Dear University community,
As a public land-grant university system, freedom of expression, inclusion and service to the people of Missouri are the foundations of our daily work. We have a collective responsibility to enact meaningful change for society, especially when it comes to addressing injustice and upholding individual dignity. Our principles demand that our actions be guided by a robust civil discourse. Know that we are listening to and engaging with all members of our community, and recognizing the challenges and opportunities that are before our University, the state and the nation.
The events of the past few months have required many of our community members to rise to unforeseen challenges and adapt quickly to make necessary change for the health of Missourians. MU and UMSL faculty are shining lights on the health disparities made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic and forming NSF-funded interdisciplinary teams to bring lessons learned from the 1918 flu to today’s fight. UMKC’s Dr. Wai-Yim Ching is using NSF funds to accelerate coronavirus vaccine development using computer modeling. Dr. Jannette Berkley-Patton is leading the UMKC Health Equity Institute and coordinating university, government and community efforts to improve the lives of the underserved. Our premier health initiative, the NextGen Precision Health Institute, had its virtual Topping Off celebration this month, marking a milestone in our mission to address the greatest challenges facing our state.
"The NextGen Precision Health Institute had its virtual Topping Off celebration this month, marking a milestone in our mission to address the greatest challenges facing our state."
Bringing educational opportunities to students also remains a major priority. The Missouri 4-H Foundation, an MU Extension partner, awarded 72 scholarships to Missouri 4-H youths to help them continue advancing their educations. Missouri S&T—already highly regarded across the nation for high-quality experiential learning—is developing the Collaboratory, a new digital learning space that will bring new hands-on opportunities to humanities students this fall.As we continually work toward improving teaching and learning across the system, it’s rewarding to see our students go on to great achievements, such as when UMSL alumni Kevin L. Cox received a $1.4 million award to fund his postdoctoral research at the Danforth Plant Science Center.
We’re leveraging our statewide reach to make meaningful change in the lives of individuals and families, too. The Broadband Initiative is officially underway as faculty and researchers across the system join with community leaders in a pilot project that aims to bring an essential utility to Bollinger County. As Marshall Stewart, vice chancellor for extension and engagement, explains in a recent editorial, establishing broadband across the state is one of most impactful ways to improve life for Missourians. Another way we’re reaching people in their own communities is through the Presidential Engagement Fellows program. At this month’s board meeting, we announced the 2020-2021 Engagement Fellows, who will actively share their research discoveries in counties across the state.
"Establishing broadband across the state is one of the most impactful ways to improve life for Missourians."
These times require rapid adaptation with an eye to the future. The June board meeting included a discussion about the future of our governance structure as a university system. These talks are ongoing, as the Board works toward a solution that supports the long-term health of the entire UM System. No matter the outcome, partnership and collaboration among all four of our universities is more essential than ever.
I’m proud of the work that our dedicated faculty and staff do every single day across the state. In the face of considerable challenges, their incredible work makes a real difference in so many lives. If you have a story about how our community helps address the state’s greatest needs, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.