Dear University community,
I hope you’re all enjoying the holiday season. A special congratulations to the Tigers, Roos, Miners and Tritons who graduated this month! I had the pleasure of participating in a commencement ceremony at Missouri S&T that featured R. Tim Bradley, a 1977 Petroleum Engineering alum who led Kinder-Morgan CO2 for many years. Tim shared the value of resilience and personal growth with the graduates. I also joined Brigadier General Brian Bisacre and Lt. Colonel Gary Kerr at the commissioning of eight Tiger Battalion Cadets at MU. I was humbled and honored to provide remarks to the dedicated men and women who will serve our country with distinction.
For me, an important part of this season is taking time to appreciate our family and friends, as well as the meaningful accomplishments we have achieved throughout the year and the upcoming opportunities that will help us move forward with momentum. This year, the dedicated members of our University community are high on my list of appreciation. Their efforts are the driving force behind the positive changes we see across the UM System
We’re coming to a close on a successful year, but we have so much to look forward to—and our outlook for the future is strong. This year, dedicated leadership and fiscal stewardship led to an upgraded credit rating from Moody’s Investors Service, putting us among their top 10% of public higher education institutions. I want to commend Vice President for Finance and CFO Ryan Rapp and university leaders for their hard work. This positive outlook advances our mission to bring the benefits of our research and creative works to Missourians at top speed. While I am pleased with our progress, there is much more to be done to transform our University to achieve our mission.
Some efforts that we’re just kicking off will blossom as we enter the new year. On Dec. 17, I participated in the opening ceremony for the Missouri Center for Transportation Innovation (MCTI), a partnership with the Missouri Department of Transportation that includes MU, UMKC, Missouri S&T and UMSL and will accelerate research breakthroughs, support economic development and improve transportation safety. Several MCTI-related projects are supported by this year’s $20.5 million joint investment in collaborative research projects, funded by the UM System and our four universities. We also have big dreams of expanding broadband access in underserved areas the state. If you didn’t get a chance yet, please consider helping us by answering a short survey about broadband-related activities, so that we can collect valuable information to focus our efforts.
Other ongoing efforts across our University are providing life-changing opportunities that are setting students on a path to success. In partnership with the Kinder Institute, MU’s College of Art & Sciences is inviting applications for a new one-year MA in Atlantic History & Politics, which includes a month’s study at the University of Oxford. The UMKC Institute for Data Education, Analytics and Science (IDEAS) will soon provide leading-edge data science training opportunities for students. Student leaders at Missouri S&T are gaining invaluable experience by bringing their community together to solve campus issues. In its second year, the Kit Bond International Scholars program has provided opportunities to study abroad to two MU students and two UMSL students.
As always, we’ll continue to work toward making a difference in Missourian’s lives through innovative health care. Stay tuned for exciting updates on our NextGen Precision Health Initiative in the coming months.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t also take a moment to highlight the successes of the dedicated individuals across the system and their important work that has garnered widespread recognition. Three MU faculty members, Zhiqiang Hu, David Schulz and Peter Sutovsky, were named 2019 fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The National Academy of Inventors inducted MU School of Medicine’s Dongsheng Duan and Missouri S&T’s Yihong Qi into the 2019 fellow class. UMKC’s Michael Wei was honored by an international academic publisher for his book, considered an essential publication in the “teaching English to students of other languages” (TESOL) field. At this month’s faculty awards banquet at Missouri S&T, I helped present the C. Brice Ratchford Award to Daniel Oerther, in recognition of his work that advances our land-grant mission on a global scale. UMSL’s E. Paulette Isaac-Savage was inducted into the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame for her research on the learning experiences of African Americans. These incredible contributions are deeply appreciated by all who feel their impact.
Our tradition of inspired work and leadership goes far back. I encourage you to read General Counsel Steve Owens's piece about the story of Daniel Read, president of the University of Missouri from 1866 to 1876. His story is the first in a series about past University leaders, and it is just one of many stories that make me appreciate our University’s legacy. I thought of another of these stories at this year’s Military Appreciation Game. The flyover by a B-2 stealth bomber reminded me of F. Robert Naka, an MU alum known as the “father of stealth technology.” His inspirational journey from Japanese-American internment camp to becoming the chief scientist of the U.S. Air Force is a powerful reminder of the opportunities provided by education.
I’m glad to end the year on a note of appreciation, and I hope you recognize my sincere appreciation for the role you play in our University community. My best wishes to you. Thank you for making the UM System an incredible place to learn, grow and give back. I look forward to working together in 2020!