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Missouri Innovation Campus Looked to as National Model for Higher Ed

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Kansas City, Mo. – Assistant Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education James Shelton said that higher education suffers from two major issues, lagging outcomes and increasing costs, in his keynote speech at the first National Convening on Higher Education Innovation.

“Here in this room, we have heard descriptions of not only kids completing [high school and college] successfully and ready to work, but also completing debt free,” Shelton said. “That is so far from the norm that everyone should be clamoring to get here to figure out how this is done.”

Local education, business and civic leaders put their heads together during a two-day conference at The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Conference Center Nov. 13 – 14, 2013 to grow The Missouri Innovation Campus (MIC), a new approach to higher education that is gaining national attention.

The Missouri Innovation Campus is an accelerated, four-year high school and college degree program, which currently enrolls 37 students in two degree plans. The goal is to lower student debt, accelerate entry into the workforce, and supply growing industries with well-prepared workers.

An MIC student enters as a high school junior or senior and graduates with a Bachelors of Science degree, paid internship experience, and hopefully less money spent on their education with better job prospects.

The program, which enrolled its first students in fall 2012, is a collaboration of Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, Metropolitan Community College and the University of Central Missouri.

The MIC partners with businesses, including Cerner, DST Systems and St. Luke’s Hospital, in hopes of giving MIC students real world experience in growing fields and potential job placement when they graduate.

“It’s a win-win-win,” said Missouri Governor Jay Nixon during the conference’s closing remarks. “Institutions forge valuable partnerships in their communities … students graduate with more experience, at less cost … and businesses get access to a pool of highly-skilled workers that they help educate, and who are ready to compete on day one.”

Last year after the launch of the MIC, Governor Nixon awarded nearly nine million dollars in grants to establish nine more Innovation Campuses across the state.

The final cost and employment outcomes for the first class of MIC students will not come until they are projected to complete the program in spring 2016.

“The one thing we will guarantee is that it will cost you less than it takes to educate a student with a four year degree today – significantly less,” said University of Central Missouri President Chuck Ambrose.

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