Thursday, September 24, 2009

UMKC's IEI Ranked in the Top 25 Entrepreneurial Programs in the Nation

A recent study commissioned by the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation – “Time to Get it Right: A Strategy for Higher Education in Kansas City” – recommended that UMKC build areas of excellence, with the goal of having several programs ranked in the nation’s top 25. Today we are one step closer to achieving that goal.

I’m happy to announce that The Princeton Review ranked UMKC’s Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (IEI) at the Bloch School one of the top 25 entrepreneurial programs in the nation. This places UMKC and the Bloch School in the top tier of entrepreneurial colleges and business schools in the country.

This prestigious ranking is a testament to all of you – students, faculty, staff and supporters – with the vision, talent and commitment to make a good program great. It validates that our cross-disciplinary approach to entrepreneurial and experiential learning is a valuable asset and is positioning our University, students and community for success.

What an incredible accomplishment for our city and for UMKC.

Please join me in celebrating this good news.

For more information go to the Bloch School News Details.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Kansas City Area Educational Research Consortium: Collaborative Research for Educational Improvement

Researchers from UMKC, University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Kansas, the Kansas State University and Washington University in St. Louis are partnering with Kansas City area school districts to form a Kansas City Area Educational Research Consortium (KC-AERC). Modeled after a similar consortium in Chicago (, KC-AERC's aim is to bring additional research capacity to area public schools, using data to answer research questions that the districts have identified as important for school improvement. A kickoff event for key stakeholders will be held on September 25th and will feature John Easton, current head of the Institute for Educational Sciences (IES) and former research director of the Chicago Consortium. Invitees include representatives from the State Departments of Education, Superintendents and Research Directors from K-12 districts, teacher’s union representatives and interested faculty and administrators from the partnering universities.

The consortium has received one year startup funds of approximately $850,000 from the Ewing Kauffman foundation to build infrastructure and complete three demonstration research projects on topics that KC area school districts have identified as important: alignment of curriculum and assessment in mathematics education; predictors of successful transition to higher education, and trends in teacher workforce retention and mobility. Current faculty researchers come from departments housed within Arts and Science, Schools of Education and Schools of Business. Faculty from any disciplinary background with an interest in K-12 education may participate. If any faculty on UMKC’s campus think they may be interested in being involved with the consortium, please contact Tamera Murdock in the Department of Psychology or Carolyn Barber in the the School of Education for more information. Further details about the consortium and the kick-off event can be found on the KC-AERC website:

-Written by Tamera Murdock, Professor and Chair, Department of Psychology

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Second Annual Agapito Mendoza Scholarship Breakfast

The University of Missouri – Kansas City will hold its Second Annual Agapito Mendoza Scholarship Breakfast in honor of the late Associate Provost on Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 7:30 a.m. in Pierson Auditorium. Last year over 200 campus and community members came together to raise $17,000 for scholarships to assist Latina/o students attending UMKC.

Dr. Mendoza was known for his commitment to all students and his ability to make each student he touched feel unique and valued. The ability to award Agapito Mendoza Scholarships helps attract more Hispanic Students and retain them through graduation. Additionally the success of the breakfast demonstrates to the Kansas City Hispanic Community that we value the vital and unique experiences that Latina/o students add to the academic and cultural success of our university.

Please help us continue this important event by attending and inviting your friends and colleagues. This event is free, however, guests will be asked to make a personal donation to the Hispanic Scholarship fund in the name of Agapito Mendoza. Each dollar donated will be matched up to $8,000 by the Hispanic Development Fund, and UMKC will further match these awards which can be used for tuition, books, and housing. We ask that you help us carry on his tradition of support for each and every student in their particular academic dream.

To RSVP please contact Leo Leckie at (816)235-1298 or

-Written by Kristi Ryujin, Director, Diveristy Initiatives

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New Orleans Four Years after Hurricane Katrina

This time of year is difficult for anyone who has lived in or loved the city of New Orleans. For us, the date 8/29 is like the date 9/11 for New Yorkers. There’s not much to say about it and it certainly isn’t anything to celebrate – but privately, everyone knows what’s on each other’s minds.

Four years ago last week approximately 80 percent of the city was under water –with some areas under 10 ft or more. While the passing of Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy took center stage in the media last week, the confluence of Senator Kennedy’s death and the fourth anniversary of Katrina and the federal flood provided an interesting and timely combination of events.

Senator Kennedy was a lifelong advocate for government action in the public interest. The botched federal response to the disaster in 2005 was a clear vindication of Kennedy’s political vision. The Bush Administration’s failure to respond was seen by a majority of Americans as an affront to the basic belief that government can and must respond to the needs of citizens when a disaster or other events exceed their ability to respond. Even more so, the disaster has become a symbol that the movement for a more equitable and integrated society – something that Senator Kennedy fought for his entire career - requires a renewed, public effort.

Today in metropolitan areas across the country, neighborhoods are struggling to recover from the double-barreled crisis of housing foreclosures and an economic recession caused by market failure. How exactly this crisis is unfolding varies across neighborhoods and its impact is uneven. In responding to the challenge of economic recovery in Kansas City, there is much to learn from the disaster recovery process in New Orleans.

First and foremost – recovery requires citizen engagement. Any effort that fails to put citizen engagement and participatory processes at the forefront of neighborhood revitalization will fail. While participatory processes may take longer, they are critical for building the commitment and momentum that is necessary for the task at hand. Citizens must get organized and stay organized to ensure that recovery dollars are not squandered and that the federal impact is leveraged as much as possible. The task of rebuilding neighborhoods cannot be a top down endeavor.

Secondly, recovery provides an opportunity for innovation and entrepreneurship. One of the observations that may seem contradictory is that disasters provide moments of opportunity. Across the city of New Orleans it was the locally owned businesses of all sizes that helped to rebuild the city while chain stores waited on the sidelines.

Neighborhood businesses are critical to the life of a city and urban neighborhoods. In the inner city neighborhoods of Kansas City, we need to rebuild the fabric of commerce through innovation and the incubation of small businesses and providing successful firms with the tools and training to bring their business to a large market. Efforts like the Viable Third in Kansas City and Stay Local! in New Orleans provide examples of business and consumer organizing that can change the economy from the ground up.

Thirdly, there is a great need to bring creativity to the task of recovery. Responding to a disaster as widespread and foreboding as the impact of the federal flood in New Orleans requires humor, art and conviviality. In the darkest corners of New Orleans devastated neighborhoods, artists and musicians were often the most successful at holding up a mirror to the absurdity of the disaster in ways that justified and renewed community commitment to the long task of recovery.
My colleague Michael Frisch and I recently completed a special issue on the “Design Moment” in New Orleans in the Journal of Urban Design (v14 n3 August 2009).

In this issue we explain how the response to a disaster is often a moment of great creativity and broad debate about the fundamentals that make up the social and physical fabric of a city. By undoing existing social and political structures and exposing underlying inequities, disasters provide an opening for new ideas and critical reflection. However, at the same time, many residents are motivated by a desire to simply put life back together. It is the contrast between these two impulses that make up the basic character of a design moment after a disaster.

As Kansas City and UMKC begin to develop a plan for the Green Impact Zone of Missouri, we invite you to read our special issue and reflect upon the case of New Orleans’ imperfect recovery from a great disaster as a prelude to a larger task of rebuilding America’s cities.