President Choi’s Blog

Geyer Awards commend champions of higher education

(Left to right) Caleb Jones, Director Chris Chinn and Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer

Each year, we proudly gather in the Governor’s Mansion to celebrate the Henry S. Geyer Awards. Given by the Mizzou Alumni Association, these awards applaud leaders who have made a positive impact on MU and higher education across the state.

On Tuesday, we honored our 2024 recipients:

Chris Chinn, director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture

Caleb Jones, CEO of the Missouri Electric Cooperatives

Tony Luetkemeyer, state senator representing Missouri’s 34th District

To recognize our winners, we were joined by Gov. Mike Parson and First Lady Teresa Parson, Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, Board of Curators Chair Robin Wenneker, Curator Michael Williams, more than 50 elected officials, as well as many friends and supporters of Mizzou.

Congratulations to our three new Geyer Award honorees! Their transformative work continues to make a difference and strengthen our land-grant mission.

— Mun

A great night for the arts at Mizzou 

Mia Webster, junior printmaking major, and President Choi
Mia Webster, junior fine arts major in printmaking, and President Choi

Last Friday was the Chancellor’s Arts Showcase, Mizzou’s largest annual exhibition of student creativity. Nearly 100 students shared their work across a range of mediums — including the visual arts, architecture, music, theater and design — for an audience of more than 600 in the Missouri Theatre. 

(Left to right) College of Arts and Science Dean Cooper Drury, President Choi, Seda Balci, Curator Sinquefield, Rex Sinquefield and School of Music Director Jared Rawlings
(Left to right) College of Arts and Science Dean Cooper Drury, President Choi, Seda Balci, Curator Sinquefield, Rex Sinquefield and School of Music Director Jared Rawlings

As always, I was impressed by the incredible student displays and the amazing live performances. We celebrated the winner of the 19th Sinquefield Composition Prize: Seda Balci, a master’s student in music composition. Curator Jeanne Cairns Sinquefield recognized Seda on-stage, followed by the world premiere of her piece, “Merdiven.” Congratulations to Seda! I want to thank Curator Sinquefield and Rex Sinquefield for their incredible support of new music at Mizzou.

We’re proud to have such an innovative and talented community on campus. The Chancellor’s Arts Showcase was a moving display of creative excellence.

— Mun

Higgins selected as leader for Extension and Engagement 

UM System Chief Engagement Officer and Vice Chancellor for Extension and Engagement Chad Higgins at Extension and Engagement Week 2023
UM System Chief Engagement Officer and Vice Chancellor for Extension and Engagement Chad Higgins.

After a nationwide search, I’m pleased to name Chad Higgins as the UM System Chief Engagement Officer and MU Vice Chancellor for Extension and Engagement. Chad is a proven leader who has done a tremendous job as interim vice chancellor since January 2023. I look forward to working with him — and all Extension faculty and staff — to strengthen Missouri agriculture and benefit community health, education and economic development across the state.

Chad’s experience will help us share our land-grant mission of research, teaching and meaningful engagement with even more Missourians. We also have ambitious plans to grow our impact in each Missouri county, and we are collaborating with elected officials, industry leaders and community members to make a difference for those we serve.

I want to again congratulate Chad and thank our dedicated Extension faculty and staff for their hard work on behalf of every Missourian.

— Mun

Serving with excellence 

(from left to right): MUPD Sergeant Dennis Stroer, MUPD Chief Brian Weimer and President Choi
(Left to right) MUPD Sergeant Dennis Stroer, MUPD Chief Brian Weimer and President Choi

MUPD has a proud tradition of distinguished service that has once again been recognized by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). For 22 years in a row, MUPD has received accreditation from CALEA. This year they also achieved a prestigious “Meritorious with Excellence” distinction for the first time.

CALEA is the gold standard for public safety, and reaccreditation with excellence reflects a comprehensive commitment to the highest levels of professionalism. This is an incredible accomplishment and shows MUPD’s dedication to transparency and collaboration around campus.

Congratulations to Chief Weimer, Sergeant Stroer and all of MUPD for promoting a safe, welcoming community at Mizzou. 

— Mun

Celebrating 10 years of research growth 

Jesse Hall seen through the Columns

I’m thrilled to share that Mizzou increased our research expenditures to more than $462 million in FY 2023. This is a new record and marks the 10th consecutive year of growth. I want to thank the strong contributions by our faculty, staff and students who made this possible.

Research expenditures reflect the total invested in breakthrough discoveries from public and private grants. These funds directly support groundbreaking research in energy, medicine, education, agriculture and other fields that benefit our state and nation. Our expenditures are increasing around 8.5% per year, when the national average is about 5.5%. This impressive progress placed us No. 8 among AAU universities in percentage of growth since 2015.

In addition to saving and improving lives, research at MU generates nearly $1 billion a year in economic impact for Missouri. Our success also attracts new world-class faculty who help grow our research capacity. 

We’re proud of what we have achieved – and thanks to MizzouForward and strong initiatives like NextGen, we will continue to invest in the infrastructure and equipment our researchers need to make a difference in Missouri and beyond. 

