The spring edition of Mizzou magazine came in the mail Thursday and surprisingly it didn’t omit, gloss over or sugarcoat any of the controversies that have kept the University of Missouri-Columbia campus in the news.
Todd McCubbin, executive director of the Mizzou Alumni Association, said in an opening essay: “As I write this there are concerns about enrollment and state legislative appropriations. It only stands to reason that questions need to be asked and answered just as with many of you who reached out to us. We have a lot of hard work ahead, and for our students, alumni and the state of Missouri, we have no choice but to succeed.”
The magazine of the alumni association includes color pictures of the November black student protests against instances of racism on campus and a special feature headlined “The State of Mizzou,” detailing the problems that made national news last fall. Mizzou’s coverage includes the controversies over attempts to yank graduate student health insurance benefits, multiple instances of racism, protests, rallies, the release of a study of sexual assaults on campus and a lawsuit over conceal-and-carry restrictions.
The article notes that student activism has always helped the university grow and be more responsive to the people it serves. The magazine notes that when the college started 176 years ago, it was for white men — there were no women or students of color. Women today comprise more than half of the students, and since 2000 black student enrollment has increased 90 percent.
Because of the race-related controversy, top administrators have resigned and interim replacements have been named. The article notes that “Mizzou supports freedom of expression, academic freedom and the robust exchange of ideas and knowledge.”
That is what any institution of higher education should do.
The article explains that since November listening sessions and teach-ins have occurred in which students and school officials have talked about race, diversity and inclusion. New lecture series will begin on the African American experience in Missouri and academic freedom, hate speech and social responsibility.
But throughout controversies last fall, classes continued and “learning never stopped.” Mizzou magazine also features profiles of Mike Middleton, who came out of retirement to be appointed interim president of the University of Missouri system, and Hank Foley, appointed interim chancellor.
MU graduates may remember some of the protests of the past featured in Mizzou, including a 1974 march by black students over the lack of minority faculty, protests by gay students over a lack of inclusion, protests in the 1980s to get the university to recognize the national holiday for the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., 1990s lobbying efforts by Native American students to have the remains of 1,800 American Indians returned to their tribes and 1980s anti-apartheid protests.
This is followed by many pictures in a graphic design of the events of last fall. It’s all to keep MU alums up to date. No matter where they are in the world, they always want to know what’s going on at MU.
In addition, the magazine puts the events in context better than the national news media did.
Mixed in with telling that story were articles on Gary Pinkel’s resignation in December as MU’s winningest football coach, ground-breaking research at the university and updates on alums of yesteryear.
The magazine is how tens of thousands of people worldwide stay connected to the university. It’s great to know that it’s not backing away from giving a complete picture of the goings-on at MU.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am a 1977 MU graduate, my older daughter is a 2005 MU graduate. I served on the communications committee for Mizzou magazine and I served several years on the board of the Mizzou Alumni Association.