Dear Mizzou community,
Over the last nine months, our university has been put to the test. And you’ve met challenges with flying colors. You worked together to protect the university’s core missions of teaching, research and engagement, all while juggling unprecedented hurdles in your own lives. We are so grateful for the resilience and grace that you demonstrated.
As we near the end of the fall semester, these values will be at the forefront again as we come together virtually to celebrate our 1,934 graduating Tigers. They join 4,670 May 2020 graduates. Graduates of 2020, your success is remarkable, and we will never forget you!
When we reflect on our fall term, we’re inspired by the people of Mizzou and their work. We want to share with you a few examples of our exceptional people and the lengths they’ve gone to this semester:
|•||Twin sisters, current seniors and Kauffman Scholars Julisha and Justina Wilkins remained dedicated to mentoring future generations of students even with the educational and social difficulties of this fall. They participated in the 2020 Dancing with the Kansas City Stars event at Cristo Rey Kansas City High School (their former high school) to support underserved communities in the metro area. Justina also serves as a campus tour guide to share what’s best about Mizzou with future Tigers. They credit their success to many faculty across many disciplines, including James Nobel, Bin Wu and Sharan Srinivas in the College of Engineering; Elena Koucherik and Steven Goldschmidt in the department of mathematics; and Chris Prestigiacomo in the Trulaske College of Business — all of whom provide a world-class education with caring and compassion.|
|•||Brittany Pomilee and Molly Frank, master’s students studying educational leadership and policy analysis, volunteered to serve on Mizzou’s Care Team. In addition to their rigorous academic responsibilities, they spent six to seven hours a day speaking with students in quarantine or isolation; organizing the delivery of food, course materials, etc.; and ensuring our students know that Mizzou cares about them.|
|•||Our staff members in Campus Dining Services, Custodial & Special Services, Residential Life, MU Health Care, MU Extension and elsewhere have worked tirelessly for our students and the broader community. Even during weekends and over holidays, they took on extra duties to protect our health and safety. We greatly appreciate their courage and commitment. Please thank them for making your experiences at Mizzou safe, comforting and meaningful.|
|•||Our Incident Command team; Testing, Tracing and Quarantining team; Academic Operations; and many others helped us devise and execute our plans for safety and operations this fall while also enabling us to adjust as needed.|
|•||Our alumni and supporters committed nearly $98 million in gifts since March. We are so grateful for their generosity. Their contributions support student scholarships, faculty research breakthroughs and engagement that benefits Missourians.|
|•||The MU Retirees Association volunteered at the bookstore, assembled Show Me Renewal kits and donated more than $100,000 to the 2020 Heart of Missouri United Way campaign.|
|•||We also want to share our appreciation of the incredible student athletes at Mizzou. They’ve gone above and beyond during the pandemic to bring back school pride. The football team will be headed to a bowl game after their inspiring win versus Arkansas (and is now ranked #25 in the College Football Playoff Poll), the men’s basketball team is off to one of their best starts ever and the women’s volleyball team is ranked #8 in the country. MIZ!|
Going forward, we are confident that our excellence will persist as long as we continue to lean on the power and possibility of the Mizzou family. Yes, there will still be challenges in the months ahead. But there is also hope on the horizon. There is the promising news about vaccines. There is the excellent preparation for COVID testing, contact tracing and quarantining developed by our taskforce of experts that served us well during the fall term and will continue even stronger in the spring semester. If adversity is a litmus test of one’s true potential, then you show us the future for Mizzou is strong.
We hope that you can take some much needed down time over winter break. And we encourage you to remain vigilant even while you’re away from campus and Columbia. Wear face coverings, practice social distancing, maintain hygienic practices, get some rest and read a good book.
When we return, it will be with a renewed purpose to support each other with grace, compassion and understanding. Because that’s what Tigers do. And we will thrive.
Mun Y. Choi, Ph.D.
President, University of Missouri
Latha Ramchand, Ph.D.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, University of Missouri