Top 10 KU Edwards Campus news stories of 2019

2019 was full of exciting news, alumni accomplishments and student stories. Here are our readers’ favorites this year.

KU Edwards Campus Jayhawk

From collaborations with local businesses, community colleges and high schools – creating better accesses to higher education and strong connections between students and employers – to motivational alumni achievements, inspirational students, and important campus research and initiatives, here’s your most-read news of 2019.

10. Local businesses join KU Edwards Campus to show students how to CareerUP

More than 150 students met with representatives and alumni from 30 local employers at the KU Edwards Campus (KUEC) in April for the largest collaborative event of its kind in KU Edwards Campus history. The event featured professional development for all and made lasting connections, leading to success stories such as December Bachelor of Business Administration graduate Valery Villarroel, who met Roxanne Sabatino, senior recruiting manager at CBIZ MHM, at the event, leading to internship and career opportunities.

The second CareerUP event on Nov. 13 drew even more students and employers, gathering to network and discuss mentorship and career pathways.

9.  7 ways KU Edwards Campus helps nontraditional students succeed

The most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics study showed 43.6 percent of adults held eight to 14 different jobs when they were age 18 to 48 and another 27.7 percent held 15 or more. A 2018 LinkedIn survey found more than 40 percent of the 2,000 professionals surveyed were interested in making a career pivot, whether that’s to a different industry or a different function entirely. And of those who do pivot, half will move to a different industry, and more than 60 percent change functions entirely.

KUEC directly serves the adult and working professional population with a flexible, high quality KU education, focusing on what adult students with jobs, children and busy schedules need. This required reshaping and revising traditional university operations to cater to these nontraditional students.       

8. USD 232 (De Soto) and Independence School District join KU’s Degree in 3 Program

School districts across the Kansas City metropolitan area partner with local community colleges and the KU Edwards Campus to offer high school students an accelerated pathway to a bachelor’s degree through KUEC’s Degree in 3 program. 

On Jan. 24, USD 232 Superintendent Frank Harwood, Johnson County Community College President Joe Sopcich and KU Edwards Campus Vice Chancellor David Cook signed a new Degree in 3 partnership agreement, enabling students from De Soto High School and Mill Valley High School to earn a bachelor’s degree from KU in only three years. This partnership includes the following educational pathways: business administrationbiotechnologyexercise sciencelaw and society; literature, language and writingmolecular biosciences and public administration.  

Independence School District Superintendent Dale Herl, Metropolitan Community College Chancellor Kimberly Beatty and KUEC Vice Chancellor David Cook celebrated a proclamation of intent for a new Degree in 3 partnership on May 6 at the KU Edwards Campus. This partnership includes the following educational pathways: business administrationbiotechnologyexercise sciencelaw and societyliterature, language and writingmolecular biosciences and public administration

7. Diverting Government Crisis: Government-to-University (G2U) initiative aims to bolster government workforce

What happens if we don’t have enough highly skilled and competent people at the helm of federal, state and local government to provide needed services?

The new Government-to-University (G2U) Regional Council steering committee, created with the help of the Volcker Alliance to advance relationships between governments and universities to improve government effectiveness, had its first meeting at KUEC on Sept. 5, bringing Kansas City area universities and federal government leaders together together to address this concern with these objectives:

  1. To build a vital talent pipeline into the public sector workforce; 
  2. To ensure that the workforce has the skills to meet public sector challenges; and 
  3. To provide answers to the government’s top priority research questions.

The Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) and Edwin O. Stene Distinguished Professor of Public Administration Rosemary O'Leary, were instrumental in bringing G2U to the Greater Kansas City area. 

6. Master of Public Administration Alumna is first Mid-America Regional Council Chief Innovation Officer

For many of us, it can be easy to take for granted our most important, yet basic, necessity – the quality of the air we breathe. For Amanda Graor, 2016 Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) graduate, this is something she spent years dedicated to improving at the Mid-America Regional Council.

After looking into a number of different M.P.A. programs throughout the region, she chose KU’s program at the Edwards Campus because of its distinguished reputation. Her outstanding work in the M.P.A. program and at MARC led her to a unique job promotion in late fall 2018 to Chief Innovation Officer. In this newly created role, Graor helps identify and implement innovative approaches to solve the region’s toughest problems. She leads MARC’s efforts to advance regional goals and collaborative initiatives through innovation in public policy and practice.

5. Exercise science students research best mode of exercise for aging adults

Students in the exercise science undergraduate degree program are working with volunteer members of KU’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute program to conduct a clinical research study comparing the effectiveness of different modes of resistance training for maintaining muscle mass in older adults. 

Sixty-nine-year-old Rose Reicherts said she was attracted to the opportunity partly because of her background as a retired registered nurse in KU’s Cancer Center and said, “Clinical trials are important because you find out how to improve — whether it's a medication, treatment plan, exercise plan.”

Ashley Herda, assistant professor in the Department of Health, Sport and Exercise Sciences, is responsible for conducting the research and one of her main areas of interest is sarcopenia, which is a change in muscle mass and function as people age. Herda says research projects like this one more effectively engage students in learning and give them a chance to publish their work for the benefit of the participants, the general public and further research. This research study is ongoing.

4. Battling lupus, grandma of seven earns her bachelor’s degree in social work

We featured May 2019 graduates in the Rising UP at KUEC series, in which graduates shared how the KU Edwards Campus helped them start, advance or change their career.

Rising up to life’s challenges is an everyday occurrence for 56-year-old Karen Holliday of Kansas City, Kansas. Holliday has lupus, the autoimmune disease where your body's immune system attacks your own tissues and organs. Still, this wife of 39 years, mother of two grown children and grandmother of seven pursued her dream of positively impacting others by recently earning her bachelor’s degree in social work.  Holliday started her new job in June as a recovery coach with Truman Medical Center. This outstanding 2019 graduate is ready to give back.

3. Local Battle of the Bulge veterans share firsthand experience of the battle won 75 years ago

U.S. Army veterans Kenneth Tebow and John Martin brought history to life in Mark Gerges’ KU Osher Lifelong Learning Institute course, “The Battle of the Bulge: Germany’s Last Blitzkrieg, December 1944.” At 99 and 96 years old, respectively, they live to tell the human experience behind one of the most poignant battles of the Second World War.

The men share about their road to the battle, their personal stories, life after the war and reflections on Veterans Day.

2. University of Kansas Edwards Campus adds American Sign Language (ASL) bachelor’s degrees

In a unique collaboration, KU partnered with Johnson County Community College to start one of the few ASL bachelor’s degree programs in the country at the KU Edwards Campus. The new bachelor’s degrees in American Sign Language and Deaf Studies, which began in fall 2019, serve the widespread need to help alleviate communication barriers between the robust Deaf community and the rest of the world. From schools to hospitals to courtrooms, professionals who are both ASL speakers and culturally sensitive are critical.

1. Osher Lifelong Learning Institute announces Retirement of Director Jim Peters, welcomes Linda Kehres

Jim Peters retired as director of the KU Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in September after leading the institute for nearly eight years, expanding it's programming to 29 sites in 16 cities and deepening partnerships with organizations across Kansas.

The institute welcomed Linda Kehres as its new director. Kehres comes to KU after four years as the executive director of Let’s Help, a Topeka-based not-for-profit organization. Under Kehres’ leadership, the agency was recognized as Topeka’s Nonprofit of Distinction.

That’s a wrap for 2019’s top news stories from the KU Edwards Campus. We can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store! Subscribe for the blog to make sure you don’t miss a moment.

Happy New Year from the KU Edwards Campus!

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