UMKC launches academic realignment program


UMKC made a historic decision over the summer that created drastic changes for students (Julia Kapros/ RooNews)

Ross Tipton, Writer

On July 1, UMKC announced the official launch of a new academic realignment called UMKC Forward.  

The purpose is simply stated: to invest in excellence. To fulfill that purpose and maximize our resources, UMKC is realigning its academic units and sunsetting some programs. 

This is much more than just changing academic program names. Students will be exposed to new disciplines and a new philosophy on what college education is.  

It is designed to change the way students think and the way they act and accelerate their potential, UMKC officials said.  

For the faculty and staff, this realignment will create new opportunities for disciplinary cooperation and discovery and generate new energy and inspiration.  

”The heart of any university is the relationship of the student to the faculty,” said Professor Tom Mardikes, UMKC Faculty Senate Chair. “Our current administration has embraced the goal of putting the student/faculty relationship first and foremost. Investing in our faculty to better secure student success is a winner, and I’m very excited to see how impactful and productive this new approach can be for UMKC.” 

Faculty and staff have worked for months to get this ready for fall classes. They’ve been setting up new faculty governance structures, moving programs into their new academic unit homes, and updating course catalogs.  

This realignment has created three new schools.  

The School of Education, Social Work and Psychology Sciences will incorporate these units: Education Leadership, Policy and Foundations; Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies; Social Work; Counseling and Counseling Psychology.  

Carolyn Barber will continue as interim dean for the upcoming academic year while a national search for a new dean is conducted.  

The School of Humanities and Social Sciences will incorporate these units: Media, Art and  Design; Communication Studies; English language and Literature; Foreign Languages and  Literature; History; Sociology; Economics; Political Science and Philosophy; race, Ethnic and  Gender Studies; and Criminal Justice and Criminology.  

The SHSS inaugural dean is the newly appointed Tamara L. Falicov, who previously served as associate dean in Arts, Humanities and Area studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Kansas. 

The School of Science and Engineering has been reorganized into four divisions:

-Division of Biological and Biomedical Systems: Biology, Biomedical Engineering. 

-Division of Computing, Analytics and Mathematics: Computer Science and Information  Technology, Mathematics and Statistics. 

– Division of Energy, Matter and Systems: Chemistry, Electrical Engineering, Physics and  Astronomy. 

-Division of Natural and Built Environment: Architecture and Urban Planning, Civil engineering,  Earth and Environmental Science.  

Kevin Truman, the current dean of the School of Computing and Engineering, will take the role of dean of SSE. 

Henry W. Bloch School of Management, Conservatory, School of Dentistry, School of Law, School of Medicine, School of Nursing and Health Studies and School of Pharmacy will retain their existing structure.  

”We took COVID-19 as an opportunity to reimagine how our campus works,” said Mahreen Ansari, President of the UMKC Student Government Association. “UMKC Forward is going to be the initiative that continues to push the university into the future, even further than we  previously thought.” 

This process began in 2020 with the formation of UMKC Forward, a collaboration of faculty, staff and students from across the university charged with developing a new vision for the university’s future.  

In addition to the academic realignment, the resulting plan also called for investing more than $50 million to $60 million over the next five years in five key strategic areas. 

Student Success, Faculty Development, Research Excellence, Career Expansion and Community Engagement – plus an additional $5 million in new tenure and tenure-track faculty over the next three years.  

”The goal of the UMKC Forward plan is realizing the best UMKC possible – the version of  Kansas City’s university which will effectively meet the needs of the whole community,” said Karen King, the UMKC Staff Council Chair. “The effective implementation of the UMKC Forward plan means long-term success for this institution, present and future students, and the Kansas City metropolitan community.”

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