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Top Stories of 2013

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A year of support, growth and celebration

As Frank Sinatra famously sang, “It was a very good year.”

In 2013, University of Missouri-Kansas City received a $20 million pledge from the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation Board of Directors; opened two new buildings – the Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall and the Miller Nicholas Learning Center; and named Carla Wilson as its first female athletic director.

Here is a recap of the 2013 top news stories.

$20 Million Gift Boosts Downtown Campus

June 26

The Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation has pledged $20 million toward the creation of a Downtown Campus for the Arts for the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

The $20 million challenge grant was approved at the recent meeting of the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation Board of Directors and represents a leadership gift toward funding of the first phase of the proposed Downtown Campus for the Arts.  That phase of the expansive multi-decade plan involves moving the university’s renowned Conservatory of Music and Dance to a location in the Crossroads District. Subsequent phases would move other university-based arts programs to the site.

The grant award is contingent upon the Conservatory raising the additional $70 million of funding needed to proceed with the project’s first phase within a period of three years. The $20 million gift is the second-largest in UMKC history, and believed to be one of the largest gifts to a public university conservatory in the past 10 years.

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Read more UMKC Foundation news.

State of the University

Oct. 1

A great city needs a great university to call its own. And a significant milestone needs a gala celebration to mark it.

Kansas City and its university – the University of Missouri-Kansas City – celebrated 80 years of partnership, progress and growth Oct. 1, and did so with style.

As any proper observance of a milestone should, the event offered ceremony and style, gifts and surprises, eminent guests and a reunion of old friends; a salute to the past, and an embrace of the future.

Chancellor Leo E. Morton delivered a landmark State of the University address – the first of his five-year tenure. He described the founding of the original University of Kansas City in 1933, in the depths of the Great Depression, as an event born of “a powerful, yet simple idea: If Kansas City was to overcome the tough times; if Kansas City was to become the great city its leaders knew it could be; it must have a great university.

“Here we are today,” he continued. “Stronger than ever.  Living proof that a great university can help make a city great. Living proof that we have fulfilled the founders’ vision. A great university. Kansas City’s university.”

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Founders’ Week Celebrates UMKC’s 80th Anniversary

Carla Wilson Named Director of Athletics

Dec. 2

Carla Wilson was formally introduced Monday as the director of athletics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City to a crowd of hundreds of well-wishers comprised of sports, civic and educational leaders; student athletes; and sports fans.

During the announcement event, Wilson and other speakers discussed the important role of college athletics in building leadership skills in individual student athletes, and strengthening bonds between a university and its home community.

“Our student athletes will be taught to win in three vital fields of play. They will win in the classroom; win in competition; and win in the community. When they become capable of winning consistently in all three areas, they will be prepared to win in the most important arena of all: Life,” Wilson said. “Our student athletes will mature immersed in an atmosphere of leadership and service. They will understand what it really means to win.”

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Summer of Change

Aug. 21

The Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (Bloch Executive Hall) is open for classes. The $32 million, 68,000-square foot building – a gift from Henry W. Bloch, long-time Bloch School benefactor – houses the graduate, executive and entrepreneurship programs, and some undergraduate classes.

Features include active learning classrooms designed for team and experiential learning, as well as traditional classrooms; a finance lab with simulated trading floor; an innovation lab for design simulation and prototyping; and a behavioral science research lab to study consumer behavior.

Miller Nichols Library and Learning Center is ready for use. The Center houses the Jeanette Nichols Forum and the Courtney S. Turner Hall and provides four new, state-of-the-art lecture-style classrooms. The building adds a total of 1,008 seats to Volker Campus.

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UMKC named to Princeton Review Top 75 ‘Best Value’ U.S. public universities for second consecutive year

Feb. 5

The University of Missouri-Kansas City is one of the nation’s “Best Value” colleges and universities. Again.

