News Archives

  • UMKC Pharmacy Students Bringing Awareness, Vaccines to Battle Flu

    Springfield campus students, faculty are taking up a flu shot challenge
    Flu season is in full swing and college students living in a campus environment that combines close living quarters with communal dining facilities and large classrooms can be particularly at risk. That’s why UMKC School of Pharmacy students at the school’s Springfield campus are partnering with Missouri State University Magers Health and Wellness to sponsor the “Bear the Band-Aid” flu shot challenge. The campaign is meant to raise an awareness of the importance of receiving an annual flu vaccine, said Paul Gubbins, Pharm.D., associate dean for the UMKC School of Pharmacy at Missouri State University. “We started the Bear the Band-Aid campaign in September 2016 in an attempt to increase the vaccination rates on the MSU campus,” Gubbins said. “Our effort was based on a 2016 report by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases that noted influenza vaccination rates are typically very low on college campuses.” The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 8 percent of Americans will get sick from the flu virus each year. That means more than 26 million people developing flu symptoms. Outreach efforts by Springfield pharmacy students included an article in a Missouri State campus newsletter where they noted that while most college students recognize the risk of flu to the very young or old, they often underestimate their own risk. Gubbins said the initiative has met with mixed results. While a study has shown the vaccination rate on the Springfield campus to be higher than the reported rate on college campuses across the nation, there is still a need to increase awareness of the need to receive the vaccine. At the same time, among those who have been vaccinated previously, the campus campaign has created a greater awareness, Gubbins said. “We feel it augments everything that MSU already does to make the influenza vaccine easily accessible to its students,” Gubbins said. As of early October, nearly 2,000 employees and students on the Springfield campus had received the vaccine. In addition to the awareness campaign, the campus pharmacy students are also active in delivering influenza vaccinations to those in Springfield and Greene County. Throughout a given flu season, Gubbins said his students will administer as many as 700 to 900 influenza vaccines throughout the community. In Kansas City, UMKC pharmacy students have been active in administering vaccines at the university’s flu vaccine clinics in September and October. Pharmacy students from UMKC’s three campuses in Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield also collaborate with pharmacies, clinics and organizations throughout Missouri each year to typically provide nearly 3,000 flu shots to patients throughout the state. The regional American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists organization honored the UMKC School of Pharmacy in 2019 with an Operation Immunization chapter award. It recognized the extraordinary contributions pharmacists provide to improving vaccination rates in their communities. The UMKC chapter also received the national recognition in 2012. Oct 19, 2021

  • We Shall Rise

    UMKC Dance brings work and art to the community
    Science is the focus of the Roy Blunt NextGen Precision Health building in Columbia. But thanks to UMKC, the arts will play a significant role in the Oct. 19 grand opening event. Kim Kimminau, Ph.D., a program lead for NextGen Precision Health, asked DeeAnna Hiett, chair and associate professor of Dance at the UMKC Conservatory to choreograph an original dance for the opening celebration. The NextGen Building will be an anchoring facility for the NextGen Precision Health initiative, which will harness the power of the four universities in the UM System, MU Health Care, MU Extension and external partners to bring together cutting-edge research, technologies, and treatments to transform health care and save lives. Hiett’s inspiration for the NextGen dance came from her perspective on the resilience of the human body and spirit, “We shall rise from the ashes.” The video starts somber and gets more intense throughout. In the beginning, the audience will see the dancer come from a low place in her life, struggling as she thinks back in time. Scenes will show the dancer wistfully looking out a window and walking down a busy street, oblivious to her surroundings and those around her. As the video ends, the audience watches the dancer come back to herself with a sense of encouragement to survive, creating a triumphant feeling for the audience. “I’m hoping to give the sense of hope,” Hiett said. Everyone, regardless of their profession or place in life, overcomes struggles. And without science and doctors, Hiett said dancers couldn’t do what they do. “They keep us in operation. We’re honored, humbled and flattered to share our art with science.” The performance Hiett choreographed for the NextGen opening is short – under four minutes. It’s an original piece with one dancer at the center of the performance. It includes nine dancers; seven are UMKC students and two are from the Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company, where Hiett is artistic director. The dancers include Ashlan Zay, senior, lead dancer; Ivyana Robinson, senior; Ashleah England, senior; Lauren Jespersen, senior; Alexa Glomp, senior; Elizabeth Lollar, sophomore; and Lecia Sims, junior. Wylliams Henry Contemporary Dance Company dancers are John Swapshire, UMKC Conservatory alumnus; and Jeremy Hanson. The project came together quickly after Hiett accepted the invitation. She put the call out for volunteers, which was before the fall semester started. She said the first week of school was challenging because they rehearsed for two hours a day in the week leading up to the recording on Sept. 4. Four hours later, the video was shot and ready for editing and final production. Videography was provided by Ryan Bruce and Jeremy Hanson. Video editing was provided by Caroline Dahm, UMKC Conservatory adjunct professor of dance and Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company executive assistant and company member. This isn’t the first time Hiett has said yes to creating an original dance for another discipline or for a community project. The UMKC Dance Department also collaborates with the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering and UMKC Health Sciences District schools. UMKC Dance students and faculty even created a celebration video for the Kansas City Chiefs’ return to the Super Bowl in 2021. They do these projects because Hiett, faculty and students are passionate about their craft. It’s their work. It’s their art. “We take art and dance to the community,” Hiett said. “We love to dance, and we love to share it. So, any opportunity we have to get out in the community, of course we want to.” Oct 19, 2021

  • UMKC Students, Professor Design Ideas for KC Streetcar Extension

    Students' plans could be incorporated in the new UMKC stop
    A UMKC professor and several students had the opportunity to contribute ideas for the new KC Streetcar stop at the Volker campus. Bill Yord, an adjunct instructor for the School of Computing and Engineer, also serves as Senior Project Manager with the Kansas City Area Transport Authority (KCATA) and utility manager with the KC Streetcar South Extension. He reached out to Streetcar stakeholders about UMKC senior students assisting with designs for the Streetcar's south terminus at UMKC, which is part of the ongoing KC Streetcar South Extension project. The extension project, which has gone through planning and design by city officials since 2017 and will soon be under construction, will cover more than 30 city blocks and will extend the existing 2.2-mile 'Starter Line' to the UMKC Volker Campus, providing an exciting new access opportunity for the campus. The UMKC Streetcar stop will be at 51st Street and Brookside Boulevard, near the former location of the Oak Place Apartments. "I was looking at the Streetcar construction and thinking, 'We have to bring the students in on this and I called the KCATA and asked, 'Would you all be interested in involving a UMKC senior design project for the Streetcar?'" Yord said. "I got a call back in about five minutes and the answer was an overwhelming yes." For the senior project, students were asked to study pre-existing blueprints of the UMKC Streetcar stop and come up with design concepts for the project. "We were looking at everything: roadway design, station platform design, passenger amenities, utilities, grading and drainage," Yord said. "We would all get together and look at the designs and say 'What can we incorporate"? How can we make it better?' Then we would give those plans to the stakeholders and they would come back with suggestions and we would say, 'Okay, now how can we make this more robust?' and it went on and on from there." Jordan Salt, a student who worked on the project, said he would walk past the stop site every day on his way to campus to "trigger" thoughts on how to do things differently. "Knowing that this project was going to potentially contribute to a major infrastructure project made it one of the most interesting projects in my college career," Salt said. "The project's proximity to where I study and live inspired me." Bayley Brooks, who also worked on the project, said one of the biggest things she learned while working on the project was how many people are involved in designs for city projects. "For the Streetcar project we met with people from UMKC, KCATA, city officials, the Kansas City Streetcar Authority, the Federal Transit Authority, the Kansas City Utilities Department, I meant the list just goes on and on," Brooks said. "I enjoyed getting the chance to brainstorm creative ideas for the Streetcar stop with the group." At the end of the semester, the students presented their preliminary design plans to a large group of stakeholders who were heavily involved in the extension. Brooks said her favorite design concept submitted was putting a kangaroo fountain at the UMKC stop.  "We are the city of fountains after all!" Brooks said. "I ride the Streetcar all the time, so I'll be so proud to see some of our design ideas hopefully used in the stop." Final plans for the UMKC stop are not completed, so it's too soon to tell how much of the students' designs will play in the final product, but Yord said he has no doubt that some of the students' design work will be implemented. "I can confidently say that our students had a hand in making the (UMKC stop) a better place for our students, our faculty and the community to come in and come out of the university," Yord said. The extension project, and the opening of the new UMKC Streetcar stop, is projected to be completed sometime in 2025. Those interested in hearing more about the extension can attend the Kansas City Streetcar extension webinar from 8:30 to 10 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 22. The event is being hosted by the SCE Alumni Association and the SCE Alumni Relations Office. The webinar will feature a moderated panel of professionals working on the streetcar extension, including Yord.  Other panelists include Tom Gerend, Executive Director of the Kansas City Streetcar Authority; Cindy Moses, Regional Engineer for the Federal Transit Administration; Jason Waldron, Transportation Director for the Public Works Department for the City of Kansas City; and Nick Stadem, Project Manager with HDR, a design and construction company. For more information on the event and to register, click here. Oct 18, 2021

  • School of Computing and Engineering Recognizes STEM Supporters in KC

    Kauffman, Sunderland foundations among this year's Vanguard Award winners
    Kansas City donors, alumni and organizations were highlighted at the 2021 UMKC School of Computing and Engineering Vanguard Awards in October. The annual award program is an opportunity to spotlight those who help expand STEM education and outreach in Kansas City. "Our vision is to become a valued regional school of science, engineering and technology with signature professionally based education, research and community programs. I believe these award recipients are the embodiment of this vision," said Kevin Truman, dean of the school.  This year the school recognized four honorees (as well as last year's winners who could not accept their awards in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic) in the categories of SCE Young Alumni Award, SCE Supporter Award, STEM Outreach Partner and Organization of the Year. Photo by Brandon Parigo 2021 Vanguard Award Recipients Young Alumni Award: Riddhiman Das, BS '12, MS '19, TripleBlind. In 2019, Das started his own company, TripleBlind. The company's mission is to build cryptographically powered 'cyber' privacy without reliance on any given legal system. Currently, they are working on building an application programming interface that will enable bulletproof privacy as a service. Before starting TripleBlind, Das worked in Corporate Venture Capital and M&A for Ant Financial. In this role, he sourced deals in Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, IoT Computing. Ant Financial is the financial services member of the Alibaba Group, which purchased SCE technology-based EyeVerify, now known as ZOLOZ. Prior to working for Ant Financial, Das was a product architect at EyeVerify. SCE Supporter of the Year: The Sunderland Foundation The Sunderland Foundation has been a strong supporter of UMKC and SCE capital project, providing one of the lead gifts for the new Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center and renovations within Flarsheim Hall. Outreach Partner of the Year: Kauffman Foundation The Kauffman Foundation is a longtime support of UMKC and the SCE, helping fund the free enterprise portion of the Plaster Center, SCE's KC STEM Alliance, student teams and more. Organization of the Year: Black & Veatch Black & Veatch is the largest engineering firm in the Kansas City area. It is a global engineering procurement, construction and consulting company that specializes in infrastructure development in power, oil, gas, water, telecommunications, government, mining, data centers, smart cities and bank and finance markets. The company's support for SCE is broad and includes a major gift for the new Plaster Center, additional philanthropic support for scholarships and student teams, providing internships and hiring students and adjunct faculty for specialty areas. Oct 13, 2021

  • UMKC School of Medicine: 50 Years of Excellence in Medical Education

    The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine is kicking off the observance of its 50th anniversary.
    Fifty years ago, the University of Missouri-Kansas City launched a bold experiment in educating the medical leaders of the future. After years of planning, more than $8.8 million in federal funding and a charter class of 18 students, the doors of the UMKC School of Medicine opened in 1971. Fifty years later, that bold experiment is a cornerstone of Kansas City’s medical community. This month, the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine is kicking off its yearlong observance of the 50th anniversary. A new logo, a special website and many special events will highlight the celebration. Among the key events: A series of distinguished guest lectures, including: Nov. 5: Roger Bush, M.D., from University of California-San Francisco, speaking on rural health inequities. Nov. 17-19: Silvio Inzucchi, M.D., from Yale, sharing research linking type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance and cardiovascular complications. Dec. 2: Harriet Washington, medical ethicist from Harvard Medical School, speaking on medical apartheid. Dec. 9: Kenneth Churchwell, M.D., from Boston Children’s Hospital, speaking on pediatric critical care (Noback-Burton Lecture). Feb. 11: Geeta Swamy, M.D., from University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill and Duke University, speaking on maternal vaccines, COVID pregnant women, preterm delivery interventions. Special signage around the SOM campus and 50th-anniversary themed touches for Match Day, Commencement and other signature academic occasions. A Gold Jubilee 50th anniversary gala, set for June 4, 2022, at the Loews Hotel in downtown Kansas City. Today as in the past, UMKC’s School of Medicine is making a difference the health and wellbeing of Kansas City communities and beyond. Long known for its innovative research, humanities-focused education and unique medical programs – namely the accelerated BA/MD program where students enter medical school straight from high school and complete their degrees in six years – UMKC continues to graduate future leaders in health care. The school has been instrumental in founding Kansas City’s UMKC Health Sciences District, where it continues to play a primary role. “This is an exciting time for the UMKC School of Medicine, as we celebrate half a century of history and traditions,” said Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., ’78, dean of the medical school. “As our nation’s health care profession has evolved, so has the School of Medicine. We are bringing new technologies and innovations to the forefront that continue to solidify our standing as a leader in today’s medical education.” Since 1971, nearly 4,000 physicians and health care professionals across the United States have received their degrees from the School of Medicine. Through the years, additional programs added include master’s degrees in anesthesia, physician assistant, health professions education and bioinformatics, and graduate certificates in research and health professions education. In January 2021, the school opened its second campus in St. Joseph, Missouri, with a focus on rural medicine. But it is the school’s MD programs and its docent system of learning – where faculty physicians combine the best of apprenticeship instruction with small-group teaching, mentoring, peer coaching and other techniques – that have withstood the test of time and continue to position the school as a trendsetter in medical education. “Fifty years speaks to the longevity of the school, not to mention we have many physician leaders across the country that are graduates,” said School of Medicine alumni association president Ralph Wuebker, M.D., ’94. “There is no doubt that UMKC is a top medical school!” Marjorie Sirridge, M.D., one of the three founding docents and later dean of the medical school, once reflected on the early days: “I remember being tired a lot and sometimes discouraged when it seemed that we just couldn’t get it all done. But, mostly I remember the challenge and the excitement of being part of a new adventure in medical education.” Indeed, it’s been an exciting adventure the past 50 years – and the next several months will celebrate the past, present and future of UMKC School of Medicine. Join us. Oct 07, 2021

  • First-Generation UMKC Student Forges Her Own Path

    Hannah Leyva will not allow other’s expectations to define her
    Hannah LeyvaAnticipated graduation year: UndeterminedUMKC degree program: University College (undecided/exploratory)Hometown: Kansas City, Kansas Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Hannah Leyva started her UMKC journey in 2020. A first-generation Honors Program college student, she felt a lot of pressure to go down a specific path: a biology major on a pre-medicine track. “I came to UMKC with a set plan in mind, but it was not a reflection of my strengths or interests,” Leyva said. “My previous career goals were based around others’ expectations of me and not what I expected from myself.” This year, Leyva is slowing down and attending the university as an undecided major. It allows her to explore her interests and ensure that her career will be one of her own making. However, this path has its fair share of struggles as well. “The overall challenge of being undecided on your major has to do with the generalized stigma of not having your entire life planned out,” Leyva said. “The entire notion of knowing who you are and what you want to do straight out of high school is rather daunting. I think that part of going to school is learning that there is more than one way to achieve your goals, and that success is not exclusively found in a traditional path.” "The University College is helping me determine my career goals and academic interests based on what suits me and not anyone else." - Hannah Leyva The path less traveled is not a path one has to travel alone. Leyva has found support from students with similar life experiences as a member of the Latinx Student Union (LSU) executive board. She hopes to continue this connection by establishing a book club through the LSU. “We are made up of first-generation students and are passionate about making a better future not only for ourselves and our families but for our community,” she said. “Listening to them talk about their stories and the obstacles they have overcome to get where they are today, reminds me that I am not alone and to keep going.” Leyva says she has also gotten similar support from faculty and staff at UMKC as well. “Choosing to be in the University College is helping me determine my career goals and academic interests based on what suits me and not anyone else,” Leyva said. “The team there is specialized to work with students who are uncertain about their majors and or careers. So, it is really refreshing consulting someone who actually knows how to help you.” "I chose UMKC for the small community feel of the campus." While she is not completely sure what her future holds, Leyva knows she is better off with this opportunity to go to school. She is a KC Scholar and a Hispanic Development Fund Scholarship recipient, which she says are a huge part of her success here at UMKC. Beyond that, she says her family and their cultural background have helped shape who she is today “My parents are immigrants, and they have always motivated me to do well in school,” she said. “The value of education for me is immeasurable, and I really am doing this for my family,  who has not had the opportunity or privilege of pursuing higher education.” More about Hannah: Why did you choose UMKC? I chose UMKC for the small community feel of the campus. It is a lot more common to run into someone you know, which really made me feel more at home. I also chose UMKC for the affordability. I was fortunate enough to receive a few scholarships through the university which made UMKC more accessible. What is one word that best describes you and why? I would consider myself a caring person. Much of the work I have done is in the social realm, not because I am extroverted, but because I find happiness in helping others. What’s your favorite social media channel? I’m not sure if I have a favorite, but I do spend a lot of time scrolling through TikTok (like a true Gen Z kid). What’s your favorite spot to eat in Kansas City? I love Friend’s Sushi on 39th, and it’s close to a lot of cute shops so you can walk around and make a day out of it. What’s your favorite spot on campus? My favorite spot to hang out on campus is patio on the top floor of the Student Union. It has a really great view of the Nelson, and it’s a great place to hang out with friends or take a break from studying indoors. Oct 07, 2021

  • KCUR Highlights Gallery of Art Exhibit

    A local's guide to Native American cultural sites around Kansas City
    The UMKC Gallery of Art is currently hosting an exhibition by Gregg Deal. “Yadooa Hookwu (I Will Speak Now)” explores “Indigenous identity through multiple forms of expression.” Deal (Paiute Tribe of Pyramid Lake) is a multi-disciplinary artist who addresses race relations, American history and Indian stereotypes in his work. Read more. Oct 06, 2021

  • National Media Tap Mary Anne Jackson

    Could anti-vaxxers fuel a spike in childhood diseases?
    Mary Anne Jackson, dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine and a former member of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee and the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases spoke with Newsweek about the potential for anti-vaccine rhetoric to spur an increase in vaccine-preventable disease in children. Read the news: Anti-Vaxxers Could Fuel Spike in Childhood Diseases: 'It Will Be Horrific' - Newsweek Anti-Vaxxers Could Fuel Spike in Childhood Diseases: 'It Will Be Horrific' - MSN Oct 06, 2021

  • CNN Reports On Jacqueline Rifkin's Research

    Why we label ordinary objects as too special to use
    UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management associate professor Jacqueline Rifkin wrote about her research on what she calls the specialness spiral- the accumulation of things without using or getting rid of them. Read more. Additional news coverage: “Specialness Spirals” - How Non-Consumption Can Drive Clutter - BYUradio Oct 06, 2021

  • Critical Conversations: The Role of Antiracism Work and Healing in Museums

    UMKC hosts discussion about the role museums play in telling the story of people of color
    Art directors from across the Kansas City area participated in a virtual panel discussion on, "The Role of Antiracism Work and Healing in Museums." The Sept. 9 was the ninth in the Critical Conversations series of panel discussions addressing systemic racism, sponsored by the UMKC Divison of Diversity and Inclusion. It was the first of the 2021-22 school year. The museum-oriented discussion was in collaboration with The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.  UMKC people are taking thoughtful action on campus and in our community to ensure lasting and comprehensive changes through Roos Advocate for Community Change, a campus-wide effort announced in June 2020. Critical Conversations are part of that initiative. The goal of each discussion is to enlighten, educate and explore the causes and potential cures for racism. Attendance to the discussions is free. Panelists for the session include: Gary O'Bannon (moderator), executive in-resident, UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management Rashida Phillips, executive director of the American Jazz Museum of Art Julian Zugazagoitia, director and CEO of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Arts Glenn North, executive director of the Bruce R. Watkins Heritage Center Matthew Naylor, president and CEO of the National World War I Museum and Memorial Anna Marie Tutera, director of the Kansas City Museum Excerpts from the conversation are below. To view the complete recording of the conversation, click here. Anti-racism and how it's discussed in the museum field Tutera: We are defining anti-racism as a conscious decision and commitment to fight against racism on every level and on every aspect. Institutionally, we are looking at policies and procedures and practices within the museum that have contributed to racism, caused it and perpetuated it. Lack of diversity among museum staff and board members Tutera: You cannot have an all-white or majority-white staff or an all-white or majority white board and make any significant change. You cannot serve a diverse community without looking internally first. You can't commit to anti-racism until you take a deep dive into your own history of staffing and history of board leadership. Zugazagoitia: If people do not see themselves in museums, then museums will become irreverent. Naylor: Having a board that argues for us to be an institution for all is important. A board that wants to give a voice to the LGTBQ community, African American, Indian American, the place of women, raising those issues allows those issues to be express to the public. Board leadership, if it's an expression of the DNA of the organization, even though there is still is a gap and we are still not where we ought to be, can still make a world of difference. Holding people accountable Phillips: We really have to get back to people-to-people, really deep dialogue. This is not only a space for worship and entertainment, but it's a space where we come together. It is the kitchen and we've got to realize that there's some beautiful responsibility and energy in going into a museum and seeing an exhibition and enjoying the takeaway from that. It's deeper than that. Support needed in museums North: Sometimes it's hard to have partnerships. Sometimes it boils down to personality differences and complicated histories between organizations and it's difficult. Sometimes when you don't have the right intention things can get diluted.   Oct 06, 2021

  • UMKC’s E-Scholars Program Creates Powerful Impact

    KCINNO reports on successful E-Scholars innovations
    E-Scholars is an accelerator program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City that’s tailored for early-stage ventures. Most program participants are at the idea stage and need guidance in launching. Others are looking for a systematic growth plan. Since the first class in spring 2011, about 300 ventures have completed the program, including RFP360, Lending Standard, Integrated Roadways and Strange Days Brewing. Read more. Oct 05, 2021

  • Associate Professor of Economics Weighs-in On The U.S. Debt

    From Bloomberg: The Real Cost of U.S. Debt Is Nearer the Floor Than the Ceiling
    As lawmakers fight over whether to raise the debt ceiling, UMKC associate professor of economics Scott Fullwiler explains how government borrowing costs relate to policy rates. Read the article from Bloomberg. This story also ran on Yahoo Finance. Oct 04, 2021

  • Avanzando, Support and Resource Program for Latinx Students, Celebrates 10th Year

    Launched in 2011, the program currently serves 150 students
    Avanzando, a support and resource program for Latinx students at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, will celebrate its 10-year anniversary this year. A decade ago, many Latinx students at UMKC felt they lacked a sense of belonging on campus and personal relationships with role models in the professional world for them to emulate. As a result, Avanzando was born. "There was a clear need to support the growing Latinx student population, not only academically but also professionally, after graduation," said Alberto Villamandos, one of the founding mentors for the program. "We knew a membership program with Latinx and Hispanic faculty and the KC community was the way to go. Representation matters, and feeling that there are people who understand what you are going through as an undergraduate student, and who you can share your achievements with, was, and still is, critical." The program began as a partnership between the UMKC Divison of Diversity and Inclusion and the Hispanic Development Fund. In 2017, the program transitioned to the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, where it has expanded from only serving Hispanic Development Fund scholars, to any Latinx students interested in being served through the program. Avanzando works to communicate to Latinx students that there is a place carved out for them at UMKC through supporting, mentoring resources and connections to help them do well in school, graduate and find success in their careers. Goals of the program include increasing student retention, improving graduation rates and assisting in successful transitions of students into graduate school and/or career positions. An Avanzando student reads from a 'career development guide' at a meeting in 2012. Photo by Brandon Parigo. "The program started with 27 original members," said Ivan Ramirez, coordinator for the UMKC Multicultural Student Affairs Department and the Avanzado program. "In 2016, we had grown to 73 scholars, and then it grew to its biggest size of 260. Right now, we are at 150 scholars and we serve them just as well as we were serving the original 27." Avanzando mentors are volunteers from UMKC faculty and staff, as well as community members with no ties to the university. Students are matched to mentors based on common goals and career interests and meet regularly with mentors throughout their time at UMKC. Mentors offer students academic support, promote their cultural identity development and enhance access to resources and networks in the professional world. "There is a wide range of mentors. We have lawyers, CEOs, doctors, dentists," Ramirez said.  "I think it's important for (students) to have somebody to talk with that looks like them, that has been through what they are going through. I am a first-generation (college graduate), so when they come talk to me and tell me their stories, I can relate to them, I've been in their shoes. That's what being a mentor is, it's so valuable to have someone that looks like you say, 'hey I've been there, I get it." Villamandos said he feels proud of the success that Avanzando has seen over the years. He said that he is still in contact with many of the original members of the program as well as students he has mentored over the years. "We are a family. That tells you how meaningful this program is to mentors and mentees alike," Villamandos said. "The academic and professional support has been proven, with great retention rates and so many students who went into grad school and great jobs." Oct 04, 2021

  • UMKC Welcomes Public to $32 Million High-Tech Research Center

    Local media cover the opening of the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center
    Several media outlets covered the grand opening of the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center, a $32 million, 57,800-square-foot high-tech research center. Coverage included: KMBC KOLR Fox4KC Startland News   Oct 01, 2021

  • Truman Medical Centers Changes Name To University Health

    Local media cover the name change for Truman Medical Centers
    Hospital leadership feel the name change will help patients, community members and others understand the unique partnership University Health has with the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Stories appeared in these news outlets: Rebranding Truman Med - Flatland Kansas City’s Truman Medical Center Changes Its Name. Here’s Why, and What It Means (subscription required) - The Kansas City Star Truman Medical Centers Drops the 'Truman' After 50 Years and Rebrands As University Health - KCUR Truman Medical Centers Changes Name To University Health - KSHB Truman Medical Centers Goes All-in On University Health Brand - Kansas City Business Journal Truman Medical Centers/University Health Announces New Name, Is Now University Health - KCTV5 Truman Medical Centers Changes Name To University Health - Fox4KC Oct 01, 2021

  • Keeping Soldiers Safe

    Video game technology reimagined for the real-life battlefield
    We’ve all seen the dangers of war, whether it be in the news, movies or in video games where we get to virtually immerse ourselves in simulated military operations. With various combinations of the A and B and X and O buttons, we strategize actions, move in on targets and eliminate opponents. In our increasingly digital world, one UMKC professor is exploring how to maximize the virtual experience to serve real-life military operations. Associate Professor Zhu Li, a renowned artificial reality and virtual reality (AVR) research expert, is helping to bring virtual warfare into reality using the new AVR space located in the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center. It’s only fitting that as a war history buff – he can identify nearly every WWII aircraft – Li would be working with the United States Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force to develop a 3D technology to give soldiers a new set of eyes on the battlefield. Using point cloud compression and communication — a way of compressing and transmitting volumetric visual data to present the real world in 3D — soldiers will be able to literally see the enemy from a mile away. “The idea is to virtualize special forces in warfare because soldiers get air dropped into hostile-raging situations,” Li says. “Normally there’s no way to tell what they’re getting into, but with this new equipment soldiers don’t have to risk their own life. They send an unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, with 360 cameras and 3D sensors, and the soldier can navigate the cameras and find the target based on information transmitted back.” To enable this, the drones need 3D sensing, information capture and compressions and communication to present it back to a different device in real time. It’s the same kind of technology used in military[1]themed video games — goggles included — but reconfigured for real-life scenarios. “It’s like they’ll have virtual eyes and ears in the battlefield. … They can be anywhere on the battlefield and have precise 3D information about the situations, buildings, vehicles, people, everything,” says Li, comparing it to Google Maps’ street view with added 3D elements. Having a 360-degree view gives soldiers the freedom to navigate the virtual world and be able to walk around and scope out what’s ahead. “Number one, it’s safer and, two, it’s more effective because human eyes and perceptions are limited. With this new technology, you can see much further and identify you targets much easier. You have more accurate positioning,” Li says. He’s still doing the algorithm research, so it will be another three to five years before it’s sent off to produce a prototype. But, Li says, the state-of-the-art 3D and AR/VR technology in the Plaster Free Center will enable him to take this research even further. Sep 30, 2021

  • Expanding into Aerospace

    New lab spaces give students hands-on training
    As excitement surrounding the opening of the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center has ramped up, so has excitement surrounding the expanded education and research opportunities it provides. Among the building’s most eye-catching features is the three-story Motion Capture Lab and Flight Simulation Lab, reflecting the School of Computing and Engineering’s expansion into aerospace engineering. Through his work with unmanned aircraft technology, Associate Professor Travis Fields noticed that many high-level contracts, grants and research initiatives were leaning toward airspace. He also noticed that students required more hands-on experiences in rigorous, interdisciplinary fields like mechatronics, an intersection of electronic, electrical and mechanical engineering systems. Together, Fields and Assistant Professor Mujahid Abdulrahim are partnering to charter the Master of Aerospace Engineering program at UMKC. “The courses Travis pioneered are things we would love our students to know, like system modification and guidance laws for aircraft — classes that address the research needs and lay the foundation for aerospace curriculum,” says Abdulrahim, who’s been flight-testing aircraft for 21 years. “Anytime students are tasked with designing something new or have a specific desire to go into aerospace, we’re teaching the philosophy behind it.” Whether students need to understand how to develop new things or have a specific desire to go into aerospace engineering, Fields and Abdulrahim agree that aircraft can be a great jumping-off point for other areas of engineering. And while both professors admit their obsession is with with aircraft, students will also learn to integrate cars for those who want to go into automotive testing and performance assessment. “There is a responsibility on you as an engineer to do good work. It’s not just optimizing the most efficient system possible, it’s also about the holistic design approach that aerospace engineering promotes,” says Abdulrahim. That’s where the new Flight Simulation Lab comes in. The lab allows students to do complex and relevant tests in safe and accessible ways, teaching them all the things Abdulrahim says he wishes someone would’ve told him when he started out. The new space will help provide the workforce development training students really need. Sep 30, 2021

  • A Space Just for Students

    New collaboration area allows for peer-to-peer prototyping and a superior student teams workshop
    Engineering is a collaborative process, and at the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering, collaboration is a cornerstone of the student experience. In fact, in the undergraduate capstone course Senior Design, students are challenged with taking a real-world engineering problem through the entire design process alongside a group of their peers. Thanks to the School’s close proximity to industry, faculty are able to partner with local businesses to actually “hire” these small groups. For years, students from Senior Design have crouched in empty classrooms or gathered inside their garages to work — until now. The Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center features a new space on the first floor just for students: the Black & Veatch Student Collaboration Studio. With large workspaces and access to state-of-the-art 3D printers, students will be able to collaborate much more effectively. For the first time ever, they can test their prototypes in a dedicated environment. “These projects are really the first time the students get to work on a ‘real-world’ engineering problem, just like they will be doing in a few months after graduation,” says Assistant Dean Katherine Bloemker. “They are required to take their ideas from the concept phase through to the detail design phase and, most importantly, to the prototyping and testing phase.” Classroom requirements aren’t the only thing to draw students to the first floor. Adjacent to the collaboration space is the Burns & McDonnell Student Teams’ Fabrication Shop, another hub for students to work together — designing and building for engineering competitions such as the concrete canoe, big beam challenge and, of course, our signature Baja Racing Team. According to Baja Racing Vice President and Frame Lead Clayton Morgan, “Having access to this new space really changes the game in terms of our ability to compete.” The laser jet cutter, paint booth, drill press, horizontal band saw and other tools located in the student space have saved the team both time and money. Where they previously would have sent a frame to be fabricated by an external vendor, now they can manually bend, cut and notch the tubes together — allowing them to really experience bringing their designs to life. Morgan, who is a junior in the mechanical engineering program, says he chose UMKC in part because the Baja Racing program was highlighted during his campus visit. He “saw the team was pretty prominent in the School and that year ranked 11th out of 116 teams nationwide, a sign that they’re top tier.” In addition to Baja Racing, Morgan credits UMKC’s close proximity to industry with his choice to study here — both aspects of the school only enhanced by these new collaboration hubs. Sep 30, 2021

  • Investing in Future Talent

    Two-story Structural Lab helps prepare Kansas City’s next generation of civil engineers
    There’s no denying Kansas City is a hub for civil engineers. With international industry leaders such as Burns and McDonnell and Black and Veatch headquartered locally, Kansas City maintains a uniquely high demand for new recruits trained in the field. So even before the plans for the new Plaster Center began to take shape, SCE leadership knew it was critical to provide students with a state-of-the-art structural lab. Today, the UMKC Structural Lab occupies the west wing of the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center. This two-story facility is designed to test full-size structural components like highway beams. “It is always a benefit for structural engineers to see how their designs are constructed in reality,” says John Kevern, Ph.D, chair of the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering. “This hands-on experience provides a level of practicality that we haven’t been able to offer before and will improve the quality of all civil engineering students.” In addition to preparing graduates for competitive jobs here in Kansas City and beyond, the Structural Lab will allow faculty to propose projects using non-traditional materials and analysis techniques because they now have a testbed for validation and verification. By the numbers:  The two-story crane can support up to 20 tons. Beams up to 53-feet can be unloaded and tested. Sep 30, 2021

  • From SCE to Switzerland

    Research experiences at UMKC lead mechanical engineering graduate to pursue Ph.D. in bone biomechanics
    With the opening of the new Plaster Center, even more students will have the opportunity to engage with leading-edge research. We recently caught up with one School of Computing and Engineering alumnus who knows just how valuable these experiences can be in guiding your career. Elliott Goff (B.S. ’13, M.S. ’16) spent the first six years of his higher education experience at SCE and now finds himself exploring medical technology research across the Atlantic at ETH Zürich, a research university in Switzerland. Elliott Goff Tell us more about what you’re up to in your current position. I’m a Ph.D. candidate and researcher within the field of bone biomechanics. I investigate bone cell (osteocyte) shapes and relate them to disease (idiopathic osteoporosis). Our collaborators sent us roughly 100 human bone biopsies; I developed a method to prepare, 3D-image and analyze the osteocytes within each biopsy to create a database of roughly 25 million cell geometries. Then I do some big data processing and compare elements between healthy (control) biopsies and diseased biopsies. The ultimate goal of this project is to use cell geometry to classify disease severity. How did you find yourself exploring this topic? I won a DAAD Rise Germany fellowship my junior year to spend the summer researching mouse osteocytes in Berlin at the Charité University Hospital. I clearly remember my first day: My supervisor gave me some background reading that turned out to be research studies published by Lynda Bonewald (Ph.D.), a UMKC professor at the time. Between that summer research experience and learning about the UMKC connection, I knew I would pursue the field of bone biomechanics. How did your undergraduate and graduate research experiences at SCE prepare you for your work now? During my sophomore year, I joined two UMKC faculty members — Amber Rath-Stern, Ph.D., and Matt Stern, Ph.D. — on a biomedical engineering research project about the mechanical stiffness of tissue scaffolds. This is where I first learned about biomedical engineering and became enamored with the intersection of mechanical engineering and biology. This experience led to subsequent projects at UMKC with Greg King (Ph.D.) in his gait lab and Lynda Bonewald in her osteocyte lab. While earning my master’s at UMKC, Dr. Bonewald introduced me to my current mentor at ETH Zürich. And UMKC’s international academics director, Linna Place (Ph.D.), helped me draft the grant application that provided the funds to send me to Switzerland. What’s next? I plan to graduate this year with my Ph.D. and am currently on the hunt for a position in the medical technology field. Research has been my passion for the last decade, and I look forward to bridging the gap between the laboratory and solutions to real-world problems. Sep 30, 2021

  • Strengthening STEM Workforce Preparation Through Undergraduate Research

    Navy grant will help UMKC develop better tools to help students from diverse backgrounds find success
    A workforce development program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, designed to bring more students from diverse backgrounds into science and technology careers, is one of 12 national Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) Education and Workforce Programs to receive funding from the Office of Naval Research. The grant will help faculty expand their capacity to provide students from diverse backgrounds meaningful research and workforce experiences in STEM degree programs. “Equity-Forward Workforce Development Pipeline for Naval STEM Superiority” is led by Daniel H. McIntosh, Ph.D., department chair and professor of Physics and Astronomy in the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences. The $758,000 three-year grant will be used to implement and evaluate a new educational pathway framework to onboard, train and provide undergraduate research experiences to interested sophomore and incoming transfer students in one of four active research areas at UMKC that are aligned with Navy STEM priorities: cybersecurity, unmanned aerial systems, radio frequency simulations, and remote sensing. The Navy funding will support the development of competency-based research skills training courses, provide financial aid for historically underserved students, and offer paid internships for summer research experiences in any of the four research areas. These pathways will provide STEM-interested students with 15 weeks of data analytics and technical skills training tailored to one of the four Naval STEM areas; faculty-mentored research experiences; internship programming through UMKC Career Services; and exposure to Naval STEM opportunities and careers. The UMKC team is a partnership of faculty and staff with expertise in a variety of areas including STEM education and research, engineering, computer science, urban education and career services to provide complete workforce preparation. The team includes McIntosh; Travis Fields, Ph.D. associate professor, UMKC School of Computing and Engineering (SCE); Zhu Li, Ph.D., associate professor, UMKC SCE; Farid Nait-Abdelssalam, Ph.D., professor, UMKC SCE; Roy Allen, Ph.D., lead mechanical engineer, UMKC Missouri Institute for Defense and Energy (MIDE); Kaylan Durbhakula, Ph.D., assistant research professor, MIDE; Karin Chang, associate director of the Urban Education Research Center within the UMKC School of Education; Alexis Petri, Ed.D., senior director of faculty support in the  UMKC Provost’s Office; Tess Surprenant, interim director of the UMKC Career Center; and Audrey Lester, assistant director of the Undergraduate Research office. The program is designed to benefit STEM-minded students from all backgrounds by giving them the inclusive experiences, intentional encouragements and skill development necessary to succeed in college and beyond.   “This project focuses on equity to overcome historical barriers for underrepresented and underserved students and utilizes high-impact engagement practices to support the success of all students who are interested in research training and experiences,” McIntosh said. He believes that university educators must do more than provide students from diverse backgrounds access to opportunities. “To broaden student success, we must encourage inclusive engagement in their learning and workforce skill development,” he said. “The outcome will not only be vast improvements in equity but a thriving educational system that helps all students achieve their full potential.” Recruitment for these courses will begin Fall 2021. Coursework will begin Spring 2022. Sep 30, 2021

  • KSHB Covers Partnership Between Kansas City Fire Department, UMKC School of Medicine

    Kansas City-area fire departments offer incentives to address paramedic shortage
    The Kansas City Fire Department has taken a proactive approach to attracting candidates by partnering with UMKC School of Medicine's paramedic and EMT program to bring in new candidates. KCFD is also paying for classes for current employees who go through the program. Read more. Sep 29, 2021

  • The Hawk Eye Interviews Ken Novak

    Des Moines, other cities saw a record homicide surge in 2020, a year marked by protest and COVID
    "To be fair and clear, we're going to be unpacking whatever the hell happened in 2020 for the rest of my career, for sure," said Kenneth Novak, a criminal justice expert and professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read more. Sep 29, 2021

