Honors College Staff Spotlight: Dr. Gayle Levy

Honors College Director, Dr. Gayle Levy, has been on staff with honors for 13 years. Read further to learn more about Dr. Levy!


1.    What courses do you teach at UMKC?

I teach all levels of French language, literature, and culture. Additionally, I team-teach an Anchor 2 class entitled “Nazi-Occupied Europe and the Holocaust” with Dr. Drew Bergersion from the History Dept.

2.    Of the classes you are teaching in the fall, which class are you most excited about?

I love teaching all my classes! I guess I am most excited to teach my Intro to French Literature in the fall. For many of the students this will be their first real foray into the world of French literature and I love to be their guide. Can I tell you about a class I am really excited to teach in Spring 2019? It is a class on Napoleon, conceived in conjunction with an exhibit that will open at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in October. The exhibit is called Napoleon: Art and Court Life in the Imperial Palace. I am looking forward to analyzing the way 19th-century French authors depicted the myth of Napoleon, both the private man and the public figure, in their work and I can’t wait for the students to do public presentations in the exhibition itself!

3. Where did you receive your educational background?

I got my BA at UC-Berkeley, my MA at The Johns Hopkins University and my Ph.D. at Duke. Go Blue Devils!!!!

4. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I spend a lot of time with my family—my two sons and my husband, the novelist Whitney Terrell. I love travelling, going to museums, cooking, seeing live theater, and watching movies. I also love reading, of course. For the past year or so I have been reading Harry Potter out loud to my youngest son—what a wonderful experience! I spend lots of time shepherding my sons to sports events. There’s a lot of gymnastics, soccer, and baseball going on. My entire family and I love to travel to France. And I like biking, although I don’t make the time as much as I’d like.

5.  What is the best advice you would give to a college student? ‘

Study Abroad! Do some research! Go talk to your professors in their office hours! They love to talk to you and you can ask them questions about their work and life as well. Taste a little bit of everything as college is the perfect moment to engage in new experiences and experiment with different ideas.

Lucerna Marketing and Media Coordinator Speaks Volumes About the Publication

Honors College junior, Ellie Simms, is Marketing and Media Coordinator of Lucerna, an undergraduate research journal based out of the Honors College. To be involved for the next school term, contact Dr. Henrietta Wood at woodhr@umkc.edu for more information.

  1. In your own words, how would you describe Lucerna as an organization, and what is its primary mission within the Honors College?

Lucerna is an all student-made journal that showcases some of the best research work done for the year at the undergraduate level. The team behind Lucerna takes up the task of reading through all submissions, choosing those to go into the journal, coordinating the design and the budgeting behind making the journal, and organizing the symposium that premieres that year’s journal edition.

  1. What is your role in Lucerna, and how long have you been a part of the organization?

This is my second year with Lucerna, this time around in the position of Marketing and Media Coordinator. Basically, I make all the promotional material for the latest journal edition and its symposium: flyers, PowerPoints, event brochures, etc. Once the symposium comes to a close, then I help read through essay submissions to pick what will go into the next journal.

  1. What is an exciting project that the organization currently has in place?

Lucerna usually follows a similar schedule each year, and we just lately got finished with our 2018 symposium in late February. For the event, we take over a room in the Student Union and invite staff, students, and outside visitors to pick a copy of the latest Lucerna edition and listen to talks from some of the published authors. There’s a lot of great collaboration, guests, and things to pick up at the event, and it’s always our biggest event of the year.

  1. Why did you decide to be involved and run for leadership in this organization? What is advantageous about taking part in the group?

Originally I joined Lucerna as a freshman because I simply wanted to find a group where I could make friends in such a new environment, and I’ve stuck around because the opportunities it offers adhere a lot to my interests. When staff members read through submissions, they give their input on content, edits, strengths and weaknesses, and writing and revision has always been one of my favorite things to do. And as Marketing and Media Coordinator, I’m in charge of basically all the design aside from the journal cover, and art and design is one of my biggest pursuits in life. It’s not difficult to take on a leadership position with Lucerna, and there’s a variety of activities and opportunities that come with any staff position.

Lucerna Symposium Showcases Student Research

More than 50 UMKC students, faculty, and staff members attended the annual Lucerna Symposium on February 21 at the Student Union. The event featured presentations by five of the ten undergraduate students whose work appears in the latest edition of Lucerna, the interdisciplinary research journal published by the Honors College.

