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Major changes, new opportunities on the way in 2018

Kansas City’s university continues to grow and evolve, and the year 2018 will bring new leadership, new amenities and new opportunities to campus – along with the return of some old friends and time-honored traditions. Following is a look at examples of some major changes and significant events to look forward to in the coming year.

New Leadership

Leo E. Morton, chancellor of the University of Missouri-Kansas City since 2008, retired in October 2017. Mun Choi, president of the University of Missouri System, appointed UMKC Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Barbara A. Bichelmeyer to serve as Interim Chancellor while a national search was launched. Co-chairs of the search committee are UMKC Faculty Senate Chair, Martha Jane Phillips Starr Missouri Distinguished Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Professor of History Linda Mitchell; and UMKC alum and former President and Chief Executive Officer of JE Dunn Construction Group Terry Dunn. A decision by President Choi is expected early in 2018.

‘Whole’ New Amenity

The Brookside 51 project is slated for completion and a grand opening around the middle of the year. The project will feature a 42,000-sq.-ft. Whole Foods Market grocery store, 170 market-rate apartments and a six-story parking garage with 445 spaces. Of special interest to students: a brand-new Student Health and Wellness center on the second level, offering a larger space and a more convenient location for health, counseling and disability services.

Teaching Laboratories for Biology, Chemistry

Faculty and staff from the School of Biological Sciences have already begun moving into their newly renovated and upgraded teaching laboratories. The first phase of a $21.5 million modernization project for Chemistry and Biology teaching labs was completed in December; it included labs on the second through fourth floors of the biological sciences building. The project’s second phase, renovation of labs in the Spencer Chemistry building, is underway.

High-Tech Research Capabilities

UMKC will break ground this summer for construction of a new $32 million education and research center for the university’s rapidly expanding School of Computing and Engineering. The new building is needed to accommodate the rapid growth of the school, where enrollment has doubled in less than 10 years, as well as to provide the state-of-the-art technology and dynamic laboratories that are essential to attracting and accommodating the most promising future engineers and computer scientists to build Kansas City’s and Missouri’s future workforce.

The 44,400-gross-square-foot building will be adjacent to the School of Computing and Engineering’s current home in Flarsheim Hall. It will provide leading-edge high-tech research and development capabilities that will be available to both the campus and the community at large.

Theatre Cycle Continues

UMKC Theatre will present Letters From Freedom Summer by Ricardo Khan, Denise Nicholas and Sibusiso Mamba, and directed by Ricardo Khan, in May. It is the latest in a long line of productions written and/or directed by Khan, a Tony-award-winning artistic director who has taught at UMKC for 10 years. Khan’s productions typically involve outreach to the broader community, particularly communities of color. Letters From Freedom Summer is the second installment in a series that began with Freedom Rider in 2015.

Freedom Breakfast Returns

The annual Freedom Breakfast sponsored by The African American Student Union (TAASU) is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17 in Pierson Auditorium. The Freedom Breakfast honors the memory and contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, while addressing current social justice issues impacting the African American community. RSVP here.

Undergraduate Research Showcase

UMKC is noted for the unusually extensive research opportunities available to undergraduate students, and the fruits of those opportunities will be on display at the annual Lucerna Undergraduate Research Symposium at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21 in the Student Union. The Symposium will feature presentations by student authors published in volume 12 of Lucerna, UMKC’s peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary undergraduate research journal. Lucerna publishes articles by students in all fields of scholarship, including the humanities, social sciences, sciences, mathematics, music, fine arts and professional disciplines. Published annually since 2005, Lucerna‘s purpose is to cultivate and showcase original research and scholarship from the entire UMKC undergraduate community.

‘Ambassador for Healing’ to Speak

Joy DeGruy, an internationally renowned researcher, educator and author, will deliver the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 30 in Pierson Auditorium. DeGruy is the author of the groundbreaking book Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome – America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing which addresses the residual impacts of trauma on African descendants in the Americas. She has been described as “a tell-it-like-it-is ambassador for healing and a voice for those who’ve struggled in search of the past, and continue to struggle through the present.” Register here.

Culture Night Returns

Culture Night, the biggest and most diverse culture event at UMKC, returns on Saturday, April 21. The 10th annual event begins at 5 p.m. in Pierson Auditorium with free international food and booths representing ethnic cultures and Kansas City student-related non-profit organizations, and moves to Swinney Recreation Center at 7 p.m. for the Talent and Fashion Show. Culture Night, organized by the International Student Ambassadors and the International Student Affairs Office, is free and open to the UMKC and Kansas City community.

Navarro Keynotes Leadership Conference

The 2018 Women of Color Leadership Conference will take place June 15 with a keynote address from political strategist and CNN, ABC and Telemundo contributor Ana Navarro. The Women of Color Leadership Conference is sponsored annually by the UMKC Division of Diversity & Inclusion. Along with the keynote speaker, workshop facilitators will lead stimulating and beneficial discussions on a variety of topics.


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