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UMKC engineers plan to move university forward

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Posted at 5:11 PM, Mar 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-21 18:28:19-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — The University of Missouri-Kansas City plans to shift millions of dollars toward growth and development that will benefit students, the university and the Kansas City community.

University leaders spoke with community members and businesses to gauge interest in future career prospects for their students, which resulted in putting $50 million to $60 million toward four of what they call "professional mobility" tracks: Health care, education, engineering/business and law and justice.

"They really identified these as areas where there was a lot of demand for jobs and opportunity, and so that’s how we decided on those," Jenny Lundgren, provost and executive vice chancellor at UMKC, said.

Part of the investments in the UMKC Forward initiative will focus on student success, faculty development, research excellence, career expansion and community engagement. They also will invest $5 million into adding faculty and development of research and capacity over the next three years.

In order to do this, UMKC will close some programs:

  • Entrepreneurship Ph.D.
  • Master of Arts in Liberal Studies
  • Master of Arts in Sociology
  • Master of Arts in Studio Art
  • Gerontology Certificate
  • Theater MA
  • Counseling EDSP at the Law School
  • L.M. Urban Affairs and at the School of Nursing and Health Studies,
  • Public Health Bachelor of Science.

Local engineering firms told 41 Action News, this is welcomed news as there's increasing demand for qualified engineers.

"There is a substantial amount [of] demand for engineering students at this point," John Olander, COO for Burns and McDonnell, said. "We ourselves are hiring quite a bit. We’re seeing that our students, especially students coming in, have more than one offer so it’s a competitive environment."

Brent Felton, principal at Henderson Engineers, said in the years ahead, there is "not but tremendous growth" in the majority of markets the firm is working in.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, several industries have cut back due to restrictions or people working from home. However, Olander told 41 Action News engineering jobs will continue to exist.

"We will always need infrastructure," he said. "We will always need new things, and anytime we’re doing new things, we need new minds to think about how we’re going to accomplish the next challenge, the next place we’re going to go."

With an expanded engineering school, UMKC hopes to keep these students in the Kansas City area, boosting the local economy and filling jobs for local engineering firms.

"We know that when students get engaged with our businesses and our organizations in the Kansas City community and they make those relationships and those connections, that will then lead to more jobs and more people staying in our region," Lundgren said.

UMKC said there will be no mass layoffs with this restructuring. The new academic structure begins with the fall 2022 semester.

More information about the initiative can be found on the UMKC website.

The Rebound Kansas City is our effort is to help metro residents play a role in moving our community forward. We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas to via email to rebound@kshb.com and we welcome you to join in the conversation on the Rebound KC Facebook Group.

Whether you're Getting Back to Work after a layoff, need help Making Ends Meet during these trying times or need tips on Managing the Pressure we're all feeling, The Rebound has resources to find help. We'll also make sure local leaders are Doing What's Right to get Kansas City back track after a three-month shutdown.

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