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An Overview of what’s new on campus

Summer often is a slower-paced time of the year. But while people spend time in outdoors activities, and students focus on life outside of their studies, new and exciting things continue to happen at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

This summer was no exception.

UMKC has a new provost

Barbara A. Bichelmeyer, Ph.D., was appointed Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor of UMKC by Chancellor Leo E. Morton.

Bichelmeyer, a Kansas City native, most recently has served as Executive Associate Vice President for University Academic Affairs and Senior Director of the Office of Online Education at Indiana University in Bloomington.

She brings extensive experience in oversight of academic affairs, student success initiatives and online education, and spent a year as interim chancellor of Indiana University Southeast, an IU campus in the Louisville metropolitan area.

While she has strong roots in the Kansas City area, Bichelmeyer said the academic opportunities at UMKC are what spurred her to pursue the position.

“I’m really excited about the possibilities for the future of UMKC. The university has both unique strengths and unique challenges,” Bichelmeyer said. “This is a well-educated community that understands and appreciates higher education, which is a wonderful and vital asset as higher education undergoes a profound transformation. I look forward to collaborating with the entire campus community to assure that UMKC will thrive, and help Kansas City thrive, far into the future.” Read more.

Research has its rewards

School of Pharmacy receives $1.4 million grant

The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy has been awarded a $1.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for work on a new approach for artificial pancreas development to help the tens of millions of people who have diabetes.

The lifetime burden of constantly checking blood sugar and injecting insulin is significant. UMKC research has developed a way of delivering insulin to diabetics that eliminates pumps and most injections.

“We’re aiming to improve the lives of diabetics all over the world,” said UMKC pharmacy professor Simon Friedman, the primary investigator on the grant.

Normally, diabetics must inject themselves with insulin three to five times per day, to enable the body to absorb blood sugar. The amount of insulin needed and timing vary with what an individual eats and their activity level.

For several years, Friedman and his lab associates have been developing a method in which a single injection of a new material called a PAD (photoactivated depot) can take the place of multiple normal insulin injections and allow for minute-by-minute automatic updating of insulin release. The material is injected into the skin like insulin, but lies dormant until a beam of light stimulates release of insulin, in response to blood sugar information. The latest grant is for development and testing of new, high-efficient, insulin-releasing PAD materials.

Karen Kover, associate professor of pediatrics at the UMKC School of Medicine and Children’s Mercy, is also participating in the project, assisting with the testing of new materials.

For more information on the grant, visit ‘Fewer Needles.’

Professor Mutti Burke Honored by Missouri Humanities Council

Diane Mutti Burke, University of Missouri-Kansas City associate professor of History, was recognized with the 2015 Award for Distinguished Literary Achievement by the Missouri Humanities Council for her writings about the history of slavery and the Civil War in Missouri. She shared the honor with author William Least Heat-Moon.

Because most people view slavery through a national lens, Mutti Burke wanted to provide a close-up view of the personal experiences of those who lived it. Her books, “On Slavery’s Border” (2010) and “Bleeding Kansas, Bleeding Missouri” (2013), do just that. In her writing and the essay collection she edited, Mutti Burke imparts a sense of what slavery, the violent Civil War experience, and post-war race relations were like for the people of this region, a history she describes as both intriguing and problematic.

Her book, On Slavery’s Border,” explores in detail the effects of slavery on family and community life; how people related to each other; how people lived; and what, if any, freedom of movement slaves might have had.

Mutti Burke believes that her teaching, research and service jelled at just the right moment to attract the attention of the Missouri Humanities Council. Her other book, published in 2013 in the middle of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, also drew great praise. It is an edited collection of articles about the Civil War along the Missouri-Kansas border that resulted from a major conference held at the Kansas City Public Library in 2011. Mutti Burke and her co-editor, Jonathan Earle, organized the conference. Read more.

News on the construction front:

Free Enterprise Center

Gov. Jay Nixon announced state matching funds to build UMKC’s $14.8 million Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center. The center, a prototyping and product development hub, will be available to entrepreneurs, local industry and high school and college students as they pursue entrepreneurial ventures. The building will primarily serve two of the university’s fastest-growing academic units, the School of Computing and Engineering and the Henry W. Bloch School of Management.

“Continuing to strengthen the business team here (at UMKC) is critical” to the state’s progress, Nixon said. “”Entrepreneurship is essential to whatever you’re studying.”

He concluded by thanking the UMKC faculty for their service to both students and the broader community, and promised students that Missouri colleges are increasing academic rigor as well as affordability. Read more.

$21.5 Million Upgrade Coming for Chemistry, Biology Labs

UMKC is launching a $21.5 million renovation and modernization project for its primary biology and chemistry teaching laboratories.

Gov. Nixon signed a package of bills that included about $160 million in bond funds for use on college and university projects around the state, including $18.3 million for the laboratory renovations at UMKC’s Spencer Chemistry Building and Biological Sciences Building. The total project cost will be $21.5 million.

