Dean’s Corner

Dr. Denis Medeiros

Dr. Denis Medeiros

Hear Ye, Hear Ye….Student Voices Wanted

Welcome to the Spring 2016 semester!  I hope many of you have had a chance for renewal after the fall semester.  For those of you who are just starting out in graduate education, welcome!

This semester, the School of Graduate Studies will be working on developing a Graduate Student Advisory group for the School and the Dean.  Many times we may assume what issues are facing graduate students only to be incorrect.  I am keenly aware of some issues on your mind: inadequate stipends for Graduate Assistants along with access to health care. There are many other issues that we can address if they are brought to our attention.  Our current challenge in formulating such a group is to obtain fair representation of graduate students across disciplines as well as having voices from both Masters and Doctoral students.

Many of you are well aware of the situation that occurred at the University of Missouri in Columbia last semester.  What you may have not known is the series of issues started with graduate assistants voicing concern on the loss of some benefits.  This began the roller coaster of other issues not addressed in a timely manner coming to the forefront.  Here at UMKC we want to be ahead of the curve.  Moreover, we will plan to not only create such an advisory group, we will move forward with coordinating issues with our sister campuses within the UM system.  The success of this initiative will only be as good as the commitment of the students representing the graduate student body; thus leadership skills are important in such a role.  You will hear more from us this semester on the formulation of this advisory group.

We have had many innovations to promote excellence in graduate education at UMKC over the years.  In response to your previous feedback I would like to update you on the following initiative: As many of you know, one of the recent changes includes the creation of a new Graduate Student Writing Initiative that started on a smaller scale last semester, but is ramping up its activity this semester.  A search is ongoing for a Graduate Writing Specialist to direct this program.  Many of you voiced your requests that enhancing writing skills was critical to your success in graduate education.  During the Fall 2015 semester, a series of writing workshops was offered for graduate students, a Blackboard organization site was created for “Writing Resources for Graduate Students,” and other resources such as video tutorials were made available on the SGS website. The UMKC Libraries, UMKC Writing Studio, and School of Graduate Studies will continue to collaborate to expand resources through the Graduate Student Writing Initiative. Writing is critical not only for your scholarship as a graduate student, but for success as a future employee.  Likewise, we are starting the 3-Minute Thesis this semester to hone in on your oral communication skills so that an educated layperson can better appreciate the work that you do.


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Important Dates to Remember

Thesis/Dissertation Formatting Workshops

  • HSB 4307 – Tues., Jan. 26th from 10:30 to 11:30am
  • Admin Center, Brookside Room, Tues., Feb 16 3:30-5:00pm
  • Admin Center, Plaza Room, Wed., Feb 17 5:30-7:00pm

Graduate Writing Initiative Workshops

  • The Hidden Web – Royall Hall, rm#310, Wed., Feb 24th 3:30-4:30pm
  • Writing for the Humanities, Flarsheim Hall, rm#260, Wed., March 2nd 4:00-5:00pm
  • Read Like a Writer, Student Success Center, rm#237, Tues., March 8 11:30-12:30pm
  • Searching for Grant Opportunities, Royall Hall, rm#211, Tues., March 15 11:30-12:30pm
  • Scholarly Intergrity, Student Success Center, rm#237, Tues., March 22 11:00-11:50am
  • Proofreading Tips & Techniques, Student Success Center, rm#237, Tues., April 5, 11:00-11:50am
  • Writing for the Sciences, MNL, rm#452, Wed., April 6 1:00-2:30pm and Wed., April 13 1:00-2:30pm
  • Tech Tools for Writing, Student Success Center rm#237, Wed., April 20 11:00-11:50am
  • Grant Writing Seminar, School of Dentristry, rm#217B, Wed., April 27, 4:00-5:15pm

Tuesday, January 19 – Course Work Begins

Tuesday, February 9 – 3-Minute Thesis Competition, 1-5pm, Student Union – 401A & 401D

