Thursday, May 28, 2009

University-Wide Challenge Promotes Student Venture Creation

The Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (IEI) at UMKC’s Bloch School announced the winners of the 2009 Regnier Family Foundation’s Venture Creation Challenge (VCC) on Monday, April 27. Five winning teams were selected from 24 original UMKC student venture creations.

The Venture Creation Challenge is a university-wide competition that encourages student venture creation, and provides tools and opportunities for students to excel as the next generation of entrepreneurs. Michael Song, executive director for the Institute, expects the challenge will eventually lead to the launching of four to eight new businesses per year. Ultimately, the Institute aims to create 100 exceptionally well-trained entrepreneurs and 10 high-growth ventures every year.

Investors, entrepreneurs and business professionals from across the Kansas City area volunteered to judge this year’s student ventures. The winning teams each received a launch package valued at $15,000 to start their business. The launch packages include placement in IEI’s Student Ventures Program incubator track, along with accounting, legal, capital access and other resources to aid in the businesses’ launch.

This year, students from a variety of disciplines participated in the challenge, including students from the Bloch School, the School of Law and the School of Computing and Engineering. The following teams took top honors for their winning venture concepts:

· Banana Basket – a patent-pending appliance that dramatically extends the life of all types of fresh fruit
· Go Say Hi! – a mobile dating service that utilizes advanced global positioning software to alert members to potential meeting opportunities through their mobile phones
· ChefBurger – a fast-casual dining franchise providing high-quality, chef-designed burgers at a reasonable price
· Lovesick Clothing – an apparel company that focuses on casual tops for men and women which carry a subtle Christian-themed message
· Fun Flotations, LLC – a corporation featuring the INFLOTABLE™, a motorized, social watercraft that allows multiple people to sit in one round flotation device

Congratulations to all students who participated in this year’s challenge – for additional coverage please visit:

For information regarding the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s 2010 Venture Creation Challenge please e-mail or contact Phil Needles at 816-235-6720.

-Written by Victoria Prater, Senior Information Specialist, Bloch School of Business, and Maurine Kierl, University Communications

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Service-Learning (or what I learned on my way to the Strategic Plan)

Service-learning seeks to increase the engagement of UMKC students, faculty, and alumni, with area nonprofits, local governments, schools and neighborhoods. Service-learning is a teaching method which combines community service with academic instruction as it focuses on critical, reflective thinking and civic responsibility. From the assignment of a project that addresses community needs, students learn from community members and develop leadership skills while practicing theoretical knowledge gained in class. The hyphen in service-learning is not accidental; service-learning combines an effective pedagogy for student success with UMKC’s desire to respond to and partner with Kansas City communities.

Service-learning is an important way that universities contribute to the vitality and life of cities. As such, it is explicit in UMKC’s strategic plan’s goal regarding our urban mission and implicit in the economic development goal. As a high-impact teaching methodology service-learning is also implicit in the goals regarding undergraduate student success, visual and performing arts, and diversity.

Service-learning enhances the educational experience for students by challenging them to connect what they learn with real community issues. This leads to better academic performance, stronger relationships with peers and faculty, and increased participation in campus life. These successes increase student persistence to graduation and student retention. Students value service-learning for the real-world experience, opportunities to build networks and contacts, and an increased feeling of personal success.

Through service-learning, UMKC extends its relationship with Kansas City’s communities. Nonprofits, schools, and local governments value partnering with universities because it expands their reach without substantially increasing costs. Service-learning students bring new energy, ideas, and enthusiasm, as well as specialized skills. Ultimately, service-learning is great for the civic health of communities because it helps cultivate a new generation of caring and experienced citizens, activists, and volunteers.

