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Top Stories of 2012

Architect Steve McDowell points out construction details to benefactor Henry W. Bloch at the ceremony marking the laying of the final beam for the new Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Photo by Janet Rogers, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications
Architect Steve McDowell points out construction details to benefactor Henry W. Bloch at the ceremony marking the laying of the final beam for the new Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Photo by Janet Rogers, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

A year of growth, change and promise

The year 2012 was a momentous one for the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The campus saw the creation of a new academic unit, University College; the debut of a building and a program addressing a primary goal of the university’s strategic plan, the Atterbury Student Success Center; and the most eagerly awaited new building on campus in decades: the new Cherry Street Parking Structure.

UMKC took important steps toward significant new expansions of several key programs, earned millions in research grants, set a new record for fundraising, and renewed its original mascot image, drawn by none other than Walt Disney.

Yet for all these momentous happenings, the biggest news of the year at UMKC was something that didn’t happen at all.

Here are capsules of UMKC’s top news stories of 2012.

UMKC to Retain Existing Name
Nov. 2

Kansas City’s only urban research university will retain the name University of Missouri-Kansas City for the foreseeable future.

The university, founded in 1933 as theUniversityofKansas City, became UMKC in 1963 when it became part of theUniversityofMissouri System. While the university has been growing in national and global recognition, university officials began considering a name change earlier this year to more clearly convey the school’s strong ties to the greater Kansas City community. They decided to explore whether a change might help boost undergraduate enrollment and philanthropic giving, in response to a declining trend in financial support from the state.

Officials conducted a series of public opinion surveys to gauge reaction to a potential change, separately targeting key constituencies such as potential students, the greaterKansas Citycommunity, alumni, current students, faculty and staff. Findings showed that while prospective students and the community at large had strong interest in the name change, several other important groups, such as current students, faculty, staff and alumni, do not favor a name change at this time.

“The research at this point tells us that our university community is not ready to make this move,” said Chancellor Leo E. Morton. “Going forward, we will focus, as the University of Missouri-Kansas City, on two primary goals: continuing to be Kansas City’s university, and a university of national and global impact and significance. And we will find ways to make sure that the value we generate will be clearly understood, from every corner ofKansas Cityto every corner of the planet.”

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Atterbury Student Success Center Opens
Oct. 8

Approximately 120 people gathered at the Student Success Center to celebrate its naming and to recognize the family that helped make it possible – Alan and Mary Atterbury and the Atterbury Family Foundation.

The $7 million project remade the former UniversityCenterinto a facility designed to promote students’ academic success by providing academic support, stress relief and improved service, all in one open, inviting, easy-to-access space. It is home to a variety of programs and services, including Career Services, the International Student Affairs Office, the Welcome Center and the Writing Studio.

The newly renovated Center opened on Aug. 1 and offered a different look and feel when students returned for classes. Huge windows replaced the blank walls; white and blue interior walls feature words of encouragement, such as achievement, success, collaboration and discovery, gently urging students toward thoughts of graduation.

Provost Gail Hackett said the years of planning paid off.

“Four years ago, we began working on the strategic plan. This building is the physical manifestation of that plan. Students must come first,” Hackett said.

Hackett said that the goals for the building were designed around the students – to help them master their academic materials; to learn critical thinking skills; and to complete their degrees in a timely manner.

The services that lead to student success – admissions, financial aid, cashiers, records and transcripts, registration and a variety of academic supports – are now available in this building, making this a one-stop shop.

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Downtown Arts Campus Concept Advances
July 3

A Downtown Campus for the Arts for the University of Missouri-Kansas City would improve educational opportunities for students in all fields, boost economic development for the region, enhanceKansas City’s ongoing arts renaissance and inject millions of dollars into the local economy over the next 25 years.

