Men’s basketball flying high

Mar 15 2021

A photo of Mizzou's Dru Smith taking on Georgia's K.D. Johnson in the second round of the 2021 SEC Tournament. Mizzou won 73-70 (photo courtesy of Zach Bland, Mizzou Athletics).

Mizzou’s Dru Smith taking on Georgia’s K.D. Johnson in the second round of the 2021 SEC Tournament. Mizzou won 73-70 (photo courtesy of Zach Bland, Mizzou Athletics).

Up until yesterday, our Mizzou men’s basketball team had received two berths to the NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday in seven years. But that’s old news. Now, our Tigers are headed into 2021 March Madness as the #9 seed in the West Region! They face Oklahoma at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Saturday.

I’m so proud of our student-athletes for their perseverance and success in what has been arguably the most challenging year for college sports. I also want to thank Coach Cuonzo Martin and his staff for everything they’ve done to support our players and achieve this goal.

A photo of Coach Cuonzo Martin and his staff during during the Missouri-Georgia game, March 12, 2021 (photo courtesy of Zach Bland, Mizzou Athletics).

Coach Cuonzo Martin and his staff during the Missouri-Georgia game, March 12, 2021 (photo courtesy of Zach Bland, Mizzou Athletics).

I’ve had the opportunity to attend most of our men’s basketball games this season, and let me tell you: This team is bringing immense talent, ambition and commitment to the tournament. I can’t wait to see them beat Oklahoma!

MIZ!

— Mun

Engaging and supporting our communities

Mar 9 2021

A photo of Kappa Alpha Theta members showing their support for the CASA program.

Kappa Alpha Theta members showing their support for the CASA program.

While I was riding my moped around campus on Saturday, I noticed the colorful displays and posters at the Kappa Alpha Theta house. There, the Theta women were celebrating their support for the CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) program, having raised over $16,000 this past year. CASA supports and promotes court-appointed advocates for abused or neglected children, and its volunteers work closely with children to find a safe, permanent home that gives children the opportunity to thrive.

Along with the work happening throughout many other student-run and student-supported organizations and clinics — including Mizzou Alternative Breaks, Tiger Pantry and our COVID-19 vaccination clinics — our students improve the lives of others who are in great need. I am so proud of their commitment to this charge. It’s yet another illustration of how Mizzou works to fulfill its mission of engagement and service every day.

— Mun

Educating students to become tomorrow’s leaders, part 2

Mar 5 2021

A photo of an outdoor class from March 2021.

An outdoor class, March 2021.

In my last post, I talked about the characteristics found in successful leaders and how Mizzou is working to enhance its learning models. The pandemic has brought a need for us to adapt quickly, for two main reasons:

  1. We simply can’t conduct our educational activities in the same way we did before the pandemic; and
  2. These disruptions will have a more long-lasting and widespread effect than many of us initially thought.

While Mizzou was always working toward more innovative learning strategies, the pandemic accelerated these developments. Think about it this way: It’s like we had been using a flashlight to search for a specific package in a dark warehouse — then suddenly, someone turned on the lights.

Going forward, I believe we can leverage these lessons toward greater progress:

  • Our students are incredibly resilient, collaborative, adaptable and technologically savvy. Now we need to harness these characteristics as we rethink our learning models.
  • The extra miles that our faculty invested in educating our students during the pandemic demonstrates their commitment to our teaching mission.
  • The gap in digital access is real and problematic. By addressing this gap, we can further integrate digital tools into our curriculums as we build a global educational environment that promotes inclusive excellence in our living, learning and working.
  • The post-pandemic workforce will look very different, including how people work and what kind of work they do. We must prepare our students to navigate those changes not just for the time they graduate, but also for the rest of their lives.

— Mun

Educating students to become tomorrow’s leaders

Mar 2 2021

A photo of students spending time outside around Francis Quadrangle, Feb. 23, 2021.

Students spend time outside around Francis Quadrangle, Feb. 23, 2021.

