work with people in these organizations to help students find their fit and their future at UMKC. But resources for transfer students are not limited to one week; we support our Roos from the first day they’re on campus until they move their tassels at graduation and beyond. Center for Transfer Students and Adult Learners The Center for Transfer Students and Adult Learners is a one stop shop for students coming to UMKC to find help with transferring their existing credits, learning about available scholarships and on-campus housing and anything else they may need to become a Roo! Transfer Student Network The Transfer Student Network helps new Roos connect with the UMKC and Kansas City communities by connecting them with other transfer students, informing students about student organizations and supporting professional development. Academic Support and Mentoring UMKC Academic Support and Mentoring meets students where they are and supports them academically and personally. Supplemental Instruction is a core component for student success in hi-risk courses. SI targets historically challenging courses by teaching students how to increase their performance. RooUP Seminars are a component of ASM that provides informational on-demand videos covering topics such as exam preparation, goal setting and overcoming procrastination. The Writing Studio offers free one-on-one peer consultation to help students focus on organization and presentation of content in their writing assignments. First Gen Roos create a community-within-a-community with events geared toward first generation college students. Register today! Financial Wellness Center Staying on budget – even figuring out what your budget can be – can be challenging. Personalized money management coaching is available through the UMKC Financial Wellness Center. Resources on creating a personal money plan, building your credit history and finding a place to live, are conveniently in one place. Individual coaching sessions and emergency resources are also available. Financial Aid Finding financial aid and scholarships can also seem challenging, but coordinators are available to help you identify resources. Appointments are available online and in-person to help accommodate your schedule. Oct 19, 2022

  • UMKC secures $30M gift from Sunderland Foundation for new medical, dentistry building

    The Sunderland Foundation commits $30 million to the University of Missouri-Kansas City to be used on new facilities for the schools of medicine an...
    The Kansas City Business Journal reports on the $120 million gift to launch the development of the Healthcare Innovation and Delivery Building, that will house new dental teaching clinics and more medical school teaching facilities. Also inside will be the UMKC Health Equity Institute, the university’s Data Science and Analytics Innovation Center and its new biomedical engineering program. Oct 19, 2022

  • KSHB Relies on Expertise of William Black

    UMKC Economics and Law Professor provides inflation insight
    Interview with William Black, an UMKC economics and law professor, explores impact of latest inflation data on Kansas City-area. Read more. Oct 18, 2022

  • Joy Roberts Expert Resource for Fox 2 News

    Interim dean of the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies discusses nursing shortage
    Missouri hospitals are seeing the highest vacancy rate of nurses ever, up more than 12% from 2018, according to the Missouri Hospital Association. Joy Roberts, interim dean of the School of Nursing and Health Studies for the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said the problem isn’t only a lack of nursing students. Finding faculty to teach the profession is also a struggle. Read more. Oct 18, 2022

  • School of Medicine Receives 2022 Award for Excellence in Diversity

    National magazine recognizes UMKC medical school for second time for diversity and inclusion efforts
    INSIGHT into Diversity, the oldest and largest diversity publication for higher education, has recognized the UMKC School of Medicine with its Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award for the second time. One of only two schools in Missouri to receive this year’s national honor, the School of Medicine also received the award in 2018. “We are proud of the work at our SOM that allowed us to be recognized with the 2022 HEED award,” School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne Jackson said. “Our DEI efforts are made possible through not only the passion and commitment of our staff and faculty who lead initiatives, programs, and outreach, but we see these efforts translate to a positive impact on student recruitment, retention, completion and ultimately to benefit the health and welfare within our community and beyond.” INSIGHT Into Diversity selected the School of Medicine for its efforts supporting diversity, equity and inclusion. Among those are new programs such as UNITED (Uniting Numerous Medical Trainees in Equity and Diversity), a program to support resident and fellowship trainees, an anti-racism and cultural bias program for medical students, a summer success seminar series for incoming B.A.-M.D. students, and expansion of the school’s successful STAHR (Students in Training, Academia, Research and Health) program. The school’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has also received an increase in its budget to support programming and initiatives, has added an assistant dean to the office, and has been an active part of a care team for students in academic risk as well as admissions and selection committees for the school’s academic programs. Dean Jackson praised her staff. “Congratulations to Dr. Tyler Smith and Ms. Doris Agwu, our associate and assistant dean respectively, Drs. Ayanda Chakawa and Wail Hassan, who lead our Diversity Council, and all of the staff and faculty who work tirelessly to envision, promote and expand the DEI footprint at our medical school,” she said. Smith said, “We are honored and humbled. Receiving the HEED Award recognizes our programs and initiatives that embrace the medical school’s mission towards creating a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture within the learning and clinical environments for graduate and medical students, residents, fellows, faculty, and staff. As a top priority at UMKC School of Medicine, we strive to infuse DEI into all academic units while ensuring that all identities feel seen, heard, valued and respected.” The School of Medicine, as well as 64 other recipients, will be featured in the December 2022 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. A.T. Still University College of Graduate Health Sciences, an osteopathic medical school with a campus in Kirksville, is the only other Missouri college to receive this year’s honor. UMKC received the HEED Award in 2019 and the UMKC School of Dentistry received the award for health professions schools in 2016. “The Health Professions 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. “We take a detailed approach to reviewing each application in deciding who will be named a Health Professions HEED Award recipient. Our standards are high, and we look for schools where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being done every day across their campus.” Oct 17, 2022

  • Instructor, Student Pas de Deux

    World-renowned professor mentors UMKC ballet student
    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. Simone Davis (BFA ’23, dance) chose the UMKC Conservatory because she knew that the training curriculum and the faculty were renowned, and she relished the opportunity to study with them. While she has been a student at UMKC, she has performed as a guest artist with various dance companies including Wylliams Henry Contemporary Dance Company, Störling Dance Theater, Tristian Griffin Dance Company and Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey. Despite her professional success, she still maintains a vigorous instructional practice in addition to her classes.  She and Karen Brown, assistant professor of dance, work together regularly. “Karen and I began working together last summer. Before she came on campus I learned more about her career. I was very excited to work with her.” Brown is well-known in the dance world. She danced as the principal ballerina with the internationally renowned Dance Theatre of Harlem from 1973-1995, served as artistic director of the Oakland Ballet, and assistant professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She is certified in all levels of the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum. Brown founded En Pointe Plus Dance Mastery Institute to optimize motion analysis technology in teaching sessions to improve dancers’ form and prevent injuries. While Davis was not familiar with Brown, she was excited to learn from her when she knew more about Brown’s career. It turned out to be a good fit professionally and personally. “The connection was natural,” Davis says. “KB has an intensity in teaching that helps push students further, which is very beneficial.” Brown was thrilled when Davis reached out for private lessons. She offered Davis the opportunity to work as her assistant during her Master Classes. Brown notes that Davis has a strong sense of technique and a good sense of her body. She is working with Davis on moving beyond her comfort zone, as well as fine tuning her form to avoid injury. “Much of dance is a science, and I’m teaching her to set herself up for the same outcome every time,” Brown says. “When a dancer gets better in the studio, they manifest that on stage because they are confident with their technique.” She says that Davis is at that point in her practice. “Simone is ready to go. She’s going to try new things. Because of her talent, she has already had a lot of opportunities to perform.” Davis admires Brown’s intensity. “Most dancers and dance educators have similar personalities,” Davis says. “So that’s what I respond to. As an emerging artist, having a mentor is important.” “Most dancers and dance educators have similar personalities. So that’s what I respond to. As an emerging artist, having a mentor is important.” - Simone Davis Brown respects Davis for her focus and her work ethic in return. “She’s been out in the world performing and making money with her craft. She's a good performer. She presents well, she's beautiful. Her work is fine tuning her technique.” Currently, Davis is dancing professionally with Quixotic Fusion in Kansas City. There, she’s been able to participate in immersive performances, where the fourth wall is broken. She feels this offers a new connection with the audience. She plans to live in Kansas City following graduation, while she continues to travel and perform on a freelance basis throughout the country. Brown is confident in Davis’s success. “She’s very kind. She has a great work ethic. Her aesthetic, her creativity, the way that she learns and studies, these are the important things that take longer to teach. If someone doesn’t understand this, they might not even think to learn them. We have a great deal of respect for one another.” Oct 14, 2022

  • Search Underway for New Dean of the School of Law

    Leader will maintain and enhance the school’s established record of excellence
    The university has launched a search for an inspiring and innovative leader to serve as Dean of the School of Law. The new dean will be responsible for providing academic, strategic and administrative leadership for the school in the context of a diverse and vibrant urban-serving public research university. The dean also will be tasked with articulating a vision for 21st-century legal education and for enhancing the school’s already strong relationships with its alumni and the legal, business, non-profit and government communities.  “Our goal is to hire an inspirational leader for the Law School who can maintain the high standards in place, recruit and retain a diverse group of students and faculty, and set a bold vision for student and faculty success in alignment with our University Strategic plan,” said Jenny Lundgren, provost and executive vice chancellor.    The new dean will be building on a legacy of excellence at the School of Law, including:  An academic program with national rankings for bar passage, employment rates, practical skills training, trial advocacy, legal writing, family law and more. The entrepreneurial and scholarly faculty   Entrepreneurial and scholarly faculty, whose innovative interdisciplinary courses and research stay at the cutting edge of the law.  Community connections and service, with ten clinics, dozens of field placements, and hundreds of community partners. “Please join me in expressing our sincere appreciation to Dean Barbara Glesner Fines for providing superb leadership for our School of Law during her tenure as dean,” Lundgren said. Dean Glesner Fines will continue to lead the School of Law as Dean until her successor is appointed, when she will return to the full-time faculty. The search committee is chaired by Bruce Bubacz, Curators’ Teaching Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Political Science and Philosophy in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and Professor in the School of Law. The full roster of the search committee is listed below. Others will have the opportunity to provide input during the campus interview portion of the search process. The committee aims to conclude the search in the spring semester for a summer 2023 leadership transition.  Full search committee   Bruce Bubacz, Curators’ Teaching Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Political Science and Philosophy in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and Professor in the School of Law Ashley Swanson-Hoye, Director of Law Student Services Chadayne Clive Lloyd Antonio Walker, Law Student and Student Bar Association President Timothy Lynch, Professor of Law Allen Rostron, Associate Dean of Students, William R. Jacques Constitutional Law Scholar and Professor of Law  Mikah Thompson, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Professor of Law  Jasmine Abdel-khalik, Professor of Law  Randall Johnson, Professor of Law  Ayyoub Ajmi, Associate Director of the Leon E. Bloch Law Library  Lisa Weixelman, Senior Partner, Polsinelli; UMKC Trustee  Honorable Ann Mesle, UMKC Law alumna and retired Judge, 16th Judicial Circuit Court of Jackson County (retired) Danielle Merrick, Clinical Professor and Director of the Entrepreneurial Legal Services Clinic Marie Dispenza, Director of Major Gifts, School of Law and Executive Director, UMKC Law Foundation Oct 13, 2022

  • Robin Carnahan, Congressman Cleaver, Mayor Lucas, GSA Tour UMKC's High-Tech Research Center

    The group saw insights into UMKC's environmentally friendly emerging technologies
    Former Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II, Mayor Quinton Lucas and members of the General Services Administration toured the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center to learn more about how UMKC's research on renewable energy could be used in government facilities. The goal of the group's visit was for the GSA to learn more about emerging technologies at UMKC and how ongoing research here could assist the federal government in making federal buildings greener. Led by Chancellor Mauli Agrawal and School of Science and Engineering Dean Kevin Truman, they also had an opportunity to see the solar panels on the roof of the Plaster Center and hear first-hand from students about their work. "It's always a pleasure to visit UMKC," Carnahan said. "A lot of people think that if we are going to combat climate change it's going to be by planting trees. But really what it comes down to is looking at different ways we can reimagine basic construction materials like concrete and asphalt, and they are doing a lot of that great research right here." The Plaster Center, which opened in fall of 2021, is a $32 million, five-story, 57,800 square-foot high-tech research center. It features 11 state-of-the-art research labs and is the largest privately funded capital project in UMKC history, with more than 25 donors. The labs within the Plaster Center contain a 3D printing lab and fabrication studio to build prototypes, high-performing computing and analytics equipment and software, an FAA-approved flight simulator, a two-story drone flight-testing bay and $3 million of augmented and virtual reality equipment. The labs aren't just for UMKC faculty and students -- the facility is also a community hub where people from across the university, city and region can come together to discuss, design, build and innovate while propelling economic activity in the region through free enterprise. Some of the technology within the labs is not available anywhere else in Kansas City, allowing UMKC to remain state-of-the-art in research and education while helping our community partners do the same. Oct 13, 2022