That is the conclusion of a series of studies commissioned by the university after a downtown arts campus was named one of the “Big 5” goals for Greater Kansas City. These reports include a study of potential sites and costs, prepared by Helix Architecture + Design, Integra Realty Resources and HGA Architects and Engineers; an internal UMKC review of the potential impact of moving arts programs downtown on the university and its component parts; and an economic impact study conducted by the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC). The three studies, and a unified executive summary of all three, are available here.

“When this idea was first broached, we had several fundamental questions we needed answered before we would move forward: Would it be better for the education of all of our students? Would it be good for the community? What would it cost?” said Leo E. Morton, UMKC chancellor. “After reviewing these studies, we have our answers. We believe that this is the right thing to do, if the resources can be raised to make it happen.”

The sites and costs study recommends three potential sites and a phased move of the visual and performing arts schools over a 20+-year period. Under the “phasing” formula, the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, which has the greatest need for increased space and improved facilities, would move first. Following in succeeding phases over 20 or more years would be the UMKC Theatre and the Kansas City Repertory Theatre in the second phase; and in a third phase, KCUR Radio and the UMKC Departments of Art & Art History, Communication Studies, and Architecture, Urban Planning and Design.

Costs of the move were pegged by the studies at a range of $152 million for the most basic “core” programs of each department, to $272 million for a “full” range of programming options, such as a new 500-seat theatre for the Kansas City Rep.

The MARC economic impact study forecast a range of $375 million to $442 million in increased Gross Domestic Output over 25 years, versus what would take place without creation of the new campus.

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Chancellor Honored with Human Relations Award
Nov. 19

UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton has been honored with the 2012 Henry W. Bloch Human Relations Award by the Jewish Community Relations Bureau|American Jewish Committee.

Morton, 67, is the first African-American leader of UMKC. He was honored for his commitment to justice, his service to the community, his civic leadership and vision and his devotion to the city.

“Leo has a powerful history, and he changes lives every day,” Marvin Szneler, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Bureau/American Jewish Committee, told the Kansas City Star. “He has no way of knowing the powerful impact he has had on race relations.”

According to the JCRB, the award is given to someone who inspires the citizens of our community and exemplifies exceptional leadership and community activism.

The humanitarian award honored Morton’s role as an eyewitness to the Civil Rights movement growing up in Birmingham, Ala., as someone who not only survived the injustices of the time but who went on to achieve the dreams his family had for him despite the obstacles.

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Researchers awarded $8.3 million to study ‘crosstalk’ between bones and muscles
July 16

The University of Missouri-Kansas City has received a five-year, $8.3 million grant from the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, to study the relationship between osteoporosis (loss of bone density) and sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass) as people age.

The research will be led by Lynda Bonewald, Ph.D., Curators’ Professor and director of the Bone Biology research program at the School of Dentistry, and conducted by a multidisciplinary team of investigators from UMKC’s Bone Biology and Muscle Biology research groups, part of the university’s Center of Excellence in Dental and Musculoskeletal Tissues.

The UMKC research will focus on “endocrine crosstalk,” or how bone and muscle cells biochemically communicate with each other in health and disease. The UMKC investigators propose that bone can act, in effect, as an “endocrine organ” to control muscle physiology and disease. A reciprocal relationship may also exist between muscle and bone. Therefore, disease in either organ may have negative repercussions on the reciprocal organ through systemic endocrine factors.

Dr. Bonewald believes this new line of research could potentially lead to the discovery of new therapeutic interventions for the prevention and treatment of bone and muscle diseases.

In collaboration with Dr. Bonewald, other members of the research team includes Mark Johnson, Ph.D., and Sarah Dallas, Ph.D., members of the Bone Biology research group at the School of Dentistry; and Marco Brotto, Ph.D., director of the Muscle Biology research program housed at the School of Nursing. At the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering, investigators Ganesh Thiagarajan, Ph.D., and Amber Rath-Stern, Ph.D., will work with the clinical researchers to develop computer models for measuring, among other things, the impact of muscle loading on bones. William Gutheil, Ph.D., from the UMKC School of Pharmacy will work with Dr. Bonewald to identify these muscle and bone signaling factors.

