PHOTO: Wayne Goode, one of the founders of University of Missouri-St. Louis, speaks at the gala Jubilee Kick-off Party on February 1, which began the year-long celebration of the university’s 50th anniversary. Photo by Leon Devance for The Current.


By Sharon Pruitt, Managing Editor, and Cate Marquis, Editor-in-Chief for The Current

It has been an eventful year for University of Missouri-St. Louis. Here is a quick look back at some of the big stories for the 2012-2013 school year, in an UMSL Year in Review.

UMSL’s 50th Anniversary Jubilee

In 1963, University of Missouri-St. Louis became the first public university in St. Louis. Over 1,500 people attended the dedication ceremony on Sept. 15, 1963. Half a century later, UMSL began celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in 2013 with a year-long roster of events. The Jubilee Anniversary Kick-Off Celebration was held on Feb. 1 at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center. In honor of the occasion, UMSL alumnus and KSDK sports anchor Frank Cusumano served as master of ceremonies. Those in attendance were treated to music and dancing, along with a program featuring a look back at those who have helped shape UMSL’s progress throughout the years. This program was a highlight of the night.

As part of the UMSL Jubilee celebration, organizations and departments from every corner of campus have planned events of their own throughout the year, from seminars and presentations to beautification projects. One such project was the UMSL Jubilee Glass Pane Project, which consisted of the unveiling of “UMSL in Glass,” a newly commissioned statue that lies on the southwest lawn of the Millennium Student Center.

For more information on UMSL’s year of celebration, including a full list of planned events, visit

UMSL Chancellor Thomas George (center) participates in the ribbon cutting to open UMSL in Grand Center, including the new studio space for KWMU radio. Photo by Yeseul Park for The Current. (c)

UMSL’s NPR affiliate radio station moves to new UMSL at Grand Center location

2012 was a big year for St. Louis Public Radio. 90.7 KWMU began broadcasting from the new UMSL at Grand Center building on June 18 after having previously been housed in Lucas Hall and Clark Hall.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house was held on Sept. 15 at the site. Those in attendance had the option of witnessing a live radio broadcast and indulging in the treats sold by the various food trucks in attendance. Chancellor Thomas George and Tom Eby, general manager of St. Louis Public Radio, both delivered speeches during the event. During Eby’s speech, he shared a statement issued by St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, naming Sept. 15 UMSL at Grand Center Day in St. Louis.

Following the ribbon-cutting, those in attendance were given the option of touring the new space, now open to the public. Employees of St. Louis Public Radio were stationed throughout the building, ready to provide visitors with information as well as answer any questions.

UMSL at Grand Center is home to St. Louis Public Radio, community facilities, a newsroom, various classrooms and meeting spaces for the UMSL community and much more. The $12 million building, located at 3651 Olive Street, has three stories and 27,000 square feet of space.


UMSL’s acceptance of a donation from Peabody Energy, formerly Peabody Coal, sparked a campus protest. Photo by Dan Cohn for MORE. (c)

Peabody Energy donation for new science labs sparks protest

Peabody Energy, formerly known as Peabody Coal, donated $750,000 to UMSL as part of the Gateway to Greatness campaign. The donation, which was announced in September 2012, will go toward the renovation of science labs in Benton Hall and Stadler Hall. Peabody Energy will be granted naming rights for the labs as well.

In October, David Scott, senior, secondary education, voiced his concerns regarding the decision. Scott cited the negative environmental effects of mining and Peabody Energy’s history in the coal industry as cause to reject the donation and any connection to the company. Dr. Ronald Yasbin, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, wrote an open letter defending the university’s choice to accept the donation, which was a gift that will help the UMSL community. The letter was published on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website.

The acceptance of the donation was met with protest by UMSL students and others in the St. Louis community. On Oct. 26, a group convened in the MSC before marching across campus to Chancellor George’s office in Woods Hall. The protest was an effort to persuade the university to return the donation and distance itself from Peabody Energy and the coal industry at large. Bob Samples, associate vice chancellor of communications, met with the protestors to schedule a meeting with Chancellor George at a later date.

The Student Government Association preparing to vote for the new combined tuition-fee structure. Photo by Jenny Lin for The Current (c).

Changes to cost of attending UMSL on the way for coming year

All the talk was about parking passes but changes to fees for attending UMSL will impact students starting this next fall.

Many of the proposed fee changes were announced at SGA meetings in the fall. The first was the per-credit hour cost of the new Recreation Center approved last spring, which will be $19.25 per credit hour charge, to be capped at 12 hours per semester $231). At the end of the semester, SGA approved a new proposal to eliminate the separate tuition and student fees structure and go with a single combined fee. Online students would not longer be able to opt out of fees for use of the gym and students who do not drive will no longer be able to opt out of parking fees, as there will be only a single per-credit hour charge, but all students would be issued a parking pass. Students will no longer see a break-down of how fees are spent and the university also is changing to a more “single pot” approach to funding the various campus divisions and functions. When the University of Missouri Curators met on the UMSL campus this fall, they also approved a tuition hike for UMSL.

Students will see all these changes to the cost attending UMSL starting next fall, except the charge for the Rec Center, which will come online when the facility opens, which is expected to be in 2015. Construction is expected to start this fall. The SGA estimated the cost of attending for the 2013-2014 will be slightly lower but how student fees are spent are now less transparent.