  • Entrepreneur of the Year Awards Honor Visionary Leaders in KC, Beyond

    Honorees included tech giants and artists
    Six innovators were awarded during the Henry W. Bloch School of Management Regnier Institute’s annual Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. Started in 1985, the event celebrates the contributions of entrepreneurs in Kansas City and beyond by recognizing the work of Kansas City entrepreneurs and leaders, global industry leaders and students. The 2022 awardees: Henry W. Bloch International Entrepreneur of the Year Award: David Steward, founder and chairman of World Wide Technology. David Steward began WWT in 1990 with a handful of employees and a 4,000-square-foot office. WWT now employs more than 9,000 people at more than 20 facilities around the world. It generates more than $16 billion in annual revenue. Steward is a civic leader and philanthropist committed to expanding opportunities for Black people and others from historically under-represented and underserved communities. Kansas City Entrepreneur of the Year: Justin Davis, co-founder and CEO, BacklotCars. Justin Davis has never taken no for an answer. When he launched BacklotCars in 2015, Davis said he was criticized by those who did not see his vision to create a new model for wholesale automotive auctions, replacing scheduled events with a 24/7 online marketplace for dealers. However, he persisted. “Entrepreneurship is about being bold,” said Davis. “It’s about brining an unlikely group together and building something special.” Just five years after it launched, BacklotCars sold for $425 million. Davis stayed on as CEO. Marion and John Kreamer Award for Social Entrepreneurship: Bart Houlahan, Jay Coen Gilbert and Andrew Kassoy, co-founders of B Lab Founded in 2006, B Lab provides a corporate certification program to companies that meet rigorous standards in addressing social and environmental problems through their businesses. It has now grown to include nearly 6,000 companies around the world who have committed to using business for good. Student Entrepreneur of the Year: Tate Berry Tate Berry is a double major in jazz studies and business administration. He previously won the Honorable Mention Creative Venture prize in the Regnier Venture Creation Challenge with his concept for a big band and is also working on launching an online music entrepreneurship studio that also serves as a more affordable alternative to music school. As part of his honor, Berry will receive a $2,500 scholarship. Prior to the event, attendees learned about business ventures by students from Bloch and the Kansas City Art Institute at the Student Venture Showcase. “Kansas City has a long history of creating and supporting entrepreneurs, and UMKC is committed to bolstering that culture by both providing resources for entrepreneurs and providing our students with hands-on learning experiences - on campus and in the community,” said Chancellor Mauli Agrawal.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. Oct 13, 2022

  • UMKC Announces Scholarships, Early College Program to Help KC Kids Access College

    Participating students could save thousands on a college degree
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City has launched new partnerships with Kansas City Public Schools and North Kansas City Public Schools that will save families thousands of dollars on a college degree. UMKC will provide automatic, renewable scholarships for any student who enrolls from those two districts. Furthermore, students from both districts can earn college credit on the UMKC campus before high school graduation for added savings. The initiative is a huge win for the Kansas City community – and for students and their families. “As Kansas City’s university, we’re committed to increasing college access to students here at home,” said Kristi Holsinger, senior vice provost for student success at UMKC. “Through this partnership, students will save money, earn their degree sooner after high school graduation and go on to serve our community through rewarding careers.” UMKC has introduced a new, automatic $1,500 scholarship for up to five years for any student from the KCPS or NKC school districts. The scholarship is stackable – meaning it can also be combined with any other award. And UMKC’s Early College Academy allows eligible high school students to attend classes on campus during the school day. It is open to qualifying juniors and seniors at KCPS and qualifying seniors at NKC. Students earn both high school and college credits from their UMKC courses. Tuition, at a reduced rate, is covered by KCPS and NKC. “The Early College Academy model makes so much sense for our scholars,” Jennifer Collier, Ed.D., KCPS interim superintendent, said. “We know partnering with UMKC will open doors for KCPS students.” Jayla Williams is one of the first KCPS students to participate in the program. Williams, who is in her first semester, said within the first few weeks she has already had a chance to connect with her professors and meet friends in her classes. “It’s been an easy adjustment because my school prepared me,” said Williams. “I’m doing something that many people don’t get to do. I’m doing something that is bettering my future.” Her mom, Janese Williams, said she is proud of Jayla and what her participation will provide. “It means opportunity. It means elevation. She’s only 16 and she’s a college student,” said Williams. “I love that this is an opportunity that kids in Kansas City get to do. To give them a step ahead is priceless.” Jayla and Janese Williams   North Kansas City Schools College and Career Readiness Assistant Director Shannon Gilliland said the new partnership will increase students’ course options and help them acclimate to college life. “This will be an opportunity to learn how to navigate a large academic environment, while still having guidance as a high school student,” said Gilliland. “UMKC has about 16,000 students and getting comfortable in this environment can help our students gain confidence.” UMKC offers more than 125 undergraduate programs, with small class sizes and real-world experiences to help students gain practical knowledge to prepare them for careers. In addition, its location in Kansas City provides strong relationships with some of the region’s top employers for internship and job opportunities. “We are excited to see our students take advantage of the exceptional educational experience UMKC provides,” said North Kansas City Schools superintendent, Dan Clemens, Ed.D. Students in the Early College Academy will have access to support services such as Academic Advising, Academic Support and Mentoring, Career Services and the Financial Wellness Center. Early college programs have been shown to have a positive impact on student performance both in high school and in college, according to a 2020 policy report from the American Institutes for Research. Additionally, the report indicates early college programs have lasting impact on communities by increasing college degree attainment, individual earning potential and tax revenue. In fact, UMKC alumni contributed $7.8 billion to Missouri’s economy in 2021, according to the university’s February 2022 Economic Impact Report.   Oct 11, 2022

  • Community Leaders Discuss Food Deserts Affecting Kansas City, St. Louis Region

    The discussion was a part of the continuing collaborative, UniverCities Exchange
    Academic and community leaders from Kansas City and St. Louis met virtually to discuss issues combating Missouri’s urban food deserts during this year’s UniverCities Exchange. UniverCities Exchange is an ongoing collaborative project between the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Missouri-St. Louis and gathers community leaders and academic experts to discuss problems and possible solutions affecting the Kansas City and St. Louis metro areas. The project began in fall 2020 with a discussion of health disparities during the COVID pandemic. The goal of the conversations is to foster a connection for future collaborations across Missouri. In this year’s installment, the panel discussed the current state of resource availability and historical events that have led to food shortages. Steve Kraske, host of KCUR’s Up to Date and UMKC journalism professor, served as moderator. Panelists included: Dina Newman, Director of UMKC’s Center for Neighborhoods Aimee Dunlap, UMSL Associate Professor of Biology Erica Williams, Executive Director of Red Circle Max Kaniger, CEO of Kanbe’s Markets Here are some highlights of the panel’s conversation regarding the problems and how communities are addressing them: “The Kansas City food landscape has really changed – literally and figuratively – over these last few years. I don’t think you can get a lot for $200 or less. You can drive through these communities of concern and see small, medium and large urban gardens and urban farms. And you can see the diversity of things these people are growing. If the pandemic showed us one thing, it’s about the affordability and the accessibility of food and people are beginning to realize how vital the food system can be.” -Dina Newman “Living in a food desert can affect your life in many ways. From the not being able to get enough food to feed your family in a way that is affordable, accessible, and attractive, but it also affects the region itself. Grocery stores provide a lot of jobs and sales tax revenue to a region. When you have an area that does not have a grocery store, you are taking all your sales tax revenue dollars and putting those somewhere else.” -Erica Williams “I think there is lots of potential for success in things like canning and cooking demonstrations. It’s great to grow kale, but then what do you do with it? I think sharing knowledge about cooking and making food in a healthy way, can help to inspire people.” -Aimlee Dunlap “With Kanbe’s, we wanted to come up with a model that supported small businesses that are already here and supported the infrastructure in our communities while, in the best way possible, supporting the local farm system and reducing waste on the massive wholesale farming industry. We wanted to fill a gap. From there, we have grown, and we are now distributing to over 40 convenience stores, five days a week, and getting a whole lot of healthy food into the community.” -Max Kaniger To watch last year’s UniverCities Exchange, click here. Oct 11, 2022

  • China Global Television Network Features UMKC Researcher

    Interview with James McKusick, a researcher at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a member of the board of directors of the Edgar Snow Memo...
    Since 2016, McKusick has visited China three times and traveled to a number of cities and villages. He said that the development achievements China has made over the last decade are remarkable and exemplary. McKusick gained an interest in China from U.S. journalist Edgar Snow's 1937 book "Red Star Over China." Oct 10, 2022

  • School of Science and Engineering Recognizes Alumni, Supporters, Donors

    TREKK, McDonnell among this year’s Vanguard Award winners
    The School of Science and Engineering recognized this year’s top donors, alumni and organizations at the 2022 Vanguard Awards.  The annual awards program is an opportunity to spotlight those who help expand STEM education and outreach in Kansas City.  2022 Vanguard Recipients  Young Alumni Award: Lauren Koval (BSCE ’17)  After her graduation in 2017, she joined McCownGordon Construction, where she progressed from a project engineer to an engineering manager and was responsible for many high-profile projects locally and regionally. In 2020, she received the Rising Trendsetter STEMMY award.   At UMKC, Koval was an exemplary student, playing for the UMKC Division 1 women’s soccer team, and being named academic all-conference for all four years in the program, all while also being a UMKC Trustee’s scholar. Koval continues to mentor UMKC Trustee’s scholars. She joined the Civil and Mechanical Engineering Advisory board in 2020 and was named chair in 2021. Supporter Award: Tom McDonnell  McDonnell has been one of the biggest supporters of SSE over the years. Recently, he was among the first donors to sign on to support the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center.  STEM Outreach Partner of the Year: Notre Dame de Sion and St. Teresa’s Academy  Notre Dame de Sion High School and St. Teresa’s Academy are committed to engaging young women in STEM in a variety of different ways. Last year, Sion’s students toured the Plaster Center and applied the concepts they learned in math into a CAD/3D printing project.   St. Teresa’s students visited campus and spent a whole day immersed in learning about aerospace engineering or augmented and virtual reality, taking their knowledge back to school to create independent projects. These trips give students hands-on experiences and allow them to develop an enthusiasm for pursuing STEM degrees.  Company of the Year: TREKK Design Group, LLC  Founders Kimberly and Trent Robinett met as students at the formerly known School of Computing and Engineering, where, in 1995, Kimberly received a degree in electrical engineering and Trent a degree in civil engineering.   In 2002, the two launched TREKK Design Group. TREKK’s early projects focused primarily on transportation and site development work across Kansas City and later transitioned to focus on wastewater field services. In 2014, Kimberly and Trent were honored with the UMKC Alumni Achievement Award.   TREKK continues to support SSE through its sponsorship of the structural lab overlook and study areas within the Plaster Center. Trent also serves as a practitioner for the civil senior design class.  To view last year’s Vanguard winners, click here. Oct 07, 2022

  • UMKC Faculty Earn Promotion and Tenure Appointments

    Board of Curators selects two faculty members to receive Curators’ Distinguished Professorship, the university’s highest academic honor
    UMKC celebrated the promotion and tenure of more than 30 faculty members Sept. 20. “Achieving promotion and tenure requires significant focus and dedication. In addition to the rigorous academic review required to be promoted and or tenured, you persevered through the challenges that the pandemic has brought over the past few years,” Jenny Lundgren, UMKC provost, said. “You shifted to remote learning, and sometimes shifted back again, modified curricula, reconfigured research studies and performances, and supported students in distress – all while handling the disruption in your personal lives. Your accomplishments are nothing short of remarkable.” Lundgren noted the depth and commitment to their students and academic disciplines were admirable. “We are fortunate that you have invested your time and talent here at UMKC. Your achievements are your own, but your colleagues, students, and the world benefit from them.” Lundgren announced that the UM System Board of Curators approved two UMKC faculty members for the System’s highest academic honor. Max Vitiello, Ph.D., from the Department of History in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, was appointed Curators’ Distinguished Professor. Tina Niemi, Ph.D., Earth and Environmental Sciences in the School of Science and Engineering, has been appointed as Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor.   Other faculty awards and honors – such as new Curators’ Distinguished Professors, and Trustees’, Governor’s and Chancellor’s awards for research, teaching, mentoring, community engagement and commitment to diversity and inclusion – will be presented at a separate event in the spring semester. The promotion and tenure process at UMKC involves a lengthy and rigorous review of academic performance in the areas of teaching, scholarship and service. Each of the academics recognized at the celebration has demonstrated to their peers and to the administration that they have met high standards for sustained contributions and outstanding performance. UMKC 2022 Promotion and Tenure Alison Graettinger, School of Science and Engineering, tenure with promotion to associate professor      Oh Ha, School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences, tenure with promotion to associate professor Erin Hambrick, School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences, tenure with promotion to associate professor Bryan Hong, Bloch School of Management, tenure with promotion to associate professor            Ryan Mohan, School of Science and Engineering, tenure with promotion to associate professor Mostafizur Rahman, School of Science and Engineering, tenure with promotion to associate professor Roozmehr Safi,  Bloch School of Management, tenure with promotion to associate professor Joanna Scott, School of Dentistry, tenure with promotion to associate professor Fengpeng Sun, School of Science and Engineering, tenure with promotion to associate professor Sarah Cox, School of Pharmacy, promotion to associate clinical professor Elizabeth Englin, School of Pharmacy, promotion to associate clinical professor     Kristin Lee, School of Nursing and Health Studies, promotion to associate clinical professor          Juliana Redford, School of Dentistry, promotion to associate clinical professor Linda Seabaugh, School of Dentistry, promotion to associate clinical professor      Holly Hagle, School of Nursing and Health Studies, promotion to associate research professor     Paul Barron, School of Science and Engineering, promotion to associate teaching professor Bryan Boots, Bloch School of Management, promotion to associate teaching professor    Lena Hoober-Burkhardt, School of Science and Engineering. promotion to associate teaching professor Preetham Goli, School of Science and Engineering, promotion to associate teaching professor Bill Keeton, Bloch School of Management promotion to associate teaching professor        Julie Kline, Bloch School of Management, promotion to associate teaching professor Melisa Schulte, Bloch School of Management, promotion to associate teaching professor Amy Simmons, School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences, promotion to associate teaching professor Pat Welsh, Bloch School of Management, promotion to associate teaching professor Larry Wigger, Bloch School of Management, promotion to associate teaching professor Michael Wizniak, Bloch School of Management, promotion to associate teaching professor Cynthia Flanagan, promoted to librarian II Stuart Hinds, University Libraries, promoted to librarian III  Tracey Hughes, University Libraries, promotion to librarian III Mardi Mahaffy, University Libraries, promotion to librarian IV Sandy Rodriguez, University Libraries,  promoted to librarian IV Lindy Smith, University Libraries, Promoted to Librarian III  Marie Thompson, University Libraries, Promoted to Librarian III     Cydney McQueen, School of Pharmacy, promotion to clinical professor Eileen Cocjin, School of Dentistry, promotion to clinical professor Cydney E. McQueen, School of Pharmacy, promoted to clinical professor  Erica Ottis, School of Pharmacy, promotion to clinical professor      Andrew Smith, School of Pharmacy, promotion to clinical professor           Rebeca Weisleder, School of Dentistry, promotion to clinical professor Brenda Bethman, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, promotion to teaching professor John Eck, School of Science and Engineering, promotion to teaching professor Beth Elswick, UMKC Conservatory, promotion to teaching professor Phillip Gonsher, Bloch School of Management, promotion to teaching professor Brian Hare, School of Science and Engineering, promotion to teaching professor Margaret Kincaid, School of Science and Engineering, promotion to teaching professor Kevin Kirkpatrick, School of Science and Engineering, promotion to teaching professor Rana Lehr-Lehnardt, School of Law, promotion to teaching professor Brian Frehner, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, promotion to professor DeAnna Hiett, UMKC Conservatory, promotion to professor Zhu Li, School of Science and Engineering, promotion to professor Tim Lynch, School of Law, promotion to professor Cynthia Petrie, School of Dentistry, promotion to professor Melisa Rempfer, School of Social Work and Psychological Sciences, promotion to professor Tom Rosenkranz, UMKC Conservatory, promotion to professor Zach Shemon, UMKC Conservatory, promotion to professor Mikah Thompson, School of Law, promotion to professor Michael Wacker, School of Medicine, promotion to professor Ye Wang, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, promotion to professor   Oct 06, 2022