Friday, February 15 – Last day to file for May graduation

 Monday, March 28 – Friday, April 1 – Spring Break

Monday, April 4 – Deadline to submit theses and dissertations to SGS for format review

Thursday, April 28thCommunity of Scholars

Friday, May 13 – Deadline to defend theses and dissertations for May graduation

Friday, May 13 – Spring Commencement

Saturday, May 14 – Spring Commencement

Friday, May 27 – Deadline for uploading theses and dissertations to ProQuest

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New Students Selected for the 2016 Graduate Student Leadership Development Program

During the last two calendar years, we have had two classes of graduate students participate in the Graduate Student Leadership Development Program that is sponsored by the University of Missouri System.  This program was initiated on the foundation of enhancing transferrable skills to develop superior leadership abilities in our graduate students.  The four campuses that comprise the University of Missouri System came together to develop a plan that is similar to leadership development programs available to faculty and staff.  The Deans considered the questions: “Shouldn’t we have leadership development programs for Graduate Students?  What are the desired learning outcomes for a system-wide leadership development program?”  The Deans went to work, developed a proposal and were funded to have five students from each campus selected for each cohort.  The plan included leadership programming where students would travel to each of the four campuses and have monthly activities at their home institutions to build their leadership skills.

Recently, the UM System increased the funding to allow each institution to select up to 10 students per year.  This year, eight students were selected from each campus and we plan to have 10 students selected next year.  At UMKC we sent a call to all graduate students and received 48 applications.  This was many more than what we anticipated, and judging and selecting students to participate was a major challenge.

We are pleased to announce the following students selected for the 2016 year:

Elizabeth Horn, Interdisciplinary PhD, Chemistry / Pharmaceutical Sciences
Bryan Fox, PhD, Psychology
Xiaomei Xiang, MSA, Accounting
Jennifer Fournier, LLM, Law
Mohammed Aleinzi, MS, Computer Science
Kim-Ndor Djimadoumngar, Interdisciplinary PhD, Geosciences / Computer Science
Anas A. Katib, Interdisciplinary PhD, Computer Science / Telecommunications and
Computer Networking
Prachi Shah, MBA, Management Information Sciences

Please join me in congratulating these students.


UMKC’s 3-Minute Thesis Competition

There will be 28 UMKC graduate students participating in the 3-Minute Thesis campus-level competition 1-5 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 9 in the UMKC Student Union, Rooms 401A and 401D. All UMKC students, faculty, and staff members are invited to attend. The winning Master’s and Doctoral students will receive cash prizes, and the Grand Award winner will represent UMKC at the regional-level competition in Chicago in April 2016 at the Midwest Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS) annual conference.

During the Fall 2015 semester, an open invitation was issued by Dean Denis Medeiros to all UMKC Master’s and Doctoral students to participate in the 3-Minute Thesis Competition. This international competition was founded by The University of Queensland in Australia in 2008. Graduate students are given three minutes and permitted to use one PowerPoint slide to present their thesis or dissertation research using language so that an educated layperson can understand their ideas and the significance of their research.

The first round of the competition will take place from 1 until 2:30 p.m. with 9 Master’s students and 19 Doctoral students. These presentations will take place in Rooms 401A and 401D of the Student Union, with three judges in each room who will score the presentations using a standard rubric. The top eight graduate students will emerge from round one to complete in the Final Competition from 3:15 until 4:30 p.m. in Room 401A of the Student Union. There will be five judges for this level of the competition, in addition to a cash prize for the Peoples’ Choice Award determined by the audience. Awards and Certificates of Participation will be given immediately following the Final Competition.


