Investing in UMKC builds healthier workforce
Jobs. No matter where we find ourselves, we all hear the same drumbeat:. create more jobs and the economic climate will begin to shift.
But where are these jobs and who will help to create them?
For Kansas City, one answer may lie in the “Time to Get it Right” report commissioned by the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation.
It concluded that for Kansas City to reach its full potential, it must have a great university to educate the future workforce and provide the skills necessary to successfully start new businesses.
The University of Missouri-Kansas City plays a pivotal role in fulfilling this conclusion. In recent years, UMKC has continued to expand and improve its campus infrastructure. The university has opened a new student union and renovated its library to meet the needs for today’s technologically savvy scholars.
The university has lived up to its pledge to provide a vibrant learning environment where students not only prepare for existing jobs but learn entrepreneurial skills in creating new businesses which will serve to spark the economic recover in the Kansas City area.
Through collaborative partnerships, UMKC and local businesses and community organizations provide opportunities for students to receive hands-on experience through internships — skills that help give an edge to job-seeking students following graduation.
And this has all been accomplished with shrinking public funds over the last few years. We may think of UMKC as a publicly funded university.
The reality is that the University of Missouri System, of which UMKC is a part, received only 24 percent of its operating expenses in 2010 from state appropriations.
This is 6 percentage points less than the national average of 30 percent.
Yet, wherever you look, you are likely to see evidence of UMKC’s positive effects on Kansas City and the surrounding region.
That includes addressing the health needs of the underserved and finding solutions for re-purposing the Kansas City School District’s unused buildings.
At the Henry W. Bloch School of Management, the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation continues to produce the very best in entrepreneurial thinking — bringing home two of the five awards given at the conference of the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers.
Recently, Kansas City made the decision to invest $600 million to renovate the Truman Sports Complex.
This year the state will spend under $80 million on the university that the “Time to Get it Right” report identified as a key component to the success of our region.
UMKC wishes to remain a viable academic provider and essential community partner, and continue do its part in providing a quality education to its students.
Through a new strategic plan, and through focused efforts to review its efficiencies across the campus, UMKC has worked diligently to increase its enrollment and improve its student retention rates.
We cannot do this alone.
Each of us needs to let our legislators know the importance of higher education and the role that UMKC plays in our state’s economic equation.
Patrick McLarney, a Kansas City attorney, is chair of the UMKC Board of Trustees.