At welcome reception, new UM System president lays out plans for the university

President-designate Mun Y. Choi introduced specific goals, such as providing open source textbooks, for promoting student success.
President-designate Mun Y. Choi talks with Missouri students, faculty, and staff during a welcome reception in Memorial Union on Dec. 1.

UM System President-designate Mun Y. Choi described the UM System’s commitment to students, research and excellence at a welcome reception for him on MU’s campus Thursday.

Choi explained his intention to increase graduation rates and reduce the costs of education, and he spoke of the importance of the UM System supporting each campus.

“The key individuals that we have to be mindful of are the students,” Choi said. “We have a broad responsibility, each and every one of us, to be able to provide access, opportunity, but also very importantly, encourage them so that they develop the confidence to take on the many challenges that lie ahead in their careers.”

Choi’s speech to a crowd of faculty, staff, students, alumni and community leaders was preceded by remarks from interim Chancellor Hank Foley and Board of Curators Chairwoman Pam Henrickson.

“I asked that they choose someone with high integrity, high energy and high intellect,” Foley said. “Dr. Choi possesses each of those in large qualities and I know that he is destined to do great things for Mizzou, for the University of Missouri System and indeed for the state of Missouri.”

Choi’s statements about achieving excellence and ensuring that students feel supported stood out as an “important message to start a tenure with,” RHA President Matt Bourke said.

In his remarks, Choi said that providing open source textbooks and closing the gap in graduation rates between students who have Pell Grants and those who do not,, are methods to promote student success.

“In many cases we have students, because we are not able to provide enough scholarships for the unmet need, who have to work,” Choi said to reporters after the reception. “There are a lot of demands on their time to attend school and also work to pay for their education.”

Choi’s remarks also centered on MU’s responsibility as a land-grant university to every citizen of Missouri.

“We have an obligation to use research to not only increase the fundamental knowledge that’s available that can benefit society but also practical applications that benefit citizens of the state and beyond,” Choi said.

The UM System needs someone with “strong academic credentials” to fill the role of president because “we are not just another business,” Foley said.

“Mun is known for his ability to set the direction of change and innovation,” Henrickson said. “He not only comes up with bold ideas, he knows how to translate those ideas into action and to achieve results.”

Contrary to previous comments from UM System spokesman John Fougere, Choi said he will live in the official UM System presidential home, called Providence Point. Unlike his predecessors, Choi will not receive performance incentives.

“I felt that the salary that was offered to me was a very competitive and fair salary,” Choi told reporters. “I did not want to include in there the performance guarantee, because I’m being paid to perform. I don’t need additional incentives to be able to perform.”

Over the next few months, Choi said he plans to learn more about the UM System and working with faculty, students, staff and community leaders.

“Together, let’s develop that commitment of real excellence, having a university system that we can call upon as one of the best in the United States,” Choi said.

Edited by Claire Mitzel |

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