  • UMKC Infectious Disease Collaboration Awarded $879K

    Interdisciplinary team receives CDC grant to develop a new generation of mathematical and computational models of infectious diseases
    In the last months of 2019, Majid Bani Yaghoub, Ph.D., planned his mathematics curriculum to study a new virus that was beginning to spread in China. He knew mathematical modeling and analysis based on a real-world situation would be a good fit with his students in Graduate Differential Equations. Even then, before COVID-19 became a common topic of global study, Bani’ s students were using optimal control theory to predict the best way to minimize spread. Bani is furthering his work through interdisciplinary research to develop and implement mathematical and computational models to optimize control and prevention of infection in healthcare settings. Bani has assembled researchers from the UMKC Division of Computing, Analytics and Mathematics; the UMKC Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics; the UMKC School of Medicine; University Health; the Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department; and the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine to form the Midwest Virtual Laboratory of Pathogen Transmission in Healthcare Settings (MVL-PATHS), an interdisciplinary research collaborative. The Center for Disease Control awarded MVL-PATHS a three year $879,162 grant to develop a new generation of mathematical and computational models of infectious diseases. The team will use the One Health modeling approach, which incorporates interconnections between people, animals, plants and their shared environment. Bani believes the One Health approach – a process that recognizes the health interconnections among people, animals, plants and their shared environment – is crucial to identify risk factors for transmission of healthcare-associated infections. The research team will be working with healthcare providers to record their movements, how much time they spend with patients and other factors in order to collect data that will make models more accurate than the current models. “We’re not interested in watching individuals,” he says. “The models will identify high-risk movement patterns  and hotspots  at a hospital so that we can have better control of asymptomatic spread of infection.” The research could foster a healthier general population, but the team is paying special attention to vulnerable populations. “Already, the research shows that people who are working in nursing homes may work at multiple locations, so it’s possible they are taking infections from one nursing home to another. This is not about laying blame. The research can help us discover ways that we can improve the situation.” The interdisciplinary team is critical to the research success. “This is a great start for the UMKC School of Science and Engineering and a direct result of the university’s restructuring through UMKC Forward,” Bani said. “The COVID-19 pandemic taught us many lessons, and one of the key lessons was that math models are useful, though they are far from perfect. There is a need to create a new generation of math models, computational models and tools that can become more accurate, more reliable.” But the work goes beyond research of what has already occurred. “The essence of this project is to develop a virtual laboratory for simulation of disease spread, and at the same time train PhDs who can implement the virtual laboratory in health institutes, and work with the Center for Disease Control and health departments,” Bani said. “There were many things that we could have done to lessen the impact of COVID-19. The key now is to learn from that experience and use the One Health modeling approach rather than looking at an individual farm or hospital. We must recognize that the world is fully connected, and we need to look at these problems as one big picture and see how these different units and communities can work together.” Oct 04, 2022

  • Celebrating a Decade of Bridge to the Stars

    Program looks to increase underrepresented students getting STEM degrees
    A UMKC program aimed at providing early-college STEM experiences to underrepresented high school students celebrates a decade of accomplishments this year. Aptly titled A Bridge to the Stars, the program allows the selected students to participate in one of Professor Daniel McIntosh’s 100-level astronomy courses, with the help of UMKC faculty and student near-peer mentors. These Bridge Scholars receive scholarships that cover tuition and fees and the course workbook. They also receive all resources available to UMKC students for the semester. Daniel H. McIntosh, Ph.D., distinguished professor of physics and astronomy and founder of A Bridge to the Stars, is proud of what the program has accomplished over the years. “In the decade that we have run this program, we've awarded 81 scholarships to 73 different high school kids,” McIntosh said. “Ninety-five percent of those students completed the class for college credit. There is no gap in their learning outcomes compared to roughly 1,000 UMKC students enrolled in the same classes.” McIntosh notes that 80% of participants have been students of color, and nearly all come from low-income households. “What’s even more amazing about these outcomes is that the Bridge Scholars have been selected based solely on their stated aspirations to go to college and on their interest in astronomy. This program is truly equitable in that our selection is not based on academic performance.” In an effort to grow the program into the next decade, McIntosh has brought on Lauren Higgins (MS ’22) as Program Coordinator. Higgins was a peer mentor for A Bridge to the Stars and said the opportunity was formative to her college career. “It’s more than just helping the students, which is also great,” Higgins said. “Undergraduates from across many different departments are given an opportunity to help students get a higher education experience. These Roos get experience collaborating with a team and giving a presentation. They get to go to a conference and network. For UMKC students, too, it's great program.” With Higgins’ help, McIntosh hopes he can spread the concept of A Bridge to the Stars to other departments and other universities. “My motivation from the very beginning was recruiting more underserved kids into STEM degree programs and ultimately careers to broaden stem,” he said. “I always summarize when I give high level talks that there are huge national, regional and local challenges to increasing and broadening the future STEM workforce. I believe that intentional programs like A Bridge to the Stars can provide a way to inspire and empower many students who are historically less likely to self-identify with STEM careers yet can succeed in STEM if encouraged.” Sep 28, 2022

  • Kansas City Regional Professional Development Center at UMKC Receives Multi-Million Dollar Contract

    Funds support redesign and development of new academic assessment resources
    The Kansas City Regional Professional Development Center (RPDC) at the University of Missouri-Kansas City received a contract for up to two years and $29 million from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to re-design academic assessment resources to help teachers identify and address gaps in student learning in a more timely and effective manner. The Kansas City RPDC, housed in the UMKC School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences, will provide staffing, design, content development and project implementation to support research in learning loss from Kindergarten through high school.  The project was born from a need to understand how the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted elementary and secondary education in Missouri, but also has a larger purpose of developing a tool that will provide teachers data on student comprehension within the year they are teaching, so the gaps in learning can be addressed before the summer break. “Based on scientific knowledge this is a huge step,” Michael Pragman, Ed.D. senior program director at the RPDC, says. “Typically, in the state of Missouri there are assessments that are officially measured starting with third grade. At that point you may be receiving data on a student entering fourth grade who is already behind.” Providing teachers with data on whether they are meeting the goals for the students within the academic year will be a difference-maker, because teachers will receive information for their current students and have time to address them before the students move on to a new grade and teacher. Pragman anticipates that addressing learning challenges earlier may have long term academic effects. “If we wait until the end of third grade, a lot of students who are frustrated don’t care about school anymore. We know from research that by fourth grade students either have a love of learning and want to continue or are bored, and their behavior is to act out. We think the results of this testing may abate some of that.” Carolyn Barber, Ph.D., interim dean of the School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences, says the focus on individual learning is an important part of this research. “I think it's a testament to the work that the RPDC and the school has done to be a partner, not only in the Kansas City Metro, but to the state of Missouri. We are recognized for our expertise,” Barber says. “We didn’t start working with assessments like these because there was a crisis. Dr. Pragman and members of his team have been active in this area for years, which is what made us an attractive partner for the state of Missouri.” Sep 27, 2022

  • Latinx Leader Builds Future in Hometown

    Lauren Orozco decided to attend UMKC for the vibrant community
    Roos don’t just dream, they do. Our students turn ideas into action every day. Get to know our people, and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Lauren Orozco Anticipated graduation: 2022Academic program: B.A. business, marketing; minor Latin American StudiesHometown: Kansas City, Kansas Why did you choose UMKC? I was thinking about going further away, but I decided to stay close to home. UMKC allowed me to have a secure place in the community that’s so vibrant. That was a big draw. Why did you decide to major in marketing? I would like to create and provide resources for my Latinx community. I think the greatest way to do that is making sure that people are informed. Marketing is all about information and creating resources for people. So, combining that with my Latin American Studies minor, I am able to do both.  What are the challenges of the program? I have such a nonprofit focus with my marketing degree. Differentiating the needs of the corporate and nonprofit sectors is definitely hard, especially in marketing, just because it can be so corporate. What are the benefits of the program? Being a student at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management puts you on a higher pedestal in Kansas City in general. As Bloch students we have so many resources. I've had the opportunity to meet great people, not only through my professors, but through the events that Bloch offers. UMKC is impacting the community in such different and diverse ways. When I say I am a UMKC student, it typically puts a glow on everyone’s faces. How has the program inspired you? I think being a Latina in the business sector is hard. So, I found people that identify this way, and as other minorities, within the business program and through the Multicultural Student Affairs office during my first semester at UMKC. That really gave me a base to work with through the rest of my college career. My three passions really came to light at UMKC: my focus on my community, marketing and higher education. I've been able to combine all three. and I don't think I would have been able to have this clear path for myself had I gone to any other school. Also, I work extensively with the Academic Support and Mentoring (ASM) office. It's a great resource for students, and I’ve realized how many opportunities and resources I can provide for my higher education community through my experience with ASM. Now that I'm finishing up, I realize how many resources and opportunities I opened up for myself by just relying on a community that I found here. You’re president of the Latinx Student Union. How did you get involved? The Latinx Student Union is how I got involved with UMKC in the first place. I was at the Fiesta Hispana in Barney Allis Plaza, and I met someone who said she was involved with LSU at UMKC and that they were fundraising for new student scholarships. I thought it was great that this was something I could get involved in at UMKC. Throughout Hispanic Heritage Month we work with community partners to raise awareness about this home away from home at UMKC. What would you tell someone who doesn't have the experience that you had in getting exposed to the Hispanic student union so organically, especially if they were a little intimidated? I think it's definitely scary to just be put into such a large atmosphere and expect to make friends and be a part of this community. But when I first meet students, I always say, “We're not just acquaintances, we're friends. Follow me on social media, we'll DM each other, and you ask me any question that you want to.” I make myself an open resource for them. Do you feel as if you are a resource for other people? Yes, I work with both the higher ed and the Latin X communities here on campus, and I’m able to become a resource for all parts of campus.  I opened myself up to the students as well, which provides peer-to-peer contact versus just faculty or supervisor. I feel like it makes people feel a lot more comfortable coming to me, a student, and asking questions. Who do you admire most at UMKC? Jessica Brooks (director of ASM) and Megan Elsen (associate director of ASM) have really shined a light on what it's like to be a diverse first gen student at UMKC, and they've given me a pathway to feel seen and heard on campus. I felt at first like I was at an automatic disadvantage but having resources like ASM and its faculty and staff,  I felt that I had a dictionary to this really diverse vocabulary that is the university lifestyle. What do you have to take from your experiences here into your professional career? I want to work in higher ed, and I think UMKC gave me a great baseline of what it means to be a part of a huge family in a big city.  UMKC is Kansas City's university. And I don't think I'll ever get that experience anywhere else. Sep 26, 2022