To capitalize on what we know about student success and alumni engagement, the Service-Learning Program at the Institute for Human Development is:

  • Building an interactive web portal, Serve 2 Learn, which provides project management support for service-learning and community service and matches community partners with UMKC faculty and students. Soft launch is Spring 2009 with a full launch in Fall 2009. Serve 2 Learn is offered in partnership with FaCET, Provost’s Office, Student Affairs, Office of Community Affairs, the Alumni Association, and Institutional Research and Assessment.
  • Seeking funding to scale up service-learning supports for faculty and students campus wide, and for community partner organizations. To date, the Service-Learning Program has submitted two Federal grants. If funded, one would bring several innovations to UMKC service-learning such as including alumni and developing a peer mentoring program. The other would build a regional consortium of colleges and universities for service-learning.

A website is being constructed to tell you more about service learning. It will be located at . Check back periodically for more information.

-Written by Alexis Petri and Julie Warm, Research Associates at the UMKC Institute for Human Development

Monday, May 18, 2009

2009 Governor’s Award Recipient: Dr. Elizabeth (Libby) Stoddard

UMKC Associate Professor of Physics, Dr. Elizabeth (Libby) Stoddard, received the prestigious Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education at a Governor’s Luncheon in Jefferson City, MO on Wednesday, April 22, 2009. The Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education is presented annually to an outstanding faculty member from each participating higher education institution in the state of Missouri. Qualifying criteria include demonstrated effective teaching and advising skills, service to the university community, a commitment to high standards of excellence, and success in nurturing student achievement.

Dr. Stoddard has distinguished herself as a truly gifted teacher who is highly deserving of this recognition. Her colleagues and students are enthusiastic in giving her very high ratings for the quality of her teaching, her innovative approaches to course design, and the enthusiasm she brings to the classroom environment. In addition to teaching, she has conducted forefront research in the field of theoretical nuclear physics and her studies have been published in prominent journals in this field. With grants totaling more than a million dollars from external funders such as the National Science Foundation and the Kauffman Foundation, she and her colleagues have developed new instructional practices for both university faculty and high school science teachers. Dr. Stoddard is deeply engaged in improving science education in the urban environment. She works with teachers and scholars in the Kansas City Missouri School District to create more effective teaching and evaluation methods for the benefit of current and future generations of students.

Dr. Stoddard’s reaction to receiving the Governor’s Award is yet another shining example of her excellence as an educator: “Because the award comes from my peers on a campus that has so many great professors whom I admire so much, I feel tremendously humbled and honored to receive it. I always feel lucky to be an educator. Working along with my colleagues here at UMKC is something I truly enjoy, and the importance of serving students and teachers better is something that motivates me every day. Most importantly, many of the achievements for which I received the award I share with my science education research collaborators, and I am grateful for this award as recognition of their efforts as well.”

The Provost Office congratulates Dr. Libby Stoddard for this outstanding achievement.

Nominations for the 2010 Governor’s Award should be submitted to the Provost Office on or before December 31, 2009. For additional information regarding the Governor’s Award, contact Beci Edmundson (

-Written by Dr. Ron MacQuarrie, Vice Provost Faculty Affairs
(Photo courtesy UMKC Physics website.)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Putting Learning First

On Saturday, April 25, 2009 the Faculty Center for Excellence in Teaching at the University of Missouri in Kansas City hosted the Greater Kansas City Third Annual Symposium on Teaching and Learning (SoTL).

Amy Goodburn, Associate Dean for Faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences and a Professor of English and Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Nebraska--Lincoln, gave the keynote address, "Different Roles, Same Goals: My Journey Towards Scholarly Teaching." Professor Goodburn engaged the audience of fifty teachers from ten area colleges (Avila College, ITT Technical Institute, Johnson County CC, the University of Kansas, U of Missouri—Columbia, Park University, Rockhurst University, the Truman Medical Center, UMKC, and William Jewell) and the Topeka School District in a lively personal narrative about an academic career enlivened by the work of Ernest Boyer and Lee Schulman. She explained how her attitude towards teaching, research, and service was transformed by the 1991 AAHE publication on Teaching Portfolios (Edgerton, Hutchings, Quinlan). After making a convincing case for the direct involvement of teaching faculty in the definition of the administrative structures and processes used to assess and reward teaching, Professor Goodburn led an hour long open conversation about the place of Scholarly Teaching in Higher Education.

