Former Dean Vorst Reflects on the Past Five Years
Five years sometimes sounds like a long time. Yet, I cannot believe that five years have gone by since I was honored by being named the Dean of the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences. It has been an interesting, exciting and, at times, exhausting job–but it also has been quite rewarding. I have met so many delightful faculty, staff, administrators and community members. What we all have in common is a passion for UMKC and the College of Arts and Sciences. What I also know is that this group is the hardest working and dedicated bunch of Roos ever.
The campus and the College have seen a number of changes these past several years. Our recruitment and retention plans that we have been developing and implementing have been successful. Last fall we had the largest incoming freshman class ever. Preliminary reports indicate that we are on track to continue attracting more and more students and finally we are succeeding in getting the word out about our quality degree programs, our relatively small class sizes and our outstanding faculty.
We continued to improve and strengthen the quality of our academic programs through the program evaluation reviews that each department supports on a regular cycle. We reviewed our Advising operations and revamped all of our websites in order to improve our service for students.
We got involved in advertising our programs not just for summer but year-round. Our summer program has expanded greatly, showing an increase of 32% since 2006. We continued to support students through automatic scholarships/waivers which will be more than $6.5 million this coming year and through HSCP scholarships of over $100K.
Despite a soft hiring freeze, we leveraged our unprecedented increase in student headcount to hire the best faculty, raising the number of regular faculty from 165 in 2006 to 180 in 2010. With the replacement of retired faculty next year, this number will increase to 190. Many of our faculty have won awards, some for teaching, others for research, still others for recognition within their field of study. A quick sampling reveals that we now have three Guggenheim fellows, an NEA fellow, several professors who have won the UM President’s and Governor’s awards for teaching, award-winning and internationally-recognized authors, international journal editors, new endowed professorships, and the list goes on. I could not be more proud of our faculty’s accomplishments.
Our community and alumni connections continued to grow, which has been vital to our ability to create and fund new scholarships and garner support in the UMKC capital campaign. Our ongoing stewardship efforts have brought in nearly $3 million in additional donations since 2008, endowing funding for over 200 student scholarships in the College. In fact, the number of endowed College scholarships grew by 61% from 2008 and this does not include many new scholarships created just this month of June, 2011. We could not have done this without the great support of faculty and our wonderful Alumni Director, Karen English.
Finally, I see this E-Zine as a major achievement, thanks so much to Professor Emeritus Dale Neuman. I know it was a ‘labor of love’ for Dale, though I also know it was a lot of hard work getting it started. This on-line magazine, with links to full stories of our faculty/staff/student accomplishments, has helped the College become better known, not just here within UMKC, but also in our community.
I thank everyone who played a role in so many College successes these past years. It clearly has been a collaborative effort. I have been honored to lead such a great group of Roos and will continue to support the College and UMKC whenever I can. After a year’s leave to gear up to teach again and to jump start my research program, you may find me once again in my Economics office.