Welcoming Senator Roy Blunt

Apr 6 2021

A photo of the NextGen Precision Health facility as of March 26, 2021.

The NextGen Precision Health facility as of March 26, 2021.

We are honored to host U.S. Senator Roy Blunt on our Mizzou campus on Wednesday of this week. We are giving him a tour of the MU Health Care vaccination clinic and then hosting a roundtable discussion with university leaders and faculty members on the health challenges facing our state.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Mizzou has been committed to protecting the health of our local and statewide communities. The state of Missouri has designated MU Health Care as one of three sites in the mid-Missouri region (Region F) to receive a vaccine allocation intended to provide high-volume community vaccination. We are honored to be charged with this responsibility. Being a national leader in health care means stepping up when your people and communities need you most. We will continue to do that moving forward. And with the grand opening of our NextGen Precision Health facility in October, we will be able to accelerate life-changing discovery and efficiently move that research from the bench to the bedside, bringing new solutions to our citizens and boosting Missouri’s economic growth.

As Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee Labor/HHS, Senator Blunt secured six consecutive funding increases for the National Institutes of Health, bringing the total increase to $12.85 billion, or 42.7%. So, it’s no surprise that Senator Blunt has been a champion of our NextGen initiative from the beginning, and he remains committed to furthering the work of our university to expand health care access and efficacy.

We are so excited he has the opportunity to see this hard work that will improve and save lives in Missouri.

— Mun

Congratulations to the Mizzou Chess Team

Mar 30 2021

A photo of Mizzou Chess Team members.

Mizzou Chess Team members.

Congratulations to the Mizzou Chess Team! Formed only a few years ago with contributions from the Saint Louis Chess Club, which is supported by Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield, our Chess Team reached the International Chess Federation’s World University Online Championships this past weekend. This tournament attracted over 1,300 participants from 200 universities and 84 countries, and Mizzou was the most successful university in competition. Our Chess Team came, they competed and they placed first in the world for the Blitz Cup and were runner-up for the Rapid Cup! Our team also won five individual medals:

  • Mikhail Antipov (freshman) won a Silver Medal in Rapid and a Bronze Medal in Blitz
  • Olga Badelka (freshman) won a Silver Medal in Blitz and a Bronze Medal in Rapid
  • Grigoriy Oparin (graduate student) won a Bronze Medal in Rapid

I’m so proud of their achievements. Mizzou Chess Team members come from around the world. But with the pandemic, only a few of its members were able to be on campus this year, with others studying and competing from their home countries. Nevertheless, their excellence has persisted.

In addition to this most recent accomplishment, MU’s all-female chess team won the “best women’s team” award at the 2020 Pan-American Intercollegiate Championships in early January, while the MU Chess A team placed sixth in that event. And last September, the Chess Team earned gold and silver medals at the 2019 World Prestigious University Chess invitational in Tianjin, China. They were one of only five teams representing the United States at that tournament, competing alongside Saint Louis University, Harvard, Yale and Princeton.

Please join me in celebrating our team, Grandmaster Cristian Chirila (MU Chess Team Coach) and the College of Arts and Science for representing Mizzou so well across the nation and around the world.

— Mun

Join the President and Provost for a Tiger support session

Mar 23 2021

A photo of Jesse and the Columns before spring commencement 2020

We are constantly working to better support our Tiger family members who are coping with tragic and hurtful events. The recent and senseless loss of life in Atlanta has highlighted troubling trends in harassment, discrimination and violence against people of Asian descent and Pacific Islanders. And now more violence in Colorado has resulted in 10 deaths, including a police officer.

In response, we have asked our deans and vice chancellors to provide more opportunities for our community members to gather together to listen and support each other. The provost and I will also be available to speak to students, faculty and staff this Thursday, March 25 from 2:30-3:30 p.m. in Jesse Auditorium. Please let us know if you can attend by writing us at president@missouri.edu so that we can ensure social distancing. If you can’t join us in person, we also welcome your comments and suggestions to the same email.

We hope these opportunities will bring more awareness to the issues that our students, faculty and staff face as well as provide important resources and information. Progress can only happen when we take deliberate steps together with compassion and understanding.

Mun Y. Choi                        Latha Ramchand
President                            Provost

Discussing excellence with our alumni

Mar 19 2021

A flyer promoting President Mun Choi's participation in MIZZOU LEADS.

Last night, I participated in the Mizzou Alumni Association’s virtual MIZ Talks alongside Associate Vice Chancellor for Alumni Relations Todd McCubbin. Todd and I were joined by alumni from around the world, with the event being viewed more than 800 times so far.

Throughout the conversation and live Q&A, we discussed the importance of Mizzou’s land-grant mission; our progress throughout the pandemic; our work toward a safe, full in-person return in the fall; and upcoming plans for our commencement celebrations. We also shared our excitement for tomorrow’s NCAA tournament game that I’ll be attending, and I even had the chance to talk about racing my moped against the Mizzou helmet car! That race will be in the fall, during one of our football games.

From this conversation and more, it’s clear to me how committed our alumni are to supporting Mizzou and growing our excellence.

— Mun

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!


— 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