  • KCUR: Visit Warko Observatory

    Where to find the best rooftop views in Kansas City
    You don’t have to ride Liberty Memorial's antique elevator to get the perspective you crave; many other spots around town offer equally uplifting views, such as the Warko Observatory at UMKC. Read more. Sep 29, 2021

  • Associate Professor Whitney Terrell on Literary Hub

    Talking to Maya Angelou’s son about the new award named in her honor
    Novelist Whitney Terrell, an associate professor of English at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, oversaw the creation of the award with Phong Nguyen, an English professor and director of creative writing at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and Carrie Coogan, the Kansas City Public Library’s deputy director for public affairs and community engagement. Read more. Sep 29, 2021

  • Reining in Software Trojan Horses

    Deep learning research identifies cybersecurity risks
    What’s the easiest way for hackers or spies to penetrate a secured computer network? Have the network managers open the door and invite them in. Almost all networks purchase basic software from third-party creators. The bad guys have figured out that the third parties present an opportunity for them to penetrate software-supplier systems and hide malware inside the software to be purchased. The software becomes a digital Trojan horse, carrying attackers inside the network’s walls. That was the strategy behind a huge espionage campaign, first revealed in December 2020, that compromised several major U.S. government agencies, including the Justice Department and the Treasury, as well as private companies including Google and Microsoft. It has been described as one of the largest and most successful digital espionage cases in history. That’s where Professor Dianxiang Xu comes in. In the SS&C Data Analytics, Cybersecurity and High Performance Computing Facility of the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center, Xu is using deep learning models, a specialized area of artificial intelligence (AI), to help combat the emerging threat. The goal is to use static code analysis of computer programs to find potential defects and security vulnerabilities. The work is funded by a National Science Foundation grant. “Software vulnerability is a major source of cybersecurity risks. It is very difficult to identify vulnerabilities in software code as software has significantly increased in both size and complexity,” Xu says. “Finding software vulnerabilities is analogous to ‘searching for a needle in a haystack.’ Recent advances in deep learning can be promising for predicting software vulnerabilities.” Spies and hackers aren’t the only bad guys Xu is working to combat. He is also studying ways to use AI to collect and process digital evidence for presentation to juries in court. Xu is basing his network security work on a deep learning model known as The Transformer. “Finding software vulnerabilities is analogous to ‘searching for a needle in a haystack.’ Recent advances in deep learning can be promising for predicting software vulnerabilities.” - Dianxiang Xu, Ph.D. “The Transformer is a deep learning model introduced in 2017, used primarily in the field of natural language processing, or NLP,” he says. “It has enabled training on larger datasets than was possible before it was introduced. The pretrained transformer systems such as BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) have achieved state-of-the-art performance on a number of NLP tasks.” “Considering the similarity and difference between natural languages and programming languages, we expect the transformer systems can be pretrained with a large amount of computer code so as to improve various program understanding tasks, such as detection of vulnerabilities in source code.” So, how vital is the anti-spyware research underway by computer scientists such as Xu? In an article for The New Yorker, Sue Halpern wrote: “The simple truth is that cyber defense is hard, and in a country like the United States, where so much of our critical infrastructure is privately owned, it’s even harder. Every router, every software program, every industrial controller may inadvertently offer a way for malicious actors to enter and compromise a network.” Inside the Plaster Center, Xu can be found chipping away at those many cyber threats, one model at a time.   Sep 29, 2021

  • UMKC Trustees Recognize Critical Partners

    Response to COVID-19 crisis and STEM programming drive innovation, receive support through trustees awards
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City Board of Trustees announced the 2021 UMKC Trustees Engagement Awards recognizing community partners and their outstanding support to the university and the community. This year the Trustee Engagement Awards Committee recognized two recipients for both the Community Partnership Award and the Leo E. Morton Community Service Award as no awards were presented in 2020.  The Community Partnership Award recognizes ongoing and indispensable partnerships that strengthen UMKC. The recipients’ support is essential to the university’s success and is also a critical component in fulfilling the university’s urban-serving mission of education and research that enhances the quality of life in the region. Truman Medical Center and Evergy, Inc. received this year’s awards. Truman Medical Center (TMC), a longtime, critical partner of the university, took a swift and entrepreneurial approach to community care in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Programming included mobile testing units that went to churches, community centers and gathering places. TMC provided immediate and ongoing public education in conjunction with neighborhood partners, including the Negro Leagues Museum and the Kansas City Public Library, in both English and Spanish. “The leadership that Truman Medical Centers and their Community Health Strategies and Innovation team showed community leaders and members during the pandemic through mobile testing and health education were critical in how our communities responded to the pandemic,” says Rev. John Miles, president of the Metropolitan Kansas City Baptist Ministers Union. Evergy’s support of UMKC is broad and deep, including schools and programs across campus. They have supported the School of Computing and Engineering (SCE) through scholarship funding and a $500,000 pledge for the Evergy Renewable Energy Lab and Roof Deck in the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center. The company’s support of the KC STEM Alliance, a K-12 STEM initiative housed within SCE, furthers the mission of building the STEM talent pipeline. “Evergy recruits associates as classroom speakers, mentors, volunteers and judges for a variety of events throughout the year in Kansas City,” Martha McCabe, executive director of KC STEM Alliance, says. “They are committed to reaching a broad range of students and actively recruit a diverse pool of volunteers in efforts to connect with all students.” The Leo E. Morton Community Service Award recognizes a group or entity within UMKC for outstanding work that embodies the university’s mission as an urban-serving university. The recipients’ contributions ensure UMKC remains embedded in the fabric of the community through innovative services, programs and projects that strengthen and enhance the quality of life in the region and serve the citizens of Kansas City. This year’s awardees are the UMKC School of Law Child and Family Law Program and Cameron Lindsey, PharmD, interim chair of the division of pharmacy practice and administration at the UMKC School of Pharmacy. The UMKC School of Law Child and Family Law Program spans three decades of innovative services and programs that strengthen the relationship between the university and the community. The Child and Family Services Clinic provides free legal services for parents, relatives and custodians who need help obtaining clear and reliable custody orders for children who have a history of being abused or neglected. The process of seeking an Order of Protection is time-consuming and challenging, and when COVID shut down courthouses in spring 2020, the problem became more acute. Last year, the school’s Self-Help Clinic worked with the Kansas courts to develop an online portal for those seeking orders protecting them from abuse and stalking. The result is an online protection order portal which is now in place across the state of Kansas. “While I know this project was but one small part of the many ways in which the Child and Family Law Program provides innovative, justice-driven education and community engagement throughout our region, it is special,” Keven O'Grady, Johnson County Kansas District Court judge, says. “We hope that the portal can be a model for courts across the country.” Cameron Lindsey, PharmD, interim chair of the division of pharmacy practice and administration at the UMKC School of Pharmacy, is a dedicated community volunteer, securing close to $9 million in donated medications for the Shared Care Free Health Clinic of Jackson County. During the COVID pandemic, Lindsey became authorized to provide vaccines at the university and has been holding weekly clinics, as well as working with other organizations to ensure they have adequate staffing for community events. “Dr. Lindsey cares deeply for others, the students she mentors and the stewardship of our institution,” Sheri Gormley, chief of staff office of the chancellor. “She fosters a culture of care and service as a leader at the School of Pharmacy and in all she does at UMKC.” The UMKC Board of Trustees is a non-profit organization established by civic and community leaders to support the University. Sep 29, 2021

  • UMKC Unveils Innovation Studio

    Startland News reports on the opening of the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center
    “We have never had a facility like this — with the diversity of equipment and the availability to get involved,” said Christina Davis, director of the studio for the School of Computing and Engineering at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. “Anyone walking through the building can see exactly what research is being done. And to invite students to participate and collaborate, that is what makes this building special.” Read more. Sep 28, 2021

  • Sunscreen Recommended

    In the Plaster Center, even the roof is optimized for groundbreaking research
    Most days, Assistant Professor Sarvenaz Sobhansarbandi, Ph.D., keeps her eyes on the sky. Sobhansarbandi has spent her career studying solar energy. Her research focuses on a type of solar thermal collector called an evacuated tube collector (ETC). More specifically, she is interested in how this type of collector can make water heating systems more efficient. The Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center includes two unique spaces for Sobhansarbandi and her students: the Evergy Advanced Renewable/Thermal Energy (ART-E) Lab and the accompanying Evergy Renewable Energy Roof Deck. Since the completion of the Plaster Center, Sobhansarbandi and her students have spent much of their time on the roof and the lab, working to learn more about ETCs and how we can best utilize them. How is the Plaster Center enhancing your research with ETCs and solar water heating? The Evergy Renewable Energy Roof Deck was designed for maximum solar gain exposure. It uses local, easily configurable, leading-edge technology to test both small- and large-scale ETC solar water heating systems. The space will also allow us to get baseline results for Kansas City weather conditions and optimize the system’s functionality to achieve higher efficiency. A low-voltage conduit connects the roof to the lab below, allowing us to monitor the system and data connection devices. Outside of the Renewable Energy Research Lab, the new 3D printing lab and Innovation Studio will allow us to fabricate prototypes in-house and move them straight upstairs for testing. Are you working with any new technologies in your new spaces? The 5,000-square-foot roof deck gives us plenty of space for a new full-scale solar water heating system. In the future, we plan to integrate photovoltaic arrays and a weather station to track comprehensive, real-time conditions. Currently, we are able to monitor solar radiation intensity using Pyranometers on the roof, connected directly to the lab space. How have your students responded to the new research lab? My graduate and undergraduate students are very excited as the new lab gives them the opportunity to perform research in an even more well-equipped environment. Here are some of their individual reactions: “Moving into this new lab is great as we now have a more sophisticated facility to do hands-on experimental research.” “It’s wonderful to have more space to work on our research and collaborate comfortably.” “The new lab is equipped with high-tech devices and a big glass window, which makes it a more visually and thermally comfortable place to monitor the technology.” “The new facilities have given me the opportunity to pursue my research in avenues that I previously thought were impossible.” Does the new space enhance your teaching? Absolutely! My mechanical engineering students get to see some real-world applications of heat transfer in action in our solar water heating system setup, as well as all of the instrumentation used to monitor the equipment and collect data for our research. My colleagues are also able to show examples of material analysis using the Thermogravimetric Analyzer and Differential Scanning Calorimeter in our lab. On top of all that, it’s a great excuse to take students outside for fresh air and sunshine to look at cool technology and the view of downtown KC! How does your new lab compare to those of schools across the country? Having 1,000-square-feet of interior space and direct access to the roof deck is a distinct feature. The dedicated space to perform field testing gives us the potential to cross-validate our simulation modeling results without the need for travel to other available research sites. In addition, the high-end video conferencing technology has been a huge benefit when collaborating with other researchers and staying connected. What is the next step in your research? Next steps include experimental investigation of modified large scale ETCs by applying preliminary findings from small scale analysis with the goal of efficiency enhancement. Additionally, development of control systems to automate and optimize the system functionality are being studied.   Sep 28, 2021

  • Electromagnetic Medicine

    Using high-powered electric pulses to treat cancer in a 3D world
    Ahmed Hassan, Ph.D., has long been fascinated by electromagnetics and how electrical impulses can affect the smallest of particles, particularly those with complex shapes. Inside the Advanced Power, Electronics and Electromagnetics Lab at the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center, the associate professor is focused on how to use high-powered electrical pulses to treat cancer cells. Scientists have for some time explored the use of electrical pulses to deliver drugs and gene therapies into biological cells. But where most of those studies have looked at cells in a two-dimensional realm, Hassan is taking things a step further. “At UMKC, we are one of the first groups to study how the three-dimensional shape of actual cells, grown in realistic 3D environments, affects their electrical response,” Hassan says. “It’s only by looking at the full 3D structure that you can predict how the cell will behave when it’s excited by an electrical stimulus.” Through their research, Hassan and his graduate research assistant Somen Baidya have shown that the outer shape of a cell plays a significant role in how it will react to an electrical stimulus. With help from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where their scientists have been able to determine and reconstruct the exact 3D shape of cells, Hassan and Baidya now have thousands of cells shapes to work with, including cancer cells. Precision to the One-Trillionth Degree Armed with an array of computers to create computational models and simulations, Hassan is working with multiple computational techniques that can be used to calculate the response of those complex, three-dimensional cancer cells to electrical impulses. Electroporation is a technique in which an electrical field is applied to a cell in order to increase the permeability of the cell membrane. This allows chemicals such as therapeutic drugs or even DNA to easily be inserted into the cell. The technique offers potential advantages over other therapeutic methods of cancer treatments because of its noninvasiveness and lack of toxicity for noncancerous cells, as well as the possibility of being used in combination with other therapies. The selectivity of the electroporation technique also makes it safer than other techniques that cannot differentiate between healthy and cancerous cells. "If you want to kill cancer cells, then you apply a strong enough electrical stimulus to break down the cell membrane completely. We’re trying to figure out the optimum pulse that will give us the correct response." — Ahmed Hassan, Ph.D. Variations in the rate of supraelectroporation used to pierce the cell membrane and penetrate the cell’s internal organelles can guide the selective targeting of desired cells with specific shapes. The current goal, Hassan says, is to determine how to calculate — with a high degree of accuracy and efficiency — the necessary voltage and precise location of these electrical pulses on the cell’s membrane to achieve the desired effect. Electrical pulses are delivered at very high amplitudes for extremely short durations of time — from nanoseconds, which are one-billionth of a second, to picoseconds, which are one-trillionth of a second. In some instances, the goal is to create a tiny hole in the cell membrane, just large enough to deliver the material inside the cell without harming it. “If the holes become too large, the cells might die,” Hassan says. “In some cases, that’s desired. If you want to kill cancer cells, then you apply a strong enough electrical stimulus to break down the cell membrane completely. We’re trying to figure out the optimum pulse that will give us the correct response.” Once the computational techniques are developed, the next step will be to develop a machine learning (ML) platform that uses cell information to predict the precise excitation characteristics necessary to achieve the correct effect on the cell. Ultimately, Hassan says, the new Plaster Center Power Lab will give him the capability to develop a novel, tunable, high-voltage pulser that can generate the desired electric surge needed as predicted by the ML platform. It will be designed to generate necessary short-time pulses of nanosecond or picosecond duration with high peak amplitude optimized for each cell shape. From Medicine to the Moon Once developed, this ML technology could be used to treat other types of cells, for instance, isolating and treating or modifying immune cells. Moreover, different electrical signals can be used to selectively move and isolate specific cells from a collection of cells. “It’s like applying a magnet to the cell. That will start attracting the cell differently based on its shape,” he says. Hassan is currently working on the first two aspects of the project to get preliminary data, then working on funding to start building the hardware. “We’ve been working on this for three years,” he says. “An optimistic timeframe is that we’re halfway there to finishing the engineering aspects before we can take it to the medical researchers and ask them to help us with the actual biological tests.” A member of the UMKC faculty since 2015, Hassan serves as director of the Multidisciplinary Multiscale Electromagnetics Lab. Before coming to UMKC, he began studying nanostructures with extremely complex shapes as a postdoctoral researcher at NIST. There he developed a large library of computational codes to study their response to electromagnetic stimulus. “When I came to UMKC, I was using this library of computer codes that I had developed as an electrical engineer to study complex shapes with a wide range of applications,” Hassan says. “One application was to study biological cells with complex shapes.” Another is looking at the electrical properties of sand and rock particles from the moon. Working with his collaborators at NIST, Hassan was able to obtain the three-dimensional shapes of sand particles obtained during the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. “We’re trying to calculate the electrical response of those sand particles as another exciting application of using electromagnetic radiation to understand the physics of complex shaped particles,” he says. Sep 28, 2021

  • Now That's Clean

    Plaster Center's contamination-free area has specs that get rid of the specks
    When working with bio-and nanomaterials, success can hinge on keeping dust and other impurities out of the process. So for Assistant Professor Zahra Niroobakhsh and her colleagues, it was good news that the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center would include a top-notch clean room. “In the past I’ve had to use facilities in Lawrence, Kansas, for some work or order materials from elsewhere to start experiments, which can be very expensive,” says Niroobakhsh, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering. “But now we have the 3D bioprinters … and the Clean Room, to be able to make everything right here.” APPLICATIONS ACROSS CAMPUS For Niroobakhsh, “everything” covers a wide range of research interests and applications. She frequently works with other departments and schools, including chemistry, dentistry, medicine and pharmacy. Clean Room experiments often involve designing and printing soft nanomaterials, which exist in a state between solid and liquid, then studying how they react and interact in different situations. Because the materials can be designed molecule by molecule, Niroobakhsh and her team can produce the tiny building blocks for all sorts of collaborative research and applications. In petroleum engineering, for example, the aim can be to improve emulsions used in oil spill cleanup, or to enhance the substances used to recover more oil from a well. In pharmaceuticals, experiments can seek more stable and effective ways to deliver drugs or coat a microchip with a material that can detect virus or disease. And in medicine, the building blocks for cells can be tweaked depending on what is being studied. Our new printer will allow us to inject six different liquids simultaneously and to switch materials during the print. It also has much higher resolution and other capabilities. We’re very excited!” —  Zahra Niroobaksh, Ph.D. Niroobakhsh’s team has worked with Peter Koulen, a professor in the UMKC School of Medicine who has led several groundbreaking research projects at the school’s Vision Research Center. “Tissues for different parts of the body have different mechanical properties,” Niroobakhsh says. “We can ‘tune’ the biomaterials we are printing so they will produce cells with the properties needed in Dr. Koulen’s work for different parts of the eye.” As versatile as Niroobakhsh’s work has been already, she’s looking forward to the much more advanced 3D printers available to her in the new Clean Room. “One of my graduate students built a 3D printer we use,” she says, reflecting the school’s can-do approach. “But our new printer will allow us to inject six different liquids simultaneously and to switch materials during the print. It also has much higher resolution and other capabilities. We’re very excited!” EMBRACING NEW POSSIBILITIES Niroobakhsh is used to change and progress. When she joined the faculty in 2018, she brought international experience to the school, having earned her doctorate in materials science and engineering at Penn State, her master’s degree in Germany and her bachelor’s degree in Iran. She also set right to work establishing her lab, including procuring the right equipment for her work. Niroobakhsh says her rheometer, which measures the flow of most materials, is the only one in the area. One of her closest collaborators, Stefan Lohfeld, also joined UMKC in 2018 as an assistant professor at the School of Dentistry. They teach the Introduction to Biomaterials course together, using a textbook co-written by UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal. They both also utilize bioprinters in their research, and lean on each other for support and perspective. Their printers use different processes, and they often talk about which might be better for a particular task or experiment. “My printer at SCE uses light to solidify liquid polymers layer by layer to build a device,” Lohfeld says. That Continuous Digital Light Process, or cDLP, “is faster as it manufactures a full layer at a time. This is useful for larger constructs and could be important in mass production. But my printer can’t use multiple materials at once, unlike Dr. Niroobakhsh’s new highend machine.” Lohfeld has a master’s in production engineering with a focus on materials sciences and his doctorate in materials sciences. He is, essentially, an engineer that works in the School of Dentistry. That works out well, because Sarah Dallas and others at the dental school are leaders in bone-muscle tissue research, and Lohfeld is expert at printing scaffolds on which research cells can grow for tissue engineering. Lohfeld says the Plaster Center “really gives us access to technologies we haven’t had before, which allows us to expand our research on materials and their processing.” Besides the research possibilities, Niroobakhsh is eager to have her students see what’s possible from a well-equipped clean room. “I’m not sure yet how much access there would be for a whole class,” she says. “But the Clean Room’s walls are glass, so we will be able to show students what is being done and explain the processes. … The new facilities will have so many benefits for us.” Sep 28, 2021

  • UMKC Student Receives Scholarship

    The Oklahoman reports on scholarship awardees
    The Heritage Hall Alumni Association recently recognized Genesis Franks as its 2021 Alumni Scholarship recipient. Franks, a 2020 graduate of Heritage Hall, is a sophomore at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. Read more. Sep 27, 2021

  • The Kansas City Star Taps Antonio Byrd

    Kansas City-area schools face racist incidents as critical race theory debate continues
    Antonio Byrd, an English professor at UMKC who studies Black literacy, described critical race theory as a way to illuminate the role of racism in a society that doesn’t tend to think racism is a major problem. By considering the impact of racism, Byrd said, steps can be taken to fix it. Read more. (subscription required) Sep 27, 2021

  • Collide and Create

    New innovation studio brings together UMKC and the community
    Dean Kevin Truman has vision. As he walks through the halls and labs of the UMKC Innovation Studio in the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center, he sees progress, growth and untold opportunity. “This is a place for entrepreneurs to come, collide and create,” he says. “It’s digital to physical.” While the machines are quiet and the few students in the building work independently and masked, Truman’s eyes are alight with the certain creation of new products, new processes and new collaborations that will not only build UMKC and the school, but also the community. “We hope to see art students from the Kansas City Art Institute, K-12 students interested in science, technology, engineering and math, or enthusiasts of the virtual reality world.” While providing some familiar components, the Innovation Studio is different than traditional makers’ spaces. For example, the space provides access to new technologies for rapid prototyping using the 3D printing lab. “The makers’ spaces in town do a great job serving their market, but we are focused on entrepreneurship,” Truman says. “We can provide services to companies, researchers and the community. It may be someone building one model, but if they need to make 20 prototypes to make sure they’ve gotten it right, we can also accommodate that.” The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a major partner and funder in the Innovation Studio. They consider the programs and spaces for students, faculty, staff and the community as critical to the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem. “Our grant to UMKC helps build on the university’s strong foundation of student and community-facing entrepreneurship support programs,” says Melissa Roberts Chapman, senior program officer at the Kauffman Foundation. “That includes the Innovation Studio. We are excited to work together to see how entrepreneurship can help remake our regional economy to become more equitable, more vibrant and more innovative.” Students will also have the opportunity to take advantage of the labs in the Innovation Studio and will be able to work at cost. In order to maintain state-of-the-art capabilities, community members will be charged reasonable fees. The center will maintain a staff for assistance, training and maintenance, and there will be a shop manager to help with 3D printing. “Our 3D printing facility is one of the top five in the country,” Truman says. “Someone could send a graphics package here and a technician can use the company’s files to create what they need. The machine can create product composed of metals including titanium, machine grade steel or copper. We’d track the materials used, pack and ship it to them. It couldn’t be easier.” The Augmented and Virtual Reality (AVR) lab will have the very latest technology. Professionals and enthusiasts can use the AVR Training Lab to experience the newest augmented and virtual reality technology. The AVR Showroom can accommodate meetings, product development and training. Visitors, whether they are enthusiasts or professionals, can experience the latest virtual reality technology as well as learn the latest 3D design and development software. “We will be a hub of information,” Truman says. “We have relationships with others and are excited to share resources. We are not an island. We are here to create community.” Sep 27, 2021

  • Record Number of New Students Joining the Honors Program

    Students combine academic rigor with community service
    A record number of new students across disciplines have committed themselves to academic excellence, while also serving their communities, by enrolling in the UMKC Honors Program. This year, 471 students are enrolled in the prestigious Honors Program. The program, formerly known as the Honors College, provides a multitude of services to our campus community. “The Honors Program invites and includes new and continuing students from all programs and all disciplines across the university,” said Henrietta Wood, Ph.D., one of two full-time Honors Program faculty. “We offer honors versions of general education courses, and we supply a number of courses to help students accrue the credits they need to graduate with honors.” Gayle Levy, Ph.D., is the Director of the Honors Program. She serves as an advisor to students, especially when they are writing their Senior Honors Thesis. She also works with faculty on how to get involved with the Honors Program or, more specifically, if they are interested in teaching an honors class. Stephen Christ is the other full-time faculty member, teaching innovative and engaging courses. He’s also actively engaged in mentorship of honors program students on an individual level and organizationally as the faculty advisor to the Honors Student Association. The program also offers the Roo Honors Academy for local high school students, as well as the Roos@Noon Speaker Series presentations that anyone in the university community can attend. It’s that wide university impact that inspired Sean Purdue, a senior honors student in civil engineering, to become an Honors Ambassador. “That's what I really like about the Honors Program,” Purdue said. “I love civil engineering, but I don't want just civil engineering friends. I want friends from all the different majors, and that’s been a huge benefit of the program.” These benefits extend well past a student’s college career into their professional careers. Alaina Shine, ‘15, brought the skills she learned into her career as a pediatric resident physician in Seattle. “Often in the hospital I am challenged with problems where there is no ‘right’ answer,” Shine said. “A large portion of my job as a physician is teaching patients and their families about their medical illnesses and conditions. I lean upon skills I began learning as an Honors Program student to incorporate ideas from my multidisciplinary team to develop a solution for our patients and their families.” This interdisciplinary approach does not stop with the students or alumni. Jess Magaña, Ph.D., a professor in the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, serves as a faculty mentor for honors students. “One of the very best parts of teaching is getting to know the students, getting to know their specific journeys and helping them take that next step,” Magaña said. “Being an Honors Program mentor is a really great way to do that, and it's especially good for getting to know students who are not in your school.” Faculty mentors assist students through a variety of informal meetings to check up on the students’ progress, academic and otherwise. If you are interested in becoming a faculty mentor, reach out to Margo Gamache, Director of Student Services for the Honors Program at gamachem@umkc.edu. “We're not just academic people,” Purdue said. “We still like having social events and friends, and it can be hard to balance. I think most faculty have had that same experience. Having someone to help us navigate that is so beneficial.” That benefit spreads to the university as a whole. Many Honors students are highly motivated, and they balance academic excellence with serving both UMKC and the wider Kansas City community. Most of the Student Government officers are honors students. Honors students volunteer to lead clubs for youngsters at the Kauffman School and have communicated with residents of a senior living facility. In the Honors Social Action class, students have promoted campus recycling, mental health awareness, and recognition of commuter students. “I'm constantly impressed with how involved Honors Program students are and how much they're willing to do to affect their own lives and the lives of other students at UMKC,” Magaña said. “They're super involved, and they're all just such great people to get to know.” Sep 27, 2021

  • From The New York Times: Can a Mantra Make You Run Faster?

    Olympic medalist Courtney Frerichs has no doubt
    This is a story about Courtney Frerichs, who turned in one of the surprise performances of the Tokyo Olympics. But really it is a story about mantras, because who Frerichs is and what she managed to accomplish this summer are all about the words she has been repeating to herself for years. She attended the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read more. (subscription may be required) Sep 26, 2021

  • Stressed? Help and Healthy Resources Are Available

    An interview with the UMKC counseling director about coping with school, life and COVID-19
    The strain of managing school combined with the personal and global effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic may be unavoidable. But there are resources available to help manage stress and anxiety. Arnie Abels, Ph.D., director of Counseling, Health, Testing and Disability Services at UMKC, suggests strengthening your assets may help you manage your emotional needs. “One thing to remember is that every experience is individual,” Abels said. “People may need to figure out how to get enough sleep, the best way to exercise and create a routine. Others’ primary concerns may be financial as they try to find jobs and possibly change living situations. All of this is valid. Each of us needs to understand that all of these things are important and manage our own individual emotional needs.” “One thing to remember is that every experience is individual.” - Arnie Abels  He notes that returning students may be feeling completely differently than freshmen. “For college students who are on campus for the first time, adjusting to everything new can be exciting and challenging,” Abels said. “Returning students may be frustrated and disappointed that campus life is still disrupted.” Abels cautions about turning to substances for relief. “First, smoking cigarettes or cannabis creates vulnerability in your lungs, which we all need to avoid,” he said. “We don’t judge, but we want to encourage people to make healthy choices. There’s nothing wrong with having a drink – if you’re of legal age – but drinking to excess can create difficult situations with difficult consequences, especially if you are using it to avoid feelings.” There are healthier ways to deal with stress. “Getting enough sleep is very important,” Abels said. “One of the things that may help with this is regular exercise. Eating healthy will feel better. But not everything needs to be productive. Along with online exercise videos, Swinney Rec is offering a video-gaming competition. That could be a great escape as well.” Abels encourages people to take the opportunity to see how we can grow and become better individually and as a group. “Personally, I’ve written letters to the people I care about. It’s a creative process for me and it allows me to let people know in a way that may be out of the ordinary and may be more special than an email or text.” Mental Health Resources Personal counseling Counseling Services provides several opportunities for students. Walk-in crisis hours for any student weekdays at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Most group meetings are available on-line and counseling appointments are telehealth as well. Mind Body Connection will be reopening with limited services as soon as student staff workers are hired. Movement Matters Fitness classes available on campus, Instagram stories and Esports including PS4 and X-Box Fifa and Madden Help at Your Fingertips The Sanvello app provides on-demand help for stress, anxiety and depression, including videos for coping with COVID-19. Additional Resources Roos for Mental Health has additional resources, including the recordings of their topical lunch-n-learns. Disability Services is open from 8:30 a.m. to  5 p.m. Monday through Friday, but the office is encouraging virtual visits. To set up an Accommodations Plan or address questions about accommodated exams or notetaking, details are available on the site. The Employee Assistance Program has a wide range of resources related to both work and life, including tools for coping with COVID-19. The Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255 (TALK.) Sep 24, 2021

  • Conservatory Faculty Receive Accolades in KC Independent Article

    Dancing Into A New Era: Local Company Marks 30 Years of the Best Contemporary American Choreography
    Most of Wylliams/Henry’s dancers are UMKC Conservatory-trained, which means they have worked directly with dancers, teachers and choreographers who have served as key figures in both the company and the Conservatory. Some of the individuals include Mary Pat Henry, who formed the company a generation ago with the late dancer-choreographer Leni Wylliams when both were on the UMKC Conservatory faculty; DeeAnna Hiett, co-artistic director and UMKC Conservatory dance division chair; Paula Weber, former company member and retired UMKC dance professor; and Caroline Dahm, executive assistant and UMKC Conservatory faculty member. Read more. Sep 23, 2021

  • UMKC Welcomes Public to $32 Million High-Tech Research Center

    Features 11 state-of-the-art research labs
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City unveiled its new $32 million high-tech research center to hundreds of guests on Oct. 1. The five-story, 57,800 square-foot Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center features 11 state-of-the-art research labs. It is the largest privately-funded capital project in UMKC history, with more than 25 donors. "The Plaster Center has all but ensured that UMKC will remain the #1 ranked school for computing and engineering in Kansas City for years to come," said Kevin Truman, Dean of the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering, which will oversee the multi-purpose facility. The labs within the Plaster Center contain a 3D printing lab and fabrication studio to build prototypes, high-performance 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. A group of guests receives a tour of the Innovation Studio inside the Plaster Center. Photo by Brandon Parigo 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. "This center will be open to all of ours students. In addition to the students at the School of Computing and Engineering, who make their home here, students of entrepreneurship at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management will be able to build custom prototypes in conjunction with our engineering students," UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal said. "The Plaster Center is a resource for our community. From independent makers to entrepreneurs and innovators, our lab spaces are available for them to experiment and explore new technology, new innovations in materials and breakthroughs in application and design." 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 community partners do the same. "We are excited to play a part in the cutting-edge research and prototyping at UMKC and in Kansas City," Truman said. The Plaster Center, on the corner of Rockhill Road and East 51st Street, is named after Robert W. Plaster, founder of Empire Gas Corporation, which was one of the nation's largest retail LP gas distributors. "This accomplishment would not be possible without the support of the Robert W. Plaster Foundation," Truman said. Dean Kevin Truman and Stephen Plaster, Chairman and President of the Robert W. Plaster Foundation. Photo by Brandon Parigo A Missourian, Plaster started Empire Gas in Lebanon, Missouri and sold the business in 1996. He then went on to found Evergreen Investments, LLC, an investment company that owns several businesses. The Robert W. Plaster Foundation, a major donor to the center, is also located in Lebanon. "The Plaster Foundation is thrilled to have contributed to the new Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center at UMKC," said Jason Hannasch, Associated Executive Director of the Plaster Foundation. "The Plaster Center labs house advancements in computing and engineering technology that will help students, faculty and community members completed advanced research in their chosen field." Sep 23, 2021

  • UMKC and School of Medicine Supporting KC Marathon

    Registration is now open for KC's largest racing event
    UMKC and the School of Medicine are proud sponsors of the Oct. 16 Garmin KC Marathon – the largest race event in Kansas City and a significant community tradition. This year’s race has something for everyone: a full- and half-marathon, as well as a 10k and 5k, plus many volunteer opportunities. Sep 23, 2021

  • Jacob Wagner on KCUR

    Kansas City's Overlooked Housing Stock
    Jacob Wagner, director of Urban Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, was a guest on Up to Date. Listen to the podcast. Sep 22, 2021

  • Vaccination Incentives Await for Students, Faculty and Staff

    How would you use an extra $500?
    Twenty UMKC students have already won big prizes for uploading their vaccine information – ten free parking passes for a full year (value $338), and ten $500 Visa gift cards. Twenty more of the same prizes will be awarded on Oct. 15. Twenty faculty and staff have also won prizes, and have the same upcoming opportunity. All you have to do to be entered to win is voluntarily upload your vaccination information. Here is the link for students; faculty and staff should use the COVID Vaccine Uploader in myHR. Already fully vaccinated? Just snap a photo of your vaccination card and upload. Not vaccinated yet? No problem. UMKC offers free vaccinations by appointment through our partners at Truman Medical Centers/University Health. Register online or call (816) 404-CARE (2273) and press option 1. We are also planning another on-campus walk-in vaccination clinic for the near future, and additional incentives. Watch for more information coming soon. Student winners so far include: Free parking for one year: Atheer Alsalhi, Vanessa Anne Frank, Zachary Braunschneider, Nicholas Jakubowski, Rafia Siddiquea, Randi Entrekin, Nicholas Hartwig, Nicholas Putnam, Danielle Everly, Kassandra Estrada $500 Visa gift card: Samantha Fisher, Jill Wenger, Mary Signorino, Rachael Huffmaster, Revanth Muthyam, Ashley Appleberry, Kassandra Munoz-Valencia, Aidan Payne, Caitlin Ayala, Blake Setzer Employee winners so far include: Free parking for one year: Brittany Bummer, Justin Guggenmos, Julie Dawn Kohlhart, Jennet Irene Miller, Kyle James Pate, Kathleen M. Spears. $500 Visa gift card: Brenda Lee Bethman, Daniel Mani Cherian, Michele Rene Logue, Johanna E. Nilsson, Elizabeth Ann Savidge, Meghan Sholy-Wells, Kimali A. West. Sep 22, 2021

  • Former Student Government President Shares Resources for Mental Health

    Brandon Henderson stepped back from opportunity with positive results
    Brandon Henderson stepped away from his role as UMKC Student Government Association president to focus on his mental health in 2020. Nearly a year later, he thinks it was the best decision. In hindsight, does stepping away from SGA seem like the right decision? I am very glad that I stepped down as SGA president, and I have absolutely no regrets doing so. It gave me the space I needed to get healthier and get my academics back on track. I am 100% certain that I wouldn't have made the Dean's List last semester if I hadn't stepped down. Have the lessons you learned during that challenging time stuck with you? I learned last year that I'm not Superman, and I have to prioritize taking care of myself if I want to help others, too. Now that I've gotten healthier, I'm getting more involved in my community again. But in the back of my mind, I know that I must be very intentional about how much time I allocate to my extracurricular activities. What coping mechanisms did you adopt last year that are still helping? Something I learned last year was the importance of keeping an accurate calendar. Not only does it help me remember things, but I can visually see where I'm budgeting my time to things other than myself. That helps me avoid overextending myself. If someone were feeling overwhelmed, what resources would you recommend to them? I highly recommend scheduling a visit with UMKC's Counseling Services. Even if you think you don't need it, or that it won't work for you, if you're feeling any signs of burnout just try to visit with a counselor at least twice. Often people don't want to talk about personal issues with their friends, but everyone needs someone to vent to. If you don't have that someone, then I highly recommend you go visit Counseling Services and find that someone!  You’re finishing up your degree this semester. How does that feel?  It feels equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking, but nevertheless I am ready to cross the finish line. I've been a college student for the last four years, so it will be quite an adjustment to transition out of that. I'm looking forward to seeing what this new phase of my life has in store for me. Sep 22, 2021

  • From Provincetown Banner: Felicia Hardison Londré

    How can I learn about Tennessee Williams?
    The 16th annual Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival is scheduled for Sept. 23-26. Felicia Hardison Londré, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Theatre Emerita at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, is a Tennessee Williams Institute scholar and will participate in this year’s symposium. Read more. Sep 21, 2021

  • KC Magazine Mentions UMKC Heat Mapping Study

    No, Kansas City will not escape climate change unscathed
    An August study by UMKC and the Office of Environmental Quality aims to map the neighborhoods most vulnerable to the heat island effect. The resulting data will guide solutions in the plan. Read more. Sep 21, 2021

  • CBS News Taps Yvonne Lindgren

    Justice Department faces familiar hurdles in battle against Texas abortion law
    “They are trying to take this argument and pull it up to the 30,000-foot level and really address how this law in Texas challenges fundamentally what they described as the national compact,” Yvonne Lindgren, a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read more.  Sep 20, 2021

  • KC Independent Covers Crescendo

    Nov. 12 is the date for UMKC Conservatory Crescendo Gala 2021
    The evening, which will be held at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, will be a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the event. Read more. Sep 20, 2021

  • How Sally Williams Harnesses the Power of New Products For Founders

    From Startland News
    Sally Williams is the technical development and commercialization consultant at the Missouri Small Business and Technology Development Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read more. Sep 20, 2021

  • National Jurist Prelaw Ranks UMKC School of Law

    Guardians of child and family law
    The UMKC Family Law program was awarded an A+ rating (one of only six schools nationally to get this top grade) and was featured in this issue (page 30, link below). UMKC alumni were also the highlight of the ranking as one of the top 45 schools in the country for the percentages of grads (13%) named as Super Lawyers and Rising Stars (page 16). UMKC was the only law school serving the Kansas City region to be named to this list. Read more. Sep 20, 2021

  • UMKC Professor Answers Insurance Questions

    WalletHub reports on best car insurance companies in Missouri
    UMKC Professor Larry Wigger answers insurance questions. Read more. Sep 20, 2021

  • UMKC Student Engineering Team Wins First at National Competition

    Competitors design, build and test a concrete beam
    A team from the University of Missouri-Kansas City has won first place in a national-level student engineering design competition. The Precast/Prestressed Concerte Institute announced on Monday that a UMKC team had placed first in their 2021 Big Beam Competition. The competition, now in its 21st year, teaches college students important structural engineering skills in an applied learning environment. Teams of students with a faculty advisor design, build and test a 20-foot, precast, prestressed concrete beam. Entries are judged on a variety of criteria, including the beam's performance in stress tests. The tests simulate real-life conditions structural building and infrastructure components must endure to ensure safety, as well as the quality of their analysis, reports and overview of their project. The winning UMKC team included two students, Jose Luis Ramirez and Juan Carlos Plasencia Chinchay, and Ganesh Thiagarajan, Ph.D., professor of civil & mechanical engineering, faculty advisor for the team. Plasencia Chinchay said the team was very happy with how things turned out and thanked Thiagarajan for encouraging them to participate. "It is a great experience just to participate in this outstanding competition," Thiagarajan said. "I have coaxed and encouraged students to participate in it just for the learning experience alone, which itself adds so much to the overall prestressed concrete knowledge of students." In addition to the first-place team, UMKC had a second team place in the top 10. Students Nick Shifflett, Logan Chamberlin, Christopher Bryan and Cristobal Hernandez placed seventh. Sep 17, 2021

