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Launching EUReka! Courses: Embedding Undergraduate Research in the Curriculum

Congratulations to the eight faculty from across the university who have successfully proposed 100- and 200-level EUReka Courses (Experiences in Undergraduate Research) for beginning students at UMKC.

Supported by strategic investment funds from the UM-system, Rebecca Davis (History, A&S); Sheila Honig (English, A&S); Debra Leiter (Political Science, A&S); Joan McDowd (Psychology, A&S); David Thurmaier (Conservatory); Henrietta Rix Wood (Honors College); Majid Bani-Yaghoub (Mathematics, A&S); and Marilyn Yoder (School of Biological Sciences) will be offering courses that exemplify the four keys characteristics of undergraduate research:

  1. Students will experience a mentoring relationship with faculty;
  2. Students will be engaged with research methodologies widely recognize in the field of study;
  3. Students will make a contribution to knowledge, however modest; and
  4. Students will disseminate their work beyond the classroom.

In Dr. Yoder’s newly proposed course, beginning biology students with use specialized tools related to different biology disciplines to characterize a specific gene or cell system under the guidance of a faculty members. Students enrolled in the interdisciplinary course proposed by Drs. Davis and Wood will explore archives through Kansas City and work on local history projects. And Conservatory students studying with Dr. Thurmaier will not only compose their own original music but also research living composers. Students in all the EUReka courses will be encouraged to share their work beyond the classroom, including presentations at UMKC’s Undergraduate Research Symposium, submissions to local and national journals of undergraduate research, and community forums.

By more tightly intertwining their own robust research agendas with their teaching responsibilities, these talented faculty members are helping to ensure that the newest members of our academic community are engaged in undergraduate research–a high impact educational practice that can help the university achieve its recruitment and retention goals.

Stay tuned for calls for additional 100- and 200-level EUReka course proposals in Spring 2015 and opportunities to propose upper-level EUReka courses in 2016. EUReka courses do not impact general educational or other degree requirements, and they can be located in PATHWAY via the “Course Attribute Value” function.

Questions about EUReka courses and about undergraduate research in general can be directed to Jane Greer, Director of Undergraduate Research, at

Appointment for the Director of Assessment

Cain We are pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Ruth Cain as the Director of Assessment at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.  Prior to her appointment as the Director of Assessment at UMKC, Dr. Cain served for five years as the Assessment and Accreditation Coordinator at Indiana State University.  Dr. Cain worked with academic and co-curricular programs to assess student learning achievement.  She served as the team leader for ISU’s HLC Assessment Academy project, which focused on assessment of the general education program, and as the institutional lead for ISU’s participation in the Multi-State Collaborative to Advance Assessment of Student Learning.  Dr. Cain is a member of the peer review corps for the Higher Learning Commission.

Dr. Cain has a long association with UMKC and the Kansas City area.  She received a master’s degree in theatre design and technology from UMKC and worked for a number of years with the then Missouri Repertory Theatre and as a free-lance lighting designer with area theatres.  She also worked in various academic and administrative roles at Rockhurst University.  She holds a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Kansas.  Dr. Cain will be on campus beginning February 2, 2015 and can be contacted in the Administrative Center, Rm 351.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Ruth Cain to the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

- Amy R. Watson, Office of the Provost/Academic Affairs

Open Presentations for School of Education Dean Candidates

Interviews have been scheduled for each of the four School of Education Dean Candidates. Faculty, staff, and students are invited to attend the open presentations as follows:
Dr. John Romans
Thursday, December 11, 2014
2:00-3:00 PM, Plaza Room/Administrative Center
Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Mary F. Howard Hamilton
Dr. Mary Howard Hamilton
Monday, December 15, 2014
2:00-3:00 PM, Plaza Room/Administrative Center
Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Anita Thomas
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
2:00-3:00 PM, Room 401A/Student Union
Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Marius Boboc
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
2:00-3:00 PM, Room 401A/Student Union
Curricum Vitae

Director of Undergraduate Research Position Announcement

Greer I am pleased to share that Dr. Jane Greer, Associate Professor, Department of English Language and Literature, will serve as the Director of Undergraduate Research.  Dr. Greer also served as the director of UMKC’s 2014 Summer Undergraduate Research Program.