As Mizzou continues to evolve throughout its 182-year history, our approach to education also has to evolve. We should constantly be thinking about our current models of learning to figure out what’s still working, what could be improved and why yesterday’s success may no longer work in tomorrow’s world.

The following are some of the characteristics that I’ve found in successful leaders. In sum, they:

  • Exhibit professionalism, work ethics and integrity every day​
  • Exhibit leadership, regardless of their role in an organization
  • Embrace diversity and inclusion for all
  • Embrace freedom of expression for all
  • Embrace intercultural fluency
  • Employ critical thinking
  • Engage in civil discourse

Regardless of one’s chosen discipline, research from the National Association of Colleges and Employers shows that these soft skills help students find more success in the workforce. More success in the workforce equals a greater impact on our communities, and an overall improved way of life for all. Ensuring that we educate students to be successful isn’t just part of who we are. It’s the beating heart of our existence.

— Mun

Teaching excellence during the pandemic

Feb 26 2021

A photo of Dr. Kristi Arends-Ward and Marcus James of Goddard High School in Goddard, Ks.

(Left to right) Dr. Kristi Arends-Ward and Marcus James of Goddard High School in Goddard, Ks.

More than ever, we have relied on teachers to support and continue the education of children during this pandemic. Recently, the leadership of Goddard High School in Goddard, Kansas reached out to me because they wanted to recognize their outstanding educators for overcoming adversity and asked the teachers’ alma maters to join in the celebration.

It is my pleasure to help honor two Mizzou alumni who are not just succeeding in this historic educational environment, but who are also excelling. Marcus James ’04, who majored in secondary education and was a student-athlete in both track & field and football, is a social studies teacher and the girl’s head basketball coach. Dr. Kristi Arends-Ward ’00, who double majored in English and interdisciplinary studies, is a teacher in the English Language Arts Department.

The commitment of Mr. James and Dr. Arends-Ward puts our core values of Respect, Responsibility, Discovery and Excellence to work in the classrooms of south central Kansas. I am so proud of the time they spent at Mizzou and of the work they are doing to carry our university’s mission forward.

— Mun

Henry Kirklin Plant Sciences Learning Lab dedication

Feb 24 2021

This afternoon, I have the privilege to attend the dedication of the new Henry Kirklin Plant Sciences Learning Laboratory in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. I’ll join several of Mr. Kirklin’s family members as we celebrate a pioneering educator for the University of Missouri. Mr. Kirklin, who is often noted as the university’s first Black teacher, taught our CAFNR students.

It’s an honor to recognize such an important man in our university’s history. His vision for education was comprehensive. He believed not only in the immediate value of learning, but also in its generational value. We see that in the legacy he left for Mizzou. And we’re committed to building on that legacy as we reaffirm hands-on learning and forge new partnerships that connect our students to the broader community.

— Mun

Why Mizzou is different

Feb 19 2021

A chart showing University of Missouri System per capita funding compared to other universities in Missouri.

University of Missouri System per capita funding compared to other universities in Missouri.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the university’s mission lately and the role we play for Missouri. It’s often said that UM System universities receive more funding than any other in Missouri. That’s true, but we’re expected to deliver much more. If we carve out the special missions of research, professional degrees and extension that are expected of UM universities, the per capita state funding for our universities is the lowest in the state and one of the lowest in the United States.

As the only public, land-grant, flagship, AAU institution in the state, Mizzou is charged with not only providing world-class education and research, but also supporting and enhancing our statewide communities through extension and engagement activities. It’s a charge that no other public institution in Missouri has. And it’s one that we carry out with great pride, responsibility and excellence.

The physicians and nurses that we’ve educated continue to lead the fight against COVID all across the state, ensuring community health and safety while leading vaccine distribution. Our engineers maintain and grow Missouri’s infrastructure. We are seeing firsthand just how critical that is as other parts of the country such as Texas navigate immense infrastructure challenges and widespread community hardship.

Our veterinarians drive innovation in treatment and diagnosis. Our lawyers are leaders in their field. Our teachers educate the next generation. And our scholars — produced in fields ranging from history and journalism to philosophy and chemistry — continue to support a civil and equitable society through ideas, discoveries and culture.

