Dear university community,
I’m very grateful to the many faculty, staff and students who, each day, are supporting safety at our universities. Without your dedication, the important work of the university would not continue. At this month’s Board of Curator’s meeting, the chancellors and I presented an update on our strategic initiatives and COVID-19 response. We’ve made notable progress on adoption by our communities of safety protocols and practices, but our vigilance must continue until the pandemic is over so that we can safely maintain our vital educational mission. As we move forward, our collective efforts will foster our success and excellence in teaching, research and service.
This month’s meeting also included the announcement of the Michael A. Middleton Center for Race, Citizenship and Justice at MU. I’m very excited for the interdisciplinary research center to begin work under the leadership of MU faculty members Stephanie Shonekan and S. David Mitchell. The center’s name honors MU School of Law alum, pioneering civil rights lawyer and former UM System interim president Michael Middleton.
There is so much inspiration to be found in those who came before us. Recently, I reflected on the example of George Mueller, a Missouri S&T alum who made the 1969 moon landing possible. Mueller brought incredible innovation to NASA, identifying where change was needed and bringing together the best teams for the job. His example shows that, through collaboration and strategy, we can accomplish what might seem impossible.
This lesson is echoed by the individuals and groups systemwide who accomplish astonishing things. At MU, Kathleen Quinn was awarded $2.8 million (on top of a nearly $5 million award last year), which will be used to support the work of the School of Medicine and MU Extension to improve rural health care through new programs and upgraded equipment. At UMKC, the Bloch School of Management is teaming up with Kansas City organization Central Exchange to enhance networking and leadership development opportunities for women. At Missouri S&T, the Sunderland Foundation donated $1 million to support research into next-generation construction methods that have the potential to transform the nation. UMSL’s Jerome Morris received the $1 million Lyle M. Spencer Research Award to Transform Education to continue his work with predominantly Black school districts and associated communities in the St. Louis region. MU Extension is leading the way in statewide planning efforts to leverage Missouri’s agricultural sector which will strengthen Missouri’s workforce and economy in the years ahead. These activities and many others across the system touch so many lives throughout Missouri, the nation and the world each day. We’ll be celebrating and showcasing our impact during Engagement Week from October 26-30. You can see the schedule of events and register at this link.
Our students also demonstrate exceptional commitment to public service and community impact. On September 1, I participated in a virtual ceremony to recognize the winners of the Chang-Lin Tien Scholarship. Award winners provide civic leadership through a variety of activities, including founding major campus organizations, supporting at-risk students, increasing cultural visibility and much more. I am very proud of our incredible students and look forward to watching them hone their skills for the benefit of our society.
Our universities continue to be public centers of learning that aim to impact society. This month, the UM System co-hosted the panel discussion “Democracy and the Informed Citizen,“ which sought to deepen the connections between democracy, the humanities, journalism and an informed society. The event was an important reminder of the university’s role in uniting ideologically diverse communities to support a healthy democracy.
"The UM System co-hosted the panel discussion "Democracy and the Informed Citizen" which sought to deepen the connections between democracy, the humanities, journalism and an informed society."