President Choi’s Blog

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

Mizzou ranked a top university for future leaders

A photo of the Columns with Jesse Hall in the background.

Among public universities, MU was recently named the No. 13 Best College for Future Leaders by Time magazine. The inaugural list was assembled by analyzing where 2,000 of the most influential leaders in U.S. business, government and society received their degrees. This strong ranking shows the incredible impact of a Mizzou education, the proven success of our alumni and the great return on investment for MU graduates.

In addition to educating and training the next generation of leaders, we’re proud of our record 76% graduation rate, 91.3% retention rate and 95.4% successful outcome rate for new graduates. Thanks to our commitment to student success, MU was also named the seventh best value of all flagship universities by U.S. News & World Report.

Our national reputation reflects that Mizzou is a member of the AAU, one of America’s leading research institutions and we prepare students to advance our state and society.

— Mun

A new home for an impressive museum

A photo of Rima Girnius, Ph.D., curator of European and American art, points out a detail on a 17th century etching by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn.
Rima Girnius, curator of European and American art, points out a detail on a 17th century etching by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn.

The team at the MU Museum of Art and Archeology is hard at work renovating spaces, building displays and transitioning creative works to their new permanent location in Ellis Library.

To share their incredible progress, Museum Director Dan Eck invited my wife, Suzanne, and me on a tour of the facilities, including recently installed galleries and a storage area with thousands of artworks and artifacts. Museum staff let us examine selections from their vast holdings and forthcoming exhibitions, including work by Rembrandt and Thomas Hart Benton, as well as a series of small contemporary sculptures shown as a collaboration between A:shiwi (Zuni) Nation artist, Octavius Seowtewa, and the MU Museum of Anthropology.

Museum staff anticipate a campus opening in spring 2024, with a larger community grand opening in April. Meanwhile, classes in art history, archaeology and other topics are still able to visit the collection for a memorable hands-on learning experience. The museum store is also open for special holiday shopping hours Dec. 14 and 21 from 3 to 7 p.m. via the museum’s Hitt St. entrance.

I want to thank Director Eck and museum staff for showing us this impressive campus resource.

— Mun

Tigers bowl bound 

A photo illustration of Head Coach Eliah Drinkwtiz, who was named by The Associated Press as SEC Coach of the Year.
The Associated Press named Mizzou Football Head Coach Eliah Drinkwitz as SEC Coach of the Year.

Mizzou Football is headed to the Cotton Bowl! On Dec. 29, the Tigers will face the Ohio State Buckeyes at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas

The team ended the regular season with an incredible 10-2 record and ranked #9 in the country. We’re ready to keep the momentum going and bring home a historic win. If you want to cheer on our Tigers in-person, the Mizzou Alumni Association is offering great travel and tailgate packages for fans

A photo of President Choi, Athletic Director Desiree Reed-Francois, Coach Eli Drinkwitz, University of Missouri Board of Curators Vice Chair Robin Wenneker and UM Board Chair Michael Williams.
(Left to right) President Choi, Athletic Director Desiree Reed-Francois, Coach Drinkwitz, University of Missouri Board of Curators Vice Chair Robin Wenneker and UM Board Chair Michael Williams

We’re proud of our student-athletes and their hard work on the field and in the classroom. Players are regularly named to the SEC honor roll, and quarterback Brady Cook was recently selected as SEC Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Cook is the second MU player to earn that honor in three years after Tyler Badie in 2021.

Tiger running back Cody Schrader was just named winner of the Burlsworth Trophy, recognizing an outstanding player who started as a walk-on. The Associated Press also named Coach Drinkwitz as SEC Coach of the Year and selected several players to AP All-SEC teams:

First team, offense

  • Luther Burden III
  • Javon Foster
  • Cody Schrader

First team, defense

  • Darius Robinson
  • Kris Abrams-Draine

Second team, offense

  • Cam’Ron Johnson
  • Harrison Mevis

Congratulations to our student-athletes, Coach Drinkwitz and the entire team. I also want to thank our fans for their support. 

M-I-Z! 

— Mun

Tigers show entrepreneurial spirit

(Left to right) First-place winner Parker Owens, second-place winner and doctoral nursing student Lauren Compton and third-place winner and doctoral student in textile and apparel management Jia Wu
(Left to right) First-place winner Parker Owens, second-place winner and doctoral nursing student Lauren Compton and third-place winner and doctoral student in textile and apparel management Jia Wu

On Tuesday, we hosted the annual pitch competition for Entrepreneur Quest (EQ), a program that helps students turn big ideas into viable companies.

Over the course of the semester, participants work alongside like-minded peers and receive coaching from leading entrepreneurs. At the final pitch competition, they compete for part of a $30,000 total prize pool to make their business a reality.

This year’s first-place venture was Parker’s Brick Builds, created by Parker Owens, a third-year law student. His business uses LEGO-style blocks to create customized build kits. 

Since 2018, EQ has awarded more than $175,000 in seed funding while providing more than 50 student teams hands-on experience founding innovative startups. Many Tigers have used EQ to launch and grow successful businesses.

Congratulations to all this year’s participants.