Provost and Interim Chancellor Barbara Bichelmeyer emphasized the importance of undergraduate research in her introductory remarks, and Honors College Dean Jim McKusick recognized the efforts of the many students and faculty members who worked on the latest edition of Lucerna, including Editor-in-Chief Anne Crawford, Managing Editor Anthony Gilyard, and Faculty Advisor Stephen Christ.

“My favorite thing about Lucerna is that it brings students from all academic disciplines together,” said Editor-in-Chief Anne Crawford. “This year’s volume reveals the impressive research and diverse interests of UMKC students. My staff and I are really proud of the latest edition.”

The Lucerna staff already is working on the next volume of the journal, which will be published in January 2019. All UMKC undergraduates are eligible to submit research papers that they produced for classes at UMKC. For more information, go to the Lucerna page on the Honors College website.

If you are interested in joining the Lucerna staff, please contact Anthony Gilyard.

Be sure to stop by the Honors College office in Cherry Hall 424 and get your own copy of Lucerna.

Pictured Left to Right: Eilene M. Toppin Ording, Carolyn Nordengren, Samuel Z. Lim, Christia Stein, and Jordan Allen. Photo by Jennifer Nguyen.

Honors College Student Spotlight: Mariah Buettner

Honors College Student Assistant, Mariah Buettner, joined the team during the 2017-2018 school year. Read on to learn more about Mariah!

1. What is your role in the HC?

     I am one of the Honors College student assistants.

2. How do you serve as a resource to students?

I do my best to provide students with up-to-date information on events that the Honors College is involved in. I also answer any questions that students may have to the best of my ability through email, over the phone, or in person.

3. How has being in the HC impacted your undergraduate experience?

Being a member of the Honors College has helped me make meaningful connections with faculty members who have assisted me with my academic career countless times. It has also provided me with a way to push myself academically to ensure I am getting the most that I can out of my education.

4. What are you studying?

Music therapy!


Register for the Honors College Visit Day!

Spend a day exploring UMKC’s campus and the Honors College! The Honors College Visit Day will be held on Thursday, March 22, 2018.

Your day will include opportunities to learn about the Honors College experience, discuss your academic interests with a UMKC representative, learn about the UMKC and Honors College admission process, and hear about the latest scholarships and financial aid available to you.

You will take a tour of campus, meet with current honors students, shadow an honors course, and eat lunch in the UMKC Student Union.


  • 10:30a.m. – Welcome to the Honors College
  • 11:00a.m. – UMKC Admissions
  • 11:45a.m. – Have lunch with honors students, faculty, and staff
  • 1:00p.m. – Shadow an honors course
  • 2:30p.m. – Attend your academic appointment
  • 3:30p.m. – Take an optional campus tour

Register here to reserve your spot!

Spotlight on Dr. Magaña

1. Tell us about yourself.
I grew up in the Kansas City area and I’m thrilled to be able to live here again! My educational background is in biology but my interests are quite broad.

2. What courses do you teach at UMKC?
I teach the Senior Honors Thesis/Project Practicum, Anchor courses, and Biology courses.

3. What do you like to do in your free time?
I love gardening and taking care of my five snakes.

4. What is the best advice you can give to a college student?
Don’t run yourself ragged; take a break when you need to. It’s an investment in your well-being and prevents burnout.

Thanksgiving Potluck

On November 7, Honors students and professors gathered together for a meal in Oak Street Hall. This event was a big success- complete with friends, good conversation, and lots of food!

Interested in attending Honors College events like this? Keep an eye on the Honors College weekly e-newsletter for updates!

(Not signed up for the weekly e-newsletter? Let us know and we’ll add you to the list.)

Halloween Party

On October 31, honors students gathered together for a Halloween celebration. The evening was complete with food, fun, and even a door decorating contest!

Interested in attending Honors College events like this? Keep an eye on the Honors College weekly e-newsletter for updates!

(Not signed up for the weekly e-newsletter? Let us know and we’ll add you to the list.)

ReStart Volunteering Event

On October 21, about 20 Honors College students spent an afternoon decorating pumpkins with the reStart KC community. This event provided students with the opportunity to earn volunteer hours in a fun and unique way.

To learn more about reStart: https://restartinc.org/

Want to know about the next volunteer opportunity? Keep an eye on the Honors College weekly e-newsletter!

(Not signed up for the weekly e-newsletter? Let us know and we’ll add you to the list.)