Changing the World Starts Here

Risk Takers, News Makers and World Shakers

At UMKC we’re big on ideas — but we don’t stop there. We turn those ideas into action, solving real-world problems. Here are just a few stories about Roos making a difference in Kansas City and beyond.

A lifelong passion for dance

Jawole Willa Jo Zollar (B.A. ’75), one of the most renowned names in dance, didn’t considered dance her life’s work until she came to UMKC. The founder of Urban Bush Women, the performance ensemble dedicated to exploring the use of cultural expression as a catalyst for social change, Zollar also includes in her groundbreaking career performing and creating works for Alvin Ailey and Philadanco, and collaborations with Compagnie Jant-Bi from Senegal and Nora Chipaumire.

"I didn’t realize that I could major in dance and choose it as a career path until I came to UMKC. Once I decided to major in dance, it was the only career I ever thought about.”

View Zollar's achievements
Portrait photo of Jawole Willa Jo Zollar

Research to prevent cancer

Rose Wang, Ph.D., researcher at the School of Dentistry, and her multidisciplinary team recently received a $430,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health for their focus on a system to identify precancerous cells through artificial intelligence and infrared technology.

“We are creating a system to detect high-risk precancers and to prevent them from becoming cancer."

Learn more about this research
Rose Wang in her lab at the UMKC School of Dentistry.

Advocating for the visually impaired

After their third child, Mac, was diagnosed with optic nerve hypoplasia Nicole (B.S.N. ’06) and Chris Carr (B.L.A. ’08, MBA ’17) began a search for community resources that could help them be better parents. When what was available came up short, the couple's answer was to start Blind Spot, a nonprofit that aims to help the visually impaired reach their highest potential and to teach sighted individuals how to be good allies to the blind.

"The mission of Blind Spot is to enlighten the Kansas City community to how life for someone who is blind is different. Since blindness as an exclusive diagnosis is rare, there isn’t a lot of awareness with the general population on the abilities of the blind or how to become a good friend to the blind.”

Learn more about Blind Spot
Image of dinner guests engaging in a blindness exercise.

Who’s Who of Roos

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Schools that have educated a U.S. president and a Supreme Court justice


Pulitzer Prize-winning alumni


Faculty who are Guggenheim Fellows


Students who have won a Fulbright Scholarship since 2006

Image of UMKC students from around the world

Opening Doors to Opportunity

We offer more than 125 academic programs and numerous collaborative learning opportunities that provide hands-on work experience and foster professional connections.

Diversity through affordability

Almost 90 percent of first-time students and 75 percent of transfer students receive financial assistance while at UMKC. In total, we award more than $160 million in financial assistance annually.

All are welcome

We provide our students the resources and support needed to find a place of belonging in the Roo community. What's more, our alumni network — 135,000-plus strong — covers all 50 states and the District of Columbia, plus 60 countries around the world, but the majority lives and works right here in Kansas City.

A global perspective

UMKC is on the The Princeton Review's list of Best Regional Colleges, but our students come from all 50 states and 85+ countries. In addition, UMKC students live and study in more than 60 countries. It's our mission to bring cultural, social, health and economic prosperity to the metropolitan, regional and global communities we serve.

First-gen forward

Mentorship and a personalized plan for student success are just a few of the strategies our First Gen Roo program offers students who are the first in their families to go to college. This supportive, energetic and inclusive community earned recognition from the Center for First-Generation Student Success.

Our Positive Impact


Charitable donations and volunteer services


Federal grant to improve the sustainability and equity of transportation infrastructure


Cost of new health sciences facility to help deliver community care and study health equity


Generated in the region by our research

Roo Up!

Our traditions showcase our Roo pride. Learn why we cherish our Roo mascot and what it means to be a Roo.

Are You Ready to Change the World?