2018 Staff Appreciation Week Activities!

All Week:
May 14-18 | Free access to Swinney Recreation Center (please bring your staff ID and sign the waver provided for access)

May 14-20 | Free Admission for up to 3 family members and 10% off Museum Store Purchases with UMKC ID*

Discount at the UMKC Bookstore | 25% off Roo Gear and gifts (discount will automatically ring at register)

Staff Appreciation Picnic | 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. | University Walkway
Free shuttle from Hospital Hill to Volker Campus sponsored by the Health Science District Deans

Shuttle #1 will pick up from School of Medicine at 10:45 am with a stop at the School of Dentistry.
Shuttle #2 will pick up from School of Medicine at 11 am with a stop at the School of Dentistry.

Both shuttles will be making round trips between Volker and Hospital Hill throughout the event. Last pick up from Volker will be approx. 1:45 pm.

Unit Day | Your unit is encouraged to do something special for your staff members on this day! Ideas include organizing a pot luck, UMKC Gear day etc.

Staff Conference for Professional Development | 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. (Check in begins at 7:30 a.m.) | Registration required


Help us spread the word!
Printable Version of the Staff Appreciation Week Flier-1


*Admission to The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures is always free with a UMKC ID, but in recognition of Staff Appreciation Week the museum is offering free admission for up to three family members as well! (Faculty/staff member must be present.) UMKC faculty and staff will also receive 10% off museum store purchases. Simply show your UMKC ID to receive these perks Monday, May 14 through Sunday, May 20, 2018!

Staff Spotlight: Kristen Abell

Name: Kristen Abell

Department: Strategic Marketing and Communications (MCOM)

What do you do at UMKC?:
I am the Web Manager for the UMKC website. Not only do I develop websites, but I also oversee the policy and guidelines around them. I also supervise a team of two other web professionals – a web content strategist and a web developer.

What is your favorite thing about working at UMKC?:
One of the main reasons I have always enjoyed working in higher ed is that we often get to wear a number of different hats. Yes, I’m a web manager, but I also still have ties to student affairs on our campus and participate in some of their events. I get to participate in Diversity Advocates and Staff Council where I get to use some of my other skills. Plus, I love to learn – and what better place to do that than at a university? I recently read a book about being a “multipotentialite” – someone who has varied interests and skills, like me – and higher ed is a great place for this type of person to work.

What are some things you do while you are not at UMKC?:
I read – a lot. And just about every type of book you could imagine. Typically I read about 1 – 2 books a week. And I’m always accepting book recommendations ;).

I also cross stitch – but not your momma’s type of cross stitch. I create a lot of my own patterns and do things like ornaments with quotes from The Princess Bride or Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the TV show – not the movie, of course). I also stitch a fair amount of curse words from time to time. And I do a lot of commissioned cross stitch for anyone who is looking for something specific.

I also do web development as a side hustle – although I try to space these projects out so I don’t get too tired of it.

And of course I do a lot of work on The Committed Project, which is an organization I co-founded with a colleague and friend of mine to combat the stigma surrounding mental illness in higher education.

Can you tell us more about The Committed Project?:
The Committed Project started as a one-month blog series for student affairs professionals in May 2014, although if I’m being completely honest, the work started before that. My colleague Sue Caulfield approached me because of a series of blog posts I had shared about my experience with depression. She had the idea for some sort of comic (she’s an amazing artist) detailing some of the struggles of having mental illness while working in student affairs. Together we put out a call for contributors for May – which is Mental Health Awareness Month, hoping for maybe one a week. We ended up with enough for an entire month’s worth of post, which made it clear that we were only scratching the surface. We did another series in May 2015, and then in 2016 created The Committed Project website, where we continue to post stories and create and share resources like our toolkit for higher education professionals. When we launched the website, we expanded it to all professionals in higher education – faculty and staff – as we know the stigma runs deep in academe.

Why/How did you get involved with this work?:
I’ve had depression since I was a teenager and have struggled to manage it over that time. I reached a point in my job as the director of housing here where it was so difficult to get out of bed and make it through the day that I considered hospitalizing myself. But not once did I consider telling my superiors that – it felt way too scary, and I feared I would endanger my position at the university if I did that. That’s when I realized there was a problem in higher ed. We’ve been seeing increasing numbers of students coming through our doors with some type of mental illness, but we haven’t yet done the work of examining our own biases against it – especially mental illness in our peers. So I started sharing my story in the hopes that it would start to open the door on mental illness a little bit and break down some of the stigma around it. If people who knew me could understand that the whole time I had mental illness, maybe they wouldn’t be so afraid of it.