No other public university in Missouri contributes to our state the way Mizzou does. It’s impressive to see how we deliver such impact. But to achieve greater excellence through our strategic plan, growing revenues will be key. Because looking forward, we remain committed to doing even more.

— Mun

Leaders of tomorrow

Feb 16 2021

A picture of the “Leadership Laboratory” land navigation and convoy debrief on the left. A picture of Drill and Ceremonies on the right.

(Left) The “Leadership Laboratory” land navigation and convoy debrief being led by Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Braeden Ede. (Right) Cadet Third Class Jared Dunn (on the left) and Cadet Third Class Tyler Moore taking place in a Drill and Ceremonies.

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to watch Space Force Captain Andrew Forsythe and his team of 95 Air Force ROTC Cadets (Detachment 440) conduct part of their training regimen on Francis Quadrangle. Captain Forsythe told me that the training regimen they developed teaches a blend of professionalism, physical fitness and management skills that helps cadets apply the principles of leadership both inside and outside the classroom. Even with the challenges of the pandemic, they have continued their mission of helping students become leaders of character.

One of the ways AFROTC Detachment 440 adapted to COVID-19 requirements was by breaking that training session audience into smaller groups, which also enhanced the personalization and effectiveness of each lesson. In addition, they’ve expanded their relationship with crosstown schools and military installations to provide more opportunities that accommodate social distancing requirements and boost hands-on experiences. For example, the AFROTC Detachment 440 Cadet Mission Support Group conducted a “Leadership Laboratory” at the end of January to train land navigation and convoy operations between the University of Central Missouri and Whiteman Air Force Base.

Together with the Army and Navy ROTC programs, MU has one of the finest group of cadets and midshipmen in the country. I’m so proud of their commitment to achieving excellence in their studies and in their training as they prepare to protect and defend our country.

— Mun

Student-athlete excellence

Feb 11 2021

I’m so proud of our MU student-athletes.

A university record 95 of them were recently selected for the Fall SEC Academic Honor Roll. Not only that — the Mizzou Wrestling team is currently the #5 ranked team in the country; the Mizzou Men’s Basketball team is ranked #10, the highest ranked team in the SEC; and the Mizzou Volleyball team is ranked #16.

It’s clear that our student-athletes achieve excellence in the classroom, laboratories and studios as well as in athletic competitions. They continue to succeed at the highest level even when faced with the challenges of this pandemic. Let’s take a moment to celebrate their victories (and the work of their coaches and advisors) in every shape and form.

MIZ!

— Mun

 

Leading the vaccination charge

Feb 9 2021

This is a photo showing MU Health Care professionals staffing the vaccination site.

(Clockwise from top left): Rob Knodell, deputy chief of staff to Governor Mike Parson; Brad Myers, executive director of pharmacy and laboratory services at MU Health Care; Curator Robin Wenneker; Randall Williams, director of the Department of Health and Senior Services; and Jonathan Curtright, CEO of MU Health Care. Emily Beath, a nurse at the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute, and her 5-month-old son, Noah, arriving for Emily’s vaccination. A picture of the vaccination site. Ebony Scoff (right), Angela Holt and Paige Quilty, all MU Health Care customer service professionals staffing registration.

This past Saturday I visited the MU Health Care Vaccination Clinic at the Walsworth Family Columns Club at Faurot Field. The dedicated group of health care professionals were busy at work beginning at 7 a.m. to serve Missourians. Many of the people being vaccinated were older Missourians and health care professionals.

I was so impressed with the precision and efficiency of the process, which vaccinated more than 2,000 people that day (by the way, the capacity is 5,760 people per day). Led by an excellent team under the direction of Dr. Brad Myers, executive director of pharmacy and laboratory services at MU Health Care, the sequence was timed so that patients can register and be completed with their vaccination within 10 minutes. The vaccination will keep our community healthy and allow us to enjoy more social activities as we continue to take steps forward in this pandemic.

Until then, wear your face coverings, practice social distancing, wash your hands and stay safe.

— Mun