  • Opportunities Abound in October for Engagement Month

    From soccer to the symphony to service projects, there’s something for everyone
    Once again, it’s time to celebrate UMKC Engagement Month, a 31-day celebration of all the ways our UMKC students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends contribute to the Kansas City community and beyond.  UMKC and the University of Missouri System are dedicated to providing teaching, research and service to our community and state year-round; during October, we celebrate that commitment with an array of special events. This year, from soccer to the symphony to service projects,  there are numerous opportunities to join in the celebration of our commitment to transform our community and region with impactful engagement. UMKC Engagement Month activities are produced by the Division of External Relations and Constituent Engagement. Click here for UM System Extension and Engagement Week information. The full schedule of UMKC events is available at this page. Here’s a look at some of the highlights. UMKC Day at the Kansas City Symphony Sunday, Oct. 9 | 2 p.m.| Kauffman Performing Arts Center, 1601 Broadway The Kansas City Symphony is generously providing the UMKC Community with discounted tickets at a rate of $12 per ticket (parking at additional cost). Visitorg or call (816) 471-0400 and ask for the UMKC discount for this performance. The performance will feature multiple pieces revolving around the theme of nature and the environment, including a performance by Principal Percussionist Josh Jones of Adam Schoenberg's percussion concerto, "Losing Earth." More information at “ART of Being Me” mental health exhibit 19 through Nov. 30 | Throughout Miller Nichols Library UMKC is partnering with the Burrell Foundation to display the exhibit created by artist Randy Bacon. It consists of multiple forms of media, including inspiring portrait artwork, personal written stories and a series of short films. The collection showcases the personal stories of more than 20 individuals who have lived experiences with mental health conditions or diagnoses.  A UMKC student will be adding a new piece to the exhibit that will be on display here and then continue on with the exhibition. More information at UMKC Night at Sporting KC Sunday, Oct. 2 | 4 p.m.| Children's Mercy Park Sporting Kansas City takes on conference rivals Seattle Sounders Before the game, stop by the Mazuma Plaza to visit with representatives from Athletics, Admissions and Alumni Relations. There will be giveaways, photo opportunities with KC Roo and more. More information at Troostapalooza Saturday, Oct. 8 | noon-6 p.m. | 30th and Troost Celebrates the local community by bringing together neighbors, small businesses and entrepreneurs to engage with their community and highlight the Troost Corridor. UMKC is the lead sponsor of the event. More information at UniverCities Exchange Topic: Combating Missouri’s Urban Food Deserts Monday, Oct. 10 | 2-3 p.m. UniverCities Exchange, an ongoing collaborative project between UMKC and UMSL, gathers community leadership alongside academic expertise to discuss problems and possible solutions to issues affecting the Kansas City and St. Louis Metro Areas. Panelists Include: Dina Newman, Director of the UMKC Center for Neighborhoods Aimee Dunlap, UMSL Associate Professor of Biology Erica Williams, Executive Director, A Red Circle Max Kaniger, CEO, Kanbe's Markets Moderated by Steve Kraske of KCUR More information at Hungry for Trivia: A Hungry for MO Season 2 Launch Party Oct. 19 | 6:30 p.m.| Casual Animal Brewery, 1725 McGee St. UMKC, KCUR, and the Missouri Humanities Council sponsor a food-based trivia contest to support KCUR and UMKC’s Kangaroo Pantry at the Dr. Raj Bala Agrawal CARE Center. The event is a launch party for Season Two of "Hungry for MO," a podcast that brings you the stories behind iconic foods in the state of Missouri. More information at Sep 22, 2022

  • New Leadership for UMKC Foundation

    Alumna Amanda Davis begins her role as president Nov. 2
    Amanda Davis (MPA ’02) has been named the new University of Missouri-Kansas City chief advancement officer and president of the UMKC Foundation beginning Nov. 2. Davis has extensive experience in university fundraising, including the creation of advancement infrastructure and the development and execution of a comprehensive $2 billion campaign. Davis began her fundraising career in Kansas City in 2002, generating more than $600,000 annually for Genesis School. She has extensive knowledge of UMKC and the UMKC Foundation through her work as director of advancement for the UMKC Law Foundation from 2009-2011. Continuing to build her career in university advancement, her most recent role was assistant vice president for campaign leadership at the University of Oklahoma Foundation, where she developed programs and policy to accelerate advancement outcomes. Her focus on identifying gift opportunities and prospects contributed to more than $300 million in annual fundraising results. Davis brings a deep understanding of the Kansas City and UMKC communities. She will have dual reporting responsibilities to UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal and the UMKC Foundation Board of Directors. She will also serve on the university Executive Council and have broad authority to shape and build an advancement program supporting UMKC and UMKC Athletics through annual giving, corporate and foundation relations, major gifts and gift planning programs, endowment, capital campaigns, stewardship and advancement services. “Amanda has significant experience and success at large universities that will be key to taking our UMKC Foundation to the next level,” Chancellor Agrawal says.  “She has a passion for cultivating new donors and bringing advancements in technology to improve the way we do business. In addition, we are thrilled that she knows and understands our Kansas City community and we will be excited to incorporate her ideas here at UMKC.” She is ready to leverage the existing strengths of the UMKC Foundation for long-term university and community growth and success. “With the successful staff that is already in place, and the support of the UMKC Foundation board members who are passionate about the community as a whole and the accomplishments of individual students, I know we can execute the vision for accelerating student success, generating significant growth in research and the commitment to further healthcare delivery for the region,” Davis says. Jerry Reece, chair of the UMKC Foundation Board, says he has high expectations for Davis. “We are confident that under Amanda’s leadership the UMKC Foundation will continue to be a trusted community partner and exceed its goals for the development of the university,” he says. “We look forward to her engagement with the university and Kansas City communities.” Co-chairs for the search were Warren Erdman, executive vice president Kansas City Southern Railway and UMKC Trustee and Sheri Gormley, chief of staff, office of the chancellor at UMKC. Davis is excited to be back in Kansas City and ready to reestablish her community ties. “One of my favorite quotes is from Horace. ‘Begin, be bold, but venture to be wise.’ This corresponds with my view of UMKC. There’s a vision and an opportunity to be exceptional,” she says. Sep 21, 2022

  • Two UMKC Faculty Named Curators' Distinguished Professors

    The award is the highest and most prestigious academic rank in UM System
    The University of Missouri Board of Curators recently named two University of Missouri-Kansas City faculty members Curators' Distinguished Professors. A Curators' Distinguished Professorship is the highest and most prestigious academic rank awarded by the Board of Curators. It is given to a select few outstanding scholars with established reputations. This year, Tina Niemi, Ph.D., of the School of Science and Engineering, and Massimiliano Vitiello, Ph.D., of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, were selected for the honor. "Tina and Massimiliano are exemplary role models for what it means to be a UMKC faculty member. They both have accomplished so much and we could not be more proud," said Jenny Lundgren, Ph.D., Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor. Niemi is a geologist who specializes in geoarchaeology, sedimentology and active tectonics. She and her students collect aerial imagery using drones and stratigraphic data from outcrops, trench excavations and cores in order to build a deeper understanding of the history and nature of tectonic, climate and anthropogenic environmental changes through time.  "I am honored to have been awarded a Curators' Distinguished Professorship and I thank my colleagues, collaborators and students both for supporting my nomination, and even more, for so many wonderful years of working together," Niemi said.  Vitiello is a scholar of ancient history, Late Antiquity, Byzantium and the early Middle Ages, with an emphasis in Roman History. He specializes in the history of the late Roman Empire and the transformation of the Mediterranean World, and works on classical philology, historiography, epigraphy, numismatics and the material culture of the classical world. "I am deeply honored by this appointment and I am determined to continue my research with dedication and passion," Vitiello said. "The University's commitment to scholarship that this distinction represents is both humbling and inspiring." In addition to Niemi and Vitiello, this year's recipients also include: Curators' Distinguished Professor Emeritus, John C. Walker, MU Curators' Distinguished Teaching Professor, Dorina Kosztin, MU Curators' Distinguished Teaching Professor, David Westenberg, S&T Curators' Distinguished Professor, Sajal Das, S&T Curators' Distinguished Professor, Rajiv Mohan, MU Curators' Distinguished Professor, Ron Mittler, MU Curators' Distinguished Professor, Kannappan Palaniappan, MU Curators' Distinguished Professor, Robert Paul, UMSL Curators' Distinguished Professor, Thomas Sewell, MU Sep 20, 2022

  • Visionary Leaders Honored by UMKC Bloch School

    Six to receive Entrepreneur of the Year awards
    Honorees for the annual Entrepreneur of the Year awards from the University of Missouri-Kansas City include the founder and chairman of the largest Black-owned company in the United States, and the person who launched wholesale automobile auctions into 21st century cyberspace. The celebration is sponsored by the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the university’s Henry W. Bloch School of Management.   The 2022 event will return to the traditional in-person format, and at a new location: Plexpod Westport Commons 300 E. 39th St., Kansas City. The event begins at 5 p.m. Oct. 12 with the Student Venture Showcase; the awards program begins at 7 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at this page. The full list of 2022 honorees includes: Henry W. Bloch International Entrepreneur of the Year Award: David Steward, founder and chairman of World Wide Technology. After being named the top sales executive for FedEx, Steward set out to fulfill a lifelong dream: own a company. He began WWT in 1990 with a handful of employees and a 4,000-square-foot office. WWT currently operates in 4 million square feet of space in more than 20 facilities throughout the world. The company employs more than 9,000 people globally and generates more than $14.5 billion in annual revenue. Steward is a civic leader and philanthropist committed to expanding opportunities for Black people and others from historically under-represented and underserved communities. Kansas City Entrepreneur of the Year: Justin Davis, co-founder and CEO, BacklotCars.BacklotCars created a new model for wholesale automotive auctions, replacing scheduled events with a 24/7 online marketplace for dealers. BacklotCars, which launched in 2015, provides vehicle inspections, transportation and inventory finance services to dealers. The founders sold the company for $425 million five years after launch, with Davis staying on as CEO. Marion and John Kreamer Award for Social Entrepreneurship: Bart Houlahan, Jay Coen Gilbert and Andrew Kassoy, co-founders of B The trio co-founded B Lab in 2006 to drive systemic change to address social and environmental problems. They created a corporate certification program that recognizes organizations maintaining high standards of social and environmental performance. Student Entrepreneur of the Year: To Be Announced Each year the Bloch School’s Regnier Institute Advisory Council gives a $2500 scholarship to a Bloch School student for significant entrepreneurial achievement. The recipient will be announced at the event. 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. Sep 16, 2022

  • Mock Disaster Exercise Puts Nursing Students to the Test

    New York Hope challenged participants with earthquake aftermath simulation
    Nursing student Faheem Rehman can add white water rescue to the skills he’s developed during his time at UMKC. Rehman was part of a group from the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies that participated in New York Hope, a national domestic disaster response exercise where participants hone their skills as emergency responders. Held over four days at the Department of Homeland Security Training Facility in Oriskany, New York, the training partners college students in nursing, emergency management and homeland security with first responders for a simulated disaster similar to an earthquake. That included experience with swift water rescue, search and rescue in a demolished building and a mass casualty event in a shopping center. Only three nursing schools were represented and of those just ten nursing students attended. In her role as assistant professor in the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies, Sharon White-Lewis has long been a champion of the Hope Exercises, which also include Missouri and Florida, where she has taken dozens of college students through the years. In his second year as a nursing student, Rehman was excited for the opportunity to test his skills in such a unique environment. “I’ve been in inpatient units where it’s a more controlled environment where you have a certain level of understanding of what’s going to occur,” Rehman said. “With the nature of a disaster or crisis, you don’t have that luxury.” When he first arrived at the event, everything seemed foreign. There were four days without access to his phone or even a shower, sleeping on a cot next to people he’d never met. Once he settled in, Rehman was surprised how quickly he adjusted to this new normal. "It really was incredible how quickly your mind adjusts to a setting like that,” Rehman said. “By the second day, it really did feel like my new home.” That also meant teaming up with a group of complete strangers for the exercise. But Rehman said he and his teammates quickly developed an understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses and delegated accordingly. “It felt like trauma bonding,” Rehman said. “By the end of our time together, I felt an inseparable bond with my team members. Even now we’re keeping in touch, texting each other.” Rehman said the mass casualty exercise offered the most significant stress test on the nursing skills that he’s developed at UMKC. One of the more elaborate scenarios, which involves dozens of actors role-playing a wide range of injuries across a mock shopping mall. “We set up a triage system where we prioritized people by walking wounded, delay care, immediate care and deceased,” Rehman said. “Doing all that quickly and efficiently really helped me hone my assessment skills.” Triage wasn’t new for Rehman. White-Lewis took the students through a four-hour class before they departed for New York. In the training she covered the triage techniques unique to disaster response as well as other in-the-field medical treatments like spine mobilization and splints. Rehman said he enjoyed the swift water rescue exercise most as it looked both “scary and fun.” The scenario put the participants in a pool with a fast-flowing current at a speed Rehman said he’d never experience before. According to White-Lewis, participants train in a level one current but the rapids can be pushed to a level four. With his fellow participants, Rehman worked on both rescuing and being rescued. The local fire department taught them techniques for throwing ropes to someone in the current and skills to stay afloat while navigating a fast-moving current. White-Lewis said it’s a critical experience for the Kansas City area. “We’ve had a number of floods and emergency responders have had to rescue lots and lots of people.” According to Rehman, the event left an indelible impression that has expanded his outlook on what nurses are capable of. “It showed me that nursing isn’t limited to the walls of a hospital or a doctor’s office,” he said. “The preparation we were doing – readying ourselves for future disasters – this is for the greater good of society.” White-Lewis will continue to provide students with this life altering opportunity when Missouri Hope will be held in the fall in Joplin, Missouri. She plans to bring 35 students with her. That scenario mirrors the aftermath of a tornado and she says it’s important experience for UMKC students. According to White-Lewis, after the devastating Joplin tornado in 2011, 135 nurses were deployed to the area to provide care. “Students tell me these events change their lives,” she said. “They actually have to rely on themselves and they’re proud of themselves for utilizing their nursing skills. In nursing school it’s a lot of input, input, input, with all the studying. With this experience they get to output all of their knowledge.”   Sep 13, 2022

  • Search Underway for New Dean of the School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences

