New State Law Signifies Momentum at The Missouri Innovation Campus
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (July 16, 2013) – Recent expansion of academic programs, the launch of high-tech summer internships, and now there is a new state law that benefits The Missouri Innovation Campus. Such developments signify substantial progress in this cooperative initiative focused on preparing students for high-tech careers, cutting the time required to earn a college degree, and reducing student debt.
“It’s exciting to work with our partners -- the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, Metropolitan Community College (MCC) and numerous respected businesses -- to the bridge the gap between graduates and workforce demands through The Missouri Innovation Campus,” said Charles Ambrose, president of the University of Central Missouri. “The MIC has tremendous benefits for our state, and we are grateful for Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and our legislators who have publicly demonstrated their support. With tremendous cooperation from the school district, MCC and our many business partners, we’ve started on a limited scale to already serve a Missouri need, but interest in what we’re doing has extended beyond our state.”
Nixon agrees. The governor touted The MIC “as the model for our nation” when he visited the University of Central Missouri July 11 to officially sign into law Senate Bill 38. The bill is a measure which defines by state statute that an innovation campus is a partnership of businesses, high schools, community colleges and four-year higher education institutions. Additionally, it provides for the establishment of a fund for innovation education campuses and recognizes UCM as an entity eligible for state support for MIC under the fund.
The governor last year announced $9 million in grants to support innovation campuses in Missouri, of which $1.5 million directly benefitted The MIC, the first such initiative in the state. Nixon commended UCM and its partners for taking the lead role in establishing a new path to a higher education that will ultimately impact Missouri’s economy.
“It’s a simple and powerful idea. Giving students more valuable skills, greater opportunities in less time and less cost,” the governor told the press and others gathered at UCM.
He noted, “The strength of our economy and the future of the state are directly led to ensuring that higher education remains affordable and provides students with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in the global marketplace. I anticipate the Innovation Campus Initiative could become a model for the rest of the nation.”
The MIC was launched in 2012 with 19 high school juniors enrolled in the Systems Engineering Technology program at the Summit Technology Academy, which is part of the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District. A second cohort of five students are enrolled in this rigorous program and are taking classes this summer, and another 10 students have signed up for the recently announced Engineering Technology/Design and Drafting Technology program and begin classes this fall. Each career-oriented course challenges students for high-demand careers, but the students who participate have great career preparation, earn their bachelor’s degrees sooner than most other students, and graduate with little or no college debt.
Through the innovation Campus, students will complete an associate’s degree from MCC by the semester after high school graduation, and will move next to UCM, where they will complete their Bachelor of Science degree just two years out of high school. Throughout the students’ involvement in the four-year process they are also participating in high-impact internships and on-the-job education thanks to partnering businesses.
These companies include Cerner, DST, Saint Luke’s Health Systems, Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, Black & Veach, Burns & McDonnell, Honeywell, KCP&L, the City of Lee’s Summit and Grundfos. All have entered into partnership agreements with The Missouri Innovation Campus, whereby they help underwrite the cost of training by providing paid internships for the The MIC students. State grants also assist with the program costs.
Laura Evans, a representative of Cerner, said internships help the company to fill current and future needs for technical talent that will contribute to the company’s growth.
“The MIC approach challenges status quo by developing accelerated methods for students to not only gain a degree but work experience needed to successfully apply their skills solving real-world problems in a team-based professional environment,” she said.
Lee’s Summit West High School Senior Brian Green is a senior enrolled in the Systems Engineering Technology program, and one of The MIC students who attended Nixon’s press conference. He is also serving as an intern at Cerner this summer.
Green said the internship is providing “an opportunity to get my foot in the door in the IT (information technology) field. It has been a great learning experience to be at Cerner, especially working on research and problem-solving as part of a development team.”
Innovation Campus programs as well as Summit Technology Academy are open to qualifying students from Lee’s Summit R-7 as well as 18 Kansas City area high schools sending students to the academy. The sending schools pay tuition to R-7 School District for MIC courses as well as other high-tech programs offered at the school.
With legislators and may who are involved in The Missouri Innovation Campus behind him, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signs into law Senate Bill 381, which will benefit innovation campuses across the state. The signing took place at UCM July 11.