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Campus Highlights - February 2018

Dear Friends of the University:

I have great news to share! Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of reporting that admissions applications to all four campuses are up dramatically for both freshmen and transfer students compared to this time last year, and numbers continue to rise each week. Also, this month, I had the opportunity to welcome the next chancellor for the UMKC campus, Dr. Mauli Agrawal, who will join us in our work starting June 20, 2018. Dr. Agrawal currently serves as interim provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of Texas San Antonio.

Following the FY19 budget proposal, support for public higher education has been the center of many discussions in Jefferson City and across the state. The chancellors and I have visited with legislators and other elected officials in their home districts as well as at the Capitol, and at each engagement we’ve made a strong case for restoration of the proposed cuts to our appropriations and collaborative programs, as well as relief from SB389. Elected officials have responded favorably to our efforts and expressed their strong support. To read about these interactions and the accompanying testimonies, please visit our  Government Relations Updates website.

On February 28, we are hosting the Missouri General Assembly at our inaugural Legislative Showcase event designed to show, not just tell, our legislators the exciting things happening across our four campuses. The event will offer interactive experiences and conversations about our: groundbreaking research and innovation; cutting-edge programs in community-based engagement; methods for educating and training the next generation of students who will contribute to Missouri’s economy; delivery of vital healthcare to rural counties; and partnerships with industries and other institutions.

Following The Chronicle of Higher Education’s article about the health disparities in rural Missouri, other university leaders across the nation joined me in the conversation and agree that higher education is part of the solution. We know that a college degree confers many benefits, including a longer, healthier and more financially-secure life. As a university president, I have the privilege of meeting people every day who have benefited from the transformational power of higher education. That is something I want for all Missourians. Remember to share your personal story about the positive impact our University has made in your life by sending it to

One of my favorite things to do is to meet students and learn about their experiences on our campuses. I recently had the pleasure of meeting James Bohnett. James is a senior who’ll graduate with FOUR bachelor’s degrees (in political science, economics, mathematics and statistics). He’s also an awesome basketball player. You can read about his classroom and court prowess on the MU Student Affairs webpage. He’s truly an amazing individual and I’m so pleased that he’s part of our UM family of students. We have a lot of important work ahead, but, I remain encouraged by all the progress we have made.

As always, thank you for your continued support for and dedication to our University.

Mun Choi, President
University of Missouri System

Campus Highlights photo collage - February, 2018


School of Nursing and Health Studies receives $8 Million grant to tackle opioid crisis
The Collaborative to Advance Health Services at the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies, in partnership with the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, has been awarded an $8 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to support primary-care providers in the prevention and treatment of opioid use disorders. The grant is in response to a national movement in October declaring America’s opioid epidemic a public-health emergency.

Thin is in? Think again
A UMKC doctoral student’s research on what constitutes the ideal female figure is earning media coverage around the globe. Frances Bozsik, who is working to complete a Clinical Health Psychology Ph.D. in 2020, said the study “reflects the trend people are noticing that fitness and nutrition – vs. thinness – is the ideal.” Bozsik gives a lot of credit to her UMKC mentor and co-author on the journal, Jennifer Lundgren, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor in the Department of Psychology.

UMKC engineering professor recognized for contributions to design of computer networks
UMKC Curators’ Distinguished Professor Deepankar Medhi has been named an IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Fellow. Medhi, of the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering, is being recognized for his contributions to optimization and design of computer-communication networks. Medhi’s research contributions, spanning over 25 years, have influenced the advancement and application of engineering and had a lasting impact on computer science.

School of Nursing and Health Studies achieves high national ranking sixth year in a row
The UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies ranked No. 18 among the nation’s best online graduate nursing programs of 2018 by U.S. News & World Report, earning a Top 25 ranking for the sixth year in a row. UMKC’s ranking is the highest of any university in Missouri and the surrounding states of Nebraska, Iowa, Arkansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma. In 2017, UMKC also ranked high at No. 21.


S&T student gets to test the training system in a new Boeing aircraft 
Missouri S&T student Katie Frogge of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, recently became one of the first people to get an inside look at a new Boeing aircraft and to test its advanced training system. “It was so incredible to be one of the first people to experience the T-X firsthand,” says the sophomore aerospace engineering major.