Dr. Greer has mentored over a dozen undergraduate researchers and for the past six years served as the editor of Young Scholars in Writing:  Undergraduate Research in Rhetoric and Writing Studies.  She is co-chair of the Conference on College Composition and Communication’s Committee on Undergraduate Research.  Dr. Greer is currently collaborating with researchers from the University of Arizona, Widener University, and Albion College in a multi-institutional investigation of how colleges and universities can best support faculty in mentoring undergraduate researchers.  This research is being supported by Elon University’s Center for Engaged Learning.

Dr. Greer’s primary focus in her new role will be to substantially expand the number and type of undergraduate research opportunities available for students at UMKC.  These experiences will be designed to support undergraduate student success as part of the implementation of the UMKC Strategic Plan.  Please welcome Dr. Jane Greer into this important university leadership role.

Dr. Greer brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and passionate commitment into this position.  She will be working closely with faculty, staff and students to provide excellent developmental experiences in the area of undergraduate research.   Please support Jane in her new role as we all work to support our students in pursuing their undergraduate education at UMKC.


–Amy R. Watson, Office of the Provost/Academic Affairs

UMKC Foundation Elects New President


Photo courtesy of MD Anderson Legacy

The UMKC Foundation has announced the appointment of Steven P. Norris as its new president effective January of 2015.  The UMKC Foundation, a separate but affiliated institution of UMKC, is responsible for endowments and other philanthropic investments made to UMKC.

Norris earned his master’s in public administration from UMKC in 1999 and is returning to Kansas City after 18 years of experience in the fund development field.  He was previously the Director of Planned Giving for the Salvation Army Southwest Division and has most recently served as the Executive Director for Gift Planning at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.  Norris was elected after a nation-wide search with hundreds of applications.

Norris will be replacing Murray Blackwelder, who has played an instrumental role in the founding and development of the UMKC Foundation since its inception in 2009.  Under Blackwelder’s guidance, the UMKC Foundation has raised more than $231 million for expanded scholarships, additional faculty positions, and new facilities throughout the university.  Blackwelder will be retiring but will remain in a consulting role to the foundation until June 2015.

UMKC’s Online MSN Program Ranks in Top 30 for Low Student-Faculty Ratios

A recent article for “Best Master of Science in Nursing Degrees” ranked UMKC’s Online Nursing Program as one of the top 30 programs for low student-to-faculty ratios.  Increased opportunity for student-to-faculty interactions positively impacts a student’s professional and personal development, intellectual growth, and subject matter competence.  Methodology for developing this list divided the total number of students enrolled by number of faculty members.  The ratio was multiplied by an overall score from US News Report, which took into account factors such as admissions decisions, faculty credentials, student support, and so forth.

This ranking provides significant information for individuals searching for an accredited online MSN program.  UMKC’s online graduate nursing program was previously ranked in the Top 10 of the nation’s overall online graduate nursing programs.  The program has been recognized as a campus leader in education via distance technology methods since its inception in 1989.

Fundraising for the UMKC Downtown Arts Campus Builds Momentum

Picture courtesty of the Kansas City Star

Picture courtesy of the Kansas City Star

The UMKC Foundation announced an additional $5.6 million in gifts to support the development of a Downtown Arts Campus for

UMKC’s Conservatory of Music and Dance.  The new gifts include the following:

  • $3 million from an anonymous donor for endowed scholarships
  • $1 million from the Sunderland Foundation
  • $500,000 from the Kirk Family
  • $400,000 from Burns & McDonnell
  • $250,000 from JE Dunn
  • $250,000 from Tom and Jean McDonnell
  • $100,000 from Greg and Deanna Graves
  • $100,000 from Charles and Mary Kay Horner

Including a matching $20 million grant from the Murial McBrien Kauffman Foundation, the private fundraising total for the Downtown Arts Campus has reached more than $30 million.  Private fundraising must reach $48 million before the Foundation is able to approach the state of Missouri for matching funds.  The entire project’s first phase is proposed to cost a total of $96 million.

