President Choi’s Blog

Why Mizzou is different

A chart showing University of Missouri System per capita funding compared to other universities in Missouri.
University of Missouri System per capita funding compared to other universities in Missouri.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the university’s mission lately and the role we play for Missouri. It’s often said that UM System universities receive more funding than any other in Missouri. That’s true, but we’re expected to deliver much more. If we carve out the special missions of research, professional degrees and extension that are expected of UM universities, the per capita state funding for our universities is the lowest in the state and one of the lowest in the United States.

As the only public, land-grant, flagship, AAU institution in the state, Mizzou is charged with not only providing world-class education and research, but also supporting and enhancing our statewide communities through extension and engagement activities. It’s a charge that no other public institution in Missouri has. And it’s one that we carry out with great pride, responsibility and excellence.

The physicians and nurses that we’ve educated continue to lead the fight against COVID all across the state, ensuring community health and safety while leading vaccine distribution. Our engineers maintain and grow Missouri’s infrastructure. We are seeing firsthand just how critical that is as other parts of the country such as Texas navigate immense infrastructure challenges and widespread community hardship.

Our veterinarians drive innovation in treatment and diagnosis. Our lawyers are leaders in their field. Our teachers educate the next generation. And our scholars — produced in fields ranging from history and journalism to philosophy and chemistry — continue to support a civil and equitable society through ideas, discoveries and culture.

No other public university in Missouri contributes to our state the way Mizzou does. It’s impressive to see how we deliver such impact. But to achieve greater excellence through our strategic plan, growing revenues will be key. Because looking forward, we remain committed to doing even more.

— Mun

Leaders of tomorrow

A picture of the “Leadership Laboratory” land navigation and convoy debrief on the left. A picture of Drill and Ceremonies on the right.
(Left) The “Leadership Laboratory” land navigation and convoy debrief being led by Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Braeden Ede. (Right) Cadet Third Class Jared Dunn (on the left) and Cadet Third Class Tyler Moore taking place in a Drill and Ceremonies.

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to watch Space Force Captain Andrew Forsythe and his team of 95 Air Force ROTC Cadets (Detachment 440) conduct part of their training regimen on Francis Quadrangle. Captain Forsythe told me that the training regimen they developed teaches a blend of professionalism, physical fitness and management skills that helps cadets apply the principles of leadership both inside and outside the classroom. Even with the challenges of the pandemic, they have continued their mission of helping students become leaders of character.

One of the ways AFROTC Detachment 440 adapted to COVID-19 requirements was by breaking that training session audience into smaller groups, which also enhanced the personalization and effectiveness of each lesson. In addition, they’ve expanded their relationship with crosstown schools and military installations to provide more opportunities that accommodate social distancing requirements and boost hands-on experiences. For example, the AFROTC Detachment 440 Cadet Mission Support Group conducted a “Leadership Laboratory” at the end of January to train land navigation and convoy operations between the University of Central Missouri and Whiteman Air Force Base.

Together with the Army and Navy ROTC programs, MU has one of the finest group of cadets and midshipmen in the country. I’m so proud of their commitment to achieving excellence in their studies and in their training as they prepare to protect and defend our country.

— Mun

Student-athlete excellence

I’m so proud of our MU student-athletes.

A university record 95 of them were recently selected for the Fall SEC Academic Honor Roll. Not only that — the Mizzou Wrestling team is currently the #5 ranked team in the country; the Mizzou Men’s Basketball team is ranked #10, the highest ranked team in the SEC; and the Mizzou Volleyball team is ranked #16.

It’s clear that our student-athletes achieve excellence in the classroom, laboratories and studios as well as in athletic competitions. They continue to succeed at the highest level even when faced with the challenges of this pandemic. Let’s take a moment to celebrate their victories (and the work of their coaches and advisors) in every shape and form.


— Mun

Leading the vaccination charge

This is a photo showing MU Health Care professionals staffing the vaccination site.
(Clockwise from top left): Rob Knodell, deputy chief of staff to Governor Mike Parson; Brad Myers, executive director of pharmacy and laboratory services at MU Health Care; Curator Robin Wenneker; Randall Williams, director of the Department of Health and Senior Services; and Jonathan Curtright, CEO of MU Health Care. Emily Beath, a nurse at the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute, and her 5-month-old son, Noah, arriving for Emily’s vaccination. A picture of the vaccination site. Ebony Scoff (right), Angela Holt and Paige Quilty, all MU Health Care customer service professionals staffing registration.