  • New Program Supports School of Medicine’s Latinx Students

    Latinos in Medicine provides mentoring, encouragement to help students succeed in medical school and as physicians
    A new organization at the UMKC School of Medicine is designed to support and encourage Latinx students to help them succeed in medical school and as physicians. Raquel McCommon, coordinator of strategic initiatives in the school’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, said Latinx students are paired with physician mentors who can meet with and help the students through the challenges of life as an underrepresented minority in medical school and beyond. Latinos in Medicine, established a year ago, gives the students the opportunity to meet and see successful Latinx physicians. “That in itself is supportive, motivating and inspiring,” McCommon said. “It’s a way of making them feel a sense of belonging, connected, that they have people who are looking out for them, who understand where they’re coming from to help them have better success.” McCommon said most of the students participating in the program are also involved in the school’s STAHR (Students Training in Academia, Health and Research) program. Supported by a grant from the United States Health Resources and Services Administration, that program also helps prepare students from disadvantaged backgrounds entering health care programs. However, McCommon said, the STAHR program currently does not have any Hispanic mentors for students. “What we were hearing from our Latinx students was ‘we need mentors and we need mentors that look like us,’” she said. “Part of the challenge is finding physicians who come from the same background and experiences as our Latinx students.” As a result, School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., reached out to Liset Olarte, M.D., a pediatrician at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, where Jackson is also on staff. Olarte leads the hospital’s Latinx Employee Resource Group, which includes several Hispanic physicians. Olarte and her colleagues agreed to serve as physician mentors for the School of Medicine’s Latinos in Medicine program, which also partners with UMKC’s Avanzando program for Hispanic students campus wide. “Not all of our students are going to go into pediatrics, but this is a stepping stone,” McCommon said. “Here is a physician that does look like you, who might speak the same language as you, that might have experienced a similar background or struggles as you.” Ten students actively participate in the program, which is open to all Latinx students at the School of Medicine. In addition to one-on-one mentoring, the plan is for the Latinos in Medicine students to meet at least twice a year, including a welcoming program at the beginning of the school year. McCommon said the broader goal is to offer more group meeting opportunities such as in-person study sessions where students and mentors can come together in an informal setting. “Often students feel intimidated. There’s a level of hesitancy or reluctance,” McCommon said. “We want them to have what they need when they need it, not when it’s too late.” Sep 17, 2021

  • KCINNO Highlights UMKC Innovation Center, KC Digital Drive Project

    Comeback KC Ventures aims to turn pandemic-related ideas into healthy startups
    KC Digital Drive and the UMKC Innovation Center are searching for at least 20 fellows for Comeback KC Ventures, with the goal of creating at least 10 new businesses, 30 new jobs and $5 million in follow-up funding. Read more. Sep 16, 2021

  • MBA Class Provides Consultant Services to Real-world Firms

    Students and urban small businesses both benefit from program
    In most cases, the pricy services of a professional business consultant are beyond the reach of small businesses. A unique partnership between the UMKC Bloch School of Management and AltCap, however, is bringing valuable consulting services to local entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities. MBA students in a new Bloch class formed teams that functioned like consulting firms and spent a semester working with small business clients of AltCap, a community development financial institution set up to increase the flow of capital to communities and businesses not adequately served by mainstream financial institutions. The clients, participants of AltCap’s NeXt Stage KC business development program, received relevant, actionable recommendations for growth. The students, meanwhile, gained real world experience working as a consulting team. The Business Consulting class concept was developed by Bloch School Dean Brian Klaas. The class was taught by Tony Mendes, Managing Director of the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and Ellen Junger, chief marketing officer at Helzberg Diamonds. Student Dominika Luszcz was part of a team that worked with Parrish & Sons Construction,  an excavating and grading contractor. The students developed a strategic plan for Parrish & Sons with recommendations in areas such as market differentiation, branding, website, social media and development of mission and vision statements. “I was always very interested in consulting and always wanted to learn how the consulting business should be conducted,” Luszcz said. “By working firsthand with a real enterprise, I was able to experience and learn authentic business issues, questions that need to be asked to make the best possible decisions, and dive into a completely new industry.” “As an international student from Poland, I found it fascinating to learn how business is conducted in the USA from every aspect including human resources, marketing, sales, research and development, supply chain management and finally strategic planning to increase revenue and expand sustainable growth.” Parrish & Sons founder and CEO Fahteema Parrish said the student team delivered genuine value. “They brought a fresh set of eyes and ideas on different ways we can improve on our media and marketing displays. They worked diligently and were persistent with getting any information they needed from me,” Parrish said. “I was very impressed with their final presentation.” Zach Lieberman is one of the students who worked with Integrity Capital Management, a firm that works with both rental property owners and tenants to expand affordable rental housing options in the urban core. “There were several different companies that were introduced to us at the beginning of the class. I gravitated towards my selected company because I saw the passion the owners had in their industry,” Lieberman said. “This organization is squarely focused on a small niche to rehab, restore and rent properties in Kansas City. There is an extreme shortage of livable houses in this area and this organization is attempting to turn this blighted and often forgotten area into an oasis of livable space.” Terrell Jolly, founder of Integrity Capital Management, had high praise for the student consultants. “We were blown away with the initial presentation. We were not expecting so much detail,” Jolly said. “Not only did the team present us with missed opportunities but also with solutions that would meet our needs and budget. They also created a timeline of implementations and steps needed to incorporate. I liked the versatility each of the students brought to the table. They worked well as a team that really helped with implementation strategies.” Luszcz said the team approach was the best part of the experience. “I met a wonderful group of students who became my partners during the class, but also friends who provided a lot of significant expertise to help me become more aware of the professional business environment. The whole class really felt like I was a part of a well-known and respected consulting company.” Lieberman agreed. “Nobody knows everything. A network of people can provide information and insight to help grow an organization. We took the owner’s passion and developed measurable next steps to help his organization grow.” Sep 16, 2021

  • Graduate Writing Initiative Adds Dedicated Staffer

    The initiative supports student writing in a multitude of ways
    Starting graduate school is a huge step. Unlike most undergraduate programs, students will write proposals, dissertations, theses. How can one prepare for such a large shift in writing style? UMKC graduate students can turn to the Graduate Writing Initiative. This grassroots effort was initially proposed by graduate students at the university who desired support with a very new style of writing. Demand for this resource became so high, the university has added a full-time academic staff position to the initiative. Marcus Meade, Ph.D., is the university’s first Graduate Writing Specialist. Meade, originally from the Kansas City area, graduated with a degree in journalism from Northwest Missouri State University before going on to achieve a master’s and doctoral degree in English. He was previously on the faculty of the University of Virginia before joining the UMKC Graduate Writing Initiative. “I was interested in the opportunity to work with students outside the classroom, setting outside writing support that didn't involve grades,” Meade said. “I found that was more holistic and more supportive. I get to focus on graduate writers, who I think are a particularly underserved population.” Through the initiative, one-on-one counseling is available, as well as larger workshops. Students can connect with their peers for mentorship opportunities. The Writing Studio also offers blocks of time for students to have a quiet space to write, uninterrupted. This is a very important service for students who are juggling careers and families on top of their studies. “All the research in supporting graduate students shows that the thing most students need is the ability to carve out time to write,” Meade said. “So, we try and create that for them. We can help them work that into their schedules. They can develop good writing habits, which includes protecting their own writing time.” This somewhat unique service is available to all UMKC graduate students, across any discipline. Meade hopes students continue to utilize this resource so it can keep growing, supporting even more students through graduation. “You’re not born with the ability to write a personal statement, or whatever you need to write,” Meade said. “We have a method for teaching them about that genre, understanding its conventions, practicing within it and tweaking them if they need to. We’re here to help them move into those new genres and find success in them.” Learn more about the Graduate Writing Initiative and the services they provide. The UMKC Writing Studio, The School of Graduate Studies, UMKC Libraries and faculty, staff and graduate writers from departments across campus collaborate to provide these resources. Sep 16, 2021

  • UMKC Professor, Health Equity Institute Director In the Kansas City Business Journal

    Berkley-Patton brings health care and healthy activity to underserved populations
    Jannette Berkley-Patton, a UMKC professor and director of the University’s Health Equity Institute, is actively working to improve the health of African Americans in Kansas City using a unique strategy centered around building trust within communities and fully engaging them in the efforts. Read more. Sep 15, 2021

  • Kansas City Business Journal Features Assistant Professor Mujahid Abdulrahim

    UMKC professor uses his passion for flying to help pilots and passengers get home safely
    Assistant Professor Mujahid Abdulrahim at the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering powers his research by using computers to model aircraft movement. Read more. Sep 15, 2021

  • Kansas City Business Journal: UMKC Alumna Is Driven To Succeed

    How one KC entrepreneur is taking her venture concept to the next level
    Jonaie Johnson is wired for success. A recent University of Missouri-Kansas City graduate, Johnson is a natural leader who thrives on challenges and puts her ambition into action. Read the full article. Sep 15, 2021

  • UMKC Professor James O’Keefe In The New York Times

    How much exercise do we need to live longer?
    “The very active group, people doing 10-plus hours of activity a week, lost about a third of the mortality benefits,” compared to people exercising for 2.6 to 4.5 hours a week, said Dr. James O’Keefe, a professor of medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and director of preventive cardiology at the St. Luke’s Mid America Hear Institute, who was an author on the study. Read more. (subscription may be required) Sep 15, 2021

  • Behind the Scenes of UMKC's New RoosDo Commerical

    What ends up as a 60-second spot involved months of planning, entire day of shooting
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City debuted a new commercial this month showcasing university people creating real change through excellence in learning, research and service. The commercial is a part of the university's new branding and marketing campaign, with the theme RoosDo. The campaign is designed to showcase UMKC people, driven by inclusion, excellence and strong community connections, putting ambition into action. It took months of planning to produce the 60-second commercial, according to Kim West, chief marketing strategist for the UMKC Divison of Strategic Marketing and Communications. "We had many meetings and discussions to meticulously plan how best to showcase all the amazing things we do at UMKC," West said. "While much of this is really fun and exciting to think about, this is serious thought behind each and every shot you see." Here's a look behind the scenes: The day began with shooting at the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center. Photo by Brandon Parigo.  Crews shot a number of students working on projects at the Plaster Center. Photo by Brandon Parigo. The commercial was produced by Trozzolo Communications Group, based in Kansas City. Photo by Brandon Parigo. Assistant Professor Mujahid Abdulrahim's flight simulator was also featured. Photo by Brandon Parigo. It was then time to film a children's music class over at the Conservatory. Photo by Brandon Parigo. Johnson and Interplay were among the final shots of the day. Photo by Brandon Parigo. Crews wrapped for the day at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. Photo by Brandon Parigo Sep 15, 2021

  • KCINNO Announces UMKC Grant

    UMKC gets $300K research grant to study racial barriers for Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs
    A $300,000, three-year grant recently was given to the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Center for Neighborhoods to support community-focused research analyzing barriers Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs face in Kansas City. Read more. Sep 14, 2021

  • KSHB Highlights 'The Tempest'

    Students in the Division of Theater at UMKC return to in-person productions
    The show goes on for students in the Division of Theater at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, who are back performing in front of an audience starting this Thursday. Read more and watch the newscast. Sep 14, 2021

  • UMKC Hosts Roo Talks

    Alumni share their expertise on new series
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City Alumni Association is launching a new town hall-style series called Roo Talks. Roo Talks is a quarterly webinar speaker series presented by the UMKC Alumni Association. The talks will help alumni, and the UMKC community, become better informed on important topics and more aware of the great work our alumni are doing. The speaker series will be held free on Zoom as a webinar to allow alumni and individuals anywhere to attend. “We are excited to launch this new speaker series and highlight our outstanding alumni,” said Kaitlin Woody, interim managing director of Alumni Relations. “The idea of Roo Talks came from wanting to highlight our outstanding alumni and all the different fields they are working in and have an event that was accessible to alumni where they are.” Topics chosen will appeal to a national audience and will feature outstanding UMKC alumni. The first Roo Talk will focus on the impact of the pandemic on performing arts, particularly live theatre. Roo Talks Series First session, Sept. 27: When the Lights Went Out On Broadway. The free Zoom town hall will be at 4 p.m. Advance registration is required. Theatres around the country went dark in March of 2020, but that did not deter UMKC Conservatory alumni from creating great performances. The first Roo Talks discussion with be with UMKC Theatre alumni. You will find out what they have been doing since the pandemic began and how things have changed for them and the industry. Panelists include Charlie Corcoran (MFA, '01), Rocco Disanti (MFA, '08), James Yaegashi (MFA, '98), Donnie Keshawarz (MFA, '98) and Kate R. Mincer (MFA '08). For more information on Roo Talks, contact Woody at zayk@umkc.edu. Sep 14, 2021

  • KCUR: Toya Like Collaborates On Exhibition

    Kemper Museum uses contemporary art to connect two centuries of Missouri’s history
    Paul Gutierrez, director of visitor experience and public programming at the Kansas City Museum, embraced the process. He worked to identify themes with Toya Like, associate professor and interim chair of Race, Ethnic and Gender Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read more from KCUR. Sep 13, 2021

  • Jacqueline Rifkin's Research Is Focus of News Coverage

    Clutter…How and Why We Accumulate “Stuff”
    Why do people never open up that bottle of wine for special occasions? Or that outfit hangs in the closet and never gets worn? We all have those items around the house we just can’t seem to part with. It’s known as clutter and Jacqueline Rifkin, assistant professor at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management, asked herself how this accumulation begins.  A psychologist explains why you buy things you don't need — and how to stop - Inverse Psychological ‘Specialness Spirals’ Can Make Ordinary Items Feel Like Treasures – And May Explain How Clutter Accumulates - The Conversation Clutter…How and Why We Accumulate “Stuff” - Missourinet Sep 13, 2021

  • RoosDo: UMKC Launches New Campaign to Highlight Success Stories

    Alumni, faculty and students driving real community change to be showcased on TV, billboards, social media and more
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City has launched a new branding and marketing campaign to demonstrate how UMKC people are powering our community by making discoveries, serving others and challenging the status quo. The campaign theme is RoosDo, and the content is designed to showcase UMKC people creating real change by delivering excellence in learning, research and service. The campaign demonstrates that UMKC is the place where excellence meets action. UMKC faculty, staff, students and alumni who are making things happen in the real world will be featured in a new TV commercial, on billboards in high traffic areas, print advertisements and digital advertising. The university will be employing both paid advertisements and boosted posts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube, including partnerships with diverse media outlets such as Kansas City Hispanic News, The Call, Dos Mundos and The Kansas City Globe. TV commercial placements include spots during an upcoming Kansas City Chiefs game broadcast. The campaign will also involve a landing page on the UMKC website and branded water bottles, notebooks, pins and clothing. The goal of this campaign is to engage the community by sharing stories of people connected to the city’s largest higher education institution and promote what’s possible with an education from UMKC. The campaign, launched in September, has been produced by Trozzolo Communications Group and the university’s Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications. Their work included engagement with the UMKC Trustees Brand Enhancement committee as well. “Over the years, we have been very successful in raising awareness of the key role that UMKC plays in our community in vital areas such as workforce development, community engagement and bringing tens of millions of federal research dollars into our community,” said Anne Hartung Spenner, vice chancellor for Strategic Marketing and Communications. “With this campaign, we are taking our efforts to the next level by demonstrating what our RoosDo, the depth and breadth of our impact as Kansas City’s university.” “When people see that game-changing innovation, medical breakthrough or social program that improves the community and say — I wonder who did that?  We want them to realize there’s a good chance a UMKC Roo did, because RoosDo,” Spenner added. With an alumni network of more than 135,000 graduates, spanning all 50 states and more than 60 countries, UMKC is educating future leaders and change makers. From local business owners to national government leaders, UMKC student stories will now be celebrated on a larger scale through this campaign. Sep 13, 2021

  • KCUR Features Study By Political Science Professors

    Crowded Homes Drove People To Break Social Distancing Rules
    The strain of living in crowded households may have been a large factor in breaking social distancing rules and putting health at risk during the pandemic, according to a study involving two University of Missouri-Kansas City researchers. Read the article from KCUR. Sep 12, 2021

  • UMKC Professor, Student Among Team Spearheading Historic Research on Apollo Moon Particles

    The research analyzes how moon dust particle shapes reflect light
    A UMKC professor and student are among a team of researchers that have recently published a historic scientific paper measuring the exact shape of 25 dust participles collected from the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. Research by Ahmed Hassan, Ph.D., associate professor of computing and engineer at UMKC, and Somen Baidya, Ph.D., will allow scientists to get one step closer to understanding why and how the moon reflects light. "Our collaborates measured the 3D shapes of each sample," Hassan said. "We can look at those samples and calculate the electromagnetic properties like optical properties, or how they reflect light. By observing the light, we are able to get a better understanding of the optical characteristics of the moon as a whole." The immediate practical application is satellite navigation, which can involve optical images of the moon. Longer-term, understanding properties of the dust will play a key role in creating a habitable living space for long-duration moon missions. The research team also includes scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory and the Space Science Institute. The team's new research method both measures and computationally analyzes how the moon dust particle shapes scatter in the light. The procedure involved stirring the particles into epoxy, which was then dropped over the outside of a tiny straw and mounted on the heads of pins, before being inserted into a special X-ray microscope capable of measuring the 3D shapes of each of the samples. Hassan said the team sends him images of those samples to calculate the electromagnetic properties, such as how much they reflect light. "We observe the light to be able to better understand the optical characteristics of the element," he said. Hassan said the research has been a great way to help students relate to research they are working on. "My main area of research is electromagnetic radiation. I love this field and I'm extremely passionate about it, but sometimes it's hard for students to relate to it because most electromagnetic radiation is invisible. You don't see microwaves or infrared rays reflected from things. This is a great way to correlate electromagnetics with a practical, real-life application that almost everyone is excited about." Baidya, whose primary research for his Ph.D. (which he received this summer) involved studying human cells, said begin involved in the particle research helped expand his understanding of cell makeup. "This research helped my previous studies about cell shapes," Baidya said. "It was a fantastic experience. I feel very lucky to have been able to work on this and contribute." Research on the lunar particles is ongoing, and Hassan said the team has yet to scratch the surface of all the information they want to know. Now that the team has learned the shape of the particles, they are looking into developing ways to calculate the "mechanical and hydrodynamic properties of the dust." "That means if this lunar sand gets into certain fluids, in the future when we maybe have settlements and astronauts there for a longer period of time, how can you filter them? How can you apply electric techniques to filter the lunar dust from the air?" Hassan said. "This is less than one percent of the particles that we have processed and it's only one set of characteristics that we have calculated. We're hoping to compute and study many, many more characteristics." Scientific research aside, both Baidya and Hassan said simply being able to work with the moon particles has been "fantastic." "All of us growing up have those dreams of becoming an astronaut or doing something space-related," Hassan said. "So seeing those samples, it's hard to describe the feeling of seeing those samples and knowing they are from outer space. It's really, really interesting." Sep 10, 2021

  • UMKC Receives $300K to Study Urban Entrepreneurship

    Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation supports Center for Neighborhoods three-year research project
    The Center for Neighborhoods at UMKC received a three-year, $300,000 grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to study the opportunities and challenges that Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs face starting new businesses in urban neighborhoods in Kansas City. “Entrepreneurs and local businesses face a challenging environment for starting new or sustaining businesses in Black and Hispanic communities,” Dina Newman, director of the Center for Neighborhoods, says. “They encounter barriers such as lack of access to capital, inconsistent financing and pre-existing economic challenges related to redlining. We were honored to be invited by the Kauffman Foundation to apply for this funding.” The Kauffman Foundation grant will support a community-focused research process that will examine the place-based challenges that entrepreneurs face due to a legacy of racially biased development restrictions. In addition, the Center will develop new knowledge about entrepreneurship opportunities for Black and Hispanic business owners. “While we know that these entrepreneurs face race-based challenges, what is not as clear is how these challenges are compounded by the perception of their business locations by outside interests, especially financial institutions,” Jacob Wagner, associate professor and director of Urban Planning + Design says. “This study will allow us to research that impact.” The Center will work with neighborhood and community networks to build relationships with Hispanic and Black entrepreneurs and develop a baseline analysis of the place-based challenges they face. The second year of the grant will build on the first with a series of Asset Walks, an interactive and collaborative process in which the research team and local leaders will gather information from local entrepreneurs through informal meetings. The results of the information from the Asset Walks combined with the baseline analysis will provide data for the center to understand which barriers to successful entrepreneurship are individualized, locational or systemic and which are a combination of these components. The results of the study will not be purely academic, but a road map to success in rebuilding urban neighborhoods. “We expect that this research will result in the development of new programs, workshops and training that will strengthen the ability of neighborhood organizations to be catalysts for escalating business development in the urban core,” Newman says. “While we know that these entrepreneurs face race-based challenges, what is not as clear is how these challenges are compounded by the perception of their business locations by outside interests, especially financial institutions. This study will allow us to research that impact.” — Jacob Wagner The Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation based in Kansas City, Mo., that seeks to build inclusive prosperity through a prepared workforce and entrepreneur-focused economic development. The Foundation uses its $3 billion in assets to change conditions, address root causes and break down systemic barriers so that all people – regardless of race, gender or geography – have the opportunity to achieve economic stability, mobility and prosperity. The Center for Neighborhoods is one of six recipients of funding from this community-engaged research request for proposal. “We’re excited to support community engagement in the research process through this grant portfolio,” says Chhaya Kolavalli, senior program officer, Knowledge Creation & Research, Entrepreneurship. “These six projects aim to build equitable, collaborative, solution-driven initiatives between communities and researchers with the potential to advance inclusive prosperity through entrepreneurship.”   The Kauffman Foundation anticipates that findings from this project will provide practical insights and knowledge for communities, entrepreneur support organizations, ecosystem stakeholders, policymakers, researchers and philanthropy into how to develop equitable entrepreneurial ecosystems.   Sep 10, 2021

  • School of Medicine Alumna Recalls 9/11

    Local media interview Stephanee Evers
    UMKC School of Medicine alumna Stephanee Evers worked on a FEMA urban search and rescue team at ground zero. She now works as an emergency medicine physician at Olathe Health. Read the full story and watch the newscast. Evers was also mentioned in these news stories: Olathe ER doctor reflects on 9/11 recovery efforts at ground zero - Yahoo News 9/11 first responder from Olathe looks back before the 20th anniversary this Saturday - KMBC     Sep 09, 2021

  • Ken Novak Comments on Gun Culture

    The Kansas City Star reports on Missouri gun culture
    “We might think that a kid with a gun is irrational behavior, but in a lot of ways it is actually rational behavior,” said Ken Novak, a professor of criminal justice and criminology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In a culture where “there are so many guns out there, a kid knows they are at risk of becoming a victim of gun violence, so they carry a gun too.” And so it goes. Read the full story. The Kansas City Star article was picked up by these news outlets: MSN Yahoo News Sep 08, 2021

  • KCTV5 Interviews UMKC Law Professor

    Can private club in Blue Springs use masking exemption?
    UMKC Law Professor Allen Rostron said loopholes like this one tend not to stand up in court. If this scenario ends up in front of a judge, he said a major factor to the case will be proving Rae’s is in fact a private club. Read more. Sep 07, 2021

  • AUPD Professor Weighs-in for KC Star

    Will a pilot program in the infrastructure bill help reshape Kansas City’s inner-loop?
    Jacob Wagner, the director of urban studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said that while the northern and southern parts of the downtown loop merit attention, they are not the roads that left the most damage. Read more. Sep 07, 2021

  • Millions in Research Funding Awarded to Computing and Engineering Faculty

    Research ranges from flight simulation to the breakdown of plastics
    Between January 2020 and June 2021, faculty from the School of Computing and Engineering have been awarded $7,549,732 in research funding. Megan Hart, Ph.D., assistant professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, was awarded $262,821 from the Department of Defense for work on unique ways to break down polyfluoroalkyl substances, which are substances utilized for their water and stain repellant properties. "From non-stick coatings, like inside of microwave popcorn bags, to your rain repellent gear and beyond, polyfluoroalkyl substances touch almost every aspect of our lives from food, to water, to air," Hart said. Unlike other hazardous materials, most polyfluoroalkyl substances do not break down using normal water and wastewater treatment techniques, which means that as the substances later break down in soil or water, they can cause harm to humans and animals. "Our research seeks to invent new and unique methods for completely destroying polyfluoroalkyl substances in the water, as well as investigate how they transform over time in soil," Hart said. Assistant Professor Mujahid Abdulrahim, Ph.D., was awarded a combined total of $204,995 over the last year for research on virtually modeling aircraft movement by computer. His goal is to take auto-pilot functionality to new heights without taking flying away from pilots. He wants to make their safety net stronger through developing a computer algorithm that would interpret the actual performance of an aircraft in flight compared to predetermined models on how it should be performing. "I don't want to replace pilots with a computers," Abdulrahim said. "I love the idea of preserving everything that makes airplanes fun to fly, but I also love the idea of coming home to my children after every time I take to the air." Below is a complete list of research funding awarded over the last year and a half. Civil and Mechanical Engineering: $396,899 to John Kevern for KC Urban Renewal Engineering fellows. $600,000 to John Kevern for supplement KC Urban Renewal Engineering fellows $24,998 to Amirfarhang Mehdizadeh for Indian Creek Flood assessment. $13,500 to Antonios Stylianou for the development of computational tools for pre-op planning of periacetabular osteotomies. $188,000 to Travis Fields for graduate fellowships for students engaged in NASA-relevant disciplines. $57,128 to Travis Fields for material processing and automation (partnership with Institute for Material Processing). $33,000 to ZhiQiang Chen for guidelines for response planning, assessment and rapid restoration of service of bridges after extreme events. $110,000 to Zahra Niroobakhsh for tuning the viscoelastic properties of enhanced oil recovery relevant bijels. $60,000 to John Kevern for evaluating the impact of anti-icing solutions on concrete durability. $40,000 to John Kevern for evaluation of non-traditional sidewalk options for reduced long-term cost and improved public accessibility. $262,821 to Megan Hart for validation of UV/TiO2 activated alkaline media for destruction of PFAS in concentrated liquid waste systems. $129,995 to Mujahid Abdulrahim for modeling and simulation architecture to improve research. $60,000 to Mujahid Abdulrahim for FLEXI-Fly: Field-Reconfigurable, Mission-Adaptive eVTOL. $22,500 to Zahra Niroobakshsh and Kun Cheng for 3D printing of next-generation therapeutic microneedles using rapid self-association of surface-active peptide drugs. $30,000 to Ceki Halmen for justifying corrosion durability of reinforced concrete, comparable critical chloride threshold for various reinforcement types. $40,500 to Ceki Halem for the development of instructor resources for the Contractor's Guide to Quality Concrete Construction (fourth edition). $19,900 to Deb Chatterjee for signal and radiating systems design and modeling for app. $15,000 to Mujahid Abdulrahim for UAV-UGV cargo drop. $57,500 to Ceki Halmen for standard critical chloride threshold test variability due to material sources. $129,835 to Thiagarajan Ganesh for load and resistance factor rating methodology recommendations for Missouri bridges. Computer Science and Electrical Engineering: $305,800 to Yugyung Lee for CUE Ethics: Experiential Learning: Bridging Digital Divides in Undergraduate Education of Data Science. $44,200 to Yugyung Lee for supplement: CUE Ethics: Experiential Learning: Bridging Digital Divides in Undergraduate Education of Data Science. $20,000 to Yugyung Lee for supplement #2: CUE Ethics: Experiential Learning: Bridging Digital Divides in Undergraduate Education of Data Science. $18,000 to Baek-Young Choi for Technology Education for Women in Transition: Broadening Participation Through Innovations. $301,413 to Faisal Khan for estimating remaining life and availability of power semiconductor devices using sympathetic string phenomena, dynamic safe operating area theory and ultrasound resonators. $50,000 to Zhu Li for membership renewal for NSF Center for Big Learning. $150,000 to Yugyung Lee for Smart and Connected Communities Planning Grant: Early Community Intervention for Neighborhood Revitalization Using Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technologies. $73,000 to Dianxiang Xu for modeling clinical notes with deep learning transformers.  $42,763 to Yugyung Lee and Brent Never for early community intervention for neighborhood revitalization using AI and emerging technologies. $22,500 to Yugyung Lee, Brent Never and Wang Ye for Communities in Action: Sustainable Science in Cyberinfrastructure. $90,000 to Dianxiang Xu for EAGER: SaTC-EDU: Exploring Visualized and Explainable AI to Improve Students' Learning Experience in Digital Forensics Education at MSCI and HBCUs. $15,000 to Yugyung Lee for gamifying cybersecurity to eliminate alert fatigue. $96,058 to Dianxiang Xu for GenCyber Summer Camps at UMKC. $50,000 to Zhu Li for membership fee for NSF Center for Big Learning. $25,000 to Yugyung Lee for membership to NSF Center for Big Learning. $25,000 to Zhu Li for membership fee for NSF Center for Big Learning. $88,490 to Yugyung Lee for Our Healthy KC Eastside: A community-wide COVID-19 vaccination and health services project to address health inequities. $50,000 to Zhu Li for membership fee for NSF Center for Big Learning. Sep 07, 2021

  • KSHB Interviews Bill Black

    UMKC economics professor says work-life balance contributes to lack of labor
    UMKC associate professor Bill Black disputes the claim that enhanced unemployment benefits are to blame for a worker shortage. Read more. Sep 06, 2021

  • Carl Allen Steps Into Lead Role at UMKC

    KCUR: Meet Carl Allen
    After Bobby Watson's long tenure, Carl Allen is the newly-appointed William D. and Mary Grant Endowed Professor of Jazz Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read more. Sep 03, 2021

  • UMKC to Offer New Bachelor's Degree for Transfer Students

    Bachelor of Applied Science helps those with Associates Degrees advance their skills and job prospects
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City will offer a new degree — Bachelor of Applied Science — starting fall 2022. The University of Missouri System Board of Curators approved the proposed degree unanimously on Thursday. The Bachelor of Applied Science degree is designed for students who have completed an Associate in Applied Science degree. Beth Vonnahme, Ph.D., associate dean of the College of Arts and Science, said those associate degree credits do not easily transfer to many four-year degree programs, which means students wishing to return to higher education for career advancement must often start near the beginning of a four-year program. "The new degree program allows students to use up to 60 hours of their associate degree credits toward the new bachelor's degree, enabling them to enter the workforce with a bachelor's degree in two years. This saves them valuable time and financial resources," Vonnahme said. The new degree curriculum will combine core skills employers are looking for in future employees, such as critical thinking, communications, ethics, teamwork and complex problem-solving skills, with expertise in high-demand fields including business, organizational leadership, healthcare management, data analytics, digital media and digital humanities. "This degree program will grow the pool of potential applicants with the technical experience and key competencies employers need for their workforce," Vonnahme said. "This innovative degree program presents a major opportunity to recruit new students, provides a high-quality educational experience to students who are currently underserved and equips the region's workforce with in-demand education and skills." Sep 02, 2021

  • Gary O’Bannon Weighs-in On The Future of Work

    Flatland interviews UMKC professor
    Gary O’Bannon, HR management professor at UMKC, gave insight on the new job market in the face of a pandemic. Read more. Sep 01, 2021

  • Alum Has Vivid Memories of 9/11

    UMKC grad served as lead pharmacist, caring for responders at Ground Zero
    Twenty years later, the horrifying events of 9/11 are etched in David Bates’ memory. Bates (B.S./R.Ph. ’93) recently thumbed through a large scrapbook on a desk at his home in Gallup, New Mexico. As the UMKC School of Pharmacy alumnus reminisced about the role he played as lead pharmacist for the emergency response teams at Ground Zero during the early days of the recovery effort, he stopped and pulled out a sheet of paper. “Look at this,” Bates said. “I still have a copy of my deployment orders.” Then a member of the United States Public Health Service in Tsaile, Arizona, Bates was back at UMKC on a recruiting trip for the service when news broke that terrorists had struck in New York City. “By the time I got to campus, things were getting strange,” he said. Finally able to connect by phone with his superiors at the emergency response headquarters, Bates was told to immediately return home to Arizona and await further orders. A week later, when grounded flights were finally restored in the U.S., Bates received the order to report to New York. His assignment would be to requisition supplies and establish a pharmacy in support of the five treatment sites set up for response teams near Ground Zero. “When I got there the pile was still carrying temperatures of 1,200 degrees in places and was still burning big time. All that stuff was still being released in the air. You didn’t know what you were breathing. The ash in the air was everywhere. When you looked and saw the debris fields, they were seven stories high. That was very hard for me." — David Bates Two years earlier, as a member of a disaster response team based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Bates had deployed to Fort Dix Army Base in New Jersey as part of Operation Provide Refuge. During that tour, he provided pharmaceutical care for refugees entering the United States from war-torn Kosovo. “That was my big break because I was working with emergency response people,” Bates said. The experience paved the way for his call to New York in response to 9/11. A military veteran, Bates served as a medic and pharmacy technician with the U.S. Air Force before deciding at age 40 to return to school at UMKC. After earning his pharmacy degree, he joined the U.S. Public Service Corps and fulfilled his desire to work with emergency disaster teams. Nothing he had experienced before compared to what lay before him when he arrived at Ground Zero. Bates looked at the devastation from the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. “When I got there the pile was still carrying temperatures of 1,200 degrees in places and was still burning big time,” he said. “All that stuff was still being released in the air. You didn’t know what you were breathing. The ash in the air was everywhere. When you looked and saw the debris fields, they were seven stories high. That was very hard for me.” Bates established sick call units for responders who had forgotten or run out of their medications for chronic ailments. That was in addition to locating and requisitioning medical supplies to establish a pharmacy that could support the on-site medical clinics, which were seeing 400 to 500 volunteers, military and disaster responders a day. Many of those, Bates said, were soon becoming ill with respiratory issues because of the large amounts of toxic dust in the air. As of June 2021, the World Trade Center Health Program reported more than 3,500 deaths of responders attributed to a variety of illnesses associated with the aftermath of the 9/11 attack. Things became so intense at one point that the chief of U.S. Army medical corps came to Bates one morning with a special request. Cyanide gas was escaping into the air and he needed cyanide antidote kits, stat. Bates quickly called a pharmaceutical provider, AmerisourceBergan, and explained his problem. That afternoon, Bates had the kits in hand. “When the chief medical officer came back and I gave him the kits his response was, ‘I don’t even have the protocols written up for those yet.’ I said, ‘Well you’ve got ’em when you need ’em,’” Bates said. “That made me feel good because it surprised everybody.” What particularly caught Bates’ attention during his time in New York was the enormous outpouring of support from the American people who wanted to help in some way. “There was a tremendous response from Americans,” Bates said. “They sent us all kinds of stuff from their (medicine cabinets). Individuals, companies were all sending things they had and we had to go through all of that and see what was good, what was expired, what hadn’t expired, and see whether we could use it.” In addition, many New York hospitals and other providers had immediately set up small clinics along the city streets. When the federal government took over the recovery efforts, the clinics were abandoned and most everything, including medical supplies, was left behind. It was Bates’ job to confiscate and sort through all of those medications, many of them controlled substances.  “During chaos, things happen,” he said. “It was total chaos at that point. We were just trying to bring a little organization back to the world.” Nearly 10 days after arriving at Ground Zero, Bates had set up and organized a pharmacy on site from scratch for the next wave of responders. Bates then went home to finish up some year-end paperwork before taking a well-deserved vacation to a Florida beach with his wife and family. Now retired from the Public Health Service, Bates is a contract pharmacist working with the Winslow Indian Health Center providing care for the Navajo Indian Nation. His career has sent him on 19 deployments to disaster sites across the country. He says watching the recent U.S. evacuation of Afghanistan “works on you a little bit because you know what started this whole Afghan response from the military action was right where we were on 9/11.” And it’s those events surrounding 9/11 that still stand out as a defining moment in his life. “It helped me be more caring about people who are really in need,” he said. “I got involved in emergency response and kept taking it to a deeper and deeper level. I saw it as a way of helping people who were in desperate need of help. And these people were.” Sep 01, 2021

  • Critical Conversations Series Continues

    The Division of Diversity and Inclusion will continue to host a series addressing systemic racism in the U.S.
    The Critical Conversations series will continue this year. The series is part of the thoughtful action our community is taking to ensure lasting and comprehensive reform through Roos Advocate for Community Change, a campus-wide effort announced in June 2020 following the death of George Floyd. Last year’s panel discussions were in a Zoom town hall format and featured UMKC faculty, staff, students and volunteer leaders who represent the topic being discussed. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the sessions will remain virtual until further notice. Each discussion aims to enlighten, educate, and explore the causes and potential cures for racism. Further, the university will strive to share actionable steps that can be used to improve racial interactions in the broader community. For more information, please email umkcchancellor@umkc.edu. Upcoming Session: "COVID, Vaccinations and (Mis)Information in Communities of Color" Tuesday, Nov. 16, 3-4:30 p.m. Attendance is free, but registration is required online. A Zoom link will be provided upon registration confirmation. Panelists for the event include Qiana Thomason, President and CEO of Health Forward Foundation; Dr. Liset Olarte, Divison of Infectious Diseases at Children's Mercy Hospital Kansas City; Jannette Berkely-Patton, professor at UMKC Biomedical/Health Informatics and Frank Thompson, interim Director of Health at the Kansas City Health Department. Gary O'Bannon, executive in-house residence, UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management, will be the moderator and Angela Nwankwo, a fourth-year UMKC School of Medicine professional, will co-moderator. Critical Conversations Series: Ninth Session, Sept. 9: The Role of Antiracism Work and Healing in Museums Panelists included: Rashida Phillips, executive director, American Jazz Museum; Julian Zugazahoitia, director and CEO, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; Glenn North, executive director, Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center; Matthew Naylor, president and CEO, National World War 1 Museum and Memorial; and Anna Marie Tutera, director, Kansas City Museum. Gary O'Bannon, executive-in-resident, UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management, was the moderator. Critical Conversations from 2020-21: To see a complete list of the first eight sessions, click here. Aug 31, 2021

  • Public Health Graduates Help a City Get its Health Department Rolling Again

    City of Independence, UMKC help each other as importance of community programs grows
    When the city of Independence, Missouri, wanted to re-institute its Health Department, two recent graduates of the School of Nursing and Health Studies — and an adjunct professor — were there to help.  The process showed the value of the university to its government and community partners, and it gave the graduates full-time jobs in their field of public health. Halie Smith-Griffin, who graduated magna cum laude from the public health program, began helping Independence restore its Health Department during her senior year as her capstone project. And when the city had an opening for a public health specialist, she was a natural for the job. “I chose public health because I wanted to explore more upstream methods to improve the public’s health rather than focusing my efforts on them once they already made it to the hospital,” said Smith-Griffin, an Independence native. “I’m re-establishing community-based programs since the Health Department just re-opened a few months ago after being shut down for a few years.” Another public health graduate, Conner Berens, is from nearby Lee’s Summit and was a familiar face around Independence government. “I have volunteered for the City of Independence Office of Emergency Preparedness since I was a sophomore in high school,” he said. So when there was an opening for a public health response planner, he jumped at the chance. Berens had hoped to find a job relating to public health or emergency management right out of school, and he said UMKC prepared him to do just that. “The public health program put me into the real world, teaching me the principles of research, how to deal with the unexpected, how to develop a health program, and how to be a kind, effective and professional public health practitioner.” Besides their passion for public health and the lessons and experiences gained at UMKC, Smith-Griffin and Berens graduated at an opportune time, when Independence was re-establishing its Health Department. In 2018, Independence chose to stop some department functions that were duplicated by Jackson County, such as those related to vital records and vaccinations, and shifted other functions to different city departments. But with the onset of the pandemic, it made sense for the city of around 125,000 residents to have its own Health Department again. One longtime city administrator tasked with reinstituting the department, Mike Jackson, is an adjunct faculty member with UMKC’s public health program. Jackson has worked for the city about 20 years, holding various posts in environmental health and public works. “So I know about various funding sources, and what the Health Department looked like before and how its functions were reorganized,” he said. Jackson also knew UMKC could be a great resource. “Around 2014 when the nursing school was putting its public health program together, I was asked to design the environmental health course. And then I was asked to teach it,” he said. “For a project in my class, Conner interned with our emergency preparedness and fire department.” Jackson also told Smith-Griffin, whose senior project he had supervised, about the job opening she eventually filled. “But then I got out of the away, removed myself from the hiring process,” Jackson said. “It was her turn to shine, and I didn’t want anyone thinking she didn’t deserve the job.” The re-established Health Department was officially recognized by the state late last year, and Jackson, Smith-Griffin and Berens are busy getting all its functions coordinated and running again. “I am working on two grants right now,” said Smith-Griffin, who has a small child and great interest in child and maternal health. “One is focused on maternal child health and the other is focused specifically on child health.” The Technology, Marketing and Media in Health course, taught by Assistant Professor Dipti Subramaniam, Ph.D., is helping Smith-Griffin create promotional material for the maternal health grant. And she said her Health Program Management class, taught by Assistant Professor Matthew Chrisman, Ph.D., has helped her set up her grants. “I have had to find out who my target population is for my grant, a significant problem they have, and an intervention that could improve their health,” Smith-Griffin said. “I have had to write SMART goals and objectives,” SMART standing for Specific, Measurable, Assignable (or Achievable or Attainable), Realistic (or Relevant) and Time-related (or Time-bound). Berens is working with COVID-19 surveillance and epidemiology, and with updating emergency response plans. “Future tasks include developing plans and partnerships to prepare for public health disasters such as environmental crises, natural disasters, disease outbreaks, bioterrorism and other events that result in a mass medical surge or immediate threat to public health,” he said. During school, Berens also volunteered for the Medical Reserve Corps of Kansas City in response to COVID-19. He said volunteering was a great supplement to his coursework, and he encourages current students to sign up for medical and non-medical opportunities at https://www.mrckc.org. For his part, Jackson has been busy restarting Health Department functions that had reverted to the county, such as vaccine clinics and disease tracking and tracing, and reintegrating other functions that the city retained, such as restaurant health inspections. “I know a student can’t always parlay volunteering or an internship into a fulltime job,” Jackson said, “but Conner and Halie showed us what they could do and really shined. That reflects well on them and on UMKC.”     Aug 30, 2021

  • Political Science Professor Puts Redistricting into Perspective

    Kansas City Star taps Greg Vonnahme for article about Rep. Emanuel Cleaver
    Greg Vonnahme, a political science professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, was interviewed for this story. Read more. (subscription required) Aug 27, 2021

  • What is ISIS-K?