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UMKC Foundation Sets New Fundraising Record
Aug. 21

The UMKC Foundation set a record for funds raised – $65,534,670.98 in the 2011-2012 fiscal year. A total of 19,213 donors contributed to the Foundation during the year ending June 30, 2012. The UMKC Foundation endowment grew to $22,607,037 for the same period.

“The Board of the Foundation continues to believe that the Foundation is making a difference for UMKC. We want to thank the alumni and friends for this record year,” said Alan Atterbury, chairman of the UMKC Foundation Board.

The Foundation also reported a record number of 43,240 gifts for the fiscal year. Six gifts were $1 million or more. Henry and Marion Bloch gave more than $32 million – the largest outright gift in UMKC’s history – to the Henry W. Bloch School of Management to fund its state-of-the-art building for graduate and executive programs. Construction for the Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is underway, with completion scheduled for August 2013.

“In three years, we have now surpassed the 50 percent mark for the Campaign for UMKC’s goal,” said Murray Blackwelder, president of the UMKC Foundation. To date, the campaign has raised $126,436,147 toward the $250 million goal. The Campaign is a seven-year campaign.

Blackwelder said the record-breaking total is proof that the community recognizes the vital role that UMKC is being called upon to play in the future growth and development of Greater Kansas City, such as the “Big 5″ initiatives of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.

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UMKC Wins National Grant Competition to Create ‘Digital Sandbox’
Sept. 19

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced that a regional collaboration led by the Innovation Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City has been awarded a $1 million grant to create a “Digital Sandbox” to spur development of IT-related start-up businesses in theKansas City region.

The UMKC-led consortium is one of the winning teams in the third round of the federal i6 Challenge. The i6 Challenge is a multi-agency federal grant that encourages and rewards innovative, groundbreaking ideas that accelerate technology commercialization, new venture formation, job creation, and economic growth across theUnited States. The awards are highly competitive and only one award is made in each of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Agency’s multi-state regions.

Consortium leaders anticipate that the Digital Sandbox will generate a minimum of 10 new high-growth companies with either follow-on funding or at least $1 million in revenue each within two years of the launch.

“This grant reinforcesKansas City’s position as ‘America’sMostEntrepreneurialCity’ and the key role that theInnovationCenterand UMKC play in achieving and maintaining that status,” said Leo E. Morton, UMKC chancellor. “We are extremely grateful to the local private sector partners who are contributing financial and personnel resources to this important effort, including Sprint, Hallmark, VML, RareWire, Cerner and UMB. We are also extremely grateful for $500,000 in concept support from the State ofMissourithrough the Missouri Technology Corporation, which has been a critical component of this effort.”

The Digital Sandbox will create a new process for commercialization inKansas Cityby clustering digital innovation development into a central hub and providing the needed technology infrastructure. The center will offer a central connection point for large businesses, emerging enterprises and entrepreneurs to jointly develop new products and services.

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University College Launched
Aug. 24

UniversityCollege, UMKC’s newest academic unit, assists incoming undeclared students, or continuing students in transition between majors, in making the best decisions regarding their academic plans.

Cross-college advising and participation of faculty from across the university are vital components of the program, designed to help exploring students identify a major and connect with the appropriate academic unit.

“Our mission is to offer every exploratory student the opportunity for success through engagement with faculty and staff, the development of educational plans and the clarification of career and life goals,” said Kim McNeley, Ph.D., associate vice provost, Academic Affairs.

Part of Dr. McNeley’s goal is to bridge the gap undeclared students often feel, lacking a “home” within the university that students with declared majors find within their academic units. For them, UCollege will be that home – a factor that makes a big difference in helping students stay in school.

The program includes UNIV 101, the cornerstone course required of all incoming students. Students will develop key academic skills, connect with a potential faculty mentor and move toward declaration of an academic program.

