Time for Spectacular to Happen

UMKC Welcomes Chancellor-Designate C. Mauli Agrawal

A cheering crowd of students, faculty, staff and Kansas City community members gathered in the Olson Performing Arts Center Feb. 9 to extend a warm welcome to University of Missouri-Kansas City Chancellor-Designate C. Mauli Agrawal.

“I feel honored and privileged that President Choi and the Curators of the UM System have chosen me for this very important position,” said Agrawal. “I feel truly humbled. At the same time, I am very excited about the opportunity to lead UMKC to new levels of excellence.”

He then added, in a booming voice: “Good morning Roo Nation!”

In his first address to the UMKC community, Agrawal listed five pillars for the path forward at UMKC:

  1. Exceptional Student Experience

  2. Thriving Knowledge and Discovery Enterprise

  3. Exemplary Model of the Modern Urban University

  4. Invigorating Globalism and Multiculturalism

  5. Strong and Resilient People, Process, and Physical Infrastructure

University of Missouri System President Mun Choi introduced Agrawal and his wife, Sue.

“I am pleased that Dr. Agrawal is joining the university at such a pivotal time in UMKC’s history,” said Choi, adding that he looks forward to working with Agrawal to lead the transformations to meet UMKC’s important mission.

Agrawal, currently Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Texas in San Antonio, was named chancellor-designate on Tuesday after a months-long search following the retirement of Chancellor Emeritus Leo Morton in August. Since then, Barbara A. Bichelmeyer has been serving a dual role of Interim Chancellor and Provost. She will return to full-time Provost duties in June.

Choi expressed his gratitude for Bichelmeyer’s service and expressed his full support of her while she continues to lead a number of key initiatives in academic reorganization and budgeting process that must move forward.

“I am very much looking forward to working with Mauli to create a model urban research university,” said Bichelmeyer. “Our best days are yet to come, and we know your leadership will play a key role in guiding those steps.” Bichelmeyer added that Agrawal and his family are going to love Kansas City.

Agrawal comes to UMKC with broad and deep experiences as

  1. an award-winning teacher at the undergraduate and graduate levels,

  2. a researcher who’s been elected fellow status to the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academy of Inventors

  3. and as an administrator at the departmental, college and university level

Choi said he emphasized key requirements for a new chancellor in his charge to the search committee. They included a strong commitment to excellence, deep appreciation of the importance of higher education and substantive experiences in enterprise research and scholarly works, program development and increasing access to higher education to name a few. He confirmed Agrawal possesses all of those qualities.

“UMKC, with its top rated programs in the arts and theatre, its various schools in the medical disciplines, biological sciences, engineering, management, and education, has all the elements that are needed to make a great university,” said Agrawal, “but that alone is not sufficient. You also need the right environment.”

Before applying, he wanted to know if Kansas City could provide such an environment.

“So, I looked at Kansas City. And I nearly fell off my chair. I do not know how you all have been keeping this such a secret but this place is a city on the rise. It is on so many top ten lists –high paying jobs, entrepreneurship, cities to watch, music scene and yes, barbecue!”

Several key university community members also took turns extending greetings to the Agrawal family as they presented various gifts representative of UMKC and Kansas City. Gifts included

  1. UMKC Kangaroo apparel

  2. a history of UMKC, authored by alumnus Chris Wolff

  3. CDs from the university’s renowned conservatory

  4. And a framed photograph that represents a proud moment for UMKC, depicting university officials and civic leaders linking arms to march across Troost Avenue, which for decades has been considered a racial dividing line in Kansas City.

Agrawal said projections show that the forthcoming increase in college students will come primarily from minorities and under-represented groups. “I will create a strong sense of family on campus – la familia as we say in south Texas. As part of that, we need to have great pride in UMKC. Pride that is unabashedly and unapologetically loud at times.”

Faculty, staff, students and civic leaders were assured that they will have a partner in the chancellor-designate as they work together to move the needle on several of the university’s major initiatives and create a master plan for economic development in Kansas City.

“It is our time and turn for ‘spectacular’ to happen,” said Agrawal.

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