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UMSL Chancellor Discusses University’s Role In The Community

University of Missouri-St. Louis chancellor Tom George
University of Missouri-St. Louis

The University of Missouri–St. Louis is just a few miles from the Ferguson street where Michael Brown was shot and killed Aug. 9. Chancellor Thomas George said that wherever he goes, people ask about Ferguson.

“There are immediate issues to deal with, clearly, and we all have to work on the immediate issues,” George told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Thursday. “But we also, at some stage, and we’re starting to do that, stand back a little, look at what’s more deep-seated, look where issues are that are not only a problem in Ferguson, but a problem, really, across the whole St. Louis area and other metropolitan areas. How do we address and deal with these? How do we deal with issues of racism? How do we deal with issues of unemployment? Opportunities?”

George said the university has “ramped up” some of its existing services in response, including its Children’s Advocacy Center, Center for Trauma Recovery, Missouri Institute of Mental Health and Community Psychological Service. The school’s criminology department also is exploring new options, including working with Saint Louis University, Washington University and St. Louis Community College.

“When you look at the profile of many of our police forces, it doesn’t reflect the profile of the people they’re serving,” George said. “That is one area that certainly, through our criminology/criminal justice department, through the law schools, for example, at SLU, at Wash U, maybe working first with the community college, we can get more people across all sorts of backgrounds interested in the law profession.”

The university also is looking to expand programs that would help community members find housing and jobs.

“We have expertise in areas, for example, like foreclosures, financing homes, getting opportunities for people to move into a home or to secure and keep the home,” George said. “Those are the areas that we have faculty expertise, and Wash U does as well. We want to look as to how we can develop that further — look for opportunities for people that are struggling finding places to live, then we can make that better for them.”

Last week, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced he will direct $500,000 to UMSL to expand tutoring programs to students from low-income families in St. Louis. The university also is part of Ferguson Forward, a plan funded by Emerson to fund education programs and increase opportunities for residents of Ferguson and nearby communities. That initiative includes $1.5 million for an UMSL scholarship program.

“St. Louis on the Air” discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.

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