Celebrating Excellence

UMKC Faculty and Staff Awarded for Teaching, Research, Community Engagement

Laughs, cheers and standing ovations permeated the room as University of Missouri-Kansas City faculty and staff were rewarded for their excellence in teaching, research and community engagement during the “Celebrating Excellence” faculty and staff awards ceremony.

“Celebrating Excellence” began eight years ago as an annual tradition for recognizing the achievements of UMKC faculty and staff who go above and beyond. Friends and colleagues joined 23 awardees in Pierson Auditorium April 25 to celebrate their accomplishments in higher education.

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Regnier Venture Creation Challenge Finalists Compete for Funding on May 5

Photo by Janet Rogers

Four teams will share $55,000 in startup funding; top prize now $20,000

Each spring, the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management hosts a business plan competition in which students can present new concepts to local investors, business leaders and entrepreneurs. A total of $55,000 will be awarded this year, with the first-place team receiving $20,000doubling the previous $10,000 first-place prize.

“The Regnier Venture Creation Challenge, now in its sixth year, is one of the many ways in which the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation supports and promotes Kansas City’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Jeff Hornsby, Ph.D., director of the institute. “Our portfolio continues to grow steadily, as it did this year with the opening of the Bloch Venture Hub. The Venture Creation Challenge is special because it is focused on the students who will lead our community’s business and job creation process for decades to come.”

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Undergraduates Create Real-World Recommendations at Case Competition

Three teams of graduating seniors presented their recommendations for Fike Corporation on April 21 at the eighth annual Strategic Management Case Competition.

To kick off the event, Bloch School Dean David Donnelly presented Marilyn Taylor, Arvin Gottlieb/Missouri Chair of Strategic Management and faculty coordinator of the competition, with a certificate announcing the Marilyn Taylor Endowed Case Competition Fund. This endowment provides support for the cost of the annual event, ensuring its longevity.

Bloch faculty worked with Fike’s executive team, including President and CEO Brad Batz, to develop a case study about Fike’s recent and pressing challenges.

Fike is the experienced, trusted expert in rupture disc technologies, explosion protection, fire alarm systems and fire suppression solutions. In addition to its manufacturing facilities in the United States, Belgium, Wales, Canada and India, Fike has sales and service offices throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

As part of the undergraduate capstone experience, three competing teams presented their recommendations to Fike Corporation executives and a panel of judges comprised of Kansas City area business leaders.

The winning team members were Molly Compton, McKinley Mason, Jeff Pack, Joe Samoszenko and Rachel Weber. Each member of the winning team received a $1,000 scholarship that can be applied to any Bloch School graduate program.

Global Financial Impact

The Fed’s Esther George is UMKC’s Alumna of the Year

Few people have more knowledge of and influence on the nation’s and the world’s financial stability than UMKC Alumna Esther George (EMBA ’00). A native of Faucett, Mo., George is known as a leader who speaks for the heartland in her role as president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

With deep roots in our region, George represents the Midwest on a national and international scale. Her distinguished service as president of the Kansas City Fed since 2011 has earned for her one of the highest honors bestowed by the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

George’s career success, and her dedication to her alma mater, community and region, led to her selection as the UMKC Alumna of the Year by the independent committee of past awardees appointed each year by the chancellor.

George has worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City since 1982, beginning her career there as a commissioned bank examiner. As the ninth president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, she is the first woman to serve in this position.

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Remembering Beth K. Smith

A Lasting Legacy of Activism and Philanthropy

Beth K. Smith (’76 BLOCH), University of Missouri-Kansas City alumna and adjunct professor, died April 20, 2017 at the age of 96.

Smith was a philanthropist and social entrepreneur who dedicated her life’s work to public service. Since becoming a Kansas Citian in 1948, Smith’s impact has been felt in various areas of the Kansas City metro as she raised her voice in efforts to improve race relations and women’s empowerment.

Throughout the 1960s Smith worked as a civil rights advocate, pushing for fair housing and working with the Kansas City Human Rights Commission and Panel of American Women. In 1980 she co-founded the women’s networking club Central Exchange alongside Kansas City philanthropist Marjorie Powell Allen and 10 other originating members. She also co-founded the Women’s Employment Network and the Women’s Foundation.

In 2008 Smith was awarded the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s Kansas Citian of the Year award given to “people whose civic contributions and achievements reflect the insight, creativity and consciousness necessary to build and maintain a quality city.”