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Marion and Henry Bloch Launch Family Foundation
July 31

Lifelong Kansas City residents and philanthropists Marion and Henry Bloch have announced the creation of a family foundation to improve the quality of life in their beloved hometown. The announcement was made at a community celebration honoring Henry Bloch’s 90th birthday held at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

The Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation will build on the couple’s vision and values to improve and strengthen Greater Kansas City. It is expected that this foundation will eventually rank among the largest family foundations in the Kansas City region. The Foundation will support efforts in the areas of post-secondary business and entrepreneurship education, visual and performing arts, healthcare, social services, education for low-income, underserved youth, and Jewish organizations. In addition, special emphasis will be placed on three institutions to which the founders have made lifelong commitments of support. These organizations are the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art and St. Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City.

“Marion and Henry Bloch have a strong desire to give back to the community that has given so much to them,” said David Miles, president of the Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation and The H&R Block Foundation. “And on a day that is dedicated to celebrating Henry’s birthday, he turned the tables and once again showed why he is one ofKansas City’s most beloved citizens.”

“Kansas Cityhas been very good to us,” Henry Bloch said. “If it weren’t for the taxpayers who embraced Dick’s and my tax preparation experiment in 1955, H&R Block wouldn’t have become what it is today. We owe a debt to theKansas Citycommunity, and our hope is that, through this foundation, we will help pay back that debt.”

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Ground Broken for Two Major Projects

Groundbreaking ceremonies launched two major expansion projects on the UMKC campus in March and April.

In March, officials unveiled the preliminary images of the new Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, a new building adjacent to the existing Henry W. Bloch School of Management that will allow the globally recognized and ranked school to double its enrollment.

The building will bring to fruition a $32 million gift from Henry W. Bloch, the largest gift in UMKC’s history. During his speech at the event, Bloch mentioned his commitment to and his long association with UMKC, dating to being a freshman in 1939-1940.

Inspired by travel to, and observations of, some of the world’s most innovative workspaces, the university’s leadership and architectural team’s goal is to create state-of-the-art space architecture. This aligns with innovative teaching techniques that will further elevate theBlochSchoolas a world leader in educating and training future generations of leaders in entrepreneurship, innovation and business management.

The building will house graduate, executive and entrepreneurship programs.

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In April, two major gifts were announced at the groundbreaking for the new Miller Nichols Library andLearningCenter, which will add 950 new classroom seats to the growing university, and a dramatic new south-facing entrance to the new building and the existing Miller Nichols Library.

A gift of $1 million from the Miller Nichols Charitable Foundation was presented by Kay Callison, Miller Nichols’ daughter and President of the foundation. A gift of $250,000 was presented by Jeannette Nichols. These gifts will be used to renovate the third and fourth floors of the Miller Nichols Library.

A University of Missouri System bond initiative, approved by the Board of Curators in 2010, is funding the $18 million classroom project. The transformation of the library through the addition of Roobot the Robot and the ongoing renovation of the affiliated spaces is an example of the power of public and private partnerships, according to UMKC officials, who expressed gratitude  to the Nichols family and the Miller Nichols Charitable Foundation for their ongoing advocacy for the library and all who use it.

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University Celebrates New Parking Structure
Sept. 11

For an outsider, it might be hard to understand why anyone would celebrate the opening of a parking structure.

But for everyone who has ever tried – and failed – to find a parking spot on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus, the joyous nature of the Cherry Street Parking Structure’s grand opening made perfect sense.

“This might be the first party I’ve ever attended for a parking structure,” Chancellor Leo Morton told a laughing crowd. All around him, nearly 100 people gathered for live music, snow cones, raffles and a chance to celebrate the completion of the new six-level, 1,500-vehicle garage.

As the jubilant crowd celebrated the end of scrambling for hard-to-find parking spaces, University of Missouri Board of Curators member Warren Erdman touched on the bigger picture.

“I really think this is UMKC’s finest hour,” Erdman said. He praised the UMKC community’s commitment to capital projects, like the new Cherry Street Parking Structure.

