man addressing crowd

Marshall Stewart, vice chancellor for extension and engagement. Courtesy MU Extension.

Soon after Marshall Stewart came to Mizzou as vice chancellor for extension and engagement, he visited northwest Missouri residents in Hamilton and posed a question: “How many of you can tell me what MU Extension did for you today?” Every hand shot up.

Then he asked how many could say what the University of Missouri had done for them today. No one moved.

That response captured what Stewart learned during his first year on the job: Missourians love Mizzou, but few know how faculty and programs across campus benefit their communities. “We’re kind of like the Caped Crusader — we’re doing a lot of good, but nobody knows it’s us,” Stewart says.

To make the university’s work more visible and accessible, Stewart’s team has been compiling an inventory of Mizzou’s engagement efforts. When the project launches, internal and external stakeholders will be able to search the database online by project type, such as youth or agriculture, and by geography, such as municipality or county.

Stewart believes that organizing the information will make it easier to link programs and collaborate. For example, across Missouri, MU Extension runs 4-H programs, the College of Education is at work in every school district, and the College of Arts and Science helps strengthen instruction in science education. “All of those end results go to young people, but those efforts have not been aligned, coordinated or communicated to maximize the impact of Mizzou,” Stewart says.

Other efforts are underway to make Mizzou’s expertise more visible by developing a knowledge center. For instance, county health directors planning programs to fight the opioid epidemic could consult the database to learn whether Mizzou already has such a project and who the local partners are.

It’s all part of the land-grant mission, Stewart says: “We are here to serve Missourians.”

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