    Rebecca Best offers expertise to media
    Rebecca Best, an associate professor of political science at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said ISIS-K stands to undermine the Taliban and the United States with its attack. What Is ISIS-K? A Look at the Group Responsible for Afghanistan Terror Attack - KMIZ The Revolt of Islamic State-Khorasan - Political Violence at a Glance  Aug 27, 2021

  • Roo Welcome Activities Launch the College Experience for New Students

    UMKC students kick off Fall 2021 semester
    It started with moving in to a new campus or off-campus home. It ended with an upbeat ceremony introducing traditions and an official launch of college life. Also in the mix were meetups, brunches, impromptu introductions and organized frivolity, dancing, a pool party, a mechanical bull, soccer with pregame tailgate party and more.  Roo Welcome is the annual rite of passage for new students at UMKC. It involves informal academic preparations, sessions on managing finances, men’s and women’s soccer games and plenty of fun activities. In concludes with Convocation, where new students are welcomed by the Chancellor and Provost, learn the alma mater and fight song and put on their UMKC pins. Here’s a look at scenes from Roo Welcome 2021. It takes a cartload to turn a Residence Hall room into a home Gotta have that favorite pillow The journey begins with a single step Summer scene at Scofield Hall Welcome to Convocation Pre-Convocation games Summer sunshine on the quad KC Roo demonstrating leadership A tailgate feast Game time! Attention to detail matters Catch a wave Headed to the Student Union . . . . . . for a caffeine break Our newest campus icon, the bronze Roo by sculptor Tom Corbin Late Night with the Greeks drew a nighttime crowd Letting the music move you Can he hold on? Sunset over the soccer field Aug 27, 2021

  • History of Johnson County Creek Leads To Possible Name Change

    Diane Mutti-Burke weighs-in
    Diane Mutti-Burke, a professor of history at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, was interviewed by local media about the re-naming of the creek. Read the news coverage: Controversial Name, History of Johnson County Creek Leads To Possible Name Change - KSHB “Negro Creek” In Johnson County Likely Renamed After Finding Link To Racial Violence - KCTV5 Aug 26, 2021

  • Three Questions with a National Security Expert

    2011 Alumna of the Year Cynthia Watson wraps up career at National War College
    Cynthia Watson (B.A. ’78), the UMKC 2011 Alumna of the Year, has announced her pending retirement after three decades of service at the National War College, where she served as a professor of National Security Strategy, chair of the Department of Security Studies and then dean of Faculty and Academic Programs. As a world-renowned authority on security policy analysis, Watson has directly impacted U.S. foreign policy in everything from civilian-military relations to national security issues. Her students, according to the college, have been “future leaders of the Armed Forces, Department of State and other civilian agencies” being groomed for high-level policy, command and staff responsibilities. As she prepares for retirement in December, Watson corresponded with her alma mater by email to share reflections on her career and thoughts on current affairs: Looking back over your career as an educator and scholar, what would you consider to be the highlights and/or most significant accomplishments? I am proud to show that a UMKC education offered me the privilege of working and studying contemporary issues in several settings around the country. I am especially proud of my three and a half years as Dean of Faculty and Academic Programs, out of 29 overall years, at the National War College where we bring together such a diverse array of students who tackle extraordinarily important yet often intractable problems for the U.S. and our partner nations. I will continue this as Interim Provost of the National Defense University until December 2021. In your view, what is the most significant national security challenge the U.S. must address? We must address our internal divisions in my personal analysis. People overseas no longer see us as a beacon on the hill.  Compromise is NOT a dirty word but is what made us uniquely successful for two hundred years. By no longer doing that, we are allowing our adversaries to rip us apart which will prevent us from sustaining the power of this nation in many ways. What are your favorite memories of your days as a UMKC undergraduate? I have such fond memories of friends who I lost track of over the decades but with whom I have connected on social media. They are awesome people who have gone out to do such marvelous things across the country and in their fields. Aug 26, 2021

  • The Coterie Plans Season

    KC Applauds shares performance details with UMKC Theatre students
    Mobile Molièr: UMKC Theatre’s MFA actors bring their riotous romp of a touring show to local schools, performing some of Molière’s most famous and hilarious scenes. Read more. Aug 25, 2021

  • By Keeping KC Up To Date, Steve Kraske’s Journalism Legacy Is Still Being Written

    The Pitch profiles Steve Kraske
    Steve Kraske is a professor in the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences. He is also the host of KCUR's Up to Date. Read the article. Aug 25, 2021

  • Betty Rae’s Debuts New UMKC-inspired Flavor, ‘Roo Blue Swirl’

    Kansas City Media Reports on Roo Blue Swirl
    Betty Rae’s Ice Cream is now scooping “Roo Blue Swirl” in homage to the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Owner Alec Rodgers is a UMKC alum, and said the new mix was a collaborative effort with the university. Read the news coverage: Betty Rae’s Debuts New UMKC-inspired Flavor, ‘Roo Blue Swirl’ - KSHB Iconic KC Ice Cream Shop Debuts New Flavor In Honor of Local University - KCTV5 Aug 25, 2021

  • Center for Neighborhoods Director Leads KC Neighborhood Vaccine Efforts

    Our Healthy KC Eastside interviews Dina Newman
    Dina Newman, director of the UMKC Center for Neighborhoods, discusses the organization's role in Our Healthy KC Eastside, a large-scale, community-based partnership addressing vaccine hesitance and health inequities in vulnerable portions of Jackson County, Mo. Read the full article. Aug 25, 2021

  • The Evolution of KC Roo

    A hop back through time for a look at the mascot’s changing style
    In 1936, the students at the newly-established University of Kansas City were looking for a mascot that would embody the spirit of their school. The three-year-old university had yet to establish an athletics program, but the debate team was about to begin competing with other universities.  “So, this idea came about that we needed to have a mascot for the university,” said Chris Wolff, the manager of the UMKC Bookstore and a UMKC historian. At the time, the city of Kansas City was abuzz, eagerly anticipating some very exciting news. Across town at the Kansas City Zoo, Jigger the kangaroo, who had arrived just one year before, was pregnant and the whole town was awaiting news of her little one’s arrival. With all the excitement of the joey’s debut, the students were inspired and chose the kangaroo as the new mascot of the debate team. After all, it rhymed with KCU, the colloquial term used by the community for the university, and they knew the unique selection would stand out.  At first, the adoption of the kangaroo mascot was a student-led effort. After the debate team signed on, the yearbook did too, using the kangaroo as part of the front cover. The kangaroo  mascot was nearly lost forever though, when in 1937 the yearbook dropped the kangaroo as its mascot. Not everyone was happy about the change. John Chaney, the president of the KCU Student Council, started the Kangaroo Party of the University of Kansas City with the platform to adopt the kangaroo as the university’s official mascot. In the fall of 1937, Kasey Kangaroo was born. Throughout the years, Kasey has taken on many forms, both from student-created depictions, to official university marketing. Here is a look back at some of the most recognizable iterations. The Disney Roo - 1938 In the early years of the kangaroo mascot, the depiction of the mascot was left to students, with help from a local celebrity. Fresh off his 1937 hit Snow White, KC native and famous animator Walt Disney responded to a request from KCU students to illustrate the cover of the March 1938 edition of the student-published humor magazine, The Kangaroo. Nearly a century later, it’s still perhaps the most well-known version of the KC Roo. Student Roos 1938 - 1968 Over the next couple of decades, students created their own version of KC Roo for various purposes. Some were based on Disney’s version, others were completely unique creations. The First Official Kasey - 1963 For more than 25 years after the kangaroo became the official KCU mascot, KCU did not use a depiction of a Roo in an official capacity. That changed shortly before KCU joined the University of Missouri System and became the University of Missouri–Kansas City, when the university unveiled its first Roo. It was also the first time Kasey is depicted with a pouch, making her a female. When the university merged with the Missouri system, Kasey got a slight makeover to reflect the change. Return of the Student Roos - 1970s-1980s UMKC introduced an athletics program in 1968, but throughout the 70s and early 80s, the university usage of the Roo image declined. Students filled in the gap with their own illustrations of KC Roo playing various sports. The Flying  Roo - 1987 In 1987, UMKC joined the top competition group within the NCAA, Division I. As part of the change, the Roo was updated to be more suitable to athletic competitions. The Boxing Roo - 2005 In the early 2000s, KC Roo tested a tougher look. The Hopping Roo - 2009 In 2009, the second version of the running Roo was unveiled. Fighting Roo - 2019 Today, the Roo takes on a more modern look. Now known as KC Roo, the image you see across campus and at athletic events these days was introduced in 2019. Through the years, KC Roo has been met with both praise and criticism, but there was only one time since her official adoption that she truly faced the threat of extinction. When the university joined the NCAA Division I, there was a referendum to choose a mascot. Students voted to keep the Roo. Asked why he believes KC Roo has stood the test of time, Wolff says his theory goes back to the early years.  “The connection to Walt Disney. That holds weight in people’s minds, gives it historical heft.” Aug 24, 2021

  • Viral Video of US Marine’s Kindness To Kids in Kabul Sparks Emotional Reaction for Local Marine

    KCTV5 interviews School of Law student
    Bryce Graskemper, UMKC School of Law student, was interviewed for this story. Read the story and watch the newscast. Aug 23, 2021

  • Heart of America Shakespeare Festival Teams Up with UMKC for The Tempest

    IN Kansas City magazine highlights UMKC Theatre, Heart of America Shakespeare Festival collaboration
    The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival is teaming up with UMKC Theatre to present The Tempest in the UMKC Spencer Theatre. Read more. Aug 23, 2021

  • Interim Dean Combines Athleticism and Artistry for New Photography Collection

    Kati Toivanen featured by KC Independent
    KC Independent featured Kati Toivanen, interim dean of the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences. Read the full article. Aug 23, 2021

  • Why is Arrowhead the World’s Loudest Stadium? Design Is Only Part of the Answer

    UMKC Theatre professor weighs-in
    When more than 76,000 voices are at a fever pitch, the sound builds and begins moving in sheets, says Tom Mardikes, a University of Missouri-Kansas City professor of sound design. Read The Kansas City Star article. (subscription required) Aug 22, 2021

  • Berkley Establishes Literacy Award for Educators

    Focus on kindergarten through third grade literacy has long-term impact
    Moved by the ramifications of children’s inability to read at grade level by third grade, Kansas City civic leader and dedicated education donor, Bert Berkley, has established an endowed fund of $50,000 to support the Bert Berkley Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Literacy at UMKC. The fund will provide scholarships to individuals and awards to teachers, school administrators and organizations within the field of childhood literacy, and specifically phonics, to encourage and recognize progress in this area. The UMKC School of Education will recognize recipients at the Urban Education Forum. Berkley is committed to early childhood education and the scientific approaches to the study of literacy, including the use of phonics. “I’ve had a particular focus on the importance of reading skills,” Berkley says. “We have many challenges in reading at grade level here in Kansas City as well as nationally. The School of Education at UMKC does an outstanding job of training teachers for the urban classroom. My motivation for the creation of this endowment is that my late wife, Joan, and I have always believed that the power of education is what provides opportunity for young people.” Recipients of the award will demonstrate long-term dedication to teaching reading to students in kindergarten through third grade, achieve significant progress in student reading levels and make effective use of research-based instruction methodologies of teaching reading including the use of phonics. “Bert has been tireless in his support of literacy for children in early education,” Carolyn Barber, interim dean of the School of Education says. “In creating this award, the UMKC School of Education joins with Bert in recognizing outstanding achievement in the field of early childhood literacy.” Establishing strong reading skills by third grade is a determining factor in long-term academic success. “An abundance of research has affirmed the critical importance of early reading achievement,” Nora Peterman, assistant professor of language and literacy, says. “Third-grade reading proficiency is one of the most powerful predictors of a child's continued academic success and of graduating from high school. Educational equity can only be realized when all students have access to excellent, effective literacy instruction in schools.” Berkley is a previous recipient of the Hugh J. Zimmer Award for Excellence in Urban Education. The award recognizes urban educators and urban education supporters from the region who are following the example of passion and commitment to urban young people and their communities set by former UMKC Trustee and UMKC Foundation board member Hugh Zimmer. The Zimmer Award is also announced at the Urban Education Forum. “We are fortunate that the UMKC School of Education has such a stalwart supporter in Bert Berkley,” Mauli Agrawal, chancellor of UMKC says. “His impact on the quality of education in Kansas City is immeasurable. We are honored that he has established this critically important award at UMKC.” A former chair of the UMKC Board of Trustees and recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal, Berkley is the founder of the Local Investment Commission (LINC) , which has nothing to do with stocks and bonds, but everything to do with investing in children and families. LINC provides social services to those in need, including thousands of children. He is a decorated veteran of World War II and Korea, graduated from both Duke University and Harvard Business School and served on many local and national boards. Aug 20, 2021

  • Mental Health on Campus: University Counselors Seeing Fewer Clients, But More Often

    Flatland interviews Arnold Abels
    Arnold Abels, Ph.D., director and clinical coordinator of the UMKC Counseling Center, was interviewed. He said a decrease in clients at UMKC is partially due to licensing that only allows them to serve residents of Missouri or Kansas. Read the full article. Aug 19, 2021

  • As COVID Booster Shots Become Available, Here’s What Kansas And Missouri Residents Should Know

    Mary Anne Jackson shares insights with media
    Real-world studies that show declines in immunity among vaccinated people make clear the need for additional protection, according to Mary Anne Jackson, infectious disease specialist and dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. Read the article. More news coverage for Mary Anne Jackson Kansas City Health Experts Question Claims In Northland Parents' Lawsuit Over Mask Mandates - KCUR Vaccinated And Confused In Kansas City? How To Decide Whether An Activity Is Safe - KCUR   Aug 18, 2021

  • Kangaroo Pantry Steps Up to Meet Increased Need

    The pantry ensures no Roo goes without, especially during the pandemic
    The UMKC Kangaroo Pantry has expanded its reach to help more Roos in need as the pandemic has left more hungry. During the 2019-2020 school year, the pantry distributed 9,873 pounds of food. Last school year, their output more than doubled, as they distributed 22,140 pounds. "This is different than anything we've seen. We're seeing more students than we have probably seen in a very long time," Taylor Blackmon, basic needs coordinator said. The pantry has been able to meet the increased need through things like donations and partnerships with companies and organizations such as Hiland Dairy, Whole Foods and Harvesters Community Food Network. Anthony Maly, senior program manager, said financial donations and partnerships have been extremely important to the pantry over the last couple of years. "We really couldn't operate without that financial assistance," Maly said. Opened in 2015, the Kangaroo Pantry provides food assistance for all Roos in need, including students, faculty and staff. Because of donations, within the last year the pantry has seen some new additions, like a refrigerator and freezer that houses fresh produce, meats and free Hiland Dairy products. The pantry has also expanded its offerings to include items such as feminine hygiene products, dog food and baby formula. "We believe that no Roos should go without, and that includes hygiene products, laundry detergent, whatever students, faculty or staff might need to meet their most basic needs. We want to make sure that we can provide that," Maly said. How to receive assistance from the Kangaroo Food Pantry: If you are a UMKC student, faculty or staff member who needs assistance, bring your university ID to the pantry to shop during the pantry's open house hours. Masks or face coverings are required regardless of vaccination status. All Roos are eligible to pick roughly 20 food items per week, but fresh produce does not count toward those 20 items.  While the pantry does place a limit on items, Blackmon said they are willing to work with those who may have increased need for additional items. "We do have some people who are utilizing this service that are shopping for their families and not just going back to their dorm rooms. In those cases, especially if there are children involved, your items won't be counted," Blackmon said. "We believe that no Roos should go without." — Anthony Maly Locations and hours: The Kangaroo Food Pantry's main location can be found at 4825 Troost, Room 103. It's open Tuesday 1:30-5:30 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday 1-5 p.m. and Sunday 3-6 p.m. If you are unable to make any of those hours, Blackmon said appointments can be set up. The main location features a "full client choice model" which means individuals can walk the aisles and 'shop' for the items they want, instead of simply picking up pre-packaged bags of items. In addition to the main campus, and due to increased need, the Kangaroo Food Pantry has also launched two satellite locations. One is in the Health Science District, on the first floor (Room 1-402) of the School of Medicine. It's open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. for students to pick up pre-packaged bags of items. The second satellite pantry is in the UMKC Student Union on the 2nd floor near Jazzman's. The pantry is "shelf-style," meaning students walking by can quickly grab whatever they like without having to "check out," or pre-order. Blackmon said all of the locations are meant to encourage everyone to take advantage of the resources the Kangaroo Food Pantry offers. "This is here for you. There is no stigma here," Blackmon said. How to support the Kangaroo Food Pantry: While the pantry does accept donated non-perishable food, monetary donations are encouraged, as the pantry can stretch a dollar further through partnerships than the average grocery store shopper. If you would like to make a financial contribution, click here. Those interested in volunteering to work at the pantry can sign up here. Another way to support the Kangaroo Pantry is to participate in the upcoming UMKC Virtual 5K which runs from Sept. 25- October 3. Registration is $25 and all proceeds support the pantry. Aug 18, 2021

  • UMKC Professor Calls on Community to Help Understand Climate Change Effects

    Volunteers from across the metro helped collect data for a national research project
    Dozens of volunteers took their marks across Kansas City on a hot, August day. Their mission: Take an hour-long drive to find out more about how heat is distributed throughout the city. Kansas City is one of about a dozen cities taking part in a nationwide research project funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The goal is to create a map indicating where there are pockets of land that are warmer than surrounding areas. Researchers call these areas urban heat islands. UMKC Earth and Environmental Sciences professor Fengpeng Sun, Ph.D. is leading the Kansas City cohort of the experiment. He said while most people are familiar with how greenhouse gas emissions contribute to global warming, they should also be aware of how land use and land cover change has impacted temperatures. “You think about the Kansas City area compared to 30 years ago. We have more buildings. We have more concrete and more asphalt, we have less trees, less soil,” said Sun. “We want to utilize this project to showcase how the temperature has been distributed across our community.” For the study, volunteers mount a sensor on their cars, which records the air temperature, air humidity and GPS location every second. Then they drive an 80-square-mile loop mapped out in advance. After that, the data is sent back to NOAA, which combines it with satellite data to produce a map that shows where the heat islands are located. The volunteers included UMKC students and faculty, community members and employees of UMKC community partners and the city of Kansas City. Amanda Mercier is an environmental science major. After volunteering for environmental projects around the world for several years, she decided to pursue a degree with hopes to make a larger impact. She said she was eager for a chance to work with Sun and to contribute to research. “As soon as they were letting people back on campus, I think I was one of the first people to sign up for this,” said Mercier. NOAA is expected to return the data in about two or three months. After that, Sun said the research his team collected can be used in a variety of ways to help mitigate the issue of heat islands in Kansas City, from comparing his data to social impact data to helping inform city government decisions. “They are the policy makers. Hopefully my voice, the results that we get, can be heard by them,” said Sun. “It’s very important for them to develop some kind of adaptation strategy and also mitigation strategy. Make sure that your city, that your area is going to be sustainable and, most importantly, it’s going to be resilient enough in a warming world.” It could also help project partner and local non-profit Bridging the Gap with its Master Urban Forest Plan that the city adopted in 2020. “We will eventually be able to see, through this data, where we might want to concentrate more of our tree planting efforts,” said Kristin Riott, the non-profit’s executive director. Most importantly, Sun said, he wants the community to be engaged and to see the results. It is why he invited community volunteers to help collect the data. He even arranged the routes to go by recognizable Kansas City landmarks so that once the results from the research were published, they would be more relatable to the public. “It can give people more of an impression about the data,” said Sun. “Climate change is not something really far away from us. It’s happening. It’s happening in our neighborhood. And we know that we are experiencing more and more heat days, and this is exactly what we want to convey to people. It can happen anywhere. The impact could be different, but it can happen everywhere.”   The data collection led by Sun came just days before the United Nations released an urgent report warning that climate change is widespread, rapid and intensifying; and exactly a week before NOAA announced new data showing July 2021 as the hottest month ever recorded on earth. “We all need to do this together, we’re running out of time,” said Mercier. Aug 16, 2021

  • Hunting for Hot Spots in Kansas City’s Climate

    Fengpeng Sun's research is the focus of media coverage
    The project in this article is coordinated by Fengpeng Sun, a climate scientist and assistant professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The project gathered tens of thousands of data points in one day. The Kansas City effort is part of a larger nationwide campaign to map urban pockets where temperatures can be nearly 10 degrees higher than outlying areas. Hunting for Hot Spots in Kansas City’s Climate - Flatland City Dwellers Swelter In Heat Islands as High Temps Hit Neighborhoods Unequally - National Catholic Reporter  Kansas City Suffers from Severe Urban Heat. Research Now Underway Might Help Leaders Address It. - Kansas Reflector Aug 13, 2021

  • Two Conservatory Students Highlighted

    The Independent covers upcoming music composition contest
    UMKC Conservatory doctoral student Yunfei Li is among the six Kansas City performing artists selected this summer as winners of the Charlotte Street Foundation’s first annual New Music Composition Competition. Each will produce a brand-new work to be performed by the locally-based Ensemble Mother Russia Industries at a concert on Oct. 2. Tim Harte, the first UMKC Conservatory student admitted with the computer as his “instrument,” formed Ensemble Mother Russia Industries in 2008 as a non-traditional performance ensemble. The Foundation chose Harte to spearhead the process and the performance. Read more. Aug 12, 2021

  • KCUR: New Jackson County Jail Will Push Out Over 100 Mobile Home Residents

    Associate Professor Jacob Wagner weighs in
    Mobile home parks are difficult to find in Kansas City. University of Missouri-Kansas City Associate Professor Jacob Wagner says mobile home parks make up just around 1% of living spaces in the city. Wagner, who teaches Urban Planning and Design, says that mobile homeowners stand to lose a lot in this deal. Read more from KCUR. Aug 12, 2021

  • Ken Novak Comments on KC Homicides

    Novak tells Toriano Porter that Kansas City is on pace to ‘be one of the deadliest’
    Toriano Porter, Kansas City Star reporter, talked to Ken Novak, a professor of criminal justice and criminology at UMKC, for this column. Read the full article. (subscription required) Aug 12, 2021

  • Investigating Criminal Justice Careers

    Students work with community in new field exploration course
    Field experience in the community in your chosen profession is a hallmark of a UMKC education. Thus summer, criminal justice and criminology students worked in a wide range of outreach programs connected to the justice system. Each week brought them to a different community service in the Kansas City area, including law enforcement outreach, addiction recovery and underserved youth, where they could see first-hand how their careers could make an impact. This unique field exploration course was spearheaded by professor and internship coordinator Misty Campbell. “I wanted to provide an opportunity for students to see what everyday tasks are for those working within the justice system and the various roles one can play within different positions,” Campbell said. “Students were able to engage with a fundraising event, community policing, data collection, strategic planning, observe a facilitated training on trauma and learn about the core tenants of a multi-service agency. My goal was to provide a deeper exploration of careers and professional tasks associated within the diversity of justice-oriented professions.” Psychology, criminal justice and honors program student Leah Maass completed the course with a better idea on where she wanted her career to go. “I knew I wanted to work as a paralegal but after spending time at each site, I realized I could also explore a different route while still working with legislation,” Maass said. “This class was an amazing opportunity to immerse myself in the community.”  Leah Maass (second from left) and Jahvon Parker (fourth from left) with their classmates on site at Synergy Criminal justice student Jahvon Parker is ready to graduate at the end of this next semester. The course hasn’t altered his career plans, but he had other reasons to participate. “I knew Misty was a great teacher, so I had to enroll,” Parker said. “I learned a lot of valuable lessons that will benefit me throughout my entire life. It was so real and humbling.” The course served as a true win-win situation: students got first-hand experiences to serve them in their lives and careers and community members benefitted from the students’ work as well. “My hope is that our course showcased to our community partners the various levels of engagement and support our students, and the department, can provide them,” Campbell said. “I also wanted to encourage students to think about how they can support agencies with volunteer and internship roles they’ve not considered before. Our partners are doing phenomenal work, and I want them to feel the tremendous value and respect we hold for them. Part of that, to me, is about showing up and asking how we can serve with them.” Learn more about the criminal justice and criminology department, and the courses they offer, on their website. Aug 12, 2021

  • What a Department of Justice Investigation Would Mean for the Kansas City Police Department

    The Kansas City Beacon interviews Ken Novak
    Ken Novak, a professor of criminal justice and criminology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said investigations will likely pick up speed under the Biden administration. Read the full article. KCUR picked this story up on Aug. 18. Aug 11, 2021

  • The Return of Study Abroad

    Chronicle of Higher Education interviews UMKC Honors student Nikita Joshi
    UMKC Honors student Nikita Joshi received the 2021 Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship, a competitive award for a diverse group of student leaders to attend a four-week summer study abroad program focused on leadership, intercultural communication and social justice. She was part of the group of students at Queen’s University Belfast who were interviewed for this story. Read the full article. Aug 11, 2021

  • Teen Vogue Interviews UMKC Student

    Mahreen Ansari explains why College Democrats of Missouri cut ties with College Democrats of America
    Mahreen Ansari, University of Missouri-Kansas City student and president of the UMKC College Democrats, was interviewed. She also served as communications director of the College Democrats of Missouri. Read more. Aug 11, 2021

  • Hop in to Betty Rae’s for New UMKC Flavor

    Shop’s new sensation is Roo Blue!
    A new partnership with a favorite local business is proving a sweet success. Betty Rae’s, a local ice cream shop, has created a UMKC-inspired flavor dubbed the Roo Blue Swirl. The shop’s owner, Alec Rodgers, graduated from the Henry W. Bloch School of Management in 2020. Rodgers himself placed the brand new sign in the ice cream case. “Less than two years after graduation, I’m already a small business owner. That’s the kind of impact UMKC has and what Roo Blue Swirl really represents,” Rodgers said “We’re honored to be partnering with UMKC to create something for the university community, making their campus experience even more enjoyable.” “UMKC’s continued involvement with small businesses and the overall community in Kansas City encourages students and alumni to engage with local businesses in effective partnerships.” The Roo Blue Swirl is blueberry and lemon ice cream with crumble cookie mixed in. Elora Thomas, director of admissions at UMKC, was thinking of a sweet treat she could offer new students when inspiration struck. “I love Betty Rae’s ice cream!” Thomas said. “So, when I saw that Alec, the new owner, was a UMKC alum, it made me even more excited to support this local business. I reached out to Alec and suggested the idea of a UMKC-themed flavor. He also saw the potential, not only with incoming and current students, but with staff, faculty and alumni as well. UMKC is such a community gem, and this is a great opportunity to reveal that while also giving back to Kansas City.” Rodgers gives Chancellor Agrawal the first scoop of Roo Blue Swirl. Of course, the most important question is what flavor would do this great university justice? “The Roo Blue Swirl combines lemon and blueberry with a buttery crumble throughout.” Rodgers shares. “The flavor is delicious and embodies the great colors of UMKC.” This delectable treat is exclusively available at the Waldo location, close to the Volker campus. Aug 11, 2021

  • How To Start a Small Business in Kansas City

    Kansas City Star highlights UMKC Innovation Center’s entrepreneur hotline
    From April to October, the University of Missouri-Kansas City Innovation Center’s entrepreneur hotline had a 176% increase in calls asking for assistance, according to the UMKC Innovation Center Impact Report. Of those calls, the center reported a 367% increase in the number of people who reported starting a business. Read the full article. (subscription required) Aug 10, 2021

  • Grappling With Dark Agonies Amid Natural Beauty During Missouri’s Bicentennial

    Flatland interviews UMKC History professor
    “Missouri was born in the midst of controversy about slavery and its extension into the West,” said Diane Mutti Burke, a professor of History at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, who served as a consultant on, “Struggle for Statehood,” a traveling exhibit that is scheduled to be installed in Lee’s Summit in September. Read the full article. Mutti Burke was also interviewed by KCUR about Missouri's Bicentennial. Aug 10, 2021

  • Will A Robot Be Taking Your Job?

    You might be safe if you have the right skills, according to new Bloch School research.
    Will a robot be replacing you at your job? It will depend on what skills you have, according to Bryan Hong, professor of entrepreneurship and management at the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management.  According to new research conducted by Hong and his coauthors, adding robots to an enterprise increases demand for jobs requiring a bachelor's degree or higher, as well as jobs requiring no postsecondary education. But those with a vocational education or a community college education, as well as managerial roles, weren't so lucky. This conclusion was reached after studying five years of data on businesses in the Canadian economy. Their research is among the first of its kind to show how robots are changing employment, the structure of organizations and other aspects of the workplace. "A lot of people are already getting the sense that this is a new trend, and our data shows that investments in robotics are really taking off," Hong said. "This is a trend that's only going to continue." Hong breaks down the research for us on what it means and how it will affect the future of employment. The main question is, are robots taking our jobs? That's a tough question to answer with a simple 'yes' or 'no.' It's complicated. What we found is there are very different answers depending on who you are inside the company when the robots come in. If you are someone with a bachelor's degree or above, which is one measure of workers with relatively high skills, we see an increase in the number of employees. There's also an increase in what we might call "unskilled" employees or those who have no postsecondary education, doing roles that require very little training. But if you are in a class of jobs that require a vocational degree, like tradespeople who have gone to a two-year college or gotten a certificate, these jobs are being eliminated by the robots. We also see a significant decline in managers. Let's start with the groups that are experiencing increases in employment. Why is there an increase in the group with college degrees and "unskilled workers"? When you buy robots, you need people who have the skills to work with them. For example, robots may have to programmed or you might need to do a lot more design work if robots are producing many different types of products than the factory used to produce. That requires people with the skills to do those things. The increase in unskilled workers is a different story. It turns out that robots aren't good at doing all physical labor tasks — the technology has its limitations. So for these types of tasks, such as loading trucks with inventory, humans are still needed because the robots can't do them well. But these aren't jobs that require a lot of education or training and are also not likely to pay high wages. Why are workers with a community college or vocational education being negatively impacted? The type of work robots are capable of is often what humans with vocational degrees do. For example, it could be welding a passenger door onto the body of a car. Now imagine a robotic arm that will repeatedly do that task, over and over again. That robot can do that same task flawlessly thousands of times a day. Robots can do that, and they don't get tired. They also don't unionize and don't raise the same safety issues that using humans might. So, you can see why a company would look at that and think it's compelling. If I am one of those workers, should I be nervous about these findings? Yes, it's a cause for concern. The issue is that robots increasingly do what these workers can do, and in many cases, do it better. This is also part of a larger story many people have already heard, but not about robots specifically. Many people who lose these jobs are unlikely to move on to higher-paying jobs so often the best-case scenario is that their wages will decline if they are able to find a new job. This raises a much broader set of questions about the increasing inequality we see in our society, and robots may at least be partly responsible for it. What's going on with managers? As of today, robots don't manage people. So we think the reason we see fewer managers speaks to the question of 'what do managers really do.' When we think of managers in companies, we usually think of someone who supervises workers every day. They keep an eye on things and make sure that employees are getting the work done. If you imagine a manager on a factory floor, maybe they also deal with whatever problems come up each day. Now, if we replace over half of the employees with robots on an assembly line, do you need as many managers to make sure that people are doing their jobs? Probably not. But it's also not this simple. One could imagine that the increase in jobs requiring at least a bachelor's degree and unskilled jobs would require more managers to oversee them, but it's clear that even if that is true, the total need for managers still decreases. That might suggest that managing each type of worker requires a different type of management. But that's something that needs more research for us to understand better. What does this mean for the future of some of these jobs? Companies invest in technology because it improves their profitability. If it is more profitable to use robots instead of humans for certain tasks, companies will ultimately move in that direction. If we look at the results of our story, it's clear there are some types of workers who will be negatively affected. We need to think about how to address that as a society. Aug 10, 2021

  • Vaccinations Required in Health Care Settings

    Faculty, staff, volunteers and students included
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City is now requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all faculty, staff and students who work in clinical settings and have direct contact with patients as part of their UMKC work or training. Students and employees must meet the requirement by Oct. 1, according to a campus letter sent August 10. UMKC students, faculty and staff play a significant role in providing healthcare to greater Kansas City and the state of Missouri. The requirement affects faculty, staff, volunteers and students of the schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Pharmacy and Nursing and Health Studies. In addition, the requirement applies to faculty and students in masters and doctoral training programs in Psychology, Counseling, Counseling Psychology and the School of Social Work engaged in external field education and clinical practica or clinical intervention studies. UMKC faculty, staff, volunteers, and students with patient contact at the University Health Center, UMKC Counseling Center and the Community Counseling and Assessment Clinics are also subject to the requirement. UMKC officials said the vaccination requirement is necessary because COVID has entered a new phase, citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisories that the Delta variant spreads more easily and quickly than other variants, driving higher infection and death rates and putting significant strain on healthcare resources. The university is offering students and employees the opportunity to apply for medical or religious exemptions to the requirement. For all other UMKC students, employees and visitors, masks will continue to be required in classrooms, laboratories, libraries, meeting rooms and other public indoor settings regardless of vaccination status. Individuals who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 will continue to be required to wear masks at all times while on campus, indoors or outdoors. Aug 10, 2021

  • Prizes Now Available as Vaccination Incentives

    Students, employees can win free parking, $500 gift cards
    UMKC is now offering a series of prize drawings as an incentive for students, faculty and staff to become vaccinated against COVID-19. Prizes include free annual parking passes and $500 Visa gift cards. Separate drawings will be conducted for students and employees. To be eligible for the drawings, students and employees must upload an image of their vaccination card to a UMKC database. Students can upload their images by signing in to Pathway. Employees should use the vaccine uploader link available through MyHR. Even if you have previously uploaded vaccination information elsewhere, you must use these links to be eligible for the drawings. Two student drawings and two employee drawings have been scheduled. Each of the four drawings will offer 10 free annual parking passes and 10 $500 Visa gift cards. The first student and employee drawings will take place Sept. 1, and the second pair of drawings on Oct. 15. To be eligible for the first drawing, you must upload your vaccination card before Sept. 1. Those who upload vaccination cards between Sept. 1 and Oct. 15 will be eligible for the second drawing. Aug 10, 2021

  • Urban Heat Island Research Aims To Spotlight Disparities and Solutions

    Energy News Network features Fengpeng Sun's research
    A coalition of partners led by University of Missouri-Kansas City researcher Fengpeng Sun gathered the measurements and will now create a map combining tens of thousands of temperature and humidity measurements with a satellite map, allowing them to quickly learn the conditions in a given location. Read the full article. Aug 09, 2021

  • UMKC to Serve as Backbone for $10M National STEM Education Initiative for Students with Disabilities

    The university will work hand-in-hand will Auburn University, as well as other colleges across the country, to research ways to increase STEM degre...
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City will backbone a $10 million research effort from the National Science Foundation, or NSF, to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, education among students with disabilities. Auburn University will lead the five-year project while UMKC will "backbone," or guide vision, strategy, support aligned activities, establish shared measurement practices and support the implementation of research, according to the NSF. As the backbone, UMKC will host the portal and website for the project, as well as lead data collection. Alexis Petri, Ed.D., senior director of faculty support at UMKC, said she has already begun working with Overtoun Jenda, Ph.D., whose office at Auburn will be chairing the initiative, to delineate what aspects of the project will be led by UMKC and which by Auburn.  The project's funding will be used to conduct research related to enhancing workforce development opportunities for people with disabilities. Students involved in the research will receive benefits including peer and faculty mentoring, research opportunities and financial support to track which efforts work best to increase the number of students with disabilities entering college and completing a degree in a STEM-related field. Overall, the research project will target three objectives, two focused on students and the other on institutions: Increase the number of students with disabilities completing degrees in STEM. Facilitate the transition of students with disabilities from degree completion into the STEM workforce. Enhance communication among institutions of higher education, industry, government and local communities. The project will encompass 27 universities, with five "hub-leading institutions." Those institutions include UMKC (Midwest Hub), Northern Arizona University (Mountain Hub), Ohio State University (Northeastern Hub), the University of Hawaii-Manoa (Islands Hub) and the University of Washington (West Coast Hub).  The Midwest Hub will initially consist of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Little Priest Tribal College and Wichita State. At least five other colleges and universities are slated to be added within the next year, Petri said. In addition to being the backbone of the organization, UMKC will also undertake a research project with the help of $2.4 million of the grant, which will be distributed over the course of the next five years. UMKC's research will look at student success across critical junctures such as access, entry, progress, completion and transition.  "The idea is to help students have momentum moving across critical junctures like from graduation to employment. Those are times when students are likely to face challenges or barriers to their goals," Petri said. "Knowledge gleaned from the study will be available to (other research institutions) for mid-course adjustments and ultimately to discover how well-known interventions like mentoring, applied in combination with other success programs, lead to innovations that improve degree completion for students with disabilities STEM majors." Research chairs at UMKC will include Jacob Marszalek, Ph.D., professor and Director of Applied Cognitive Brain and Brain Science, Yugyung Lee, Ph.D., professor of computer science, Fengpeng Sun, Ph.D., professor and climate scientist, and Ye Wang, Ph.D., communications professor. The grant began on Aug. 1 and will last until July 31, 2026. Research is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2022. The award is part of the NSF INCLUDES initiative which invests in programs that address diversity, inclusion and participation challenges in STEM at a national scale. The initiative is one of five INCLUDES awards given by the NSF this year. Aug 06, 2021

