Social Work Students Involved in KC Tenants Victory

KC Tenants is an organization led by a multiracial, multigenerational base of poor and working class tenants in Kansas City. KC Tenants are organizing to ensure that everyone in KC has a safe, accessible and affordable home. KC Tenants created a Tenant Bill of Rights package aimed to address the housing issues tenants face.  On December 13, 2019 the KCMO City Council passed a KC Tenants Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights consist of resolution and ordinance. The ordinance bars landlords from discriminating against and denying rent to a tenant solely on the basis of prior arrests, convictions, evictions, source of income or because of a protected trait which includes race, color, religion, national origin, sex, mental or physical disability, marital status, familial status, age, sexual orientation or gender identity, gender expression, ethnic background, and being a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. It requires landlords to disclose any past issues with the unit; provide resources for a tenant to get an estimate of utilities; and requires the provision of at least 24 hours notice to a tenant before entering their unit.

MSW students Candace Ladd, Kevin Jean Paul and Shanice Taylor have been heavily involved in the process by providing testimonies, deliberating on the Tenants Bill of Right Package, attending several meetings and providing general support to help strengthen the needs of the organization.

Read a summary of the Tenants Bill of Rights Package here:

Read the final resolution and ordinance here:

Psychology Professor Named Presidential Engagement Fellow

Joan McDowd

The College is proud to congratulate Dr. Joan McDowd on her recent selection as a 2020-21 UM System Presidential Engagement Fellow. The Fellowship grants Dr. McDowd and the 14 other UM faculty in the 2020-21 cohort, including Dr. Jamila Jefferson-Jones (School of Law) and Dr. Joey Lightner (School of Nursing and Health Studies) from UMKC, opportunities to speak and share their excellent research with communities across the state of Missouri. Dr. McDowd currently serves as Chair of the Department of Psychology and Director of the Gerontology Program.

From the recent UMKC Today article announcing UMKC’s Presidential Engagement Fellows:

McDowd serves as director and advisor for Gerontology programs. Her research interests are in cognitive aging, particularly in attention and memory processes. Although primarily interested in healthy aging, she also applies methods from cognitive psychology to understanding cognition in stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease as well as in severe mental illness. She was awarded the 2017 President’s Award for Community Engagement, which recognizes faculty who are involved in exemplary engagement activities such as volunteerism, service-learning, educational programming and outreach.

To learn more about the Presidential Engagement Fellows program and the 2020-21 cohort, see this UM news release.

UMKC Dean of Students Honor Recipient

The College of Arts & Sciences and Department of Criminal Justice & Criminology is proud to congratulate recent graduate Sarah Towakoli, a Spring 2020 Dean of Students Honor Recipient. This award recognizes graduating students who have made significant contributions to the University and to our community while maintaining high academic performance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. As a student, Ms. Towakoli served as president of the Criminal Justice & Criminology Club and president of Alpha Phi Sigma Honor Society. She also participated in undergraduate research opportunities, organized several community service projects, and was active in her sorority, Chi Omega. Ms. Towakoli graduated with a BA in Criminal Justice & Criminology and a BA in Political Science, achieving Summa Cum Laude honors for her excellent academic record.

Visit to watch videos of the student and a nominating faculty member, as well as other student recipients of this award.

Congratulations, Sarah!

Statement of Solidarity from the History Department

The UMKC History Department stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. We condemn the violence directed disproportionately at Black people in the US, and we applaud those willing to take action in support of the Black community against police brutality and systemic racism. Like so many other Americans, we are horrified by the deaths of Ryan Stokes, Cameron Lamb, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others. We recognize their deaths are part of a devastating historic pattern that has existed since the beginnings of European colonization and racially-based slavery.

UMKC historians are committed to researching and teaching the histories of systemic racism, oppression, and inequality in the United States and worldwide, while also amplifying the stories of resilience, resistance, and fights for human rights among diverse peoples. Our mission is to share these histories in order to better educate our students and the wider community about the historic roots of racism, injustice, and intolerance that confront our community, nation, and world today. We as historians have an obligation to learn from history. Every movement and push for greater equity, inclusion, and acceptance is a lesson learned and one we are committed to imparting to our students, colleagues, and community.

We know that merely having knowledge of our shared and often painful history will not solve systemic racism and inequality. We firmly believe, however, that unless we confront the harrowing aspects of our nation’s past and how they shape our present we cannot move toward a more equitable future. We urge you to continue to learn this history so it can inform your understanding of current events, as well as how constitutionally-protected protests and demands for social change are so vital to our duty as citizens of the US and the world. It is important that we stand together against white supremacy; anti-Blackness; racially-biased policing; disparities in health, housing, and education; and injustice in its many forms. As history has taught us, activists, allies, and bystanders have played a crucial role in tipping the arc toward equity and social justice.

We recognize that we have a lot of work to do. We will listen and engage in dialogues in an effort to better support you and improve the UMKC community. We are open to suggestions to help facilitate this conversation. We also plan to share resources to better understand the historical implications of this moment. We will send out a follow-up link with this information. In the meantime, we strongly recommend you read the American Historical Association’s statement on “The History of Racist Violence in the United States,” and the UMKC Libraries’ “Call to Action in Support of Racial Justice.”

Marvin Francois Memorial Fund Support

Marvin Francois

A GoFundMe page was established by A Bridge to the Stars members to help support the family of Marvin Francois.

