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University of Central Missouri
Administration 302
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4640
Fax: 660-543-4943

UCM Extends Innovation Track to Knob Noster School District

Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (June 27, 2017) – Consistent with the University of Central Missouri’s goals to address national workforce needs through partnerships that make a college education more accessible and affordable, the university is extending its Innovation Track program to the Knob Noster R-VIII School District. This new opportunity provides a way for all students to complete college in less time. It also establishes a Cybersecurity Career Pathway that accelerates the time to degree completion and reduces the cost of a higher education for high school students who enroll in the program.

Innovation Track KN

A Memorandum of Understanding establishing the Innovation Track Cybersecurity Career Pathway in the Knob Noster R-VIII School District was recently signed by, front row left, Charles Ambrose, president of the University of Central Missouri, and Jerrod Wheeler, district superintendent. They were joined by, back row, from left, Laurel Hogue, vice provost for extended studies; Sandy Cruz, UCM dual credit director; Sara Karnowski, Innovation Track advisor; Deborah Curtis, provost-chief learning officer; Col. John Nichols, commander of the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base; and Michael Cohron, assistant superintendent.

The Innovation Track Cybersecurity Career Pathway was recently announced by UCM President Charles Ambrose during a visit to Whiteman Air Force Base as a way to celebrate the legacy of Air Force Brig. Gen Paul W. Tibbets IV. A strong supporter of UCM and the Knob Noster R-VIII School District, Tibbets had served as commander of the 509th Bomb Wing for two years prior to transferring this month to Barksdale Air Force Base as a major general for the Air Force Global Strike Command. The Memorandum of Understanding formally establishing this program was signed June 21 by Ambrose and District Superintendent Jerrod Wheeler during a meeting of the Knob Noster Board of Education.

Wheeler said Tibbets was instrumental in bringing the school district and the university together to make the Innovation Track possible for the benefit of military-connected students.

“This was one of those parting gifts he (Tibbets) left to the community, and we appreciate Dr. Ambrose for having the innovative mindset to get it done,” Wheeler said.

He noted that the Innovation Track is a guided pathway to completing up to 30 hours of college credit while a student is still in high school. It allows a student to potentially complete a four-year college degree within three years after their high school graduation.

Knob Noster students who enroll in the program will follow an education pathway that includes advanced placement courses offered by the school district in addition to dual credit courses available online and on campus leading toward a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity degree. Students seeking another degree can take advantage of the program to complete many of the academic course requirements that also will enable them to graduate earlier than most college students.

Wheeler said the program provides a link to the Knob Noster High School Air Force Junior ROTC program. This will help create a direct pipeline into both the Air Force and cybersecurity careers.

When Ambrose spoke to the school board, he pointed out the Innovation Track is a way to bring to scale elements of The Missouri Innovation Campus (MIC), which is a joint initiative of UCM, the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, and Metropolitan Community College. Established in 2012, students enter The MIC program as high school juniors, and within two years after their high school graduation they will complete a four-year college degree. They do so having benefited from three years of paid internships with Kansas City area companies, and an education pathway that leads to little or no college debt.

 Although it does not have an internship component like The MIC, The Innovation Track concept has provided a means to incorporate the dual credit and advanced placement components of The MIC model to extend opportunities to other school districts. This includes Warrensburg High School, which was the first school to implement the Innovation Track concept.

“These partnerships were formed with one purpose in mind – putting your students in the very best position to not only leave college with no debt, but to equip them to be very competitive in today’s workforce. We are excited about this opportunity and the response of students, your counselors and your school leaders,” Ambrose told the R-VIII board.

According to Sandy Cruz, director of dual credit at UCM, students enrolled in the Innovation Track Cybersecurity Career Pathway will benefit from support they receive from UCM and the Knob Noster R-VIII School District. This includes academic advisement for students and tracking student progress towards the completion of credits in the pathway. They also have access to the university library, opportunities to use the university’s Student Recreation and Wellness Center, free admission to athletic events, as well as financial benefits. Students who enroll in the Innovation Track while in high school take courses at the dual credit tuition rate, which is approximately 70 percent less than regular tuition. Students enrolled in the program who decide to seek a degree at UCM also may be eligible for a $500 scholarship in their last semester at the university.

To learn more about UCM’s Innovation Track opportunities, contact the High School Dual Credit Office, Humphreys 401, at the toll-free number, 877-729-8266, ext. 23 or call 660-543-4876.