The following is an excerpt from the address delivered by Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Barbara A. Bichelmeyer, Ph.D., at UMKC’s 2015 Convocation, the official kickoff of the UMKC experience for new students.
Carol Dweck, a world-renowned psychologist from Stanford University, has spent her career studying the factors that influence achievement and success. In the book “Mindset” she explains the results of her research, which, (to use her own words):
“… shows that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value. How does this happen? How can a simple belief have the power to transform your psychology, and, as a result, your life? Believing that your qualities are carved in stone – the fixed mindset – creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over… I’ve seen so many people with this one consuming goal of proving themselves – in the classroom, in their careers, and in their relationships… Every situation is evaluated: Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser?
“There’s another mindset in which these traits are not simply a hand you’re dealt and have to live with… In this mindset, the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in each and every way – in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments – everyone can change and grow through application and exercise… Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them? This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times of their lives.”
Dweck’s work is a stellar example of great research, with a powerful conclusion, that has the potential to positively impact the world, and I encourage anyone and everyone to read it.
At UMKC, you will engage in your own research, and as you do, you will come to understand that the ultimate value of research is not the particular outcome of any given study; rather, the true value of research is that it is the process by which we find answers to our own questions, and ultimately, it is the way in which we learn. Learning how to research, learning how to find answers to your own questions, learning how to learn, will prepare you to face every new challenge that will ever come your way in life.
In sum, here’s what’s waiting for you at UMKC — exposure to the breadth and depth of all the best human knowledge collected throughout the centuries; engagement in a diverse and vibrant community that benefits yourself and others; and an experience that teaches you how to ask your own questions and find your own answers so you can keep learning for the rest of your life.
If this is the adventure you’re seeking, we at UMKC are ready to be your partners. Here’s what we need from you in order to get started. Please commit today to develop a “growth” mindset, to explore the varieties of knowledge, to engage with the community, and to learn as much as you possibly can during your career as a student here.
 Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Random House.