Influential Columbia educator dies at 88

Eliot Battle, an influential educator for Columbia Public Schools, died at the age of 88 on June 11.

His death came after he sustained injuries in a single-car accident on June 7 near the corner of Rollins and East Lake Roads.

Battle leaves behind two daughters and a son.

Battle is best known for helping to end segregation in the Columbia Public School district, a process he started when he took the job of principal at Douglass High School in 1956. He then became the first black faculty member at Hickman High School in 1960.

Jim Ritter, former superintendent of Columbia Public Schools and friend of Battle, said Battle always remained positive in his efforts to break down racial barriers. Ritter and Battle worked together in Columbia Public Schools for the entirety of their respective careers, Ritter said.

“(Battle) always exerted a positive attitude about everything he did,” Ritter said.

Everyone close to Battle felt his positive attitude. His daughter, Donna Battle Pierce, said her parents encouraged her and her siblings to break down racial barriers at the schools they attended as well.

“He encouraged us to join every club or group (at school) that had never had black members,” Pierce said in an email. “When people hurt our feelings or left us out of things, he reminded us that they were the ones who were missing out.”

She added that her father would always listen to his children’s concerns and respond with encouraging statements.

Battle worked in Columbia Public Schools for 40 years before retiring in 1991. During his career as a guidance counselor and administrator, Battle established the Continuing Education Center Program at Douglass High School in 1967.

Pierce said her father continued the teaching atmosphere at home as well. He and his wife helped their children get involved with music and put the daughters in ballet. He constantly helped with homework and studying for tests.

Pierce, now a writer, said he helped her until he died.

“Dad was still my best line editor when he passed away,” she said. “I used to send all my columns and stories to him for the last check. He was a master at grammar and spelling.”

After his retirement, Battle published a book titled “A Letter to Young Black Men” in 1997.

His wife, Muriel, served as a faculty member for the school district as well, eventually becoming the associate superintendent of secondary education. Columbia’s newest school, Muriel Williams Battle High School, was dedicated in her honor on June 2. Eliot Battle spoke at the dedication ceremony.

Pierce said she was disappointed when the school couldn’t be named for both of her parents who had worked as a great team, but said her father was happy in dedicating it to her mother. She said Battle took pride in all the people he had helped and he said he didn’t need a school named after him to prove it.

“He always said his greatest rewards were the small conversations from people he had helped,” Pierce said. “He was truly the wind beneath everyone’s wings.”

Battle was a person one could go to with any problem and he would listen, Ritter said.

“He was the kind of friend everyone wants to have in a lifetime,” he said.

Battle received an honorary doctorate from MU in 2009. In 2012, MU Extension previewed a documentary about his role in the desegregation of Columbia schools called “Battle: Change from within.”

Services for Battle will be held June 24 at Columbia’s Missouri United Methodist Church.

~To see on The Maneater‘s website, click here.~

University Bookstore renamed ‘The Mizzou Store’

Posted to On Campus by Katie Pohlman on May 29, 2013 at 5:00 p.m.

The University Bookstore has officially changed its name to “The Mizzou Store,” effective May 29, 2013.MU decided to change the store’s name because “University Bookstore” was too generic, MU Marketing Manager Michelle Froese said.

“We felt (the old name) did not do a strong job of connecting the store to the university,” she said.

Froese said the word book was removed from the name because the store sells school merchandise as well as books. The shift toward electronic instead of paper books was another factor in dropping the word.

MU has considered changing the name for several years. Froese said MU paid attention to faculty and alumni input in deciding what to rename the store.

The selected name is based off a merchandise store the university opened in Chesterfield. The original store sells only apparel.

“Alumni would enter the store and say it felt like being back at Mizzou,” Froese said. “We wanted the store on campus to feel the same way.”

Froese said changing the name Wednesday evokes a sense of continuity. Summer Welcome sessions began Wednesday and MU believed that changing the bookstore’s name before incoming students arrived on campus would be more logical than waiting until the beginning of classes in the fall.

MU’s botched snowjob

By Katie Pohlman


University administration’s late cancellation left students, faculty stranded and streets jammed.

Snow? What snow?

It seemed as if MU administrators didn’t look out their windows or check the weather the morning of Thursday, Feb. 21.

A snowstorm rolled through Columbia, canvassed the campus in white, surpassed early predictions of 4-to-6-inch snowfall and dumped 10 inches all over Columbia.

While the city’s public schools took precautions and canceled classes for the day, MU administrators seemed to stick their fingers in their ears to drown out the winter storm advisory warnings. Before February, MU had only canceled classes seven times in its 174-year history – a point of pride for the university. Administrators weren’t about to change that.

While the snow fell steadily around 8 a.m., students and faculty trudged across campus on packed sidewalks that would not be cleared until the snow stopped that night. No official word from MU.

By 11 a.m., 5 inches had fallen and individual teachers were taking the decision whether or not to cancel classes into their own hands. As the snow continued to pile up, MU administrators seemed to just twiddle their thumbs, hoping it would stop soon.

It seemed as if it took Gov. Jay Nixon declaring a state of emergency for university administrators to decide it might be a good idea to cancel classes for the rest of the day. An hour after the declaration MU Alert announced that school was canceled and sent students and faculty home – if they could get home.

Executive Director of MU News Bureau Mary Jo Banken told The Maneater that because the snow didn’t start falling until after 8 a.m., the decision to cancel class and close the campus was delayed.