Graduate Writing Initiative

The UMKC School of Graduate Studies, University Libraries, and the UMKC Writing Studio have partnered to implement a Graduate Writing Initiative to provide resources such as writing workshops and online tutorials for the more than 5,400 graduate students enrolled in UMKC’s degree and certificate programs. The resources include:

  1. A new Graduate Writing Resources web page is available on the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) website that provides links to online and campus-based graduate writing resources and development opportunities
  2. A Blackboard organization site, titled Writing Resources for Graduate Students, was created with access for all UMKC graduate students and graduate faculty members. After logging in to Blackboard, this site appears in “My Organizations.” This site provides examples of outstanding thesis and dissertations, links for helping students with poster and oral presentations, information on managing citations, information on avoiding plagiarism, links for publishing, presentation, and grant proposal opportunities, and much more.
  3. Writing Workshops offered throughout the Fall 2015 semester provided opportunities for graduate students to engage with a variety of facilitators on topics such as Formatting Theses and Dissertations, Writing for the Humanities / Sciences, Proofreading Tips and Techniques, research help, and Grant Writing. Attendance at each of the workshops ranged from approximately 5 to 50 students. A Spring 2016 calendar of Graduate Writing Initiative Workshops will be available on the SGS website in January, and graduate students and faculty advisors will receive emails throughout the semester regarding upcoming writing workshop opportunities. There are also plans to expand opportunities for students to participate in workshops online through Blackboard Collaborate, and to archive writing workshops on the Blackboard Writing Resources organization site.
  4. Several Online Tutorials were created for the SGS YouTube Channel, including a series of short videos by Dean Denis Medeiros titled Avoiding Plagiarism and a two-part video series on Thesis and Dissertation Formatting by Nancy Hoover.

These Graduate Writing Initiative activities will continue throughout 2016, in addition to new resources to support excellence in graduate student writing. The School of Graduate Studies and Writing Studio plan to hire a part-time Graduate Writing Specialist to support UMKC’s graduate writing community through both facilitating programming and working directly with graduate students.

Designated Graduate Student Writing Workstations with specialized software will be available through online reservation at the Writing Studio in the Atterbury Student Success Center starting in the Spring 2016 semester.


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SGS Staff Spotlight: Michelle Heard, Administrative Assistant

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Michelle Heard has been the Administrative Assistant in the School of Graduate Studies since February 2013. Here, she handles front desk operations, Interdisciplinary Ph.D. student files, and graduate student support, along with several other duties. Working in the School of … Continue reading

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Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Linda Mitchell

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Dr. Linda Mitchell has been the Martha Jane Philips Starr MO Distinguished Professor since 2008 when she joined UMKC’s History Department. “I had been teaching for seventeen years at a university in western New York State, but was invited to … Continue reading

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Current Student Spotlight: Noah Kramer

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Physics student Noah Kramer will graduate with his Master’s degree in May 2016. He also holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics and a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from UMKC. “I did my undergrad here and was already involved … Continue reading

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Dean’s Corner: A Resolution for a New Academic Year – Don’t Plagiarize!

MedeirosAs Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, I want to welcome the new students and the returning graduate students to the 2015-16 academic year.  We have almost 4,000 graduate students at UMKC earning degrees from a wide variety of disciplines.  We offer more than 50 graduate degrees including masters, education specialist and doctoral degrees.  The School of Graduate Studies staff coordinates the policies and regulations of all of the graduate programs and acts as advocates of graduate education and the graduate student.

Before we start the new year, I want to review some expectations of graduate students.  Graduate education is not a simple extension of your undergraduate education.  You may find the work more demanding, and more activities may need to be satisfied outside the normal classroom hours.  With graduate education comes higher expectations by both your professors and the University of Missouri.  Most of you will be engaged in research, whether it is writing research papers for a class or completing a thesis or dissertation.  You had some experience in writing at the undergraduate level, but at the graduate level you will likely find writing to be more intense and field specific in terms of style. An item that I want to impress upon you is that your work needs to be ethical.

What do I mean by ethical writing?  It needs to be your OWN work and not the work of others.  As Dean of the Graduate School I am increasingly made aware of cases involving plagiarism by graduate students.  While this occurs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, it is wrong and unethical behavior.  However, it is much more serious when plagiarism has occurred by a graduate student as the expectations are greater.  Plagiarism is considered under a much more broad heading termed “academic misconduct”, which includes issues such as cheating on an exam (including providing aid to another student), and sabotage of another student’s work.

