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Professional Readiness Initiative Promotes Student Success

Carla Conway Wilson will lead mentoring-focused program

The University of Missouri-Kansas City is launching a new student success initiative designed to help prepare students to meet the demands of the professional workforce.

The new program is designed to significantly upgrade the experience of UMKC students involved in work-study programs, from simply a part-time job to a true career development program. The new approach will be focused on creating a culture of client service and professionalism that will make UMKC graduates highly competitive career-ready professionals.

The initiative will be multi-pronged, involving training and development of the work-study students; and training of the work-study supervisors across campus on mentorship, how to set expectations and measure performance of the student workers. The students will receive regular, valuable feedback designed for career development.

Carla Conway Wilson, UMKC’s Director of Athletics since 2013, will lead the new program as Senior Director for Student Support Services & Student Development, beginning August 1.

Wilson, a UMKC alumna, brings a stellar record of accomplishments to the position. Last year, under her leadership, the Roos garnered two Western Athletics Conference (WAC) regular season championships, three WAC post-season championships, and contributed more than 2,000 community service hours to the Kansas City area. During the 2016-17 academic year, the Roos garnered five WAC Championships, five second-place finishes and two third-place finishes.  An overall second-place finish in the WAC Commissioners Cup standings marked the highest finish for the program during the Division I era. UMKC student-athletes also excelled academically. The Roos posted a program high cumulative grade point average of 3.34 for the 2016-17 academic year; 15 of 16 sports had a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or greater.  A total of 122 student-athletes earned All-WAC academic honors.

In 2012, Wilson was named Division I Administrator of the Year by Women Leaders in College Sports. In 2015, she was named one of the “Top 25 Women in Higher Education” by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.

“This position connects strongly with the outstanding work Carla has done with the NCAA Life Skills Program and career development programs for our student-athletes,” said Barbara A. Bichelmeyer, Ph.D., UMKC provost and executive vice chancellor. “I am so glad that Carla has agreed to found and lead this significant new initiative.”

Deputy Athletic Director Ursula Gurney will serve as acting director of athletics until UMKC hires a permanent successor to Wilson.

“I’ve had the privilege of leading UMKC student-athletes and seeing them excel in the classroom, in competition and in the community. Now I have an opportunity to continue shaping the lives of students as they prepare to start their careers and enter the professional world,” Wilson said. “This next chapter builds on my nearly 30-year career as a Roo where I’ll continue with my passion for developing and supporting students.”

Dea Marx will be moving from the School of Education to assist Wilson as the Senior Student Services Coordinator. The new program will benefit from Marx’s experience in preparing both student-teachers, and their school-district-based mentor teachers, for these vital mentoring relationships. Marx has also served as Chair of UMKC’s Staff Council.

“Student success depends on developmental and progressive learning experiences, both in college and after graduation. This program will provide students with opportunities to experience the expectations of a professional workplace, develop skills and dispositions to contribute high quality work, strengthen leadership skills, and prepare students for global organizations,” Marx said. “UMKC graduates already stand out because of their excellent preparation in the classroom. This program will provide them with experiences to amplify their long-term career success.”


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