UMKC Student Success Center poised to enhance student experience

Newly renovated center provides a one-stop shop for student assistance

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Students returning to the University of Missouri-Kansas City in August will find a new path to success when they arrive.

The Student Affairs and Enrollment Management division and the Provost’s office co-chaired a committee focused on Goal Number 1 of the university’s Strategic Plan – place student success at the center. They listened to feedback from the committee and from student survey responses and are constructing the Student Success Center to promote students’ academic success, student convenience and student retention.

The $7 million project will remake the University Center into the new home for a variety of programs and services, including several existing programs and two new ones: UMKC Central and the University College. The center will open in August 2012 when students arrive for the fall 2013 academic school year.

The Student Success Center’s facade will feature extensive window space to let in natural light during the day and to showcase the buzz of activity at night. The center also will include the Welcome Center, International Student Affairs, Career Services, the Center for Academic Development, the Writing Center, SEARCH, disability services, MindBody Connection and Medical Advising for students in years 1 and 2.

Services that will remain in the center are UMKC Dining Services, the barber shop and the UMKC Cafe serving Starbucks coffee.

According to Mel Tyler, vice chancellor of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, the idea for a one-stop shop was a direct result of the survey.

“Students expressed frustration at going to several offices to get what they needed. At UMKC Central, students will get assistance from staff cross-trained in areas such as cashier and financial aid,” said Tyler. “This will provide a convenient portal for supporting students, eliminating the need to travel to numerous offices for each service.”

UMKC Central – one of the new programs – offers staff that is cross-trained in cashier, financial aid, records, admissions and registrar functions, providing a convenient focal point for answering questions and getting assistance. Student inquiries will generate a “ticket” that requires staff to follow through and ensure that issues are resolved.

Reporting to Academic Affairs and housed in the Student Success Center, the University College is designed to help incoming undeclared/exploratory students and continuing students in transition between majors, make purposeful decisions regarding their academic plans. Its physical location in the Student Success Center facilitates student interaction with key support services. Cross-college advising and participation of faculty from across the university will facilitate students’ exploration and ultimate connection to the academic unit of their major.

“Our mission is to offer every exploratory student the opportunity for success through engagement with faculty and staff, the development of educational plans and the clarification of career and life goals,” said Kim McNeley, Ph.D., associate vice provost, Academic Affairs. “The undeclared student can easily feel little connection to their university. The University College will facilitate a UMKC connection with faculty and staff in a purposeful way, which is one of the keys to student persistence.”

Also, the program will include UNIV 101, the cornerstone course required of all incoming students and based on guidelines established by the National Resource Center for the first-year experience. Students will pick from UNIV 101 seminars with variable content based on their interests. Through the study of this topic of interest, students will develop key academic skills, connect with a potential faculty mentor and move toward declaration of an academic program.

This University College model aligns with a national trend toward providing more intervention and assistance to first-year students, particularly those who have not yet declared their major. The concept is used at campuses including Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and Arizona State.

About UMKC

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 15,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience. For more information about UMKC, visit You can also find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and watch us on YouTube.

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