President Obama Wants 'Country to Notice' Innovation at UCM
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (July 25, 2013) – Before a campus audience of more than 2,500 people and in front of media outlets that shared his message with millions of people, United States President Barack Obama praised the University of Central Missouri for its willingness to make a difference in education through the Missouri Innovation Campus.
"Not only are you graduating debt-free, but you also know you have a job waiting for you at the other end,” he said about this program, pioneered by UCM, the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, Metropolitan Community College and numerous business partners. “Now, that is exactly the kind of innovation we need when it comes to college costs. That’s what’s happening right here in Warrensburg, and I want the entire country to notice it, and I want other colleges to take a look at what’s being done here."
He included comments about UCM and The MIC when he spoke July 24 at the university’s Student Recreation and Wellness Center. It was the final public presentation in a day that also took him to Knox College in Galesburg, Ill.
Obama is the first sitting president to visit the university, and the second world leader since Bill Clinton to come to campus since May 2011. His stop at UCM was one of several the President will make in the next few weeks as he travels around the nation laying out his vision for rebuilding the economy.
A number of students from The MIC stood behind President Obama during his 30-minute presentation. Brian Greene, a Lee’s Summit North High School student who takes courses at the Summit Technology Academy, is in the first cohort of students to begin the program. He had the opportunity to introduce the President and to share his experiences as a student in The MIC.
“This kind of intensive program is not for everyone,” Greene told the crowd. “My active schedule is a testament to how rigorous it can be. Every day during the week, I work as a full-time intern at Cerner, I take two online college courses, and then I go run cross-country. Despite the lack of free time, the experience is worth it. Learning skills first hand in the workplace has set me and everyone else in The MIC program up for promising careers. This is an innovative experience that I am very proud to be part of it.”
Obama spoke about a number of economic issues and how they affected middle-class families, but told the gathering the country over the past 40 months has created 7.2 million new jobs, and is currently is benefitting from the strongest private sector job growth since 1999. But, he said, much improvement is needed, and education will play a key role in bringing about needed change.
“In an age where business knows no borders, jobs are going to seek out the countries that have the most talented, skilled citizens, and those are the folks who are going to make a good living. The days where the wages for a worker with a high school degree could keep pace with earnings of somebody with a college degree – those days are over. You can see it all throughout the Midwest, where you’ve got folks who a generation ago could just walk into a factory or a plant, didn’t have a lot of skills, get trained on the job, make a good living, live out a middle-class life. That’s not going to happen anymore. Technology, global competition – those things are not going away.”
He said the nation needs to rethink its high schools so that students can graduate with “the real-world skills that this new age demands. We’ve got to reward the schools that forge partnerships with local colleges and businesses, and that focus on the fields of the future like science and technology and math and engineering.”
“….So here at the University of Central Missouri, you are a laboratory for this kind of innovation,’ President Obama said. “What’s happened at UCM is you’ve partnered with the Lee’s Summit School District, with the Metropolitan Community College, with local health care, engineering, energy, and infrastructure firms --- industries that are going to drive job growth in the future – and everybody is now working together to equip students with better skills, allow them to graduate faster with less debt and with the certainty of being able to get a job at the other end. That’s a recipe for success over the long term,” Obama said.
Through the Missouri Innovation Campus, students greatly reduce time spent earning their college degrees. They will complete an associate's degree from MCC by the semester after high-school graduation, earning either a bachelor's degree in Systems Engineering Technology or a bachelor's degree in Engineering Technology / Design & Drafting Technology (CADD) from UCM within two years after high school graduation. Throughout the students' involvement in the four-year process, they participate in high-impact internships and on-the-job education thanks to the partnering businesses.