President Choi’s Blog

Applauding excellence in teaching

A photo of the 2023 Kemper Fellows
(Left to right) 2023 Kemper Fellows Beth Whitaker, S. David Mitchell, Christopher Josey, Lee Manion and Lea Ann Lowery.

Today is World Teachers’ Day, and I’m proud to recognize Mizzou’s incredible faculty and their commitment to our students and state.

One of the many ways we honor their dedication is through awards for faculty accomplishments in the classroom. Our highest campus-level teaching award is the William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence. Applications are open now and include input from students and the MU community. Other opportunities include the Governor’s Award of Excellence in Teachingthe Maxine Christopher Shutz Award and Lecture for Distinguished Teaching and the Provost’s Outstanding Junior Faculty Teaching Award.

Starting this week, faculty also can nominate their colleagues for UM System honors for teaching and research, such as Curators’ Distinguished Professorships, the Thomas Jefferson Award and the C. Brice Ratchford Memorial Fellowship.

These awards celebrate our incredible faculty as they change the world and prepare the next generation of leaders. We’re pleased to show our appreciation today and throughout the year.

— Mun

Breaking ground on MURR’s future

A photo of the groundbreaking ceremony for MURR West.
Groundbreaking ceremony for MURR West.

Yesterday was an important milestone for the University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR). Elected officials, curators, community leaders and university staff and faculty gathered for the ceremonial groundbreaking of MURR West, which will add expanded production, laboratory and collaborative research space to the original reactor. The event included a video message from U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, who shared his strong support for our lifesaving work, as well as remarks from Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, UM Board of Curators Chair Michael Williams and MURR Executive Director Matt Sanford.

A photo of President Choi addressing those gathered at the groundbreaking alongside (from left to right) Gov. Mike Parson, MURR Executive Director Matt Sanford and University of Missouri Board of Curators chair Michael Williams.
President Choi addresses those gathered at the groundbreaking alongside (from left to right) Gov. Mike Parson, MURR Executive Director Matt Sanford and UM Board of Curators Chair Michael Williams.

MURR is the world’s most important university research reactor for fighting cancer, and each year 1.6 million patients benefit from the medical isotopes we produce. Where other healthcare providers expect patients to travel to receive world-class care, MU’s central location means we can quickly send medical isotopes to those who need them most.  

When completed, the 47,000-square-foot addition will be the latest chapter in MURR’s more than 50-year legacy of safety and excellence. Looking ahead, our ambitious plans include NextGen MURR, a new state-of-the-art reactor that will complement our existing facility and improve life for Missourians, and those across the country and world. 

We are thankful for the incredible support of elected officials and the entire Mizzou community as we grow our status as an innovative hub for nuclear medicine. 

— Mun

Kicking off our 2023 United Way Campaign

(Left to right) Andrew Grabau, president and CEO, Heart of Missouri United Way, and Jim Owen, president and CEO, Missouri Employers Mutual with President Choi.
(Left to right) Andrew Grabau, president and CEO, Heart of Missouri United Way, and Jim Owen, president and CEO, Missouri Employers Mutual with President Choi.

Yesterday, I was part of the kick-off event for our annual United Way campaign. Leaders from across campus joined our partners from Heart of Missouri United Way and Leadership Circle donors at the Stephens Indoor Facility to celebrate our impact and encourage others to support the campaign. 

We’ve collaborated with Heart of Missouri United Way for more than 75 years, and these campaigns help give back to some of the most vulnerable in our area. Last year we raised more than $436,000, and I know we can reach this year’s ambitious goal of $460,000. Your support will be put to good use because 99 cents of every dollar donated stays in Missouri. 

Mizzou and United Way share a mission of service and dedication to our community. It’s what makes our partnership so strong and their work so important. I hope you’ll join me in supporting this year’s campaign.  

— Mun

Sharing the impact of our Value Partnership

Siemens Healthineers Value Partnership panel discussion featuring (left to right) Brent Kruse (Siemens Healthineers head of enterprise services, Americas). Dr. David J. Cole (Medical University of South Carolina president), President Choi and Rob Maclsaac (Hamilton Health Sciences president and CEO)
Siemens Healthineers Value Partnership panel discussion featuring (left to right) Brent Kruse (Siemens Healthineers head of enterprise services, Americas), Dr. David J. Cole (Medical University of South Carolina president), President Choi and Rob Maclsaac (Hamilton Health Sciences president and CEO)

I enjoyed participating in a panel discussion with other health care leaders at the Siemens Healthineers Value Partnership Forum. I described how our innovative collaboration, the Alliance for Precision Health, has benefited communities across Missouri. I also offered advice for organizations developing their own partnerships.

