You belong here

Dec 1, 2022

A photo of Pres. Choi and MU administrators with staff and students from the Discovery Center and Learning Center.

(Left to right) John Middleton, associate vice president for academic affairs, Jim Spain, vice provost for undergraduate studies, Olo Masiza, student assistant, Chris Dobbs, Learning Center interim director, Claire Nyi,  student assistant, Cecilia Olivares, Transfer Center and Discovery Center director and President Choi.

The Student Success Center is our hub for academic excellence. Located on Lowry Mall, the center houses eight programs that support students throughout their time on campus.

Joined by fellow administrators John Middleton and Jim Spain, we met with leaders from two of those programs – Director Cecilia Olivares of the Discovery Center and Interim Director Chris Dobbs of the Learning Center – who shared their impact and discussed how we can better serve our incredible students.

This semester, 450 first-time college students and 53 transfer students arrived at Mizzou as “Exploring” majors. Those students are paired with an academic advisor from the Discovery Center to help them choose a path that fits their values. Their team also partners with the Career Center and other campus resources to help all students – whether finding or changing majors – to achieve their goals.

Building off that important work, the Learning Center teaches proven strategies for improving academic performance including: exam preparation, note-taking, self-care and wellness. This semester, their team (and nearly 80 student tutors and academic coaches) have hosted more than 3,000 drop-in sessions, with thousands more student contacts online.

A great example of our holistic support in action is Olo Masiza, a computer science and philosophy major who attended a university in South Africa before transferring to Mizzou. Olo visited the Student Success Center his first semester and is now a student assistant for the Discovery Center and Transfer Center. During our visit, he was joined at the front desk by another student assistant, Claire Nyi, a social work major. They are part of a team who answer questions and direct fellow students to helpful resources.

I enjoyed meeting Olo, Claire and everyone supporting student excellence.

— Mun

Saving lives with robotic assistance

Nov 28, 2022

A photo of Dr. Taishi Hirai using the CorPath GRX system as President Choi, Dr. Richard Barohn and President Dave Pacitti observe.

Dr. Taishi Hirai (seated) uses the CorPath® GRX System as President Choi, Dr. Richard J. Barohn and President Dave Pacitti observe.

Thanks to our strong partnership with Siemens Healthineers, MU Health Care became one of the first health systems in the state to offer robotic-assisted percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) – a technique to open blocked or narrowed arteries.

As part of our fall Alliance for Precision Health meeting, I joined Dr. Richard J. Barohn, executive vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the MU School of Medicine, and Dave Pacitti, president of Siemens Medical Solutions USA, Inc. and Head of the Americas, Siemens Healthineers, for a visit to our cardiac catheterization lab at University Hospital. Interventional cardiologist Dr. Taishi Hirai shared a live patient demonstration of the CorPath® GRX System from Siemens Healthineers.

CorPath GRX enables precise measurements down to the sub-millimeter level and offers automated movements to aid in device manipulation. This system also reduces physician exposure to radiation from imaging equipment used during the procedure.

Siemens Healthineers is an industry leader for lifesaving innovations. Our ongoing collaboration makes groundbreaking resources accessible to Missourians.

— Mun

Groundbreaking collaboration for children’s mental health

Nov 16, 2022

A photo of President Choi visiting the Missouri Prevention Science Institute in Hill Hall.

President Choi visiting the Missouri Prevention Science Institute in Hill Hall.

From their unassuming lab in Hill Hall, an interdisciplinary Mizzou team is changing how youth receive mental health support.

In 2019, the Missouri Prevention Science Institute  (MPSI) launched the National Center for Rural School Mental Health with a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences. Modeled off an MPSI program still active in 54 Boone County schools, they are now implementing evidence-based interventions in 25 rural schools across Missouri, Montana and Virginia and will be adding more over the next two years.

MPSI’s experts in education, social work and psychology are prolific researchers. Last year alone, their team published 83 journal articles, logged 8,831 citations and managed more than ten additional local, state and national projects. I stopped by to learn more about the work they do.

Joined by John Middleton, associate vice president for academic affairs, and Chris Riley-Tillman, dean of the College of Education and Human Development, we discussed amplifying MPSI’s already impressive outreach and bringing more life-changing resources to schools in Missouri and around the country.

— Mun

Engineering the future of Mizzou

Nov 14, 2022

A photo of President Choi talking with College of Engineering faculty and staff in Ketcham Auditorium.

President Choi talks with College of Engineering faculty and staff in Ketcham Auditorium.

For the next stop on my campus tour, I met with faculty and staff from the College of Engineering. Their work supporting our students’ growing interest across ten undergraduate degree programs is remarkable. I was trained as an engineer and feel kinship with those who study and further the field.

We discussed continuing that momentum with MizzouForward. To date, about 10% of new MizzouForward hires are from engineering – and we have plans to recruit even more.

I challenged faculty to share with national colleagues the many perks of MizzouForward, including startup investments in new faculty research. I also encouraged them to be ambassadors for Mizzou on campus and to advise students to consider graduate school early in their academic career.

As the college expands its influence, we will explore additional innovative collaborations – such as those with industry partners and the team at the MU Research Reactor (MURR) – which benefit our research mission and positively impact Missouri.

— Mun

Kinder student is Rhodes Scholar finalist

Nov 9, 2022

A photo of Paul Odu speaking in front of a crowd in Jesse Hall.

Paul Odu speaks at the announcement in Jesse Hall of a $25 million gift by Rich and Nancy Kinder and the Kinder Foundation to the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy.

Last week, we celebrated an incredible $25 million gift to the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy from Rich and Nancy Kinder and the Kinder Foundation – bringing their total contribution to $60 million.  Hall of a $25 million gift by Rich and Nancy Kinder and the Kinder Foundation to the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy.