This past Saturday I visited the MU Health Care Vaccination Clinic at the Walsworth Family Columns Club at Faurot Field. The dedicated group of health care professionals were busy at work beginning at 7 a.m. to serve Missourians. Many of the people being vaccinated were older Missourians and health care professionals.

I was so impressed with the precision and efficiency of the process, which vaccinated more than 2,000 people that day (by the way, the capacity is 5,760 people per day). Led by an excellent team under the direction of Dr. Brad Myers, executive director of pharmacy and laboratory services at MU Health Care, the sequence was timed so that patients can register and be completed with their vaccination within 10 minutes. The vaccination will keep our community healthy and allow us to enjoy more social activities as we continue to take steps forward in this pandemic.

Until then, wear your face coverings, practice social distancing, wash your hands and stay safe.

— Mun

Go Chiefs!

A photo of President Mun Choi and Provost Latha Ramchand on the steps of Jesse Hall

I’ll keep this post short and sweet:
Go Chiefs! 🏈 Super Bowl LV here we go!💥💥

— Mun

Emphasizing our mission

Photos of Jesse Hall and the Columns before spring commencement 2020

Over the past two weeks, I sat down with our state legislators and other constituents in conversations about our university. I emphasized the impact that we provide for Missouri through our missions of education, research and engagement. It was clear to me during those conversations that our legislators recognize the value of Mizzou, and that our communities are behind us. They’ve seen our faculty, staff and students rise to meet the challenges we face, to protect and enhance our communities, and to pursue excellence at every turn.

These days, I don’t get the chance to celebrate this excellence enough. That’s why I felt so fortunate last Friday when Provost Ramchand and I had the opportunity to recognize the extraordinary recipients of our 2020 Faculty Recognition Awards at a virtual ceremony. The work our faculty are doing benefits the community, the country and society with seminal contributions across the arts, humanities and STEM fields. This comprehensive focus on our mission sees us through to be a stronger university, and it provides a robust framework for the work of our staff and students.

— Mun

The power in each of us

This is a photo of Professors Stacey Woelfel and Bill Horner and their student contributors to the documentary during the talk-back session.
Professors Stacey Woelfel (bottom left) and Bill Horner (bottom right) and their student contributors to the documentary during the talk-back session. Students are (top to bottom): Naomi Klinge, Claire Colby, Sidney Steele, Marisa Pisterzi, Ellen Goodrich, Sarah Hallam, Colleen Andrae, Leo Rocha.

This week has been a powerful week.

On Monday, Provost Ramchand, Vice Chancellor Maurice Gipson and I had the opportunity to speak with Ambassador Andrew Young. This phone call was ahead of his keynote speech on Tuesday for MU’s 2021 celebration of MLK, “Infinite Hope.” The four of us talked about the role of reconciliation in pursuing change and how important education is to young people.

Then, on Tuesday evening, Ambassador Young spoke to our university and broader community. He talked about the “spiritual power” that influenced his work and the work of many other changemakers. He said, “That’s the same kind of power that dwelled in Martin Luther King, and that dwells in you.”

Later that evening, with those words in my mind, I attended a special pre-screening of a film at Columbia’s Ragtag Cinema about AIDS educator and MTV’s “The Real World: San Francisco” star Pedro Zamora. The documentary, “Keep the Cameras Rolling: The Pedro Zamora Way,” is directed by Professors Bill Horner and Stacey Woelfel and features the contributions of Mizzou students from the School of Journalism, Department of Political Science and the School of Music. It was a beautiful and moving film that featured moments of incredible courage, love and acceptance. It helps us reflect even more on this idea of individual power and gain a deeper understanding of humanity.

— Mun

Showcasing excellence

With the start of 2021 and a new semester, I have a renewed hope for Mizzou’s future. There are so many excellent things happening at our university. As President, I have the unique opportunity to see and experience so much of this excellence, and hear the remarkable stories of our students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members.

I started this blog to bring these insights into the spotlight. I’ll create new posts a couple of times each week as I underscore the individual passion and principles that create the collective impact Mizzou makes on the world. We need this impact more than ever now. Professor David Rose at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, a friend and colleague, recently published an op-ed to explore two core ideals that are of particular importance these days. Individualism and empathy are essential components that have served the American democratic experiment so well. Universities have an important role in providing the rigorous education to our students that explores and supports these principles.

I see this role playing out every day in our classrooms and across our campus. I’ll continue to explore these ideas and much more in future blogs.

With great respect and admiration — and of course, M-I-Z!

— Mun