Oct. 4, 2022
Contact: Uriah Orland, firstname.lastname@example.org
At the State of the University address in March 2022, University of Missouri President Mun Choi announced the boldest plan in the university’s history — MizzouForward — and the results are already evident.
The 10-year, $1.5 billion plan that focuses on faculty excellence, student success and investments in critical infrastructure has been instrumental in drawing world-class researchers to MU and invigorating research productivity across campus.
“MizzouForward is our most important investment to achieve excellence in research, student success and engagement,” Choi said. “This transformative investment strategy builds on the success we’ve seen over the last six years and will carry MU to new heights among our peers in the AAU and SEC.”
The university has welcomed 30 new MizzouForward tenured or tenure-track faculty in seven schools and colleges, and almost all of them have brought existing federally funded projects to supplement the great work already happening at MU. These faculty are focused on priority research areas for the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, Institute of Education Sciences, among others.
“My MizzouForward visit showed me just how much the University of Missouri is committed to investing in quality research and the outcomes of that research,” said Bill Picking, professor of veterinary pathobiology. “That kind of commitment is critical in creating big new interdisciplinary ideas that ultimately improve the lives of those in Missouri, the nation and globally.”
The MizzouForward hires are in addition to the more than 60 new tenure/tenure track and nearly 250 non-tenure track faculty that are new to Mizzou this year. These faculty members complement current MU faculty, and together they are making tremendous advancements in their fields of study.
“We have amazing faculty who contribute to our mission, and we want to provide them with what they need to support their research and creative works and help them compete on a national level.” Choi said. “Our investments support new and existing faculty by assisting with honors and awards opportunities, strengthening grant proposals and updating infrastructure to enhance their outcomes.”
To support the faculty and generate new research grants and funding, MU established the Strategic Proposal Development Service. This office assists faculty through services such as proposal management, narrative development, budgets, biosketches, editing support and graphic design. Its services are available to the entire campus and complement the efforts of the schools and colleges to help faculty strategically develop larger, more complex proposals. In just over six months, the office has helped 19 principal investigators create proposals for 19 new grants, totaling more than $100 million in potential research investments.
In addition to helping faculty members garner grants and funding, the MU Provost Office is helping them gain recognition for their outstanding efforts through a new awards and honors program. Over the past year, MU established an office focused on assisting high-achieving faculty in gaining external, national-level awards.
“The provost office has been helping faculty receive national recognition for years, to a certain extent, but it was mainly run through the colleges and departments,” said Alex Socarides, associate provost for academic programs. “By creating this office and shifting it to the provost office shows this is really a university-wide priority.”
These awards and national recognition — like Blake Meyers’ recent election to the National Academy of Sciences — can help showcase a faculty member’s career’s worth of work; while others, like the National Endowment for the Humanities, provide resources, funding and time to study specific areas of interest.
MizzouForward and the success of MU faculty directly support student success. May 2022 marked the highest graduation rate — 75% — in the school’s history. This was complemented by historic high graduation rates in 2021 for Pell Grant students, Black students, and Hispanic and Latinx students.
Investments in new technologies and physical upgrades to support student experiences were top priorities for programs around campus.
For example, this fall, the Department of Textile and Apparel Management (TAM) in the College of Arts and Science completed a $90,000 upgrade to their Kitty Dickerson and Kellwood Apparel Technology labs.
“Updated educational and research technologies in these labs mean students will have access to interactive monitors, 3D apparel design software, state-of-the art communication technologies, updated manufacturing equipment and more,” said Jung Ha-Brookshire, professor and TAM department chair. “We’ve also transformed our curricula to continue to prepare our students to become leaders in digital and omni-channel commerce. Our programs and certificates in digital merchandising continue to position TAM as the academic leader in the nation.”
The Sinclair School of Nursing also implemented new technologies to improve the learning experience of its students. This summer the school started using Electronic Health Record (EHR) GO in their skills lab when teaching medication administration.
“Utilizing EHR GO, students are able to log into a patient chart, scan a patient armband and scan the medication. This simulates the live healthcare environment and allows them to learn in a safe space,” said Sharon Zahn, assistant teaching professor in the School of Nursing. “Before we received EHR GO, the students had to simulate this activity and use a paper health record, so this is providing a real-world simulation.”
These are two of the 51 projects across campus supported as part of the $4 million investment in student success announced in March. All projects are set to be completed by early 2023.
Additionally, to help MU students engage in world-class research activities, the Research Path to Success website provides step-by-step processes for undergraduate, graduate and even high school students to get started. This is a critical step in assisting students to develop their body of work to support applications for presentations, summer programs, and prestigious awards and fellowships.
Perhaps one of the greatest measures of student success is the placement rate after graduation. The latest career outcomes survey revealed that 95% of MU undergraduates found successful career outcomes — either employment or graduate studies — within six months of graduation.
As MU continues to focus on research, updates are being planned to campus facilities. Currently, there are six new research-focused facilities in the works, and the university is investing in existing infrastructure.
“In fiscal year 2022, we had the highest amount ever received from the state — $463 million — across the UM System for capital projects. Each campus received significant investments for signature programs to enhance each university,” Choi said. “Our federal, state and industry research investments are all going up, and MU is making additional investments in our infrastructure, such as NextGen and MURR.”
In June, the Board of Curators approved $20 million for the University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR) West facility, projected to be completed in 2024. This new facility will increase research capacity, as well as radioisotope processing to provide life-saving medicine and imaging agents used around the world. Complementing MU’s addition is a $27 million Department of Energy Isotope Facility, which will be built at Discovery Ridge and is expected to be completed in 2024.
This semester began with classes in the new Sinclair School of Nursing building. This $30 million, 64,000-square-foot facility houses a simulation center where students can practice using state-of-the-art task trainers and simulators. This center mimics a hospital setting and allows students to practice real-world scenarios in a 14-bed skills lab. The new facility also provides the needed space to increase class sizes, which will allow MU to better meet Missouri’s and the nation’s nurse shortage.
Finally, Sept. 16 marked the groundbreaking of the new MU Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (VMDL). This $30 million addition and renovation of existing space will continue the important work of Missouri’s only laboratory accredited by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians. As a Level 1 Laboratory of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, the VMDL plays a major role in the early detection and testing for domestic, foreign and emerging animal diseases, including avian influenza, African swine fever, foot-and-mouth disease, rabies, and chronic wasting disease.
“We are on a path to continue achieving the high goals set 130 years ago by Richard Henry Jesse and take our rightful place as a proud AAU university focused on excellence, creating student success and achieving research breakthroughs and creative works that set us apart from other institutions,” Choi said.
MizzouForward is driving toward those goals.