Donor Generosity Plays Major Role in New Building for UMKC School of Computing and Engineering

By Patricia O’Dell

Plans to build a new $32 million building for the School of Computing and Engineering are officially underway, thanks to significant contributions from several major donors to UMKC Foundation.

Reflecting the school’s emphasis on research and technology, the building will be equipped with $3 million in virtual reality and augmented reality equipment, a clean room, scanning electron microscope, robotics, biomedical applications and other technologies.

The School of Computing and Engineering has experienced rapid growth—enrollment has more than doubled since 2008, driven in part by demand for skilled professionals in a community that is home to four of the nation’s top 50 engineering firms.

The center will not be limited to use by SCE students and faculty, but will provide opportunities for the whole campus and the business community.

“This building will be a community resource,” said Interim Chancellor and Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer at a press conference at Union Station to announce the new research center. “We are doing this because leadership in science and technology will define the future of our community. The new center will play a major role in determining how strong a position of leadership Kansas City will be able to take.”

The new building, which will be connected to the current School of Computing and Engineering in Flarsheim Hall, is the result of tremendous state and community support.

The Sunderland Foundation provided the lead gift, and the second largest in its history, of $6 million. Other major donors include DST, Black & Veatch, Burns and McDonnell, J.E. Dunn, the Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation, the Hall Family Foundation, the Illig Family Foundation, the Jack and Glenna Wiley Foundation, the Debruce Family Foundation, KCP&L, the Forsee Family Foundation, Van Trust Real Estate and the McDonnell Family Foundation.

“We are honored and grateful, though not surprised, that our donors shared our vision and commitment to UMKC and Kansas City,” said Steven Norris, president of the UMKC Foundation. “The success of this project is undoubtedly a product of Dean Kevin Truman’s leadership. He has been essential to the growth of the school and making the building and research center a reality.”

Mayor Sly James noted that Kansas City is signaling to the world, “We are open for business,” thanks to current advances in Kansas City’s infrastructure, the growth of the arts scene, thriving neighborhoods, a reinvigorated downtown and a growing tech community.

“We are adding a final piece to the equation,” James said. “A high-tech research and development center where great minds from academia and industry come together.”

The building’s estimated completion date is Fall 2020. Imon Stevenson, a senior student in computer science, recognized that the technology and opportunities offered by the new building will change the game.

“I have to admit, I’m a little bit jealous,” she said. “Not of anyone here today, but of all the future UMKC students who will get to make this new building their educational playground.”

If you are interested in supporting projects within the School of Engineering’s new facility, please contact Elizabeth Wheeler at 816-235-1277 or