Thanks to Alums Who Joined Us in San Francisco for the School’s Reception at the ADA Meeting

Thank you to the alumni who made it out to the UMKC School of Dentistry Alumni Reception held during the American Dental Association Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California, on Thursday, September 5th. Alumni connected over hors d’ouevres and drinks while also catching up on school news with Dean Marsha Pyle, who was also in attendance. It is always such a treat to see so many alumni in different areas of the country. We are looking forward to next year’s reception in Orlando, Florida in October 2020.

A Royal(s) Welcome

The UMKC Dental Alumni Association welcomed the members of the new dental and dental hygiene classes by taking them out to the ballgame. The DDS Class of 2023 and the Dental Hygiene Class of 2021 — along with other students, staff, faculty and alumni — were all invited to the Kansas City Royals versus Oakland A’s game on Tuesday. The weather was delightful, and everyone enjoyed a pre-game tailgate before heading in to root, root, root for the home team. It was a tight game and the Royals had some great pitching, but they lost 2-1.

Find photos from the event here.

Goal Met! – Generous Donor Completes Pre-Clinic Funding

Dean Marsha Pyle announced today that the School of Dentistry recently received a generous, transformational gift from the Sunderland Foundation that achieves a fundraising goal for the highly-anticipated Pre-Clinic Laboratory renovation.   Dean Pyle added “Reaching this milestone brings cutting-edge technology to our instructional programs, helps us continue recruiting the best and brightest, and strengthens our patient-centric, comprehensive care program by better simulating the patient experience in a laboratory setting.  We are grateful to all of our donors for their generosity and support and I look forward to showing off our state-of-the-art facility.”

The compelte UMKC announcement is found below.


July 31, 2019

Dear Friends,

As we’re gearing up for the new school year to begin, we have exciting news to share. The Sunderland Foundation has committed $15 million for capital improvements at the University of Missouri-Kansas City that will have far-ranging impacts on Kansas City’s urban-serving research university.

We’re so grateful to the Sunderland Foundation, a supporter and advocate for UMKC for more than three decades. The investment will benefit both Kansas City campuses by improving classrooms, laboratories and spaces for research and student support.

• The Henry W. Bloch School of Management will receive $5 million for renovation and construction of the Bloch Heritage Hall, the original home of the Bloch School. While the state-of-the-art Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation opened in 2013, Heritage Hall has not received an upgrade since 1986. Heritage Hall incorporates the original Tudor-style Shields Mansion, built at the turn of the 20th century, and an addition that was completed in 1986. The renovation and technology update will support advanced teaching methods and anticipated enrollment growth, bringing this essential space in line with UMKC’s commitment to providing students tools for their success.

• Miller Nichols Library and Learning Center will receive $3 million for the renovation of the third floor in preparation for the relocation of the State Historical Society of Missouri, currently housed in Newcomb Hall. Beyond being a resource for students and faculty, the Miller Nichols Library and Learning Center is a recognized community resource for both historical enthusiasts and professional researchers. The university is required by legislative mandate to provide space for the Missouri State Historical Society’s regional office in Kansas City. Moving their offices from former classroom space in Newcomb Hall to Miller Nichols Library will enable scholars and enthusiasts to optimize their research of rare collections on the third floor of the library.

• The School of Law will receive $3 million for renovations to classrooms and student services. The school will celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2020, and is one of only six law schools to have educated a U.S. president (Harry Truman) and a Supreme Court justice (Charles Whittaker). Its interactive classrooms and student success suite are key components of student-focused education. Renovating 40-year-old classrooms to better accommodate the more interactive experience between professor and students will attract new students and improve current students’ learning.

• The School of Dentistry will receive $2 million for renovations to the pre-clinic laboratory. Comprehensive dental care is shown to improve overall health and decrease risk of complications during dental procedures. The pre-clinic laboratory of the UMKC School of Dentistry has been equipped with outdated equipment. The planned improvements will include state-of-the-art technology that will enable simulation of patient care, proper exam positioning and clinical skills in an authentic learning environment.

• The School of Computing and Engineering will receive $2 million for the renovation of Flarsheim Hall that will reconfigure existing space in conjunction with the completion of the new $20 million Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise and Research Center, scheduled to be complete in 2020. In 2018, the Sunderland Foundation provided the lead gift on the center, which will be a significant addition the community as well as the university and will include a virtual reality lab a clean room and other state-of-the-art technologies.

The Sunderland Foundation was established in 1945 by Lester T. Sunderland, who served as president of Ash Grove Cement Company for 33 years. His grandson, Kent Sunderland, president of the UMKC Foundation and former vice chairman of Ash Grove Cement, now serves as president of the Sunderland Foundation board of trustees. Since its inception, the Sunderland Foundation has supported construction projects. A huge thank you to the Sunderland Foundation and to Kent for their generosity.

We also want to recognize Jay Wilson, who served as interim president of the UMKC Foundation, for his major role in making this gift possible. The Sunderland Foundation understands that one of the significant components of excellent education is state-of-the-art physical space, technology and equipment that allow our faculty, staff and students to perform at their highest levels. We are grateful and excited to make these buildings reflect the high level of quality of our human capital.


C. Mauli Agrawal
UMKC Chancellor

Lisa B. Baronio
UMKC Foundation President and Chief Advancement Officer

Making the Transition

The dental class of 2021 and Dental Hygiene Class of 2020 were welcomed to the clinical phase of their educational programs during the annual Transitioning Into the Profession Ceremony, held June 7 at the Unity Temple on the Plaza. Dr. Bill Busch, owner of North Kansas City Dental and co-founder and creator of TeamSmile, was the keynote speaker. Representatives of each class took turns reading their Code of Ethics. All class members signed their code as they crossed the stage and then received their white coat for DDS students or scrubs for DH students. After the ceremony, participants and well-wishers adjourned to the School of Dentistry for a reception.

Past AEP Participants

Four 2019 graduates of the UMKC School of Dentistry participated in the school’s Admissions Enhancement Program, which has been expanded and renamed Students in Training, in Academia, Health and Research, or STAHR. This year’s graduates, with the year they participated in the AEP Program: Rashin Alipour, 2014; Mohammed Nuru, 2014; Arianna Jackson, 2014; and Andre Paredes, 2013.

Q&A – JESSICA AYALA Here’s a Switch: a Poet at the Switchboard

While students are busy learning the arts of dental surgery and dental hygiene, there’s another artist — an award-winning poet, teacher and musician — at work at the school’s switchboard.

She’s Jessica Ayala (BA ’00), whose poetry flows from her experiences and those of other immigrants. Her family immigrated to the United States from Colombia when she was just 3 years old. She soon found she could express herself through poetry, and her first poems were published when she was in grade school. Continue reading