Launched in 2019, the Alliance is a ten-year initiative with Siemens Healthineers, the UM System and MU Health Care to give clinicians, researchers and students access to the latest medical technology – while bringing world-class resources to underserved parts of rural Missouri. We began with a focus on radiology and have quickly expanded to additional areas, including lab, cardiology and oncology.

Together, we’ve achieved remarkable results. For example:

  • We helped pioneer the syngo Virtual Cockpit. This technology puts skilled imaging technicians within reach for more rural communities and provides remote scanning of organ donations, boosting the speed of lifesaving transplants.
  • We collaborated on a new MRI protocol, Fast Abdomen, that reduces scan time by half while increasing image quality.
  • We installed the MAGNETOM Terra 7-Tesla (7T) MRI in the Roy Blunt NextGen Precision Health building. The 7T makes Mizzou’s campus a hub for research clinicians who use its accuracy to create breakthrough treatments.
  • We developed a training program to address the shortage of clinical engineers. Our faculty also work with Siemens Healthineers scientists on new research and our students have access to hands-on internships.

We’re eager to partner with Siemens Healthineers on even more ambitious projects, including opportunities to enhance the lifesaving work of the University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR) with our new, state-of-the-art research reactor, NextGen MURR. It was great to share our progress and discuss how we can grow our impact in Missouri and beyond.

— Mun

Dedicating the Stephens Indoor Facility  

Athletic Director Desiree Reed-Francois addresses the crowd at the Stephens Indoor Facility dedication.
Athletic Director Desiree Reed-Francois addresses the crowd at the Stephens Indoor Facility dedication (photo courtesy of Schaefer Photography).

Last week, I attended our dedication ceremony for the Stephens Indoor Facility. Around 150 supporters were on hand to celebrate, including Brad and Rachel Stephens and their family.

This spectacular facility sends a strong message across Missouri and the nation: We’re building a championship culture here at Mizzou. Tigers past and present can be proud of what we’ve accomplished, and we’re already seeing the results

I want to again recognize Brad and Rachel Stephens for their leadership. I’m also thankful to the University of Missouri Board of Curators and all who supported this facility, as well Athletic Director Reed-Francois, Coach Drinkwitz and our incredible student-athletes.

I can’t wait to see what we achieve next. M-I-Z! 

— Mun

The importance of Connection

Vice Chancellor Gipson and President Choi

Every month during the academic year, the Division of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity and the Provost’s Office host Connection – a gathering that offers support and community to faculty from all backgrounds and phases of their academic careers. I attended the most recent event and enjoyed sharing our progress as a university and answering faculty questions.

Left to right: Jeannette Porter, Professor, Michael S. Williams, Assistant Professor, Gerelyn Henry, MU Veterinary Health Center Director and Allison Nesbitt, Assistant Professor.
(Foreground, left to right) Professor Jeannette Porter, Assistant Professor Michael S. Williams, MU Veterinary Health Center Director Gerelyn Henry and Assistant Professor Allison Nesbitt

Connection helps faculty members thrive and achieve their goals at Mizzou. Programs like Connection are one of many ways we support the success of our faculty and their outstanding contributions to our land-grant mission of teaching, research and service.  

Connection attendees gathered in the Alumni Faculty Lounge in Memorial Union.

I’m grateful to IDE Vice Chancellor Maurice Gipson and Associate Provost for Faculty Success Candace Kuby for facilitating the session. I hope to attend again soon. 

— Mun

Mizzou Law honors a life of service

(Left to right) Athletic Director Desiree Reed-Francois, President Choi, Edna Mae Graham, Marcy Graham and School of Law Dean Paul Litton

More than 100 people gathered in Hulston Hall to dedicate a classroom in honor of Marcy Graham – a friend, mentor, benefactor, distinguished graduate of the MU School of Law and University of Missouri curator emeritus. At the end of the celebration, we also surprised Marcy with a Mizzou Football shirt in recognition of his time as a linebacker in high school.