“Close to noon when the forecasts changed and the governor declared a state of emergency, we reassessed the situation,” Banken said. “We decided it was in the best interests of the students (to cancel classes).”

Major roads around campus and throughout Columbia were yet unplowed, jammed with cars sitting bumper-to-bumper and dotted by snow-related vehicle accidents. The city had already canceled bus services, leaving students stranded.

The city and university’s handling of the snowstorm caused an uproar. Students fed a long list of complaints to Twitter and Facebook as they struggled to make their way across campus. Some wrote to The Maneater to express their opinions on the issue.

Students, faculty, staff and Columbia residents set out to help those left struggling by Mother Nature by clearing the pathways and forming a rescue squad to help students stranded in cars all around campus. The Student Center and ResLife opened their doors for campus employees that needed a place to stay.

When a severe snowstorm struck again, MU was quick to cancel class.

Student, staff and faculty member awarded for international engagement

By Katie Pohlman


The three awardees were chosen from a pool of 20 nominees.

An associate professor, senior information specialist and doctoral candidate received the International Engagement Award on Friday.

The International Center gives the award hoping to encourage more international involvement within the MU community, said Elizabeth Miller, international communications coordinator for the Office of the Vice Provost of International Programs.

“We give out these awards to cultivate a sense of global citizenship here at MU,” Miller said.

Jere Gilles, associate professor of rural sociology and the scholar awardee for this year, received the award for his leadership in research projects in Latin America, Africa and Asia, according to a news release from the Office of the Vice Provost for International Programs. Gilles has also dedicated his life to learning French and Spanish to allow him to live in regions of the world that speak those languages.

Senior Information Specialist Michael Burden, the staff awardee, is currently developing multimedia content for the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources that will help promote research and teaching. At MU, Burden has served as the Peace Corps recruiter and co-taught a School of Journalism course about cultural intelligence. Burden also put together the Third Goal International Film Festival that was held in early February.

John Criswell, a doctoral candidate in education leadership and policy analysis, was the student awardee this year. Criswell traveled the world as a member of the Navy before attending MU and pursuing a study of higher education. While at MU, he has also studied with many international students and researches the international dimension on campus, according to the news release.

Miller said the office posted an open call for nominees for the award in February. Miller said there were 20 nominees — students, faculty and staff — entered in the contest.

“The pool of nominees was very exceptional this year,” she said. “It was very challenging for the committee to select the three awardees.”

Once the awardees were selected, the office hosted an award ceremony to honor all the nominees and winners. Jill Findeis, director for the Division of Applied Social Sciences was the keynote speaker and Vice Provost Handy Williamson was the master of ceremonies.

Findeis gave a speech about her work around the world and how it has influenced her current work.

After the speech, all 20 nominees were called up to the stage individually and received certificates in recognition of their international work. The three awardees were then recognized and given plaques with their names as a reward. Williamson read excerpts from their reference letters to talk about their international experience as well.

When all the nominees and awardees were recognized, there was a reception for all of those who attended the ceremony.

Miller said the award is special because it recognizes all types of people in the MU community for their work within the classroom and out of it.

“It is the only award where we recognize student, staff and faculty,” she said. “It awards their work in extracurricular activities on campus and events abroad.”

LGBTQ Resource Center holds Pride Parade

By Katie Pohlman


An estimated 300 participants showed their support Wednesday.

Students and faculty encircled the fountain outside the MU Student Center Wednesday, waiting for the Pride Parade to begin.This year’s parade marks the second Pride Parade hosted by the LGBTQ Resource Center. The parade began at noon and lasted about 50 minutes.

Participants marched around MU’s campus from the Student Center to Francis Quadrangle and back to Kuhlman Court, where the parade ended. Marchers were each given quarter sheets with chants printed on them. As the parade made its way around campus, the participants chanted in unison phrases like, “Whomever we may be, we want equality,” and “Two, four, six, eight, equality in every state.”

“It’s a great deal of fun (to be in the parade),” junior Laura Herrera said. “I get to walk with my friends, my partner and, this year, my partner’s mom. It’s such a positive atmosphere.”

Sophomore Chris Gothner said this year was his first time walking in the parade. He said being involved in the LGBTQ community inspired him to walk.

Gothner said he thinks the parade is a good way for LGBTQ students to show the campus that they are people just like anyone else.

“The parade shows them that we’re not in the closet anymore,” he said. “It shows them that we are your friends, neighbors, classmates. That’s really important.”

This year’s parade was bigger than last years, LGBTQ Resource Center Coordinator Struby Struuble said. She estimated that there were around 300 participants.

The participants were much more involved this year as well, making their own signs and T-shirts to bring to the parade.

Struble said the Pride Parade shows how supportive and inclusive MU is toward its students.

“We have a ton of allies on campus,” Struble said. “The parade gives the participants a sense of Mizzou pride and inclusiveness.”

Struble said she is glad to see growing campus support for the LGBTQ community. She said when she was an undergraduate, there was no parade and she felt very little support. But she said she is glad to see the views of campus and its students changing.

Struble said there is still a ways to go.

Junior Kat Seal said she participated in the parade for her first time this year because she thinks it is a good way to expose other students to the LGBTQ community.

“I know about (the LGBTQ Resource Center), but other students might not,” she said. “The parade is a good way to show them that there is a large, thriving group out there.”