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Campus Highlights - May 2021

Dear university community,

This month we celebrated one of the happiest and most satisfying events in higher education: commencement. We were proud to confer more than 10,000 degrees to Tigers, Roos, Miners and Tritons across the system, and hold graduation ceremonies honoring our 2020 graduates, too. This time of year always provides an opportunity to recognize our students’ success and accomplishments. This year even more than most, commencement is an important reminder of how the university’s mission makes a difference in student lives. I’m so grateful that I had the chance to share in the celebrations.

We also took time to recognize the remarkable contributions made by our staff each and every day. UMKC and Mizzou both held the 2021 Staff Awards event virtually, recognizing staff members who have kept the university going through significant obstacles.

"We were proud to confer more than 10,000 degrees to Tigers, Roos, Miners and Tritons across the system, and hold graduation ceremonies honoring our 2020 graduates, too."

There have been other causes for celebration recently as well. The MU College of Education received a $1 million gift from Gary J. and Patricia McIntosh Coles to establish scholarships for students preparing to become elementary school teachers. UMKC held its first public event since the beginning of the pandemic to welcome the newest UMKC Roo, a sculpture by talented artist Tom Corbin, to campus. Missouri S&T senior Ashley-Ann Davis published a book with advice for college students who want to successfully balance academic success with their social life. Also at Missouri S&T, Dr. Jonathan Obrist-Farner and Dr. Yun Seong Song each received the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Awards to support their research areas. UMSL researcher Dr. Xuemin (Sam) Wang received a $1.2 million award from the National Institutes of Health to study how metabolism affects the internal clock. The incredible productivity of our community never ceases to amaze me.

We’re also looking forward to another occasion for celebration: mark your calendars for the grand opening of the NextGen Precision Health building on Oct. 19. Keep up with the precision health conversation by attending the monthly NextGen Discovery Series. Register now for Dr. Wes Warren’s talk on the MU Genomics Core on June 8. If you missed Dr. Chanetsa’s talk “Team Science: A Value Proposition,” you can find a recording of the event on the NextGen Precision Health website. We are so pleased to have Dr. Russ Waitman, a dual appointment with UMKC and MU, serving as director of medial informatics for NextGen Precision Health. As a national leader in medical informatics, Waitman has brought his expertise here to harness the power of data and transform precision health.

"As a national leader in medical informatics, Russ Waitman has brought his expertise here to harness the power of data and transform precision health."

NextGen is one expression of our commitment to improve life in Missouri, but it’s not the only way we’re working to make a difference in the state. Mark your calendar for MU Extension’s public webinar “Bringing Broadband to Missouri” on June 23 to learn how we’re working toward more affordable and accessible broadband. Building connections—including connecting Missourians virtually—is essential to the future of the university and the state. It’s an honor to continue that work.

We also have the honor of taking part in Missouri’s Bicentennial Celebration through the “Together for ’21 Fest,” which will take place from Aug. 6-8. Festivities, including art demonstrations, children’s programming and more, will be held at the Center for Missouri Studies and on the MU campus in Columbia. We hope you’ll save the date and join us to honor the bicentennial, reflect on Missouri’s greatness and consider how the university’s work contributes to our shared history.

"We also have the honor of taking part in Missouri’s Bicentennial Celebration through the “Together for ’21 Fest,” which will take place August 6-8."

Our work would not be possible without higher education advocates and supporters. In particular, I’m grateful to the Missouri state legislature for their efforts this session to prioritize a budget and policies that invest in the university’s long-term future. Another exceptional supporter of the university was Fred Kummer, who passed last month at 92. The $300 million gift to Missouri S&T from Fred and June Kummer is the largest ever for higher education in Missouri. Though Fred has passed on, his legacy at the university and in the state will not be forgotten.

In closing, please enjoy this performance by the UMKC Conservatory. Incredibly moving performances like these are just one more way our community has a powerful impact. As always, please send your inspiring stories to president@umsystem.edu. I wish you all a great summer and look forward to a vibrant return in the fall!

Reviewed 2021-05-28