Blackface refers to the cultural practice of covering the face of a white (or black) performer to create a caricature of a black person. Although usually associated with nineteenth-century minstrel shows, blackface can still be found today both in theatrical performances and sometimes also in Halloween costumes.
The debate about the racist implications of blackface continues today. In national news, the NBC "Today" host Megyn Kelly's show was cancelled following her on-air remarks expressing acceptance of blackface. In local news, a registered nurse at St. Luke's was fired after she posted pictures of herself and a friend on facebook in blackface.
UMKC Professor Matthew W. Osborn and UMKC Diversity Director Makini King were interviewed on 30 October 2018 for local television about the history, politics, and ethics of blackface. Their comments aired at 5 PM on KCTV5 and Fox4.
Congratulations to iPhD candidate Annie Derrell for being selected as a fellow in the Doctoral Scholars Program (DSP). According to the sponsoring Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), “the goal of the DSP is to increase the number of minority students who earn doctorates and choose to become faculty at colleges and universities.”
Since its founding in 1993, the DSP has supported over a 1000 scholars at numerous institutes across the country. It offers direct services for doctoral students such as academic, personal, and motivational support, career counseling, networking, job recruitment, and continued advocacy into their early careers as faculty members. Derrell will be a part of the inaugural cohort of scholars from the University of Missouri System.
One of the most exciting aspects of DSP is the Institute on Teaching and Mentoring, an annual meeting which serves as the largest gathering of minority Ph.D. scholars in the country. The Institute provides workshops as well as recruitment and networking opportunities to give new scholars the tools to successfully complete their doctorates and enter into a faculty career in higher education.
Derrell is “extremely honored and very excited for this opportunity to meet and collaborate with other minority scholars.”
The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) is a nonprofit organization that works to improve education and provide policymakers with reliable data to make sound educational policy decisions. There website is: www.sreb.org.
Congratulations to Dr. Rebecca (Mowry) Egli on receiving a post-doctoral Residential Fellowship at Linda Hall Library. During her two-month stay, she will conduct research for her current project, "Seeds of Misfortune: Food, Crop Diversity, and the Simplification of American Nature," a history of America’s plant explorers that examines the impact of plant introduction and breeding on agricultural biodiversity and innovation.
Rebecca grew up in Kansas City and received her Bachelor of Arts degree from UMKC's History Department in 2008. She earned a Master of Arts degree in history from King’s College London in 2010 and a doctorate in history from the University of California, Davis in 2018.
Exploring intersections between agriculture, science, and the environment, her dissertation, "The World of Our Dreams: Agricultural Explorers and the Promise of American Science," looks at federal scientists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, exploring developments in plant biology and the ecological consequences of importing non-native plants into the United States.
We are so proud to have Dr. Egli conducting research again in Kansas City!
Congratulations to K. David Hanzlick, alumnus of the History iPhD program, on the publication of his book, Benevolence, Moral Reform, Equality: Women’s Activism in Kansas City, 1870-1940, with the University of Missouri Press.
Hanzlick traces the rise and evolution of women’s activism in a rapidly growing, Midwestern border city, one deeply scarred by the Civil War and struggling to determine its meaning. Over the course of 70 years, women in Kansas City emerged from the domestic sphere by forming and working in female-led organizations to provide charitable relief, reform society’s ills, and ultimately claim space for themselves as full participants in the American polity. Focusing on the social construction of gender, class, and race, and the influence of political philosophy in shaping responses to poverty, Hanzlick also considers the ways in which city politics shaped the interactions of local activist women with national women’s groups and male-led organizations.
K. David Hanzlick is Director of Program and Development for Sheffield Place, a treatment and transitional living program for homeless mothers and children. He also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Nonprofit Leadership Program at Rockhurst University and the Hauptmann School of Public Affairs at Park University.
Prof. Diane Mutti-Burke, Chair of the History Department, was quoted in an article in the New York Times on 6. August 2018 entitled "On a Civil Rights Trail" because of her research into the history of slavery in Missouri.
The cost of higher education is an issue, and one the University of Missouri-Kansas City is addressing.
As part of the four-campus University of Missouri System, UMKC has had one of the lowest rates of tuition increase in the U.S. during the past decade. And despite this year’s tuition increase of 1 percent, efforts to keep the overall cost of education are continuing, and are working.
For example, in June 2017, the University of Missouri-Kansas City joined UM System in the Affordable & Open Educational Resources (A&OER) program to save students money on textbooks and other course materials.
Affordable housing has been a hot topic in the Kansas City community for decades, and more recently due to new downtown housing developments and the continued revitalization of Troost Avenue. As city officials develop new housing policies, students from the University of Missouri-Kansas City have played a significant role in the community conversation.
A group of seven urban planning undergraduates spent the spring semester researching the city’s housing affordability issues as part of their final project in professor Stephanie Frank’s planning and design studio class. Seniors Sean Thomas, Dave McCumber, Billie Hufford, Thomas Kimmel, Taylor Vande Velde, Rawya Alrammah and Alexander Gilbertson put together a comprehensive planning study on housing affordability in Kansas City. Each student researched and wrote one chapter in the study. They recently sat down to discuss the background and recommendations included in their study.
