Commentary is a regular UMSL Daily column written by members of the UMSL community.


Provocative headline, eh? It’s actually borrowed, slightly modified, from a December article in Forbes magazine (“St. Louis Doesn’t Suck”). Forbes contributor Aaron Perlut, tired of the media dissing his adopted hometown, laid out a great case for all the good things about the city, from affordable housing and a strong employment base to rich cultural activities and a collection of outstanding education resources.

Though he didn’t mention UMSL by name, the university certainly fits in that category of “outstanding education resources.”

UMSL is St. Louis’ public university. It is an asset that is greatly regarded by community leaders. UMSL is the fuel that drives the economic engine of the entire region. It is a source that businesses, government and nonprofits depend on for intellectual and managerial resources. UMSL is the fountain of knowledge for students wanting a rich and affordable education and a meaningful career. It is a foundation for researchers to build a better world.

UMSL is one great reason why St. Louis doesn’t suck.

So, what’s so good about UMSL? Students, faculty, staff, alumni and retirees can probably cite many more and better attributes (and I’ll ask you to later in this piece), but let me start.

UMSL is a real academic institution:

• Undergrad courses are “rigorous” (yeah, “hard”). Want to go where you can pack your course load with blow-off courses? There are a bunch of universities around that’ll let you do that. Of course, they charge twice as much for that inferior degree and it might not even be accredited (that means some places won’t hire you). Your rigorous courses mean you’re learning. You’ll have knowledge to go along with your degree. UMSL is a serious education and a serious value. (Where have we heard that before?)

• Want to go to grad school? Yes, at UMSL some programs require a graduate entrance exam, a good undergrad GPA and there are grade standards to maintain. Oh, also, UMSL won’t give you credit for “life experience.” So, what? For one, you’ll have the brains and background to do the work. Your professors will teach meaningful stuff that smart people use in their careers. No dumbing down the curriculum. Your study partners will be bright; you won’t have to drag the group along. You might even be chasing it. And probably most important to many of you, a UMSL graduate degree is respected and valued both further up the educational ladder and in the marketplace.

• UMSL is a research university. We’ve heard that over and over. So what? For one, many of the innovations that happen in the labs and research studies are supported by our graduate and undergrad students. They’re part owners of the research and can use that experience to go far in their careers. Because UMSL offers 14 doctoral degrees, UMSL grad students and professors are contributing to the body of knowledge in many diverse areas, and they share it with their students. UMSL PhDs across the world are running labs, chairing departments and managing agencies. They make a difference. If you want to go to grad school, you obviously want to make a difference, at least in your own life.

OK, so what do you think is good about UMSL? Value? Greek life? Life-changing teachers? St. Louis Public Radio? Tritons basketball? Free Metro pass? Oak Hall? The Touhill? Subway? Louie? Parking? (OK, let’s not go there.) Tell us on Facebook. Go to

Ron Gossen is the chief marketing officer and senior associate vice chancellor for marketing and communications at UMSL.

Ryan Heinz

Ryan Heinz