University for Missouri: Building the Engaged University of the Future

On May 3, Chancellor Alexander Cartwright announced a new vision for MU Extension and Engagement to fulfill what he referred to as an “all things Missouri” mission. While leading a discussion in Springfield, he announced the formation of the MU Engagement Council, a core group of university leaders who are focused on MU’s current and emerging off-campus engagement initiatives and three tech-based initiatives that will help Extension expand its reach and impact—a statewide data mapping and reporting system; the IMPACT website, a publicly searchable inventory of programs and educational opportunities that bring resources directly to the people of Missouri; and Nexus@Mizzou, a revamped MU Extension website that will provide an easy-to-use single entry point for all Extension experiences.

“Mizzou’s campus is the 114 counties of Missouri,” Cartwright said. “With a focus on ‘all things Missouri,’ we will deepen the university’s relationship with—and value to—the people of Missouri from Neosho to Hannibal. The struggles facing Missouri communities are challenges that we are ready to tackle.”

In late 2016 and early 2017, MU Extension gathered input from more than 1,000 Missourians on key challenges facing their communities. Out of these conversations, three ‘grand challenges’ emerged as focal points for MU’s extension and engagement efforts: economic opportunity, health, and educational access and excellence.

Cartwright, along with Vice Chancellor for Extension and Engagement Marshall Stewart, led a discussion about the university’s history as a land-grant university and how the university can address the grand challenges. They were joined by Dan Cassidy, chief administrative officer of the Missouri Farm Bureau; Kathleen Quinn, associate dean for rural health in the MU School of Medicine; Karen Buschmann, vice president of communications and strategic initiatives with the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and Jody Squires, regional director for the urban region of MU Extension.

“The three pillars of a healthy community are the economy, health care access and a high-quality education system,” Stewart said. “The University of Missouri is in a unique position to support all three of these pillars through Extension, our research endeavors and service opportunities. We are steadfast in our resolve to help the state meet the challenges facing the state and improve lives.”

Last year, engagement efforts served 1.3 million Missourians, including a $200 million increase in sales for Missouri businesses and the creation or retention of 8,000 jobs. Current initiatives connecting the university to the state include:

  • Boosting Missouri’s economy—Last month, University of Missouri officials announced that the MU has a $3.9 billion impact on the state of Missouri.
  • Serving Missouri communities—Since 2014, Mizzou Alternative Breaks has partnered with MU Extension to send students on weekend service trips within Missouri.
  • Building strong youth and families—MU has implemented after-school youth leadership programs such as the Community Arts Program and the 4-H Center for Youth Development.
  • Promoting health and safety—MU continues to offer a range of training programs for Missouri’s civil servants such as the Law Enforcement Training Institute.
  • Supporting agriculture—MU is part of a $6.6 million research initiative to promote soil health through cover crops.
  • Helping businesses succeed—MU Extension Community Development programs and specialists foster economic development by focusing on skills—such as leadership development, decision-making and emergency preparedness—that are needed to create viable communities, competitive workforces and quality jobs.

“These efforts illustrate how our students, faculty, staff and alumni are part of the fabric of our state, nation and the world,” Cartwright said. “They illustrate why I say we are the University for Missouri.”

Watch a recording of the event here.