Kristen Kleffner, Ph.D., has assumed a new role as assistant dean of student affairs for the UMKC School of Medicine’s St. Joseph campus.
In her position, Kleffner will oversee all School of Medicine student affairs activities and services for the St. Joseph students at Mosaic Life Care. This includes academic advising and support, career advising, financial wellness, events, student records, advocacy and organizations.
Kleffner has spent her career in medical education. She attended the University of Missouri–Columbia where she completed a master’s degree in counseling and a Ph.D. in higher education administration. She joined the School of Medicine staff in 2010 and has served in progressive roles in admissions, advising and career services before becoming assistant dean for the St. Joseph campus in 2020 when the school opened its new rural medicine site at Mosaic Life Care.
She has served on several committees during her tenure at UMKC including the Chancellor’s LGBTQIA Initiative, the General Education 2.0 Committee, and as the advisor for the Student National Medical Association.
“We are excited to have Dr. Kleffner as part of our Student Affairs team and look forward to her continued advocacy of students,” said Robert Riss, M.D., associate dean of student affairs.
The UMKC School of Medicine announced that alumnus and former docent Wendell Clarkston, M.D., ’84, will serve as the new Arthur W. Robinson Endowed Chair in Internal Medicine.
The University of Missouri-matched position is based at Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City, where Clarkston, a professor of medicine and director of the GI fellowship program, will continue to serve as a mentor and educator, working to promote quality care and supporting the academic path for faculty.
He called the appointment a tremendous honor and thanked leaders at the School of Medicine and Saint Luke’s and the search committee.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Department of Medicine to continue to optimize patient care and medical education at Saint Luke’s Hospital and UMKC,” Clarkston said.
In addition to his roles as academic and administrative chair of internal medicine at Saint Luke’s, Clarkston is also vice chair of the Department of Medicine for Saint Luke’s programs at the School of Medicine.
He has also held many teaching and administrative roles at the School of Medicine and Saint Luke’s. In addition to serving as a School of Medicine docent, he has been both an assistant and associate dean for graduate medical education, a member of the UMKC promotions committee and chair of the credentials and professional affairs committees. As chair of the graduate medical education council, he worked with faculty, program directors and administrators at the school’s clinical partner hospitals to ensure successful Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accreditation for many of the school’s post-graduate programs in their early years. He has also been a member of the Saint Luke’s quality board.
After receiving his medical degree from the School of Medicine, Clarkston completed both an internal medicine/pediatrics residency and a gastroenterology fellowship at UMKC. A nationally recognized expert in advanced endoscopy training, transplant hepatology and care of patients with inflammatory bowel disease, Clarkston has authored more than 80 papers, book chapters and national abstract presentations. He was honored in 2008 with the UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Achievement award.
Donald Campbell, M.D., was appointed inaugural Arthur W. Robinson Endowed Chair in Internal Medicine in 2007 and has served in the role since. During his tenure, he worked on behalf of learners and trainees in the Department of Medicine to provide quality inpatient and outpatient clinical care, develop and implement enhanced quality monitors and to retain and recruit high quality faculty.
“The UMKC/Saint Luke’s endowed chair program is a truly amazing resource for both institutions,” Campbell said. “The program facilitates the recruitment and retention of thought leaders, master clinicians and researchers to both institutions.”
Reaner Shannon, Ph.D. (M.A. ’78, Ph.D. ’83), part of the UMKC School of Medicine for 34 years, died July 13 at the age of 85.
Shannon began her career at the school as the main research lab technologist. In 1990, she left the lab to become director of the minority affairs office at the school, becoming the school’s first associate dean for minority affairs in 1998, a post she held until she retired in 2008. That year, she was presented the Bill French Alumni Service Award.
Shannon and her husband, Henry Shannon, established the Dr. Reaner and Mr. Henry Shannon Lectureship in Minority Health in 2006. Speakers of local and national interest have presented the lecture each February since in conjunction with Black History Month, focusing on timely topics that impact underserved and minority communities.
Mike Weaver, M.D., ’77, a member of the UMKC School of Medicine’s first graduating class to complete the school’s six-year program, delivered the 2022 lecture.
“Reaner Shannon was an insightful, compassionate, and tireless advocate for URiM (Underrepresented in Medicine) students, who was well ahead of her time. Long before it was common to talk about health equity, Dr. Shannon recognized that the lack of attention to minority health was creating an ongoing healthcare disparities crisis. She raised awareness on these issues and encouraged the School of Medicine to bring these topics to medical education,” Weaver said. “The Dr. Reaner and Mr. Henry Shannon Endowed Lectureship in Minority Health is a testament to that vision and her intention to ensure that medical students at UMKC would forever have access to thought leaders in this area.”
