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The State of Mizzou II

10 ways Tigers are committing to Mizzou

Crowd shot at State of the University Address.

Last semester the climate at Mizzou was marked by discord and heated exchanges, often illuminated or distorted by a national spotlight. Things were tense. But even when members of the Mizzou community have been at odds with one another, our disagreements have been fueled by love — our shared love for Mizzou. For some Tigers, this love emerges as devotion to our history and traditions. For others, it’s passion for progress and fairness. For all of us, it’s dedication to fellow Tigers — past, present and future.

This semester Tigers are coming together to foster a community we’re even prouder to be part of. We’re committing to Mizzou. We’ve heard the concerns of current and prospective students, of faculty and staff, of alumni and donors, of curators and legislators — and of all Missourians, really. We’re listening. Above all, we’re learning. We’re a university; that’s what we do best.

Here’s a peek at just a few things Tigers are doing to bring us all together:

1. We’re teaching new students about inclusion.

Anes Ouadou and Fis Malësori converse during the International Welcome Party. Ouadou is a Fulbright scholar from Algeria and Malësori is an MBA student from Kosovo. Photo by Hanna Yowell.

Anes Ouadou and Fis Malësori converse in the MU Student Center. Ouadou is a Fulbright scholar from Algeria, and Malësori is an MBA student from Kosovo. Photo by Hanna Yowell.

Last semester underscored the importance of getting to know people from all walks of life and learning to treat one another with kindness and respect; these skills are a fundamental part of higher education. This semester all incoming students are taking part in a diversity-orientation program created and taught by award-winning faculty members Stephanie Shonekan, chair of Black Studies, and Joan Hermsen, chair of Women’s and Gender Studies. Panelists include faculty members Tony Castro, Scott Brooks, Nathan Hofer, Urmeka Jefferson, Andy Hoberek and Rebecca Martinez. Welcome, new Tigers! You’re in good hands.

2. We’re rather robustly celebrating cultures.

Nisa Ismail, member of the Malaysian Student Association, serves food to an attendee of the International Welcome Party.

Nisa Ismail, a member of the Malaysian Student Association, serves food to an attendee of an international Welcome Party. Photo by Hanna Yowell.

Last semester (really, every semester) Mizzou’s reputation as a fun school was buoyed by the likes of massive Fall Welcome extravaganzas and off-the-charts sports fandom. That hasn’t changed. But this semester the label has taken on multicultural dimensions. International students threw a huge party in the Student Center. The Cultural Association of India put on the first MU India Day. The newly revived Black Alumni Network held events. We celebrated the Chinese New Year, ringing in the Year of the Monkey. And Tigers assembled an impressive series of Black History Month events highlighted by live music —jazz, hip-hop, gospel — and movie screenings.

3. We’re welcoming new administrators and educating all administrators.

Mike Middleton and Hank Foley

UM System President Mike Middleton greets MU Chancellor Hank Foley before Foley's State of the University Address. Photo by Shane Epping.

Last semester issues arose between administrators and students — and between administrators and faculty — regarding fair treatment of all Tigers. This semester we have a new Mizzou interim chancellor (Hank Foley) and a new UM System interim president (Mike Middleton). We also have a Mizzou interim vice chancellor for inclusion, diversity and equity (Chuck Henson), and the UM System is hiring for a similar position to work with all four campuses. Meanwhile, MU administrators are in training with Benjamin Reese of Duke University to work on better understanding issues such as equity and implicit bias. They’re discovering new ways to be inclusive and leading by example.

4. We’re listening.

From left, Interim Chancellor Hank Foley and his wife sit with Interim UM System President Mike Middleton and his wife during Professor Diane Mutti Burke's presentation of "Contesting Slavery: Enslaved MissouriansÕ Enduring Struggle for Self Determination" Wednesday evening, Feb. 3, 2016 in Jesse Auditorium.

From left, Interim Chancellor Hank Foley and his wife,  Dr. Karin Foley, listen to a presentation by UMKC Professor Diane Mutti Burke with Interim UM System President Mike Middleton and his wife, Dr. Julie Middleton, and Interim Vice Chancellor Chuck Henson. Photo by Tanzi Propst.

