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This is a developing story and will be updated.

On Wednesday morning, University of Missouri-Kansas City officials announced that "some of our ranks will be leaving UMKC." 

An email interim chancellor and provost Barbara Bichelmeyer sent to faculty and staff stated that the university had worked for months "to reduce our deficit and to make strategic investments." And, she said, with a new fiscal year approaching, it was "time to act on these decisions."

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

The future layout of Kansas City's planned streetcar extension from downtown to the University of Missouri-Kansas City is on a map, with proposed stops and alignment on Main Street revealed at a recent public hearing.

For the most part, the eight suggested streetcar stops mirror those in place for the MAX rapid-transit bus route now serving that stretch of Main, according to Tom Gerend, executive director of the Kansas City Streetcar Authority.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

In light of newly passed legislation impacting gun laws and school funding, many college students in Kansas and Missouri may not feel like lawmakers are hearing their concerns. 

Two student lobbyists are hoping to change that.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: How do university students ensure their priorities have a voice in state government?

Students in Kansas and Missouri have concerns that go beyond their next exams and life after graduation. They point to soaring tuition rates, concealed weapons on campus, sexual harassment and assault, and state support for higher education. To communicate their concerns, student lobbyists work the hallways in both state Capitols. Today, we met the students who do this important work.

Maj Lindström / Music Box Films

Early on in the documentary “Chavela,” a cabaret owner describes the voice of Chavela Vargas: “She wasn’t a little fountain. She was more like a tremendous canyon.… She sounded as if she’d been born with the wounds of life and death.”

Vargas was born in Costa Rica and moved to Mexico at 17 to pursue music. At first, she presented herself as a traditional, feminine cabaret and ranchera singer, but found the style unnatural and uncomfortable.

Channy Chhi Laux

Channy Chhi Laux is an American. She earned two undergraduate degrees from the University of Nebraska and a master’s from the University of Santa Clara in California. Laux’s son is an Eagle Scout, and her daughter has nearly finished a doctorate at the University of Southern California.

Her list of American-sounding accomplishments is long, including working as an engineer in Silicon Valley for 30 years and starting a specialty foods company called Apsara.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Time is running out for about 30,000 Kansas City, Missouri, voters who are eligible to vote on a southern streetcar extension.

Registered voters who live within the area roughly between the Missouri River and 53rd Street, and State Line Road and Campbell, have until April 3 to apply for a mail-in ballot.

Ballots will be sent to approved voters in May and due back on June 12.

This is the final step in a complicated three-election process that must be completed before any work on an expansion to the University of Missouri-Kansas City can begin.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Updated at 7 p.m. March 9 with updated travel details — Kansas men’s basketball team is just down the road from home this week for the Big 12 conference in Kansas City. Mizzou only had to go to St. Louis.

UMKC, on the other hand, traveled more than 1,300 miles to Las Vegas for the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) tournament. The WAC is a far-flung conference: UMKC’s closest competitor is Chicago State. Otherwise, they’re going to places like Seattle and Bakersfield, California, and paying for the travel.

courtesy: Helix Architecture + HGA Architects

The Missouri Legislature might once again consider funding for a proposed downtown campus of the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.

Michelle Tyrene Johnson / KCUR 89.3

Buzzing outside Flarsheim Hall on the grounds of the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus Friday morning sounded like a scourge of mosquitoes.

The drone demonstration outside the School of Computing and Engineering was intended to help university leaders announce that the Department of Defense’s Office of Naval Research had awarded the university a $7.2 million grant and a $7.7 million contract to develop countermeasures to drone threats.

The funding is the largest federal amount received by UMKC for non-health related research.

Khalif Ghillet

An emerging Kansas City director's travels in South America are influencing theater productions in Kansas City.

At the moment, that's most evident in the current production by the University of Missouri-Kansas City's graduate theater department. "The Storytelling Project," which runs through Sunday, mixes Andean mythology with the actors' personal stories.

Segment 1: Meet Aaron Rahsaan Thomas.

He's a screenwriter and producer who is originally from KCK. Last week, he was in a photo of black creatives in Hollywood that went viral. Hear his story — and how that photo changed how some people see race in the industry.

  • Aaron Rahsaan Thomas, Executive Producer of "S.W.A.T." on CBS

Segment 2, beginning at 17:56: Mosquito experts swarm KC.

Heidi Van

Kansas City has a wide range of theater venues, from tiny spaces that seat only a couple dozen people to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. And now, two newcomers are opening another one.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The University of Missouri-Kansas City must figure out how to invest in its students, faculty and staff even as state appropriations decline, Chancellor-designate C. Mauli Agrawal says.

University of Kansas

Kansas could struggle to stop college students from taking their money to other Midwestern states if it continues to charge higher tuition.

Courtesy of UMKC Athletics

CSU-Bakersfield men’s basketball coach Rod Barnes emerged from the locker room late last month at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City. He was seeking a familiar face, one who gave Ole Miss its first all-African-American starting five, who encouraged him to not listen to naysayers.