For the second consecutive year, UMKC has been named one of the Top 75 public universities in the U.S. by The Princeton Review for “delivering an amazing college experience that’s worth every penny.” The Mass.-based education services company profiles UMKC in its just-published book, “The Best Value Colleges: 2013 Edition” and on a special area on its website.

Two other Missouri public universities made the top-75 list: Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, and Truman State University in Kirksville. No universities in Kansas made the list this year.

In its profile of UMKC, the editors at The Princeton Review praise the school for its “outstanding business programs,” including the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and “fast-track medical program” – UMKC’s School of Medicine – where students can earn a combined BA/MD in six years.

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Digital Sandbox KC Announces Leadership, Processes

Feb. 1

Digital Sandbox KC, an unprecedented partnership among private companies, universities, entrepreneurial support organizations and government agencies across the Kansas City region, today announced key details of the effort to spur development of local IT-related start-up businesses.

The project, led by the Innovation Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, has named a veteran technology entrepreneur as its director: Jeff Shackelford, the co-founder and founder, respectively, of two companies: Birch Telecom, and Tech Guys, Inc.

Maria Meyers, director of the UMKC Innovation Center and one of the leaders driving the Sandbox concept, announced the 15-member Advisory Board to Digital Sandbox KC.

Gov. Jay Nixon, Mayor Sly James and U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II joined top executives from Kansas City corporate icons Hallmark, Sprint, UMB Bank, Cerner, VML, RareWire and more at the announcement event at Union Station, where Digital Sandbox KC will be housed. At the Sandbox, technology innovators and entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to brainstorm and problem-solve with top people from the private sector corporate partners to find marketable applications for new discoveries, as well as “orphan technologies” from both corporate- and university-based development labs. The corporate partners will also bring their technological hurdles to the Sandbox, and brainstorm with peers and experts to develop solutions.

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Introducing the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies

March 4

The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Nursing is taking on a new name: The UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies.

The change was announced March 4 in the Health Sciences Building. Students, faculty and UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton attended the celebration. UMKC Provost Gail Hackett, Black Health Care Coalition President and UMKC alum Melissa Robinson, and Dean Lora Lacey-Haun presented remarks.

“The name change of a school might not seem significant, but it reflects the important, evolving role of health care in our community and in our country,” Hackett said. “The UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies provides more opportunities for more students to meet the need to care for more people.”

Lacey-Haun said the school has expanded beyond nursing in numerous ways to meet those needs. The school now trains professionals with a background in health to administer hospital and clinic operations, conduct community outreach, serve as patient advocates and health educators and manage conversion to electronic health records.

“We wanted a name that more closely represents the breadth of offerings we are providing,” Lacey-Haun said.

In 2011, the school added a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree. “The program has become increasingly popular, growing from an initial enrollment of 20 students to more than 200 today,” Lacey-Haun said. “We believe the program will have more than 500 students in the near future. This program allows us to prepare health professionals for a variety of roles.”

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Come Together

Oct. 1

Kansas City Mayor Sly James stood at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Hospital Hill Campus, with a background of the glimmering downtown skyline to the west and the campus’ first student apartments under construction to the east. Troost Avenue divided them.

“Soon, students will be moving back and forth from east to west and west to east,” said James at the UMKC Cornerstone Celebration for the $30 million student housing project on Troost Avenue between 24th and 25th streets. The 245-bed complex is scheduled to be finished by July 2014, in time for UMKC’s fall semester. A street-level pedestrian walkway from the apartments to campus will bridge both sides of Troost.

“This blends black and white, Latino and Latina, men, women, housing, education and work,”  James said, before leading a group of about 200 city officials, UMKC faculty and staff, and community stakeholders to link arms, cross Troost and symbolically break the racial barrier that has stood for generations.

On the east side, under a tent, stood a poster of President Harry S. Truman with a quote from the speech he gave on campus in 1945 as the first UMKC honorary doctorate recipient: “This American nation of ours is great because of its diversity – because it is a people drawn from many lands and many cultures, bound together by the ideals of human brotherhood.”

