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UM System president appoints C. Mauli Agrawal as new chancellor of the University of Missouri-Kansas City

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Christian Basi

February 06, 2018

Agrawal will be introduced to Kansas City campus on Friday

COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Missouri System President Mun Choi announced today that C. Mauli Agrawal, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), has been appointed chancellor of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, effective June 20, 2018.

“I’m thrilled that Dr. Agrawal has agreed to serve as the next chancellor of UMKC, and I’m confident that the university will reach new heights of success in research, education and outreach through his leadership,” Choi said. “UMKC has an outstanding team of administrators, faculty, staff and alumni supporters who will work closely with him to achieve our collective vision.” 

“We had a very strong finalist pool, but what made Dr. Agrawal stand out was his combination of strong academic credentials with proven entrepreneurial skills,” said David Steelman, chair of the University of Missouri Board of Curators. “He understands the mission of UMKC, but he also knows that mission can only be fulfilled through innovative approaches and risk; he is not a status quo leader.”

Prior to his current appointment at UTSA, Agrawal served as vice president for research and dean of the College of Engineering. He also has been a professor of orthopedics and bioengineering at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, one of the largest medical schools in the United States. He obtained a doctorate from Duke University in 1989, a master’s degree from Clemson University in 1985 and a bachelor’s degree of technology from IIT-Kanpur, India.

“I’m very excited to be chosen to help lead this great university. The potential for the University of Missouri-Kansas City is immense and exciting,” Agrawal said. “UMKC has all the elements necessary to make a great university. With strengths in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, business, engineering, arts and theater, the university is an exceptional anchor for economic development in the Kansas City region. I’m looking forward to working with UMKC’s faculty and staff as well as Kansas City’s civic leaders who are passionate about higher education and are constantly working to make Kansas City a great place to live, learn and work.”

During his tenure as dean, Agrawal led the UTSA College of Engineering to a 40 percent increase in student enrollment, a 50 percent increase in faculty, and a 400 percent increase in research funding. In 2010, he worked closely with the city of San Antonio and Mayor Julian Castro to establish the Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute at UTSA, which received a $50 million pledge of support from CPS Energy, the city-owned utility operation.

“Mauli is a beloved member of the San Antonio community who has earned admiration and respect from the university community, the business community and civic leadership,” current San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. “I certainly wish him the very best at UMKC. You have an absolute gem of a man to lead the university forward. He understands the important role that a university plays in the civic life of a city and has a unique skill set of translating that role into meeting the needs of the university. His skill set is one of a kind.”

Agrawal has served on the editorial boards of various scientific journals, including the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research, Tissue Engineering, the Journal of System of Systems, and the Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine.

Agrawal’s research specializes in the area of orthopedic and cardiovascular biomaterials/implants, and he has authored more than 300 scientific publications and holds 29 patents. He is a Fellow of Biomaterials Science and Engineering, the National Academy of Inventors, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.  Additionally, he served as president of the Society for Biomaterials in 2006. His bioengineering research group has been responsible for starting three companies in San Antonio.

He serves on the board of trustees of the Southwest Research Institute and Clemson University’s College of Engineering Advisory Board. He also is a member of United Way’s Master’s Leadership Program in San Antonio, Biomed SA, the Texas Research Park Foundation and the San Antonio Medical Foundation.

“I’m very grateful for the work of the search committee members who spent countless hours reviewing and interviewing candidates,” Choi said. “I’m also extremely appreciative of Dr. Barbara Bichelmeyer, who has made important contributions as interim chancellor and provost at UMKC. Dr. Bichelmeyer will continue in her role as interim chancellor during the transition period and will return to her provost role when Dr. Agrawal arrives in June 2018.”

Bichelmeyer is leading a number of key initiatives that will continue to move forward at UMKC, including academic reorganization, academic portfolio review, strategic plan development and the budgeting process.  She has the full backing and support of Choi to implement changes to achieve UMKC’s goals of excellence in student success, research breakthroughs and effective engagement.

 “I will work closely with Dr. Bichelmeyer to make the important and necessary changes during the transition period,” Choi said. “We are indebted to her for her work in continuing to move UMKC forward. She will be a great asset to Dr. Agrawal as he moves into this position.”

Bichelmeyer said she looks forward to working with the new chancellor.

“I’m excited to partner with Chancellor-designate Agrawal and look forward to his arrival in Kansas City,” she said. “His background and experiences complement the mission and vision of UMKC – and together, with all the great partners on this campus and in this metro area, we will keep the momentum going as we grow UMKC into the great university this region needs.”

NOTE: Choi will introduce Agrawal to the Kansas City campus at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 9, in Spencer Theatre in the Olson Performing Arts Center on the UMKC campus.

Additional details:

For reporters unable to travel, the announcement will be live video-streamed online at www.umsystem.edu, beginning at 10 a.m.