The team of UMSL students who made the documentary ‘How the Debt Crisis Impacts UMSL.’ Photo by Cate Marquis for The Current (c)

Student debt is focus of campus discussion series, capped by UMSL documentary

Student debt has been a hot topic at UMSL this year. New student organization Young Activists United hosted a discussion forum on Feb. 6, inviting students, staff and faculty members to meet and discuss the growing problem of student debt and how it affects the UMSL community. Among the topics of discussion were questions such as “How can we increase need-based aid?” and “How can we have a greater student voice in keeping the cost of UMSL low?” Students, staff and faculty members participated in a roundtable discussion, offering theories and listening to the ideas of others in the hopes of better understanding the problem.

The UMSL chapter of Young Activists United and the dean’s Committee on Social Justice in the College of Education also hosted the film series “Higher Education, Access, and Equity.” The series began screening in 2012 and concluded in April 2013 with the premiere of the student-made documentary “How The Debt Crisis Impacts UMSL.” The documentary, which was created by UMSL students, features interviews with current students and alumni of UMSL along with other local universities. The screening was followed by a discussion session moderated by Alice Floros, senior, history education, intercampus coordinator with Young Activists United St. Louis and Dr. Carl Hoagland, teaching professor and Emerson Electric endowed professor of technology and learning. During the discussion, participants offered a variety of theories and possible strategies to approach the student debt problem, such as placing an emphasis on financial education earlier in the lives of students.


(l-r) Louis Aboussie and Phyllis Jourdan were among capacity audience that fill the Touhill PAC for a broadcast taping of PBS’ ‘Washington Week.’ Photo by Cate Marquis for The Current. (c)

PBS’ ‘Washington Week’ comes to UMSL before presidential election

“Washington Week,” the longest-running prime time news and public affairs program on television, visited UMSL on the cusp of the 2012 election. On Sept. 28, the popular PBS program, which airs locally on KETC/Nine Network on Fridays, hosted a taping of two episodes in the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center’s Anheuser-Busch Performance Hall.

Washington Week,” hosted by journalist Gwen Ifill, is a news show wherein a group of journalists participate in a roundtable discussion of major topics in the news. During the Touhill taping, Ifill and panel discussed the theoretical impact of early voting on the 2012 election and the senate race between Todd Akin and Claire McCaskill, which had recently garnered national attention. UMSL alumna Phyllis Jourdan was one of the audience members who got to ask the panel a question. Jourdan’s question was on the looming problem of growing student debt. The event drew a number of elected officials and their staff, including Louis Aboussie, a staff member for U.S. Congressman William “Lacy” Clay.


Dr. David Wang of Washington University speaks on ‘Genomic Approaches to Virus Discovery- at UMSL’s first genomics conference. Photo by Yeseul Park. (c)

UMSL hold its first-ever Genomics Symposium

The Biochemistry and Biotechnology program at UMSL hosted “The Symposium on Genomics” on Sept. 28. While this may not be news for other universities such as St. Louis University and Washington University, UMSL has not held such an event previously.

The Biochemistry and Biotechnology program defined genomics as “an area of genetics that involves the study of the genomes or full genetic content of organisms.” As part of the event, three seminars on the topic of genomics were offered: “Genomic Approaches to Virus Discovery,” presented by David Wang of Washington University; “From Studying Large Cohorts to Analyzing Single Molecules,” presented by Pui-Yan Kwok from University of California-San Francisco; and “Microreactor Arrays for Sequencing, Digital PCR and Single Cell Analysis,” presented by Peter A. Sims from Columbia University.


Nashville Ballet’s ‘Carmina Burana’ was one of the biggest arts events at UMSL during this past academic year. Photo courtesy of Dance St. Louis (c)

‘Carmina Burana’ performance at Touhill is a highlight of Jubilee arts events

Dance St. Louis presented “Carmina Burana” for three performances in the Touhill’s Anheuser-Busch Hall Feb. 22-24 of 2012. The performance featured dancers from the Nashville Ballet, UMSL University Orchestra and Singers, the Bach Society of St. Louis and the St. Louis Children’s Choirs. Vocal soloists were soprano Stella Markou, baritone Jeffery Heyl and tenor Tim Warrick.

The musical and dance extravaganza was one of the best-attended and biggest arts events of the school year. The scheduled opening night performance, Thursday, Feb. 21, was canceled due to the snow and ice storm, so the house was especially packed for the Friday evening performance. The excitement was clearly apparent in the sold-out theater for this production, which had also been designated a UMSL Jubilee event, commemorating the university’s 50th anniversary.


New memorial plaza honors former chancellor Marguerite Ross Barnett

The Marguerite Ross Barnett Memorial Plaza, located between Lucas Hall and the Social Sciences & Business Building Tower, was unveiled in a dedication ceremony on Oct. 26. Donald M. Suggs, president and publisher of the St. Louis American, was among those in attendance, as was Amy Dubois-Barnett, daughter of the late chancellor and editor-in-chief of Ebony Magazine. Both Suggs and Dubois-Barnett spoke in remembrance of Chancellor Barnett and the work she did to earn such a tangible place in UMSL history. The Memorial Plaza was built in remembrance of Chancellor Barnett and the progress she made on various long-term goals during her time at the university, such as providing comprehensive programming for underprivileged pre-collegiate students.

The four granite walls between the columns represent Chancellor Barnett’s belief that urban universities should connect community and campus resources in support of higher education for underserved urban communities, while the four granite columns represent the four years she served as chancellor.


UMSL Triton Neil Branham (number 5) at work under the leadership of Coach Tappmeyer. Photo by Leon Devance for The Current (c)

Coach Tappmeyer resigns

The biggest sports story on campus was the unexpected resignation of UMSL men’s basketball coach Steve Tappmeyer, who had led the Tritons to four winning seasons. Read more on Coach Tappmeyer and what the resignation means for the UMSL team in the separate article in this issue.





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