The Urban Planning + Design program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City has earned accreditation from the Planning Accreditation Board, which accredits university programs in North America leading to bachelor’s and master’s degrees in planning.
“We are very pleased that the Planning Accreditation Board has recognized the quality of teaching and learning in our program,” said Michael Frisch, Ph.D., AICP, associate professor and director of the program. “It signifies that our program has been rigorously reviewed by national experts in urban planning, and found to produce graduates who meet the expectations of the planning profession.”
Unhindered by juvenile glaucoma that took his sight at age 17, David Westbrook (B.A. ’71) has proven that vision has nothing to do with one’s ability to see. He founded Corporate Communications Group, a communications and public relations firm he sold before taking his talent and dedication to longtime client Children’s Mercy.
Westbrook attributes his lifetime of success to his parents and to the University of Missouri-Kansas City. His alma mater awarded him with an honorary doctorate at the 2018 College of Arts and Sciences commencement ceremony, and he gave the address to the graduating class at Swinney Recreation Center on campus.
“This is not a defining moment, this is a moment of celebration,” said Westbrook, who holds bachelor’s degrees in English and psychology from UMKC. “Defining moments are with your professors and your friends.”
Faculty in two nationally recognized performing arts programs at the University of Missouri-Kansas City have voted in support of a merger of the Conservatory of Music and Dance and the Department of Theatre.
The proposed merger is designed to strengthen both programs by opening up new and expanded opportunities for performance, composition and research at the University that for decades has been designated as Missouri’s Campus for the Visual and Performing Arts by the University of Missouri System.
Hannah Lofthus, who received Bachelors of Arts in Philosophy and Political Science from UMKC in 2007, has been selected as the 2018 recipient of the UMKC Bill French Alumni Award. Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes individual alumni and one family with top honors.
UMKC will honor Lofthus and other outstanding alumni at the 2018 Alumni Awards event on Friday, June 15. The reception is one of UMKC's largest events, with proceeds going to support student scholarships. In the last decade, the Alumni Awards event has garnered more than $1 million in scholarships and immediate aid for students.
Two College of Arts and Sciences alumni have been awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Program Award to continue their research and scholarship. Sydney Harvey, who received her Bachelors of Arts in Philosophy and Film from UMKC in 2016, will study in the United Kingdom; and Marc Reyes, who received his Master of Arts in History from UMKC in 2014, will study in India.
Since 1946, the Fulbright Program has given more than 380,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, professionals and scientists the opportunity to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.
The National Headquarters of the Veterans of Foreign Wars has put a little more “ease” into the UMKC At Ease Zone. The VFW recently presented student veterans with a much-desired couch for the space, along with a new coffee maker and a networked printer.
The UMKC At Ease Zone, located on the second floor of Cherry Hall on UMKC’s Volker Campus, supports UMKC student veterans as they transition into community and campus life. The At Ease Zone is a collaboration between the College of Arts and Sciences’ School of Social Work and the UMKC Dean of Students.
Two UMKC French alumni, Katy Foudree Owens and Brandi Pruente have been awarded Fund for Teachers Grants to attend the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF) congress in Martinique this summer.
The AATF convention is an immersion opportunity allowing educators to work on their French language skills while learning more about teaching practices.
“We in the Foreign Languages and Literatures Department, particularly in French, are thrilled for their success,” said UMKC French professor Dr. Kathy Krause.
Dr. Virginia Blanton, professor and chair of the UMKC Department of English Language and Literatures, recently received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is the only 2018 recipient in the state of Missouri.
“I have a big job ahead,” said Blanton, who joined the UMKC faculty in 2002. Her awarded project is a book-length study on the lives of saints in medieval England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.
Professor Frances Connelly, Ph.D., a professor in the UMKC Department of Art and Art History, will serve as a Visiting Fellow at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in June 2018. While there, she will lead a seminar as part of the “Van Gogh Museum Visiting Fellow in the History of Nineteenth Century Art” program.
The Van Gogh Museum’s program, now entering its 12th year, brings foreign scholars annually to the Netherlands to teach a seminar in 19th century art to graduate students and professionals. Connelly’s seminar is entitled The Grotesque in Late Nineteenth-Century Art. It will explore the workings of the grotesque in this unsettled and unsettling period and explore why it is a particularly powerful means to grapple with its social upheavals and cultural shifts.
Dr. Joseph Hartman, Assistant Professor in the UMKC Department of Art and Art History and Latinx and Latin American Studies program, recently received an internationally competitive grant from the Graham Foundation, one of the most significant funders in the field of architecture. Hartman was one of only 74 proposals selected out of over 600 applicants worldwide.
“This award will surely go down as one of the proudest moments of my career,” Hartman said. “To gain recognition from a world-renowned architectural organization like the Graham is affirming not only to the quality of my research but also to the rising visibility and importance of Caribbean, Latin American and Latinx communities."
The University of Missouri-Kansas City’s History Department is proud to announce that Dr. John Trygve “Tryg” Has-Ellison will be serving as a Guest Professor for the 2018-19 academic year.