Members of the A Bridge to the Stars family were deeply hurt and saddened to learn that Marvin Francois, the father of Jayden Francois, an ABttS scholar, tragically lost his life in an attempted robbery on May 31st. Please help us raise money to honor and remember his life as a father of four, an avid photographer, and a man who loved his family. Marvin, always made helping out anyone in his neighborhood/community a priority.

What stands out for us is Jayden bringing Marvin with him to class lectures and department group discussions. It was so obvious that Marvin loved to spend time with his son and loved learning all things Astronomy. He was the role model father, clearly engaged with Jayden’s interests and pursuits. Marvin Francois will be positively remembered by us all. At this moment, we wish we could tell Marvin how exceptional of a father he was in raising the thoughtful and bright son that Jayden is, and the good man like his father that Jayden is becoming. We hope that you are able to take a moment to hear Jayden’s words for hope in this brief June 3rd Fox4 news interview.

As a result of these circumstances, the Francois family is just only beginning the process of planning memorial services and trying to manage other unforeseen expenses during this terribly difficult time. If you are at all able, we would be eternally grateful for any monetary donations to assist in helping the Francois family bear the future expenses directly and indirectly related to this tragedy. During this time, it is unimaginable to consider the stress and grief this wonderful family is undeservedly dealing with – in hopes to remove financial stress from this time of grief, we ask for your help if you have the means to do so.

Two College Faculty Receive President’s Awards

The College is proud to congratulate two of our outstanding faculty members on their recent awards from the President of the University of Missouri System.

Dr. Richard Delaware, Teaching Professor in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, received the President’s Award for Innovative Teaching. This honor “recognizes faculty who are outstanding teachers and who employ novel and innovative teaching methods to achieve success in student learning” (UM System). Dr. Delaware has been teaching at UMKC since 1984, and the Innovative Teaching Award is the latest addition to the many honors he has received during his time here. Students praise his techniques which foster collaboration and communication, enabling students to do hands-on work in class and communicate their approach with peers. Dr. Delaware’s writing intensive course, History of Mathematics, has generated award-winning student research papers and publications since 2004. You can read more about this innovative course here. In addition to the courses he teaches at UMKC, Dr. Delaware has also recorded and uploaded full course videos for College Algebra and Calculus I to YouTube, which have reached thousands of students world-wide.

Dr. Sarah Pilgrim was awarded the President’s Award for Intercampus Collaboration, which “recognizes faculty who engage in activities that foster collaboration across two or more campuses of the University of Missouri System” (UM System). The collaborative project, Fostering Well Being, was established by Dr. Pilgrim and Dr. Virginia Ramseyer-Winter at the University of Missouri in Columbia, with contributions from faculty in Columbia’s School of Engineering and other faculty across both campuses. Drs. Pilgrim and Ramseyer-Winter also work with organizations such as Kansas City-based Youth Ambassadors and with graduate students serving as research associates at UMKC and MU. With the goal of supporting underserved youth in Missouri, the project aims to develop a phone-based app to provide critical public health information to foster families and vulnerable youth. Dr. Pilgrim joined the School of Social Work as an Assistant Professor in 2016. Her work with the Fostering Well Being project closely aligns with her research interests in adolescent trauma especially as related to foster placement.

Congratulations to these two professors for this remarkable recognition of their important work with our students and our community.

Celebrating our 2020 Seniors – Jessica Wikle

French Languages and Literatures BA

Congratulations to senior Jessica Wikle who will begin a Ph.D. in French Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the fall!
Jessica’s comments upon graduating from UMKC  “I really loved the university and the professors and I am very excited to start my graduate studies.”
We wish Jessica the best in her futher endeavors.
Félicitations et bonne continuation, Jessica!

Spring 2020 Graduate Annie Spencer to Attend Western Michigan University

The History Department is delighted to announce another student success. Annie Spencer will graduate this spring with a BA in English and History and an Emphasis in Classical, Medieval, and Early Modern Studies. Annie was accepted to a number of graduate programs in the US and UK and plans to attend Western Michigan University for an MA in Medieval Studies in the fall. Congratulations, Annie! We are so excited for you!

NOVEL 2020 UMKC Art Department Student Online Exhibition

NOVEL 2020

UMKC Art Department Student Online Exhibition 



The UMKC Gallery of Art is pleased to announce the virtual opening of Novel 2020 our digital version of the Annual Student Exhibition. This show takes place annually each spring semester to showcase the work of both graduate and undergraduate students within the department. Due to novel circumstances, the exhibition has moved to an online platform. Our distinguished faculty juried each submission and selected the art that highlights our students’ highest achievements. This year’s exhibition will include work selected from 24 students in all mediums. The conversion to an online platform allows the gallery to showcase our student’s artistic talents, as well as their growth, adaptability, and desire to face challenges head-on.


Please click on the link above to view the exhibition and join us in spreading the word about our virtual gallery. Stay safe and enjoy the work, we will see you soon.


List of participating artists:


Carmen Lopez-Anderson, Christopher Bown, Daniel Garcia-Roman, Gabby Saffier, Haleigh Peterson, Jack Wrisinger, Jeff Henry, John Campbell, Julia Smith, Keith Baynham, Kelly Woltering, Lauren Myers, Luke Blevins, Makayla Booker, Megan Lashbrook, Nhu Nhieu, Kimmy Sims, Rachel Houtman, Sabrina Owings, Sarah Bleha, Sharon Mitchell, Sidney Saunders, Sophia Vietze, Vincent Fallis.


List of awards and award winners:



Best in Show: Megan Lashbrook, Fortune Tellers




2nd Place: Lauren Myers, Take the Gamble




3rd Place: Sophia Vietze, Untitled