    Leader will set priorities for establishing the new school
    The dean of the School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences will play a key leadership role in establishing the newly realigned school, with a focus on high-quality educational experience, impactful scholarship, a commitment to collaboration on university goals for student success, research growth, advancement of diversity and inclusion and active community engagement. SESWPS combines education, psychological sciences and social work programs into a newly reimagined academic unit that will create new education and research synergies for students and faculty. “The dean will set the tone, pace and priorities for the new school’s success,” said Jenny Lungren, provost and executive vice chancellor. “In addition, ideal candidates will have high impact engagement with community partners — with regional and state leaders in K-12 education, with social service and health care partners and with donors and civic leaders, among others.” The person selected for this position will work closely with the provost, other senior leaders, faculty, staff and students to chart a bold and successful future for the School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences. The full roster of the search committee is listed below. Others will have the opportunity to provide input during the campus interview portion of the search process. The committee aims to conclude the search in early spring 2023, for a summer 2023 start date. Full search committee Michele D. Smith, vice provost for student affairs, dean of students and associate professor Jennifer Waddell, Sprint Foundation Endowed Professor in Urban Education, associate professor, Division Co-Chair and Director Louis Odom, professor, Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies Tiffani Riggers Piehl, assistant professor, Educational Leadership, Policy and Foundations Donna Davis, professor, Educational Leadership, Policy and Foundations Ile Haggins, director of field education, advisor, field and practicum advisor, Social Work Steven Onken, associate professor, chair of Social Work Jake Marszalek, professor, Psychology; interim associate dean, SESWPS Erin Hambrick, associate professor, Psychology Shewit Abai, student Michael Pragman, director, Kansas City Regional Professional Development Center Irene Caudillo, president and CEO, El Centro Brandon Martin, vice chancellor and athletics director, executive in residence in SESWPS Sep 09, 2022

  • Becoming Doctors, Forming Families

    Alumni share their experience as couples in the School of Medicine
    The bonds built within the UMKC School of Medicine community are strong and long-lasting. Friendships are forged, but often families, too, take shape. Spanning 40-plus years, these alumni couples are a testament to that connection. Some are just beginning their lives together, and some have celebrated several milestone anniversaries. Teammates and soulmates Blake and Katy (Nichols) Montgomery’s relationship, and their medical careers, have taken them all over the country. But first, it was basketball that brought the 2015 and 2016 M.D. graduates together. They met their first year of medical school while playing on a three-on-three team, and they stayed teammates throughout their time at UMKC. “The best part of finding your spouse in med school is you have a nonstop cheerleader,” Katy said. “You’re rooting for each other every step of the way, and it’s a shared gratification when the other succeeds.” Although they started at UMKC at the same time, Blake was accepted to the Medical Research Scholars program at the National Institutes of Health in 2013. That meant Katy would end up graduating a year ahead of him. In 2015, the same year the couple tied the knot, Katy matched in pediatrics at Children’s Mercy. Soon after, Blake matched at Stanford University in orthopedic surgery and moved to Palo Alto, California, while Katy stayed in Kansas City. “Both of us being in medicine, I feel like we have a complete understanding of the other person’s life,” Blake said, “and that’s made our relationship that much stronger.” Katy was able to transfer her pediatric residency to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to finish up her final two years. Although the couple was still separated by a six-hour drive, they took advantage of their more frequent reunions. “Having limited time together made us cherish every moment,” Katy said. The couple is now together in Boston, where Blake began his first pediatric orthopedic fellowship and where their family grew to three. They welcomed a baby girl in January 2022. “You’re rooting for each other every step of the way, and it’s a shared gratification when the other succeeds.” —Katy Montgomery The couple’s next adventure will take them to Auckland, New Zealand, where Blake will start a fellowship specializing in pediatric orthopedic spine surgery. Katy plans to pursue an international certification in lactation. The time they have spent apart has made the couple grateful for the everyday things many take for granted. “It sounds cheesy, but once we finally moved in together, all the little things seemed so much better,” Katy said. “Like, wow, we get to go to the grocery store … together.” “When we were apart it felt like something was always missing, like half your heart is across the country,” Blake said. “Now that we’re back together, you just feel complete.” From high school to med school Chizitam and Ginika Ibezim’s connection started even before they were medical students. The 2020 and 2021 M.D. graduates met in 2013 in the UMKC Summer Scholars Program (now the STAHR program) for high schoolers exploring medical careers. Chizitam was a senior from Austin, Texas, and Ginika a junior from Chicago. The two were in an anatomy class together when Ginika tried to strike up a conversation with Chizitam. But he was all business. “I had tunnel vision, thinking, ‘If I can do well in Summer Scholars, I can get in the program,’” Chizitam said. It would take two years for Ginika and Chizitam to cross paths again. And Chizitam wasn’t going to miss out this time. He was helping at a student organization event when he recognized Ginika in the crowd. “I remember coming up with a bunch of excuses for us to meet up,” said Chizitam. “I was selling my first-year text books and I offered to just give them to her.” The two exchanged text messages nonstop that summer and soon were a power couple, frequently commandeering a table at Starbucks, studying for several hours of the day. “We were learning the same things and going through the same experiences,” said Chizitam. “It made that aspect of med school kind of fun.” The couple got engaged in the Summer of 2019 and tied the knot in April 2020 with a small ceremony in Chizitam’s hometown of Austin. But Ginika still had another year of medical school before the couple could finalize their future together. “We couldn’t do the couple’s match because we weren’t in the same class,” Ginika said. “We just had to hope and pray that we matched together.” Ginika’s residency search took her nearly everywhere in Texas: 26 interviews in total. She narrowed her list to three family medicine residencies, and ended up matching in Austin at the same hospital as Chizitam. “I was selling my first-year text books and I offered to just give them to her.” —Chizitam Ibezim The couple’s conversations used to focus on work, especially since they were in the same hospital and program, but that’s changed with the addition of their now 4-month-old daughter. “We’ve transitioned to talking about our aspirations outside of medicine, and that’s been really refreshing,” said Chizitam. “We’re talking about where we want to travel and things we want to see.” ‘Really good waltz partners’ School of Medicine founder E. Grey Dimond, M.D., left quite an impression on Stan and Kathleen Shaffer, 1979 M.D. graduates, when he spoke to their medical school class in the summer of 1973. “He gave us a stern talk where he told us we wouldn’t have time for dating,” Stan said. “Unless we look around the room and find someone as serious as us about being a physician.” Stan and Kathleen knew each other in passing, until their second year in the program, when they were in a social dance class together. Although they rotated dance partners, Stan and Kathleen figured out early on where they clicked. “It turned out we were really good waltz partners,” Stan said. “And we have said: It’s really wonderful to marry your waltz partner.” Any medical student knows the residency match is a huge step in becoming a doctor. But it was even bigger for the Shaffers. On top of navigating the next stage of their careers, they were also considering the next stage of their relationship: marriage. To match as a pair, they had to be married. Dating or engaged wouldn’t cut it. So, in February 1979, the Shaffers wed, and a few months later they matched together at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. “Going into medical school, I didn’t have dreams of weddings or anything,” Kathleen said. “At that time, women in medicine weren’t thought to have time to get married. So, I thought becoming a doctor and getting married was a double win for me.” Kathleen has stayed in pediatric medicine for 36 years in Kansas City. Stan moved into neonatal medicine, where he established the intensive care nursery at Saint Luke’s Hospital. In 2014, he transitioned his focus to global health. His interest in global health and Kathleen’s expertise in pediatrics have taken center stage in their work providing health care in Haiti for more than 35 years. Their two children even joined them on mission trips, a tradition that has continued into their adulthood. "It’s really wonderful to marry your waltz partner.” —Stan Shaffer According to Stan, the trips to Haiti also consumed a great deal of their discussions. Those talks – as well as the trips themselves – instilled in their children the incredible scope of what health care can provide to those in need. “We weren’t talking about insurance plans or paperwork,” said Kathleen. “It was about larger medical issues and the philosophy of medicine.” The groundwork they laid helped inspire both children to follow in their parents’ footsteps. Their daughter, Brynn, graduated from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 2010, and their son, Christopher, graduated from the UMKC School of Medicine in 2006. The family the Shaffers built together may certainly last a lifetime, but the friendships they’ve built have lasted almost as long. A couple they became close friends with at UMKC — current School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne Jackson (M.D. ’78) and her husband, Jay Jackson (M.D. ’78) – were the Shaffers’ neighbors for more than three decades. Working and learning together According to Jay, he and Mary Anne had finally given up on their house hunt when the Shaffers told them the house next door in their Kansas City suburb was going on the market. “They found our house for us,” said Jay. “We’ve been there probably 34 years, so we’re obviously thrilled to have been their neighbors.” Just as the Shaffers received relationship advice from Dimond that first summer, Jay said he and Mary Anne heard the same message. In 1978, during their fifth year of medical school, the Jacksons got married so they could also match together. The Jacksons coupled up early on in their time at UMKC. Jay recalled many days and nights studying together. He was the expert on humanities, and Mary Anne, ever the educator, helped him with some of his sciences. “I struggled with chemistry in particular,” said Jay, “but she made it light up for me.” All those study sessions paid off. Mary Anne has a successful career in infectious diseases and medical education and Jay is a recently-retired cardiologist. The hours Mary Anne and Jay put into their careers have been long, but the choice to become doctors was an easy decision for both of them. “Medicine is what we were called to do,” Jay said. With the 50th anniversary celebrations continuing, many alumni are reminiscing about their time at UMKC and all it has given them, including the Jacksons. “I look back on our time at UMKC, and as hard as we worked, they were really fun times,” Jay said. “Mary Anne asked me what my best memory was from that time. I told her, ‘Well that’s easy. The best thing that happened to me in med school was meeting you.’” Sep 08, 2022

  • From Heat Islands to Liquid-Cooled Semiconductors

    Undergraduate research symposium demonstrates students making the most of opportunities to excel
    Amanda Pierce had already launched her professional career at EcoSafe Environmental Services in the Crossroads District after finishing her degree requirements at the end of July. So, what was she doing back on campus in August, standing in front of a poster in Miller Nichols Library and Learning Center? Living her passion. The poster described her research into duckweed, an innocuous-looking but environmentally powerful plant.  She earned her final credits for her degree in earth and environmental science researching the ability of duckweed to do double duty sequestering carbon dioxide while removing contaminants in waterways. She had the credits, the degree and the professional career, but she came back to present and discuss her findings at the annual UMKC SUROP Poster Symposium. “I’m very passionate about my research,” she explained. “At first, I wasn’t really even doing (the research) for school. I put my time and energy into it, and I was proud of it, and I wanted to share this cool information with people.” That’s the secret of SUROP (Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunity), one of several UMKC programs that encourage undergrads to dive deep into their studies by funding research expenses for approved projects. The programs create a bridge linking passion to tangible performance. SUROP grants provide students with a $2,000 tuition grant and up to $1,250 in reimbursable research expenses for projects undertaken during the summer. The SUROP Poster Symposium celebrates the work that undergraduate researchers, scholars and artists and their faculty mentors have accomplished during the summer months. Information about undergraduate research opportunities, funding and application deadlines is available at the Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship page. Pierce was one of 19 students who received funding for summer research projects this year, on topics ranging from the urban heat island effect in Kansas City, to health policies related to child obesity, to using 3-D printing to create structures that mimic living tissue. Another was Laura Munoz-Baroja, who also competes as a scholarship athlete on the UMKC women’s tennis team. She tested techniques for improving the efficiency and performance of solar energy panels. Current panels convert only about 20 percent of the solar radiation they receive into electricity, and the rest gets converted into heat, which limits the performance of the panel. Munoz-Baroja investigated coatings that can convert more of the light entering the panel into wavelengths that produce electricity instead of heat. By using external coatings, the enhancement can be applied to existing panels without expensive and time-consuming internal design changes. She tested coating materials that are durable enough to last as long as the panels, even under exposed outdoor conditions. Sam Sisk also focused his research on keeping things cool, but his medium was semiconductor computer chips. At temperatures above 80 degrees C., the speed and accuracy of chips declines significantly, so cooling has always been a key element of the design of computerized equipment. Cooling systems integrated into chips is the modern solution, but those systems create less than ideal interaction between the chip and the coolant. Sam’s solution: go small. He designed a miniaturized system for injecting liquid coolant directly onto the surface of individual chips, generating more direct contact with the coolant while requiring minimal energy to pump the liquid. 2022 SUROP Presenters Shuyuan Tian, Chemistry Chirality-Driven Self-Assembly: In Situ Preparation of Structurally Distinct Janus Dendrimers Faculty Mentor: Shin Moteki   Kate Larberg, Earth and Environmental Science Making the Kansas City Urban Heat Island Effect Approachable Faculty Mentor: Fengpeng Sun   Kaitie Butler, Mechanical Engineering, Honors Program Fabrication of Color-Changing Materials Using Liquid-in-Liquid 3D Printing Methods Faculty Mentor: Zahra Niroobakhsh   Laura Munoz-Baroja, Energy, Matter and Systems Performance Enhancement of PV/T Systems Integrated with Nanofluids Faculty Mentor: Sarvenaz Sobhansarbandi   Christian Dang, Biology, Honors Program A Self-Directed Mutagenesis Approach for Examining the Drosophila Tribbles Recognition Degron in the C/EBP Transcription Factor Slbo Faculty Mentor: Leonard Dobens   Jay Vanderslice, Physics Creating Continuous and Universal Paths for Crystal Structures Faculty Mentor: Paul Rulis   Charlotte Rooney, Earth and Environmental Science Assessment of Urban Prairie and Phytoremediation Plants as a Means to Regenerate Urban Soil Faculty Mentor: Caroline Davies   Amanda Pierce, Earth and Environmental Science Decontamination and Carbon Sequestration of Missouri Freshwater by Duckweed Faculty Mentor: Alison Graettinger   MaAh Kyi, English/History The Missouri Bicentennial Project: Recent Immigration Faculty Mentor: Diane Mutti Burke   Judy Vun, Nursing A Secondary Data Analysis of the Child Obesity and Health Messaging Preferences among Missouri Policymakers (CHAMP) Study Faculty Mentor: Anita Skarbe   Sam Sisk, Mechanical Engineering In-Chip Cooling Technology within Semiconductor Switches Faculty Mentor: Sarvenaz Sobhansarbandi   Saivagmita Kantheti, Six-Year BA/MD A Text Mining Approach to Determine Correlations between the Spanish Flu and COVID-19 Faculty Mentor: Billie Anderson, Ph.D.   Britton Needham, Biology/Chemistry Probing Biological Redox Chemistry with Microelectrodes Faculty Mentor: Mohammad Rafiee   Drew Nelson, Mechanical Engineering Small Rifle Primer Characterization Faculty Mentor: Travis Fields   India Fernandez, Biology Creation and Repair of Educational Anatomy Models Mentor: Rachael Allen   Michael Englert, Mechanical Engineering Development of a Highly Thermal Conductive Nanofluid for the Application in Solar Thermal Technologies Faculty Mentor: Sarvenaz Sobhansarbandi   Hannah Briggs, Biology Chirality-Driven Self-Assembly: Application toward Renewable/Exchangeable Resin-Immobilized Catalysts Faculty Mentor: Shin Moteki   Luke Romang, Earth and Environmental Science Depositional Setting, Provenance, and Tectonic Implications of the Carmen Formation on San Marcos Island, Baja California Sur, México Faculty Mentor: Tina Niemi   Austin Cass, Mechanical Engineering, Honors Program Creating Soft, Gel-Like Tubes for Biomimicking Tubular Tissues Using Liquid-in-Liquid 3D Printing Faculty Mentor: Zahra Niroobakhsh Sep 08, 2022

