Roos from across the globe have come bounding to campus for the start of the new semester. Some are just beginning on their college journey, while others are due to depart after years of academic work.
As the school gears up for the fall semester, Chancellor Mauli Agrawal begins his second year as UMKC’s leader. U-News asked him a few questions about his thoughts and feelings as a new season begins:
Q: You now have a full year as chancellor under your belt. Do you feel ready to handle the year ahead?
A: I feel more than ready. I feel energized and excited about continuing the upward momentum of this university. Faculty and staff throughout UMKC are working hard to build a culture of caring — what I like to call “La Familia”— in which we commit to treating each student as family. Part of that includes building up a sense of belonging; I want all of our students to not just feel welcomed and appreciated, but as part of a true community, deeply engaged in campus life and activities.
Q: What is your primary focus as we go into the fall semester?
A: We have a new strategic plan for UMKC, which people can view at www.umkc.edu/about/strategic-plan. It’s the product of months of hard work by people across our campuses. We’ve set a high bar for ourselves in terms of growing our enrollment, our research enterprise and our student success metrics. I’m confident we have what it takes to achieve those ambitious goals, and my primary focus is leading our community’s effort to do so.
Q: Do you have any recommendations for our new students?
A: Get involved! Join a campus club or activity, go to our athletic events, attend music, dance and theatre productions by our conservatory. College should be educational, challenging and fun, and student involvement is the key to all three.
Q: What major changes will occur over the next academic year?
A: We are launching Roo STRONG this year, an important new initiative for increasing student retention, six-year graduation rates and career outcomes. It will provide additional guidance and support for students at key milestones and transition points in their educational journey. It also puts the responsibility on all of our faculty and staff to engage each student with learning experiences and co-curricular supports to meet their unique needs.
Also, I am very excited about the new Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center under construction, now adjacent to Flarsheim Hall. When it opens in 2020, it will provide leading-edge, high-tech research and development capabilities for students, faculty and the community.
This year, we are also launching the UMKC Institute for Data Education, Analytics and Science, or IDEAS for short. It will be a regional and national center for data science education, research and service, building on the university’s strengths in biomedical informatics, big data analytics, image analysis, natural language processing and geospatial analysis.
Q: What are you most looking forward to for the near future of UMKC?
A: Continuing to build up and enhance our culture of caring. My goal is for every member of this community to be invested in the success of the community and each individual in the community. That’s a two-way street, and my job is to make sure that the university more than matches the level of commitment that each individual brings to the whole.