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In 1997 the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education awarded the University of Central Missouri a statewide mission in professional applied science and technology. The mission reflected Central Missouri’s strengths in technology, its capacity to reach a statewide learning community, and its highly qualified faculty and staff. As an element of the statewide mission, the Coordinating Board established mission enhancement goals and accountability measures. These included:
Over the past nine years, Central Missouri has achieved each of these goals and has expanded its technological capabilities in instruction, information retrieval, communications, and distance learning. For example, the University now provides technical training to hundreds of faculty and staff members annually, sponsors face-to-face and virtual technology conferences, conducts annual summer instructional technology seminars for faculty, promotes best practices in the use of classroom technology at Central Missouri and in the public schools, and surveys public school educators to determine instructional needs and to lay the foundation for partnerships between institutions of higher education and the K-12 system. These advances have been supported by the completion of the James C. Kirkpatrick Library, a superbly equipped educational resource for the twenty-first century, and new development and learning facilities such as the School of Technology, CentralNet, the Center for Teaching and Learning. In addition, Central Missouri’s mission is now reinforced by extensive improvements in the institution’s technical capabilities that include an expanded technical staff, improved services, a major upgrade of the campus ethernet backbone, over 150 fully equipped multimedia classrooms, remodeled laboratories, modern departmental equipment, and new high performance computers for virtually the entire Central Missouri faculty.
Central Missouri has also moved to enhance applied and science and technology education in Missouri. New degree programs derived from Central Missouri’s statewide mission include the BS in Aerospace Manufacturing Technology; the MS in Library Information Technology; the MS in Rural Family Nursing; the MS in Educational Technology; the MS in Information Technology; the BS in Crisis Management; the BS in Electronics Engineering Technology; the Cooperative Ph.D. in Technology Management (with Indiana State University), and the BM emphasis in Music Technology. Taking advantage of Central Missouri’s technological strengths, the University now also offers two completely online degree programs, the MS in Criminal Justice and the MS in Industrial Management. New technology degree programs are only half the story, however. Virtually every degree program at Central Missouri is now supported with technology made available through statewide mission funding. Some 1200 courses are now fully or partially presented online employing commercial software extensively used throughout the academic world.
During the past few years the University has made a considerable effort to develop partnerships with community colleges and vocational schools to facilitate the transition of students from two-year technology programs and certification programs to this four-year institution. For example, numerous transfer and articulation agreements have been arranged with the Kansas City Metropolitan Community College system and with Three Rivers Community College, Crowder College, Fort Scott Community College, Ozarks Technical Community College and State Fair Community College. These accords mean that students may build upon their earlier training to master skills in fields as diverse as automotive/power technology, construction management, computer aided drafting and design technology, electronics technology, instructional media technology, and graphic arts. With the advanced instruction and degree programs that Central Missouri provides these students, Missouri’s technology workforce is directly improved and the state’s economic situation is enhanced.
Although much effort has been directed toward expanding technical education for students, Central Missouri has not neglected its commitment to strengthen the state’s core of vocational/technical instructors. Expanding upon earlier outreach efforts through the University’s Office of Extended Campus, Central Missouri has established the Technology and Occupational Education program under the auspices of the College of Applied Sciences and Technology. This program provides in-service training by means of both face-to-face and distance delivery. Another strategy is to bring instructors to Central Missouri to take maximum advantage of the University’s excellent faculty and infrastructure. Toward that end, the Missouri Skills USA program brings hundreds of vocational teachers to campus, and Central Missouri has advanced that program by establishing 12 additional training sites at which more than 5,000 technical teachers have received instruction. Not of least importance is the University’s evolving partnership with the Missouri National Guard, which will permit many technology courses to be available to thousands of guardsmen via distance learning techniques. Indeed, the opportunities for Central Missouri, with its technological and educational resources, to serve the National Guard will continue to be the focus of much discussion and action in the future.
Central Missouri’s capacity to deliver educational programs is greatly enhanced by its telecommunication network and public television station. KMOS-TV is one of two university licensed stations in Missouri, and the KMOS signal reaches over thirty percent of the geographical area of the state, the greatest range of any Missouri public television station. With The 2000-foot tower near Tipton, Missouri now in place, the University broadcasts education programs for the public schools, in-service education to vocational teachers, and just-in-time training at the work site over a large region. In fact, the recent improvements in transmission mean that an additional 300,000 Missouri residents and an additional 42,000 elementary and secondary students now receive the KMOS signal. Among the programs provided by the station are instructional services to over 170 public schools, instruction in the Missouri Migrant Education Centers, training in the Parents as Teachers and Head Start programs, and specific technology instruction for 84 public school districts. Every semester, the University reaches additional Missouri students and citizens with its public service broadcasts, technical instruction, and degree programs.
The statewide mission is on track and moving forward at the University of Central Missouri. Proud of our accomplishments in the technology arena, the Central Missouri community welcomes its mission responsibilities and will continue to build upon the strong foundations established in the first decade of its statewide mission. As the technology future unfolds, Central Missouri will be a step ahead to help Missouri meet it.