  • Army Skills Come to PA Program

    Major David Walker joins the School of Medicine faculty, bringing his Army experience to UMKC's Physician Assistant program.
    Major David Walker has been added as a new faculty member to the Physician Assistant (PA) program at the UMKC School of Medicine. Walker’s path to UMKC was a bit unique. Initially, Walker came to the department for an internship through the Army Career Skills Program, which sponsored his time at UMKC. The Army initiative helps veterans transition to civilian careers. During the internship, Walker worked closely with the PA faculty on day-to-day delivery of the curriculum, while he was involved in all aspects in the classroom, including skills instruction and assessment.  Julie Banderas, assistant dean, Graduate Health and Professions, said it’s the first time the Physician Assistant program has worked with the Army Skills Program. “We saw this as an excellent opportunity with mutual benefits,” she said. Walker said he experienced many teaching opportunities in the military. “As you move up the ranks in the military, you’re always looking behind you to train your subordinates and bring them up as well,” he said. “Those opportunities gave me a great deal of experience with the student-teacher and mentor-mentee dynamic.” According to Walker, there was much to like about UMKC and its PA program. “I was drawn to the mission at UMKC– how involved they are with the community,” he said. “The program’s emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion was important as well, and their focus on recruiting students with diverse backgrounds.” Walker enlisted straight out of high school, two weeks after graduation, to be exact. “With my birthday in July,” he said, “I wasn’t even 18 yet at the start of basic training.” He originally served as a military intelligence technician. According to Walker, the job sounds like a big deal, but he adds, “I was basically an IT guy.” An “IT guy” with top security clearance, nonetheless. He worked the first couple of years for the National Security Agency, deployed in Iraq. That’s where he met his wife, and after their son was born, he began looking at his future after the military. He landed on the physician assistant program through the military, an inter-service PA program accredited through the University of Nebraska. Through the program, he not only received his bachelor’s degree, but a master’s degree and then a commissioning to officer as a first lieutenant. “I wasn’t even 18 yet at the start of basic training.” — David Walker Walker was drawn to the problem-solving aspect of a career as a physician assistant. “I like putting puzzles together,” he said. “My patient is telling me their symptoms; I’m performing the physical exam. I’m finding the pieces to put together to figure out a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan with them.”  According to Eric Johnson, program director for the PA program, Walker is a great addition to the team.“Major Walker’s military experience, while significant, is not the only contribution he brings to the PA program,” Johnson said. “He brings racial and gender diversity to the program faculty, as well as a role model to all our students, but especially to those whose background and experience may be similar. Often overlooked is David’s correctional medicine experience, which presents unique complexities that few clinicians encounter.”  The UMKC Master of Medical Science Physician Assistant Program is a seven-semester program based in the UMKC School of Medicine and has been accredited since 2014, with more than 100 alumni PAs. Walker joins a faculty team of three other full-time PA faculty members and nearly 60 current students. Sep 08, 2022

  • Student Leader Charts His Own Course

    Concrete Canoe competitor finds value in work-life balance
    Roos don’t just dream, they do. Our students turn ideas into action every day. Get to know our people, and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Sean PurdueAnticipated Graduation Year: December 2023UMKC degree program: Civil Engineering, minor in historyHometown: Liberty, Missouri   Looking to study civil engineering close to home, Sean Purdue chose UMKC for a balance of academic and student life opportunities. He’s a student ambassador of the Honors Program, the president of the UMKC chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers and competes on the school’s Concrete Canoe team. Why did you choose your field of study? I chose civil engineering because it is a very broad field, and it gives me a lot of options for when I decide what I want to do as a career. My grandfather was a civil engineer, so that also inspired me. The history minor is just because I love history. How has your college program inspired you? I’ve definitely been inspired by learning about how much the world revolves around civil engineering. Water, transportation, buildings, we play a part in everything. It’s also amazing how much good engineering can improve the world. Who do you admire most at UMKC and why? My friend Brett Keegan, who is also a civil engineering student. He commutes to campus from St. Joseph (about an hour one way) and has a young child, but he still finds time to help out with Concrete Canoe and to just be a great friend. I probably could not do what he does, and I find it very admirable. Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself? I’ve learned that I want a life that is centered on family and activities that interest me outside of work. Still trying to figure out how to balance everything.  I’ve also learned a ton about my leadership style and how I react to stress. What do you hope to take from your experiences at UMKC into your professional career? Knowledge on how to manage teams and people. Also that information about my own nature (see the previous question) will be pretty important to not burn out. I also want to always remember those that helped me throughout my college career and try my best to be similarly helpful wherever I go. What are you most proud of during your time at UMKC? Making a concrete canoe is certainly up there. It’s not the prettiest or the lightest or the strongest, but it is a canoe and it is made of concrete. I am also happy that I know a lot of the people in my classes. I think it’s very easy to just go to class and leave without making connections, but I’m proud of the connections I’ve made. Sep 08, 2022

  • Sharing the Life-Changing Power of Music

    Doctoral student En-Ting Hsu is helping Kansas City children embrace her art
    Roos don’t just dream, they do. Our students turn ideas into action every day. Get to know our people, and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. En-Ting HsuAnticipated graduation year: May 2023UMKC degree program: DMA in viola performanceHometown: Tainan City, Taiwan En-Ting Hsu discovered at a young age the power of exposure to music and the way it can change a life. It happened for her as a child in Taiwan. Now she is making it happen for children in Kansas City. Her parents, both music lovers, took her to sit in the audience for a Master Class being conducted there by Scott Lee, now associate professor of viola at the UMKC Conservatory. The 12-year-old En-Ting was awestruck – and launched onto a musical career that led her to pursue an undergraduate music degree at National Taiwan Normal University, then a Master of Music from Indiana University Bloomington. When it came time to choose a doctoral program, “I Googled to see where (Lee) teaches.” Once she enrolled at UMKC, Lee introduced her to his brother, Jackie Lee, a UMKC alumnus and artistic director of Heartland Chamber Music. She participated in the organization’s summer music festivals. Five years ago, when Heartland launched its String Sprouts program, a free music education program designed for underserved children ages 3 - 8, Hsu was hired as the lead violin teacher. Bev Chapman, a former local television news reporter, has spent the past five years tracking the progress of the youngsters under Hsu’s tutelage for a recently completed documentary film.   Sep 07, 2022

  • Bringing Broadband One Step Closer to Rural Missouri

    UMKC students win System-wide competition to design a possible public-private partnership internet utility
    A team of University of Missouri-Kansas City students took first place in a UM System competition to design a public-private partnership plan to extend broadband internet service to a five-county region in northwestern Missouri. The competition was open to students at all four UM System universities. The competing teams combined undergraduate and graduate students from an array of majors and disciplines, including Law, Computer Science, Business and Engineering. The students used surveys, research, data and information from local stakeholders to develop proposals to use private-public partnership business models to create affordable, feasible and economically sustainable plans to bring broadband service to Atchison, Gentry, Holt, Nodaway and Worth counties in Missouri. The team of Daniel Foose, UMKC Law; Sofia Hadley, UMKC Law; and John Welch, UMKC School of Science and Engineering won the top prize of $3,000 for a plan that suggested consideration of a fiber optic system built on top of existing power utility infrastructure, along with other components regarding broadband infrastructure, access and adoption and potential sources of funding. Foose, who earned his undergraduate degree from Northwest Missouri State University, was intrigued by the idea of bringing broadband coverage to the underserved northwest counties. “I sort of saw it as a way to give a little bit back to a community that had done so much to help shape me into who I am today,” he said. The H&R Block Foundation donated a total of $5,000 in prize money for the competition. The second-place team included: Ankit Agarwal, Missouri University of Science and Technology Engineering Management Alasia Buschkopf, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Computer Science Clifton Holly, UMKC Law Tara Ogoti, UMKC Science and Engineering Third place: Chandrashekar Akkenapally, S&T Computer Science Anna Heetmann, UMKC Law Emilie Moyer, UMKC Bloch School of Management Tarun Sai Naregudam, S&T Computer Science Oluwatosin Waleola, S&T Information Science and Technology. The presentation event in the competition took place Aug. 20 in Maryville. The competition was initiated by Anthony Luppino, Rubey M. Hulen Professor of Law and Director of Entrepreneurship Programs at the UMKC School of Law, and a member of the UM System Broadband Initiative Steering Committee. That steering committee evolved from a 2019 proposal for a UM System-wide broadband initiative put together by Luppino;  Marcus McCarty, UMKC adjunct law faculty; and Casey Canfield, an engineering professor at S&T. The proposal was adopted at the System level and refined, further developed and implemented by faculty and staff from all four System universities, KCSourceLink, MU Extension and UM System Engagement and Outreach. The student competition was the latest addition to the UM System Broadband Initiative, which also includes the Digitally Connected Community Guide. “It occurred to me that the concept of the Regnier Venture Creation Challenge (an entrepreneurship competition run by the Bloch School) could be applied to broadband access challenges,”Luppino said.  “Instead of independent ventures, the student teams would be developing  concepts for public-private partnerships.” He called the competition a great example of “the power of multidisciplinary and inter-institutional collaborations,” with contributing organizations providing an opportunity for students to “demonstrate their knowledge, talents, and teamwork in a service-learning experience focused on a critically important subject.” Sep 06, 2022

  • Building Great Futures Close to Home

    New class of Trustees’ Scholars set out to make their mark
    They’re the kind of students in demand at prestigious universities across the country. High school class presidents, A+ scholars, National Honor Society members, committed volunteers. These multi-talented young people combined top high school grades with success in athletics, arts, debate, music and other extracurricular activities. They have chosen to launch their futures at UMKC. These students are UMKC Trustees’ Scholars, who will have their four years of college fully funded by civic leaders who will also provide them with invaluable mentorship, access, networking and experiential learning opportunities. Trustee Donna Ward, chair of the group’s scholarship committee, said this year’s cohort of seven students was selected from a pool of about 200 applicants. “They are the best of the best,” Ward said.  Larry Smith, from St. Louis, didn’t know Kansas City very well, but came away from a visit convinced that UMKC was right for him. “There’s not a lot of diversity where I’m from,” he said. “I thought I would enjoy being with the wide variety of people here.” For Elliott Smith of Parkville, the university’s urban environment is a major advantage. “There are lots of opportunities to explore the city, and the network that the university can provide.” Taylor Trudell of Knob Noster said UMKC was her first-choice school well before learning she had won the coveted scholarship. “I think the mentorship and the opportunities to learn how to handle yourself in professional situations is really the cream of the crop from this scholarship.” When Judy Batts of Kansas City got word about the scholarship while at Raytown High School, “I just started crying. I never thought that I could get access to all these opportunities.” The UMKC Board of Trustees is a nonprofit organization established by civic and community leaders to support the university. Their mission is to strengthen Kansas City’s future by advocating for and supporting UMKC and its students. Since 2001, the Trustees have sponsored the Trustees’ Scholars Program, which provides high-achieving students from our region with a fully funded educational and experiential program, worth more than $60,000 over four years. Each scholar is individually mentored during their four years by a UMKC Trustee. The program gives students access to the Trustees’ knowledge, experience and network, as well as specialized guidance from key UMKC staff. Today, more than 120 program alumni are making their marks as business and civic leaders, entrepreneurs and professionals in healthcare, entertainment and law. Meet the 2022 incoming class of UMKC Trustees’ Scholars. Judy Batts’ goal is to become a genetic counselor and use that skill to bridge the large existing gaps in health care access and outcomes.  Intended Major: Biology with double minors in Spanish and Chemistry Hometown/High School: Kansas City, Missouri; Raytown High School Trustee Mentor: Jay Kim   Mauricio Bernal intends to become an engineer focused on mentoring the next generation. “I want to give back to my community by sharing my experiences with students in the Kansas City area that have a similar background as me. I greatly benefitted from having mentors that looked like me and shared similar experiences, and I value giving that back to the next generation.” Intended Major: Civil Engineering Hometown/High School: Kansas City, Kansas; Wyandotte High School Trustee Mentor: Gabe Hernandez   Chinecherem Ihenacho plans to become an addiction psychiatrist in the UMKC School of Medicine and open clinics in both the U.S. and Nigeria “where people won’t be turned away because of money.” Intended Major: Psychology (pre-med) Hometown/High School: Raytown, Missouri; Raytown South High School Trustee Mentor: Dana Nelson   Vari Patel will pursue an MBA and a law degree after graduation, to prepare for a career as an international corporate lawyer – and a seat in the U.S. Senate representing Missouri. She has already become founder and first president of a new campus student organization, Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda. Intended Major: Finance with a minor in International Affairs Hometown/High School: Lee’s Summit, Missouri; Blue Springs South Trustee Mentor: Suzanne Shank   Elliott Smith is mapping out a future in urban affairs, “working in a city hall and having a direct impact on municipal priorities or coming up with ideas to better equip communities for future endeavors.” Intended Major: Urban Planning + Design Hometown/High School: Parkville, Missouri; Park Hill South High School Mentor: Bob Strom   Larry Smith intends to be a dentist with his own practice, that “provides quality care in a positive and family-oriented environment.” Intended Major: Biology (pre-dental) Hometown/High School: St. Louis, Missouri; Lindbergh High School Trustee Mentor: Emmet Pierson   Taylor Trudell is studying Environmental Science to prepare for a career with the EPA or as a natural resource specialist for the U.S. Forest Service. Intended Major: Environmental Science, minor in Studio Art Hometown/High School: Knob Noster, Missouri; Knob Noster High School Trustee Mentor: Patti Phillips Aug 31, 2022