— Mun

Investing in student success 

Students collaborate in the WeMake Design & Learn Lab, a makerspace that was expanded through MizzouForward student success proposals.
Students collaborate in the WeMake Design & Learn Lab, a makerspace that was expanded through MizzouForward student success proposals.

MizzouForward is our 10-year, $1.5 billion investment in faculty excellence, infrastructure growth and student success. As part of this historic initiative, in 2022 we dedicated more than $4 million to 53 projects that support student success, including a graduate student success center, a collaboration to 3D print organ models, and many renovations and tech upgrades across campus. 

Building on our incredible momentum, in December we announced another round of MizzouForward Student Success Enhancement Grants. Potential projects can include upgrading classrooms and labs, expanding undergraduate research opportunities, providing access to groundbreaking technology – as well as innovative initiatives to strengthen teaching and learning. 

Proposals for one-time funding (up to $100,000 per award) are due by this Friday and recipients will be notified by Monday, Feb. 19. Additional information is available through the Office of the Provost

I’m eager to see the impact of this new round of proposals and to support excellence across our community. 

— Mun

A Champion collaboration 

The Mizzou Wheelchair Basketball team competes against the Kansas City Kings on Dec. 1, 2023.
The Mizzou Wheelchair Basketball team competes against the Kansas City Kings on Dec. 1, 2023.

Tomorrow and Saturday mark the first Mizzou Wheelchair Basketball home games of 2024, as well as the growth of an innovative partnership between Mizzou and the clothing brand Champion. 

At a Mizzou Wheelchair Basketball game in December, Champion provided the team with branded gear and gave away sweatshirts designed by Textile and Apparel Management (TAM) student Ally George. Ahead of this week’s games in MizzouRec, the Mizzou Store has made Ally’s designs available for purchase. A portion of the proceeds will support the Wheelchair Basketball team.  

Students who attended the Dec. 1 game received team-branded Champion sweatshirts.
Students who attended the Dec. 1 game received team-branded Champion sweatshirts.

This is the latest project between TAM and Champion. In 2022, TAM students collaborated on the College Vault Collection, resulting in a line of vintage-inspired MU clothing produced by Champion. 

I hope to see everyone cheering on our Tigers and supporting the creativity of our community. 

—  Mun

A world-class performance

Julie Rosenfeld and Natalia Bolshakova performing

On Sunday, Suzanne and I attended a terrific performance by Professor Julie Rosenfeld (violin) and Dr. Natalia Bolshakova (piano) at Whitmore Recital Hall in the Fine Arts Building on campus.

(Left) Julie Rosenfeld, Associate Professor, Violin; (Right) Natalia Bolshakova, Instructor, Collaborative Piano
(Left) Julie Rosenfeld, Associate Professor, Violin; (right) Natalia Bolshakova, Instructor, Collaborative Piano

We were joined by many faculty, students, staff and members of the Columbia community. Professor Rosenfeld and Dr. Bolshakova performed moving violin sonatas by Stravinsky, Bartók and Shostakovich. Each piece was inspired by violin virtuosos.

Exquisite music by world-class musicians on a Sunday afternoon is one of the many things that make this university so special and enrich our community.

— Mun

Starting a historic 2024

Francis Quad covered in snow, with the Columns and Jesse Hall in the background

I want to welcome all students, faculty and staff to a new semester!

Though 2024 just began, momentum is already building for next fall. More than 21,500 students have applied to become Tigers. That’s a record-setting pace and 14% higher than last year.

Students in Missouri and around the country are discovering the value of a Mizzou education. Our high graduation rate (76%) and retention rate (91.3%), industry-leading alumni and affordable tuition make us a top choice for future leaders. We’re also the seventh best value of all flagship universities, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Thank you for being a part of Mizzou. I’m looking forward to a great semester and another outstanding year.

— Mun

Celebrating a successful year

A photo of President Choi at a commencement ceremony.

The fall semester is wrapping up, and there’s plenty to celebrate at the University of Missouri.

On campus, we look forward to recognizing more than 1,780 Tigers who will receive degrees during commencement ceremonies this weekend. Congratulations to all our graduates on their accomplishments. They are well prepared to make a difference in Missouri and our nation.

A photo of head volleyball coach Dawn Sullivan.
Coach Dawn Sullivan

Our student-athletes have also achieved incredible success, including Mizzou Volleyball, which just finished a historic first season with Head Coach Dawn Sullivan. The Tigers made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament, and three players – Maya Sands, Jordan Iliff and Lauren Forbes – were named to the Academic All-District Team. Coach Sullivan was named SEC Volleyball Coach of the Year. Congratulations to Coach Sullivan and the entire team.

The MU community accomplished so much in 2023 – from cancer-fighting breakthroughs at MURR to a record 76% graduation rate. We look forward to even more excellence in teaching, research and engagement in the new year, and to cheering on all our student-athletes competing over break – including Mizzou Football in the Cotton Bowl.

I hope all our students, faculty and staff have a great holiday season.

— Mun