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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.

Update on UMKC’s Response to the COACHE Survey (Workplace Satisfaction) Results

Dear Colleagues,

One of my overarching priorities is to foster a workplace that is valued by our faculty, students, and staff.  There is no doubting that the pressures of an academic career are significant – especially during periods of constraint such as those as we have experienced in recent times. Nonetheless it is important that we continuously strive to do more to support our community and, periodically, assess how we are performing and what further might be done at the department, division, or university-wide level.

Last fall, UMKC was one of many institutions to join the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE), based at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, which administered a survey of job satisfaction. In this effort, locally coordinated by the UMKC COACHE team (Chris Brown, Lorie Holt, Georgia Smedley, Jenny Lundgren, Denis Medeiros, Larry Bunce, Jane Solose, Wayne Vaught, Peggy Ward Smith, Cindy Pemberton), surveys were sent to 399 tenured/tenure track faculty, and responses were received from 222 (56%).

Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond. Notably, the UMKC response rate was higher than our peer comparators and the full COACHE participant population.  I appreciate that time is a precious resource, and I am committed to making your contribution to this effort be worth every minute.

Survey responses are grouped into several themes, including the nature of the teaching, research, and service aspects of faculty work; the clarity and reasonableness of our tenure and promotion processes; satisfaction with personal and family supports; levels of climate and collegiality; and other aspects of your work-life.

COACHE has sent us a comprehensive report of the findings, including results at peer institutions and among a large cohort of similar institutions. The UMKC COACHE team is assisting me in interpreting and responding to the detailed findings. We will communicate the results and begin discussions about actions plans based on the survey findings this fall in a series of faculty senate, campus-wide faculty meetings, and unit specific meetings.  I encourage you to participate in these meetings so that you can learn the results of the survey and participate in developing consequent action plans.

  • September 2, 2014; 3:00 PM–Faculty Senate Presentation; Plaza Room Administrative Center
  • September 17, 2014; Noon–Volker Campus Faculty Meeting Presentation; Haag Hall, Room 301
  • October 15, 2014; Noon–Volker Campus Faculty Meeting Presentation; Haag Hall, Room 301
  • November 12, 2014; Noon–Health Sciences Campus Faculty Meeting Presentation; HSB, Room 4301

-Provost Gail Hackett

School of Medicine Professors Recognized as Influential Names in Science

Congratulations to UMKC School of Medicine professors Dr. John Spertus and Dr. David Cohen, who were featured in Thomson Reuters’ list of highly cited researchers, a compilation report of some of today’s most influential names in science.  Researchers earned this distinction by writing the greatest number of reports ranking in the top 1% most cited for their subject field and year of publication.  The researcher listings can be accessed at the Highly Cited Researchers Website.

Dr. John Spertus currently serves as the Daniel J. Lauer Missouri Endowed Chair in Metabolism and Vascular Disease Research and the Clinical Director of Outcomes Research at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute.  Spertus’ research focuses on methods for measuring health care quality, assessing patients’ health outcomes, and the use of information technology to guide medical decision-making.

Dr. David Cohen is the Missouri Endowed Professor of Cardiovascular Health at the UMKC School of Medicine and Director of Cardiovascular Research at Saint Luke’s Mid America Health.  Cohen’s research addresses the application of cost-effective methods for the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease as well as the inclusion of patient-centered outcomes in cardiovascular outcomes research.

2014 New Faculty Orientation

The 2014 New Faculty Orientation is scheduled for Friday, August 22, 2014 from 7:45 A.M. – 4:00 P.M.  It will be located in the Plaza Room of the 2nd Floor Administrative Center.  Please complete and submit the registration form by August 11th so that we may have an accurate count of attendees! This year’s agenda can be located here.  For further information regarding the orientation, or an overview of UMKC and Kansas City resources, please visit our New Faculty Resources Blog.