“She recognized that URiM students experience unique challenges in medical school, and she was a mentor who helped hundreds of students mitigate those challenges and successfully graduate,” he continued. “I am very grateful that I was one of those students when I met her back in 1973. She helped me navigate some difficult situations, was affirming, and always had an open door and a warm smile.”
Shannon established the UMKC School of Medicine Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council in 2001 to promote a diverse, nondiscriminatory learning and working environment for the school. It was charged with promoting cultural competency, awareness, inclusion, respect and equity through education, training, programing and advancement. The Council hosts a Diversity Symposium bringing together all departments across the School of Medicine to create goals and recognize existing efforts towards more diverse, equitable, and inclusive environments and work execution.
Shannon also launched Saturday Academy, a free program designed to spark interest in and help prepare young people for potential careers in health care. The program provides students in grades six through 12 with two and a half hours of classes that focus on math and science as well as ACT prep.
She started a similar program, Summer Scholars, that invites minority and disadvantaged students in the Kansas City metropolitan area to take part in a two-week session each July. They receive daily instruction in academic areas such as chemistry and language arts, and study anatomy and physiology in the school’s cadaver lab. Summer Scholars has grown from a single two-week experience for local underserved high school students that Shannon began more than 40 years ago to four different programs provided for high school and undergraduate college students.
“I’d like to think I made an impact in the lives of those students who, in some cases, might not have known that studying medicine was even an option,” she said when presented with the Bill French award. “It was important for me to build in the lives of young people, to help them in any way that I could to succeed.”
Shannon also served on the board of directors for the Black Health Care Coalition and the Edgar Snow Foundation.
The School of Medicine has announced that Lance Carter, M.S.A., C.A.A., will serve as the new program director for the school’s Master of Science in Anesthesia Program.
Carter, an associate professor in the Department of Graduate Medical Education, previously served as assistant program director. Melanie Guthrie, M.S.A., C.A.A., the founding program director, served in the role since the MSA program was started in 2008 to address a shortage of anesthesia care providers in Missouri and throughout the United States.
A nationally recognized leader in anesthesiologist assistant education, Carter was the recipient of UMKC’s Elmer F. Pierson Good Teaching Award in 2021. He serves on the National Certifying Commission for Anesthesiologist Assistants (NCCAA) and has created a series of popular anesthesia procedure videos with more than four million views. He has been published in the emergency medicine textbook, Roberts and Hedges’ Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine, 6th Edition.
Carter completed his undergraduate degree at BYU-Idaho and received his Master of Science in Anesthesia degree from Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio. He started practicing as a certified anesthesiologist assistant at Liberty Hospital in 2007 and joined the School of Medicine as assistant program director.
The MSA program at the UMKC School of Medicine was first MSA program located west of the Mississippi. It accepts 16 students for admission each year and has graduated more than 130 certified anesthesiologist assistants. Program graduates deliver quality anesthesia care to patients across the country, yet the majority are employed in Missouri. Certified anesthesiologist assistants can practice in 16 states, Washington, D.C., and Guam.
The UMKC School of Medicine has announced upcoming changes in the school’s associate dean for Saint Luke’s Hospital programs and in the school’s graduate medical education leadership.
Diana Dark, M.D., a 1980 graduate of the School of Medicine and long-time associate dean for Saint Luke’s Hospital programs, will retire from her role this summer. In turn, Gregory Howell, M.D., who currently serves as associate dean of graduate medical education, will assume the associate dean’s role at Saint Luke’s Hospital beginning June 1.
Howell, a Kansas City native, graduated from the School of Medicine in 2000 and completed his pulmonary and critical care fellowships at UMKC. He is board certified in internal medicine, pulmonary diseases and critical care medicine. He also holds a master’s in public health from the University of Kansas. An associate professor of internal medicine, he previously served as program director for the critical care fellowship.
“It has been an honor to serve the graduate medical education community at the School of Medicine for the last three years and I look forward to working with the leadership at Saint Luke’s in the coming years.” Howell said.
Dark has cared for patients as a pulmonologist and critical care specialist at Saint Luke’s Health System for 29 years. She has served as the associate dean for Saint Luke’s programs for 18 years and the last two years has also served the associate dean for the learning environment at the School of Medicine.
After graduating from the SOM, Dark did her internship, residency and fellowship at the University of Kansas Hospital. She remained on faculty at the University of Kansas for seven years before being recruited to Saint Luke’s Hospital as associate program director for the Internal Medicine residency program, a position she held for 10 years. She established the UMKC Critical Care fellowship and served as program director for seven years.