He was looking for former UMKC athletic director and basketball coach Lee Hunt, the man who was on the leading edge of race relations in high school and college sports during the Civil Rights Era. Barnes found him, exclaiming, “Coach! It’s good to see you.”

University of Texas at San Antonio / College of Engineering

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 3:50 p.m. to include comments from incoming chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal and MU spokesman Christian Basi.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City’s next chancellor, C. Mauli Agrawal, takes over at a time when higher education funding in the state is under fire and inherits the imperiled promise of a downtown location for the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.

UM-System President Mun Choi announced Agrawal’s appointment to faculty and staff in an email Tuesday.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Work hard and you’ll be successful, is how the old adage of the American Dream goes.

But the members of one Kansas City organization are adding their voices to a national movement arguing that’s not really the case, and they're emerging from some of America's lowest-paying industries to do it.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Where do you go job-wise when your previous position was press secretary to the president of the United States? Today, we ask someone who knows, Kansas City native and former Obama staffer Josh Earnest. Then, activist organizations pushing to improve conditions for low-wage workers face a unique challenge: Getting folks who can ill-afford time off to show up for a protest. We'll find out how groups like Stand Up KC are overcoming that hurdle.

Phillip Taylor / Flickr -- CC

A Kansas Citian just returned from his first trip back to Puerto Rico since it was devastated by two hurricanes. We hear how recovery is going from his on-the-ground perspective.

Then: when you think of Antarctica, you may picture a vast land covered with snow. But did you know that plants used to grow there? A scientist is back from an Arctic expedition with plant fossils that she collected — fossils that may tell us something about how life withstands climate change.

Kevin Collison / CityScene KC

This post was updated at 2:06 p.m. to include additional comments from interim chancellor and provost Barbara Bichelmeyer.   

In a major setback to downtown’s cultural ambitions, the planned UMKC Downtown Conservatory has suffered a fatal financial blow, losing a $20 million private pledge essential to building the project.

First reported by CityScene KC, the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation has withdrawn its $20 million pledge after deciding the ambitious project as originally planned was no longer viable.

fdecomite / Flickr -- CC

Can marbles come back? Inspired by an exhibit at the National Museum of Toys/Miniatures, we take a look at the history and appeal of the game.

Then: a conversation about I, Tonya, the movie that shines more of a light on Tonya Harding's story. We discuss class, gender, abuse and fame on the ice rink.

Guests:

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

The challenges of life in poverty are diverse, and can be hard to grasp for people who haven't lived it themselves. Today, we learn how future health care professionals are using poverty simulations to get a new perspective on what their poorest patients face daily.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The School of Computing and Engineering at the University of Missouri-Kansas City is getting a high-tech $32 million facility to help students compete in a global economy.

The University of Missouri Board of Curators approved construction of the computer science building, which will be adjacent to Flarsheim Hall, earlier this month. It will be built with a combination of state funds and private donations, including a $6 million gift from the Sunderland Foundation.

bloomlandscape / Flickr -- CC

When you think of moss, you may conjure up images of dense woods. But a new restaurant on the Plaza features a moss wall. We talk to the local artist who created it, and we hear his vision for a harmonious life.

Plus: As one of the most significant tax bills in recent history gets ironed out, there has been talk about what it could do for the middle class. What is the middle class — and what does it mean to be middle class today?

Guests:

Courtesy Lyn Elliot

Can you name one practical thing you learned from a former partner?

This question was the seed of "Lessons from Exes," a new short film featuring five vignettes by Kansas City filmmakers.

“I was making some popcorn in a pan on the stove,” Lyn Elliot remembers, “and the thought came into my mind that a particular ex-boyfriend had taught me how to do that.”

Greg Echlin / KCUR

Updated Dec. 1 with score of semifinal, date of title game — The undefeated Central Missouri Jennies women’s soccer team is hoping to earn its first NCAA Division II national championship.

But this season, which continues Saturday with the title game matchup against Carson-Newman, wasn’t without challenges: The team has been affected by an increasing national trend from high school athletics to the pros — concussions.

Courtesy Tom Stroik

"One thing that a poet needs more than anything else — well, you need a sense of language — but you need people who love you. And I have that," the poet Michelle Boisseau told New Letters on the Air host Angela Elam earlier this year. "I have incredible colleagues, and of course my husband Tom [Stroik], and people who believe in your work. Just keep doing it."

Bonnie Bolling remembers when she first stepped on Middle Eastern soil. A writer, Bolling was in an airport in Dubai and the call to prayer came over the loudspeakers.

She’d never heard the call, and while she definitely felt reverence, she also panicked because she didn’t know what to expect or what her own response should be. Her heart beat hard as she stopped and awaited the reactions of her fellow travelers.

“I realized I was going to experience it in a way I was going to need to write about,” Bolling says of the Middle East.

Courtesy Andrew Johnson

In his new book, Kansas City writer Andrew Johnson stares down the tiny occurrences that make up everyday life, using observations about small things, such as people's habits of speech and social media comments, to raise big questions about humanity.

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