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Launching a Laboratory of Learning

UMKC renews commitment to urban education.

With fanfare and resolve in equal measure, the University of Missouri-Kansas City celebrated the launch of a new effort to realize the full potential of children in urban schools nationwide.

The Urban Education Research Center (UERC), part of the university’s School of Education, will conduct cutting-edge research and analysis, develop data-rich approaches, and disseminate this information with the goal of promoting excellent schooling and improving the lives, opportunities and communities of urban residents throughout the United States, with a focus on the Greater Kansas City community.

The center was officially launched at a special campus ceremony attended by more than 300 donors, leading educators, administrators and community leaders. Shirley Brice Heath, professor emerita at Stanford University, was the featured guest speaker.

UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton called the center “a place where the hope and promise of urban education are respected and advanced.”

Wanda J. Blanchett, Ph.D., School of Education Dean and Ewing Marion Kauffman/Missouri Endowed Chair for Teacher Education, described the center as “a think tank to address some of our country’s most perplexing urban education issues.”

And philanthropist John Sherman, who with his wife, Marny, funded the Sherman Family Endowed Chair in Urban Education Research and the center start-up costs, said the center is designed to help urban schools become “the great equalizer that levels the playing field,” allowing all our children, and therefore our entire community, to reach their full potential.