Dr. Linda Hood Talbott Presents Honors College Gift

Dr. Linda Hood Talbott, distinguished University of Missouri-Kansas City Honors Program alumna and community donor, presented the Honors College with a very special gift at the annual end of year banquet on Friday, April 21, 2017. Read the transcription of her presentation speech below.

Welcoming Remarks and Gift Presentation for the UMKC Honors College

by Dr. Linda Hood Talbott

April 21, 2017

It is my great pleasure to meet with all of you this evening to celebrate the benefits of the UMKC Honors College and its graduating class of 2017.

As a former student in the Honors Program at UMKC, as well as a major donor to endow the Honors College and to provide its first student scholarships, I am thrilled with the Honors College accomplishments to date (since its start in 2015). It has attracted diverse, gifted and talented undergraduate students with diverse backgrounds, diverse cultures, diverse ethnicity, diverse skills, and with diverse academic fields of major interest.

The UMKC Honors College has a fascinating demographic profile. By our Fall 2017 enrollment, we anticipate approximately four hundred participants – more than double our initial enrollment in 2015 (one hundred and eighty).

In the fall of 2016, almost thirty percent of the enrolled honors students represented diverse ethnic backgrounds (including Asian, African-American, Hispanic, and those who represented two or more races).

The initial fall 2015 enrollment of the Honors College included undergraduate students with fifty-five different academic majors. The top ten academic majors were as follows: (1) Biology, including many students seeking careers in the health professions; (2) Business Administration; (3) Chemistry; (4) Psychology; (5) Foreign Languages and Literatures; (6) Pre-Dentistry; (7) English; (8) Communication Studies; (9) Philosophy; and (10) Nursing.

The gender demographics of the Honors College are very significant regarding the future area workforce. The Fall 2016 enrollment was seventy-one percent female and twenty-nine percent male, suggesting that the Honors College is an attractive magnet for highly talented female students.

Academic excellence is the primary mission of the UMKC Honors College. The College promotes a climate that develops independent thinkers and challenges them to achieve their personal potential. The Honors College goal is to build a community of engaged lifetime learners who, through superior scholarship, ethical integrity, and community service engagement, substantially enhance the reputation of the greater University and the urban metropolitan area.

Through a broadly liberal and interdisciplinary general education, Honors College students can access challenging and memorable study abroad ventures and undergraduate research opportunities that enrich their intellectual foundation and problem-solving skills to become leaders and innovative thinkers in their major academic fields. While learning the specifics of their major field of interest, Honors College students learn how to write clearly, how to express themselves convincingly to diverse cultural audiences, and how to think analytically. Students who graduate from the Honors College will receive a degree from their major academic discipline and the University Honors designation on their UMKC diploma. Those students who complete a senior honors thesis will also receive the Honors Scholar designation.

My primary role in tonight’s program is to make a special presentation to celebrate the establishment of the Honors College at UMKC, to recognize the outstanding leadership of Dr. James McKusick as the College’s founding dean, and to congratulate the Honors College graduating class of 2017.

On this day of celebration, I’m giving to the UMKC Honors College an autographed Pablo Picasso lithograph called “Bouquet des Fleurs,” completed in 1958 as Picasso’s favorite artwork of congratulations. Here it is! It will hang in the Honors College and be visible to our students, faculty, staff and visitors.

A framed description goes with this artwork and it reads:

            “Bouquet des Fleurs” by Pablo Picasso, 1958

            Given to the UMKC Foundation in celebration of the establishment of the UMKC Honors College (in summer 2015) and its founding dean, Dr. James C. McKusick, who has provided leadership and vision for the College and its outstanding students. Given with appreciation by Linda Hood Talbott, Ph.D., former UMKC honors student, faculty member, development officer and community donor of the first Honors College Scholarship and Endowment.

I’m going to close tonight with a special word of advice from a famous UMKC professor – the American poet John Ciardi, who created a bit of memorable advice that was engraved above the Swinney Recreation Center. It reads: “Run hard, leap high, throw strongly, and endure.”

Thank you for your attention. My best wishes to each of you as you embark upon your life journey. I am confident that you will “run hard, leap high, throw strongly, and endure.”