The buildings were originally constructed in 1968 and the laboratories have not been renovated or updated since the 1980s. These labs serve Chemistry and Biological Sciences undergraduate and graduate students, as well as those who go on to professional schools or graduate studies in medical, dental, pharmacy, nursing, law, social work, environmental science, optometry, physical therapy and veterinary programs. They also serve as part of the teaching mission for UMKC’s Pharmacy, Medicine and Nursing Programs.

The project will renovate approximately 75,000 square feet of laboratory space, providing state-of-the-art, core teaching laboratory spaces for sciences on UMKC’s Volker Campus that meet current lab standards and encourage collaborative learning. National level specialists in scientific laboratory design and construction will be involved, and both buildings will remain open during the duration of the project, which is expected to be completed in July 2018. Read more.

51 Oak project featuring Whole Foods Market kicks off

Officials from Van Trust Real Estate, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Whole Foods Market, Kansas City Mayor Sly James and neighborhood organizations came together June 30 to break bread in celebration of the start of construction of the 51 Oak Project, a new development on the UMKC campus that will include the new grocery market, as well as a new UMKC Student Health and Counseling Center, 170 market-rate apartments and a six-story parking garage with 445 spaces.

The project site, at 51st and Oak streets, is directly west of the UMKC Administrative Center building. It will replace a parking lot and an administrative annex building currently on the site; the historic clubhouse of the Kansas City Young Matrons, built in 1936, will be lifted and moved to a new site near 52nd and Cherry streets.

The ground floor of the three-acre project, south of E. 51st Street between Brookside Boulevard and Oak Street, will feature a 42,000-sq.-ft. Whole Foods Market grocery store. An 11,000-sq.-ft. UMKC Student Health and Counseling Center will be located on the second level, with five stories of apartments and parking above that. Read more.

Students Take the Spotlight

Emily Geminder wins Creative Non-Fiction Prize

From her ground-level position as a journalist, Emily Geminder was immersed in the sights and sounds and events that inform a writer’s work. While covering stories and editing pieces in New York and Cambodia, she developed a keen eye for the ways in which history remains tied to an invisible past.

Geminder offered historic context that embellished and enriched the tale. As a fiction writer, she crafted stories about everything from bomber pilots dropping messages into villages below, to 13-year-old runaways, to the children of Cambodian refugees.

A second year MFA student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Geminder’s talents have earned her the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) 2015 award for “Nausicaa,” a piece of creative non-fiction that relates, in letter form, her reading of “Ulysses” while she was in India. The Tampa Review will publish her winning entry in a forthcoming issue.

“The AWP award is the most prestigious and competitive national award that a creative writing student can receive,” said Whitney Terrell, assistant professor in the Department of English and the New Letters Distinguished Writer-in-Residence. Read more.

Two UMKC Students Awarded Prestigious Gilman International Scholarship

Two University of Missouri-Kansas City College of Arts and Sciences students are among 860 American undergraduate students from 332 colleges and universities across the U.S. selected to receive the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to study or intern abroad during the fall 2015/academic year 2015-2016 academic term.

UMKC senior Danisa Dan-Irabor will study abroad at Dongguk University in Seoul, South Korea. She is majoring in Criminal Justice and Criminology. Karina Dunn, a UMKC senior, will study abroad at Universitat de Valencia through ISA in Valencia, Spain. She is pursuing a double major in English with a concentration on Creative Writing, and Spanish.

Gilman scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply towards their study abroad or internship program costs. The program aims to diversify the students who study and intern abroad and the countries and regions where they go. Students receiving a federal Pell Grant from two- and four-year institutions, who will be studying abroad or participating in a career-oriented international internship for academic credit, are eligible to apply. Read more.

Courtney Frerichs sets records in track

Junior distance runner Frerichs became the university’s first four-time NCAA All-American, earning the honor twice in cross country, once in indoor track and another time in outdoor track. This month, she broke her own school record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a WAC-record time of 9:32.12 to move into the top spot in the NCAA. The Olympic hopeful’s time also ranks No. 2 in the world this year.

Frerichs plans to pursue a professional running career, then go on to medical school and a career as an orthopedist.

Governor announces boost to need-based scholarships

Gov. Jay Nixon came to UMKC to announce a substantial boost in need-based scholarships for college students across Missouri.

At the July 15 press conference at the Atterbury Student Success Center, Nixon said the maximum award amount for Access Missouri scholarships will increase by more than 23 percent – to $1,850 from $1,500 – for students attending participating four-year institutions including UMKC, and by nearly 30 percent – to $850 from $660 – for students attending participating two-year institutions in the current fiscal year, FY2016.

Nixon stressed the importance of the investment to the state’s overall economy, as well as to individual students and their families.

“Institutions like UMKC are essential to Missouri’s ability to compete and win in today’s high tech economy,” the governor said. “Education is the best economic development tool we have.

Introducing the governor, UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton noted the importance of need-based scholarships to an urban-serving university.

“By providing an affordable path to higher education, we provide a strong and productive workforce for our communities, help people achieve a higher standard of living, and keep our best and brightest young people here at home,” Morton said.

He noted that more than 1,300 UMKC students received Access Missouri scholarships last year, and that 60 percent of UMKC applicants are classified as having high financial need.

“We need to provide as many gap-closers as we can,” Morton said. Read more.

|Wandra Brooks Green, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications


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