As spring turns into summer here at Missouri’s flagship university, I want to take the opportunity to say thank you.
We have so many reasons to be grateful: grateful for the vision of our faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends; grateful for the continued trust from students and their families that they can come here and get a world-class education; grateful for the hard work of those who keep us among America’s leading research institutions as a member of the Association of American Universities; grateful to those from every corner of our state who know that when crisis strikes, as it has recently with storms and flooding, their University of Missouri is prepared to serve.
But today I want to thank you for something in particular that you do for us that you might not even realize.
As I round out my second year on campus, I have come to recognize that our greatest asset is our ability to be, what I like to call, boundless. I mean this both literally and metaphorically.
You see, our campus doesn’t stop at the edges of the beautiful Mizzou Botanic Garden. I see MU everywhere I go. Last summer, I met the Thaigers — a group of alumni in Thailand who vigorously support their alma mater and help us recruit international students while showing their home country what a Mizzou education can bring to the workforce. Later this month, I am traveling to Seoul to meet with our educational partners at Incheon National University and with members of the MU Korean Alumni Association. We want to learn from each other and find new ways to impact the lives of students through our critical education and research missions.
The power of our global reach can’t be overstated. Successes like George P. Smith’s 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry certainly help elevate us to new stages — ones that I hope you’re as proud of as I am. Students studying and participating in service-learning trips abroad help further illustrate to the rest of the world who we are: an institution that develops the whole person, from leadership lessons to practical skills.
With the ever-increasing global economy, we have to continue to capitalize on these opportunities to bring little pieces of Missouri with our faculty, staff, students and alumni on their travels. In turn, we want others to bring their talents, culture, experiences and diversity of thought here to Columbia.
There’s so much beauty and opportunity that comes with being a state’s flagship institution, especially here in Missouri. We are both the flagship and the land grant, which is an endeavor that takes two universities in neighboring states like Iowa and, dare I say it — Kansas.
But with the power comes immense responsibility. We heed that calling at a local, state and global level.
My call to action to you as we head into another academic year at this great institution is to carry the flagship name and mission out proudly in everything you do. Whether it’s recruiting a future high-achieving Tiger, mentoring a new alum as they enter the workplace, or any number of things that you can do to benefit MU, do so with pride and gusto. This place and the many tremendous people who carry out our mission can only grow with your help.
Alexander N. Cartwright, Ph.D.