The University of Missouri has defined plagiarism as follows in its Collected Rules and Regulations Number 200.010 Standard of Conduct as follows:

“The term plagiarism includes, but is not limited to: (i) use by paraphrase or direct quotation of the published or unpublished work of another person without fully and properly crediting the author with footnotes, citations or bibliographical reference; (ii) unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another person or agency engaged in the selling of term papers or other academic materials; or (iii) unacknowledged use of original work/material that has been produced through collaboration with others without release in writing from collaborators.”

All too often I have received reports of graduate students copying material from other authors or sources verbatim as opposed to using their own words as well as not providing a citation to the material.  Moreover, the reports given to me are increasing at the graduate level.  Plagiarism will result in sanctions against the student ranging from a warning to expulsion from the university.  At a graduate level, it is more common to have students suspended for a fixed period of time or expelled from the university as again there are higher expectations.  Not knowing that what you did is considered plagiarism is no excuse for the act.

The School of Graduate Studies has a couple of YouTube videos on examples of plagiarism (  Furthermore, there are a number of excellent web sites dealing with plagiarism and how to avoid it.  One of my favorites is from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (  There are other sources available from other Universities such as Indiana University ( and Purdue University ( to which you should feel free to refer.

In my previous messages to graduate students, I notified you that there will be a Graduate Student Writing Initiative launched this year.  Having a relationship with the UMKC Writing Studio will allow graduate students to receive education on how to avoid plagiarism, and provides opportunities for individual appointments with writing consultants who can provide support for proper citation format in the discipline. However, it does not guarantee that plagiarism will not occur, as in the final analysis of ethical behavior is the responsibility of the individual.  When I talk to my own students about this subject, I always give them two pieces of advice: explain the ideas or works of others in your own words (not paraphrased) and include the citation(s) even if you doubt it is needed.  You will find that you will learn more and be much more successful in your career.

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Important Dates to Remember


Sun., August 30     Doctoral Student Council Picnic, Loose Park, 51st & Wornall, 12:30 – 2:30pm

Mon., September 7     Labor Day – University Holiday/University closed

Mon., September 21   Last day to file for December Graduation

Tues., September 22  Thesis/Dissertation formatting workshop, Administrative Center – Plaza Room, 3:30 – 5:00pm

Wed., September 23  Thesis/Dissertation formatting workshop, Administrative Center – Plaza Room, 5:30 – 7:00pm

The workshop is also offered online via the UMKC SGS Youtube channel:                                                                                Part One      Part Two

Thurs., October 15     “Are You Smarter Than a UMKC Graduate Student?” Snow & Co., 1815 Wyandotte, 7 – 9pm

Fri., November 3     Deadline to submit theses/dissertations for format review by the School of Graduate Studies, 5pm

Fri., November 20  Deadline to apply for SGS fellowships and grants, 5pm

Mon – Fri, November 23 – 27  Thanksgiving Holiday/No classes

Thurs., November 26 – 27  Thanksgiving Holiday – University Holiday/University Closed

Fri., December 18     Last day to defend theses and dissertations

Sat., December 19     Graduation Ceremonies – Arts & Sciences at 1pm, Multi at 5pm

Fri., December 25     University Holiday/University Closed

Fri., January 8     Deadline for submitting theses/dissertations to ProQuest

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Interdisciplinary Ph.D. student earns multiple awards Vivek Agrahari, PhD student in Pharmaceutical Sciences and Chemistry, has recently earned two awards. The first was the 2015 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Graduate Student Research Award within the Analysis and Pharmaceutical … Continue reading

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SGS Staff Spotlight: Quincy Bennett Johnson, Student Services Coordinator II

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Quincy Bennett Johnson, Student Services Coordinator II for the School of Graduate Studies, has earned her Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees at UMKC. She joined UMKC in 1998 as an Administrative Assistant. As her duties evolved, she was promoted within the … Continue reading

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