Marcy was Board Chair when I began my appointment at the UM System, and he’s made an indelible impact on me and so many others. He is always generous with his time, especially for his many mentees, and lives life with purpose and integrity. I was proud to join others in honoring his contributions.

Marcy’s supporters contributed more than $100,000 to help renovate the classroom prior to the dedication. The modernized Maurice B. “Marcy” Graham Classroom will remind future law students that they too can make a difference.

I’m grateful for Marcy’s many years of service. I also want to thank his wife, Edna Mae, for sharing him with the University of Missouri community.

Congratulations, Marcy!

— Mun

Celebrating Mizzou families 

Family Weekend 2022

Each member of our community plays an important role in supporting student success, including our dedicated Tiger families. We’re thrilled to show our appreciation and celebrate their impact during Mizzou’s annual Family Weekend

Beginning today, there’s a full schedule of free events, starting with a noon Football Friday Spirit Rally at Traditions Plaza. Later this evening, families can stroll to Francis Quadrangle for Illumination on the Quad, or enjoy a free movie in Leadership Auditorium at the Student Center. Tomorrow, we encourage everyone to attend one of several Mizzou tailgates and fill the stands at Memorial Stadium as we take on the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. 

Throughout the weekend, families are also invited to explore Columbia and – most importantly – to connect with their students’ experiences on campus. I can’t wait to meet Tiger families and to share our incredible community. 

— Mun 

Empowering strong communities in rural Missouri

(Left) Curator Keith Holloway, (front) Deborah Jones and Bishop Jamie Jones, (behind center) Gov. Mike Parson

While in the Bootheel, I was pleased to attend the opening of an important new facility in Caruthersville. The New Day Recovery Center is a project of Divine Holiness Outreach Ministries (DHOM) and will offer housing and job training to individuals seeking recovery from drug and alcohol use. DHOM is a local partner for MU’s ParentLink – a unit of the College of Education & Human Development that is based in the Bootheel – and this new center offers an additional way to reach community members.

Over fifteen years, ParentLink has developed strong relationships in rural southeast Missouri. Partnering with trusted community organizations like DHOM helps more parents and caregivers access the no-cost assistance provided by ParentLink. A dedicated team of ParentLink navigators offers a range of services in Caruthersville and throughout the state by connecting parents to vetted resources that meet their needs, providing evidence-based information and helping them navigate barriers encountered along the way.

(Left to right) President Choi, ParentLink Kinship Navigator Nan Macklin, ParentLink Associate Director Freda Kershaw, ERASE Foundation board member Robert Whelan, Jill Styles, Curator and ERASE Foundation board member Keith Holloway, ERASE Foundation board member Herman Styles, former state Sen. Doug Libla, Elaine Libla, Interim Vice Chancellor Chad Higgins, Bishop Jamie Jones and Deborah Jones

Many leading state officials attended the event, including Gov. Mike Parson. University of Missouri Board Chair Michael Williams, Curator Keith Holloway, Curator Robin Wenneker and General Counsel Mark Menghini were also present. Curator Holloway is from the region and is a dedicated supporter and donor to the center’s mission. Other MU representatives included Chad Higgins, interim vice chancellor for extension and engagement, Bradd Anderson, ParentLink director, and Freda Kershaw, ParentLink associate director, southeast Missouri.

It was great to be in the Bootheel and celebrate this vital effort.

— Mun

Mizzou Football is back: Let’s turn Missouri black & gold 

A photo of Mizzou Football practice in preparation for the coming football season.
Tigers prepare for the upcoming football season.

Mizzou Football is almost here, and I can’t wait! 

The season opener against South Dakota is Thursday. I hope you’ll join me in cheering for our Tigers as they take on the Coyotes at Faurot Field. We’re thrilled that SEC Nation will also be at Memorial Stadium to highlight our incredible student-athletes and community. 

Adding to the excitement, the first game means the return of Black & Gold Fridays. Each Friday during football season, Mizzou fans show their support by wearing their favorite Tiger gear. This Friday is also annual College Colors Day – another excellent reason to represent MU with pride. 

We have a great coach, talented student-athletes, a visionary athletic director and a strong fan base. Those are the elements we need to build a championship culture and compete at the highest level. Our Tigers are ready to rise to the occasion and shock the nation all season long. 

— Mun