Chancellor Agrawal paid a visit to U-News staff last Thursday in a press conference to discuss issues the university has encountered in the past and wishes to conquer in the future. Here is what he had to say on the most recent topics of discussion.
Sexual harassment incident surrounding softball team:
UMKC Athletics Director Dr. Brandon Martin’s review of the softball program is still ongoing. Despite reported concerns that UMKC was in violation of FERPA by releasing documentation of disciplinary actions towards players, Agrawal maintains that no laws were broken and releasing the report was done so to give a more balanced view of the situation. He also praised the actions taken by the softball team and U-News editors for how they handled the situation.
“I think U-News did a great job in reporting…Looking at all aspects of it and balancing it out,” Agrawal said. “I’m proud of the softball team and how when they were feeling under attack, they stood up and spoke up for what they thought was right.”
Agrawal’s Strategic Action Plan for UMKC calls for a 50 percent increase in enrollment over the next 10 years, but amid dwindling enrollment rates, something must be done to boost numbers. To accomplish this, Agrawal intends to expand upon the new “’Roos Are Everywhere” marketing campaign and invest in recruiting activities for potential incoming students.
As enrollment is increased, Agrawal said that additional accommodations like housing, parking and classrooms will have to be built. There will also need to be an increase in faculty and staff.
“You have to build the infrastructure along with the enrollment,” he said.
Some of the revenue to do so will come from the initial enrollment increase.
“We are not going to increase enrollment because we want the cash,” Agrawal said. “We’re going to increase enrollment because we believe that this community of 2.2 million people cannot be served by a school that only serves 8,000 undergraduates.”
Mold growth and compromised integrity of residence hall buildings have displaced a large amount of current UMKC students. And until those housing dilemmas are dealt with, UMKC can’t possibly hope to accommodate more.
Agrawal told U-News staff that in addition to repairs and renovations to existing residence halls, UMKC also wants to provide students with affordable housing near campus.
A chancellor-appointed task force is currently working on “fine-tuning” campus housing data, and Agrawal said that future conversations with students about what their needs and wants concerning housing will take place.
Check out page 2 for more information on housing.
In January, Agrawal announced that the new conservatory building would be built on campus, adjacent to the Olsen Performing Arts Center. The plan for its funding, however, is still in the works. Agrawal said that UMKC will petition the state for a portion of the funds, but other financial routes will need to be explored.
“Looking at state resources right now, getting anything out of this year’s budget most likely is not going to happen,” Agrawal said. “And, frankly, we’re not quite ready for it.”
Agrawal hopes to have the first rough rendition of the new conservatory developed within the next 60 to 90 days, but based on a needs assessment, that may change as talks for merging UMKC Theatre with the Conservatory are still up in the air. However, he hopes to have funding logistics ironed out within the next 18 months.
In regard to the controversy surrounding the removal of the Black Studies program, Agrawal admitted that, because program plans come from the Provost, he did not have all of the answers. However, he did not rule out its reinstatement, but said that it would depend on student demands for the program.
“We need to create an environment where all groups are represented and taken care of,” Agrawal said. “If students are asking for that, we need to work on getting them in place.”
Agrawal also said that in addition to the increase in student enrollment, he has plans to diversify faculty and staff on campus to mirror that of students.