In addition to twenty-five posters on subjects including “Writing as a Way to Learn about the Brain,” the “Shared Inquiry Model,” and “Using Graphs to Illustrate the process of Recursion,” breakout sessions during the day demonstrated a number of different aspects of the scholarship of teaching and learning. The sessions emphasized curricular integration and the application of "online social interaction," ways to use student work to provoke SoTL-oriented enquiry, the process of turning research into teaching and vice-versa, Diversity Education as a way of re-defining learning-based scholarship, and classroom strategies that stimulate engaged learning.

During the final, all-group session, “How to Make It Count!,” Professors Bernstein and Goodburn were joined at the podium by Thomas Stroik, Professor of Linguistics and Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences at UMKC. After Professor Bernstein had re-capped the history of SoTL, emphasizing why it is crucial that we make our scholarly work on teaching and learning public, Professor Stroik questioned the priority given to “Teaching” in too many conversations that are, ostensibly, about “Learning.” Playfully suggesting that we should re-name the discipline the Scholarship of Learning and Teaching, "SOLT," so as to centralize what should count, Stroik challenged the audience to think about how we “learn to learn” and “whose learning counts?” Professor Goodburn concluded the formal presentation by analyzing the word “count,” engaging the audience in deep criticism of how we hierarchize, value and exclude different kinds of knowledge and how we decide what to define as “learning.”

Next year’s symposium will also be hosted by UMKC (April 24, 2010). For details from this year’s symposium please go to

-Written by Stephen Dilks, FaCET Director, UMKC

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

UMKC Career Services' Support of Internship Search Process

One challenge students face during their college career is finding ways to connect real world understanding with what they learn in the classroom. Internships serve as a valuable enhancement to the educational experience and are a key component of student success. Internships also provide students with insight to current trends or issues in their career fields.

Like any employment process, being selected to complete an internship opportunity takes planning, professionalism, and a significant amount of effort. The Career Services office supports students and faculty/staff by coordinating several services and initiatives to help students be successful in the search process.

Career Services manages CareerExec, UMKC’s employment database. With more than 6,000 active student accounts and 4,500 active employer accounts, CareerExec serves as a powerful forum to bring students and employers together. Students may search for internships from all academic disciplines as well as work-study, on-campus jobs, part-time and full-time professional employment. Other features include on-campus interview registration, job and employer searches, and the ability to post and/or build a professional resume that employers may view.

Through individual appointments and classroom presentations/workshops, Career Services also advises students on successful internship search strategies. In fact, we foster several close partnerships with academic departments to support students’ awareness and development of professional approaches to writing an effective resume, perfecting the interview process, and learning how to leverage a network to break into the hidden job market.

Additionally, our office serves as a resource for faculty and staff for general local, national and international employment information. As our economy undergoes change, students need to remain informed of the new and emerging industries/occupations both in the United States and abroad in order to become future leaders within these fields. Growth in healthcare, education, information technology and “green” careers will continue to provide rich opportunities for students to gain valuable experience through internships.

As a centralized Career Services office, we establish and maintain relationships with employers in the Kansas City area to help them meet their recruitment needs. Depending on the employer’s recruitment initiative, we encourage participation in employer fairs, information sessions, information tables, on-campus interviewing and the posting of their opportunities in CareerExec. Additionally, we provide information and guidance to employers who are currently developing an internship program from the ground up.

UMKC’s location provides our students access to outstanding internship opportunities. The Career Services office is committed to fostering collaborative partnerships across campus as well as building upon existing partnerships to prepare our students to conduct a successful internship search, cultivate their professional employment network, and complete a quality internship program. UMKC faculty and staff play a critical role in supporting students as they navigate the internship process and we look forward to working with you to help students enhance their educational experiences and grow professionally.

-Written by Beth D. Medley, Career Services, Interim Director
Find employment opportunities on CareerExec \ Read their Career Blog \ Become their fan on Facebook \ Visit their YouTube channel.