Honors College Alumnus Explores Lincoln’s Influence on Music

Distinguished Honors alumnus and musicologist Thomas Kernan was featured in the Chicago Tribune for his doctoral exploration of former president Abraham Lincoln’s influence on music and evolution as a political symbol and hero over time.

Kernan graduated from the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance with a Bachelor of Music in 2005. White attending UMKC, Kernan was also an active member of the Honors Program. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati in 2008. Today, he serves as Assistant Professor of Music History at Roosevelt University in Chicago, IL.

Kernan has unearthed upwards of one thousand pieces of music that emphasize Lincoln’s influence throughout five generations – a period longer than previous research had suggested. These pieces illustrate Lincoln as everything from a classic American success story to a commander-in-chief rallying for victory. Kernan’s examination was exhaustive; he combed the Lincoln Presidential Library tirelessly for two weeks and made visits to various universities nationwide with his wife, Sarah Peters Kernan, a fellow UMKC and Honors Program alumna.

Kernan’s work earned him the $1,000 Hay-Nicolay Dissertation Prize from the Lincoln Library in February 2015. His goal is to have completed a searchable online database from his findings by April 2017.

Read more about Kernan’s scholarship on the Chicago Tribune.

Honors College Freshman Takes 6-Year Med Program By Storm

UMKC Freshman Emmanuel Madu’s passion in life is helping people.

“I want to be a physician…pediatrics or maybe emergency medicine,” Madu said. “Pediatrics because I like working with kids and emergency medicine, it’s the aspect of always having to think on your feet to solve problems that appeals to me.”

Madu is a six-year medical student majoring in Biology. Madu is excited about the complexity and various skills required for his future career in medicine.

“It (medicine) combines multiple things – I’m someone who gets, I’d say, bored easily – but with medicine there’s always something new to learn, discoveries each and every single day. Plus, you’re always helping people and a life dedicated to helping other people is a good one.”

Madu is currently one of the few Honors College students who is also a six-year medical student and hopes to encourage more of his fellow classmates to join him.

“If you are passionate about something then you can earn Honors credit with Honors contracts, and there are a lot of opportunities for you to succeed,” Madu said.

“Even in my classes right now, I wouldn’t say I have time to…take another class, but in Anatomy I could choose to do an Honors contract and earn Honors credit while furthering my knowledge in a class that will be applicable to me later on in life.”

When asked why he chose to join the Honors College, Madu responded, “Why not? It opens so many opportunities to me. The fact that I have the opportunity to try is what really appealed to me.”

Honors College Recognizes Fall 2016 Graduates

On Saturday, December 17, 2016, the University of Missouri-Kansas City held its annual Fall Commencement Ceremonies for 1,520 graduating seniors, among which were Honors College students Jesse Bihlmeyer (right), Haley Crane (not pictured), Julia Ehana (left), Tam Hua (not pictured), and Eliana Hudson (middle).

The Honors College recognized all six graduates with University Honors, and Bihlmeyer and Ehana were awarded the highest distinction UMKC offers as Honors Scholars.

Each graduating senior received a Recognition of Achievement and an Honors College medallion. Those graduating as Honors Scholars also received a blue cord to be worn at commencement.

Graduates at a Glance


Jesse Bihlmeyer

Jesse graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and University Honors. Jesse’s Senior Honors Thesis entitled, “At the End of the Sidewalk: A Philosophic Postured Poetic” also earned him the title of Honors Scholar.

Haley Crane (Not Pictured)

Haley graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in both Music Education/Music Therapy and Psychology, as well as University Honors.

Julia Ehana

Julia graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in both Economics and Psychology, as well as University Honors. Julia’s Senior Honors Thesis entitled, “Physical Activity in Multiple Sclerosis: Observing the Influence of Clinical Symptoms on Exercise Willingness” also earned her the title of Honors Scholar.

Tam Hua (Not Pictured)

Tam graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship and Finance, as well as University Honors.

Eliana Hudson

Eliana graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing, as well as University Honors.

