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Campus Highlights - June 2018

Dear colleagues,

Though we’re in the midst of summer, the month of June held many exciting events and achievements for the University of Missouri System. On June 7, Missouri S&T reaffirmed a commitment to impeccable academic credentials when it moved its admissions status to “highly selective,” a request recognized and approved by the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education. June 20 had our University community welcoming Dr. C. Mauli Agrawal on his first day as UMKC chancellor. Finally, June 21 held two notable events, with  MU announcing Dr. Latha Ramchand as its next provost and UMSL interns connecting with promising startups as part of the Ameren Accelerator cohort.

June was also a month of systemwide successes that have the opportunity to touch not only our faculty, staff and students, but each and every Missourian. First, just one year after we made a collective commitment to reducing the cost of education for our students, the UM System was selected as an OpenStax OER Institutional Partnership Program.  Though we’ve already made great strides in adopting open educational resources systemwide, our faculty continue to deliver on this commitment. At Missouri S&T, Associate Professor of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering Dr. Cesar Mendoza went from using a $145 textbook in his Civil Engineering 3330 class to a $35 textbook, saving his roughly 210 students per year a total of about $23,000. UMKC Adjunct Instructor Lara Mabry, who teaches an online introduction to biology course, uses a range of OER materials in her class, including an online textbook available through OpenStax. We’re even leading the way by developing our own instructional materials to take the place of textbooks that typically cost several hundred dollars each. For example, MU Professor Amy J. Schmitz and Electronic Services Librarian Cindy Bassett have developed the law school’s first Open Educational Resource for Dispute Resolution in the Digital Age, a resource Schmitz created and adapted for her class from existing, freely available resources.

Our system also made great strides toward collaborating to reach new health solutions for the citizens of Missouri and the world at the Precision Medicine Summit, hosted at MU. The summit brought together more than 180 participants, including faculty researchers and medical professionals from across the UM System, to uncover synergies that will lead to effective collaborations and fundamental research systemwide. You can view session one and session two of the summit on the University's YouTube channel.

While it is important we recognize our achievements as a system, it is also imperative we recognize the effort and innovation we see at each university, every day. During the annual Board of Curators meeting, the board and I had the opportunity to host an Evening of Presidential Honors to appreciate some of the best and brightest faculty systemwide. Included in the ceremony were our recent Curators’ Distinguished Professors and Teaching Professors, the inaugural class of Presidential Engagement Fellows and recipients of this year’s President’s Awards. Those honorees include:

Additionally, we recognized Bea Doheny, a recent MU graduate, as our Student Entrepreneur of the Year. To see the photos from the event, please visit our Flickr account.

I am so proud of our faculty, staff and students who work so hard year-round, and I can confidently say our Board of Curators shares these sentiments. Last week, Board Chair Steelman shared a statement about the events that took place at Mizzou in 2015. Though the message notes the positive changes at MU, it’s primary message is this: together, our four universities and the system are transforming; we’re creating a more resilient and accountable university and that is something of which we can all be proud. Below, you will find additional updates from each of our universities, including stories focused on student success, research breakthroughs and meaningful engagement. If you have an update or story to share, please send it to


Mun Y. Choi, president
UM System


Exceptional graduating students honored at awards ceremonies
UMKC recognized 19 graduating students at the spring 2018 Vice Chancellor’s Honors Breakfast for maintaining high academic achievements while demonstrating a commitment to community service and leadership.


Professor promotes materials of tomorrow
As a boy, Dr. Joseph Newkirk was fascinated by artwork that depicted a sleek, space-age future of flying cars and robotic servants – the stuff of TV shows like The Jetsons. Today, he’s thinking about what future materials will be needed to transport people to Mars or make robots stronger.


UMSL part of group receiving grant from Lumina Foundation to make St. Louis a ‘Talent Hub’
$275,000 grant from the Lumina Foundation is intended to aid efforts in the St. Louis region to eliminate degree completion gaps for low-income and African American traditional-age students. The St. Louis Talent Hub is a collaboration led by St. Louis Graduates, a network of K-12 and higher education, youth-serving nonprofit organizations, businesses and philanthropies dedicated to transforming lives through postsecondary education equity.


Real world experience: Symphony performs works by student composers
Three student composers in the MU School of Music recently had an opportunity to have their compositions performed by an ensemble of world-class musicians. The performance at Powell Hall in St. Louis marked the culmination of a year-long collaboration between the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and the Mizzou New Music Initiative, funded by Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation.

Reviewed 2019-04-18