Dear Mizzou students,
Our fall semester is almost here. While the past few months have challenged all of us, the changes we are making at Mizzou will not only enable us to safeguard our renewal, but they will also help us take necessary strides in education, research and creative discovery, engagement and inclusive excellence.
Great universities are built on change.
Since March, I have been honored to serve as your Interim Chancellor while we navigated these changes – and others – and I’ve been privileged to work with many of you. I am wholly committed to this great university, which is why I am thrilled now to serve as the Chancellor of Mizzou.
Since I arrived in Columbia in 2017, we have worked together to enhance our public research, AAU institution by strengthening our core missions in student success, research and creative discovery, engagement and inclusive excellence. To mention a few of the many remarkable strides Mizzou has taken recently, we have:
- Made transformations in the perception of the value of the University of Missouri among alumni, legislators and Missourians.
- Created a stronger and financially-viable university to meet the upcoming challenges.
- Celebrated three consecutive years of substantial enrollment growth and reached new heights with the highest graduation rate in our history.
- Invested in comprehensive student success initiatives including new need-based and merit scholarships for talented students, enhanced bridge, advising and engagement programs.
- Made strategic investments for research and creative works for the NextGen Precision Health Initiative, with core investments in microscopy, data analytics, language and literacy, to name a few areas.
- Made significant progress towards inclusion and diversity goals:
- Underrepresented minority tenured/tenure-track faculty increased by 26%.
- Black/African-American tenured/tenure-track faculty increased by 20%.
- In 2020, the percentage (7.7%) of Black/African-American undergraduate students at MU ranked as the highest among all 11 Midwest flagship universities.
As you may have heard, last week the Board of Curators voted to realign the UM System and MU leadership structure and appoint me to a new, dual role as chancellor of Mizzou and president of the UM System.
I am honored and inspired to take on this new role. I now have the wonderful opportunity to work more closely with all of you. I know I speak for our leaders, faculty and staff when I say we will do everything in our power to support you in your educational experience and professional development at Mizzou. Student success is the most important component of our mission.
The decision to form a new leadership structure for the UM System is the result of meetings between the Board and nearly 300 constituents and groups who represent the MU campus, the UM System universities and the broader community. It takes into account a number of factors, including Mizzou’s ability to respond to the shifting economic and cultural landscape and the future of higher education.
We have been working hard to encourage a culture of excellence and progress at Mizzou over the last several years, to build an environment where everyone feels and knows that they belong. Recently, we have taken important actions such as developing mandatory cultural competency training and creating a “Bias Hotline,” and I am confident that we can take even bigger strides across our work in inclusive excellence during this next phase of Mizzou’s history. We are also excited about our progress in research (including impressive work in response to the COVID-19 crisis) and the upcoming opening of the NextGen Precision Health Institute in 2021, which will provide many world-class opportunities for our student researchers.
I am so excited now to be a member of such a vibrant, hard-working and talented community of Mizzou students, faculty, staff, health care professionals, alumni and supporters.
Please take care of yourself, two weeks before returning to campus begin to isolate and closely monitor any changes to your health, complete your COVID-19 safety training, be sure to wear your face coverings and maintain social distance! We know Tigers will strive to protect each other. We’ll see you in a few weeks.
Mun Y. Choi, Ph.D.
President, UM System