Embracing our vibrant community

Dear students and our broader campus community,

As we embark on the fall semester, you can feel excitement in the air as potential and hope drive the flurry of renewed activity on our beautiful campus.

It’s during this busy time that I want us all to pause for a moment and consider who we are as a community and as a Tiger family.

With more than 8,000 new undergraduate, graduate, professional and transfer students arriving, as well as hundreds of new faculty members, we all have a tremendous opportunity to meet and welcome each other.

The question I often ask when meeting students, faculty or staff: What brought you to Mizzou?

It’s a simple question – an ice breaker of sorts – that almost always leads to a connection. From that starting point begins a conversation about where people are from, where they hope to be, and a variety of thoughts and experiences that are different than mine. The distinct answers I hear are a constant reminder of how much richer our environment can be, particularly when we engage people outside our social circles.

I encourage us as a community to embrace those we consider different from ourselves. The people who make up the Mizzou community have different family backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, life experiences, races, genders, physical abilities and sexual identities, to name a few. They hail from various regions or countries of origin, as well as hold a variety of cultural, political and religious beliefs. Seek and celebrate each person as an individual who could enrich your life. The people on this campus make Mizzou, Mizzou – a campus vibrant with new experiences, friendships and interesting conversations.

Let’s strive to not just tolerate others, but to engage in civil discourse and intellectual pluralism and practice sincere compassion for each other, recognizing the value each person brings in sustaining our university values of Respect, Responsibility, Discovery and Excellence.

We will not have to reach far to meet this challenge. This fall, we have students here from 117 countries, all 50 states, 3,517 cities worldwide and all 114 Missouri counties.

When we seize the opportunities to learn from each other, we all benefit. And we will each gain so much more from our time at Mizzou.

If I haven’t already asked, I can’t wait to hear what brought you to Mizzou.


Mun Y. Choi, Ph.D.
President, University of Missouri