Dear University community,
Together, we’ve recently experienced changes that have deeply disrupted our way of life. This month’s commencement was a return to the cherished tradition of recognizing the hard work and incredible accomplishments of our graduates, although it looked quite a bit different than what we’ve seen in the past. We recognized our graduating Tigers, Roos, Miners and Tritons with virtual celebrations and creative festivities. Nothing could stop the celebration of our graduates, just as nothing will stop them from pursuing their ambitions. Amidst a situation unlike any other in living memory, a new generation of leaders is stepping forward to shape society. In a recent op-ed published in the Kansas City Star, I commend our students for navigating these exceptional challenges and also share some of the university’s responses. We’re getting through this together, and we are so proud of our graduates. Congratulations, Class of 2020!
"We recognized our graduating Tigers, Roos, Miners and Tritons with virtual celebrations and creative festivities."
While celebrating the achievements of the moment, we’re also looking toward the future, with continued preparations to resume in-person teaching, learning, research and engagement activities for the fall. Our plans will integrate guidelines from health officials and are designed to be adaptable to a changing environment. I am confident that we have the resilience to safely continue our critical missions of supporting student success, transformative research and meaningful engagement. A great deal of that work has continued even throughout the COVID-19 situation, and I am so proud of our community for their remarkable achievements. MU researchers are determining how a transition to online learning affects student outcomes, showing that success is possible with high-quality online learning. Student entrepreneurship education is going strong at UMKC, where the UMKC Enactus team just took 2nd place and won several other awards at a national pitch competition that featured more than 400 teams.
Our research to meet the state’s greatest needs also continues. UMSL researchers Drs. Rachel Winograd and Claire Wood have kept a close eye on how COVID-19 has impacted opioid addiction and treatment. Dr. Kamal Khayat from Missouri S&T was awarded the 2020 Philleo Award for his infrastructure engineering research that is innovating concrete technologies. Our highest research priority, the NextGen Precision Health Initiative, is now supported by a new NextGen Advisory Board dedicated to advocacy and securing financial support. Construction of the NextGen Institute is on schedule, and I hope you will join me for the virtual Topping Off Ceremony that will coincide with the Board of Curators meeting on June 18-19.
"Business and law school deans from all four UM System universities held a roundtable discussion with community leaders."
We also continue to engage our communities by working together through major challenges. On May 21, business and law school deans from all four UM System universities held a roundtable discussion with community leaders about the available during the reopening of Missouri’s economy. To enrich and improve our campuses and communities, MU, UMKC, Missouri S&T and UMSL are making their diversity-related virtual programming available to all faculty and staff systemwide this summer. We have also strengthened the mental health services available to those in need, making sure that Missourians are supported through the challenges they face.
"The beauty of this music reminds me of the resilient spirit found throughout the system, and the remarkable things we can accomplish by working together."
To close, I’d like to share with you two works by members of our UM System community. The first, a Mizzou-born documentary aiming to combat the growing suicide epidemic, called "Wake Up," was invited to hold its official world premiere on Thursday June 4 at the We Are One Global Film Festival (WAO). WAO is an unprecedented 10-day online film festival curated by 20 of the largest film festivals in the world, including Tribeca, Sundance, Cannes and more. You can see the "Wake Up" on Thursday, June 4, at 5:45 p.m. CST. After the live premiere, the film will also be available on demand until June 11.
The second is a special performance by the UMKC Conservatory Concert Choir for the UM System community. This performance is part of a series that features singers from all four universities. The beauty of this music reminds me of the resilient spirit found throughout our system, and the remarkable things we accomplish by working together. If you have a story about an accomplishment in our community, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mun Y. Choi, president