S&T chemist envisions capturing energy from finger movements to power devices 
Imagine that every time you texted on your smartphone, you created electric power to run your device instead of sapping its battery. That’s the scenario envisioned by Dr. Vadym Mochalin, associate professor of chemistry at Missouri S&T, who is studying a new family of two-dimensional metal carbides, known as MXenes, to harvest wasted frictional energy from muscle contractions – from typing to walking or running.

New cybersecurity minors and certificates prepare Missouri S&T business, IST students
Missouri S&T recently added new cybersecurity offerings to its business and information technology curriculum to better prepare students for careers in this growing field. Students now may pursue a minor in cybersecurity and information assurance as well as a graduate certificate in cybersecurity through the business and information technology department.

Robotics competitions come to Rolla
Missouri S&T once again plays host to the VEX robotics championship for middle- and high-school students from Missouri and other Midwestern states. VEX is a nationwide robotics competition and was held Saturday, Feb. 17, at S&T’s Student Recreation Center and the adjoining Gale Bullman Building. This week, S&T hosts the statewide FIRST Tech Challenge robotics championship.


Honors College Dean
UMSL hired Edward Munn Sanchez, assistant dean for academic affairs and diversity at the University of South Carolina Honors College, to lead the Pierre Laclede Honors College beginning on August 1, 2018. Sanchez’s academic background is in philosophy, and he will be appointed as a teaching professor in UMSL’s Department of Philosophy. He earned his PhD and master’s degree from Emory University and completed his undergraduate work at Cornell College with an emphasis in history and Greek studies.

Celebrating Black History Month
UMSL Daily revisits 10 inspiring stories from everyday people in our campus community as the university celebrates Black History Month. This list of talented Tritons includes entrepreneurs, humanitarians, musicians and educators. Several UMSL organizations are also joining the celebration with an intriguing lineup of events throughout the month. 

Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice recognized for online bachelor’s program
The website College Choice recently ranked UMSL’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice eighth nationally on its list of the 50 Best Online Criminal Justice Degrees. UMSL scored high on value with the lowest net price of any school in the top 10.

Restoring hope for the Amazon rainforest
PhD candidate Estefania Fernandez Barrancos is researching restoration ecology with financial support from the Whitney R. Harris World Ecology Center at UMSL. She is the latest student to receive a Christensen Fund Graduate Fellowship in Plant Conversation.


Learn to Lead: Novak Leadership Institute at MU to fill leadership gap
David Novak, co-founder and former CEO of Yum! Brands, promised himself that he would make “recognition” a core value in any organization he was part of. That decision would be one of many leadership choices he made as he rose through the corporate ranks, an ascent that saw him go from Missouri School of Journalism graduate to advertising copywriter to highly regarded co-founder and CEO of Yum! Brands, a Fortune 500 company. Novak shares what drives him and why he decided to launch at Novak Leadership Institute at MU in this new profile.

MU Research Reactor supplies radioisotope for new FDA approved cancer therapy
More than 15 years ago, scientists at MU’s Research Reactor (MURR®) identified promising properties of the radioisotope lutetium-177 (Lu-177), which can be used to treat cancer. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved a Lu-177 based drug, Lutathera® (lutetium Lu 177 dotatate), to treat certain types of tumors that can occur in the gastrointestinal tract and pancreas. MURR is the sole U.S. supplier of Lu-177 for use in Lutathera®, which was developed by Advanced Accelerator Applications, S.A., a Novartis company.

In search of belonging: Ashley Yong finds confidence in community and purpose in involvement
Ashley Yong, a strategic communication major, plans to pursue a master’s degree in student affairs after graduation. She wants to help others find the same sense of belonging in their college experience as she has found in hers. “I truly believe that the most important thing in life is the relationships we build,” she says. “If I can build even small relationships — to make someone smile — that’s huge to me.”

Becoming good citizens: Office of Participatory Democracy provides “Good Training for Life”
Bill Horner, a teaching professor of political science, has created the Office of Participatory Democracy to lend support to activities that give students the opportunity to apply lessons learned in the classroom to more practical situations. “The whole objective, in my mind, was that it’s a way to help recruit students,” Horner says. “We have a lot of students who like to do these activities, especially here in Columbia.”

Campus Highlights - February, 2018

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Reviewed 2019-04-18