“I am really, really proud of what has been achieved in the past few years, much of it with student fees, but some of it also on theUniversityofMissourisystem’s balance sheet,” Erdman said.

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KCUR Celebrates its Past and Future
Oct. 30

Friends, supporters and staff of KCUR Public Media gathered at the historic Folly Theater for a celebration and tribute to retiring longtime general manager Patty Cahill, and to welcome new general manager Nico Leone.

The event highlighted some of Cahill’s well-known accomplishments, like turning KCUR from a struggling station into a thriving one, and most recently, being named chair of the Board of Directors for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the board overseeing public radio and television stations nationwide.

It also highlighted her silly side. In most KCUR staff photos, for example, she’s usually the one putting bunny ears on her nearest co-worker. Round after round of applause interrupted the tribute, as audience members – many of whom donned temporary “Patty Forever” tattoos – showed their appreciation for KCUR’s visionary, tattoo-covered leader.

Cahill transformed KCUR from a station with a deficit and a tiny audience, to one with a nearly $3 million budget, an award-winning staff, and a loyal audience of 150,000 listeners per week. During the celebration, a mix of listeners and former and current staff members praised Cahill for giving air time to underrepresented communities, and bringing civil discourse to political discussions.

Nico Leone, who took over Cahill’s position in August, acknowledged the ongoing threats to public broadcasting. Competition is rising. Federal funding allotments are being threatened. People are changing the way they use media. Despite those challenges, Leone told the crowd that he sees a silver lining. He sees the new face of public radio.

“We have the ability to reach people in new ways – to connect with them through different platforms, and to bring in new and more diverse audiences, in a way that public media has never been able to do,” Leone said.

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C-SPAN Founder Named Entrepreneur of the Year
Oct. 18

In a school dedicated to teaching the art and science of entrepreneurship, the question bordered on heresy:

“Are entrepreneurs born, or are they made?

Brian Lamb didn’t hesitate a second before responding. He pointed at his midsection.

“You gotta have it right here,” said Lamb, who succeeded in creating a television network, and contributing to a global communications revolution, without the benefit of a foundation in formal business training.

Not that knowledge isn’t vital, he was quick to add; it’s just that drive matters more.

“My motivation was stronger than my brain. If your motivation is strong enough, you can learn all this stuff.”

Lamb, founder of C-SPAN Networks, was standing at the head of the classroom in one of the world’s leading academies of “all this stuff” – the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He was the guest lecturer in an Introduction to Entrepreneurship class as part of being honored by the Bloch School’s Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation as the International Entrepreneur of the Year for 2012.

Later that evening, Lamb and two other honorees were the featured guests at the annual Entrepreneur of the Year Dinner at the Kansas CityConvention Center. Also honored that evening were John McDonald, founder of Boulevard Brewing Co., as Regional Entrepreneur of the Year; and the Regnier Family Foundations as Social Entrepreneurs of the Year.

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Classic Roo Spotlights UMKC’s Walt Disney connection
Oct. 10

An on-campus fashion show was the setting as UMKC models showed off the Alumni Association’s new Classic Roo line of apparel with smiles, laughter, and a touch of dramatic flair.

Basketball player Kim Nezianya, modeling a black zip up jacket, topped off each of her poses with a hair flip. Student TeeJay Hughes, modeling a polo, embraced his inner too-cool model by jokingly taking a phone call on the runway. Russell Melchert, Schoolof Pharmacydean, modeled a scrub top. When he reached the end of the catwalk, he took his pulse with the stethoscope that had been dangling around his neck.

From button downs to fleeces, lab coats to hoodies, the models were wearing apparel marked by a very early version of Kasey the Kangaroo, and they were having fun doing it. That attitude makes sense, given that Walt Disney, the man who drew one of the first versions of Kasey, had a pretty good sense of humor, too.

A version of Kasey – based on Disney’s original drawing – marks every piece of the Classic Roo line.

Classic Roo clothing and accessories can be purchased online.

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