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Gov. Nixon proposing $10 million grant to reduce college span for students

The grant will assist schools in developing job-training programs.

Feb. 17, 2012

Last week, Gov. Jay Nixon proposed $10 million in competitive grants, sponsored by the Community Development Block Grant, for public colleges and Missouri universities to encourage schools to establish enhanced job-training programs that will allow students to graduate earlier, which would save tuition money, according to a news release.

Nixon’s plan came from the University of Central Missouri’s job-training program called the Innovation Campus which begins this fall, according to the release.

The Innovation Campus will allow up to 30 high school juniors to be enrolled in the Summit Technology Academy. With this program, selected students will go through intensive guidance to prepare to earn college degrees.

The students from this program will be expected to take more rigorous courses such as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes. This program will allow students to earn 30 college credit hours or more while in high school.

For now, the program is only limited to science-related areas, however, as it expands, it will add other areas of study based on the Missouri Strategic Initiative for Economic Growth and employer demand, according to the release.

Nixon said at a news conference in Lee’s Summit that Innovation Campus will create a direct pathway for Missouri students from the classroom to training for career opportunities in highly-demanded fields, according to the release.

He also said this program will not only prepare students for the growing industries, but also save time for students to earn their degrees and reduce their tuition debts.

“I commend the University of Central Missouri and all the project’s partners for pioneering this outstanding concept, and I look forward to working with our other colleges and universities to adapt the Innovation Campus model across our state,” Nixon said.

Students and professors responded differently to Nixon’s proposal that would help students graduate earlier.

Brian Brooks, associate dean for the School of Journalism, said he is very opposed to shortening the college experience, at least for journalism students.

He said that historically many European countries had three-year college programs, but have now switched to four-year programs because they discovered the three-year programs were not competitive.

“For (journalism) students, four years is an absolute minimum,” he said.

He also said the educational decision should be made by educators and not by politicians.

“I think the governor is not the right person to decide how education is delivered,” he said. “I think the administrator of the university should decide that, not the governor.”

Michael O’Brien, dean of the College of Arts and Science, said graduating earlier or on time is solely dependent on the students’ ability.

Both Brooks and O’Brien have positive views on AP and IB credit, but O’Brien expressed his concern about the college dual credits.

“We worry about those dual credits sometimes because it depends entirely on the teachers’ ability, while the AP is a national standardized test,” he said.

O’Brien also gave his view on having students intern at specific corporations during college.

“If you have an intern at a certain company, then you are only learning that company’s way,” he said. “Thus that might block you from learning more broadly about other sides of society.”

MU sophomore Solange Hail said graduating earlier is not necessarily bad for students because some people who graduate early have been successful.

“Talking about the real experience, I think people can still learn their social skills fast while they are working in the real world,” she said.

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Article comments

Feb. 18, 2012 at 8:20 a.m.

Phil Wright: The Innovation Campus idea DID come from university educators (faculty and administrators at UCM). In addition, Metropolitan Community College, Lee's Summit School District, and the greater Lee's Summit community. The governor is wanting to help find funding support because it will provide a practical learning experience and shorten the time to degree for students, thus saving students and their families money. As an associate dean of MU's renown school of journalism, I would have expected better reporting skills by Brian Brooks. I'm also disappointed in what appears to be his disregard for innovative ideas for providing a quality education while reducing the time for degree completion and saving students money.

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