2018: A year of new beginnings
C. Mauli Agrawal, Ph.D., became UMKC’s new chancellor in June. He is a native of India, a U.S. citizen, a bioengineer, oil painting hobbyist, former auto industry executive, an inventor who holds 29 patents and an entrepreneur whose bioengineering research group has been responsible for starting three companies in San Antonio, where he had served as vice president for research and interim provost at the University of Texas-San Antonio.
UMKC broke ground in September for the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center, a new research and laboratory building for the School of Computing and Engineering. The 57,800-square-foot building will provide leading-edge, high-tech research and development capabilities for both the campus and the Kansas City community at large.
The U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Naval Research has awarded a $7.2 million grant and a $7.7 million contract to UMKC to develop technologies to reduce national security threats from small, unmanned aerial vehicles. These are the largest non-health research awards received at UMKC. The four-year grant award will focus on advancing high-power microwave electronic countermeasure technologies.
Brandon Martin, Ph.D., was announced as UMKC’s new Director of Athletics in November. Martin has athletic leadership experience at two of the nation’s leading Power Five conference programs, Southern California and Oklahoma. He’s committed to solving a puzzle that has eluded predecessors for decades: while the Roos have produced conference champions in competition and excelled in the classroom, the teams’ fan base is fervent but small. They have not yet broken through to ignite a sizable fan base across campus or in the community.
Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal, Ph.D., announced $20 million in new scholarships November 8 as the capstone to his first State of the University address. Commitment to the success of current and future students is at the core of Agrawal’s vision, and starts with making higher education more affordable to more students within the Kansas City community. The new funding will support 400 additional scholarships over the next nine years, each worth $10,000 per year, for students enrolling at UMKC.
The long-awaited Brookside 51 project at 51st and Oak streets, including a Whole Foods Market and a brand-new Student Services Suite, opened in May. The suite is the new home for Student Counseling Services, Student Disability Services and Student Health and Wellness. The project also includes 170 market-rate apartments and a six-story parking garage with 445 spaces.
Although 5 miles away from the launch pad, Luan “Kevin” Ngo’s chest rumbled from the thrust power of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifting off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in April – with his experiment on board. Ngo has been part of the team that is seeing how sperm squirm in weightlessness, using both human and bull sperm. Studying reproductive biology in space is useful because the unique environment of microgravity can reveal processes and connections not visible in gravity on Earth.
The eight kiosks — on UMKC’s Volker and Health Sciences campuses — resemble giant smart phones and provide up-to-date information on university services and how to access the best of Kansas City. The digital kiosks are part of a communication network that broadcasts real-time, location-based information and alerts to provide safer, better connected public digital solutions.
The UMKC chapter of the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists was recognized at the annual 2018 meeting with the 2016-2017 Chapter of the Year Award. The UMKC chapter also won this distinction in 2012, and has been in the nation’s Top 10 chapters every year since. The chapter was recognized for its work in providing wellness screenings — such as blood glucose, blood pressure, heartburn and bone mineral density — as well as immunizations, medication counseling and other services to the underserved and underinsured.
Former UMKC Track and Field runner Courtney Frerichs (’15) came through with a career-best performance at the Meeting Herculis 2018 in Monaco in July, setting an American 3,000-meter Steeplechase record of 9:00.85. Frerichs, an Olympian in 2016, finished second in the event behind Beatrice Chepkoech from Kenya.