MHEC Learns About Missouri Innovation Campus, Also Honors Senator Pearce

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WARRENSBURG, MO (Nov. 16, 2016) – During the Midwestern Higher Education Compact’s (MHEC) semi-annual meeting, special recognition was given to a longtime Missouri legislator whose leadership has had a positive impact on the Compact, while participants also had the opportunity to learn more about The Missouri Innovation Campus (MIC).

The MIC, which is a partnership between UCM, Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, Metropolitan Community College (MCC) in Lee’s Summit, and about 45 Kansas City area businesses, was the featured program during the two-day meeting dedicated to college affordability. The event took place Monday and Tuesday,
Nov. 14-15 in St. Louis. UCM President Chuck Ambrose served as a speaker and moderator for a presentation about The MIC, and was joined by Stan Elliott, director of The MIC, and Elaine Metcalf, director of the Summit Technology Academy (STA) in Lee’s Summit, which is part of the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District.

“Our commissioners valued the opportunity to hear a strong example of a higher education best practice that has been implemented in Missouri,” stated Larry Isaak, MHEC president. “It is always particularly valuable when these case examples, like The Missouri Innovation Campus, can be replicated in the commissioners’ home state,” he added.

The MIC was established in 2012. Students attending the STA enroll in the program their junior year of high school, and will graduate with an associate degree from MCC approximately the same time they complete their high school education. They go on to finish their four-year degree approximately two years later at UCM. While involved in the program, students participate in paid internships with numerous high-tech Kansas City area businesses, which provide valuable in-demand job skills and help them pay for their college education. The program accelerates the time it takes for students to complete a four-year college degree, and significantly reduces the amount of college debt they incur upon their graduation.

As part of the unique partnership, UCM and the Lee’s Summit School District are working together to provide a new state-of-the-art education facility that will house the STA/MIC, and will open in summer 2017.  The facility is made possible as the result of a $40 million no-tax-increase bond issue that was approved by the community’s voters during the April 7, 2015 election. Under the agreement with the school district, the university will lease space needed for The MIC. Additionally, the new building will provide classroom space to serve students who currently attend UCM – Lee’s Summit, the university’s main off-campus learning facility.

According to Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, who served as chair of the MHEC for a one-year term that began in November 2015, the presentation about The MIC was well received and was discussed during the remainder of the meeting. The meeting was attended by legislators and higher education leaders from the 12 states that are represented by the Compact. The semi-annual meetings, he said, often feature a local program that is innovative. The MIC, which addresses college affordability and student debt, is an example of a such an initiative.

“The Missouri Innovation Campus provides an important link between the business community and higher education.  I was honored Dr. Ambrose and his colleagues were able to present that powerful message to the Compact,” Pearce said.

During the meeting, Pearce also was honored for his leadership as MHEC chair. He had served previously as the Compact’s vice chair (2014-15) and one term as treasurer (2013-14).  He was initially appointed an MHEC commissioner in 2003 while he was a Missouri state representative; was reappointed in 2010 and has since been reappointed in 2011, 2013, and 2015.

“Senator Pearce’s leadership has been especially important during these past few years as MHEC has taken on new initiatives, and the organization’s work has expanded. His commitment to not just his home state of Missouri, but all the states in the Compact, has helped improve MHEC’s impact on member states,” Isaak said. “He made a significant effort to participate in nine of our state visits.”

“I have truly enjoyed my time as commissioner chair this past year,” said Pearce, who was honored by UCM earlier this year for his service to higher education, to UCM and his senatorial district. “I am very proud of the work that MHEC has done, and continues to do so, to further higher education in the Midwest.”

The MHEC seeks to fulfill its interstate mission through programs that expand postsecondary opportunity and success; promote innovative approaches to improving institutional and system productivity; improve affordability to students and states; and enhance connectivity between higher education and the workplace.

States represented in the MHEC are Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.