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Mizzou Advantage Builds on Past Success, Prepares for Upcoming Academic Year

MU names new facilitators for Education and Media of the Future

August 22nd, 2013

Story Contact: Christian Basi, 573-882-4430,

By Jerett Rion

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The University of Missouri is known for its highly collaborative, interdisciplinary culture. Since 2010, four key areas of strength have been collectively known as the Mizzou Advantage: One Health, One Medicine; Sustainable Energy; Media of the Future; and Food for the Future. Nearly 100 research projects involving approximately 400 faculty members and hundreds of students across campus have been spearheaded by a facilitator in each of the four areas in addition to a facilitator that oversees an educational component. As MU prepares for a new academic year, new facilitators for the education component and Media of the Future will continue the progress of the Mizzou Advantage.

Michael Gold, research professor of agroforestry and associate director in the Center for AgroForestry at MU, has been appointed education facilitator for Mizzou Advantage, and Mike McKean, associate professor of journalism and director of the Reynolds Journalism Institute Futures Lab, has been appointed as the facilitator for the Media of the Future area.

As the education facilitator, Gold will work with MU faculty to develop new interdisciplinary instructional programs for each Mizzou Advantage area, adding value and positioning graduates for professional success, developing courses for the certificate programs while complementing the traditional academic majors, and aligning Mizzou Advantage instructional activities with the University’s mission, including the exploration of alternative delivery methods such as hybrid and 100-percent online courses.

“It’s an important turning point for Mizzou Advantage as we move into a new academic year,” Foster said. “We have hired people who can help move Mizzou Advantage to the next step, including applying for grants from government agencies and focusing on the most rapidly changing jobs in our economy’s future. We want to prepare our students for tomorrow’s jobs and give our faculty the tools to solve the problems of the future.”

Currently, Mizzou Advantage has seven interdisciplinary courses available to students. Undergraduate students also have the opportunity to get involved in interdisciplinary research teams to solve societal problems. Past projects have included economic development of rural communities, social computing for health organizations, and erosion and storm water management. Mizzou Advantage also supports the MU Graduate Peer Mentoring Program that enables senior graduate students to share experiences and perspectives to newly admitted graduate students.

“Michael Gold has a passion for Mizzou Advantage and understands the big picture,” Foster said. “He has a dynamic understanding of how the education component fits with Mizzou Advantage. In the future, we would like to have a set of educational elements that will prepare our students to be successful in the ever-changing areas of Mizzou Advantage. We need students who can be adaptive in these environments, and I believe Michael can help our students achieve that goal.”

“Overall, we want to maximize MU’s potential by bringing together resources and innovative educational materials, reaching beyond the borders of Columbia to include students and adult learners worldwide via online courses,” Gold said. “”Currently, we’re hoping to expand our educational opportunities and reach out to the business sector for funding, especially since many industries will benefit from the end results of Mizzou Advantage.”

As the facilitator for Media of the Future, McKean will be responsible for developing interdisciplinary projects that involve journalism and bringing together faculty from other disciplines, on and off campus.

“Mike McKean comes to this position with an immense amount of relevant experience in the world of media,” Foster said. “Our first facilitator, Charles Davis, made great progress and laid a good foundation, which Mike will be able to use and build upon as we move forward.”

For example, students from the School of Journalism, College of Engineering and School of Medicine currently are working in teams to explore how motion capture technology used in video games can be used to help rehabilitate patients. Students in the Reynolds Journalism Institute lab also are expanding mobile application development on campus.  Some recent examples include a new app that helps consumers locate, store and prepare fresh local produce and an app that helps university students find a safe path across campus.

“Jobs in today’s world require students to have expertise in more than just their area of study,” McKean said. “For example, journalism students need to know how to use data sets for applications and online media, while information technology (IT) students need to learn how to use media to promote their work. So, for example, by bringing journalism and IT students together, they can learn important skills from one another that they may not have had the opportunity to in the classroom. This can lead to better job opportunities.”

Gold received his bachelor’s degree in forestry with honors in 1975 from Michigan State University (MSU). He received his doctoral degree in forestry from MSU in 1984. After receiving his degree, Gold become a forestry professor at MSU in 1984 and taught there until he left for MU in 1998. Gold has been teaching agroforestry at MU for 15 years and has won awards for his research and outreach efforts, including the USDA NCR-SARE Paula Ford Professional Development Program Proposal of the Year in 2013. Currently, he serves as the associate director of the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry. Gold replaces LuAnne Roth who served as the education facilitator since 2010.

McKean received his bachelor’s degree in journalism from MU in 1979 and a master’s degree in political science from Rice University in 1986. He began teaching journalism at MU in 1986, and later, founded the convergence journalism sequence. Since his time at MU, McKean has won numerous awards, including the MU Innovator Award for Advanced Teaching with Technology in 2005 and the William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence in 2011. McKean will replace Charles Davis who served as facilitator for Media of the Future since 2010.