Last semester some Tigers said they felt they weren’t being heard. This semester administrators are holding regularly scheduled listening sessions. Provost Garnett Stokes has implemented traveling office hours. Vice Chancellor Chuck Henson has established the Working Group to open lines of communication. And Chancellor Hank Foley is holding Friday-afternoon chats, 4-5 p.m. in the Jesse Rotunda. Stop by! All ears are open.

5. We’re taking better care of graduate students.

Graduate students respond to the news of benefits changes.

Graduate students respond to the news of benefits changes. Photo by Shane Epping.

Last semester graduate students protested proposed cuts in health insurance benefits and changes to stipends. This semester, in his State of the University Address, Interim Chancellor Hank Foley announced plans to continue to provide health insurance to graduate students and to increase stipends by $6,000 over the next two fiscal years. We need you, beloved graduate students. You are essential.

6. We’re making our campus even safer for students.

April Colvin

MUPD Lt. April Colvin trains members of the Mizzou community in personal safety and dealing with active-threat situations.

Last semester incidents of racism on campus and threats of violence in social media left some students feeling unsafe. Mizzou already has a dedicated and fully professionally accredited police force, and this semester we’ve made plans to increase the number of MUPD officers by 25 percent and the number of dispatchers by 50 percent over the next three years to serve and protect all Tigers. Thank you, MUPD, for looking out for us.

7. We’re combating discrimination.

Ellen Eardley in center of audience.

Assistant Vice Provost Ellen Eardley (center, in blue scarf) watches the State of the University Address with faculty and administrators. Eardley's duties as Title IX administrator have expanded to encompass civil rights as well. Photo by Gene Royer.

Last year we welcomed Ellen Eardley as our new Title IX coordinator to handle sex discrimination issues on campus. This year Eardley leads the new centralized Office for Civil Rights and Title IX, which addresses all types prohibited discrimination, including race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, age, disability, veteran status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and genetic information. Do you have an incident to report? Let the staff know.

8. We’re learning about our own history.

From left, Zora Mulligan and Tamar Hodges laugh with Kelley Stuck during the reception in the foyer of Jesse Hall just before the "Contesting Slavery: Enslaved MissouriansÕ Enduring Struggle for Self Determination" presentation Wednesday evening, Feb. 3, 2016.

From left, Zora Mulligan and Tamar Hodges laugh with Kelley Stuck during a reception in the Jesse Rotunda before the inaugural African-American Experience in Missouri lecture. Photo by Tanzi Propst.

Last semester Tigers talked about placing recent conflicts in historical, social and cultural context. This semester we launched a new lecture series titled “The African-American Experience in Missouri,” curated by Keona Ervin, assistant professor of history, and Gary Kremer, director of the State Historical Society of Missouri. UMKC historian Diane Mutti Burke gave the inaugural lecture, an eye-opening examination of slavery in central Missouri. (Read her book: On Slavery’s Border: Missouri's Small-Slaveholding Households, 1815–1865.) The next lecture is March 23.

9. We’re making conscientious hiring decisions.

Noor Azizan-Gardner

Noor Azizan-Gardner became Mizzou’s chief diversity officer in 2012 and now serves as MU senior associate vice chancellor for inclusion, diversity and equity. She’s working to help search committees develop more inclusive hiring practices. Photo by Shane Epping.

Last semester community members criticized the disproportionately small percentage of people of color on Mizzou’s faculty. This semester, the Division of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity has joined forces with the Office of the Provost and the department of Human Resources to roll out a training module that helps ensure search committees start with the most diverse and inclusive candidate pool they can when hiring new faculty and staff. We’re reaching out.

10. We’re doing really, really awesome things in classrooms, in laboratories and in the community.

Young woman playing a violin.

Violinist Britney McMurray plays the Forest Park Rhapsody composed by Ben Colagiovanni, a student in the Mizzou New Music Initiative, during a gift announcement. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield announced Feb. 1 that they plan to give $2.1 million over three years to support the composition program. Photo by Rob Hill.

Every day this university gives us scads of reasons to be proud. Here are just a few very recent examples.

There’s more to come, Tigers. Stay tuned. And let us know how we’re doing.

 

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