MU students, faculty present strategic plan achievements

Monday, April 29, 2013 | 5:18 p.m. CDT; updated 10:06 p.m. CDT, Monday, April 29, 2013

COLUMBIA — MU showed off the progress of its strategic plan Monday, calling on past and current students and faculty to talk about their successes.

In one case, an MU student started a medical biotechnology company. In another, an engineering lab is collaborating with researchers across the country on sanitation practices.

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Several dozen people turned out for a noon update in the Memorial Union on "One Mizzou: 2020 Vision for Excellence."

Global networking

Funding from Mizzou Advantage has helped associate professor of biological engineering William Jacoby and MU students in his lab network with engineers around the world.

Jacoby's lab, called the Carbon Recycling Center, looks at ways to use biomass as a resource for carbon and implement biomass in refinery.

Marc Deshusses, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Duke University, called Jacoby a few months ago after reading a paper he published, Jacoby said. Deshusses was working on a proposal for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for money to research sanitation technologies for developing countries and asked Jacoby and his team to collaborate with him.

The engineers received a $954,000 grant from the Gates foundation, Jacoby said. Doug Hendry, a Mizzou Advantage sustainable energy postdoctoral fellow, will join Deshusses at Duke to work on the project. The engineers have also traveled to Europe and Asia to present their ideas.

Mizzou Advantage has made it possible to send other graduate students to universities across the country, Jacoby said. For example, a student sent to the University of Southern California will be returning to MU to work on engineering projects.

Learning about different cultures

Zahra Rasool, a senior majoring in journalism, said she became interested in multicultural issues and social justice when she taught a Freshman Interest Group her sophomore year. Then, she was introduced to the Multicultural Certificate.

Housed in the College of Arts and Science, the student-run certificate program requires students to take 15 credits of courses that examine issues such as gender, race and ethnicity on a national and global level. More than 600 courses count toward this certificate, Rasool said.

The certificate program has received national and international recognition, Rasool said. Leaders of various universities have inquired about the program because they are interested in implementing similar ones.

"It's not just that there's a need for a program that exposes multiculturalism and social justice, but that there's a great demand for it," Rasool said.

More than 1,200 students have graduated with this certificate since the program began in 2007, Rasool said. She said she hopes another 500 students will graduate with the certificate next month.

Next year, the certificate program is collaborating with Freshman Interest Groups to promote early interest in the certificate, Rasool said.

Starting a business

MU graduate Luis Jimenez said that when he came to MU to pursue a master's degree in business administration, he had no idea that he would help start a company that would give him a full-time job.

One of his class projects conducted in the MU Life Science Business Incubator was selected to compete in the Rice Business Plan Competition. The project, EternoGen, focuses on designing and manufacturing a collagen structure to use in soft-tissue therapy, according to its website.

Jimenez said he worked unpaid on the project for two years as its interim CEO. In February 2012, two months after he graduated, he received about $500,000 to help fund EternoGen.

The resources MU has are extremely important for students' success, Jimenez said. 

"I think Mizzou's doing great things here," he said.

Faculty Council

MU Faculty Council chairman Harry Tyrer discussed two council issues that have helped fulfill goals of the strategic plan.

The council facilitated the vote that passed to change MU's definition of faculty and give nontenure-track faculty members voting rights in campus issues. Previously, some colleges and schools have better incorporated nontenure-track faculty into decision-making processes than others, Tyrer said.

Similarly, some colleges and schools have been incorporating cultural competency into lessons better than others, Tyrer said. After the faculty voted down a proposal to add a diversity course requirement, the council looked at other ways to make sure diversity was being incorporated into classes.

Last week, the council's Diversity Enhancement Committee published statements from MU schools and colleges explaining how they incorporate diversity.

The committee is also working with Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies Jim Spain to implement a nationally normed assessment for freshmen and seniors, Tyrer said. This assessment will measure how students' cultural competency has changed during their time at MU.

The assessment should be in place next year, Tyrer said.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey

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