Honors College Alumni Going Places

(Pictured from left to right: Beth Hammock and Abby Dubisar)

Honors College Alumni Going Places 

By Beth Hammock, UMKC Development Consultant 

Abby Dubisar, Ph.D. graduated from UMKC in 2001 with a bachelor of arts degree in English with University Honors. Today, she teaches English and Women’s and Gender Studies at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Abby speaks at national and international conferences and teaches popular culture analysis, gender and communication, writing, and rhetoric. She is married to another English professor who she met in graduate school at Ohio State, Jeremy Withers. They have two young children.

I visited with Abby in a restaurant just off campus in Ames in early November. Here are highlights of our conversation. 

How did you decide to become an English professor?  

 After I graduated and was working for UMKC in the study abroad office I took a graduate course on “girls and print culture” taught by Dr. Jane Greer. (associate professor of English and Women’s & Gender Studies. (Dr. Greer had been one of my first English professors at UMKC; she taught my first-year honors writing course.) For the “girls and print culture” course I pursued an archival research project on writing done by the girls who lived at the State Industrial Home for Negro Girls in Tipton, Missouri, during the 1930s and 1940s. To conduct my research I went to Jefferson City to read the girls’ writing in the archives at the state capital. My extensive research got Dr. Greer’s attention. She encouraged me to go to graduate school.  Dr. Greer became one of my major influencers at UMKC and is still a close friend and mentor to me.

How did the honors program (now Honors College) help you? 

I made lifelong friends in the honors program. It helps the nerds who like to read find their peer group and form a community.  It also helped me find out about opportunities on campus. I wrote for University News and got that job through an honors connection. Drs. Dean and Mirkin also helped connect me with campus resources and were accessible faculty members who answered my questions.

What advice do you have for honors students? 

Get to know the faculty members who teach your classes and think of them as a resource, people who can help you achieve your goals. Dr. Greer is the epitome of a great mentor. I got to know her and her generosity has affected my whole life. She’s the model for how I mentor undergraduate and graduate students now.  

How do you balance work and family? 

Communication with my partner and quality childcare. We also have a supportive community in our town.

Tell me about your research. 

I have a diverse range of research interests, but they all center on feminist rhetoric. My latest archival research focuses on Ruth Buxton Sayre (1896-1980), an Iowa native who worked to convince farm women to see themselves as global citizens. She later became the only woman on President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Agriculture Advisory Committee. She has a sizable archive, held at the State Historical Society of Iowa. This past summer I traveled to London to research the archive of the Associated Country Women of the World, which Sayre lead from 1947-1952. A couple of my recent publications analyze peace activist cookbooks. People may be surprised to know that cookbooks can be activist texts that adeptly subvert women’s domestic roles. The kitchen remains the place where gender and politics ferment!  

On this #GivingTuesdayKC, Consider a gift to the Honors College

Are you ready to be a part of #GivingTuesdayKC? It’s a global day of giving, happening right here in Kansas City!

You #eatlocalkc. You #shoplocalkc. Why not give local?

Please consider a gift to the UMKC Honors College! UMKC is Kansas City’s only public research university. Your support will provide merit scholarships for hardworking local college students who need your assistance to pay for their college tuition and books.

Give to the UMKC Honors College this #GivingTuesdayKC.


** In completing the online giving process, be sure to designate your gift to the Honors College.

Thank you in advance for your support !

Why do you support the UMKC Honors College? Post your #unselfie and tag #GivingTuesdayKC to show your support for honors education in Kansas City!

Honors College Work Study Positions Available


AFIA – Academy for Integrated Arts – Work Study Position

Kauffman School Work-Study Position

Honors College Alumna Featured in UMKC Today

Honors College Alumna Sydney Harvey was recently featured in UMKC Today along with her Mentor Dr. Clancy Martin. Harvey graduated from UMKC in spring 2016 with degrees in philosophy and communication studies. Martin teaches philosophy and business ethics at UMKC. To learn more about this dynamic duo, please visit the feature here.

Written by Namana Rao, Honors College Student Assistant

Honors College Alumna Featured in The Kansas City Star

University of Missouri-Kansas City Honors College Alumna Hannah Lofthus was recently featured in The Kansas City Star for receiving the national Ryan award. Lofthus graduated from UMKC in 2007 with bachelor of arts degrees in philosophy and political science. To learn more about Lofthus, please visit the feature here.

Photo Credit: The Kansas City Star

Written by Namana Rao, Honors College Student Assistant