A media availability will take place immediately following the announcement in The Founders’ Lounge in the Olson Performing Arts Center. This session will not be live video-streamed, but reporters unable to travel may call in at the number provided below to hear the news conference:

Toll-free dial-in number:  (866) 357-7737
Participant code:  2599419045

EDITOR’S NOTE: Mauli Agrawal is pronounced “MALL – lee AH-gruh-wall”

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What others are saying about Mauli Agrawal’s appointment as UMKC chancellor:

Tom Bloch, chair of the UMKC Foundation Board

“Dr. Agrawal has the experience and track record of accomplishment that marks him as a strong leader, but what really stood out for me was his vision for the heights he believes UMKC can reach. He speaks of making UMKC nothing less than a national model for a modern urban research university, and I look forward to working with him and supporting him and the great UMKC team already in place in pursuit of that vision.”

U.S. Rep Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio.
“Mauli has been deeply engaged, not only with the university, but with the larger community of San Antonio in helping us build infrastructure in STEM fields and well beyond that. He’s a true gem and we’ll truly miss him. He’s a collaborative leader who takes advice and guidance from all sides and helps everyone march forward together. He both listens and leads.”

Ramin Cherafat, CEO of McCownGordon Construction
“During the search process, Dr. Agrawal demonstrated a clear passion for working with alumni and civic leaders as we work to make Kansas City a major hub of industry for the nation. He understands the important role that higher education institutions play in economic development, including new research discoveries and the development of a highly trained workforce. I’m looking forward to working with him as we envision the future of UMKC and Kansas City.”

Margo DelliCarpini, dean of the College of Education and Human Development at UTSA
“Your institution is gaining an incredibly qualified candidate. He is a progressive and visionary leader who is very supportive of academic affairs and the mission of the university. I have worked with him for the past year and a half since I came here as dean in August of 2016, and every interaction I have had with him has shown how he puts the success of students, faculty and staff and the mission of the university at the forefront of everything he does. Our loss in San Antonio is your gain in Kansas City. He strives for transparency, accountability and shared governance. He has been a pleasure to work with.”

Terry Dunn, co-chair of UMKC chancellor search committee
“Dr. Mauli Agrawal is a very remarkable educator, entrepreneur, innovator, servant leader and collaborator. I truly believe he is the right person at the right time to transition UMKC into one of the great urban research universities in this country.  It is UMKC’s time and the metropolitan region of Kansas City’s time to achieve greatness.”

Taylor Eighmy, president of the University of Texas at San Antonio
“Mauli has devoted the last 15 years of his academic career to important leadership positions at UTSA, and he’s left a profound impact on our institution with great work supporting engineering, research and the academic enterprise. We are forever grateful for all that he has done for our institution. This is a wonderful opportunity for Mauli and Sue; he’ll be missed here at UTSA but he has a big adventure ahead of him as the new chancellor at UMKC. We expect that he will do a wonderful job in his new role and wish him the absolute best.”

Ruyan Guo, Robert E. Clarke Endowed Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UTSA.
“Mauli knows everything about faculty life and has the heart of a faculty member. I could see in his eyes how excited he was when he would meet new junior faculty. He also had so much joy in seeing the faculty he helped make tenure to go on to become leaders in the university. Dr. Mauli Agrawal has exceptional accomplishments as a professor, researcher, inventor and administrative leader. He has a deep connection and lasting trust with the staff he works with and people in the community. His leadership talent shines as he inspires students, faculty, civic leaders, alumni and the private sector to work together toward realizing his vision for excellence. Like UTSA, UMKC is also an urban-serving university, and he is going to be an outstanding leader for UMKC.”

John McCarrey, endowed professor of biology at UTSA
“I’ve been at UTSA for over 27 years. I have seen him go from faculty to department chair to dean to vice president for research and now interim provost. He has been very active both administratively as well as scientifically. He has been instrumental in bringing our institution a very long way, from one that was not very research intensive to one that is much more so. He’s been very much the face of our institution to the community. He’s been an excellent leader, with the foresight to help us progress. We’re trying to become tier one, and we’ve made a lot of progress toward that goal. He’s been a big part of that. We’re going to miss him. I wish him absolutely the best. I’m sure he’s going to be a big asset to your institution.”

Linda E. Mitchell, co-chair of search committee and chair of UMKC Faculty Senate
As co-chair of the Chancellor’s Search Committee, I was inspired by the interviews we had with our tremendously strong candidates. Dr. Agrawal stood out for me, not only because of his vision, creative energy and experience, but also because I saw ways in which his perspective perfectly mirrors that of our own Provost Bichelmeyer. With two such extraordinary leaders, we can be the kind of beacon of transformation our region needs and the intellectual and academic powerhouse we have always had the potential to be. I am very excited to see what we can do under the leadership of Chancellor Agrawal and Provost Bichelmeyer, and I am proud to be a member of the UMKC faculty.”

Drew Rogers, president of UMKC Student Government Association

"Dr. Agrawal brings a background full of experiences that will serve him well at UMKC and help take our campus community to new heights. His mentality of putting students at the center of his decision-making process is only part of the reason why he will be successful. He knows the importance of meeting students where they are in their educational development, so he will encourage professors to meet students at that point, but he will encourage professors to push students to meet the requirements of a degree from UMKC. Coming from UTSA, Dr. Agrawal has the knowledge of how to take an urban-based commuter campus and turn it into a vibrant campus community; the Student Government Association is excited to learn his ideas for building that residential campus feel here at UMKC."