  • Program Aims To Increase Diversity in KC Urban Education

    Dos Mundos highlights UMKC Institute for Urban Education
    A program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Education is working to increase the number of diverse and “exemplary” teachers in urban schools across the Kansas City area. Called the Institute for Urban Education, the cohort model program prepares students to teach in Kansas City urban schools. Read the full article. Aug 05, 2021

  • KCUR And Kansas News Service Partners Win More Than A Dozen 2021 KAB Awards

    KCUR reporters receive awards
    Reporters from KCUR and across the collaborative Kansas News Service received numerous awards in the 2021 Station Awards for Excellence in Broadcasting, conducted annually by the Kansas Association of Broadcasters. KCUR is a service of the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read the full article. Aug 04, 2021

  • Prescription for Faulty Communication in Operating Rooms: Be Explicit, Not Polite

    UMKC professor's research is featured
    Research by a University of Kansas linguist and University of Missouri-Kansas City physicians pointed to the potential medical harm of ambiguous communication in operating rooms that also complicated the training of surgeons. “We make the point in the paper that surgery is too precise to not use precise language,” said Gary Sutkin, a professor at the UMKC School of Medicine. Read more. This story was picked up by The Missouri Independent. Aug 04, 2021

  • UMKC Alum Courtney Frerichs Becomes Second U.S. Woman To Medal in Olympic Steeplechase

    Local, national media celebrate Courtney Frerichs
    Courtney Frerichs, UMKC alumna, won silver in the Olympic women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase final Wednesday at the Japan National Stadium in Tokyo, finishing in a season-best 9 minutes, 4.79 seconds to become just the second American woman to finish on the podium in the event at the Games. This story was covered by The Kansas City, Star (subscription required), KMBC, KSHB, KCUR and Fox4KC. More headlines: Why Olympic Silver Medalist Courtney Frerichs Felt She Won Even Before Starting Race - The Kansas City Star, picked up by Yahoo News. Aug 04, 2021

  • First Gen UMKC Student Doubles Down

    Krithika Selvarajoo takes challenges in stride
    Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Krithika Selvarajoo (Krit)Anticipated graduation year: 2021UMKC degree program: B.A. in English and Chemistry; Honors ProgramHometown: Singapore   Why did you choose UMKC? Coming from a city, I knew I wanted a college experience where I would be able to explore a new city during my down time. I thought Kansas City was the perfect place for me to have that experience and smoothly transition to college. Also, I loved the diversity that UMKC offers and knew it would provide me with endless opportunities to meet new people. Why did you choose your field of study? I've always been passionate about both the arts and sciences, which led me to pursue degrees in English and chemistry. Instead of being dichotomies, I knew the fields of English and chemistry would complement, if not overlap, each other and provide me with an education that would help me continue to develop into a well-rounded individual. What are the benefits of the program? Both degrees have allowed me to explore the intersection between science and literature while developing skills that pertain to both of those fields. For example, I've learned the importance of paying close attention to details with both lab data and literary prose. How has your college program inspired you? I've been inspired to pave my own path for my future self. I was initially hesitant on majoring in two subjects. But after my first semester as a double major student, I realized I have never been happier. From that moment, I knew the importance of paving my own path. Everyone's journey is different in their own way. Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself? I've learned that stepping out of your comfort zone is important to grow as an individual. During my sophomore year, none of the student organizations at the time caught my interest. Rather than not being involved, I decided to start a Her Campus chapter here at UMKC. It was out of my comfort zone, especially since I had to build an organization from the ground up and go through various interviews and edit tests with Her Campus Media, but I am glad I took a leap of faith. Creating a community that empowers women on campus while providing them an outlet to express their voices has been such a fulfilling experience. It allows me to not only grow as a leader, but as an individual as well. "My experience at UMKC significantly improved when I started to put myself out there and meet new people." — Krit Selvarajoo Are you a first-generation college student? If so, what does that mean to you? Yes, it is something I am proud of. Being the first one in my family to attend college comes with its own challenges. It can be isolating not having someone in my family to talk to about these challenges, but that's what friends are for! Who/What do you admire most at UMKC and why? I love the diversity that UMKC offers. Different experiences and backgrounds add so much more life to campus, and I feel like I always end up learning something new when I meet someone. Do you have any scholarships? What do they mean to you? Yes, I was nominated by the English Department to receive the Chancellor's Non-Resident Award, which covers a portion of my tuition. Receiving this award motivated me to do better and make not just myself proud, but the English Department proud as well. This summer, I also received the Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunity (SUROP) Award, and I received a tuition award and funding for the research I currently conduct with Dr. [Mohammad] Rafiee. The SUROP grant allowed me to gain immense research experience, particularly related to electrochemistry, and I know that the skills I've learned will be useful in the future. What other extracurricular activities are you involved in at UMKC? As campus correspondent for Her Campus at UMKC, I get to oversee the chapter and write and edit articles. This has provided me a creative outlet during stressful semesters. I contribute to bi-weekly newsletters for Students for Justice, where I serve as the current events chair. I was Press Secretary for the Student Government Association which significantly enhanced my college experience. "Both my degrees have allowed me to explore the intersection between science and literature while developing skills pertaining to both of those fields."  Creating content such as what classes to take at UMKC to educate oneself on BIPOC culture has taught me the importance of social advocacy. Writing various student newsletters, some with campus updates,  has deepened my love for UMKC and the opportunities it offers to all students. I have worked at the Writing Studio as a consultant for over two years, which has allowed me to meet a diverse group of students. Since writing consists of elements of vulnerability, I ensure that I create a safe space for writers by establishing connections with them. Establishing relationships with students as I watch them grow as writers and individuals has been the most fulfilling part of the job. What do you hope to take from your experiences at UMKC into your professional career? The importance of establishing relationships and connecting with new people. My experience at UMKC significantly improved when I started to put myself out there and meet new people. There's always something to learn about each person you meet. I hope my professional career provides me with the platform to build relationships with others. Aug 04, 2021

  • Bloch Professor Breaks Down Clutter and How it Accumulates

    Jacqueline Rifkin explains the ordinary in the extraordinary
    Have you ever wondered why you have so many notebooks you’ve never used? Or candles you’ve never lit? Or clothes that you don’t wear? And you can’t seem to part with any of these items?   This phenomenon is known as clutter, an overabundance of possessions. Jacqueline Rifkin, assistant professor at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management, asked herself how this accumulation begins in the first place. “I had a t-shirt that I had bought at a standard retail chain,” Rifkin said. “But in my mind I would wear it on a date night. I would wear it on a job interview. I would wear it to a rehearsal dinner. It was an ordinary t-shirt, but it became this thing that I needed to protect for the perfect occasion—just because I hadn’t worn it previously. I talked to different people, and this resonated with them, too. They said ‘I have a bottle of wine from Trader Joe's, but I've just never opened it. It's been years,’ or ‘I have this cologne that I got for free as an add-on with another purchase, but I haven't touched it because nothing seems special enough.’” Rifkin had this same conversation with her co-author, Jonah Berger of the University of Pennsylvania, and they decided to get to the bottom of why we avoid using ordinary things, treating them as if they are too special to use. Through the six studies, the two found that forgoing using an item makes it seem more special, particularly when someone believes that they were waiting for a later occasion. As the item starts to feel more special, we want to use it less. As time goes on without the item being used, specialness increases further, which leads to even less usage—which Rifkin calls a “specialness spiral.” The item becomes less likely to be used in ordinary occasions, and more likely to be saved for a narrower set of extraordinary occasions. While that may seem harmless, Rifkin shares how holding onto these items and generating clutter can become a maladaptive behavior. “There's been plenty of research suggesting that clutter can be bad for our well-being,” Rifkin said. “It can mess with our ability to get work done. It can mess with our social relationships, and that can cause chronic stress. When it comes to that bottle of wine or the t-shirt, that special situation you are waiting for may never come. Worst case scenario is saving that bottle of wine for so long, it turns into vinegar, or saving the shirt for so long, it goes out of style. You don't even get to enjoy it.” Fortunately, there is a way out. Rifkin suggests the easiest is this: use your stuff.  “One thing that we talked about is pre-committing to usage occasions,” Rifkin said. “If I buy a nice t-shirt, I’ll tell myself ‘I'm going to wear it this weekend.’ Setting a specific occasion or a ‘first possible occasion’ kind of commitment can break the specialness spiral. Hopefully, we’re harnessing the knowledge that can help us avoid clutter accumulation, avoid wasting time and money on possessions, and allow ourselves to actually use these things. Wearing that shirt after a few iterations of deciding not to can feel really good.” Learn more about Rifkin’s findings on how clutter accumulates by reading her article in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research. Aug 04, 2021

  • Sherman and Sunderland Gifts Amplify Education Program Success

    Foundation support accelerates Institute for Urban Education growth, progress
    Despite the challenges of the last year, the University of Missouri-Kansas City Institute for Urban Education (IUE) in the School of Education is successfully affecting student success and teacher retention through its programming in urban schools, thanks in part to significant and steady support from major donors. “We have very high expectations and high levels of support for our students,” Jennifer Waddell, Ph. D., director, Institute for Urban Education and Sprint Foundation Endowed Professor in Urban Education says. “Major gifts from the Sherman Family Foundation and the Sunderland Foundation – who also have high expectations in a very positive way – demonstrate their belief in the program, which is very reaffirming.” The Sherman Family Foundation has been a longtime, consistent supporter and advocate of IUE. While there are many organizations that work toward advancing education and bolstering opportunity in underserved communities, Joseph Allen, a director at the foundation, says the IUE meets all the criteria for the Sherman Family Foundation board. “These two donors’ gifts are important because when the boards of the Sherman Family Foundation and the Sunderland Foundation invest in us, it demonstrates a belief in us and the work we are doing.”  — Jennifer Waddell “We have three career educators on our board,” he says. “We know how important classroom teachers are. We are aware of how difficult it is to close the gaps in academic markers and graduation rates for students in the urban core. Hope is often the backbone of philanthropy. The Sherman Foundation board wants to invest in programs that have a certain degree of promise in addition to hope. We want to see that the proposed solution can move the needle.” Allen says Waddell was instrumental in the Sherman Foundation board making their commitment for support. “One thing we knew for sure was that IUE had a strong, dedicated leader in Jennifer.” In addition to program leadership, the long-term research component of the IUE program has been critical to the Sherman Foundation support. “Sometimes we say ‘no’ to people who do great work,” he says. With each opportunity we ask ourselves, ‘Does the organization or project deliver solid preliminary or proven results?’ We like to be able to see data that supports the programming. The IUE research reflects the program’s success.” This success was due in part to the newly minted “Grow Your Own” program, which awards scholarships to high school students in urban areas who are interested in returning to teach in their alma maters. For Fall 2021, IUE awarded 42 new scholarships, despite dramatic national declines in teacher preparation over the last ten years, which were accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, more than 60 aspiring teachers will be part of the IUE in 2021-2022, the largest enrollment in the program’s history. “When we talk to the young people in our ‘Grow Your Own’ program they say they want to be teachers because they want to make a difference,” Waddell says. “Our enrollment is almost double what we thought it would be. We are thrilled to have the Sherman Foundation and the Sunderland Foundation as partners in this success.”  The Sunderland Foundation is a significant UMKC funder, donating more than $15 million for building improvements in the last couple of years. But a change in their guidelines – funding had been restricted to capital expenses - allowed the foundation to support UMKC in different ways. “Working with IUE gives us the opportunity to support needed scholarships for students from the urban core, who will return to the urban core to teach.”  — Kent Sunderland “Our main mission is still construction,” Kent Sunderland, president of the Sunderland Foundation, says. “But as the makeup of our board of directors shifted – six of the nine board members are now millennials – we began looking for ways to make a bigger impact with social justice initiatives.” As Sunderland was looking for opportunities to meet the community’s needs, he contacted Leo Morton, former UMKC Chancellor, and Jerry Reece, UMKC Trustee. “Jerry and Leo are committed to the success of the IUE initiative and outlined the value of the program,” Sunderland says. “Working with the IUE gives us the opportunity to support needed scholarships for students from the urban core, who will return to the urban core to teach. In addition, we were encouraged by the research that supports the program – that students of color in urban schools perform better with teachers of color who understand their environment.” “These two donors’ gifts are important because when the boards of the Sherman Family Foundation and the Sunderland Foundation invest in us, it demonstrates a belief in us and the work we are doing,” Waddell says. “With these gifts, we hear them ask, ’How can we help make this happen because we believe in your program?’” Waddell notes that while national enrollment in teacher preparation is down dramatically – and has been declining over the last ten years – the IUE has met their enrollment goals for the year. “The 2021 class will be the largest in our history,” Waddell says. “If these graduates stay in their positions, that’s success.” Allen says. “Waddell’s teachers are well-prepared and do stay – 90% of the IUE’s graduates are still in the classroom.” Carolyn Barber, interim dean, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation/Missouri Endowed Faculty Chair and professor, recognizes the significance of the Sherman Family Foundation and the Sunderland Foundation gifts. “We are excited and honored by both the financial support and philosophical conviction of the Sherman Family Foundation and the Sunderland Foundation,” Barber says. “Both organizations are pillars of Kansas City’s philanthropic community. Having them in our corner is more than a financial win, it reinforces the credibility of the program and allows us to exponentially expand student opportunity.” Aug 02, 2021

  • Tasty Options Abound On and Near UMKC Campuses

    Find your favorites, from macchiatos to mochi donuts
    Dining options at both the Health Sciences and Volker campuses include on-campus opportunities and plenty of private businesses close by; new purveyors and new offerings offer fresh options for returnees as well as newbies. Volker Campus In the main campus dining hall in the Atterbury Student Success Center on the Volker campus, new executive chef Charles Tibbs will offer an exciting new menu with more diversity and choices daily. The hall serves students on campus meal plans, and is also open to all students, faculty and staff. Something new this year in the Student Union: a rotating pop-up concept offering new cuisine choices every 45-60 days throughout the academic year. First up at the start of the semester will be Impossible and Bodacious Burgers, offering beef burgers as well as plant-based burgers from Impossible™ that are 100% vegan. Every burger is cooked to order, with the freshest toppings and signature sauces. Returning to the Student Union are Baja Fresh Express, Chick-fil-A and Jazzman’s Café. Other returning Volker favorites include Starbucks Café in the Atterbury Student Success Center, the Robot Café in Miller Nichols Library and Einstein Bros. Bagels in Royall Hall. The Smart Market on the bottom floor of Oak Hall allows students with meal plans to use a meal swipe for food items once daily up to $12. The store is open to the public and offers a variety of freshly made salads, sandwiches and snacks as well as pre-packaged and microwaveable foods, household items and sundries. Health Sciences Campus The Hospital Hill Café, on the main floor of the Health Sciences Building, is open for breakfast and lunch and offers a salad bar, sushi and this year is adding rotating hot menu items.  There is also a Subway shop on Charlotte Street in the Health Sciences parking garage building. Off-campus, Volker Area Several longtime Kansas City favorites are within easy reach of the Volker Campus. These include classic Kansas City barbecue from Gates Bar-B-Q, 1325 Emanuel Cleaver II Blvd., a fixture for generations;  Andre’s, 5018 Main St., run by a third generation of Swiss-trained chocolate-makers, known for classic European meals and pastries; Go Chicken Go, 5101 Troost, a local favorite for fried chicken; and The Peanut, a classic ultra-casual bar and grill famous for hot wings and BLT sandwiches. Other options to the east include: Urban Café KC, 5500 Troost, breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch focused on organic, seasonal, healthy cuisine Blackhole Bakery, 5531 Troost, classic French pastries and donuts, including brioche cinnamon rolls and Mochi donuts Fannie’s West African Cuisine, 4105 Troost, unique breakfast items such as rice bread and sardine patties, and classic African lunch and dinner dishes such as Jollof Rice, Fufu, Attieke, Banku and Kenkey Gaels Public House and Sports, 5424 Troost Ave., a sports bar and pub scheduled for a late August-early September opening and promising a “Northwestern European vibe” combining offerings such as Stout Meatballs and German Bierocks with classic fare such as burgers and pizza. To the west, 51st Street offers four options long popular among the campus community: Pizza 51, 5060 Oak St., offering giant slices, plus salads and sandwiches; Kin Lin Chinese restaurant, 314 E. 51st St. (try the pickled vegetable entrees); Crow’s Coffee, 304 E. 51st St., offering fresh pastries and breakfast burritos along with classic coffee drinks; and Whole Foods Market, offering self-serve salad and hot food bars. A few blocks further west lies the South Plaza dining strip along Main Street, extending from 51st Street north to 48th Street. Options along the strip include: Osteria il Centro, dinner-only Italian restaurant with an extensive wine list Minsky’s, pizza eggtc., breakfast and lunch Blu Hwy, a new restaurant offering creative interpretations of classic American cuisine, was scheduled for a mid-August opening Mission Taco Joint Third Street Social, a popular Lee’s Summit restaurant and bar that opened a second location this summer Planet Sub Prime Sushi Spin Neapolitan Pizza Duck and Roll, Hong Kong-style Cantonese food, specializing in Beijing Duck pancakes Banksia, Australian Bakehouse and Café, eclectic menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner items including Australian entrée pies and sausage rolls The Mixx, specializing in unique salads Chipotle Nekter Juice Bar, freshly made juice, smoothies and handcrafted acai bowls Yogurtini, frozen yogurt Stock Hill, a high-end steakhouse   Off-campus, Health Sciences Area Options close to campus include one of the city’s most acclaimed fine-dining restaurants, the Antler Room, 2506 Holmes St., offering a rotating menu of small plates influenced by Mediterranean, East Asian and Midwestern traditions. Right next door is Teocali Mexican Restaurant and Cantina, 2512 Holmes St., a great gathering place with plenty of room indoors and out. Vested Beacon Hill Coffee, 2501 Troost Ave., is known for the 1950s-vintage Airstream camper inside the shop. Jul 30, 2021

  • Summer Internship Program Opens High Schoolers’ Eyes to Pharmacy Research

    Program introduces students to the role pharmacists play in improving people's health and well-being
    Karla Perez stood, bursting with excitement, in one of the UMKC School of Pharmacy’s research laboratories. “I’m wearing a lab coat at 16, which is not something that typical 16-year-olds get to do,” she said. “I’m getting to work in a lab with experienced people and learn from their experience and their backgrounds.” Perez is one of four Kansas City area high school students who participated in a new six-week summer research internship program at the School of Pharmacy. The internship is supported by a Walgreens grant the school received to provide programs for the underserved and underrepresented population of greater Kansas City. Shelly Janasz, director of student affairs, said the ultimate goal of the program is to give the students a basic idea of pharmacy, pharmacy research and drug development, as well as how pharmacists affect people’s health and well-being. The students also learned about the various career paths available to pharmacists, by talking with individuals working in the field. In addition, participants met with current students and staff and learned about the school’s admission requirements. Guided by graduate faculty members, the students learned to apply hands-on laboratory and research methods and protocols to develop a research project. They presented their findings with a poster presentation at the culmination of the program.  High school students Shun’nya Taylor and Ashley Rodriguez work together in a School of Pharmacy research lab. “We wound up with a wonderful group of four students,” Janasz said. “They were very enthusiastic.” Gerald Wyckoff, Ph.D., director of research and graduate studies, said he hopes their experiences will continue to pique their future interests in health professions.  “We’re excited to have such eager students in our labs working on real projects,” he said. “Our hope is that they continue their education in a way that will have an impact, not only on them, but on the health and welfare of folks throughout the region.” Along with Perez, participants Ashley Rodriguez and Shun’nya Taylor are juniors at Allen Village High School. Participant Dana Assaf is a junior at Ruskin High School. All four were paired with a graduate pharmacy faculty member conducting bench research. The program introduced them to working with tools of the trade such as plate readers, a mass spectrometer and different microscopes. They also learned about working in a liquid handling station, as well as computer-based study and research. William Guthiel, Ph.D., a research professor studying antibiotics, said the internship gave the students a taste of the many different aspects of research. “One of the things I want the students to experience is how all the things they’re learning that seem so abstract all work together,” Guthiel said. “This experience shows them how physics ties in with chemistry, how chemistry ties in with biology, how biology ties in with math. All those skills merge with the others and in order to do this kind of research, you really need to have some skills in each of those areas.” Dana Assaf works on a research presentation during a summer internship at the School of Pharmacy. Assaf said she had read about cancer cells in her high school biology class, but the program gave her a much deeper understanding of what she was studying. “Here, I actually worked with the cells and grew the cells in one experiment,” she said. “I had read and heard about using drugs to attack cancer cells but had never seen it before. We made medicine and used the drugs to see the effect they have on cancer. That really stood out because you can take a drug and feel better, but you don’t know what it’s doing to your body. We were actually seeing how it works in your body and what it does.” Perez said that working in a research lab and getting first-hand experience of pharmacy research were experiences she plans to share with her classmates. “When you think of pharmacy, you think of Walgreens,” she said. “You think of your typical community pharmacy and this is nothing like that. This is research into why things are what they are and how they are. I think that was the most fun for me.” Jul 29, 2021

  • Former UMKC Student Creates Scholarship for Women

    Inspired by her grandmother, Bobbie Jasmer created a legacy of learning
    Carol “Bobbie” Jasmer learned to appreciate education and philanthropy at the knee of her grandmother, Francesca Esacamilla. Esacamilla sparked Jasmer’s intellectual curiosity and her generosity. As a young woman Esacamilla had moved from Mexico to San Antonio, Texas with her husband and started a successful bakery. “My abuelita was such an inspiration,” Jasmer says using the Spanish word for grandmother. “She was a grand and generous lady. She donated day old bread from her bakery and gave it to the convent, orphanages and schools. She was so tiny - 4 feet 11 inches – that she had to sit on pillows when she drove, so she could see out the car window.” To honor her, Jasmer has made a planned gift to establish the Las Hermanas Mexicanas Scholarship fund for women students at UMKC, with a preference for students with an interest in Mexican history or culture. Jasmer wants her grandmother to be remembered and the scholarship will be a powerful tribute. “She was very brave and gutsy,” Jasmer says of her mother’s mother. “She had eight children, two of whom died, and thirty grandchildren. Her family was her life.” "The faculty at the university were the most beautiful and gracious souls. They demanded the best of me and expanded my mind.”  — Bobbie Jasmer Jasmer remembers “Tita” – as her grandchildren called her – as brave and compassionate, with an ability to see people beyond the surface. She encouraged her grandchildren to surround themselves with people who knew where they were going.  Jasmer found a community of people at UMKC who fit her grandmother’s requirements, and she is grateful for the university’s influence. "The faculty at the university were the most beautiful and gracious souls,” Jasmer says. “They demanded the best of me and expanded my mind.” Jasmer wanted to honor her experience at UMKC and further the opportunity for education through a scholarship for women students. Shelly Doucet, UMKC Foundation senior director of development, recognizes the significance of Jasmer’s gift, both as a legacy and as an opportunity for future students. “We’re honored that Bobbie would entrust us with her gift in honor of her experience at UMKC and her grandmother’s memory,” Doucet says. “We’re certain the future scholarship recipients will be grateful for her foresight and thoughtful planning.” Jasmer sees this as a continuation of her grandmother’s legacy. “I believe you receive when you give,” she says. “I want to help cultivate a pearl out of grain of sand.” Jul 28, 2021

  • Check Out These Attractions Close to the UMKC Volker Campus

    Unique Kansas City experiences just a hop away
    The beauty of UMKC is the small town feel in the heart of the big city. There are a variety of places for Roos to study, relax and play within walking distance of campus. The Harry Wiggins Trolley Track Trail This six-mile trail is only one block west of campus. It follows the route of the city’s original streetcar: The County Club line. Some of the tracks are still visible. You can take a stroll or a bike ride just for the exercise or check out the variety of shops and restaurants along the trail. If you need a bike, you can’t go wrong with Revolve KC. They’re close to campus and do a lot of good work in our community.   Jacob L. Loose Park  Further west on 51st street, Loose Park is as historical as it is beautiful. The land was the site of a major Civil War conflict: the Battle of Westport. One and a half of the 75 acres are dedicated to a rose garden, featuring almost 130 varieties. Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden This beautiful spot, just across Brush Creek, features bronze statues by local artist Tom Corbin and rotating floral displays. It’s open year-round, so you’re sure to see something new every time you visit. Find a moment of peace on one of their many benches or explore the orangery and say hi to the resident cat. Art Course Mini Golf On your way to the Nelson-Atkins Museum, check out the artist-designed mini golf courses located in the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park. Each course is an interpretation of an art piece on display at the museum. The new course this year, inspired by Radcliffe Bailey’s Mound Magician, was made in honor of the 100th anniversary of Negro League Baseball and the Kansas City Monarchs. 18th and Vine District Speaking of Negro League Baseball and Kansas City history, you must check out the 18th and Vine district, close to our Health Sciences campus. You can visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, the American Jazz Museum, grab some delicious BBQ, and listen to some wonderful live music all in one trip. The National Museum of Toys / Miniatures We’d be remiss not to mention this fun experience on campus! The Toy/Miniature museum hosts the world’s largest collection of fine-scale miniatures and one of the largest collections of historic toys available for public viewing. Admission is free for UMKC students, faculty and staff with your school ID. These are just a start, so get on out and see what our great city has to offer. Jul 28, 2021

  • 5 Ways To Get Your Kids To Wear Masks

    Gail Robertson Weighs-In for CNN
    Parents could also consider turning mask-wearing into a game, suggested Gail Robertson, a child psychologist at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. “Because we have this association in our culture with (public health) being scary — having (face coverings) as a part of play is essential,” said Robertson, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. The CNN story was picked up by CNN Philippines and KIMT. Jul 27, 2021

  • Remote Learning Report Card

    Flatland interviews vice provost for curriculum and assessment and alumni
    Flatland interviewed Kim McNeley, UMKC vice provost for curriculum and assessment; and Adriana Velarde and Ally Elder, UMKC spring 2021 graduates. Read the full article. Jul 27, 2021

  • New UMKC Scholarship to Help Female Students Explore STEM Fields

    The scholarship will provide support for women pursuing careers in science, computing
    A UMKC alumnus and his wife have established a new scholarship to support female students studying computing or engineering. Nick and Soumya Simha have established "The Nick and Soumy Scholarship" to support women looking to pursue a degree in STEM-related fields at UMKC. "We both believe that education is a gateway to a brighter future," Nick Simha said. "But the issue was, how do we help that along? What can we do?" The engineering field is flooded with men, Simha said, and encouraging more women to get involved in STEM fields is beneficial for everyone. "A lot of products are designed by men for women," he said. "If we get more women into the field, they can actually make things more accessible. I can see so many benefits to getting more women into engineering." Souyma Simha said the two have always encouraged their own teenage daughter to pursue an interest in STEM. "We wanted to do whatever we could to extend some of that support," she said. The couple was inspired to establish the scholarship after meeting Kevin Truman, Dean of the School of Computing and Engineering, and "seeing the new energy he brings." "We'd been donating a little amount of the university every year, but when I saw him I thought, 'this is somebody who is going to put this money to good use,'" Simha said.  Truman said he is "so grateful to Nick and Soumya for their donation." "Their support is deeply appreciated by me and the School of Computing and Engineering. Their passion to help young women pursue their dreams, which is demonstrated through this scholarship, is evident. At the UMKC SCE, we are committed to recruiting and retaining talented female students. This scholarship will help guarantee those gifted, hardworking female students have the financial resources they need to complete their STEM education," Truman said. After graduating with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering in India, Nick began looking for schools to pursue a master's degree in the United States. That search led him to UMKC in 1991. The Simha family. "I looked at a lot of schools but one of the things that attracted me to UMKC was at the time there was a big telecommunications focus in Kansas City and UMKC was one of the schools that offered a specialty in it," Simha said. "(UMKC) also gave me a scholarship, which helped us make the decision." A UMKC education gave Nick confidence in his field, he said, through hands-on work experience and internship opportunities.  "Attending the same classes as those already working in the industry helps you get a better understanding of the real-world application of what we were learning," Simha said. After graduating and spending a handful of years working in the Kansas City area, Nick was recruited to Silicon Valley, where the two currently live with their daughter. He now works for Amazon and Soumya is in real estate. The two fully paid off their scholarship pledge this year, with a gift of appreciated stock. Additionally, the two are now members of the Robert H. Flarsheim Society, as they have included a gift provision in their estate plans to support the scholarship. "What we hope is more girls get into engineering and it turns into a very normal choice. Many times people are not afforded the same opportunities. For example, let's look at investment bankers. They are not necessarily smarter than the rest of the population, but they had an opportunity to study finance. A lot of girls don't know about the benefits of engineering," Simha said. "You can do engineering, you can go into sales, you can do marketing. That engineering degree opens all of those doors for you." Jul 27, 2021

  • 5 Top Spots to Hang Out on the UMKC Campus

    Students and alumni share their favorites
    Whether it’s to study, relax or catch up with friends, students need a good place to hang out. Fortunately, UMKC has no shortage of good spots. Whether you need quiet, food or awe-inspiring views, these students and alumni can give you the lowdown on their favorite places on campus! 1. Student Union Rooftop “I like the Student Union. There is a great view of the campus and it's a nice place to relax and people watch between classes.” - Alea Roberts (Health Sciences, ’22) “The Student Union for studying, food and the rooftop viewing of KC.” - Anna Lillig (Health Sciences, ’19)  2. Student Union Offices “I spend a lot of time in the Student Union. I either go to our organization space to study or to the Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) office just to hang out!” - Jonny Gutierrez (History, ’19) “The Multicultural Student Association office. It’s a fun place to hang out with a diverse group of interesting people.” - Brandon Henderson (Political Science, ’21)   3. School of Dentistry Student Commons “The UMKC School of Dentistry sign is an iconic spot to take photos with your classmates on milestone days like your first day of school, last day of class or white coat ceremony.” - Molly Petrie (Doctor of Dental Surgery, ’22)  4. Linda Hall Library Grounds “By the Linda Hall Library. I walk through this area when I’m leaving the Student Union and heading to the quad. I love the big trees and the benches. It’s very peaceful over there, which can be hard to find sometimes.” - Kiarra Brown-Edwards (Communication Studies, ’19) 5. Miller Nichols Library and Learning Center “I love a good study session on the first floor of the Miller Nichols Library. Easy printing, access to the Robot cafe, relatively quiet and I usually bump into a friend or two!” - Bryce Miller (Master's in Health Professions Education, ’20) Jul 27, 2021

  • Are We Living in an MMT World?

    UMKC Economics professor tells Bloomberg Business why not
    Scott Fullwiler, an MMT economist and professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, says the COVID-19 crisis has shot down one common argument against deficit spending (used by Democrats to oppose former President Donald Trump’s tax cuts): that it risks leaving the government short of funds, so that “in the next crisis you might not be able to respond.” Read more. Jul 23, 2021

  • KSHB Interviews Allen Rostron

    Law professor discusses Kansas City police budget, city's violent crime problem
    Allen Rostron, William R. Jacques Constitutional Law Scholar and Professor of Law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, was interviewed for this story. Read the story and watch the newscast. Jul 22, 2021

  • Healthline Taps Christopher Garmon

    Bloch School assistant professor of health administration discusses the term "surprise medical bill"
    “Here, the term ‘surprise medical bill’ is used to refer to out-of-network balance bills that occur in which the patient was not expecting them or had no control over them,” said Christopher Garmon, Ph.D., assistant professor of health administration at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read more. Jul 22, 2021

  • New Financial Wellness Center to Serve Students

    Get some tips and meet the coordinator
    Living on your own, buying a car and graduating college have a couple things in common: they’re all common goals for students and they all require good money management. Fortunately, UMKC will open a Financial Wellness Center this fall that can help students reach all their financial goals. We sat down with Financial Wellness Coordinator Anna Zimmerman for the full breakdown on what you can expect from this new service. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What brought you to become the financial wellness coordinator here at UMKC? I'm originally from Topeka, Kansas, and personal finance has always been a big passion of mine. After working in New York for a couple of years, I knew that I wanted to come back to the Midwest. I love Kansas City, and so I jumped when I saw an opportunity to come to UMKC. They were looking to start a new Financial Wellness Center. I’ve been following a lot of the trends across the country, and more and more schools have been starting programs like these. I was just really excited by the opportunity to build something from the ground up and be there to support students as they're establishing their own financial habits. Answer any questions that they might have. What is the Financial Wellness Center? What benefit do you hope it will give students here? The Financial Wellness Center at UMKC has three primary services. Our first service is one-on-one financial coaching. We meet with students individually to support them and answer any questions that they might have, whether that's how to build a budget, understanding student loans, saving to purchase a car or move out on their own. We can help students navigate all of those decisions with individualized support. The second service we offer is providing workshops and presentations. This fall, we have 13 different workshops on topics ranging from applying for scholarships and budgeting to credit cards and student loans. We also do presentations by request. Over this last summer I've worked with physicians’ assistants on Hospital Hill and the Summer Bridge Scholars, so a wide range of students. We also provide digital resources on our website: templates for budgeting and short videos that help break down some of the common questions that we get from students around topics like credit and student loans. How does this differ from similar programs at other universities? I interviewed over 100 different individuals on the UMKC campus and reached out to 15 different universities with financial wellness programs to find out what worked and what didn’t work. That means we’re able to customize and focus our services to specifically support UMKC students. I'm so excited that UMKC is choosing to invest in this resource. It’s so empowering for students. It's not a one-template-fits-all approach. We sit down with the student and figure out what their specific goals are and how can we support meeting them. It's stressful to be a student. You're managing your course load. You're managing your social relationships. Many students are managing work. Those are all the same skills you need to manage your finances. We just are adding that little bit of information so that students feel confident to do so. And why is financial wellness important for college students, in a broad sense? We know that financial wellness has an impact on every other facet of an individual's well-being. If students are stressed about finances, chances are their academic performance is going to dip. They're not going to be able to spend the time and energy focused on their social relationships, and that’s going to have a severe emotional toll. We want to provide a lot of the support up front in order to help students avoid that emotional stress and manage their finances well while they're in school. It’s really empowering for students. A lot of them are on their own for the first time or they're making these lifelong decisions about student loans, which is one of the biggest investments that they'll make. We’re supporting them through these decisions and helping set them up for success, not just while they're at UMKC, but for their life. These are skills that they're taking with them and they're going to be using every day. What’s the number one financial wellness tip you want to give to students? My first tip for students would be to sit down and make a budget: see how much money you have coming in and how much money you have going out. Make sure you're giving every dollar a job. You want your money to work for you, whether that's paying for your tuition and fees, time with friends, time for selfcare or hobbies. Make sure that every dollar has a job, and make sure that you're setting time and money aside for your savings as well, so you can support your future goals.    Learn more about the Financial Wellness Center Jul 22, 2021

  • UMKC School of Dentistry Will Offer COVID Vaccinations Beginning July 26

    Vaccine effort targets low-income and underserved living in Kansas City’s east side
    The UMKC School of Dentistry will collaborate with the School of Pharmacy to begin offering free COVID-19 vaccinations to patients visiting its dental clinics beginning July 26. Melanie Simmer-Beck, Ph.D., R.D.H, chair of the dental school’s Department of Dental Public Health and Behavioral Sciences, said the project brings the two schools together to provide a community-based public health service. The program is one of many UMKC efforts supported by a $5 million CARES grant from Jackson County to encourage low-income and underserved populations in Kansas City’s east side to receive the COVID vaccine. “We felt it was important to offer vaccinations to School of Dentistry patients to be acting within the spirit of what this grant was intended to do,” Simmer-Beck said. More than 1,000 of the dental clinic’s patients come from areas of Kansas City identified as part of the grant’s target audience with the intent of addressing vaccine hesitancy and health equities. Operating under COVID restrictions during the previous year, the dental clinics serviced more than 1,750 patient appointments and saw 576 individual patients who live in those targeted areas. When at full capacity, the dental school’s clinics serve more than 2,200 patients a week and are the largest provider of dental services in the states of Missouri and Kansas. Simmer-Beck said patients will be notified of the vaccine option when receiving appointment reminders by phone. Student dental providers working in the clinics will also ask their patients if they are interested in receiving the vaccine if they haven’t already done so and obtain the necessary signed consent forms. Patient appointments in the clinics are scheduled Monday through Friday at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. The School of Pharmacy will initially have certified student and faculty vaccinators on call and available during clinic hours to come to the dental school and administer the shots when requested.  “This is the first time that pharmacy students will be providing a service to School of Dentistry patients,” Simmer-Beck said. “It’s a great opportunity for pharmacy, dental and dental hygiene students to collaborate and learn from one another in a real-world setting.” UMKC’s pharmacy students and faculty volunteers have played a large role in statewide vaccination efforts since the full-scale rollout of vaccines in January. By March, they had administered more that 17,500 doses of the vaccines at sites throughout Missouri. Cameron Lindsey, chair of the pharmacy school’s Division of Pharmacy Practice and Administration, said the program will provide patients the ease of being vaccinated without having to see another care provider. “We have the vaccine and know the logistics of how to mix and store it,” she said. “We’ll help get the dental school get up to speed with the process and model that for them. It’s a team effort. It doesn’t matter who gives the shot. There’s a community need and, interprofessionally, we’re combining our resources to get the vaccine where it’s needed.” Simmer-Beck said that Russ Melchert, dean of the School of Pharmacy, was instrumental in helping get the dental clinic vaccine program started. Melchert has served as interim dean of the dental school since last September. “Having Dr. Melchert serve as the interim School of Dentistry dean helped move this notion forward,” she said. “His knowledge about the resources at both schools helped us bring together the right people in a timely manner.” Melchert said the program is a great opportunity for the two schools to work together to increase access to the vaccines. “Pharmacy and dentistry are two of the most accessible health care professions for most people in this country and putting them together creates synergistic opportunities to help people live healthier lives,” he said. “Our students have already had a huge impact in providing COVID vaccinations and this creates another great chance for the community to see what great students, staff, and faculty we have at UMKC.” As an added incentive for dental patients to receive the COVID vaccine, those who return for their second dose will receive a free battery-operated power toothbrush. “Even if we give just one or two vaccines a day, that’s better than where we were before,” Simmer-Beck said. Jul 22, 2021