Dr. Has-Ellison is the current Non-Immigrant Visa Chief at the U.S. Consulate General in Monterrey, Mexico. Prior to this post, he was Vice-Consul in Sao Paulo, Brazil and Desk Officer for European Issues of Congressional interest in Washington D.C. His visiting appointment at UMKC coincides with his participation in the Command and General Staff Officers Course at Ft. Leavenworth, KS.
The Routledge volume Perception and Agency in Shared Spaces of Contemporary Art, co-edited by UMKC Art History Professor Cristina Albu, was recently published.
The book calls for a situational approach to art, which is informed by the intertwining of art theory, phenomenology and cognitive sciences. It offers an interdisciplinary inquiry into the mutability of art experience, showing that it is contingent on an array of deeply entangled biological, cultural, political and social systems. The volume gathers 18 chapters by senior and emerging scholars.
UMKC Theatre’s next graduate student production, “The Storytelling Project,” has something for every theatre fan – drama, intrigue, music, dance, comedy and originality.
“The Storytelling Project” is a devised theatrical show featuring the UMKC second year MFA actors, MFA designers and undergraduate production staff.
A total of 369 students in the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences were named to the Dean’s List for the Fall 2017 semester. The CAS Dean’s List recognizes excellent academic performance among full-time undergraduate students with a grade point average of 3.85 or higher for the term.
English Professor Hadara Bar-Nadav recently published a new collection of poetry, The New Nudity, which shocks everyday objects to life. In these chiseled, electrically-charged poems, a ladder, a wineglass and a spine ignite into being. With a nod to Francis Ponge, Gertrude Stein and Pablo Neruda, Bar-Nadav’s poems have a heartbeat all their own, small miracles that haunt and heave.
Heather Burton, an Olathe, Kansas, native, graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art in December 2017. Before graduating though, she'd already landed a job. Check out Heather's story in this Q&A:
How was your graduation day?
It was overwhelming to me. It’s the day you work so hard for since you’re 5. I kept worrying about my cap falling off, and of course it did as I walked up to receive my diploma.
Congratulations to Laurie Ellinghausen, Ph.D., associate professor in the UMKC Department of English Language and Literature, on the publication of her fourth book, Pirates, Traitors, and Apostates: Renegade Identities in Early Modern English Writing.
This monograph examines the tales of notorious figures in Renaissance England, including the mercenary Thomas Stukeley, the Barbary corsair John Ward, and the wandering adventurers the Sherley brothers. Ellinghausen sheds new light on the construction of the early modern renegade and its depiction in English prose, poetry, and drama during a period of capitalist expansion. Pirates, Traitors, and Apostates: Renegade Identities in Early Modern English Writing shows how domestic issues of class and occupation exerted a major influence on representations of renegades, and heightened their appeal to the diverse audiences of early modern England.
Approximately 1,000 University of Missouri-Kansas City graduates, friends and families filled Swinney Auditorium to celebrate the culmination of years of late nights and hard work as graduates claimed their diplomas. The university held three ceremonies on Saturday, Dec. 16 and presented two honorary doctorate degrees.
Celebrated Kansas City-based non-fiction authors David Von Drehle and Candice Millard will be honored with honorary doctorates at mid-year commencement ceremonies Dec. 16 at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Buildings at a college typically serve a specific, inwardly-focused purpose: teaching and research. Architecture students at the University of Missouri-Kansas City were recently charged with infusing that basic functionality with a higher mission: get the broader public excited about what’s going on inside.
Second-year students in the Architectural Studies program took on that assignment this semester. The assignment called for students to design a new home for UMKC’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. The assignment was fictional, in the sense that no such new building is planned, but the students were charged with creating a functional, properly scaled building as if it were to be built.
A studio in Urban Planning + Design, led by Dr. Jacob Wagner, completed a semester long project focused on putting together material that helped Kansas City earn a “Music City” designation from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The UNESCO application focused on Kansas City’s jazz history and current music scene.
UNESCO established the Creative Cities Network in 2004, as a way to "work together towards a common objective: placing creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level and cooperating actively at the international level."
Read the full KCUR article
Shakespeare’s King Lear is the theatrical equivalent of an Olympic decathlon.
Lear may be the most challenging role in the English-speaking theater, one that takes prickly concepts of vanity, loss and madness and pushes them about as far as they can go.
“Of all the roles I’ve done, this is the most demanding,” said Theodore Swetz, who will play the mad king in the Kansas City Actors Theatre production starting Friday, Oct. 13, in Spencer Theatre as a co-production with UMKC Theatre.
“It’s a sustained assault on the mind and body. At the same time it’s fun. Terrific fun.”
The UMKC College of Arts and Sciences presented the inaugural Norman Royall Professorships to four faculty members during the College’s 2017 Fall Reception and Awards Ceremony. The Royall Professorship is the highest honor bestowed by the College.
“As the highest recognition in the College, the Royall Professorship will reward faculty committed to research and/or teaching excellence, creativity and interdisciplinarity,” said Dean Wayne Vaught during the presentation.