Noor Azizan-Gardner said it is her duty to educate the community about diversity issues.
Right now, she coordinates the Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative at MU and is developing an undergraduate multicultural certificate, in which students apply what they have learned in their courses to hands-on experience. This can be completed by participating in a service project or by studying abroad.
Azizan-Gardner credits her multicultural upbringing to her need to spread the word about diversity. Azizan-Gardner defines diversity as taking into account all of our differences — economic background, religion, education as well as race. She said we must look at the things that make us different and try to make the country more equitable for everyone.
Azizan-Gardner is from an ancient port town called Malacca in Malaysia.
“The town has a history of European colonization; the people in Malacca have learned to live with many types of people,” she said. “The town still has that level of tolerance and inclusiveness, which is important in creating history.”
She moved to the United States when she was 17 to pursue academics. She received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business from MU.
Azizan-Gardner originally studied political science, but because she is the oldest in a family of five, she felt it was her duty to manage the family business.
However, her younger brother is an economist and was able to take over the business in Malaysia 10 years ago, allowing Azizan-Gardner to pursue her passion: political science with an emphasis in international relations and foreign policy. After her son graduates from high school, she plans to pursue doctoral work in Washington, D.C.
Recently, during the annual Tap Day ceremony at MU, it was revealed that Azizan-Gardner is part of LSV, a women’s service organization.
“I like the idea that women do service anonymously and not because they want rewards,” Azizan-Gardner said. “We only have a short time to live in this world, and we might as well make it great and contribute something.”