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December 08, 2015

New plan for Missouri’s higher education system to be presented to board

A new plan for Missouri’s higher education system will be presented to the Coordinating Board for Higher Education for approval Thursday, Dec. 10 in Columbia.

The plan was developed by the Missouri Department of Higher Education with help from a panel of thought leaders in education, business and government. The plan, “Preparing Missourians to Succeed: A Blueprint for Higher Education,” focuses on achieving five goals:

  • Improving attainment
  • Increasing affordability
  • Ensuring quality
  • Expanding research and innovation
  • Increasing the investment in Missouri’s higher education system through powerful partnerships and advocacy

“The plan addresses some of the most important issues impacting Missouri’s efforts to increase the percentage of working-age adults with a college degree or certificate,” said David Russell, Missouri Commissioner of Higher Education. “The goals focus on providing students with the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve economic prosperity and enjoy a good quality of life.”

A year ago, the coordinating board appointed 36 leaders in education, government and business to serve on a steering committee to study Missouri’s higher education needs and gather information for the plan. Nine public hearings were held throughout Missouri from December 2014 to June 2015.

The hearings focused on a number of topics, including improving access to higher education for all Missourians, meeting the state’s workforce needs, the importance of liberal arts, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, career/technical education, student financial aid and research and innovation.

“We had many important discussions in communities throughout the state about how we can improve higher education for all students in Missouri,” Russell said. “We appreciate the perspectives of the steering committee members from rural and urban areas of our state and the input we received from citizens as we put this plan together.”

Russell said that some implementing strategies require nothing more than the commitment of the coordinating board and colleges and universities to move them forward. Other strategies require a significant commitment of new resources on a priority basis if Missouri is to make significant progress in achieving a well-educated populace that is prepared to contribute to a thriving economy and build strong communities.

An overview of the plan will be presented at 9 a.m., Dec. 10, at the Holiday Inn Executive Center in Columbia. It will be followed by three presentations by panels discussing issues addressed in the plan.

The presentations will focus on three questions:

  • Are we producing graduates with the skills needed to succeed on the job and in life?
  • How can university research and innovation contribute to a stronger economy?
  • How do we build a higher education system that provides access, affordability and opportunity?

For more information about the new coordinated plan for higher education, visit dhe.mo.gov/blueprint.