UMSL Chancellor Tom George presents his annual report to the community today (May 4) at America's Center in St. Louis. A $1 million gift from Monsanto Company to the university and a redesign of Natural Bridge Road were among his announcements. (Photo by August Jennewein)

With a $1 million gift to the University of Missouri–St. Louis, Chancellor Tom George announced the Monsanto Company will fund a community education center in the university’s new building in Grand Center. George also announced funding of the “transformative” redesign of a portion of Natural Bridge Road from Hanley to Lucas and Hunt roads that runs through the campus in north St. Louis County.

The announcements were made at the 36th annual Chancellor’s Report to the Community May 4 at America’s Center. More than 700 people attended the event, which was presented in partnership with the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association.

The Monsanto Community Education Center will be located on the first floor of the new UMSL at Grand Center building, 3651 Olive Street in St. Louis. Scheduled to open in late spring, the building will offer classes and programming in the city’s arts and entertainment district and provide a new home for the studios and offices of St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 KWMU. The building is expected to be completed in June.

The redesign of Natural Bridge Road, part of the Great Streets project, received commitment of funding Thursday from federal, state and local sources. Those sources include the Missouri Department of Transportation, St. Louis County, the East-West Gateway Council of Governments and Great Rivers Greenway. Cost of the project will be approximately $14 million and is expected to begin in fiscal year 2014.

George announced the university had record enrollment this year of nearly 17,000 and was on track to surpass that number in the fall. And enrollment at UMSL’s Pierre Laclede Honors College shot up over 500, a record-breaking number.

He also reported the university’s Gateway for Greatness Campaign had reached $145 million and was expected to hit its $150 million goal by fall. UMSL hit its earlier goal of $100 million in 2010 and raised it to $150 million.

George announced additional gifts including two scholarships:

• A $1.5 million gift from Enterprise Holdings Foundation to create the Enterprise Opportunity Driver Scholarship Program that awards $5,000 annual scholarships in business administration to low and moderate-income undergraduates.
• A $1 million gift from the estate of former UMSL professor Dr. Eugene and Alice Meehan to create one of the largest private scholarships at UMSL.

George reported on UMSL’s national academic rankings:

• Three programs attained national rankings from U.S. News and World Report: Graduate nursing ranked in the top 14 percent of similar program in the country. The doctoral program in Criminology and Criminal Justice ranked fourth in the nation and Undergraduate International Business ranked 15th, its ninth year in the top 20 percent.
• Academic Analytics ranked UMSL seventh nationally in scholarly productivity among universities with 15 or fewer doctoral programs.
• Nine graduate programs made U.S. News and World Report “Best” list including: Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Clinical Psychology, Education, Part-time MBA, Political Science, Psychology, Public Affairs and Social Work.

And 30 of UMSL’s inventors – faculty, students and staff holding U.S. patents – were inducted into the new chapter of the National Academy of Inventors. The organization promotes academic inventions and enhances visibility of technology and innovation.

George noted that UMSL faculty, students and alumni continue to be recognized for their outstanding accomplishments. Among them:

• New UMSL graduate Nguyen Ngo won the 2011 Elijah Watt Sells award for her top score in the Uniform CPA Examination. Only 20 such awards are issued worldwide each year.
• Four 20-year-old students will graduate this year with honors. Since 1974, only 217 students 20 years old and younger have accomplished the same feat.
• Wendy Saul, the Allen and Helen Shopmaker Professor of Education, was awarded the Science Teacher of Missouri Distinguished Service Award for her contributions to science education and the Science Teachers of Missouri.

Maureen Zegel

Maureen Zegel

Eye on UMSL: Tending the gardens

Biology student James Ott and Sustainable Energy & Environmental Coordinator Katy Mike Smaistrla pull weeds last week in the native gardens north of the Recreation Wellness Center.