  • UMKC Theatre, Coterie Theatre Delight Audience

    Dragons Love Tacos, best-selling children’s book, comes to life on outdoor stage
    After more than a year without in-person live performances, The Coterie Theatre presents Dragons Love Tacos, written by Ernie Nolan and based on the book by Adam Rubin. The live, outdoor performance is directed by Stephanie Roberts, UMKC Theatre associate professor of Physical Theatre. Performances are in Crown Center’s Entertainment Pavilion, 2425 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo., through Aug. 8. This all-ages show features a cast of 10 students from UMKC Theatre performing as the 306 Theatre Troupe. They will use their extensive dance and clown training to help bring the dragons to life. The show is a stage adaptation of the family classic book, Dragons Love Tacos. Roberts and two UMKC students shared their thoughts about the show and being on stage again. Stephanie Roberts (Director) How does it feel to direct a live show again? It was such a relief and joy to be back in rehearsal with more than a few people in a room together! Because we were all vaccinated, the actors were able to have close contact and really engage in physical theatre in a way that they haven’t for over a year. What was your favorite part of this show? One of my favorite parts was seeing the actors, my students, apply all that they’ve been learning for the last two years. They brought so much play and creative input to the show; it made my job easy. My other favorite part of the show is seeing the children’s reactions in the audience. I love that they participate: answering questions that the actors ask them, or sometimes just spontaneously jumping out of their seats and dancing when they hear the music! What makes children’s theatre special? Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) can be many different things--adaptations of classics, devised theatre, community-based, educational, activism. I think some common threads are its capacity to foster empathy and self-awareness in young people, as well as providing a space for joy, wonder and play--for both children and adults. Why did you decide to direct this play? Jeff Church came to 306 Theatre Troupe and me with a couple options of plays. When the project was coming together, I was in the middle of teaching Clown to some of the grad actors in the cast. Since my specialty is physical theatre and comedy, they thought I was a good fit--and I’m thrilled that they asked! What is unique about outdoor theater? Because the show is competing with so many elements--cars, airplanes, sirens, fountain-- actors, directors and designers all need to know how to sustain the audience’s attention. Body-mics, of course, help, but there is still a need to be highly specific and larger-than-life, while still finding the truth in whatever story you’re telling. Why should someone see the show? In this time, when everyone is emerging from the pandemic, this is the perfect, celebratory experience. The design is whimsical and spectacular, and I see both kids and adults laughing and dancing. I even have one friend (in his sixties) who said he shed a tear at the end. Michael Oakes (Man in Suit) What was your favorite part of the show? My favorite part of the show was the first week of rehearsals where Stephanie just let us work and roll with the ideas that we had. It was fun to watch all the dragons create their unique personalities and characters from their instincts. It was adorable to watch the relationship between Leroy and The Boy form in organic ways because of just trying ideas in rehearsal. It was great to throw things at the wall as Man in Suit and see what stuck. Even with the book and script giving a strong foundation, it really feels like we built something special from the ground up with this show.  What inspires you? I'm inspired by seeing actors enjoy the work they're in and the audience feeling that joy and reciprocating it. People with authentic joy and passion in what they do fills me with an electricity that I cannot explain. Energy and joy are contagious. Seeing someone talk about or do something they truly and honestly love makes my soul happy to its core. I want to know everyone's passion because that's the core of what makes someone who they are, what they love. I'm inspired by that.  Why did you choose UMKC? I chose UMKC because of the professors and the city. My undergrad professor went to UMKC as well and always talked about Kansas City with a deep love. He spoke very highly of everyone who taught in the program as well. And after one conversation with the faculty, I knew this was a place that would help me grow. There was an emphasis on letting actors be themselves rather than creating a generic "UMKC actor." They said they would let us be us. And they have! I've found out more about myself and my art aesthetic from here than I think I would anywhere else because of the great people I've got to work with and who support Michael being Michael always.  Why should someone see the show? It's a blast. After a "lost year" this is the time to go out and have some fun. It's an opportunity to sit outside and laugh, dance, yell along and just have an hour of enjoyment. Plus, it puts tacos on the brain. Which is always good. It felt like in the past year fun has been hard to find. For at least an hour, there's a fun place people can go. A place where dragons are real, people come through TVs and a boat full of tacos isn't an outrageous idea. A truly joyous place.  Do you have a favorite dragon? I can't pick a favorite dragon. I love them all so much! They're who truly make Man in Suit look good. Would people want to see "Man in Suit Love Tacos"? Nah. The dragons are the stars, and all of them deserve it equally. I love them all. This is the most fun I've had in a play process in years. Everyone in the cast and crew worked so hard to make this happen. I hope everyone in KC sees this show. It's very near and dear to my heart.  Aidan Callaghan (Production Assistant) What was your favorite part of the show? My favorite part of the show is probably the dragons’ entrance sequence. The actors all have such unique characterizations and it’s just really fun to watch.  What inspires you? I am inspired by people who have drive. People who know what they want and are driven enough to take real steps to achieve them.  Why did you choose UMKC? I chose UMKC initially because I was doing pre-pharmacy with the intent to apply to pharmacy school and follow that career path. But I didn’t enjoy it, and theatre was the only path that I knew was a good fit for me, so I stayed at UMKC and joined the theatre program.  Why should someone see the show? People should come see this show if they are looking for a brief getaway from the woes of the world. This is a very fun light-hearted show that harkens back to everyone’s childhood where dragons and tacos were as real and as exciting as anything could be.  Do you have a favorite dragon? While I love all of our dragons very much, if I had to pick, I think I would pick Blue Dragon because of its very endearing personality.  Tickets are $12 for youth under 18, students and seniors 60 and older; $15 for adults; and $5.50 to $8 for groups over 20. After the Saturday night performances, audiences have a chance to get their picture taken with a dragon after the show. Tickets can be purchased from The Coterie Box Office by calling 816-474-6552 or online. Jul 22, 2021

  • Sean O'Brien On CBS News Sunday Morning

    School of Law professor weighs-in on why wrongly-convicted people are still imprisoned in Missouri
    Sean O’Brien, a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said, “I do know that the Attorney General’s office, for a long time, has had a practice of opposing every case regardless of its merit. They think that their duty is to defend every judgment, no matter the justice of it.” Read the article and watch the news clip. Jul 18, 2021

  • UMKC Professor Addresses KC Hiring Struggles

    KSHB interviews William Black
    “People are saying no, why would I take that job and risk COVID for a pittance when I can get more money in a different job and minimal risk of COVID and it’s better in terms of child care and such,” William Black, associate professor of Economics and Law at UMKC said. Read more. Jul 16, 2021

  • UMKC Professor: Solution To Affordable Housing Is Restoring Older Apartment Buildings

    Jacob Wagner tells city officials that tearing down and building new would be less cost-effective
    A professor at the University of Missouri - Kansas City said he believes the answer is right in front of us. "There's about 45,000 of those units throughout Kansas City, Missouri," said Jacob Wagner, of Urban Planning and Design at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read the full article and watch the newscast. Jul 16, 2021

  • A Bridge To a New Future

    The Kansas City Business Journal highlights UMKC Professional Mobility Escalator Program
    A new program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Professional Mobility Escalators, soon will begin taking applications for student assistance that will extend through professional school. Jennifer Lundgren, UMKC provost and executive vice chancellor; and Mako Miller, director of the UMKC Professional Mobility Escalators, were interviewed about the new program. Amanda Malone, UMKC senior, is part of the KC Scholars Program and was interviewed for this story. Read more. Jul 16, 2021

  • Future UMKC Student Is Featured

    Nathan Wilcox, future UMKC student, was interviewed by KCTV5
    The camp is meant to inspire and empower children with visual impairments, showing them nothing is impossible. That inspiration is something 18-year-old Nathan Wilcox has felt his whole life. Despite being blind in one eye, he will enroll at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in the fall and has dreams of becoming a civil rights attorney. Read the full story and watch the newscast. Jul 14, 2021

  • A Deferred Dream Internship Now a Reality

    Delayed by COVID, Bloch student Courtney Collins heads East to work with leading cosmetics company.
    Courtney Collins’ plans all changed on Friday the 13th. After studying in Malaga, Spain for the Spring 2020 semester, she would head to New York City to do her marketing internship with the Estée Lauder Companies, working with the Jo Malone London perfume brand. It’s a dream she said was inspired by her aunt who was a long-time executive for the cosmetics company and also a desire to live and work in the Big Apple. But on Friday, March 13, the semester in Spain was cancelled and Collins headed back to Kansas City. Her internship was pushed back a year. She’s one of many Bloch students who because of the pandemic had their internship plans change. According of Tess Surprenant, director of the Bloch Career Center, about 25% of internships were delayed after an offer was made. Further, many companies shut down recruiting activities just as students were in the process of interviewing. For those that held internships, about 80-90% were held remotely. Prior to COVID-19, remote internships were a rarity and that meant a substantial pivot for students and companies. As she waited for 2021, Collins re-evaluated what she wants to do with her profession, and with the help of the Bloch Career Center, taking stock of her future. “I talked with Maggie (Reyland) and Tess (Surprenant) a lot in how it looks for job placement in (the cosmetics) industry. Is it the end of it?” Collins said. “A lot of things have shifted.” What also has shifted was how the internship was going to work, logistically. She will be one of 140 interns, out of an applicant pool of 7,000.  Instead of an abbreviated six-week, remote internship, Collins decided to wait until this summer and do the full 10-week internship. Because Estée Lauder is keeping their offices closed until October 2021, it means another mostly remote internship. “What I wanted with the in-person internship was the in-person networking and building relationships,” Collins said. “How can I do that over Zoom? How can I stand out over a video? I‘ve listened to career panelist with the Bloch marketing advisory board and they all say it’s the same, just online. You can still make those connections.” Surprenant said she’s been impressed with the student’s resiliency. “Since all the employers were interviewing virtually, it means that students had to learn new tips and techniques for this format,” Surprenant said. That included learning to navigate virtual career fairs and networking meetings. “Now more than ever, in a tight job market, it is often these types of connections that help a student distinguish themselves,” she said. Collins’ goal with the internship is still the same: get a full-time role at Estée Lauder and move to New York. She’s confident that she can immerse herself into the re-invention of the workforce and city, post-pandemic. “I think it’s exciting. We’re starting from scratch with more resources, technology-wise,” she said. “For business and entrepreneurship students here at Bloch, the sky is the limit with what we can do and where we can do it.” Jul 13, 2021

  • $15.2M Renovation Underway at Bloch Heritage Hall

    The renovation of Bloch Heritage Hall moves a thriving business school into the future
    When completed, the renovation of Bloch Heritage Hall will be more than new carpet and reconfigured classrooms. It will be even more than eye-popping technology, although the reimagined facility that has anchored the Bloch School since its earliest days also will get that. The $15.2 million renovation, expected to welcome students by the Fall 2022 semester, is really about fulfilling its namesake’s unwavering vision of excellence for the school. For more than three decades, Henry W. Bloch, who died in 2019, faithfully invested in the business school with his time and money because he believed that having a top business school in Kansas City was key to the city’s success. “The Bloch School was Henry’s pride and joy,” said David Miles, president of the Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation, a lead funder of the renovation project. “In a city this size, with the number of businesses and entrepreneurs we have, he believed there had to be an outlet and a location for you to receive high quality business knowledge and also a place where professionals could network and connect.” The Bloch Foundation’s $8 million contribution to the Bloch Heritage Hall renovation project was already well in the works before Bloch died. Miles said Bloch saw the potential of this renovation project to propel the Bloch School to new heights. “Henry was excited about this project,” Miles said. The Sunderland foundation joined the Bloch Family Foundation as a lead donor for the Heritage Hall renovation project. In addition, six-figure gifts were received from the William T. Kemper Foundation, Mike Plunkett, Nathaniel Hagedorn, Jim Stowers and the Capitol Federal Foundation. The project also had generous support from well over a dozen alumni, community members and friends of the school, said Jay Wilson of the UMKC Foundation. Kent Sunderland, chairman of the Sunderland Foundation and chair of the UMKC Foundation, said their gift was motivated in large part by respect for Henry Bloch and the Bloch family. But Sunderland noted the gift also was predicated on his shared belief in the project’s potential to improve the business school. That in turn will help UMKC and Kansas City, he said. “That’s what we want UMKC to be,” Sunderland said, "A place people can go and (then) apply their talents to businesses here in Kansas City.” For Brian Klaas, Bloch School dean, the link between the renovation of Bloch Heritage Hall and that aspiration is just as clear. The project will give the Bloch School the infrastructure it needs to better support students, improve student retention and recruit more students to meet enrollment goals. “It’s really driven by a desire to fundamentally alter the student experience,” Klaas said. Interior rendering of the Bloch Heritage Hall renovation. The Project Bloch Heritage Hall is an amalgamation of the historic Shields Mansion, an estate built in the early years of the 20th century for grain magnate Edwin W. Shields, and a sprawling addition the university completed in 1986 with a $1 million contribution from Henry Bloch. The building, with its plentiful classrooms and offices, served as the school’s primary home until 2013 when the business school expanded its footprint to include Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. While Bloch Heritage Hall has continued to serve as an important piece of the Bloch School’s infrastructure, the building has not always kept up with the changing nature of education. In addition to needing better technology and differently arranged classrooms, the building’s largest deficit had become its lack of a central common entrance or student gathering area. “If a parent walked in the front door and wanted to talk to someone about the school, there’s no one to talk to. No place to go,” said Miles. Similarly, students had to walk through a maze of hallways to find various student service offices. Nothing was centralized or clear. The renovated Bloch Heritage Hall will change all that by creating a main entrance off Cherry Street, which will feature a new student services hub. All of those previously hard-to-find student resources, including undergraduate advising, the career center, recruiting, tutoring, and student clubs, will reside there. In the design created by PGAV Architects, square footage for the hub will be created by filling in two floors of an atrium — the centerpiece of the 1986 addition. On the first floor immediately below that hub, newly created floor space will be dedicated to an open common area where students can mingle and meet. The idea, said Klaas, is to help students connect with school resources and their classmates so they stay in school, graduate, and move into successful careers.  “What we’ve learned is that students need a sense of connection, and they need prompts and nudges,” he said. “We want to create an energy and a sense that this is where great things are happening.”   Demand for Flexibility Another major goal of the renovation is to make the learning environment as flexible as students demand. This includes equipping classrooms with technology to make logging into class remotely effectively the same as attending in person. As part of the “RooFlex” learning experience, video screens and cameras will be installed in the front and back of many classrooms so professors can see virtual students just as they see in-person students, and students can glimpse all their classmates, either in person or online. One classroom will include a wall of monitors, so professors can simultaneously see every student gathered remotely as if they are seated before them. While COVID-19 accelerated the need for virtual learning, the demand was already there among many students, said Sidne Ward, associate dean of the Bloch School who serves as the school’s liaison on the renovation project. She expects it will only increase once the pandemic fades away. “Our students are working full time. They might be traveling,” Ward said. “They might be in the classroom sometimes, but there might be a time when they’re sitting in Chicago in a hotel room.” Other students are juggling children with work and school and having the option to take classes remotely — at least part of the time — may be the only way they can pursue a business degree. The renovated classrooms will give students the ability to have as much remote learning as they need, while still providing a top-notch campus environment. The improvements will put Bloch ahead of many business schools around the country. “Some very impressive schools are making these kinds of investments, but it’s not commonplace,” Klaas said. Ultimately, he hopes the changes in the learning environment the renovation will give the Bloch School the ability to attract more students and meet its goal to double in size by 2029. Over the last three years, enrollment has grown by 15 percent to include about 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The Shields esidence in the 1920s. A Linked School In addition to improving technology to enable better virtual learning, the expanded Bloch Heritage Hall will get redesigned classroom spaces, including additional small rooms where students can gather to meet on projects, and some additional larger classroom spaces, which have been in short supply at the school. One of those larger classrooms will be added underground and include a corridor to physically link Bloch Heritage Hall to its neighbor, Bloch Executive Hall. Boosters of the project promise that the two buildings will be linked in more ways than just a corridor, however. The Heritage Hall makeover will maintain design elements that respect the architectural style of the century-old Shields Mansion. But the completed project will also infuse Heritage Hall with the 21st century sophistication that Executive Hall is known for. When supporters and dignitaries gather to cut the ribbon and ceremonially open the new building on July 30, 2022, the anniversary of Henry Bloch’s 100th birthday, Klaas is confident that the completed project will achieve one of the Bloch School’s ongoing aspirations. The newly linked, modern campus will be something that Henry Bloch would be proud of. “Henry was about the Bloch School supporting the needs of Kansas City,” said Klaas. “He was about the Bloch School helping Kansas City be prosperous, healthy and strong. What this building is going to do is help us provide better educational opportunities to more students. That in turn is going to support employers, making them more successful by building the talent pool in Kansas City.” Jul 13, 2021

  • Cuban-Americans Gather in Solidarity Protest in Kansas City, as Cubans Demand Freedoms

    KCTV5 interviews UMKC assistant professor of Art History, Latinx and Latin American Studies
    Joseph R. Hartman, assistant professor of Art History, Latinx and Latin American Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, has studied Cuba’s history. He said the country, which was predominantly a tobacco and sugar economy, has been greatly impacted by the pandemic now that it’s more of a tourist economy. Read the full story and watch the newscast. Jul 12, 2021

  • UMKC Forward Updates

    Growing our excellence and financial stability
    Launched in May 2020, UMKC Forward is a comprehensive and collaborative plan to achieve growth and excellence for Kansas City’s university. The program includes ideas and exploration by a broad-based group of faculty, staff, students and community members. In March, UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal rolled out the UMKC Forward plan, which included investments in five key areas: Student Success, Faculty Development, Research Excellence, Career Expansion and Community Engagement. University work groups have been busy and share the following updates. Student Success: Professional Mobility Escalators The signature Professional Mobility Escalators™ program is a unique, trademarked system of personalized support and services unlike anything being offered across the U.S. It is designed to propel students from their academic studies to good-paying careers. Mako Miller, M.A.Ed, will lead the PME. Miller, who started her new role on July 6, will be working on all aspects of program development and engaging with the faculty working groups to learn about current practices and where program development is needed. The process will continue through the academic year in preparation for the official launch in the fall 2022 semester. The hiring of an assistant director of Career Preparedness position was approved. A search will begin in the fall 2021 semester. This position will be involved in the development of one of the five core PME experiences, career guidance and development. Faculty Development: Center for Advancing Faculty Excellence A new Center for Advancing Faculty Excellence, or CAFE, will feature a comprehensive program of mentoring, development opportunities and resources to support, attract and retain high-quality and engaged faculty. Three of four appointments have been made for leading the pillars: Molly Mead, Teaching and Learning; Alexis Petri, Research and Creativity; and Lorie Holt, Career Progression, Leadership and Faculty Life. The appointment of a lead for the Service and Engagement pillar is in progress. Research Excellence To reach the goal of doubling research expenditures by 2028, UMKC will invest in building up research capacity and infrastructure, identifying high-impact research collaborations, training and mentoring researchers as well as investing in faculty hiring. UMKC has planned for and budgeted to hiring new positions in FY22: Graduate Fellow to provide logistic support for large scaled interdisciplinary grants. Faculty Fellows to provide narrative writing bootcamp in summer and each semester. Pre-Award staff member. Post-Award staff member. Research compliance staff member. Career Expansion UMKC will expand TalentLink, adding a robust offering of badges and certificates alongside high-quality professional, online and continuing education opportunities meeting in-demand needs for individuals and the companies they work for. UMKC is currently recruiting for a director of TalentLink. $250,000 in Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funds have been allocated to TalentLink. New Academic Structure Starting in fall 2022, UMKC will have three new academic units among its 10 schools: the School of Science and Engineering; the School of Humanities and Social Sciences; and the School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences. Jen Salvo, Allen Rostron and Mark Nichols have been named faculty facilitators of the work groups. Summer preparation work includes Resource Investment Model (RIM)/budget modeling and the creation of FAQ documents for faculty, staff and students related to scholarships, fees and advising, degree requirements and more. A fall check in is scheduled for the week of Aug. 16. Jul 12, 2021

  • Two New Deans Appointed

    Will lead School of Dentistry, Student Affairs
    Jennifer Lundgren, Ph.D., UMKC provost and executive vice chancellor, has announced the appointment of two new deans at the university. Steven E. Haas, D.M.D., J.D., MBA, will be the new dean of the School of Dentistry; Michele D. Smith, Ph.D., will be the new vice provost of Student Affairs/dean of students. Smith currently serves as dean of students and assistant vice president for Student Affairs at Missouri State University in Springfield. She is also an associate professor in the Department of Counseling, Leadership and Special Education at MSU, where she teaches in the Master of Science program for Student Affairs in Higher Education. She holds master’s and doctoral degrees in Higher Education from Ohio University in Athens. Her research focuses on the experiences of African American student and faculty success, particularly African American women and African American women in athletic administration. “She will be a wonderful bridge between student affairs and our academic programs and faculty, bringing experience from both university perspectives,” Lundgren said. “She brings a holistic perspective of university life to her role at UMKC and will complement and advance the already exceptional work of the Student Affairs division and teams.” She will begin her UMKC duties on Aug. 2. Haas comes to UMKC from the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry in Lincoln, where he serves as associate dean for clinical affairs and interim chair of the Department of Adult Restorative Dentistry. He received his D.M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, his J.D. from Touro College Law Center in Huntington, New York, and his MBA from the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Florida. He will begin his tenure on Aug. 16. Haas has deep knowledge of dental education accreditation and compliance, as well as innovative clinical educational practices, Lundgren said. “He values science and research and the importance of evidence-based clinical decision-making,” Lundgren said. “Steven is committed to improving the experiences of under-represented students, faculty, staff and patients in the School of Dentistry and in advancing the university’s goals of increasing diversity among our faculty and staff.” According to Lundgren, Haas will focus on improving diverse representation and inclusivity within the school; growing research; interprofessional collaboration; and innovation and advancement in the clinical practices and in community outreach, particularly with communities of color and other under-represented communities in the greater Kansas City region. Jul 12, 2021

  • Breaking Down Barriers While Learning a New City and Profession

    L.A. transplant Coco Ndipagbor, with help from an LGBTQIA scholarship, led her class in nursing school
    Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Coco Ndipagbor '21 Academic program: Pre-licensure BSN, School of Nursing and Health Studies Hometown: Long Beach, California   Coco Ndipagbor describes herself as fearless and resilient, and it’s easy to see why. After earning a bachelor’s degree in global health from the University of Southern California, she could have stayed close to home and pursued a master’s in public health. Instead, she moved to a new city halfway across the country and distinguished herself as a leader in her class at the School of Nursing and Health Studies, becoming president of the Student Nursing Association chapter at UMKC. She will return to the Los Angeles area in the fall, where a fulltime job as an intensive care nurse waits for her. To help finance nursing school, Ndipagbor applied for every scholarship UMKC had to offer. She landed a few, but one was especially meaningful: the LGBTQIA Leadership Scholarship. What did you get from being an LGBTQIA Scholar? The scholarship provided a chance to exemplify queer leadership. It was the first time that being Out and Proud funded part of my education. I also wanted to show queer UMKC students of color that they belong here. I joined the LGBTQIA Health District Alliance because I do believe that showing my pride will validate my patients and peers that I am here for them. LGBTQIA issues are important because I love who I am and the community I represent, and I aim to create a space where we can feel safe. My little brother is a trans child, and I have had to step up big time to ensure his safety in a world that shows him otherwise. I want to uplift and empower queer youth because many of us grew up in families where the blasphemy of our existence prevented us from receiving the love and support we deserved. The LGBTQIA community is underrepresented in the world of health care, and I want to be a part of a generation of providers that changes that. I intend to use my experience here in Kansas City to grow and thrive.  Why did you choose nursing? I have been caring for people my whole life, and being able to do that as my profession brings me joy. I also love teaching people how to advocate for their health. I wanted to diversify my education and my choices, too, and there are so many paths to pursue in nursing. I’m interested in anesthesia, and I knew UMKC had a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist program, which could bring me back here in a few years. "The LGBTQIA community is underrepresented in the world of health care, and I want to be a part of a generation of providers that changes that." — Coco Ndipagbor What did you learn about yourself at UMKC? I have learned that I am fearless. I moved across the country to a place that I had never visited or known. I took the bus every day in the rain, cold or snow, and I worked 50 hours a week and still came up short financially. But I did not stop. I could not quit after coming so far, and I would do it all over again. What do you admire most about UMKC? I admire the dedication that many professors and administrators have for students. Once they found out that I was in KC alone, they opened their hearts and became my support system. It kept me going.  What is the best advice you received from a professor? There is always something more to learn. Study to become a better nurse, not to pass a test. Always go with your gut, even if it goes against the grain. Anything you will miss about Kansas City and UMKC? I will miss the low cost of living, the clean streets and the nice Kansas Citians I encounter every day. I will miss the friends and family I made while at UMKC.     Jul 09, 2021

  • Catch Up On These Campus Changes That Have Happened Over The Last Year

    Been a while since you've been to campus? Brush up on these changes.
    Construction or relocation, several UMKC buildings have seen updates over the last year. With virtual learning dominating 2020, here are some campus changes students might have missed: Bloch Heritage Hall Construction Construction is ongoing at Bloch Heritage Hall, the original home of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. The Bloch School received funding from both the Bloch Family Foundation and the Sunderland Foundation in 2019 for the renovations and technology updates at Heritage Hall.  The renovations and technology updates will help support advanced teaching methods and anticipated enrollment growth, bringing this essential space in line with the university's commitment to providing students with tools for their success. While the state-of-the-art Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation opened in 2013, Heritage Hall had previously not received any upgrades since 1986. Heritage Hall incorporates the original Tudor-style Shields Mansion, built at the turn of the 20th century and an addition was completed in 1986. Updates to Heritage Hall are slated to be completed this school year. Miller Nichols Library Construction Construction on the third floor of Miller Nichols Library is underway. The library is receiving upgrades for a digital humanities and digital scholarship center, in preparation for the relocation of the State Historical Society of Missouri, which is currently housed in Newcomb Hall.  University Libraries also received funding from the Sunderland Foundation and the Bloch Family Foundation in 2019 for the renovations. Beyond being a resource for students and faculty, the Miller Nichols Library is a recognized resource for both historical and enthusiasts and professional researchers. The At Ease Zone and Student Veteran Support Service Office was previously located in the Atterbury Student Success Center. Photo by Brandon Parigo At Ease Zone and Student Veteran Support Office Relocation The At Ease Zone and Student Veteran Support Services Office is now located in Room 310 of the UMKC Student Union. The offices were previously located in the Atterbury Student Success Center. "The At Ease Zone moving into the Student Union is going to be a great fit for serving our student veterans," said Eric Gormly, assistant director of UMKC Student Veteran Support Services. "With the resources, activities and student organizations provided in this building, it should go a long way to help our student veterans feel like they are part of the Roo community." Last month, Military Times ranked UMKC 70th in the country for being a 'best school' for military veterans, out of 366 colleges and universities reviewed. The publication mentioned the Student Veteran Support Services Office and the At Ease Zone and noted the university "values the qualities and strengths this student population brings to campus and the community." Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center While construction on the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center, or Plaster Center, was completed and opened to students last fall, the center is still placing its finishing touches on the Innovation Studio. Located on the second floor of the research center, the Innovation Studio will support research, innovation and entrepreneurship for the UMKC and Kansas City community, as members of the local engineering community will have access to the studio's resources. The newest editions feature an augmented and virtual reality showroom and lab, a 3D printing lab and a fabrication studio that builds prototypes. The studio also features woodworking, metalwork, welding and laser cutting capabilities. The studio is open to students now but is expected to be open to the public starting this fall.  Jul 09, 2021

  • Reviews: Dragons Love Tacos Runs Through August 8 at Coterie Theatre

    Reviews are in for Coterie Theatre production with UMKC students, faculty
    Stephanie Roberts, UMKC associate professor, directs the cast of student actors from the UMKC Theatre Department performing as 306 Theatre Troupe. Read more. Dragons Love Tacos Runs Through August 8 at Coterie Theatre - Broadway World - July 6 Dragons Love Tacos Warms a Coterie Crowd - The Pitch - July 8 Review: Dragons Love Tacos at The Coterie - Kansas City Parent Magazine - July 13 Jul 06, 2021

  • UMKC GLAMA Curator Lends Expertise

    The Kansas City Star taps Stuart Hinds
    Queer bars have been a part of Kansas City’s culture for decades, though they didn’t begin to gain visibility in Kansas City until the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, said Stuart Hinds, curator of the Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America at UMKC. Read the article. (subscription required) Jul 05, 2021

  • UMKC Economics, Law Associate Professor Weighs-In On Food Prices

    William Black talks to KSHB about Fourth of July cookout costs
    “You can have a meal that’s much much cheaper than 60 bucks and feed 10 people,” William Black, associate professor of Economics and Law at UMKC said. Read the article and watch the newscast. Jul 02, 2021

  • How Blistering Dissents Help Some Americans Trust the Supreme Court

    UMKC associate professor of political science co-authors Washington Post article
    Benjamin Woodson, associate professor of political science at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, with a focus on political psychology and public opinion toward the judiciary, was a co-author of this article. Read the full article. Jul 02, 2021

  • UMKC Receives Honors for Being Veteran Friendly

    Military Times, Military Friendly® recognize UMKC
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City has received two honors for being a veteran-friendly campus. Military Times ranked UMKC No. 70 in the United States for being a best school for military veterans, out of 366 colleges and universities reviewed. According to the publication “2021 Best for Vets: Colleges,” “UMKC is the largest comprehensive, fully accredited university in the Kansas City area and has a 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio, which means professors know their students' names and take mentorship seriously.” The publication mentioned the new UMKC Student Veteran Support Services office and At Ease Zone (Veterans Center) through which UMKC serves the student veteran and military population. The publication noted a UMKC statement that the university “values the qualities and strengths this student population brings to campus and the community, and has top-down support to ensure we are implementing best practices to show maximum support for the overall success of our student veterans.” UMKC was also designated a 2021-2022 Military Friendly School. Military Friendly® is the “standard that measures an organization’s commitment, effort and success in creating sustainable and meaningful opportunity for the military community.” Eric Gormly, assistant director for Student Veteran Support Services; and Debbie Kacirek, UMKC VA Certifying Official Student Veteran Support Services, are in the UMKC Student Veteran Support Services office. Photo by John Carmody. “These two distinguished rankings go a long way as far as seeing how we match up to other institutions across the country,” said Eric Gormly, assistant director, UMKC Student Veteran Support Services. “With us not being on campus for most of this past year, I am excited for the student veterans to see just how welcoming the UMKC campus has become. Although many factors play into the ranking systems for student veteran programming, one crucial piece is having a one-stop shop for student veterans to seek out resources, build community, and make their presence on campus known, which we have in the new At Ease Zone in the Student Union. The top-down support has helped to achieve many goals that were envisioned that ultimately contribute to not only the academic success, but the all-around student success for these transitioning service members.” The At Ease Zone and Student Veteran Support Services Office are located in Room 310 of the UMKC Student Union. More information about UMKC programs for veterans can be found online. Jul 02, 2021

  • Bloch School Professor Talks About Hospital Data

    KCUR interviews Chris Garmon
    “It would be really nice to know what the prices are,” said Chris Garmon, Assistant Professor of Health Administration at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management who previously worked on antitrust investigations at the Federal Trade Commission. Read more from KCUR. Jul 01, 2021

  • 5 Favorite Spots Roos Eat

    Ready to go out? Our students have suggestions on where to go
    Kansas City has always been a food town, but COVID-19 has kept most of us dining on our cook-at-home favorites and carryout. As we are able to get out more safely, here are a few UMKC students’ favorite spots to eat. Paleterías Tropicana  “My absolute favorite spot to eat in Kansas City is Paleterías Tropicana.” – Adriana Suarez '23, business administration Since 2003, Paleterias Tropicana has served homemade authentic Mexican ice cream. From its original location on Kansas City’s westside, there are now five locations in the metropolitan area. While lime, mango and banana are safe bets, hibiscus, pineapple chile and tamarind with chile will delight the adventurous eater. Town Topic “I enjoy getting a burger and pie from Town Topic with my friends. We like taking our burgers and pies to go so that we can enjoy our food while overlooking the Kansas City skyline near the World War I Memorial.” – Emily Wesley '21, biology Town Topic is a Kansas City tradition. Open 24 hours a day with three locations – two of which are basically around the corner from one another – this is a go-to for smash burgers and breakfast for both locals and newbies. Wings Cafe “Wings Café is one of the best places in the city for chicken wings by far. Go there and tell me I’m wrong.” ­– Brandon Henderson '21, political science Convenient to both campuses, Wings Café, a family-owned restaurant in Westport, serves bare wings, boneless wings and breaded wings, but their selection doesn’t stop there. Fish, shrimp and chicken are also options as well as the opportunity to mix things up with a “combo.” Tiki Taco “Go! You’ll thank me later.” – Jonaie Johnson '22, business administration Tiki Taco bills itself as “your chill neighborhood taco shop dishing out yummy California-style Mexican fast food.” “Chill” is the key word as Tiki Taco has a cool laid-back vibe. Plenty of options for vegetarians, too, with creative tacos featuring jackfruit or mushrooms along with more standard options of avocado and “mean” bean. Chai Shai “My favorite so far has been Chai Shai. My roommate wanted me to try Pakastani food for the first time, and she took me there.” – Marlena Long '25, medicine  Tucked into a quiet neighborhood just south of the Volker campus, Chai Shai offers a variety of dishes that often lend themselves to sharing. Spices such as cumin, cardamom, star anise and turmeric delight – but do not overwhelm – the senses. Jul 01, 2021

  • UMKC Master Plan Could Return Student Housing To Site of Razed Apartment Complex

    Local news about UMKC Master Plan
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City plans to build apartments along the extended streetcar route, which is slated to be finished in 2025. Read the news articles: Kansas City Business Journal - June 30, 2021 (subscription required) Flatland - June 30, 2021 Jun 30, 2021

  • What We're Looking Forward to in Returning to Campus

    UMKC students excited about returning to pre-pandemic life
    After spending the last year distanced, virtual or masked we're looking forward to returning to normal campus life in the fall. Here's what a few of our fellow Roos had to say. Being back on campus "I'm looking forward to finally being back on campus and interacting with my fellow Roos!" -Krithika Selvarajoo '21   Karl Manoza and other students pictured at an event promoting mental health awareness held by the student organization Asian Students in America. In-person events "I'm most excited about attending in-person events that organizations host throughout the year. I remember my freshman year in 2019: events were so much fun, and I met some amazing friends along the way. I am part of many student organizations on campus and I really enjoy being involved in the UMKC community and participating in a multitude of events." -Karl Manoza '23  Marcus Thieu and two other students celebrate UMKC Commitment Day. Photo by Brandon Parigo Walking to class "As simple as it sounds, I've missed the ability to enjoy the fresh air while walking around campus. Walking between campus buildings is a basic luxury I've missed after spending this last year on Zoom." -Marcu Thieu '22 Feeling connected "When I'm in-person for school, I feel so strongly connected to my community. I look forward to getting that feeling of connection back! I look forward to sitting with small study groups in the library in-between classes and coffee dates with my friends on campus." -Kylie Bias '23 Meeting old friends, making new "I cannot wait to study with my friends at the library. Every time I am there, I run into someone old and someone new. We start by catching up or sharing what we are studying. Then, that turns into a minutes-long conversation with not much studying but that's what college is about — meeting people from all over." -Ansel Herrera-Garcia '23 Jun 28, 2021

  • Churning Out Achievement: Bloch Alumnus Becomes Betty Rae's Owner

    UMKC alumnus purchases popular local business
    Roos are, in fact, everywhere. Sometimes, they’re in our own backyard making cool treats in the summer heat. Alec Rodgers (’20) graduated from the Henry W. Bloch School of Management in Entrepreneurship and Finance and shortly thereafter found himself owning a Kansas City staple for ice cream: Betty Rae’s. We caught up with Alec for the full scoop on how his UMKC education prepared him for such sweet success. What is your history with Betty Rae’s? What led you to become the owner? It was junior year. I realized I’d be graduating the next year and wished I had a more fun job; enjoyed life a bit more. I was doing 60 hours a week, 18 credit hours. It was a lot. My mom went to a shaved-ice truck up north, and they were serving Betty Rae’s ice cream. She brought it home and said “The lady there said they might be hiring.” I said “Well, that sounds like a fun job.” David, then the part-owner, posted a photo of the new wallpaper that day, in the River Market location. I thought it was awesome wallpaper. I knew, whoever that was, I wanted to work for him. I met him the next day, and within the first month I could tell it was so different there. It felt like a family. I was going there to do homework and hang out; making waffle batter at 9 in the morning, just to be there. Everybody wanted to do that, too. I wanted to stay here the rest of my life and scoop ice cream, but I was studying finance and entrepreneurship. I graduated, started working for another company, and in February David and Mary approached me about buying the shop. I immediately said yes and put my two weeks in. It’s been fun. Alec and the wallpaper that started it all. What’s your UMKC story? I actually started at Mizzou. The campus is beautiful. My friends there were amazing. It just wasn’t the culture I wanted, and I quickly realized that. After three weeks, I told my parents “I think I’m going to come home at semester and go to UMKC.” That was a big step for me, personally. So, I came to Kansas City to start at UMKC and loved it. Coming back here was the best decision I ever made. Sophomore year, I moved to England for six months, serving with youth there. It was a lot of fun. I took classes online while doing that, which again was the total opposite of what I thought I wanted to do. I was going to be done in four years, maybe three. Anything that got in the way of that was a distraction. And again, it was one of the best decisions I made. I learned a lot about myself and about people. I came back junior year and finished out here. Were you involved in any extra-curricular activities? Enactus was my main extra-curricular. I loved it. Working at the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation kept me busy, but it also kept me involved in so many things here on campus and in the city. I would help with the Venture Hub and a few other services Regnier provided. Betty Rae scoopers hard at work. How did your UMKC education prepare you for your career? Well, the thing I hated the most was group projects. Seriously. I knew I’d get stuck with the work of someone else the night before because they aren’t ready. Expectations wouldn’t match. Some peoples' were way up here and others were down here. That said, those experiences have served me more than anything else. Plus, getting to make connections here in Kansas City, going to school here and staying here, you foster a lot of relationships that I wouldn’t have had staying at Columbia. That’s been a huge advantage. The professors here were and are amazing. I still talk to them. I just texted one yesterday. I feel like that’s hard to find, because on a larger campus, you’re a number, which makes sense. They can’t be close to everyone. Here you’re in class of 25-40 people. You know the professor, and they know you. You get to learn from them not only as an instructor, but a person, too. It was awesome. One more hard-hitting question: What is the best ice cream flavor? We have rotating flavors and we have stationary flavors. My favorite rotating flavor, my favorite flavor of them all, is the Joe’s Burnt Ends. Stationary, I have to go for Goat Cheese, Apricot and Candied Walnut. Alec shows off his favorite flavor of ice cream, featuring Joe's KC's burnt ends. Jun 28, 2021

  • Did You Know That Colorado Has an Active Volcano in the Rockies?