— Mun

A moving evening of music

My wife, Suzanne, and I were guests of Professor Megan Murph, director of the Budds Center for American Music Studies, for a performance of “Music of the Underground Railroad: An Evening of Spirituals, Freedom Songs and Gospel Music.” The event was sponsored by the Budds Center, Missouri Folk Arts Program and Missouri Humanities.

Brandon A. Boyd, associate professor and director of choral activities

The performances held at Sheryl Crow Hall in the Sinquefield Music Center featured the MU Sankofa Chorale and the Columbia College Unified Voices Gospel Choir, conducted by Professor Brandon A. Boyd and Mr. Ronnie Wilson, a doctoral student at Mizzou.

The evening’s performances ranged from spirituals written by Missouri composers Kyle Kelley and Anita Watkins-Stevens to the powerful “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke. Music students also provided historical vignettes of the period.

Suzanne and I were so moved by the songs and the talent of our students and faculty.

— Mun

MU, Siemens Healthineers interns explore precision health solutions

A photo of (left to right) President Choi, Siemens Healthineers interns Hayden Camp, Erica Goodin and Kelsee Mortimer with David Pacitti, president of Siemens Medical Solutions USA, Inc. and Head of the Americas, Siemens Healthineers.
(Left to right) President Choi, Siemens Healthineers interns Hayden Camp, Erica Goodin and Kelsee Mortimer with David Pacitti, president of Siemens Medical Solutions USA, Inc. and Head of the Americas, Siemens Healthineers.

Last week, we welcomed back leaders from Siemens Healthineers for our Alliance for Precision Health governance meeting. It was great to celebrate the Alliance’s incredible progress and discuss next steps in our ambitious, ten-year value partnership.

As part of the meeting, we also heard from three MU undergraduates who completed internships with Siemens Healthineers. Each shared how hands-on experience with the Siemens Heathineers team prepared them for the future. A great example is Kelsee Mortimer, a health sciences major who served as a partnership management intern. Kelsee participated in governance and strategy development meetings for multiple partnerships across the country and observed how Siemens and hospital leaders evaluated and made decisions that impacted their organizations. After graduation, she will begin her master’s in health administration.

Our collaboration with Siemens Healthineers brings lifesaving technology to more Missourians – and offers one-of-a-kind opportunities for students. Together, the Alliance for Precision Health is preparing a new generation to create advanced solutions that make a difference.

— Mun

Honoring our military community 

A photo from the Whiteman Day tailgate at the Hearnes Center.
Speakers at the event included Col. Keith Butler, Commander of the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base (left), Fran and Joe Scallorns and Maj. Gen. Jason Armagost, Commander of the 8th Air Force headquartered at the Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

Before Saturday’s win against the University of Tennessee, we joined with Whiteman Air Force Base to commemorate both Veterans Day and the annual Whiteman Day tailgate at Mizzou. This is the 25th year that Joe and Fran Scallorns have sponsored this event to honor the brave men and women who serve our country. The event was held at the Hearnes Center and attended by more than 500 service members, veterans and families of the Whiteman Air Force Base.

A photo of (from left to right) President Choi, Assistant Vice President of Government Relations Dustin Schnieders, state Rep. Bennie Cook, state Rep. Michael Johnson, state Rep. Dave Griffith, state Rep. Doug Richey, Veterans Clinic Director Brent Filbert, Curator Michael Williams, School of Law Dean Paul Litton, Bob Langdon (J.D. '72), Athletic Director Desiree Reed-Francois, state Rep. Jamie Burger, state Rep. Dean Van Schoiack, state Sen. Rusty Black and Curator Robert Fry.
(From left to right) President Choi, Assistant Vice President of Government Relations Dustin Schnieders, state Rep. Bennie Cook, state Rep. Michael Johnson, state Rep. Dave Griffith, state Rep. Doug Richey, Veterans Clinic Director Brent Filbert, UM Board of Curators Chair Michael Williams, School of Law Dean Paul Litton, Bob Langdon (J.D. ’72), Athletic Director Desiree Reed-Francois, state Rep. Jamie Burger, state Rep. Dean Van Schoiack, state Sen. Rusty Black and Curator Robert Fry.

During the game, we also celebrated Mizzou Football’s Military Appreciation Day, which was one of many 2023 Veterans Week highlights. I was on-field with members of the University of Missouri Board of Curators, elected officials and other Mizzou leaders to recognize veterans as well as the important work of our MU School of Law Veterans Clinic. The clinic’s students, faculty and staff have helped more than 1,600 veterans secure VA benefits and correct service characterizations over the last ten years. Bob Langdon, a ’73 MU alumnus, presented the clinic with more than $100,000 in contributions by School of Law alumni from the 1970s.

A photo of a Northrup Grumman B-2 Spirit flying over Faurot Field and assembled representatives of the U.S. Armed Forces during Military Appreciation Day.

Thanks to important initiatives like the Veterans Clinic and the Student Veterans Resource and Support Center, Mizzou is often recognized as a great university for veterans and military-affiliated students. We are proud to give back to those who served, and grateful for their dedication to our country.

— Mun