What resources would you like to provide staff members?:
Oh wow – I have a ton! 🙂

– First of all, The Committed Project website has some great stories from other professionals in higher education who experience mental illness. We try to update it when we have time, but it’s our salary-free side hustle, so it’s not as deep as I’d like. Still, there’s a bunch of good information, stories and resources on the site.

– One of my favorite things on the site is our Toolkit, which can be found on the Resources page. Lots of great info in there about different mental illnesses, language and supporting yourself or others experiencing mental illness.

Mental Health America has some incredible resources for people who want to know more about mental illness. I’m hoping to make it to one of their national conferences some day.

– If you have not taken advantage of the RESPOND training on our campus, please do so ASAP! It’s fantastic, and well worth the eight hours.

– I have a billion and one book recommendations, but I won’t list them all here. Suffice it to say if you’re a reader, give me a shout and I’ll happily indulge your requests :).

And finally, a couple of self-promotional resources:

– If you have about 7 minutes and want to know more about what it’s like to experience mental illness in higher ed, take a peek at this video of a presentation I gave a few years ago talking about my own experiences and why I think it’s important for us to stomp out stigma among higher education professionals.

If you are looking for someone to come talk to your office or department about this, feel free to give me a shout. This is a topic that is extremely important to me (obviously), and I’ve presented on it more than a couple of times at this point and would love to spread the good word on our campus.

Staff Spotlight! Wes Parham

Name: Wes Parham MBA Ph.D.

Department: UMKC School of Dentistry

What do you do at UMKC? I am currently the Director of Dental Admissions. I work with those students who, for some reason or another, want to be dentists. It’s almost like dentistry was ranked the #2 job in the whole country by US News and World Report this year. It was by the way.

What is your favorite thing about working at UMKC? My favorite thing has to be working with the students.  Seeing a student come in lost, almost in a daze, and then helping them to ultimately reach their goals, graduate, and become a better person. You can’t beat that feeling. As an alum myself I know the difference UMKC can make in a person life. It changed my whole trajectory in life. I met my wife here, began my career here, and more. Now, as an employee of the University I understand that much of the difference made in people’s lives is because of the staff, faculty, and administrators who work for the university and go out of their way to help grow and nurture students. I want to be one of those staff members.

What is your favorite place to eat in Kansas City? I think I will get in trouble if I say somewhere other than home with my wife’s cooking. But I also really like Sushi Mido on Nieman road. Their Wonder Woman roll will change your life.

Who inspires you? I think there are so many people who inspire me. Probably too many to name or count. I am inspired whenever I see people moving in their unique gifts and talents. Whatever those gifts and talents may be. Seeing people do what they love, are passionate about, and have cultivated through practice and hard work makes me happy. If I had to name people, I’d probably say my wife, my kids, my mother, my mentors (Dr. Joseph Seabrooks Jr. , Emmitt Mitchell, and more) my friends. Like I said, way too many to name or count.

Do you have any favorite books, films or musicians? Well right now I would say my favorite book is “Be A Hater: A Polemic on the Hater Mindset by Wes Parham. For some reason I connect with his writing style. I feel like he really gets me :).

Could you tell us more about your book? Sure. The Book is called “Be A Hater: A Polemic on the Hater Mindset”. It looks at how our culture labels anyone who disagrees with you as a hater and the impact that has on our culture. I try to use a contemporary cultural criticism approach to do this. So the book  has chapters like “Why Taylor Swift is the Most Dangerous Person Alive” or “Cognitive Psychology with Gucci Mane”, etc. But it also covers deeper topics like increasing epistemic motivation, or individual happiness. I think it is a fun read and would be great for college students (so any of you teaching classes, this is a great book for students J)

How can other staff members at UMKC support you?  There are really 4 big ways people could support me.

  • Please buy the book. It is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple books, KOBO, etc. Right now it is on sale for around $8 (discounted from $12)
  • Come to one of the UMKC Book Presentations and Signings- February 15th, 2018 at 6pm in the Student Union Rm 301 or February 20th, 2018 UMKC Dental School 12pm-1pm in Rm. 217A
  • Please like/follow and share my Be a hater facebook page (facebook.com/hatermindset)
  • Complete an amazon review (after reading the book of course)
  • Share the book with any friends, classmates, acquaintances, enemies, frenemies, etc. that might enjoy it or at least be challenged by it. And with any courses where it might be helpful to the curriculum.

Thanks for sharing, Wes! Would you or someone you know like to be featured in a future Staff Spotlight? Let us know at staffcouncil@umkc.edu