The Maneater

MU Engagement and Extension to work with Missouri communities on solving economic, education and health issues

The launch of new MU Engagement websites will allow MU and Missouri communities to collaborate to solve economic, education and health matters.

MU Chancellor Alexander Cartwright discussed MU’s part in engagement through extension services throughout Missouri during his address on Thursday.

The address focused on the mission of MU Extension and Engagement to reach more areas throughout Missouri. There are 114 counties in the state, and Vice Chancellor for Extension and Engagement Marshall Stewart is striving to reach all 114 counties to hear what Missourians have to say.

“We have to get focused on what Missourians need and what they deserve and what they want to have and what their aspirations are,” Stewart said. “In that first 120 days we were in lots of counties. I have probably traveled to 100 counties, approaching that 114 mark, slowly but surely, and we will get there. I have seen and listened to the stories of Missourians, and the thing that really struck me was the great opportunity, the great promise and the unfilled potential. We can do these things.”

In an attempt to reach more areas in Missouri, Chancellor Cartwright announced the establishment of the MU Engagement Council, which consists of leaders within MU who are concerned with MU’s engagement initiatives that occur off campus as well as online.

There will be three new websites that will allow the council to reach more areas in Missouri and, as a result, will help MU reach more Missourians in an effort to fulfill their “all things Missouri” mission. One of the websites is a statewide system for data mapping and reporting.

Stewart said the all things Missouri website will be the first to have all the data sets in one place for Missourians to access.

“They will be able to go there and see their community and see how the opioid prices affected their community,” Stewart said. “They will be able to see educational attainment in their communities, they will be able to see the economy drop in their community.”

The IMPACT website is a collection of programs that are available to the public. It will allow Missourians to learn about MU colleges, engage with faculty directly and showcase how MU has impacted Missouri. The third website, Nexus@Mizzou, is a previous MU Extension website that has gone through revisions to make it easier for the people of Missouri to become more informed of Extension experiences.

With the development of these websites, Missourians will be able to find solutions to their problems as well as work with MU to figure out problems in a collaborative way.

“We have to put the power of Missouri in the hands of the people in Missouri,” Stewart said.

At the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017, MU Extension interacted with over 1,000 Missourians to discover what major issues affected their communities. The three issues that were present in a majority of the communities were the economy, education and health.

“When you think about the needs of Missourians in those three realms, there’s things we can do,” Stewart said. “We can improve our health, improve our education, improve our economic future. If we align the university in a way that makes a difference.”

These three issues are leading to a “restructuring” in Extension. By January 2019, MU will have a county engagement specialist in every county in Missouri. Their job will be to figure out what is going on in the county and how those needs will align with the university, Stewart said.

“We don’t have every answer, these communities have lots of answers,” Stewart said. “We need to bring our knowledge and their knowledge together and when we do that it is sustainable.”

Engagement between MU and the people of Missouri is extremely important when a collaborative environment is necessary to solve issues in the state’s counties, especially when it comes to the economy, education and health.

“Mizzou’s campus is the 114 counties of Missouri,” Cartwright said. “With a focus on all things Missouri, we will deepen the university's relationship with, and value to, the people of Missouri from Neosho to Hannibal. The struggles facing Missouri communities are challenges that we are ready to tackle.”

Edited by Morgan Smith | mosmith@themaneater.com

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