UMKC to Launch ‘Laboratory of Learning’

Urban Education Research Center focused on solutions for urban schools

Finding solutions to some of the unique challenges of urban education is the focus of a new research center being launched at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

The Urban Education Research Center, part of the university’s School of Education, will conduct cutting edge research and analysis, develop data rich approaches, and disseminate this information with the goal of promoting excellent schooling and improving the lives, opportunities and communities of urban residents throughout the United States, with a focus on the Greater Kansas City community.

The center officially launches Oct. 29 with a special program featuring guest speaker Shirley Brice Heath, professor emerita at Stanford University, who is a specialist in building highly effective learning environments, especially for students of color and those in urban settings

The event also will pay tribute to three long-time supporters and advocates of urban education research and teacher education at UMKC. The event will honor John and Marny Sherman for their visionary gift commitment to create the new center; and Hugh Zimmer for his significant contributions to and service in support of urban education and the UMKC School of Education.

“The Urban Education Research Center is a place where the hope and promise of urban education is respected and kept alive,” said Leo E. Morton, Chancellor of UMKC. “We’re opening a laboratory of learning, where we’ll continue to search for solutions to improve the educational experiences of our children.”

Wanda J. Blanchett, Ph.D., School of Education Dean and Ewing Marion Kauffman/Missouri Endowed Chair for Teacher Education, said the center will seek partnerships across the university and the community to identify solutions to urban education challenges.

“We believe that a wide range of perspectives, and the involvement of diverse constituents, are key to understanding and addressing urban education issues that have national applicability,” Blanchett said. “We are confident that working collaboratively, academics, practitioners, community leaders and organizations, not-for-profit groups and the general public will identify strategies that lead to improved educational outcomes for all children.”

The launch event is free and open to the public. It begins at 5 p.m. in Pierson Auditorium, in the Atterbury Student Success Center on the UMKC campus, 5000 Holmes St., Kansas City, Mo. Those wishing to attend should RSVP to 816-235-2963 or

Michele Foster, Ed.D., is director of the center and Sherman Family Endowed Chair in Urban Education Research.

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