School of Medicine dean Mary Anne Jackson congratulated Dark on her upcoming retirement and thanked her for her extensive service to the med school.
“I have truly enjoyed working with Dr. Dark as she has advocated for our students, residents, fellows and faculty,” Jackson said. “I am grateful for her leadership and the strong collaborative spirit as she has promoted a strong relationship between the School of Medicine and Saint Luke’s Hospital.”
Jani Johnson, CEO of Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City echoed Jackson’s sentiments.
“Dr. Dark’s leadership has been tremendous throughout her years of service to Saint Luke’s and UMKC,” she said. “We are grateful for her many contributions and we wish her a joyful retirement. We are also thrilled to congratulate Dr. Howell, who we know will bring passion and enthusiasm to this role, and whose expertise will be of great value to our students and staff alike.”
Dark said that while she will miss the interaction with her friends and coworkers, she is looking forward to experiencing the next chapter of her life and her leisure time.
“I cannot imagine anyone having a more rewarding career than I have had,” Dark said. “It has truly been a privilege to help educate so many medical students, residents, and fellows, those who will be taking care of all of us. I have been honored to work alongside and partner with incredibly strong leadership at both Saint Luke’s Hospital and the UMKC School of Medicine.”
The School of Medicine announced that Doris C. Agwu, M.P.H., will serve in the new position of assistant dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Agwu has 11 years of experience with diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in academics, business and community work. Under the leadership of associate dean Tyler Smith, M.D., Agwu will work to expand the school’s focus on current diversity, equity and inclusion programs. Her new role will also include implementing new programs to recruit, educate and serve students, residents and faculty, and emphasize initiatives to ensure a positive learning environment.
At the University of Missouri-Columbia, Agwu earned a bachelor of arts in psychology, a bachelor of science in biology, a minor in business administration and a master’s degree in public health. She served as a research specialist at the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing where she created strategies to address the health care needs of rural Missouri women over the age of 50. She also has served as medical department chair for Bryan University in Columbia, where she spearheaded diversity and inclusion initiatives, taught multiple courses and managed more than 20 direct reports.
In her most recent role as director of engagement and coordinator of underrepresented minority student recruitment at the University of Missouri-Columbia College of Arts and Sciences, she worked to drive inclusion, diversity and equity strategies through best practices to ensure an inclusive culture. She implemented long-term strategic outreach efforts for the college, and collaborated with senior leaders and key stakeholders on state and community programming.
A 2019 recipient of the University G.O.L.D. award for service to the alumni community, Agwu is the vice president of the Mizzou Black Alumni Network. She is also membership co-chair of the Griffiths Leadership Society for Women. She was selected as a member of the new, chancellor-appointed Equity Resolution Hearing Panel and is a charter member of the central Missouri chapter of The Links, Incorporated, serving as the technology/PR/communication chair.
Agwu said she understands the needs of all students to address issues of marginalization.
“I want all Black students to know that their lives matter,” Agwu said. “I want all students of color, including Asian, Hispanic/Latinx and indigenous students, to know their cultures and unique experiences are significant. I want all women to know they have autonomy over their bodies. I want all LGBTQIA students to feel embraced and supported, and for students with disabilities, that they can access everything.”
The School of Medicine announced that Charles Inboriboon, M.D., associate professor and associate program director for emergency medicine, has been appointed assistant dean for Graduate Medical Education.
He will work directly with Sara Gardner, M.D., associate dean, to interact with Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and non-ACGME programs, residents and fellows. He will be responsible for quality improvement of graduate programs with a specific focus on assessment.
A member of the UMKC faculty since 2012, Inboriboon has a rich background in graduate medical education. He works clinically at both Truman Medical Center Health Sciences District and Children’s Mercy Kansas City. He has been part of the emergency medicine residency leadership team, serving as a GME ombudsman and as director of international emergency medicine programs.
Inboriboon is a Fulbright Scholar Award recipient and led several programs in Thailand during their transition to competency based medical education.
He is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, where he completed emergency medicine residency and served as chief resident. He also completed a fellowship in international emergency medicine and earned a master’s degree in public health at the University of Rochester.
The School of Medicine has announced that Bridgette Jones, M.D., M.S., has joined the Office of Student Affairs in a new role of assistant academic dean.
In this position, Jones will work with students across all six years of the curriculum on matters pertaining to academic affairs. She will maintain regular office hours in both the Years 1 and 2 office on the Volker campus and in student affairs at the School of Medicine.
“We are excited to welcome Dr. Jones to student affairs where her enthusiasm for student engagement and support will contribute to the enhancement of student services,” said Interim School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D.
