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Campus Highlights - August 2020

Dear university community,

It’s been a great pleasure to welcome our MU, UMKC, Missouri S&T and UMSL students back for another semester of learning. I know our entire university community benefits from the vitality they bring to our day-to-day experience. To support the safest return to campus possible, our four university campuses have implemented new policies and procedures that help manage the risk of COVID-19 spread. It’s important to remember that the individual actions of students, faculty, staff and visitors are critical to our ability to maintain an in-person campus experience. This academic year will undoubtedly bring challenges. As we navigate them together, we will keep our academic and research missions at the forefront.

"To support the safest return to campus possible, our four university campuses have implemented new policies and procedures to help manage the risk of COVID-19 spread."

I’m proud of the creative ways our community continues to prioritize student success—and the ways student education is adapting to support the needs of our state and the nation, now and in the future. The Missouri Info Corps gave MU journalism students and graduates valuable experience covering the impact of COVID-19 throughout Missouri while serving as an important source of reliable news for small communities. The MU School of Medicine provided training for future medical professionals by holding a virtual version of the Bryant Scholars Summer Retreat to address the shortage of rural physicians. UMKC received a grant from the National Science Foundation to make data science more relevant to minority students. Innovative student education would not be possible without dedicated faculty members like UMSL’s Provost Marie Mora, who was recognized by the White House with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. 

"UMSL's Provost Marie Mora was recognized by the White House with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring."

Outstanding faculty members also provide critical support to our research mission. I’m thrilled to welcome Dr. Russ Waitman, who will lead medical informatics efforts at both MU and UMKC Schools of Medicine. Dr. Waitman will also play an important role as the director of medical information for the NextGen Precision Health Initiative and foster big data medical research throughout the system. There is so much impactful research happening across the University of Missouri System, such as at Missouri S&T, where Drs. Abhijit Gosavi and Robert Marley recently published a study indicating that an already developed vaccine may help prevent COVID-19 spread. In the years ahead, I look forward to the continued growth of our research enterprise and seeing our lasting impact on the state and nation.

As a public institution of higher education, our mission focuses on using our statewide reach to improve life for Missourians. From the new interactive Health Care Finder tool that connects Missourians to the resources they need to UMSL’s Mobile Eye Center that provides vision screenings to thousands of students in St. Louis-area schools, we’re following through on our promise. To better support our systemwide community, we’re providing a new self-care resource for faculty and staff with MU Extension’s free Taking Care of You class.

"As a public institution of higher education, our mission comes down to using our statewide reach to improve life for Missourians."

Sometimes our impact even reaches the global scale, as it has with the University of Missouri South African Education Program (UMSAEP). Last month, UMSAEP program director and MU Professor Emeritus Rod Uphoff was awarded the 2020 Justice for the Innocent Award alongside MU Professor Emeritus Steve Weinberg and UMKC Professor Emerita Ellen Suni. The trio were recognized for establishing the Midwest Innocence Project, which strives to overturn wrongful convictions. I am so proud of the incredible contributions from our faculty across the system.

It’s been said many times before, but we are living in an era of major upheaval and change. Just as we have done before in challenging times past, we will come through this stronger. If you have a story about how a part of our community is building strength and finding resilience, please send it to president@umsystem.edu.

Reviewed 2020-08-31