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MIC Stakeholders, Gov. Greitens Celebrate Grand Opening

By Jeff Murphy, September 6, 2017

WARRENSBURG, MO – Calling the partnerships leading to the new Missouri Innovation Campus (MIC) program and facility a “success,” Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on Sept. 5 joined in celebrating the grand opening of the $40 million MIC building at 1101 NW Innovation Parkway in Lee’s Summit. An estimated crowd of about 500 people turned out for the event, which represented a five-year milestone in this innovative program.

The new facility is the product of a higher education-public school partnership, and includes The Missouri Innovation Campus program,  a nationally recognized initiative that reshapes the way students experience education;  the Lee’s Summit R-7 District’s Summit Technology Academy (STA), a unique high school program that prepares students from 14 metro-area school districts for careers in areas such as engineering, computer science, health care and creative sciences; and UCM-Lee’s Summit, the university’s main off-campus learning facility, offering graduate- and undergraduate-level completion programs to students in the metropolitan  area.

Gov. Greitens was one of seven individuals who made presentations during the grand opening. Also speaking was Charles Ambrose, UCM President;  Dennis Carpenter, Lee’s Summit R-7 superintendent;  Bob White, president of the R-7 Board of Education; Gus Wetzel, president of the UCM Board of Governors; Kimberly Beatty, chancellor for Metropolitan Community College; and Ashionna Morehead, a third-year MIC student in design and drafting. Immediately following special remarks, a ribbon cutting was conducted on the school’s main stairway by the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce.

In his remarks, the governor congratulated education, business, local community and government leaders who came together to make The MIC program and ultimately the new building possible. Because of such efforts, The MIC has “already changed lives, and is in a position to change so many more,” the governor said.

“When I was in college, I had a boxing coach, and he used to say when we trained, ‘If you want different, do different.’”

Greitens noted that in Missouri, for too long there has been a system that hasn’t worked for all students. Some students work hard to complete their education and succeed in landing jobs, he said, but others graduate with no clear path for a job, and they leave college with too much debt.

“We have had good companies in Missouri, who believed in our talented workers but couldn’t find people with the skills they needed to grow,” he added. “What happened here (MIC) is it brought people together from  the university community, from the community college, K-12, private companies, parents, teachers, community leaders -  everyone came together to do different. And now, we have this beautiful facility, and people’s lives are changing. Students are able to graduate with skills, with degrees, and a very clear pathway to a job with work experience, and they are doing it faster and with less debt. That is a tremendous success.”

Immediately following the ribbon cutting, the governor joined Ambrose, Carpenter and Beatty for a roundtable discussion with MIC current and past students, who provided more information about the program. Ashionna Morehead also joined in this discussion along with Quinn Cosgrove, an MIC graduate from the program’s first cohort; and Jeffrey Scarborough, a second-year MIC student in the cybersecurity program.

The Missouri Innovation Campus program is a progressive collaboration between the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, Metropolitan Community College and UCM. By engaging business partners and community organizations, The MIC offers an accelerated program that shortens the time it takes students to complete a four-year degree.

Through the partnership, the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District and UCM joined forces to construct and operate the new state-of-the-art, cost-saving facility. Under a plan developed by the two educational institutions, Lee’s Summit R-7 is paying for approximately 40 percent of the new school with UCM paying the remaining
60 percent. Through this agreement, Lee’s Summit R-7 is the sole owner of the facility with UCM paying its portion of costs through lease payments.

The shared facility reduces operating expenses for both organizations and allows the school district to move both The Missouri Innovation Campus and Summit Technology Academy programs from leased space into a building owned by Lee’s Summit R-7.

The R-7 School District’s portion of the facility’s cost is funded through a no-tax-increase bond issue, approved by approximately 80 percent of voters in 2015. This $40 million bond issue is also funding renovation and maintenance projects that are positively impacting each R-7 school.

“This Missouri Innovation Campus is a shining example of what happens when organizations and individuals work together for a greater good,” Carpenter said. “Thanks to our partnership with higher education and the support of our community, we are able to save money for taxpayers, and most importantly, better prepare our students for success in life.”

During his remarks about the new building, Ambrose described the MIC as a “teaching and learning facility that exists like no other.” He commended the construction, architectural and design firms for a facility that builds culture, experience and opportunities for life. He also briefly highlighted the educational climate that brought partners together to develop The MIC concept prior to the program’s launch in summer 2012.

“It is simple, college costs too much, it takes too long, a skills gap exists between leaving college and making you workforce ready, and as you move forward students simply have to borrow too much to pay for it. That was five years ago,” Ambrose told the gathering. “What has emerged in where we sit is the most aggressive K-16 accelerated pathway leading to a college degree, relying on a three-year paid internships and partnerships with 50 of Kansas City’s best businesses and industries.”

MCC’s chancellor cited ways The MIC program has benefited students such as Jeffrey Scarborough, who participated in the roundtable. She added, “Metropolitan Community College proudly entered into this partnership and continues to uphold its mission of preparing students, serving communities, and creating opportunities. MCC is on the move and proud to be a link in this very important chain in the lives of many of our young people, like Jeffrey.”

The new two-story building totals 135,000 square feet and is designed so that Lee’s Summit R-7 and UCM  shares interior learning and conference spaces as well as parking, saving money for both organizations. The two partnering organizations have also worked collaboratively on procurement to help generate additional savings on furniture, fixtures and technology.

Construction manager for the new school is McCownGordon. Design architect is Gould Evans, and architect of record is DLR Group, all from the Kansas City area.

Through The MIC program, students begin their junior year of high school while attending Summit Technology Academy. By approximately the same time they earn a high-school diploma, they will have completed an associate degree from Metropolitan Community College, finishing their four-year bachelor’s degree from UCM two years later. The graduates will also have completed three years of paid internships with prestigious Kansas City metro-area companies, which helps defray the costs of their education. Many students who complete The MIC program land permanent jobs with the companies in which they interned.

The new facility has been a goal for Lee’s Summit R-7 and UCM leaders since the MIC program was in the concept stage. This type of facility partnership between a public school district and a university is unique both regionally and nationally and provides a high-school/college environment that includes non-traditional teaching spaces designed to mimic the workspace of the various fields.

The new school features 60 classrooms including shared spaces for the school district and university programs as well as spaces designated for each organization. The facility is designed to take advantage of exterior

light with corridors that can double as additional learning areas at some locations. The Missouri Innovation Campus also features medical school-caliber skilled nursing labs and simulation rooms; professional quality digital media technology; high-tech engineering, biomedical and computer science instruction areas; and an international studies area with state-of-the-art distance learning technology. A testing center is located on the second floor and will provide everything from GED to computer software certification testing as well as electronic monitoring of individuals taking the exams.


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