    Assistant professor of geosciences lends her expertise
    “Because of the position of Dotsero being on the edge of the Colorado Plateau, there’s a possibility for future eruptions, but it’s much lower than in places like the Caribbean, where we know that magma is being made at depth regularly,” Alison Graettinger, assistant professor of geosciences at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, told Denver7. Jun 25, 2021

  • Conservatory Students Are Apprentice Artists for Lyric Opera

    Kansas City performing arts media highlights UMKC Conservatory students in Apprentice Artist Program for the 2021-2022 season
    The artists for the Apprentice Artist Program for the 2021-2022 season include UMKC students Soprano Amy Stuart-Flunker and Mezzo-Soprano Katarina Galagaza. Read the story in The Pitch. This was also covered by KC Applauds. Jun 24, 2021

  • Courtney Frerichs Is Back In The Olympics

    Local media celebrate UMKC alumna's return to Olympics
    Courtney Frerichs. UMKC alumna from Nixa, Missouri, qualified for her second straight Olympics in her signature event, the 3,000-meter steeplechase, late Thursday at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon. Read more from The Kansas City Star, which was picked up by the Marietta Daily Journal. More headlines: Naive and Scared No More, UMKC’s Courtney Frerichs Poised to Medal at Tokyo Olympics - The Kansas City Star (subscription required) Nearly A Dozen Kansas City Area Athletes Will Compete At Tokyo Olympics - Fox4KC UMKC Alumna Courtney Frerichs Qualifies for 2020 Tokyo Olympics - KSHB Jun 24, 2021

  • The Hollywood Reporter Gives UMKC Theatre Another Top Ranking

    Master of fine arts program consistently recognized as one of the best performing arts schools
    The Hollywood Reporter’s recent rankings have the University of Missouri-Kansas City Theatre graduate program among the top 25 in the U.S. for top dramatic and performing arts schools for the second year in a row. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the publication consulted with academics, influencers and alums to rank the top 25 master of fine arts acting programs. In the article, the publication ranked UMKC 23rd, up one spot from last year, and highlighted UMKC for bringing theatre, music and dance departments under one roof: the UMKC Conservatory. For the fourth year in a row, The Hollywood Reporter has also included UMKC Theatre in its list of Top 10 Costume Design schools. UMKC Theatre offers a single comprehensive M.F.A. degree in costume design and technology, which has been key to its success. Students learn many skills including drawing, painting, sketching and learning how to construct a garment with techniques in fabric manipulation, millinery, tailoring and pattern drafting. “This is a true testament to the long history of the program, the work the of the tremendous faculty, staff, students and alumni have been able to do over the years.,” said Ken Martin, Patricia McIlrath Endowed professor of Theatre and chair of UMKC Theatre. “As we move forward, grow and change, we expect to build on our reputation of excellence, and to continue to help bring young artists into the world of acting, design, management and technology.” Martin was named chair of the UMKC Theatre Department when it merged with the Conservatory in 2019. The merger was a natural alignment: the two programs share a long history of collaboration, a physical space, a teaching model featuring intensive hands-on training for students while they gain analytical skills taught by professional performing artists, a professional-school focus, a strong national reputation, a spirit of civic engagement and a supportive philanthropic audience. In addition to its on-campus partnership with Kansas City Repertory Theatre, this year the program continues to partner with Unicorn Theatre, Coterie Theatre and Kansas City Actors Theatre, featuring MFA and Bachelor of Arts acting students in major professional roles.  Alumni include Nick Gehlfuss of “Chicago Med,” Patrick DuLaney of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” on Broadway and Toccara Cash of Broadway’s “The Play That Goes Wrong” and “Half Me, Half You” at London’s West End. Jun 24, 2021

  • Criminal Justice Professor Weighs-In On Cellphone Privacy

    Ken Novak explains the case for KMBC
    Ken Novak, a criminal justice and criminology professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said he also learned about the case this week. “There are too many different people, innocent people, who would have their information and data captured by the government,” Novak said after reviewing details of the case. “The risk wasn’t worth the reward.” Read the story and watch the newscast. Jun 23, 2021

  • UMKC Law Professor Explains Missouri Medicaid Expansion Ruling

    KSHB taps Ann Marie Marciarille
    A Missouri judge determined that the voter-approved Medicaid expansion amendment not only omitted how the expansion would be paid for, but that people don't have the power to tell the legislature how to spend the state’s money, according to Ann Marie Marciarille, UMKC School of Law professor. Read the full article and watch the newscast. Jun 23, 2021

  • Professor's Heat Mapping Project to Show Who Suffers Most in Kansas City Heat

    The Kansas City Star talked to Fengpeng Sun, UMKC Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences assistant professor
    Summer heat can be deadly and some populations are at more risk because of their location.  “We want to show and study how the excessive warming pattern is distributed across our backyard in the KC metro area,” said Fengpeng Sun, assistant professor with the University of Missouri-Kansas City Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, which is leading the campaign to find out where those heat islands exist in Kansas City. Read the full story. Watch the video. (subscription required) Jun 23, 2021

  • Things To Do Around Kansas City: Monster Jam, Styx And Return Of Children’s Theater

    Kansas City Star includes the performance “Dragons Love Tacos” by the Coterie and performed by UMKC Theatre’s 306 Theatre Troupe
    The Coterie will present “Dragons Love Tacos,” performed by UMKC Theatre’s 306 Theatre Troupe, outside in the Crown Center Square’s Entertainment Pavilion, opening at 10 a.m. June 30 and running through Aug. 8. Tickets ($12-$15) and more information are available at thecoterie.org. Read more. (subscription required) Jun 23, 2021

  • International Alumni Serve on Sustainability Research Panel

    Experts in mobility, climate and food waste share their knowledge
    Three UMKC alumni who work at high levels in the sustainability field around the globe participated in the 10th Annual Sustainability Research Symposium this year. The guest speaker panel featured College of Arts and Sciences alumni Rebecca Karbaumer (’06), James Mitchell (’13) and Penny Harrell (‘16). Karbaumer is the mobility director for the City of Bremen, Germany and a promoter of mobility across the European Union. She is responsible for implementing Bremen’s Car-Sharing Action Plan and coordinating the Interreg North Sea Region project about shared mobility called SHARE-North. Mitchell, a director at the Center for Climate-Aligned Finance and a principal at the Rocky Mountain Institute, is from London, England. He led the development of the Poseidon Principles, which launched in June 2019 as the first global climate-alignment agreement for financial institutions. Harrell is a local graduate serving in the Environmental Protection Agency. Food waste is her specialty, and she organizes the Sustainable Food Management Summit at Wichita State University. 99 students submitted projects for the symposium. Those projects can still be viewed online. Jun 23, 2021

  • Students, Community Members Honored For LGBTQIA Advocacy, Support

    UMKC celebrates 17th annual Lavender Graduation and Pride Awards
    Students, faculty, staff and alumni were honored during the University of Missouri-Kansas City 17th annual Lavender Graduation and Pride Awards Celebration. “While this year has certainly been unconventional, it’s all the more reason for us to celebrate the accomplishments our incredible students have,” Kari Jo Freudigmann said in her welcome address. Freudigmann is the assistant director for LGBTQIA Programs and Services in the Office of Student Involvement. The department organizes the annual banquet, which took place virtually on May 5 this year due to COVID-19. “At its foundation, the Lavender Graduation ceremony celebrates the achievements of graduates across the spectrum of sexual and gender diversity,” Freudigmann said. The event celebrates LGBTQIA graduates and Pride Award recipients. The awards recognize members of the UMKC community who have contributed to the betterment of the LGBTQIA community through education, support, programming or activism. “These recipients have demonstrated not only a commitment to LGBTQIA equality, but represent a challenge for us to continually do better as a community, fulfilling our commitment to social justice,” Freudigmann said. Kole Keeney (B.S. Computer Science ‘21) was the celebration’s keynote speaker. Keeney said when he was introduced to UMKC’s LGBTQIA programs and services four years ago, he “had no idea the opportunities it would lead to.” “When I first came out as trans(gender) in my small town, I was afraid I was doomed to a life of hardship and loneliness, but once I set foot in the rainbow lounge, I realized that life still had the potential to be the exact opposite — to be filled with love, acceptance and most importantly, rainbows,” Keeney said during his speech. “Always remember that you make the world a better place, not in spite of who you are, but because of who you are.” Outstanding Faculty & Staff Award, recognizes LGBTQIA, or allied facility and staff, who have contributed to a positive campus climate for LGBTQIA individuals. Alberto Villamandos, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Foreign Languages and Literature Department. Villamandos has changed the curriculum of undergraduate and graduate Spanish classes to include more queer people of color in readings. He also has open conversations in the classroom about intersex, lesbian, gay and bisexual liberation. Jim Wanser Award, recognizes individuals who have volunteered hours of service to the UMKC LGBTQIA community or greater Kansas City LGBTQIA community. Bridget Wray is the publicity chair of the Sexuality and Gender Alliance Council and has provided leadership both on campus and in the greater Kansas City community. She helped develop Kansas City’s first LGBTQIA job fair, which featured over 25 employers and had over 300 attendees. “Always remember that you make the world a better place, not in spite of who you are, but because of who you are.” — Kole Keeney Outstanding Alumni Award, recognizes one UMKC alumnus who works toward fostering an inclusive community at UMKC, or in the community in which they live and work. Samantha Ruggles holds a nonprofit management degree from UMKC and is the former Executive Director of the Kansas City Center for Inclusion. During her time at KCCI, she turned Kansas City’s only queer center into a well-known establishment. Under her leadership, KCCI was able to build community partners, host multiple weekly events and host queer proms. Collaborative Excellence Award, recognizes departments or campus organizations whose collaborative efforts have resulted in important resources and services for LGBTQIA students, faculty, staff or community members. Kim Kushner and the New Student and Family Program in the Office of Student Involvement. Even in the last year amid COVID restrictions, Kushner and her office connected LGBTQIA students with campus resources. She has done this through numerous tabling events in the Student Union, as well as through The First Semester Experience. LGBTQIA Student of the Year, recognizes one student for outstanding leadership, dedication and service within the university of in the community. Elise Byers (’21), a School of Education graduate, served as Secretary of the Sexuality and Gender Alliance Council. The organization, which she previously served as Vice President, works to foster an environment of respect and appreciation around issues of diversity, including race, gender, ethnicity, social justice, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. She was described by her nominator as “an advocate both inside and outside of the classroom.“It’s really nice to celebrate this and feel loved and safe, to feel comfortable and just proud,” Byers said. “I really loved being a part of UMKC and all of the queer groups on campus, which have been so welcoming and exciting to be a part of.” All graduates were given a lavender stole to wear at commencement, which took place the weekend of May 15-16.   Jun 23, 2021

  • 35 Fellows Chosen For Cleveland Institute Of Music Future Of Music Faculty Fellowship

    UMKC Conservatory student is one of 35 fellows mentioned in Broadway World article
    Mark Bonner Jr., graduate assistant and doctoral candidate at the UMKC Conservatory, clinician and arranger, was chosen as a fellow for the 2021 Future of Music Faculty Fellowship Program. Jun 22, 2021

  • Liberty Hospital Launches Cutting Edge Breast Care Center In Northland

    Fox4KC reports on new breast care center led by UMKC alumna
    Amy Patel, medical director of the new Breast Care Center at Liberty Hospital, is a UMKC School of Medicine alumna and assistant professor of radiology. Read the story and watch the newscast. Jun 22, 2021

  • UMKC Med School’s New St. Joe Campus Recognized for Vaccine Efforts

    Entire class of UMKC med students has been certified and volunteered to give COVID vaccines.
    It didn’t take long for the inaugural class at the UMKC School of Medicine’s new St. Joseph campus to make an impact on rural medicine. January, as the COVID vaccines were ramping up, the entire class of 20 UMKC medicine students at Mosaic Life Care in St. Joseph took up the charge to become fully vaccinated vaccinators themselves. For their efforts, the Patterson Family Foundation, a Kansas City family-led foundation promoting rural health care, awarded the school and Mosaic a $15,000 gift to use in recognition and support of their rural medicine vaccination efforts. “A lot of individuals as well as the medical centers they work for really put a lot of resources, time and energy into getting the (rural) population vaccinated,” said Steve Waldman, M.D., dean of the school’s St. Joseph campus. “This is a very gracious gesture from the Patterson Family Foundation in recognition of the Mosaic-UMKC School of Medicine partnership and our efforts working in tandem to get the rural community vaccinated.” The School of Medicine opened the St. Joseph campus in January in an effort to address the need for more rural physicians. Waldman said nobody realized just how quickly the effort would begin paying dividends. UMKC students at Mosaic were only weeks into their medical school training when they became certified to administer vaccines and joined the volunteer effort to reach rural patients. They even administered shots to members of the school’s faculty as part of their vaccine training.   “The vision of the St. Joseph campus to increase additional rural health care providers was achieved and it occurred just a few weeks into the start of classes,” Waldman said. “In partnership with Mosaic Life Care, 100 percent of our students were trained as vaccinators and 100 percent of them volunteered to administer COVID vaccines. We didn’t have to wait four years for our students to start giving back. It happened immediately." Davin Turner, D.O., chief medical officer at Mosaic Life Care, said: “The students from UMKC School of Medicine were an amazing resource for Mosaic and their contribution was invaluable. We were honored to work side by side with the students as they assisted with our vaccination efforts. We could not have administered the more than 47,000 first and second doses without their tireless efforts. To have them part of our Mosaic community has been an immediate benefit, and we can’t thank them enough. We are grateful others such as the Patterson Family Foundation recognized their efforts as well.” The gift from the Patterson Foundation will be used to reward and recognize those who gave their time and in some cases took the risk early on to volunteer before being fully vaccinated. Waldman said part of the funds would also go to training additional vaccinators. “Hopefully they’ll never be needed, but we’re excited about being a lot more prepared,” he said. Jun 22, 2021

  • No, COVID Shots Won’t Give You Shingles. Here’s what causes it, what you need to know

    David Bamberger, UMKC professor of medicine, weighs-in on vaccine and shingles
    People often feel the pain before the rash breaks out, said David Bamberger, professor of medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and chief of infectious diseases at Truman Medical Centers/University Health. The Kansas City Star story was picked up by MSN Canada. Jun 21, 2021

  • Missouri’s Medicaid Expansion Hearing Scheduled For Monday

    KSHB taps Allen Rostron, School of Law professor
    “So a lawsuit has been filed saying you need to follow through on what the Missouri voters ordered you to do,” Allen Rostron, a law professor at UMKC, said. “They set the direction for this and you have to follow their instruction. The state, the attorney general’s argument, is basically saying, ‘no we don’t have to because it’s up to us to make the decision about the appropriation of money to pay for it.’” Read the story and watch the newscast. Jun 20, 2021

  • The World’s 25 Best Drama Schools, Ranked

    The Hollywood Reporter again ranks UMKC Theatre
    UMKC Theatre was No. 23 on the list. Jun 19, 2021

  • Building A Network To Support NextGen Missouri Manufacturing

    Missouri Ag Connection interviewed Dean Kevin Truman about roundtable events aimed at strengthening Missouri’s manufacturing sector
    Missouri manufacturers, chambers of commerce and business and economic development organizations will team up with University of Missouri System researchers over the next 18 months in a series of roundtable events across the state aimed at strengthening Missouri’s manufacturing sector. The roundtable effort recognizes that these smaller manufacturers can have an outsized impact on the overall economic health of smaller, rural communities, said Kevin Truman, dean of the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering and a member of the core Consortium grant team. Read the full article. Jun 18, 2021

  • Alumna Provides ‘Battle Cry’ for Voices of Color

    Physician Maria Uloko, M.D. (’15), a graduate of the School of Medicine, produces a popular podcast spotlighting people of color succeeding in STEM...
    At first, Maria Uloko (’15) was proud of the looks of surprise, joy and comfort on the faces of people of color when she walked into a hospital room, and the patients saw a physician who looked like them. Soon, however, she began to question a society that still views Black physicians and scientists as an anomaly. The situation made her angry, but after the murder of George Floyd last year, her anger hardened into resolve. She had been thinking about starting a podcast to highlight the achievements of people of color in STEM fields, but that summer, “someday” turned into “now.” She launched “Battle Cry,” a podcast highlighting leaders of color in science, technology, engineering and medicine. On the podcast Twitter page, she proclaims, “We are here, we persevere, we resist then repeat.” Today, Uloko practices urology at San Diego Sexual Medicine. Here are excerpts from a recent conversation with her. When did you launch Battle Cry and why? I started Battle Cry in the Summer of 2020 in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder. I had always had the idea of creating a storytelling podcast that tells the stories of BIPOC (Black, indigenous and people of color) in STEM and who they were. Often in these spaces, our voices and narratives are drowned out to fit into an institution that historically excluded us. With the rigorous training schedule of a surgical resident, it always felt more like a future project that I would do later in life. But after that horrific event, the urgency of creating something to reclaim my voice was pronounced. So, I just dove in and stopped worrying about perfection because the mission was so much greater than the need for perfection. Why is spotlighting people of color working in STEM important to you? I am the first of many in spaces that were never intended for me. I was the first woman from UMKC School of Medicine to match into the competitive field of genitourinary surgery (urology), the first Black class president there and the first Black woman to graduate from the University of Minnesota urology department. I wear those titles with a mixture of pride and pure exhaustion. I lead with my race and identity because it is something I cannot separate myself from – nor would I want to. It is the first thing patients see when I enter a room and is oftentimes what defines our interaction. During my medical training, I started noticing that every time I walked into a room of a patient of color, I would get a look of surprise, joy, comfort and elation radiating from their faces. For many of them, this was the first time they were getting care from someone that looked like them and shared their unique background and experience. These moments initially filled me with such pride that I could give back to my people in such a meaningful way. But then as the years went on, that pride turned into anger, resentment and sorrow. How was it that my 75-year-old patient had never had a Black physician? Why did I keep hearing “I never knew I could be a doctor” by numerous children, teens, and adults in this day and age when there is so much information and technology at our fingertips? I was angry at a system that told Black and brown children they could not be whatever they wanted. I was resentful that these people could have been my colleagues if they had been supported or they had someone who believed that they could and showed them the way. And I was full of sorrow at so much lost potential to improve health care and save lives within Black, brown and lower socioeconomic communities. How was it that they did not realize that they not only DESERVED to be treated by people that understand them, but it could actually save their lives? There are numerous studies showing that patients of color treated by providers of color have better outcomes and survival. These encounters broke my heart, but with heartbreak comes action. The words – “I never knew we could be doctors” – replayed over and over in my head. These children weren’t being exposed to people that looked like them in the STEM fields. I lead with my race and identity because it is something I cannot separate myself from – nor would I want to. It is the first thing patients see when I enter a room and is oftentimes what defines our interaction. You typically go beyond career-oriented stories to portray your subjects as people, not just scientists. Why is that important to you? I've always loved narrative storytelling. Stories define us, shape us, control us and make us. I think there is immense power when people share their story and what makes them, "them." It wasn't until college/medical school that I finally began hearing stories of other BIPOC doing such cool things, usually through podcasts. But finding people interested in STEM was still difficult. I knew that if I was going to do the hard work of anti-racism work and sustain my mental and emotional health, I wanted to do it through storytelling. I wanted to create a platform where I could give the microphone to these voices who have had to fight to get to where they were. I wanted our collective voices and stories to be a roaring and deafening battle cry, that we will not be silenced nor stop fighting. Hence the name, Battle Cry. Stories define us, shape us, control us and make us. I think there is immense power when people share their story and what makes them, "them." How has Battle Cry been received? I am shocked by the popularity of the podcast. I honestly kept making the episodes as a form of healing during a really traumatic and ugly moment in our nation’s history. My goal was that if I could just expose one person to know they can do anything, all the time and commitment was worth it. I did not think this would be heard in six continents and making top podcast lists in several countries. It goes to show that people are more than ready for these stories. I wanted our collective voices and stories to be a roaring and deafening battle cry, that we will not be silenced nor stop fighting. Hence the name, Battle Cry. Did your experiences at UMKC influence your decision to launch the podcast, or influence its content? In what ways? UMKC SOM is a very diverse place, and it was the first place where I felt celebrated for my differences, which was very affirming. The confidence of knowing who I am as a person and what my unique background attributed to my success is something I will always be grateful for. But even in this diverse place, I still had several encounters at UMKC that were frankly racist and shone the light on the disparities in health care and representation, which started my exploration of the historical context of why these disparities exist. Tell us a little about your current medical practice: I am a urologic surgeon in San Diego specializing in comprehensive sexual health including male and female sexual dysfunction and transgender care. Jun 17, 2021

  • Nursing Professor Helps Shape KC’s New Health Improvement Plan

    Joseph Lightner says plan aims to counter racism and its effects before they lead to chronic illness
    Kansas City has a new, ambitious Community Health Improvement Plan addressing the underlying causes of poor health in the city, thanks in part to Joseph Lightner, an assistant professor in the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies. Mayor Quinton Lucas appointed Lightner to the Kansas City Health Commission in spring of 2020, and he was co-chair of its committee that drew up the new plan. Cities revise their Community Health Improvement Plans, CHIPS for short, every five years as part of their national accreditation. “The city’s plan drawn up in 2016 was innovative by focusing on social determinants of health — including homelessness, inadequate school finance, lack of transportation and access to health care — instead of the chronic health conditions that result,” said Lightner. He worked for the Kansas City Health Department as its liaison to the Health Commission before he joined the UMKC faculty in 2018. “This 2022-2027 plan takes that one step further, acknowledging the systemic racism that’s underneath so many of the conditions that lead to poor health,” he said. “Kansas City is really a leader in focusing upstream at these causes, to try to solve the problem before it becomes the chronic diseases.” That focus is needed, the plan says, as Kansas City has been identified as the fifth most racially and economically segregated city in the United States. Lightner, who has a master’s in public health and a doctorate in kinesiology, said the plan detailed goals for the city in six areas: public health infrastructure; safe and affordable housing; well-financed and trauma-informed education; violence prevention; implementation of Medicaid expansion; and equitable access to COVID-19 testing, vaccination and treatment resources. “Even in a pandemic, most people die of chronic health conditions and the diseases they lead to, whether it’s obesity, diabetes, hypertension or something else related.” — Joseph Lightner, assistant professor The pandemic showed the need for more public health capacity, Lightner said, especially in underserved areas. The plan notes that Missouri ranks 49th for state public health spending, making local and federal financing all the more important. The city does a good job with its own resources and attracting federal money, Lightner said, “but we need more.” The plan starts by noting that the life-expectancy gap between ZIP codes with mainly white populations and those with mainly Black residents is wide, 18.2 years between the best and worst ZIP codes, and only grew wider from 2016 to 2019. Though Kansas City’s health challenges are big, Lightner said the new plan’s goals could make a difference in the lives of thousands of residents. The plan was approved by the City Council, and resolutions and ordinances to advance several of the goals have already been introduced. “Even in a pandemic, most people die of chronic health conditions and the diseases they lead to, whether it’s obesity, diabetes, hypertension or something else related,” Lightner said. “And people with these conditions, in poor health already, fare the worst from COVID.” Lightner’s experience includes helping launch the nursing school’s undergraduate public health curriculum and getting students involved in innovative research that brings fitness and nutrition programs to area schools. He hopes his work on the Health Commission will further improve how the city tackles its health challenges. “Working in the community is so important for our faculty,” he said, “to use our research to improve people’s lives and support the Kansas City community.” Jun 16, 2021

  • Alumna Talks About Life as a Work-From-Home Pharmacist

    Katherine Lurk reflects on the opportunities that abound for School of Pharmacy graduates
    A work-from-home pharmacist, Katherine Lurk (’10) supports TrestleTree clients across the country with drug education and medication therapy designed to drive behavioral changes toward improved health and lower costs. With her clinical expertise, she also plays an important role on the company’s business development team. How would you describe your current job as a pharmacist? For the past 5-plus years, I have served TrestleTree in a clinical capacity, supporting a National Health Plan. As a pharmacist, I support client members with medication therapy management and solutions for drug and disease related concerns. I maintain active pharmacist licensure in 46 states plus Washington, D.C. That enables me to work directly with members in all parts of the United States. Additionally, I provide consultative support to the client's team of nurse case managers and for internal team of Health Coaches. I have also recently joined the business development team, bringing my clinical expertise and knowledge of TrestleTree's in-depth training and model for health transformation to new clients. My ongoing goal in this role is to build relationships and promote business expansion with large employer groups and benefit consultants to create behavior change and sustainable health improvements for individuals and families across the country. What does a typical day look like in your role? Typically, I provide clinical support to health coaching participants directly through telephone interactions and indirectly via phone and email communication with TrestleTree Health Coaches and nurse case managers. I also work with the business development team seeking new opportunities for business growth, providing presentations for potential clients, developing and implementing a marketing strategy, and learning the inner workings of business operations. It has been a very humbling, yet exciting, experience to employ my clinical expertise in the business world.  What do you most enjoy about your particular job? I enjoy my team and the leadership at TrestleTree. From the top down, this company is infused with goodness, kindness and compassion. And, we practice what we preach. We believe everyone deserves the opportunity to live in good health. TrestleTree has a mission to create sustainable change for individuals in all walks of life. Why did you decide on Pharmacy as a career choice? Growing up, I discovered a love for science, particularly chemistry. I chose pharmacy because of the diversity in career opportunities, along with the ability to develop a career that aligned with my life goals. I wanted to create a fulfilling, professional career with work-life balance that enabled me to enjoy my family, too. What were your plans as a pharmacist when you started school? Initially, I had a passion for oncology. I wanted to be an oncology specialty pharmacist providing expertise in this complex field, especially around medication management. After completing my first year of residency, my plans changed and propelled me into a completely different area of practice.   How do you see the roles of pharmacists continuing to evolve in the future? Opportunities for pharmacists continue to expand beyond traditional roles. Pharmacists possess a unique skill set that can be applied in research and business-driven roles along with clinical and industry specializations. With a recent transition to the business side, I have experienced first-hand the value of clinical knowledge and experience when sharing the inner workings of a company focused on improving health and optimizing clinical outcomes. What would be your best advice for someone thinking about a career in pharmacy? Keep an open mind and always look for unique opportunities. Be mindful of pivot points in your journey, the key decisions that will determine your path and the direction of your life. Embrace leadership roles early and throughout your education and develop relationships with instructors and peers.   Why should someone pick the UMKC School of Pharmacy? UMKC offers a strong pharmacy education with many opportunities for students to explore their interests and develop their passions. It is also incredibly unique that the School of Pharmacy is located on Hospital Hill with the medical, dental and nursing schools creating a collaborative environment for learning and a team approach to clinical practice. How did your time at the UMKC School of Pharmacy help prepare you for your current role as a pharmacist? UMKC's rigorous academics provided me strong clinical skills and knowledge that I built upon during residency and years of clinical practice. I also embraced leadership opportunities in various organizations and worked closely with faculty and staff. These relationships proved to be valuable for referrals into internships and residency programs, and many of them remain part of my pharmacy network today. What do you do outside of work for fun? I enjoy spending time with family and friends, nice dinners, summers on the water, and watching my kids play the sports they love. Being a mom is the best and I'm grateful for a career that provides a balance between family and work. Jun 16, 2021

  • Tom Corbin Is the Kansas City Sculptor Behind the Roo Statue Recently Unveiled On the University of Missouri-Kansas City Campus.

    A KCUR conversation with the artist of the Corbin Roo
    In addition to the kangaroo, Tom Corbin just finished work on a bronze life-size statue of President Harry S. Truman that will eventually find its home in Washington, D.C.  Jun 15, 2021

  • 2 Kansas City Area Colleges to Require COVID Vaccine, Others ‘Strongly Recommend’ It

    KCTV5 reports on Kansas City area colleges' requirements for COVID vaccine
    Many area colleges are strongly recommending, yet not requiring the vaccine; Ottawa University, Mizzou, UMKC, UCM, Park University, Pittsburg State, MCC , KCKCC, JCCC and Benedictine College. Read the full article and watch the newscast.  Jun 15, 2021

  • Overland Park Holocaust Survivor Shares Story As Reminder of Horrors of Hate

    KSHB features Judy Jacobs, UMKC alumnus and 2016 Defying the Odds Alumni Association Award winner
    Judy Jacobs received an MBA and a Ph.D. from UMKC. Jacobs received the 2016 Defying the Odds Award from the UMKC Alumni Association. Read the story and watch the newcast. Jun 14, 2021

  • Pandemic Schooling Was Tough, But This Kansas City Student Teacher Wouldn’t Change A Thing

    KCUR features UMKC School of Education alumnus Khalil Jones
    Khalil Jones spent most of the year teaching English Language Arts to his East High School students from his bedroom. He recently graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read more from KCUR. Jun 14, 2021

  • Crossing the Bridge From Campus to Career

    Meet five recent UMKC graduates who went straight from campus to the first stage of a rewarding career
    More than 2,300 UMKC students participated in commencement exercises at Kauffman Stadium in May, and many of them went straight from campus to ballpark to the first stage of a rewarding career. Meet four members of the UMKC Class of 2021 – and one who returned to celebrate her 2020 graduation in a pandemic-delayed ceremony. Courtney Collins ’21 Henry W. Bloch School of Management Where will you be working, and what excites you about this opportunity to launch a career? I will be doing the Estee Lauder summer internship. There are about 100 interns from across the country that are placed on teams. Estee Launder has 25 to 30 brands in everything from cosmetics to skincare to fragrances. I will be the marketing intern for two of the luxury fragrance brands. Some of my responsibilities will include working with budding influencers and learning and reviewing customer insights. I’m excited to put what I have learned at UMKC into practice and hopefully have a full-time offer by the end of summer. How did your UMKC education make this possible? I made a ton of great connections through the Bloch School. I completed a full-time internship with SkillPath in Kansas City. I was also on executive boards for both a business fraternity and a social sorority. Those helped to really round out my experiences on campus and helped me develop skills that were easily translatable in interview situations. In the spring of 2020 I completed a study abroad program in Spain where I was able to take an international marketing class. My professors abroad were super helpful in giving insight on the international marketing industry, so that helped open up a door for me that I could pursue. Courtney Collins   What are your long-term career goals? I had this running joke with my friends, because UMKC has so many specific programs like pre-law and pre-med, I would tell people that I’m pre-CEO. It’s what I would love to do, be a leader of a group or an organization. It’s truly humbling to be in those positions. I would also love to be a brand manager or do something in the creative field. But in the long run I would love to potentially start my own company. "Because UMKC has so many specific programs like pre-law and pre-med, I would tell people that I’m pre-CEO." — Courtney Collins   Jacob Furry ’21 Conservatory Where will you be working, and what excites you about this opportunity to launch a career? I'll be teaching K-5 general music at Welborn Elementary School in Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools. I'm looking forward to applying what I've learned during my time at UMKC to my own classroom this fall! I'll be teaching music to more than 500 kids at Welborn, which seems a bit daunting, admittedly, but I'm confident it will be very fulfilling. It's inspiring how much KCKPS supports the arts, and I'm excited to start my career within that community. How did your UMKC education make this possible, in terms of classes, extracurriculars, internships, service-learning opportunities, networking opportunities, etc.? The thoroughness of the curriculum in the music education program at UMKC and the overwhelming support I've received from the faculty has allowed me to approach my first year of teaching with confidence. I know I don't have all the answers, and that I'll undoubtedly struggle as a first-year teacher, but UMKC has given me mentors and colleagues that I can always lean on for support. Jacob Furry at Welborn Elementary School   One of my favorite things about the music education program at UMKC is the large amount of time pre-service teachers are able to spend in real classrooms. During my time at UMKC, I had observation/student teaching placements in four schools across three districts in the KC metro area, ranging K-12. These placements offered a wide breadth of experiences working with many different kinds of students, allowing me to figure out exactly what I enjoyed doing the most. I landed on teaching elementary music! "I had an amazing experience with undergraduate research while a student at UMKC, and I was even able to present my work at a national music education conference this year." — Jacob Furry What are your long-term career goals? I definitely plan on going back to school in the future. I had an amazing experience with undergraduate research while a student at UMKC, and I was even able to present my work at a national music education conference this year. I've found that education is a very dynamic field. We're always learning new and better ways to help students succeed, and I loved being able to make a small contribution to that evolving knowledge base through my own research. After I get some real-world teaching experience under my belt, I'd love to do more of that.   Tami Greenberg ’20 Henry W. Bloch School of Management Greenberg has served as CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City for six years, and will continue in that role after earning an Executive Master of Business Administration degree. Where will you be working, and what excites you about this opportunity to enhance your career? I undertook the Executive MBA journey not to “launch” my career, but to enhance and strengthen it.  I am excited about demonstrating in my daily role the things I learned in the program, including leadership, strategy, business acumen, financial management, advocacy, marketing, innovation, influence and persuasion. Tami Greenberg, third from left in front row, with her EMBA cohort at commencement   How did your UMKC education make this possible? I enjoyed how we moved through in a cohort learning model. Our group became very close, and we learned not just from our professors and classes, but also from one another. I believe strongly that “sharp knives make each other sharper,” and I am grateful for all the “sharp knives” I got to know through my UMKC executive education. And I would be remiss if I did not mention all the extraordinary guest speakers – I felt lucky to have such access to the leaders who visited our program. One of the promises of the EMBA at UMKC is “you learn something on Saturday, that you put into practice the following Monday.” I found that to be true while I was actively in the program, and it continues to be true now. What are your long-term career goals? It is an honor and privilege to keep families close to their seriously ill children. With three Ronald McDonald Houses and a Ronald Family Room here in Kansas City, we serve 87 families with sick kids every night. My long-term career goals are to be the best possible leader for this organization, to ensure that we are delivering our mission with excellence and care, and to maintain the highest possible business standards in leading this team and this work.   Fiona Isiavwe ’21 Henry W. Bloch School of Management Tell me how you found the job opportunity with Deloitte, what is your title there and what excites you about this opportunity to launch your career?  I will be starting off as an audit assistant with Deloitte. I was on the executive board of four student organizations, serving part-time as a Supplemental Instruction Leader and enrolled in 15 credit hours, while maintaining a 4.0 cumulative GPA when a national recruiter with Deloitte reached out to me via Handshake. Deloitte is filled with some of the brightest minds across the globe. I am excited to be able to work alongside such incredibly talented people, learn and continually challenge myself, and have fun during the process!  How did your UMKC education make this possible, in terms of classes, extracurriculars, internships, service learning opportunities, networking opportunities, etc.?   I remember when I was first scouted by my recruiter, she remarked that my Handshake profile had stood out to her from the others. My access to Handshake was provided through the UMKC Bloch career services department. My academic achievements were a testament to the academic resources available at UMKC. At the Bloch school, I was surrounded by faculty who believed in me and took the time to mentor and encourage me. Fiona Isiavwe   In addition, the academic resources available like Supplemental Instruction, the tutoring center, writing studio and labs were of huge help to my academic success and I found the networking opportunities organized by the Bloch school to be worthwhile. I remember always leaving feeling ignited upon listening to the experiences of Bloch alumni and guests. Their stories made me feel like my dreams were valid, possible, and attainable. "I want others to see that their hopes and dreams are valid, possible, and attainable." — Fiona Isiavwe   What are your long-term career goals?  I am grateful for this opportunity and hope to work my way up, gaining as much insight as I can along the way. I hope to venture into special projects back home in Nigeria and across the globe, give back and be a testament to those in positions where I once was. I want others to see that their hopes and dreams are valid, possible, and attainable.     Emma Stark ’21 School of Nursing and Health Studies Stark will be working at North Kansas City Hospital as a nurse technician until she takes her Nursing Licensure Exam and will then start her role as a critical care nurse. Where will you be working and what excites you about this opportunity to launch a career? I will be working at North Kansas City Hospital as a critical care float nurse, working in the hospital’s various intensive care units as well as the emergency department. I am excited to continue working on the front lines serving the greater Kansas City area. Nursing is an ever-changing and growing career field and I am excited to continue learning every day.  How did your UMKC education make this possible? UMKC opened many doors for me within my field. I was provided almost double the clinical hours of many other programs and this allowed me to develop connections with many leaders within the nursing profession. UMKC also made sure I was able to experience different nursing settings and hospitals so I could determine my passion.  My first-ever clinical placement is actually how I discovered North Kansas City Hospital and fell in love with their mission.  What are your long-term career goals? I know I want to pursue higher education. I want to help reform the health care system in our country and make health care more accessible to the entire population. I have a passion for helping people and I specifically want to make a difference in impoverished and underserved communities. Jun 14, 2021

  • Miller to Lead Professional Mobility Escalator Program

    Signature new program provides unique system of personalized support to help students graduate career-ready
    Mako Miller, M.A.Ed, an experienced educational professional with an extensive background in career development, has been named director of the Professional Mobility Escalator program, the university’s signature new program providing a unique system of personalized support and services to propel students from their educational aspirations to good-paying careers. The escalator program, a centerpiece initiative of the UMKC Forward plan, will launch in Fall Semester 2022. Miller comes to UMKC from Kauffman Scholars, where she has served as Career Services Manager for the last four years. She is past president of the Missouri Career Development Association, current president of the Kansas Association of Colleges and Employers and co-founder of Young Professionals of Color-Kansas City. She holds degrees from UMKC and Kansas State University, and has served on the UMKC School of Education Alumni Association Board of Directors. Her role at Kauffman Scholars has included planning and implementing comprehensive career development experiences for college students, while developing ongoing relationships with Kansas City-area employers to facilitate connections with students. “Mako comes to this position with a strong network of connections in the Kansas City community,” said Kristi Holsinger, Ph.D., senior vice provost for student success. “Her innovative thinking and enthusiasm will allow her to be a strategic, collaborative leader and a strong contributor to UMKC’s Culture of Care. The escalators will be open to all admitted students, but the program is built on research and best practice that support UMKC goals to increase retention and graduation rates of underrepresented, first-generation and Pell-eligible students. At Kauffman Scholars, Miller created Roundtable Represent, a program that intentionally recruits professionals of color to connect and network with students to discuss issues around diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace and build relationships that allow students to see people who look like them in professional settings. The initiative supports two key missions of the university: student success and community engagement. It will include applied learning experiences in the community, mentorship, support for admission to advanced professional education, and leadership training.  Initial professional focus areas for the escalators, based on workforce need and personal career opportunity, include healthcare, education, engineering/business and law/justice. Others will be added in the future in response to workforce demand trends. The program components are shaped by empirical evidence on the most effective contributors to student success in higher education. Each escalator will be created in alignment with the academic discipline and provide meaningful and ongoing experiences in the following areas: Career Discovery, Guidance & Development Mentoring and Assessment with Student Support Referrals Applied Learning Experience (such as internship, job shadowing, service learning) Professional Access Preparation (such as test prep, personal statement, interviews, letters of recommendation, timelines) Leadership Development Credential (focusing on inclusive excellence, attaining durable/essential skills) Jun 14, 2021

