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Campus Highlights - December 2018

Dear University community,

As the year draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on the achievements of our University system in the pursuit of excellence. The many triumphs of our amazing students and faculty at all four universities have made a major impact in our communities and helped advance the opportunities for success and well-being in our state.

Our students achieved the incredible this year. The cooperative work of our student organizations demonstrates that an education in the UM System includes the opportunity to make a real-world impact. At MU, MizzouThon, a student-led philanthropic organization, pledged to raise $1.3 million for the MU Women’s and Children’s hospital, which comes after completing their previous 5-year $1 million pledge for this cause. At UMKC, the Association of Latin American Students continues to raise thousands of dollars in scholarships for Latinx (the gender neutral for Latino or Latina) students in higher education. The individual journeys of our students also inspire the nation, such as that of UMSL’s Aleathea Williams, who is propelling herself down a path of civic engagement in part through an intensive Washington D.C. internship. Our students also raised our national profile in other ways, including the Missouri S&T Miners victory in the Mineral Water Bowl, their first bowl game win in 68 years.

I’m also proud to say we’ve had great success in advancing opportunities for our students. In my last letter, I shared that KC Scholars had partnered with UMKC and the UM System to invest $20 million in the UM Promise & Opportunity Scholarships. This month, we announced another partnership with KC Scholars, this time working with MU and the UM System to make a total investment of $40 million in UM Promise & Opportunity Scholarships. We also established the Kit Bond International Scholars program, which will provide study abroad scholarships for students of MU and UMSL. As another sign that education in the UM System leads students to success, S&T was named the most underrated university in the country—as we continue to spread the word about the outstanding programs at S&T, it’s great to see the university’s merits being recognized nationwide. MU Extension has also been making a difference in the lives of students, in part through the awarding of more than 60 scholarships totaling $66,000 to 4-H youth throughout the state.

Another important part of what makes our University system excellent is our faculty. As we continue to celebrate Dr. George Smith’s Nobel Prize win, we also applaud the accomplishments of faculty across our University community. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) chose three faculty members from MU (Scott Peck, Johannes Schul and Shi-Jie Chen) and one from UMKC (Wai-Yim Ching) to be elected as Fellows, in recognition of their extraordinary achievements in advancing science. This year, some of our faculty were also elected as fellows to the National Academy of Inventors, the highest professional distinction for academic inventors. Awardees include two faculty members at MU (Elizabeth Loboa and Gary Stacy) and one at Missouri S&T (Jagannathan Sarangapani). I hope you will all join me in recognizing these and other faculty across the UM System for their many efforts that solidify our position among America’s leading research universities.

In the coming year, we will continue to advance our mission to improve life for Missourians by working together as one University system. Researchers at UMKC and UMSL are pursuing grant money to create collaborative solutions to address Missouri’s opioid overdose crisis, adding to the $15 million in grant funding they’ve already earned. On Dec. 6, all four universities were represented at the Science of Addiction Symposium, which demonstrated the UM System’s commitment to building a better relationship with Missouri’s citizenry. We’re also working to strengthen Missouri’s economy, through projects like MU Extension’s grant-funded program to train and sustain beginning farmers and ranchers in the state. This goal will also be furthered by the Buy Missouri program, which is designed to support business in the state and will launch in January. I am confident that we will maintain the momentum of these partnerships to bring success and prosperity to our community.

To finish, I want to congratulate the Tigers, Tritons, Miners and ‘Roos who graduated this month, including more than 220 online graduates! We look forward to seeing what your futures hold as you move forward and use the education facilitated by our excellent faculty members. Please see the stories below to learn about other accomplishments and innovative projects from faculty at our four universities. If you have a story to share about student and faculty successes or other news, please send it to


MU School of Social Work community clinic gives students hands-on learning experience
Kelli Canada, associate professor of social work, and Rebekah Freese, clinical instructor, supervise the Integrative Behavioral Health Clinic to provide free, quality mental health services for uninsured and underinsured individuals in the Columbia community. Graduate students provide counseling services under direct supervision and get career experience by maintaining clinic operations.


UMKC Researcher Named American Heart Association’s 2018 Distinguished Scientist
John Spertus, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine professor, received the American Heart Association’s 2018 Distinguished Scientist Award. The annual award recognizes several prominent scientists who have made significant, sustained contributions to advancing the understanding, management and treatment of cardiovascular disease and stroke.


Missouri S&T professor receives Thomas Fleming Award for Outstanding Military History Writing
The tale of American Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s stealth campaign for the 1944 Republican presidential nomination, as described by Missouri S&T military historian John C. McManus, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of history and political science, has received the Thomas Fleming Award for Outstanding Military History Writing. McManus’s article, “The Man Who Would Be President,” is the cover story of the Winter 2019 issue of MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History.


UMSL Computer science professor receives Gordon Bell Prize
University of Missouri-St. Louis Assistant Professor Sharlee Climer and a team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee were recognized for their achievement in high-performance computing. In June, the team’s supercomputer broke the exascale barrier, exceeding a speed of a billion computations per second, while computing Climer’s metric.

Reviewed 2019-04-18