MU alumna chosen as first Andrew and Peggy Cherng Distinguished Visiting Scholar

The Cherngs, MU alumni and founders of Panda Express, donated $1.5 million to the MU Honors College in April 2017.
Jenny Tone-Pah-Hote Courtesy of MU Honors College

The Andrew and Peggy Cherng Distinguished Visiting Scholars program will welcome Jenny Tone-Pah-Hote to campus from Nov. 1-3.

Launched with support from Andrew and Peggy Cherng under the MU Honors College, this new program hopes to strengthen leadership skills at the undergraduate level, according to an Honors College press release from Oct. 4.

“Just as Andrew and Peggy Cherng seek to grow and nurture leadership skills within their company, they are helping us to do the same among our students,” Honors College Director J.D. Bowers said in the release.

The Cherngs, MU alumni and founders of Panda Express, donated $1.5 million to the Honors College in April. The Distinguished Visiting Scholars program is just one of many recent additions to MU as a result of their contribution, but it is one they feel is very important for undergraduates.

“It allows students to do research under the mentorship of a professor of their choice,” Peggy Cherng said. “They can seize opportunities in different areas and further their potential. They can do research to learn more about what’s around them, themselves and their potential.”

Tone-Pah-Hote, an MU graduate and professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is the first MU Distinguished Visiting Scholar. Tone-Pah-Hote said she was contacted by Bowers about the program. This will be her second visit to the university this semester, as she also came to speak at a symposium for the Honors College’s One Read program in August.

“One of the things this program is seeking to do is to help facilitate and teach leadership skills and thinking about that in multiple venues,” Tone-Pah-Hote said. “I was so honored by the invitation to come back to Missouri to contribute to [the Honors College] and [Native American and Indigenous Studies] here, [as well as] to have the opportunity to engage with students.”

According to the Honors College press release, her visit to campus will consist of visiting several classes and museums, as well as “brown bag talks with faculty [and] meals in the Honors Learning Community residence.”

There will be a public lecture titled “We’ll Show You Boys How to Dance: Kiowa Dance and Painting, 1928-1940” and a subsequent reception at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 2. It will center around Tone-Pah-Hote’s most recent work on the culture of the Kiowa Tribe in Oklahoma.

Tone-Pah-Hote, whose work focuses on Native American history, culture and representation, attributed the introduction of the Native American and Indigenous Studies minor this fall as part of the reason why she was selected. She is optimistic that the program and her visit will encourage students to be “agents of change,” she said.

“Hopefully, I can encourage people to think critically about representation and history, to think of Native American people as modern people and to think about the arts as expressing contemporary identities,” Tone-Pah-Hote said. “That’s what I bring to the table as a scholar and professor.”

Edited by Olivia Garrett |

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