Jones holds a faculty appointment as an associate professor of pediatrics in the divisions of Pediatric Clinical Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutic Innovation and Allergy/Asthma/Immunology at Children’s Mercy. A clinician scientist with a focus on therapeutics and interventions to improve the lives of children with allergic disease and asthma, she also serves as the associate program director for the Children’s Mercy Pediatric Clinical Pharmacology training program.
She is the inaugural chair of the Faculty and Trainee Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and the medical director of the Office of Equity and Diversity at Children’s Mercy. In that role, she develops and maintains a pipeline of diverse and successful trainees and physicians in medicine to ensure their career development. She has also been a national advocate for diversity and equity for women in medicine.
Jones was recently nominated for the American Medical Association Inspiration Award that recognizes physicians who have contributed to the achievements of women in medicine. She will be honored by the AMA Women Physician Section with the award during the AMA House of Delegates interim meeting in September during Women in Medicine Month.
Jones is active on a national leadership level as well. She currently serves as chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Drugs, chair of the American Academy of Allergy Asthma Immunology Asthma and Cough Diagnosis and Treatment Committee, and serves as a member of the Food and Drug Administration Pediatric Advisory Committee.
She was appointed by the United States Secretary of Health to serve on the National Institutes of Health Task Force on Research Specific to Pregnant Women and Lactating Women. She has received funding through the National Institutes of Health and other extramural and intramural resources to support her work.
She is married to Rafiq Saad and is the mother of two daughters, Lola and Nora.
School of Medicine Interim Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., has announced changes within the dean’s office that will take effect July 1.
Christine Sullivan, M.D., associate dean for graduate medical education for the past five years, will transition to a new role as associate dean for professional development. Sara Gardner, M.D., assistant dean for graduate medical education for the past two years, will assume the role of associate dean. John Foxworth, Pharm.D., who has served as associate dean for faculty development for the past 10 years, will become associate dean of academic enrichment.
Sullivan’s new role will focus on the development of a formal faculty mentorship program. She will work to expand resources for development training, including those that foster career progression, professionalism and physician well-being.
In her previous role with graduate medical education, Sullivan was responsible for implementing a GME Ombudsman program and establishing an annual Resident/Fellow Appreciation Day.
“It has been my great honor to serve in the role of associate dean for GME over the past five years,” said Sullivan, a professor of emergency medicine. “I truly have enjoyed advocating for our wonderfully talented residents and fellows who are the future in medicine.”
Gardner, associate professor of internal medicine/pediatrics, served as program director for the Internal Medicine-Pediatrics residency program prior to assuming the role of assistant dean.
“It’s been a privilege to work with Dr. Sullivan in the GME office,” Gardner said. “I look forward to collaborating with her in her new role in the faculty development office to support our program leaders and enhance our clinical learning environments.”
The associate dean for GME serves as the Designated Institutional Official for the school’s 35 Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-accredited programs and as the chair of the school’s Graduate Medical Education Council.
In his new role, Foxworth, a professor of medicine, will focus more narrowly on supporting faculty, student and trainee success in academics and research. He will also oversee a new grant writing program.
He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and a fellow in the American College of Clinical Pharmacology. He has been with the School of Medicine since 1974.
“It has been a pleasure working with the school’s talented faculty, students and residents and I look forward to supporting their ongoing academic and research efforts in this new role,” Foxworth said.
The School of Medicine has announced that Robert Riss, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics and pediatric hospitalist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, will serve as the next assistant dean for career advising.
In his new role at the School of Medicine, Riss will be responsible for oversight of all career advising services.
Riss is an associate director of medical student education and director of curriculum for the highly regarded pediatric clerkship at Children’s Mercy. His leadership in revising the pediatric clerkship curriculum using a scholarly approach and innovative facilitation of technology is cited as a reason for improved performance of students taking their NBME exams.
He has served on many leadership committees at UMKC and Childrens’ Mercy and currently serves as co-chair of the Medical Student Education Special Interest Group with the Academic Pediatric Association. He is also a faculty member of the association after recently completing the organization’s Educational Scholars Program.
Riss has received many awards for teaching and leadership including UMKC’s Elmer F. Pierson Good Teaching Award, as well as the Children’s Mercy Gold Apple Mercy Mentor Award and a faculty award for outstanding teaching support of student medical education.
He currently participates in educational research focusing on curriculum design, evaluation and implementation utilizing technology. He is an educational consultant on the NIH grant: SPeCTRE: The Sunflower Pediatric Clinical Trials Research Extension in which he is charged with designing a curriculum for primary care physicians to increase the research capacity for pediatrics in the state of Kansas.
Riss received his medical degree from the University of Kansas School of Medicine and completed his postdoctoral training as a pediatrics resident at Children’s Mercy Kansas City.