President Choi Address Cites UMKC Programs in Entrepreneurship, Civics

Part of $260 million in investments for strategic priorities over the next five years

It’s not “business as usual” at the University of Missouri System.

During the past two years, university leaders have reallocated millions of dollars to make a college education at the system’s four universities affordable and accessible to Missourians. As a result, student enrollment is up, retention is high and spending on research is growing.

In his speech, “Excellence Through Innovation: A New University of Missouri System,” Choi announced $260 million in investments for strategic priorities over the next five years, including $100 million in new scholarships and $50 million to support research and creative works.

Choi singled out two innovative UMKC programs for investments to drive system-wide and statewide expansion.

The System will invest $1.25 million to support the expansion of KCSourceLink, an innovative entrepreneurship support program developed by the UMKC Innovation Center. The investment will expand the program to MOSourceLink with the partnership of the Missouri Technology Corporation. MOSourceLink will connect small businesses and startups in the state with resources to achieve success.

A $250,000 investment will expand UMKC-based American Public Square to partnership with all four System campuses. The new partnership will provide opportunities to bring non-like-minded individuals together at the four universities for fact-based, civil conversations about important issues.

Additionally, he declared that the UM System will focus on innovation, collaboration and transformative actions to grow its stature.

“By cutting and reallocating more than $180 million over the past two fiscal years, we have stated emphatically that the University of Missouri is making bold changes to achieve excellence,” Choi said. “While many of the changes were painful, they were necessary to create a more resilient university. It’s now time to make meaningful investments to achieve excellence. We will take actions that put Missourians first and invest only in areas that support our new vision for the university. We will be more innovative in all we do and break away from traditions that impede excellence.”

The one-time money provided by the UM System — with the expectation of matches from each university — will be used to invest in students, faculty and staff through the universities’ strategic plans, including:

  • $100 million for scholarships — $75 million will be used for “Promise & Opportunity Scholarships” based on need, and $25 million will be used for “Next Generation Merit Scholarships” to recruit academically outstanding Missouri students to the four universities.
  • $50 million for the Precision Medicine Initiative and the Translational Precision Medicine Complex — this initiative will provide UM researchers with the latest technology as they seek answers to complex medical questions.
  • $50 million for research and creative works — university leaders hope this infusion of funds will spur collaborative, multi-investigator proposals that lead to more external research funding.
  • $20 million for digital learning initiatives — this effort will grow online and distance-learning opportunities, reduce the cost of traditional education and increase the number of online degrees granted.
  • $12 million for Missouri Compact Distinguished Professorships — this initiative will help university leaders attract members of the National Academies who will significantly increase scholarly and research output.
  • $10 million for engagement — these funds will support a systemwide program encouraging additional industry partnerships.
  • $8.5 million for inclusive excellence — this will support recruitment and retention of faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives.
  • $7.5 million for faculty and staff success — these funds will be invested in faculty and staff to improve university culture, establish effective orientation programs for new employees and develop strong professional development programs.

The full list of investments can be found online at Proposals for the funds will be evaluated this fall, and Choi, the four chancellors and senior officers of the university will make final selections. All funding requests and plans should demonstrate a path to financial viability for mission-centric projects and a positive return on investment to achieve excellence, increase revenue generation and reduce costs.

“Through administrative changes at the UM System and good financial management of our investments, we are able to reallocate these funds and focus them on the needs of our students, faculty and staff, directly supporting our teaching and research missions and the Missouri Compacts,” said Ryan Rapp, vice president for finance.

Also in his address, Choi announced:

  • The launch of Missouri Intern Connect, in partnership with the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry with support from the Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Centers, to create opportunities for students to connect with internship opportunities across the state.
  • The appointment of Bill Turpin, CEO of the Missouri Innovation Center, to lead economic development efforts for MU and the UM System.
  • The launch of the EQ Student Accelerator to support entrepreneurially minded students systemwide.
  • The UM System Buy Missouri program to better support Missouri businesses through UM System procurement processes and spending.
  • The appointment of UMSL CFO Rick Baniak as UM System Chief Transformation Officer to lead the efforts of modernizing administrative functions systemwide.
  • A five-year plan to increase salaries for faculty and staff.

“We want our universities to be a place where our faculty and staff are proud to work, our students are proud to attend, civic leaders and communities are proud to support, and business are proud to partner,” Choi said. “We will become a stronger UM System driven by innovation and hard work.”

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