Renovated Innovation Center opens at KCKCC

Marvin Hunt, dean of business and continuing education at KCKCC, stands in front of the newly renovated Innovation Center. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Aug. 27 to unveil the new facility on the KCKCC Campus. (KCKCC photo)
Marvin Hunt, dean of business and continuing education at KCKCC, stands in front of the newly renovated Innovation Center. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Aug. 27 to unveil the new facility on the KCKCC Campus. (KCKCC photo)

by Kelly Rogge

After months of renovations, Kansas City Kansas Community College is celebrating the opening of its new Innovation Center.

The Innovation Center is a space reserved for students and community members who want to learn about starting a business, get support for their innovation or ideas and dream about their entrepreneurial aspirations.

Located in Room 3619 in the Flint Building on the main KCKCC campus, 7250 State Ave., the space has multiple uses including a computer lab, conference space and an office space with smart board and data projection capabilities.

“Individuals using the space will benefit from support through consultation with faculty, staff and community experts,” said Marvin Hunt, dean of the business and continuing education department at KCKCC. “Setting aside a space for creativity and innovation activities aligns with KCKCC’s emerging entrepreneurial image in the greater community. I hope that the innovations that are born or grow in this space will surprise me and help me learn new ways in which individuals benefit.”

KCKCC held a ribbon-cutting and grand opening celebration Aug. 27 where members of the community as well as KCKCC students, staff and faculty were welcomed to look inside the Innovation Center to see what the space has to offer.

Hunt said one of the training and consultation opportunities the center will be holding is for startup businesses through the college’s affiliations with the Kansas Small Business Development Center, the Kauffman Foundation and the National Association of Community College Entrepreneurs.

“Workforce grows because new businesses are born and succeed. We want to contribute to this growth,” he said. “We will engage in development of new or midstream businesses, tech businesses and main street-lifestyle businesses. Also, I am very interested in learning more about how we can help people protect their intellectual innovations which power their business ventures.”

Hunt said the center started as a dream and a vision from KCKCC’s workforce team. He said the idea is to shift the focus toward entrepreneurism, along with a training competent.

The renovations were funded by a $40,000 grant from the Sunderland Foundation the center received in December 2013. The foundation was started in 1945 by Lester T. Sunderland, focusing on supporting brick and mortar projects.

Over the years, it has awarded numerous grants to nonprofits in the Kansas City region including the Kansas City Zoo, the University of Kansas Hospital Cancer Center, Kansas City Public Television, the Nelson Gallery Foundation and Cristo Rey Kansas City High School.

“We visited with other higher education institutions to learn how they were developing their programming. The first Innovation Summit in 2012 started some movement in this direction,” he said. “We created the Innovation Center and designed and funded Innovation Niches (the nice furniture for students you see in the hallway outside of the Business Division). Then we attained funding through the Sunderland Foundation to remodel the center as it stands today.”

Hunt said the Innovation Center will help KCKCC adapt to the needs of the community while also pushing the boundaries of higher education. He said by dedicating resources to the center, KCKCC is supporting those students and community members who wish to grow their ideas into a sustainable business.

“I find that when I ask our students how many of them want to be their own boss or own their own business, many hands in the room fly into the air. I believe that people thrive when they create. The yearning to own the idea, be autonomic, be your own boss, and see your baby grow, is at the heart of the need for our community,” Hunt said. “I want to see a very active entrepreneurial community in which people are freely sharing innovations, supporting each other’s growth, and finding the resources with our help. Also, I want to create deeper agreements with partners who will create additional pathways and resources for our clients, partners, and students.”

For more information on the Innovation Center, contact Hunt at 913-288-7659 or by email at

KCKCC’s Louis Center to commemorate U.N. Indigenous Peoples Day

by Kelly Rogge

One of democracy’s greatest gifts is the idea that citizens have the power to vote and bring about change. To showcase that idea, Kansas City Kansas Community College’s Henry Louis Center for Global Transitional Justice plans to commemorate the United Nations Indigenous Peoples Day in September on the KCKCC main campus.

Ewa Unoke, a political science professor at KCKCC and director of the Henry Louis Center, said when the Charter of the United Nations was originally signed in San Francisco almost 70 years ago, colonized countries throughout the world won the legal right to self-determination. But in reality, he said, the first and original peoples or ethnic nations of Africa, Antarctica, Australia, Asia, Europe and North and South America did not earn such rights of representation at the U.N.

The Indigenous Peoples Day event is from 10 a.m. to noon Sept. 13 in Room 2325 at KCKCC, 7250 State Ave.

“If the artificially created countries have the right of membership to the United Nations, then the original ethnic nations ought to have the right of representation in an ethnic united nations,” Unoke said. “While the U.N. diplomats represent their national governments, the ethnic citizens of their countries are not represented.”

On Sept. 13, 2007, the U.N. General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples of the World. Unoke said for those involved with the Henry Louis Center, it’s time to end the economic, social and political exclusion of the original ethnic nations. He said the center’s Ethnic United Nations project is a radical, but forward-looking concept – mobilize interested citizens with human rights, restorative justice views to review and adopt a covenant on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples and to establish a global parliament or forum where common issues affecting the ethnic peoples are debated and action taken to ameliorate such problems.

“The idea is to invite indigenous peoples and human rights activists to represent their original ethnic nations and vote to convene an annual conference which will incrementally lead towards establishing an ethnic united nations,” Unoke said.

For more information or to make a reservation for the event, contact professor Ewa Unoke at 913-288-7119 or email at

KCKCC volleyball team gains revenge with 3-0 win at Neosho

by Alan Hoskins
Kansas City Kansas Community College passed its opening Jayhawk Conference test in impressive fashion Wednesday, gaining a measure of revenge with a three-set sweep of Neosho County at Chanute.

The win was the fifth in a row for the No. 12 ranked Lady Blue Devils, who improved to 5-1 with their only loss to Parkland, the No. 1 ranked team in Division II.

“This was a big win for us, especially playing on the road,” said KCKCC coach Mary Bruno. “Neosho beat us last year and will be in contention for a first division finish in the conference.”

Sophomores Kailee Dudley and Blair Russell led KCKCC with 10 kills each while Jasdel Gonzalez added eight.

“We played well as a group, very balanced,” Bruno said. “We’re still in the beginning part of the season.”

The Blue Devils will hold the home opener this coming Wednesday when the team plays host to Hesston in a District N contest at 6:30 p.m.

KCKCC then goes back on the road for 11 matches including tournaments at Highland Sept. 5-6 and New Port Richey, Fla., Sept. 12-13. The Blue Devils return home Sept. 24 against No. 2 ranked Johnson County.