Many of you are aware I am retiring from UMKC. As such, I want to reach out to the Graduate Students and Faculty to thank them for their support. All of you deserve credit for the important roles you have in making UMKC a research university. UMKC has a large graduate student population compared to other institutions of similar size. Our degree offerings are competitive with many other major U.S. universities. The Graduate Faculty has been committed to offer graduate students a top notch graduate experience. UMKC graduate students will find their career possibilities expanded and experience greater personal satisfaction.
While there are a number of accomplishments we have made together, one area that I was not able to achieve is a significant improvement in the Graduate Assistantship Stipend level. While we have made a proposal, the recent series of economic developments in this state has hit higher education significantly hard. The challenges that we have cannot be understated; but we are educated people and we will come out of this stronger. I have observed and experienced such situations at other institutions and with hard work, my experience is that we can come out stronger and focus on what we do best. One guarantee is that graduate education will both continue and become stronger at UMKC.
The real force behind the graduate school are the people who have worked here tirelessly. We do have some individuals who will be leaving. Quincy Bennett Johnson has worked here for 18 years and will be retiring late this year. She has worked closely with the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program during this period of time. Dr. Jennifer Friend, Associate Dean, will be leaving at the end of June to become Dean of the College of Health and Human Services at Rockhurst University.
The backbone of the staff support for graduate education will be Nancy Hoover, Michelle Heiman, and Alphia Curry. We will continue to have the Graduate Writing Initiative with Kara Kynion (Bollinger). And of course, we’ll continue to rely on the support of our graduate assistant and work study students.
An item of note is that this year will be one of change. There will be interim administrators appointed from current UMKC faculty ranks for both the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program and the School of Graduate Studies. These individuals will take leadership to explore effective ways to help units administer and offer programs, streamline admission and student progress monitoring, as well as being more responsive to both faculty and students. The upcoming year and beyond will be full of changes and challenges.
However, let’s celebrate what we have done in the last 5 years:
- Eliminated a quarter of a million dollar deficit that existed in the Graduate School
- Developed the UM System-wide Graduate Student Leadership Development Program
- Launched the Three Minute Thesis Competition
- Formed a campus-wide Graduate Student Council
- Created the Dean’s Graduate Student Advisory Committee
- Approved the ability for graduate students to enroll in additional courses from the Bloch School to enhance employment opportunities
- Developed the School of Graduate Studies Research Grant program
- Increased funding for graduate students from under-represented groups
- Developed an endowment for students’ scholarships and launched fundraising efforts for the first time
- Partnered with the Writing Studio and developed a Graduate Writing Initiative with resources for graduate students
- Increased Graduate Student Travel funding
- Added a Bioinformatics Discipline and a Humanities Co-Discipline for the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program
- Celebrated the 50th year anniversary of the School of Graduate Studies
- Developed the SGS Spotlight newsletter.
I have enjoyed my time here at UMKC and hopefully I am leaving it better than when I entered. I can assure you that as I depart, the School is in sound fiscal shape despite our statewide fiscal concerns. Whatever the future holds, we cannot compromise the quality of our educational programs, and this University will make every effort to sustain your excellent academic experience.
Best wishes to the Graduate Students, Faculty and Staff involved with our programs!