  • Mentoring Tomorrow’s Rural Pharmacists

    Dynamic duo at Columbia campus cares for farmers
    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. Growing up in a farm family, Kelly Cochran’s passion is spreading the message that rural healthcare needs to be a top priority in Missouri and throughout the U.S. “We need to take care of the people who are feeding us,” says Cochran, a clinical associate professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy in Columbia, Missouri. “Farmers often don’t have healthcare close by, and it’s challenging for them to take the time off to see a provider.” So Cochran and her pharmacy students deliver health care to farmers. They’re part of Pharm to Farm, a statewide outreach program of the Missouri AgrAbility Project, that helps farmers identify medical risks through their local pharmacist. In many rural Missouri areas, pharmacists fill healthcare gaps and are the first face farmers see for their health and safety. “This program has inspired me to be more outgoing. Through my experiences, I feel that I am gaining communications skills that will help me as a pharmacist.” - Cassidy Jones Cassidy Jones (PharmD '22) chose the UMKC School of Pharmacy campus in Columbia, Missouri, because it is near the rural community she plans to work in. The UMKC School of Pharmacy faculty-student teams conduct health screenings at farms and events. With Cochran’s mentorship, Cassidy Jones (PharmD ’22) planned the UMKC School of Pharmacy screening at the Great Plains Growers Conference at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri. It meant scheduling shifts for students to conduct health assessments including taking blood pressure and asking questions about medication — not an easy task because it was a volunteer duty three hours from the Columbia campus and an hour away from the Kansas City location. Students from the Springfield campus work at events, too, but since this one was nearly five hours away during a break, they sat this one out. “I started planning this event shortly after the semester began in August,” says Jones, who grew up on a small farm in Auxvasse, Missouri, about 30 minutes from Columbia. Because Jones shows horses, it was important for her to be close to home for her studies, which is why she chose the UMKC School of Pharmacy campus at the University of Missouri in Columbia. After she graduates, she hopes to work as a pharmacist in Mexico, Missouri, surrounded by farms nearby. “This program has inspired me to be more outgoing,” Jones says. “I am usually very shy, but in the future, I will need to have the confidence to counsel patients, consult with physicians and be a leader in the pharmacy. Through my experiences, I feel that I am gaining communications skills that will help me as a pharmacist.” Cochran enjoys mentoring students like Jones. “We need to take care of the people who are feeding us. Farmers often don’t have healthcare close by, and it’s challenging for them to take the time off to see a provider.” - Kelly Cochran Kelly Cochran, at left, grew up on a farm, and is passionate about teaching pharmacy students such as Cassidy Jones, at right, about rural healthcare. “My favorite part is seeing students find success in their future career paths,” she says. “In particular, when they recognize their roles as servant leaders and advocates for health and medication safety among the rural communities they will serve.” At the growers conference, Jones lugged in a rolling cart filled with boxes of supplies and pamphlets that filled the trunk of the car she shared with Cochran on the drive from Columbia. One leaflet was called “Standing Tall to Prevent Falls,” the most frequent accident to occur on farms. Another was “Better Sleep for the Farmer Stuck Counting Sheep” about sleep hygiene — a study found that farmers who slept less than normal experienced 7.4 times higher risk of having balance issues, which could lead to poor work or an injury. Jones and others set up wayfinding signs to the UMKC School of Pharmacy health-screening area, tucked away from the flow of the conference to give farmers and growers privacy. “You might want to walk around and let people know we’re here,” Cochran suggested to Jones. “They’ll probably respond to students better than a faculty member like me.” Soon after Jones launched her recruiting mission, men and women trickled in. “I haven’t been to a doctor in eight years,” says Matthew Shoop, a row-crop farmer from Platte County. After his screening, he says health screenings are needed for farmers like him. Stress, among others things, is common because of the unpredictability that goes hand in hand with the career. “If not for this screening, I don’t know when I would have been seen.” “My favorite part is seeing students find success in their future career paths. In particular, when they recognize their roles as servant leaders and advocates for health and medication safety among the rural communities they will serve.” - Kelly Cochran Cassidy Jones, a pharmacy student at left, spent months preparing for a health screening at a growers conference in St. Joseph, Missouri. The Need for Rural Health Care in Missouri By the Numbers 98 of 101 Rural counties in Missouri are considered primary care Health Professional Shortages Areas. 2- to 4-fold Medicine can increase risk of injury while using farm equipment. 10+ Miles that many of Missouri’s residents live from the nearest drugstore. Many rural residents live even farther from primary-care doctors and specialists. Health of Farmers Common issues Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes are more prevalent in rural areas. Incontinence, sleep deprivation, pain and heart disease increase the rate of farm accidents. Medicines often cause dizziness, confusion, drowsiness, blurred vision, lightheadedness and gait problems — increasing injuries on farms. Farmers’ stoic nature often prevents sharing health concerns with family members and friends. UMKC School of Pharmacy care through Pharm to Farm faculty and students They help farmers identify medicines that might be of risk to them. They talk about ways to improve safety on the farm. They conduct health screenings. They work with pharmacists raised in non-rural areas to teach them about farm values: independence, pride, thrift, skepticism and a strong work ethic. They also talk about safety barriers in rural settings such as long work hours and seasonal deadlines. Jun 12, 2021

  • Faculty Donation Establishes Endowment for Gay and Lesbian Archives

    UMKC professor’s gift increases collection security, longevity
    When Linda E. Mitchell, Ph.D., professor of history and the Martha Jane Phillips Starr Missouri Distinguished Endowed Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at UMKC, began to think about estate planning, she decided to create an endowment fund for the Gay and Lesbian Archives of Mid-America (GLAMA.)  Mitchell’s academic career has focused on women’s, gender and sexuality studies, mostly in reference to the history of women and families in the Middle Ages. The combination of her research in medieval studies and gender and sexuality revealed that historically, gender has never been seen as simply a binary, despite what some people may think. “This is what happens when you study history,” she says. “Situations were often more complicated than people try to make them.” Because of her mentoring of students in history and women’s, gender and sexuality studies, Mitchell was familiar with GLAMA’s mission to collect, preserve and make accessible materials that are part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities’ history in the Kansas City region. GLAMA is housed in the LaBudde Special Collections at the Miller Nichols Library, and Mitchell has worked closely with Stuart Hinds, curator of special collections, on developing research projects for students in the archival collections housed at La Budde, including those that form part of GLAMA. In addition to her professional interest, Mitchell’s connection to the collection is personal. “My brother and his husband are two of the most important people in my life,” Mitchell says. “As I began making plans for my estate, I wanted to support GLAMA in their honor. I contacted Stuart to see if the archives had an endowed fund.” Close-up of AIDS Memorial Quilt display Kansas City Municipal Auditorium, 1991 Hinds confirmed that GLAMA did not have an endowment, and Mitchell decided to create the Bill Mitchell and Jeff Halpern Endowment for GLAMA. “I felt that establishing this endowment was tremendously important,” Mitchell says. “We are seeing even now attempts to erase and denigrate the history of underrepresented groups—such as women and people who do not identify themselves in binary-gendered ways—and this fund can provide some security for the collection.” Hinds recognizes the importance in compiling the documentation of the LGBTQIA community in Kansas City that reflects a history that was previously left out of the traditional local historical narrative.   “The value inside the community really centers around preservation,” Hinds says. These stories, photographs and materials are preserved, and they're given a long-term home so they don't disappear. Over the years many donors have told me that one of the reasons they were interested in donating is because they were concerned that their family might not see the value in these memorabilia and throw it away.” "Kansas City is lucky to have GLAMA. The archives improve the national perception of the city." — Linda E. Mitchell While the loss of personal stories is concerning, the significance of preservation is inclusion on a broader scale. “We're really at a moment where we're trying to incorporate a much wider variety of stories in the American historical narrative, some of which aren't very pleasant,” Hinds says. “It's the job of these kinds of archives to broaden that inclusion so historians can accomplish the work that they are trying to achieve.” “Kansas City is lucky to have GLAMA,” Mitchell says. “The archives improve the national perception of the city. It’s not only barbecue and football. We live in one of the most culturally rich and complex cities in the country. GLAMA is a great component of that diversity.” Jun 11, 2021

  • As Consumer Prices Spike, Kansas City-Area Economist Suggests Avoiding 3 Certain Markets

    KSHB taps William Black for story about consumer prices
    While spiking demand and limited supply is driving up prices, William Black, associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said inflation is not happening everywhere. Read the article and watch the newscast. Jun 10, 2021

  • Federal Unemployment Benefits Ending in Missouri

    Nathan Mauck weighs-in for KCTV5
    “I think there are multiple reasons why folks are staying out of the workplace,” said UMKC Associate Professor of Finance Nathan Mauck. Mauck believes some unemployed people have been reluctant to look for work because they fear catching the virus. Read the full article and watch the newscast. Jun 10, 2021

  • Millions of Americans are Vulnerable To Surprise Medical Billing

    Yahoo Finance consults with UMKC Bloch Assistant Professor of Health Administration Christopher Garmon
    “You go to an emergency room that’s in your health plan’s network, but you’re treated by a physician there that’s not in your network, or you schedule a surgery and your surgeon’s in network but then it turns out the anesthesiologist is out of network,” Christopher Garmon, assistant professor of health administration at University of Missouri-Kansas City, told Yahoo Finance. Jun 10, 2021

  • UMKC Alum Courtney Frerichs Feeling Confident for Olympic trials

    KSHB reports on Courtney Frerichs' Olympic Trials run
    UMKC alum Courtney Frerichs is hoping to get a second shot at an Olympic gold medal during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Read the article and watch the newscast. Jun 10, 2021

  • A Kansas City Writer With Schizophrenia Hopes Poetry Helps 'Extract The Beauty From The Ugly'

    UMKC student Alexej Savreux has rereleased a collection of poetry that runs the gamut from broken hearts to complex physics theory.
    Alexej Savreux is currently a year into a graduate degree in theater tech at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and recently became a sponsored poet at Poetry for Personal Power. The position uses poetry and art to uplift and support people in need, particularly those with mental health diagnoses. Read the story from KCUR. Jun 10, 2021

  • High School Students Get Their Month in Court

    UMKC Law faculty and alumni play major role in effort to attract urban youth to careers in law
    Throughout the month of June, lawyers, judges and law professors are working with urban high school students to introduce them to the legal system and pique their interest in legal careers. UMKC School of law faculty and alumni are playing a major role.  The program is called the Student Law Academy, and it is sponsored by the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Foundation and PREP-KC, an organization that works with urban school districts in the Kansas City metro to help young people explore their futures.  During the month-long program, high school students will participate in information/mentoring sessions with lawyers, judges and professors on topics such as the Life Cycle of a Lawsuit, Persuasive Public Speaking, Negotiating Styles, TV vs. Reality and School Speech and the First Amendment. “Participating in the Student Law Academy is just one example of our commitment to engage with and serve the community,” said Lorie Paldino, assistant director of Law Admissions for the UMKC School of Law. “Through this program, we are building bridges connecting the community, the legal profession and our students, faculty and alumni to each other, providing valuable opportunities for access, knowledge and networking.” UMKC School of Law faculty leading Academy sessions include Sean O’Brien, Mikah K. Thompson and Daniel B. Weddle. Among the many UMKC alumni participating are Dana Tippin Cutler and Keith A. Cutler, Tim Dollar, Jolie Justus, Sherri Wattenbarger, Michelle Wimes and the Hon. J. Dale Youngs. “The Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Foundation values diversity in the legal profession. Our Student Law Academy program allows our local legal community to take active steps to provide underserved high school students, who would not otherwise have the opportunity, meaningful exposure to different careers within the legal profession,” said Jill M. Katz, 2021 foundation president. “One goal of the academy is to help students create connections with lawyers and judges. These connections are crucial for students as they explore what their futures hold.” Jun 10, 2021

  • Study Ranks States on Safety During COVID-19 Pandemic. How did Missouri and Kansas do?

    UMKC's Jenifer Allsworth weighs-in for Flatland article
    Jenifer Allsworth, an epidemiologist and professor at University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, said that had the study been done a few months ago, the states’ rankings would have been more closely aligned. But vaccination rates in Kansas have gone up while infection rates have gone down in recent weeks. Read the article. Jun 09, 2021

  • Women of Color’s Persistence Puts the ‘Still’ in ‘Still We Rise’

    Keynote speaker for Leadership Conference Donna Brazile evokes past leaders to inspire continued action
    Donna Brazile, in the keynote address for this year’s Women of Color Leadership Conference, praised women of color for refusing to give up or give in to the forces trying to hold them back. Brazile, a longtime Democratic Party leader, also encouraged the members of her virtual audience to keep using their voices to further the dream of a just, inclusive America. In an address rich in cultural, historical and culinary references, Brazile said America was strengthened by its diversity and needed to include everyone to be at its best. She said women of color put the “Still” in this year’s conference theme, “Still We Rise.” And she likened women of color to the roux in gumbo, binding everything together and giving the dish spice and body. Without the roux, she said, there’s no gumbo. “It’s just soup.” Brazile also paid homage to Kansas City, saying its communities of color had made vital contributions to American culture, from barbecue to “Charlie Parker’s saxophone.” And she praised the Black entrepreneurs who turned the 18th and Vine area into a vital district long ago, including the Gem Theater and the stadium for the Kansas City Monarchs of Negro Leagues Baseball fame. She also remarked on the Kansas City community’s courage a century ago and wondered how its members must have felt when they learned of the massacre that occurred not so far away in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She marveled at 107-year-old Viola Fletcher, a survivor who as a 7-year-old fled the Tulsa massacre with her family. In the past, Brazile said, she has been inspired by seeing Fletcher testify before Congress and believing in a promising future for all Americans. On Tuesday, Brazile said, she was inspired to see Fletcher with President Biden in Tulsa at the ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the tragedy. Brazile also drew on words that have encouraged her, including: “It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.” — Madeline Albright, former secretary of state “Our role is to dream a better world and to work courageously to make that dream possible.” — Isabel Allende, author and activist “Don’t doubt what you know.” — Kerry Washington, actress and producer And in her own words, Brazile summed up, “Together, we are strong, powerful and daring to make a positive difference.” Also on the program for the day were panel discussions on mental health and on solidarity among women of color; Danielle Metz, a former prison inmate whose humanitarian efforts include helping incarcerated girls and women; and ballerina Karen Brown, who spoke on the importance of movement for good health and led an interactive session.  Jun 07, 2021

  • Kansas City In 1960s Gay Rights History

    KCUR talks to Stuart Hinds
    Stuart Hinds, curator of Special Collections and Archives at UMKC and curator of the Gay and Lesbian Archives of Mid America, was a guest on Up to Date.  Jun 05, 2021

  • How Can You Celebrate Pride Month In Kansas City?

    Kansas City Star features event with Stuart Hinds, curator of Special Collections & Archives at the University of Missouri-Kansas City; and Austin ...
    The Mid-Continent Public Library will host an online discussion about the history of LGBTQ activism in Kansas City with Stuart Hinds, curator of Special Collections & Archives at the University of Missouri-Kansas City; and Austin Williams, director of the award-winning documentary The Ordinance Project. Hinds said the event is important because it brings awareness to civil right struggles and forgotten history. Read the Kansas City Star article, which was picked up by MSN. Jun 04, 2021

  • They Say Kansas City Is A UFO Hot Spot. Will Pentagon Report Help You Believe Them?

    Read what UMKC's Daniel McIntosh tells the Kansas City Star
    Daniel McIntosh, chairman of the department of physics and astronomy at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, hasn’t heard any of his science colleagues mention the Pentagon report. Read the full article. Subscription required. Jun 03, 2021

  • Ask The Experts: Best Credit Cards Sign-Up Bonuses

    UMKC faculty provide financial insight for Ask the Experts blog with WalletHub
    Ask The Experts: Best Credit Cards Sign-Up Bonuses - Jeff Johnson, assistant professor of Marketing, Henry W. Bloch School of Management at UMKC Ask The Experts: Best No Credit Check Credit Cards - Judith Popper, clinical professor, UMKC School of Law      Jun 03, 2021

  • Missouri Feels the Pain of Drug Dependency and Overdose More than Most States

    Flatland interviews professor Heather Lyons-Burney
    To pharmacist and University of Missouri-Kansas City professor Heather Lyons-Burney, one of the largest roadblocks to recovery is the stigma around addiction. Read more. Jun 03, 2021

  • Volunteer's $1.2 Million Gift Ensures Student Support

    Endowment benefits UMKC Conservatory and the Women’s Council Graduate Assistance Fund
    The late Caroline McBride French was an enthusiastic UMKC Conservatory donor and volunteer. A successful attorney in Kansas City, French was active on the Friends of the UMKC Conservatory board, a fervent supporter of Crescendo, the Conservatory’s signature fundraiser and a member of the UMKC Women’s Committee for the UMKC Conservatory. “Music was her primary love,” says Don Dagenais, a longtime Conservatory supporter. “She had a great business sense and made very sophisticated investments. As a woman attorney in her day, she must have been quite a barrier breaker.” Her business acumen and her love for the arts resulted in a generous gift to support academic assistance for students at UMKC. Her estate gift of $800,000 will establish The Caroline McBride French Endowed Scholarship Fund of the UMKC Conservatory. An additional $460,000 will support the William L. and Caroline M. French Graduate Assistance Fund (GAF) named award through the UMKC Women’s Council. “We are grateful for Mrs. French’s support. Endowed scholarships like this one ensure that we are able to bring more talented students into our programs.” - Diane Petrella “We are grateful for Mrs. French’s support,” says Diane Petrella, dean of the UMKC Conservatory. “Endowed scholarships like this one ensure that we are able to bring more talented students into our programs. For many of them, scholarships are the essential piece of the puzzle that makes pursuing a degree in the arts a possibility.” As an attorney, French would have been aware of the need to support women in advanced degrees. The Women’s Council Graduate Assistance Fund has provided short-term assistance to more than 2,200 women graduate students since its inception in 1970. “Every time we receive a major gift like this one from Caroline French, we know it will help countless number of women complete their research, travel to perform or present at an academic conference or afford other expenses that may otherwise stand between them and an advanced degree,” says Debbie Brooks, J.D., president of the UMKC Women’s Council board of directors. “We are fortunate that Caroline had the foresight to provide these women that opportunity.” Jun 03, 2021

  • Alumni U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids and Nancy Mays Collaborate on Children’s Book

    ‘Sharice’s Big Voice’ tells the tale of a non-traditional student
    As Nancy Mays (MFA ’17) volunteered for U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids’s (BBA ’07) campaign, Davids mentioned that she had always wanted to write a children’s book. “She wasn’t thinking about herself,” Mays says. “She had a vision for a series of books that would introduce kids to civic responsibility with stories of how to do your part. But Sharice has such a great personal story. I thought we should start there.” While Mays knew a lot about Davids’s life growing up with a single mother, she was interested in what she was like as a child. She interviewed Crystal Herriage (BA ’17), Davids’s mother, and went through old pictures with her for background information. With both women’s stories in hand, Mays, who is a professional writer and writing instructor, began to develop the narrative arc of the book. “It was different writing a children’s book,” she says. “You really have to scale back your language, and that was more challenging than I thought it would be. You have fewer number of words on a page, and have to consider the type of words. But you still need to develop the voice, include all the information that is important to the editors and be true to the person’s story. It was a fun challenge.” “We wanted to tell the story in a way that would show kids that life didn’t need to follow a script.” - Nancy Mays Mays and Davids, who is Native American and a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, also agreed it was important to find an indigenous artist to create the illustrations. “We really wanted the illustrations in ‘Sharice’s Big Voice; A Native Kid Becomes a Congresswoman’ to capture the energy and vibrancy of Sharice’s childhood and Joshua [Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley] has really done that,” Mays says. “He was open to the collaborative process. There’s an illustration where Sharice is going to start campaigning an,d he drew it with her at the front of a group of people. Sharice asked him to redraw it. She said, ‘That’s not my style of leadership.’ And it made sense to him. He drew it again with her in the middle of the group.” Similarly, the first sentence of the book mentions Davids’s mother, who raised Davids on her own. It’s accompanied by an illustration of the two of them together on election night surrounded by other people. “When I received my first copy of the book, I showed it to my mom,” Davids says. “She knew what stories would be in the book, but when she opened it to the first page she said, ‘Oh! I’m in here.’ And it was interesting because the story of my life is so informed by the type of person she is – her supportive nature, her big heart and her fortitude. She’s is both the toughest and most kind and gentle person I know. It didn’t cross my mind to have it play out any other way.” Herriage said it felt special that her daughter would include her in the book. “Children see certain memories with different eyes than adults,” she says. “When she showed my promotion ceremony to Sergeant First Class in the Army in the book, I was so happy that we both saw it as a special family moment years later.” Herriage thinks Davids revealing that she was a “chatterbox” as a child, who learned to listen as well as talk, may be helpful for her readers.   Nancy Mays “A lot of children will see themselves, and that they can be happy with their own traits, which others may not find as endearing at the time,” Herriage says.  Beyond the strength of Davids’s relationship with her mother, one of the elements of her story that Mays thought was essential to the book was dichotomy of skills that make children successful in school, and skills that make people successful in life. “Sharice is very friendly and really loves people,” Mays says. “But when she was a kid, that meant she would get in trouble for talking in school.” Mays and Davids thought children would be able to relate to the challenge of sitting still and being quiet. “Another thing we loved about her story is that it took her a long time to finish her undergraduate degree from UMKC, but she did it,” Mays says. Davids worked her way through school as a manager of a fast-food restaurant where her mother also worked. “Sharice and I were both first generation students,” Mays says. “People don’t always realize that this is a very different experience. She and I connected over that.” Herriage did graduate from UMKC in 2017, 10 years after her daughter graduated. “Now Sharice refers to herself as a former first-generation college graduate,” Mays says with a laugh. “We wanted to tell the story in a way that would show kids that life didn’t need to follow a script.” - Nancy Mays Both Mays and Davids agreed that the book needed to end with the story of election night. “This story isn’t about being elected to Congress,” Mays says. “That was Sharice’s dream. We wanted to tell the story in a way that would show kids that life didn’t need to follow a script. It’s much more a message of, ‘I’m going to show you how I got to where I am, and maybe that will help you figure out where you’re going – no matter what it is you want to do.’” Rep. Sharice Davids Davids recognizes that it matters for children to see diversity in the characters in their books. “I wasn’t conscious as a child that there were no characters in books that looked like me, but as an adult I learned that only 1% of characters in books that are native or indigenous people,” she says. “I think that books like “Sharice’s Big Voice” featuring these diverse characters is important. But I also think it’s interesting that we call it ‘diversity.’ Because it’s not uncommon to be raised by a single mom, or to be an Army brat, or to work while you’re in school.” Davids says she hopes that someone reading her book – a child or adult - will see that the most important thing for people to do is recognize they can try lots of different things. “A child might read this and say, ‘I want to work with animals,’ or ‘I want to learn magic tricks.’ I wanted to show that you can try lots of different things and that's okay, because all of us have a different path.” Jun 01, 2021

  • Confronting Our Past (and Present) in Holocaust Exhibit at Union Station

    Flatland interviews Andrew Bergerson, UMKC history professor, about exhibition
    One of the people who will be part of the related speakers’ series with the exhibit, Andrew Bergerson, who teaches history at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, emphasized that very point when we talked about the coming exhibit recently. Read more. May 30, 2021

  • New Home For Artists Opens In Former Police Building On Kansas City’s East Side

    UMKC Gallery of Art director is part of a three-person panel coordinating the application process, about creating a space at Agnes Arts for artists...
    Artist Davin Watne has taught classes at the University of Missouri-Kansas City since 2002, and he also runs the UMKC Gallery of Art. He’s collaborated with Paul Migliazzo on several art studio projects, including Agnes Arts — where he’s already moved into a studio. He is part of a three-person panel coordinating the application process, about creating a space at Agnes Arts for artists to read books or look through magazines. Read more. May 29, 2021

  • After a School Year During the Pandemic, It's Graduation Season

    Provost Jenny Lundgren talks about 2021 commencement
    During a third of the radio hour (beginning at 6 minutes 15 seconds), UMKC Provost and Professor Jenny Lundgren discusses the pandemic, how the campus operated and in-person commencement at Kauffman Stadium. Hear the recording. May 27, 2021

  • New Student President Values Connection and Opportunity

    Tim Nguyen finds inspiration in faculty and fellow students alike
    Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. Tim Nguyen Hometown: Lee’s Summit, MO High School: Lee’s Summit West High School Academic program: Biology B.S (Pre-Dental) and Chemistry B.A Anticipated graduation year: May 2022  Why did you choose UMKC? I chose UMKC because it became my home away from home. The people I have met at UMKC and in Kansas City are some of the most impactful individuals who have helped me achieve my academic and professional endeavors. Why did you choose your field of study? I chose to study and work towards a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Chemistry to prepare me for dental school with a business minor. What are the benefits of the program? One benefit of the program is that everybody knows everybody else as a biology and/or chemistry major. You are able to form a close community with others. There will be nobody else that will be as supportive towards your success than some of the people you will meet during your time at UMKC. How has your college program inspired you? My college program has inspired me to learn from faculty, advisors and upperclassmen who are wiser, smarter and more hard working than me so I can continue to grow. I see them as mentors and role models and I want to embrace and embody their good qualities. "There will be nobody else that will be as supportive towards your success than some of the people you will meet during your time at UMKC." Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself? I have learned I can do anything, but I cannot do everything. Motivation comes and goes sometimes, but passion lasts forever. I’ve learned to grow comfortable in the uncomfortable. My mentality is to live life giving 110% day in and day out. Are you a first-generation college student? If so, what does that mean to you? No, my parents were born in Vietnam, but had some college here in America. My mom went to a small college and my dad had some community college and then transferred. I am the first in my family and extended family to be born in the United States and to go to college. I have nothing but respect for my parents as they left Vietnam by boat to come to America, escaping the Communists there. I want to make the most of my life here as I would not have the life and opportunities here if my parents never risked their lives leaving Vietnam. Who do you admire most at UMKC? I met Joseph Allen during Biology Bootcamp my freshman year and have never heard anything negative said about him during my time at UMKC. He is approachable - a role model - and I view him as a one of many mentors. His humility and his presence radiate with others. He was an individual that everybody knew, and he never had to introduce himself in a room. "I seize opportunities that I can learn from." What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor? “Be on time and ready to play.” What extracurricular activities are you involved in at UMKC? This fall semester I’ll serve as president for the UMKC Student Government Association. I will be an assistant coordinator for Academic Support and Mentoring Supplemental Instruction in the fall as well as leading the Biology Honors Discussion Group, which I’ve led for the past two years. I’ve led Biology 108 with Dr. Benevides for three semesters, general chemistry my second semester of college, Organic Chemistry as a TA for Dr. Kilway this past fall and spring semester. I will be working with Residential Life, and I also enjoyed putting in time with intramurals, such as soccer and volleyball when I started college at UMKC.   Do you have any scholarships? What do they mean to you? The UMKC Trustees’ Scholarship has given me the blessing to expose myself to all the opportunities UMKC has to offer and the networking connections of individuals in the community wanting to see me succeed. Receiving this monetary scholarship has tremendously reduced the financial burden for my family, giving me peace of mind. It will allow me to continue to pursue my professional and academic aspirations, and I am truly grateful. This generous financial support has given me more time to really serve students at UMKC through being able to be as involved I can. “During these internships, I learned, “If you see it, you can be it.” Have you had an internship/job shadow? What did you learn during your internship?  After my freshman year I was a Bluford Scholar in the Bluford Healthcare Leadership Institute (BHLI.)  After my sophomore year, I spent a week with a program piloted by BHLI and partnered with the Stowers Institute right across from UMKC. During these internships, I learned, “If you see it, you can be it.” This summer, I will be doing Phase 2 of the program. What do you hope to take from your experiences at UMKC into your professional career? I hope to take lessons which will prepare me to embrace all the setbacks that I may encounter and obstacles I must confront. I truly feel that UMKC has given me the culture and energy to give 110% in every task in front of me. I want to maximize what I’m given to be a difference maker, a catalyst for change and someone for my community, not just in it for what my professional career may have in store for me. What is one word that best describes you and why? Intentional. I seize opportunities that I can learn from. These invaluable opportunities may be labor-intensive, hard, rare and sometimes definitely not easy. However, all of them are worth it. I love to listen to others and be open minded so I can lead better and become better. Some of the best ideas have come from listening to other students’ voices that helped me make an idea reality. May 27, 2021

  • Park Hill Senior Achieves Her Dream Through KC Scholars Program

    Adriana Gonzalez will attend UMKC
    KC Scholars 2021 award winner, Adriana Gonzalez, Park Hill High School, Parkville, plans on attending UMKC, and first learned of being awarded the scholarship when she opened her email and read the letter informing her of her win. Read the article. May 26, 2021

  • Critical Race Theory Roils Kansas And Missouri Politics. Here’s What It Is And Is Not

    Kansas City Star taps UMKC English professor who studies Black literacy
    Antonio Byrd, an English professor at UMKC who studies Black literacy, described critical race theory as a way to illuminate the role of racism in a society that doesn’t tend to think racism is a major problem. By considering the impact of racism, Byrd said, steps can be taken to fix it. Read the article in the Kansas City Star. (subscription required) May 26, 2021

  • KSHB Interviews Allen Rostron

    Kansas City-area law professors are weighing in on a possible legal battle between the city and the Board of Police Commissioners
    Allen Rostron, law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said the situation is a novel one. Read the full story. May 25, 2021

  • Conservatory Alumnus: Life As A Composer

    Christopher Hart’s music career goes down many paths
    Where does a small-town Iowa boy go when he wants to be an opera singer? He goes to the big city for training. Christopher Hart (M.A. '90) came to UMKC to study with Norman Abelson at the UMKC Conservatory. After graduation, he spent a few years in Oklahoma. Then “life happened” and Hart followed the calling of a small town and moved to McComb, Mississippi. For the past 12 years, Hart has served as the minister of music, media and arts for Centenary United Methodist Church. His background in music education was useful last year as he, along with the entire world, had to navigate through the pandemic. When in-person events decreased in numbers or came to a halt, Hart had to get creative. “We learned how to livestream,” Hart said. “It has been a big learning curve over the past year. It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve learned how to adapt to it. The church never closed.” Throughout the pandemic, Hart said the church held in-person and livestream services. Although attendance has picked up in the last few weeks, Hart said they will continue to offer a livestream because people like having that option. Hart said they brought the choir back in March with a few people in the balcony. “They’re having a good time up there,” Hart said. Hart has written dozens of songs. One he wrote six years ago, “In the Cross,” won best Christian song in the Dallas Songwriters Christian songwriters’ contest. The song, and a few others, can be found on iTunes. He has also written scores for four feature films with a fifth that will be released at the end of the year. Hart’s current project, 12 Westerns in 12 Months, is a collaboration with friend, filmmaker and actor Travis Mills. He said the project has been fun and challenging because the deadlines are constant. To write the score for each movie, Hart read the scripts and received music ideas from the director, often in the form of temporary music. He said the process has been fun. “Composing is like putting a puzzle together,” Hart said. Between 2020 and 2021, Hart composed the soundtracks for "Bastard's Crossing," "She Was the Deputy's Wife," “The Bank Robbery” and "Counting Bullets." “Bastard's Crossing” garnered several film festival awards, the most recent being Best Mississippi Feature Film at the Oxford, Mississippi Film Festival. The movies will all be available on DVD, Amazon and Amazon Prime. Hart garnered a Festival Director’s Choice Best Score for “Counting Bullets.”  Being a songwriter is not easy and doesn’t make a lot of money, so Hart created his own publishing company called Ten Minutes to Anywhere. The company name came out of his move to Mississippi. “You can get anywhere in this town in 10 minutes,” he said. “It is nice.” Even though being a composer and songwriter is more of a side gig, it is rewarding. His advice to someone considering a career as a composer is to keep writing. “Write music every day,” Hart said. “Learn as much as you can about your craft. Study different composers. Don’t study just one genre. Be flexible. Study other people. Learn about the instruments. Learn about orchestral techniques. Learn about software and virtual instruments.” And speaking of side gigs, Hart has also been performing onstage for more than 40 years and has become an experienced background actor. “It’s fun being in the movies,” he said. “It’s a lot of work. It’s harder than you imagine.” With a variety of projects at hand, Hart stays grounded and has turned projects down. “I care about what I do,” Hart said. “I want what I do to be the best that can happen. I want to stay true to myself.” For now, Hart is for hire as a composer and actor. His studio is in his home. “As I get closer to retirement age,” he said. “I know I can do it from anywhere.” And by it, Hart doesn’t only mean acting and composing. During the pandemic, Hart said he was concerned about losing his ability to sing high notes, so he’s been taking voice lessons. He’s ready to audition again. This opera singer is ready for his next role. You can find Christopher Hart Film Composer on Facebook and see his acting credits on his IMDb page. They include The Wilderness Road, Tales of the Natchez Trace, Texas Red, Breaking News in Yuba County, Bastard’s Crossing, One Night in Miami, four episodes of NCIS New Orleans, two episodes of On Becoming a God in Central Florida, The Highwaymen. May 25, 2021

  • 2021 Regnier Venture Creation Challenge Awards Announced

    Annual pitch competition provides critical startup funding and experience
    The Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management has selected winners in the annual Venture Creation Challenge pitch competition. “Each year we are amazed and invigorated by the energy and innovation of the entrepreneurs who are a part of the Regnier Venture Creation Challenge,” said Jeffrey S. Hornsby, executive director of the Regnier Institute. “In both the private and the nonprofit sectors, these leaders are changing the way we do business, support communities and create opportunities. We are grateful for their passion and the volunteers who take on the task of judging these outstanding business plans.” The Regnier Venture Creation Challenge is a University of Missouri-Kansas City business plan and pitch competition promoting entrepreneurship. The Regnier Institute received more than 75 applications from 12 different high schools, colleges, universities and the E-Scholars program from the Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska region. More than $65,000 in prizes that were awarded at this year’s competition were made possible through donations from Bob Regnier and Regnier family, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City and David Block and the Block family. During the competition, mentors, advisors and community partners volunteer to serve as judges throughout the competition. “The real benefit of the competition – beyond the monetary support – is the wealth of feedback that participants receive from our volunteers,” said Bob Regnier, naming benefactor and founder, executive chairman and CEO of the Bank of Blue Valley. “Those experienced perspectives can be invaluable to the success of these emerging ventures.” Innovation Awards Splitsy, $15,000 Splitsy is a patent-pending mobile application that allows peers to automatically split payments for shared bills. Woodie Goodies, $10,000 Woodie Goodies buys used books in bulk from major thrift-store chain warehouses and resells to retailers. All children's books are donated to low-income schools. Relay Trade Solutions E-Scholars, $5,000 Relay Trade Solutions connects shippers, carriers, origins and destinations for seamless order to delivery, which saves up to 50% on back office costs and streamlines payment. Honorable Mention Awards Outstanding High School Entrepreneur, $2,000 Freescholars.com freescholars.com is a marketplace that connects businesses, nonprofits and academics with high-achieving high school students for various services, which allows student to explore career interests, acquire real-world experience and enrich their college applications. Outstanding Undergraduate Venture, $2,000 Vamose -  Iowa State University The patent-pending Vamose Gym Bag attaches to a backpack to enable students to avoid carrying an extra bag with them throughout the day. Oustanding Creative Enterprise, $2,000 KeySpark - UMKC KeySpark is a collaborative learning community of 7th-12th grade saxophonists that offers online music classes taught by experts in the field, an extensive resource library and a forum for students in areas where private instructors and musical opportunities are limited. Outstanding Social Venture, $2,000 Cultura En Tus Manos - UMKC Cultura En Tus Manos is an open online marketplace dedicated to helping artisans in Mexico market their products in the United States, allowing them to expand their customer base and easily export their products. Our platform differs from similar online marketplaces as we provide the artisans with personalized educational resources that allow them to develop effective marketing strategies to expand their online businesses while developing a cultural exchange through a meaningful connection with consumers. BlueKC Healthcare Innovation Award 1st place, $15,000 CartilaGen, Inc., - University of Iowa CartilaGen produces an injectable small-molecule drug suspended in a hydrogel vehicle that has been proven effective in preventing the onset of post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA). BlueKC Healthcare Innovation Award 2nd Place, $10,000 RollOut  - Missouri University of Science and Technology RollOut is a muscle roller and recovery product manufacturer that started in a dorm room and now partners with local businesses and online retailers. Community Business Award James and Rae Block Community Business Award, $2,500 Kufukaa, LLC Kufukaa is a Kansas City-based small business that creates sustainable apparel at the intersection of kitchenware and home essentials which are handmade in Kansas City. This premium collection of sustainable apron lines fills a long-standing market gap in Kansas City's culinary scene. The Regnier Venture Creation Challenge is a University of Missouri-Kansas City business plan and pitch competition promoting entrepreneurship. The Regnier Institute received more than 75 applications from 12 different high schools, colleges, universities and the E-Scholars program from the Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska region. More than $65,000 in prizes that were awarded at this year’s competition were made possible through donations from Bob Regnier and Regnier family, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City and David Block and the Block family.   May 25, 2021

  • In Kansas City, A Wave of Evictions Could Push Gun Violence to New Extremes This Year

    Kansas City Star taps Ken Novak from UMKC
    “Were it (moratorium on evictions) to be lifted, especially all at once, and there was a flood of evictions or foreclosures, that just creates more housing and shelter instability,” said Ken Novak, a professor of criminology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Read the full article. (subscription required) This story was picked up by The Pitch. May 23, 2021

  • Working for Youth Initiative Needs More Employers, Donors to Support KC Teen Internships

    UMKC alumni share college internship experiences with Fox4KC
    University of Missouri-Kansas City graduate Daisy Garcia Montoya just finished an internship at City Hall in the communications department. UMKC alumna Aly Hernandez, external affairs manager for City Hall, was also interviewed for this story. Read more. May 21, 2021

  • Bloch School Alumnus Taps Entrepreneurial Spirit to Write Children’s Book

    Pandemic free time prompted Jaspreet Singh to create underrepresented characters
    Jaspreet Singh graduated from the Henry W. Bloch School of Management in December 2015 with an eye toward the sky. His dream was of an airline industry career on the business side and an interest in designing experiences for travelers on the personal side. Since graduation, this 2015 Student Entrepreneur of the Year has been traveling around the world with his job at United Airlines accomplishing many of his goals. When we wrote about Singh before graduation, he said college inspired him to push himself and to be the best version of himself that he can be. “It has motivated me to expand my network and get out of my comfort zone and focus on personal and professional goals,” he said. So, we decided to check in with Singh and see how far he’s pushed himself. It turns out, that he’s been accomplishing quite a bit in spite of the travel restrictions caused by the pandemic. He wrote a children’s book, Aya and Avi's Airplane Adventure. He's also been named by Tripadvisor as one of eight Asian-American influencers to follow. Singh is an award-winning airline industry passenger experience professional with experience across product marketing, pricing and revenue management, e-commerce and digital marketing. Writing the book was separate from his job. His goal is to inspire the next generation of aviators through diversity and representation by allowing the kids of today to see themselves represented in aviation. “The idea for the book was born as a quarantine side project in my free time and took me about a year to do,” Singh said. Professionally, Singh said the pandemic forced him to use the entrepreneurial mindset instilled in him during his studies and in his day-to-day life by learning how to pivot and think more innovatively. “Times within the aviation and travel sector were tough, but this required a shift in thinking and prioritization to operate like a start up.” Personally, Singh said the pandemic allowed him to reprioritize and be grateful for all of the experiences, friends and family that have led him to this point and the value of being your true authentic self every day. “It’s also allowed me to reflect on personal goals and ways to give back, which is one of the reasons I started writing this book – to help give back to the future of aviation by inspiring the next generation of aviators.” A study done by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center found that nine times more children’s books were written annually about talking animals than featuring an LGBTQ character; and three times more books than with Asian American Pacific Islander characters, according to Singh. He said books with talking animals accounted for more books than all underrepresented minority groups combined.   “Growing up I never saw anyone like myself represented in children’s books and always wished I had something I could relate to,” Singh said. “Ultimately instead of waiting around for someone to write it, I decided to go ahead and just do it! I wanted to write a book that captured my lifelong interest of aviation with diversity and representation of characters from many backgrounds and ethnicities, including LGBTQ characters.” The book is currently available on Amazon. Singh partnered with a third party to complete the illustrations. He has also secured a charity partnership through an organization named Rainbow Railroad where a portion of profits from every book sold are donated to help LGBT individuals living in fear of persecution, torture or murder, find a path to safety to start a new life. May 21, 2021

  • Our Healthy KC Eastside To Focus On Vaccine Outreach And Distribution

    KCUR interviews Jannette Berkley-Patton
    Jannette Berkley-Patton, professor at the UMKC School of Medicine and director of the university’s Community Health Research Group, was a guest on Up to Date. Read more from KCUR. May 20, 2021

  • St. Joseph Museums Welcome Interns

    St. Joseph newspaper features UMKC History student's internship
    Solveig Klarin, who is pursuing a master’s degree in history at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said she is interested in the education and interpretation aspect. Read the full story. May 19, 2021

  • Dangerous And Disinvested: Kansas City's Struggle To Fix Hundreds Of Blighted Buildings

    College of Arts and Sciences faculty provide insight for KCUR story on blighted buildings
    Erik Olsen, professor and chair of the economics department at the University of Missouri-Kansas City; and Erin Royals, neighborhood outreach and research coordinator at the Center for Neighborhoods at UMKC, were interviewed for this story. Read the story from KCUR. May 18, 2021

  • Olathe Students Prepare To Take AP Tests After A Year Of Pandemic School

    KCUR taps Associate Vice Provost Kim McNeley
    UMKC Associate Vice Provost Kim McNeley said AP courses and exams provide foundational skills for college-level courses. She said it’s important the college standards that evaluate student’s learning be consistent and maintained, even during a pandemic. Read the article from KCUR. May 18, 2021

  • Hearing is His Life

    UMKC piano professor battles – and overcomes – his sudden hearing loss.
    As assistant professor of piano pedagogy at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory, the ability to hear is critical to Chris Madden. Each day, he listens intently to his students play and perform works on the piano, helping to fine tune the