  • Mental Health-Themed Art Exhibit Coming in October

    ‘The Art of Being ME’ will spend seven weeks in Miller Nichols Library
    A multi-media art exhibit, “created to ignite important conversations around mental health” according to the artist, will be on display at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Oct. 19 through Nov. 30. “The Art of Being ME,” created by Springfield-based artist Randy Bacon, incorporates video, still photography and text. The collection showcases the personal stories of more than 20 individuals who have lived experiences with mental health conditions or diagnoses. It includes inspiring portrait artwork, personal written stories and a series of short films that focus on various behavioral health challenges. The exhibit is sponsored by the Burrell Foundation. The exhibit will be on display throughout Miller Nichols Library, with free access for campus and community available during the library's operational hours.  During the exhibit’s stay on campus, Bacon hopes to incorporate the mental health journey of a member of the UMKC campus community into the project. “The Art of Being ME is an extraordinary project created to ignite important conversations around mental health, and to amplify the human experience as we traverse it both individually and collectively,” Bacon writes. “We are never alone, and this is a conversation that must be normalized and talked about in all spaces with total transparency.” The exhibit is being brought to UMKC by the Department of External Relations and Constituent Engagement as part of the department’s extensive Engagement Month programming. Aug 31, 2022

  • UMKC Pharmacy Students Getting Early Start as Immunizers

    Immunization training will allow student phamacists additional opportunities to help meet public health needs
    Jessica Thomas, a second-year UMKC School of Pharmacy student, braced herself as her classmate, Sheel Patel, gently plunged a syringe into her arm. “Wow, that didn’t hurt whatsoever,” Thomas exclaimed. Thomas and Patel are two of the more than 180 first- and second-year students across UMKC’s three pharmacy school campuses in Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield who participated in an all-day training the week before classes started and then two days of immunization injection training during the first week of the school year. The training has been part of the School of Pharmacy’s curriculum for more than a decade. Until this year, however, it took place as students transitioned from their second to third years of the program, just prior to beginning their second introductory clinical experiences. Now, all UMKC student pharmacists will get the training at the start of their first year in pharmacy school. Cameron Lindsey, chair of the school’s Division of Pharmacy Practice and Administration, said the school moved the immunization training to the beginning of the curriculum in order to give students more opportunities to help with public health needs such as administering COVID vaccines as well as other necessary vaccines. “Now they’ll have that skill before they go out on their first (clinical) experience,” Lindsey said. “We look at this as an opportunity for our students to learn a skill, practice it and be able to help the pharmacists, and actually, the whole health care system.” Thomas and Patel said they’ll see an immediate benefit. Thomas currently works in the pharmacy at University Health-Truman Medical Center. Patel works at a local Walmart pharmacy. Under the previous schedule, they would have received the immunization training next spring. Now all UMKC pharmacy students will have the training and be certified immunizers as they start pharmacy school. “I’m really excited,” Thomas said. “Working in retail pharmacy, you can’t have enough people who give immunizations. I’ve been asked several times, ‘Can you do them? We need someone to do them.’ There’s a need out there and I’m glad that we can help meet it. I’m glad we don’t have to wait another year to get the training.” Patel admitted being a little nervous about sticking a needle in someone’s arm. After the first practice injection, the nerves subsided. Now, he says he’s ready to take on added responsibilities at work. “When we work in retail (and administer vaccines under pharmacist supervision), it gives the pharmacists more time to do other things than give shots all day long, and that helps them out,” Patel said. Vaccination training is one of the first patient-care experiences in which many student pharmacists participate. The hope is that by providing that training before they start their first year of pharmacy school, students will feel more engaged with patient care early in their education. “Those first semesters are very science heavy, and now our students are going to be right in the midst of doing something that’s hands-on, that can be applied to patient care, and they can be more involved with patients early on,” Lindsey said. First-year student Madison Crawford said she wasn’t expecting to learn immunization skills so quickly when she enrolled in pharmacy school. “I’m really excited to be able to do it so soon,” she said. “I feel like I’ll be able to get more involved in the community by giving vaccinations early on.” Aug 30, 2022

  • Welcome to UMKC, Roos!

    Convocation, Roo Welcome and soccer headlined the first week of the semester
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City welcomed new and returning students, faculty and staff with a series of special events and activities. From move-in to the first Roo Blue Friday, here’s a look at highlights from the first week on campus. A student pushes a bin during move in at Oak Street Residence Hall Students move in to the Hospital Hill Apartments Chancellor Agrawal was there to greet families and lend a hand as students moved in Late Night with the Greeks is one of the first events of the weekend The annual tradition is a chance for students to learn about Greek Life organizations at UMKC UMKC is home to 13 Greek letter organizations The event has a variety of activities and food vendors The Paint a Pig event introduces students to services available through the Financial Wellness Center Convocation was held on Saturday afternoon New students learned UMKC traditions such as the fight song and the alma mater Following Convocation, students attended the Welcome Block Party Students enjoyed food, games and caricatures The men's soccer team won the Battle of Rockhill 2-1 The exhibition match is a tradition where the Roos face off against neighboring Rockhurst University Donuts with the Dean is an opportunity for students to get to know Dean of Students Michele Smith Students used color powder to decorate shirts ahead of the women's soccer match Union Fest is an opportunity for students to learn about campus resources and activities The first day of class was Aug. 22 Pharmacy students learned about opportunities at the student organization fair  Students don their blue on Roo Blue Friday   Aug 26, 2022

  • National, Local Experts to Discuss Race and Sports at UMKC Symposium

    Virtual event offers CLE credit, or free for non-credit attendees
    The UMKC School of Law and Athletics Department are co-sponsoring “The Arc of Race in Professional & Collegiate Sports,” a two-day virtual symposium featuring national and local experts. Topics ranging from the hiring of coaches of color, to name-image-likeness deals, to race norming in the NFL’s brain-injury lawsuit’s claims settlement process will be covered during the Sept. 9-10 event. The symposium is co-chaired by Brandon Martin, Ed.D., UMKC Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics; and Prof. Kenneth D. Ferguson, UMKC School of Law. Featured speakers will include: Keith Harrison, Ed.D., chief academic officer, DeVos Sport Business Management Graduate Program, University of Central Florida Ann McKee, M.D., neuropathologist and director of the Brain Banks for Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center, Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy and Framingham Heart Study Jennifer Hunter, J.D., senior director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the Portland Trail Blazers Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D. professor in the UMKC School of Medicine and director, UMKC Health Equity Institute Tracie Canada, Ph.D. assistant professor of anthropology, Duke University Vincent Key, head team physician for the Kansas City Royals and president of the Major League Baseball Team Physicians Association Meg Gibson, M.D., head team physician, UMKC Athletics Mikah Thompson, J.D., associate dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, UMKC School of Law Deron Cherry, retired Kansas City Chief, president of United Beverage Company and a commissioner for the Jackson County Sports Authority The symposium offers up to 12.6 hours Elimination of Bias Missouri Continuing Legal Education credit. Fee is $100 for those seeking CLE credits; attendance is free to all others. To register, go to The opening session on Sept. 9 will focus on “Race Norming and Sports Concussion Litigation including NFL Concussion Settlement and Claims Process.” The initial settlement by the NFL for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) injuries implemented a formula (i.e., race-norming) that discriminated against Black retired players. In effect, Black players were treated as having worse cognitive functioning than white players (in their pre-morbid stage). As a result, if a Black player and a white player received the exact same score on a battery of neurocognitive tests, the Black player was automatically assumed to have suffered less impairment. Two members of the panel for that session, attorneys J.R. Wyatt and Cy Smith, successfully sued the NFL to remove race-norming from the settlement. Other discussion topics will include: Will Race and Gender Affect which Student Athletes Profit from their Name, Image and Likeness? The Intersection of Race and Gender in Professional Sports Hiring The Intersection of Race and Gender in Mental Health of Professional and Collegiate Athletes Race Norming in Medical Treatment and Clinical Diagnostics and its Impacts   Aug 25, 2022

  • Victor E. Dominguez, M.D. Memorial Scholarship Continues Alumnus Legacy

    Awardees from southwest Missouri demonstrate academic excellence and financial need
    Jose Dominguez (B.A.’88, M.D. ’89) remembers that his father, Emilio Dominguez, M.D., wanted his sons to have careers in medicine as well. He and his younger brother Victor (B.A. ’89, M.D. ’90) saw the value in their father’s dream for them and graduated from the UMKC School of Medicine. When Victor died of cancer in 1997, a scholarship was established in his name. “Victor had such a strong work ethic,” Jose says. “He was in the Missouri National Guard and the Army Reserves.” A natural leader, Victor established the Bi Theta Pi fraternity at UMKC while he worked toward his degree in medicine. He was a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society and served as chief resident at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas.  At the time of his death, his friend and fraternity brother, Jim Burke (B.A. ’88, M.D. ’89) recognized Victor for his character. “I remember him as one of the best friends I have ever had,” Burke said. “He was accepting [of people] at their best and their worst. His loyalty to his friends and family are something we should aspire to.” In 2007 Carlotta and Emilio Dominguez made the initial gift and pledge to endow the scholarship established in Victor’s memory, which allows students to pursue their dream of earning their degree in medicine at UMKC. Students from southwest Missouri who demonstrate both academic excellence and financial need are eligible to apply. They have made additional donations, as has Jose. Macy Baugh (B.A./M.D. ‘27), the current recipient of the Victor E. Dominguez, M.D. Memorial Scholarship, knew she wanted a career in the health care field from a young age. It wasn’t until the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, that she was certain that she wanted to be a physician. “Being awarded the scholarship motivates me to be the best student I can be and eventually the best physician I can be." - Macy Baugh “I watched as doctors worked tirelessly on the front lines and risked their own health to care for their communities,” she says. “People come to see doctors in their most vulnerable times. I want to be there for people during their greatest time of need.” Baugh chose the UMKC six-year medicine program to help fulfill her dream. “Once I decided to be a doctor, I wanted to achieve this goal as soon as possible. Also, I loved that UMKC allows us exposure to the field so early in our education through hands-on clinical experience in our docent system.” Baugh wants to stay close to home once she graduates and hopes to match to a residency program in Missouri. She’s grateful for the Victor E. Dominguez, M.D. Scholarship for making her dreams possible. “Being awarded the scholarship motivates me to be the best student I can be and eventually the best physician I can be. The cost of attending this program was a very important factor in my decision to attend UMKC, and this scholarship helped reduce the financial burden. Instead of worrying about the amount of debt I am accruing, I am able to focus on my studies.” She is grateful to Emilio Dominguez for establishing the scholarship in Victor’s honor. “I sincerely thank him for his generosity and willingness to help students achieve their goals. I hope that one day I am able to help students in the way that he has helped me. Thanks to him, I am one step closer to being a doctor.” Aug 23, 2022

  • To Make the Most of College, Build Relationships with Faculty

    Office hours, coffee breaks, campus strolls are all ways to forge valuable connections with professors
    UMKC faculty have a great deal more to offer students beyond classroom lectures. Things like mentoring, career networking and guidance, research partnerships, internships and deeper explorations of subject matter outside of class time. At UMKC, faculty are particularly eager and willing to forge helpful relationships with students outside the classroom, including undergraduates. “It’s part of the culture here,” said Alexis Petri, director of faculty support at the UMKC Center for the Advancement of Faculty Excellence (CAFE). “The benefits to students from these relationships can be profound.” Talking to faculty outside of class helps students discover opportunities, but there are deeper benefits as well, Petri said. “It also leads to a sense of belonging, of feeling connected to a major, and to a community that has made that discipline their life’s work,” she said. “Undergraduate research, internships, all of the experiential learning opportunities that make a discipline come alive in a concrete way – that’s all faculty-driven,” she continued. “Faculty are also the people who will write letters of recommendation for you, and be a reference in your initial job search. And the better they know you, the more good things they can say.” Some faculty are more prone than others to project that willingness, however. Even for those who advertise it openly, though, it’s up to the student to take the initial step. “The best way to start is with office hours,” Petri said. “Faculty are required to have office hours and to post them on the syllabus.” If a student feels a need to break the ice before that, “just go up and say ‘hi’ after class.” “Undergraduate research, internships, all of the experiential learning opportunities that make a discipline come alive in a concrete way – that’s all faculty-driven.” – Alexis Petri Petri recalled being introverted as an undergraduate, and forging a plan to overcome that tendency. “I had to force myself, but I would make a point of saying something in the very first class, be recognized, and get myself in the habit,” she said. “I had a system I tried to follow. Talk in the first three classes, and go to office hours within the first month. There were times I didn’t do it, and I wasn’t as successful in those classes.” Students from underrepresented backgrounds can sometimes find it difficult to initiate conversations with faculty who don’t look like them. Petri suggests starting off with a visit to the Multicultural Student Affairs office, where the staff can help students find a comfort level and a sense of community at UMKC as a first step in the process. “Then, ask yourself, ‘Who do I feel welcomed by?’ A lot of our faculty work hard at giving cues of openness, and creating broad classroom participation,” Petri said. “Look for that, and make that faculty member your first experience in reaching out.” As for her advice to faculty through CAFE, Petri said the most important ingredient can be organization. “Students who are anxious or nervous tend to follow the rules, so a really well-organized syllabus makes those students feel more confident,” she said. “Being really organized shows students you care.” Aug 19, 2022

