80 things we love about UMKC

In honor of the university’s upcoming 80th anniversary, we concocted the unofficial, CliffsNotes version of the things we love about it.
by Amanda Bertholf, Tonya Crawford & Pat McSparin // Fall 2012
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We unscientifically polled alumni, friends, faculty, staff and students, gathered their feedback and bundled it together in no particular order. Did we leave something off the list? Hit us up at perspectives@umkc.edu, and let us know what you love.

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1 } Student Research

Students who are interested in creative projects, conducting research or preparing scholarly papers can apply for Students Engaged in Artistic and Academic Research (SEARCH). Through the program, students partner with faculty members who share their area of interest, and they delve into topics that grab their attention. The program emphasizes not solving the problems of the world, but instead focusing on a research topic that is manageable in one or two semesters of part-time research.

2 } Bus Passes

Back in the day, the University of Kansas City (UKC) was known as a trolley car campus when trolleys were the primary mode of public transportation. Today, it’s all about the buses. For $28 per year, students get a discounted citywide bus pass. Pretty sweet deal.

3 } Secret gardens

Tucked behind a fence on the corner of 25th Street and Holmes Road on Hospital Hill lies the Diastole sculpture garden. A trove of art, hidden pathways and hideaways, the garden features pieces from the collection of School of Medicine Founder E. Grey Dimond M.D., as well as the gardens he planted himself. The perfect spot for contemplation, there’s a story around every corner—from the cube art representing life’s academic plan to the giant gingko trees that Dimond planted as tiny bonsais. Visitors are welcome, but please call ahead: 816-235-8855.

4 } Matchmaking

On Match Day, medical school students throughout the United States discover which hospital they have been matched with for residency and where they will spend the next several years of their lives—no pressure. At UMKC, families, students, faculty and staff gather at the School of Medicine to learn where the students will be going after graduation.

5 } Mace

The ceremonial mace was a gift from the Alumni Association in 2000 and is a commencement ceremony tradition. Atop the mace is the “flame of knowledge.” The shaft is entwined in tendrils of indigenous Missouri flora: oak leaves, symbolizing strength, and five-leafed ivy, a symbol of growth and renewal. Kansas City-based artist Robyn Nichols created the piece.

6 } Sweat equity

The first part of the engraving on the exterior of Swinney Gymnasium reads: “Exercise renews the body, supports the spirit and keeps the mind in vigor,” a quote from Cicero. John Ciardi, a poet who taught at UKC before and after World War II, contributed the second part, “Run hard, leap high, throw strongly and endure.” Sara Livingston, B.S. ’77, Lakewood, Colo., says, “These words have never left my mind since the first time I saw them on the Swinney façade in 1974 as a freshman.”

7 } Art Gallery

Located in the Fine Arts building, the Gallery of Art accepts submissions and proposals for exhibitions from artists and curators. The gallery hosts student art in the spring, as well as exhibits from visiting artists throughout the year.

8 } Blooming beauties

When it comes to serving the community, UMKC doesn’t just talk the talk. Our volunteers’ efforts are visible in tens of thousands of blooms every spring, thanks to Tulips on Troost. Tulips on Troost is a project of the Southtown Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to bettering the community. The goal of Tulips on Troost: to plant one million tulips along Troost Avenue. For the campus’ 75th anniversary, volunteers planted 75,000 bulbs. Long before the average college student crawls out of bed on a Saturday, hundreds of Roos—students, alumni, faculty and staff—gathered at the University Playhouse before getting their hands dirty by making their community beautiful.

9 } Jim Steele (B.A. ’67)

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for national reporting

10 } Culture night

Follow your nose to the smell of candied dates and spiced chicken to the Student Union for Culture Night, sponsored by the International Student Affairs Office. A free evening of international fashion, cuisine, music and dance, the annual Culture Night shows off the diversity of UMKC’s students.

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