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E. Grey Dimond: 1918-2013

Nov. 4

Hundreds gathered at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in December to celebrate the life of the late E. Grey Dimond, a founder of the university’s School of Medicine.

Dimond, a cardiologist, teacher, author, world traveler, artist and medical pioneer, died in November at the age of 94.

The public was invited to the life celebration at UMKC’s Pierson Auditorium on what would have been Dr. Dimond’s 95th birthday. Guests were served cake and champagne to toast his birthday and his life.

Speakers at the event included family members, colleagues, friends and former students. Daughters Lark Grey Dimond Cates and Lea Grey Dimond offered remembrances, as did UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton, Jerald A. Burton, M.D., Karen E. Canon, Nancy K. Hill, Harry S. Jonas, M.D., Richardson K. Noback, M.D., and C.J. Wei.

The family has indicated that memorial contributions may be made to Diastole Scholars’ Center, 2501 Holmes, Kansas City, Mo. 64108.

Dimond, a national medical education consultant and the former chair of the University of Kansas Department of Medicine, was recruited to start the UMKC School of Medicine, founded in 1971. At his insistence, UMKC refused to follow the traditional medical school format — four years of premedical education plus four years of medical training — and replaced it with an intensive six-year curriculum modeled on his own accelerated education during World War II. Students would work nearly year-round, and they would have contact with patients almost from the start.

More than 3,000 physicians have graduated from the UMKC School of Medicine.

“E. Grey Dimond was an innovator and a leader, as well as a healer,” said UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton. “A man with immense gifts of intellect, imagination and insight, he put those gifts to work to benefit his community, his university, his profession and the world at large. Many of us at UMKC feel his loss deeply and personally; all of us are the beneficiaries of his vision, and the years of intense effort he put into the realization of that vision.”

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Mid-Major Impact

March 25

Don’t be surprised if the blue-and-gold-clad UMKC Roos have you seeing flashes of red during the next men’s basketball campaign.

New head coach Kareem Richardson is leaving an assistant’s post with the University of Louisville Cardinals to come to Kansas City, and during an introductory press conference he promised an exciting, up-tempo style of play with an emphasis on defensive ferocity reminiscent of the Cardinals.

That style, and the team’s talent, have lifted Louisville to the number-one overall seed in the NCAA basketball tournament. And while Richardson made no specific promises in terms of number of wins or a timetable, he did say that the team will be successful as well as exciting.

“There’s no reason we shouldn’t be a mid-major household name,” Richardson said. “The team we put on the floor will be tough, well-disciplined, and high-character men who do it the right way. And we will play an exciting style.

That style will be fast and defense-oriented, he said, featuring multiple full-court-press techniques similar to the Louisville style.

“We will play a defense that creates tempo, creates steals,” Richardson said. “I want to create a ton of havoc on the defensive end.”

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UMKC Ranks No. 1 in National Recycling Competition

April 15

When it comes to sustainability, the University of Missouri-Kansas City is No. 1. Literally.

The university ranked No. 1 out of more than 260 competing campuses in the Grand Champion category of the annual RecycleMania competition. The university won with an 86 percent recycling rate. RecycleMania is a nationwide competition that challenges universities to increase their recycling efforts.

“We’re thrilled to be national champions. Everyone on campus – from the top down – helped make this ranking possible. It really does show that when we all do a little, we all do a lot,” Kaye Johnston, sustainability coordinator, said.

Over the eight-week competition, UMKC’s efforts resulted in cumulative greenhouse gas reductions of 360 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent, or 71 cars off the road, or the energy consumption of 31 households. (These figures were calculated based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waste Reduction Model.)

The university has competed in RecycleMania for six years. Every year, the campus has risen in the rankings. Last year, UMKC ranked #13. This year, the Office of Sustainability rolled out several different initiatives to keep UMKC high in the rankings.

“This year we really worked to align the university’s recycling efforts. On top of our ongoing commitment to sustainability, countless campus groups are putting forth extra effort. Together, we’re all making a difference,” Johnston said.

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