The Downtown Arts Campus is set to cover a full city block located directly south of the Kauffman Center for the Performing ArtsKansas City’s Helix Architecture + Design Inc. and the Minneapolis-based HGA will design the conservatory.  The potential relocation of the Conservatory’s 600+ students will no doubt infuse the downtown arts scene with a sense of vibrancy, creativity, and enthusiasm.

Open Presentations for Honors College Dean Candidates

Interviews have been scheduled for each of the three Honors College Dean Candidates.  Faculty, staff, and students are invited to attend the open presentations as follows:


Monday, October 6, 2014chamberlain
10:45-11:45 AM, Student Union Room #301
Dr. Jeffrey Chamberlain

Curriculum Vitae




gustafsonWednesday, October 8, 2014

10:45-11:45 AM, Student Union Room #301

Dr. Kevin Gustafson

Curriculum Vitae



mckusick Thursday, October 9, 2014

10:45-11:45 AM, Student Union Room #301

Dr. James McKusick

Curriculum Vitae


Provost’s Comments on Budget and Salaries

I hope everyone by now has settled into the semester and it is going well.  I would love to be able to deliver an extremely positive message about our budget situation; I cannot, but I can honestly deliver a slightly positive message.  Some additional state funds are forthcoming but the revenues coming to us are largely restricted.  Still, this is better than previous years where our state budget has been flat or cut.  More about that below.

I do want to extend my profound thanks to all of our remarkable faculty and staff who continue to work so well with our students, delivering the highest quality education possible even under our challenging financial conditions.  I am committed to continuing to do all that I can to develop additional revenues and resources to support you in your work.

The following is the first in what I hope will be an ongoing dialogue about issues and concerns expressed by some of our faculty of late. I am going to try to communicate more often and, I hope, more effectively with faculty and staff via UMatters and our Academic Affairs’ blog; I am also trying to get around to visit Schools and departments to talk to faculty more frequently to respond to questions and concerns directly.  I cannot promise that I can answer every question in a manner that fully satisfies everyone, but I will do my best.  If you have questions that you would like to see addressed please submit them to and I will make every effort to respond in a timely manner!

Some Comments about the Budget and Salaries

Budget:  Our budget woes continue, and the major causes continue to be twofold.  First, the state disinvestment in public higher education has caused us to lose a significant piece of our funding.  For example, between fiscal year 2010 and fiscal year 2012 alone we lost $20M in state funding, the state part of our budget dropping from $95M to $75M as you can see from the graph below. Although our 2010 appropriation included a one-time infusion of $10 million in additional funds, we remain about $10 million per year below what had been the previous norm for state funding.

The other piece to the puzzle is that the decline in state funding is forcing us to evolve into a tuition-dependent institution — thus our emphasis on strategic enrollment increases.  As long as our enrollment was increasing modestly (about 3% overall per year), tuition dollars were replacing state funding and we could balance our budget without worrying unduly about cost-cutting.  However, for the past two years our enrollment growth has stalled, particularly our undergraduate enrollment, resulting in our budget dropping into the red, and our having to make substantial and painful cuts this past year.  The graph below shows our operating fund – state funding, tuition, and other sources of revenue – between FY 2008 and FY 2014.  Please also note that these charts are REVENUE charts – our costs have continued to rise apace.

 Operating Fund Revenues 1

So what about this academic year (AY2014-2015)?  The Governor only recently released the increase that the University of Missouri System was scheduled to receive as part of the state performance funding plan.  As stated above, however, the majority of new funding this year, per President Wolfe, is restricted and applies to our strategic plan – to support, for example, expansion of our e-learning efforts; need-based as well as merit-based scholarships; and start-up packages for new faculty.  If we receive additional resources over and above those assigned to the strategic plan I am hoping that we will yet be able to provide salary increases for faculty and staff.  I absolutely agree with those who lament that our faculty and staff salaries have fallen behind our peers.  A salary increase is by no means assured this year, but it is my top priority right now.  In the meantime, we are working hard to grow enrollment to provide additional resources, particularly to academic units.

