Mizzou Advantage unveils new goals

The five goals focus on where MU can have impact on peer universities.
Maura Howard / Graphic Designer

MU is preparing to roll out a set of five strategic initiatives with goals intended to make the university more competitive compared to other institutions in the next year. Provost Brian Foster said the project, known as Mizzou Advantage, is a wide scale campus effort.

The initiatives are the product of three years of work from a task force led by Foster and former Chancellor Richard Wallace and include a focus on food-related research, new media, the convergence of human and animal medicine, sustainable energy and managing new technology.

"We went through several steps to identify the initiatives," Foster said. "The first step was finding strategic advantages at MU and the second was defining those and building on them, that's how we found the five initiatives that we're focusing on."

According to a 50-page report published on the Web site for the provost in September, the university will build on its agribusiness and nutrition program and on relations with corporate and research partners as part of its Food for the Future initiative.

"This is something the world demands and we have a comparative advantage over other universities in food-related research," Chancellor Brady Deaton said in a faculty meeting Tuesday.

Foster said MU's location in the Midwest is another advantage for food research.

"We have a wide array of people and programs that have to do with food," Foster said. "We're in the middle of this food producing region and we also have this outstanding nutrition department. If we can bring that all together it would give us a higher profile and attract more students and faculty."

The university will also focus on sustainable energy, the report stated.

"One thing we have is the reactor, it's a very unique resource and allows us to do a lot of research," Foster said. "Also our work in bio-fuels and bio-energy sources will help our sustainability efforts."

Foster said cooperation between human and animal health programs is another initiative.

"Sharing research resources is a large part of comparative medicine, the cooperation between our medicine, veterinary medicine and animal science programs," Foster said. "Human and animal health converges in many ways and we want to bring these studies together."

According to the report, building on new media, especially in journalism, communications and business, and managing new technologies will be another part of Mizzou Advantage.

"The strategic initiatives must be in areas where we have competitive advantages in our competitive environment," the report stated. "We seek areas where we can rise to and maintain prominence over the long haul."

Foster said the initiatives have more to do with how MU compares to other peer universities than how it fares in national college rankings.

"This has nothing to do with the rankings, like the U.S. News and World Report's college rankings," Foster said. "This has a lot to do with institutional stature and how our programs, faculty and students are recognized across the country."

An advisory committee is in place for Mizzou Advantage and Foster said it would soon start meeting with faculty and departments throughout the university to determine how the initiatives will be reached.

"Our aim with Mizzou Advantage is to enhance MU's reputation, the impact of our research and the cash value of students' degrees, as well as attracting great faculty and students," Foster said. "A big component of the discussions is about where our university in particular can make a strong and important impact. We want to take on other schools' programs, not on their turf, but on our turf."

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