One speaker at the announcement was Paul Odu, a senior from Kansas City, who learned the day before that he was a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship. In December, Paul will receive degrees in economics and constitutional democracy and has participated in numerous Kinder programs, including the Society of Fellows and off-campus opportunities in Washington, D.C. and Oxford, England. 

In his remarks, Paul shared how – as a son of first-generation Nigerian immigrants – the Kinder Institute helped open doors he never thought possible. Thanks to Rich and Nancy’s continuing generosity, the resources available to students like Paul are among the best anywhere. 

— Mun 

Improving access to student mental health resources

Nov 7, 2022

A photo of Christine Even with John Middleton and President Choi in the Counseling Center.

(Left to right) Christine Even with John Middleton and President Choi.

On the fourth floor of Strickland Hall, located next to the Student Center, is the recently relocated and newly expanded Counseling Center.

In the morning before opening to students, Christine Even, a psychologist and director of the Counseling Center, along with Jamie Shutter, executive director of student health & well-being, gave me and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs John Middleton a tour of their new, welcoming space. It is an impressive operation.

Dr. Even showed us some of the many improvements, which include a larger intake area to provide better privacy as well as a dedicated space for rapidly responding to students in need. The central location also makes access and referrals easier than ever before. No detail was overlooked – even the calming blue paint color was chosen after consultation with the community.

These resources are already making a difference. For example, the average time to schedule a first appointment has decreased from more than three weeks to within 48 hours. There is also a 24/7 crisis service where anyone who needs support or has concerns for a student can call 573-882-6601 and speak to a licensed clinician.

With 23 full-time clinicians, one part-time clinician, four full-time pre-doctoral interns and five clinical graduate assistants ready to help, the Counseling Center is another great example of our holistic commitment to student well-being.

— Mun

Celebrating First-Gen Tigers

Nov 3, 2022

A photo of Brooke Weiler in front of the Capitol in Jefferson City.

Brooke Weiler after participating in the 2022 Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol in Jefferson City.

On Nov. 8, many academic units, Social Justice Centers and partners across campus are uniting to mark national First-Generation College Celebration Day.

This semester, 21.8% of those new to Mizzou are first gen. For transfers, the number increases to 35.2%. To address common challenges these students face, we have numerous resources that offer support and encouragement throughout their college career.

Brooke Weiler, a senior biochemistry and psychology major, is one of many first-gen students thriving at Mizzou. Her freshmen year, Brooke connected with a faculty mentor who jumpstarted her interest in undergraduate research. Brooke hopes to pay it forward by becoming a biochemistry professor and mentoring others who are first generation.

Our students show the power of Mizzou to change lives and inspire tomorrow’s leaders. Visit the First Gen at Mizzou site for a full list of the day’s events. Additionally, all week anyone can pick up first-gen stickers and buttons in the Student Success Center and the Center for Student Involvement located on the second floor of the MU Student Center.

— Mun

Expanding knowledge with A&S

Nov 2, 2022

A photo of President Choi speaking with Professor D Cornelison.

President Choi speaks with D Cornelison, professor of biological sciences, after the meeting.

Throughout the year, I’ve been meeting with faculty, staff and leadership from each of our 13 schools and colleges to see how we can better support their work. Next up was the College of Arts & Science – the largest academic unit on campus.

A&S encompasses more than 40 departments and programs, including museums and a literary magazine, that pursue a wide range of research and creative works to expand our understanding of the world. This semester, around 20% of freshmen began their time at Mizzou in A&S.

As a land-grant university, we have the privilege of translating our research and teaching directly from campus to Missouri. With more than 700 faculty and staff representing many areas of expertise, A&S is a great example of our breadth and impact.

I was grateful for the open discussion and the opportunity to share how each person can help recruit new students, contribute to advancement efforts and build a welcoming campus for all.

— Mun

J-School collaboration receives national spotlight

Oct 27, 2022

A photo of a bridge over the Mississippi River at Hannibal.

Mississippi River at Hannibal.

A new reporting network headquartered at the University of Missouri School of Journalism is receiving national attention, including a feature on NPR.

The story is adapted from a five-part multimedia series by the Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk that looks at the impact of increased rainfall in the region.

Launched last year with a $1.4 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation, the Ag & Water Desk is a collaboration between the J-School, Reynolds Journalism Institute, Report for America and more than 10 other organizations and newsrooms around the country. The Desk’s network of reporters investigates complex issues facing communities in the river basin – a massive area stretching from Idaho to New York and Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. The series, “When it Rains,” is the team’s first collaborative project.

The Ag & Water Desk puts students at the center of important issues facing our country. It’s part of our commitment to the Missouri Method of experiential learning that makes a difference.

— Mun

Supporting accomplished student scholars

Oct 26, 2022

A photo of Catherine Rymph, interim director, presenting President Choi with Honors College swag.

Catherine Rymph, interim director, presents President Choi with Honors College swag.

Mizzou’s top students can compete with the best from any university. Central to recruiting and encouraging these high-achieving Tigers is our Honors College.

To think through ways to better support their work and expand access for more students, John Middleton, associate vice president for academic affairs, and I recently met with their faculty and staff. Catherine Rymph, interim director, gave us a tour of their space in Lowry Hall – featuring student art and photography.

This semester, more than 2,700 students are enrolled in the Honors College. Affiliated faculty teach classes that inspire interdisciplinary discovery, while academic advisors help students connect with valuable resources such as prestigious fellowship opportunities. Among many other initiatives, the Honors College administers the Missouri Scholars Academy, a three-week summer program that introduces some of the state’s top high school students to our campus community.

The work of the Honors College is vital to the university and we appreciate their dedicated staff.

— Mun