Administrative Spending & Salaries:  There has been attention paid lately to administrative salaries and budget, prompted in part by a story that appeared this past Spring in the Chronicle of Higher Education.  Some faculty are concerned that our budget woes are being exacerbated by funds being diverted into administration, at the expense of faculty and staff salaries and academic programs.

If you have not seen it, the AAUP here at UMKC published data in the Spring purportedly showing just that trend, with the analyses based partly on data presented by the Chancellor in a PowerPoint about the budget ( The Faculty Advocate, April 2014).  I agree that we need to keep a close eye on administrative expenses and prioritize the academic mission – the heart of the University.  In fact, we have done that over the time I have been here.  Since 2008 we have absorbed three cuts to our state budget, and until last year we were able to protect the academic units from those cuts – we absorbed cuts in administration as long as we could.

The data, however, do not support some of the conclusions that are being drawn in the AAUP reports.  For example, when examining the “academic” versus “administrative” numbers there are a couple of things that must be considered in order to fairly evaluate the data.  First, the “administrative” employee category includes not only the higher level administrators people typically think of, but also employees at all salary levels, including tech support and other employees who directly support instruction, as well as a broad range of employees who people do not generally think of as “administrators”, for example, groundskeepers, maintenance workers, and administrative assistants.  Second, the data demonstrate that between FY 10 and FY 13 the percentage change in total spending for the academic category went up 9.2%, whereas total spending in the administrative category only increased 5%, even though we committed almost $600,000 to reclassify and raise the salaries of our very lowest paid staff members.  Finally, despite the constraints we have had in hiring, FTE academic employment increased by 4.5% while FTE administrative employment increased by only 0.4% from FY 2010 to FY 2013.

Here are the facts: Instruction at UMKC accounts for about 57% of the budget (going from 56.8% to 57% between AY 2003 and AY 20012) while Institutional Support (i.e., administrative costs) have risen from 8.1% to 8.9% of the budget in the same time period (see below).  Further, the amount allocated to Instruction in this graph does not include many employees involved in academic support, such as tutors and advisors.

I think it’s fair to say that we are not doing badly in terms of keeping administrative costs under control.

Percent Expenditure

A picture is being painted by some of dire academic decline. But again, here are the facts worth considering:

  • We still have a student-faculty ratio of 13 to 1.
  • 57 percent of our classes have fewer than 20 students, and only 10 percent of our classes have 50 or more students.
    • Those are very good numbers for a public research university. For example, at Kansas State, only 41 percent of classes have fewer than 20 students, and their student-faculty ratio is 19 to 1.

In future communications I will address other issues, for example, the strategic plan (University College, the Honors College, e-learning); academic hiring and the hiring of tenured and tenure-track faculty; the new General Education program; student retention – why we keep talking about it and why faculty should care; graduate education; and other topics that you identify as important to address.

-Provost Gail Hackett

Have a question for Provost Hackett? Send it to

Assessable Roo Newsletter, September 2014

Jennifer Friend, Interim Director for Assessment and Assistant Dean for the School of Graduate Studies, and Dan Stroud are pleased to present the 11th issue of The Assessable Roo.  This issue includes several noteworthy articles:

  • Susan Wilson, Vice Chancellor of the Division of Diversity and Inclusion, writes about the  benefits of adopting diversity-related learning outcomes to prepare students for a global society
  • Barbara Glesner-Fines, FaCET Assessment Mentor and Executive Associate Dean for Academics and Faculty at the School of Law, emphasizes the benefits of reflective practice for self-assessment and professional growth
  • The newly appointed Discourse Coordinator, Rhiannon Dickerson,  describes strengthening Discourse assessment via rubric development and evaluation
  • Jennifer Friend provides an overview of the video resources available for UMKC Assessment Coordinators and opportunities for open communication regarding assessments at upcoming FaCET sessions

The newsletter can be reviewed here.