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People First

Bloch School Alumni Achievement Award to George W. Holcomb III

The question is obvious and unavoidable: What’s a world-renowned physician-surgeon-scholar doing in an MBA program?

For George W. Holcomb III (EMBA ’02), surgeon-in-chief at Children’s Mercy, the program provided far more benefit than he ever imagined.

Shortly after being named to his medical management post, Holcomb enrolled in the Executive MBA program offered by the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

“I really wanted to better understand business principles and financial management so that I could more effectively run our Department of Surgery,” Holcomb said. “What I learned most during my time at the Bloch School was operational management and human resources, and these areas have helped me much more in my position as Surgeon-in-Chief than understanding an income statement or balance sheet.”

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Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Spotlight: Annie Hurlbut Zander

To find success, Annie Hurlbut Zander followed her passion, and made the most of the opportunities she discovered along the way.

A Yale-educated anthropologist, Zander went to Peru to study the women who made and sold handmade textiles in Andean marketplaces. As her mother’s 50th birthday approached, she sought out something very special to bring home as a gift. It was an exquisite hourglass-shaped alpaca sweater coat with fur trim, and it created an absolute sensation among family and friends here in the states. The mother-daughter duo started exploring the possibility of bringing globally-inspired, artisan-crafted apparel from Peru to American customers. In 1976, they founded Peruvian Connection from the kitchen table of their family farm in Tonganoxie. That wholesale and direct-mail women’s apparel company grew into a thriving direct-marketing business, releasing five internationally renowned collections per year through catalogs. Over the course of its 40 year history, Peruvian Connection has evolved to include online distribution and retail stores across the U.S. and Europe. The company now has 200 employees located around the world, while still maintaining its original headquarters on the family farm.

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Overcoming Obstacles is a State of Mind

Troy Nash to receive 2017 Defying the Odds Alumni Award

Growing up in a single parent home and on public assistance in Kansas City, Missouri, Troy L. Nash (J.D. ’97, M.A. ’05, M.A. ’11, MBA ’13) worked odd jobs to help his mother make ends meet. The family bounced from home to home, forcing him to adapt to ever-changing circumstances.

And adapt he did. After high school, Nash joined the U.S. Air Force where he said he learned to believe in himself and not “follow the crowd.” He learned the importance of making his own way in life.

“I think overcoming hurdles is a state of mind,” Nash said. “I have traveled all over the world. I have looked in the eyes of people who have had to overcome and endure far more than I could ever imagine.”

While in the Air Force, Nash sought out education. With the help of scholarships and loans, he earned an undergraduate degree. He then came to the University of Missouri-Kansas City to attend the UMKC School of Law.

“I love learning and seeking knowledge,” Nash said, adding that earning a degree “was secondary to fulfilling this insatiable appetite to know more.”

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Annie Hurlbut Zander Inspires at First Wednesdays

On April 5, an audience of students and community supporters heard how Annie Hurlbut Zander’s interest in anthropology led to her launching a global clothing brand.

While studying at Yale, Zander, CEO and Co-Founder of Peruvian Connection and Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Inductee, had the opportunity to research anthropology in Peru. During her time there, she was searching for a gift to bring back to the United States for her mother, Biddy’s, 50th birthday. What she found was soft, alpaca sweater coat trimmed with long fur.

Upon presenting the gift to her mother, their family friends were fascinated, and suggested that Biddy and Annie begin importing the sweaters from Peru. Soon after, they received an order for 35 similar sweaters from Halls on the Country Club Plaza.

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Crafting a Strong Foundation

Bob Regnier honored with 2017 Bill French Alumni Service Award

Bob Regnier (MBA ’78) is one of Kansas City’s best-known and most frequently honored civic leaders and philanthropists. While the impact of his civic service is felt throughout the metropolitan area, his commitment to the University of Missouri-Kansas City demonstrates why UMKC is known as Kansas City’s university.

Regnier was honored as Kansas Citian of the Year by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce in 2011, citing his leadership and service to organizations and causes ranging from the Chamber and the Civic Council to Union Station, MRI Global, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation.

His many, vital and varied roles at his alma mater over more than a quarter-century, however, are the primary reasons he has been chosen as the 2017 recipient of the Bill French Alumni Service Award, presented annually in recognition of extraordinary service to the university.

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