  • UMKC adds in-state tuition for non-Missouri students

    Kansas City Business Journal reports new Roo Nation Award and Roo Advantage Scholarships.
    The Roo Nation Award gives students outside Missouri and Kansas an in-state tuition rate. Students must have at least at 3.0 high school GPA and be a U.S. citizen enrolled at UMKC. Roo Advantage Scholarship gives a full ride to Missouri and Kansas residents that are eligible for Pell Grants. Aug 18, 2022

  • UMKC Announces Free Tuition for Pell-Eligible Students, In-State Tuition Scholarships for Students from All 50 States

    Roo Advantage Scholarship ensures free college education for the students who need it most while Roo Nation Award offers in-state tuition scholarships
    Financial aid assistance plays a big role in helping many students decide where to attend college and UMKC just unveiled a new scholarship lineup aimed at making college even more affordable.  The Roo Advantage Scholarship makes college free for full-time Missouri and Kansas first-time and transfer students who are Pell Grant-eligible. The scholarship covers any remaining full-time tuition and fees not covered by other student scholarships or grants.  The new Roo Nation Award extends in-state tuition scholarships to non-Missouri residents.   Roo Advantage is available beginning now, Fall 2022, while Roo Nation will begin Fall 2023. Both scholarships are renewable yearly.  “We are committed to making higher education affordable to the Kansas City community, all of Missouri and Kansas and beyond,” said Jenny Lundgren, Ph.D., provost and executive vice chancellor. “These programs remove financial barriers that stand in the way of people earning the credentials needed to launch a professional career.”  Roo Advantage  To be eligible for Roo Advantage, students must have completed a FAFSA and been declared eligible for a Pell Grant. Transfer students must have earned an associate degree prior to transferring to UMKC.  Madison Atkins, a junior at UMKC studying education, started her college career at a community college to save money. She said the Roo Advantage Scholarship relieved her of “a huge burden.”  “It was a no-brainer about accepting it because I’m basically getting college for free,” Atkins said. “I did community college to save money, and my family planned to take out loans for UMKC. So when this scholarship came along, it felt like a weight had been lifted.”  Atkins said she and her family feel extremely grateful for the opportunities the scholarship will provide for her during her time at UMKC.  “This really opens the door for me to think about things like continuing school and getting my master’s degree. I was really worried about the student loans from my bachelor’s, and so I had planned to graduate and then work a couple of years before coming back. Now I can work right through,” Atkins said. “That just wouldn’t have been an option for me before.”  Roo Nation Award  To be eligible for the Roo Nation Award, students must be a U.S. citizen and a newly enrolled nonresident undergraduate student with a high school core or transfer GPA of at least a 3.0. Medical, Pharmacy, Dentistry and Law students are not eligible.  SGA President Tim Nguyen says scholarships can make or break the student experience – and he applauded UMKC’s ongoing efforts to make sure college can be affordable for students. For Nguyen (B.S., B.A. ’22), scholarships at UMKC helped ensure he could focus completely on his education as an undergrad and even to pursue a graduate degree.  “My scholarship at UMKC gave me countless opportunities that I could never possibly imagine. Or never thought I would be able to come across,” Nguyen said. “I had flexibility, where I didn’t have to work two or three other jobs, I could invest myself into giving back through different community service opportunities, different internships and be someone for my UMKC family, not just someone in it.”  Learn More About Roo Advantage and Roo Nation Scholarships Aug 17, 2022

  • In Case You Missed It: Top UMKC News Stories from Summer 2022

    From academic realignment to new student-focused partnerships and more, it's been a busy summer on our campuses
    Welcome to a new school year at UMKC! Campus may have seemed quiet the past three months, but major changes are in store. Here’s a look at what’s new around campus as well as some big news you may have missed over the summer: New Homes and New Offices Two key Academic Support and Mentoring departments are moving to Miller Nichols Library beginning in the fall semester to take advantage of space that is both larger and quieter than their former location. Supplemental Instruction and UMKC Tutoring will now be located on the fourth floor of Miller Nichols Library, relocating from the Atterbury Student Success Center.  RooLearning+, an easy-to-use app already used for Supplemental Instruction scheduling, will also be the best way to schedule Tutoring and Writing Studio appointments and logging in for drop-ins.  Access RooLearning+ by visiting the webpage at  or downloading the app from the Apple or Google Play app stores and signing in with your SSO. Two new offices will be opening in the Student Success Center this fall: the headquarters of the new Professional Career Escalators program and an on-campus office for KC Scholars.  Career Services will also have expanded space in the ASSC. Music To Your Ears The recital hall in Grant Hall has been renovated to make it into a high-quality venue for music performances, including new acoustic treatments and new sound equipment. This is part of a $4 million project to renovate spaces within White Hall and Grant Hall, including arts practice and teaching areas most needed by our Conservatory students and faculty. The project is focused on hearing safety, updated technology, increased usable space and ADA compliance. UMKC Forward Launches Academic Realignment The UMKC Forward academic realignment, designed to optimize resources and better serve UMKC students and community, began July 1. Significant progress on hiring and program development have laid the groundwork for collaborative research and student success.  In 2020, during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chancellor Mauli Agrawal announced the formation of UMKC Forward, a collaboration of faculty, staff and students across the university that would develop a new vision for the university’s future. Part of that vision was a realignment of the academic units at UMKC in order to optimize the strengths of the university and the opportunities for students’ career achievement.  The realignment created three new schools: the School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences; the School of Humanities and Social Sciences; and the School of Science and Engineering. Read More $100 Million Project Planned for Health Sciences District We are poised to begin work on a new interprofessional health sciences building in the UMKC Health Sciences District, housing new, state-of-the-art dental teaching clinics and expanded medical school teaching facilities. The multi-story, $100 million project also will serve as a home for the university’s Data Science and Analytics Innovation Center and Biomedical Engineering program. This project will take the Health Sciences District to the next level, accelerating health care access and equity for the community and sparking development to turn the campus into a regional draw, igniting entrepreneurship and economic growth for the city and region. Read More University Partners with Boys & Girls Clubs UMKC and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City announced a new partnership in June that will extend scholarship opportunities to thousands of Kansas City students. The agreement creates the new UMKC Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City Scholarship, which grants $1,000 in aid to students who are graduating from a Boys & Girls club program. In addition to scholarship funds, the partnership will also provide an on-campus introduction to campus and college life during the spring or summer prior to students’ freshman year. Once on campus, UMKC will provide students with programs to help connect them to peer mentors who will help navigate and support them throughout their college experience. Read More KC Celebrates Bloch Heritage Hall Reopening The Henry W. Bloch School of Management welcomed alumni, students and community members to the newly remodeled Bloch Heritage Hall July 30 to celebrate the reopening of the building and the 100th anniversary of the birth of the school’s namesake. “Henry Bloch, and the community leaders who came before him, created a heritage of investment in higher education and a dedication to innovation,” Chancellor Mauli Agrawal said. “Just as they joined together to support the university more than 90 years ago, UMKC has again witnessed the generosity of donors who value the importance of maintaining excellent educational opportunities close to home.” The remodeling creates a vibrant student services hub, where students can easily connect to advisors, tutors, career resources and clubs. Classrooms now feature state-of-the-art technology and room design to provide flexibility for optimum virtual-class attendance. These upgrades will better serve students with work and childcare obligations, as well as travel schedules. Read More New Faces Among Leadership Please join us in welcoming our new vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion and two new deans to campus. J. Camille Hall, Ph.D., LCSW, has been appointed as the new vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion at UMKC. She comes to UMKC from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, where she has served as a tenured professor and associate dean for equity and inclusion in the College of Social Work. Her research focuses on risk and resilience among Black Americans and multicultural competence. Tamara L. Falicov, Ph.D., will be the inaugural dean of the new UMKC School of Humanities and Social Sciences. She brings to the job a history of interdisciplinary scholarship and a strong demonstrated commitment to student success and to diversity, equity and inclusion. The new dean of the UMKC Conservatory, Courtney Crappell, DMA, comes from an arts leadership position at an urban-serving university, where he was deeply engaged with the local community and had experience collaborating across disciplines. UMKC Hosts Area Employers for Talent Summit Connecting with this generation of students and young professionals may require thinking outside of the box. The KC Early Talent Summit hosted hiring professionals from more than 90 local companies and organizations to discuss the opportunities and changing landscape when it comes to hiring and working with young professionals. Topics included diversity, equity and inclusion; recruitment and retention, building a recognizable brand on campus and alternatives to traditional internships. Read More   Aug 12, 2022

  • UMKC partners with EPA for new opportunities for students

    Fox 4 News reported on the UMKC working arrangement with the Environmental Protection Agency that centers on UMKC School of Science and Engineering.
    A promising new partnership could result in new opportunities for students at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. UMKC unveiled an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency, a working arrangement that centers on UMKC’s school of engineering and research. Featured on Fox 4 News. Aug 11, 2022

  • Leben to Lead Advocacy Program at School of Law

    Latest appointee to Stripp Professorship spent 13 years on Kansas Court of Appeals
    Steve Leben has been named the Douglas R. Stripp Missouri Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Leben joined the UMKC School of Law faculty in 2020 after 27 years as a Kansas judge, the last 13 as a member of the Kansas Court of Appeals. It is rare for an appeals court judge to move to a university faculty position. “I’ve seen in the past two years the great training we give our students, and I’m glad to fully join UMKC’s well-recognized advocacy program,” Leben said. Steve Leben Advocacy—essentially the art and science of persuasion—takes many forms.  UMKC School of Law has long had a strong reputation in both trial and appellate advocacy education. The school’s advocacy program is A-rated by National Jurist magazine, and the school is ranked 31st in the country for advocacy by U.S. News and World Report. At UMKC, Prof. L. Michaelle Tobin leads the trial court advocacy program. Patrick Brayer, a 33-year retired veteran of the Missouri State Public Defender System, serves as faculty advocacy fellow and teaches both trial and appellate practice courses. Leben brings both expertise and scholarship to elevate the advocacy program.  He is a nationally recognized expert on procedural justice, and he has trained judges around the United States on how to improve perceptions of fairness in court proceedings. The National Center for State Courts gave him its highest award for a judge, the Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence, in 2014 in recognition of his work on procedural-justice issues. Leben is an elected member of the American Law Institute, an officer of the American Bar Association Judicial Division’s Appellate Judges Conference and past president of the American Judges Association. In his role as the Douglas Stripp Professor, Leben said he would focus primarily on enhancing the school’s appellate advocacy program. “I want to bring more appellate judges in from around the country to participate in our competitions and speak to our students,” he said.   In addition to appellate advocacy, Leben teaches another important form of advocacy in his Legislation course, in which students learn about public policy advocacy and the legislative process. The Douglas Stripp Professorship was created and funded by Bebe and R. Crosby Kemper through the R. Crosby Kemper Charitable Trust and Foundation. It is named for Bebe Kemper’s father, a lifelong Kansas City resident and internationally known trial lawyer, who practiced law in Kansas City for more than half a century until his death in 1983. Stripp worked alongside Charles Evans Whittaker in Kansas City before Whittaker was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Stripp’s passion was mentoring young attorneys in the art of persuasion and advocacy, and the Stripp professorship has carried on his legacy. Aug 11, 2022

  • UMKC Partners With EPA To Prep Students For Careers, Drive Research

    Partnership will include joint research projects, opportunities for EPA colleagues to participate in teaching and mentoring and internship opportun...
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City and Environmental Protection Agency Region 7 have entered a partnership to prepare students for future careers and drive research in human and environmental health. The two signed a Memorandum of Understanding, approved by the University of Missouri System Board of Curators. Under the MOU, the two will conduct joint research projects, UMKC will offer opportunities for EPA staff to participate in teaching and student mentorship and students will have opportunities for internships and career development. Chancellor Mauli Agrawal said the mutually beneficial partnership will allow the EPA to participate in classroom workshops and career fairs while students will benefit from opportunities such as internships and training, employment and mentorship opportunities. “We are excited to launch this partnership and look forward to the opportunities that will provide mutual advantages to both our organizations,” Agrawal said. “Research in science, technology, engineering, math and health science is one of our top priorities. It plays an important role in the education of our students, and it drives advances in partnerships, knowledge and technology that benefit our communities – whether they are local or global.” The partnership was led by alumna Megan McCollister (J.D. ’11), who was appointed Regional Administrator for EPA Region 7 by President Biden earlier this year. McCollister said her time at UMKC was “life changing.” “My experiences here laid the groundwork for the work that I now do at the EPA. I will always be grateful for the opportunity that UMKC gave me to make a difference,” McCollister said.  “I know firsthand how well UMKC develops students into professionals who make impactful decisions, not only here in the region, but also across the world. I’m so excited for what’s next.” Aug 11, 2022

  • Saxophonist Bobby Watson to Release New Album “Back Home in Kansas City” on Oct. 7th, 2022

    The Urban Music Scene reviews "Back Home in Kansas City" due out October 7 on Smoke Sessions Records
    Bobby Watson, director of Jazz Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music & Dance, releases new album. Aug 08, 2022