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March 05, 2015

Liberal arts education and student financial aid will be focus of Kirksville public hearing

The value of liberal arts education and the impact of Missouri’s student financial aid programs will be the focus of a public hearing March 16 at Truman State University in Kirksville.

The meeting is the fifth in a series of nine hearings being held across the state to hear testimony and gather information to be used in developing a new coordinated plan for Missouri higher education.

The Coordinating Board for Higher Education has appointed a steering committee of 36 individuals from every region of the state to assist the board and the Department of Higher Education to identify issues and develop recommendations. The members represent business and industry, education and government. Missouri’s last plan was adopted in 2008.

The March 16 hearing in Kirksville will include speakers from several of Missouri’s largest companies, including Boeing, Cerner, Shelter Insurance, Monsanto and Wells Fargo, who will participate in the panel discussion, “The Value of a Liberal Arts Education to a 21st Century Economy.”

“We look forward to hearing from some of the top companies in Missouri about the role higher education should play in developing a knowledgeable and highly skilled work force for tomorrow’s economy,” said David Russell, Missouri Commissioner of Higher Education.

The hearing also will include testimony from student financial aid experts who will discuss the role of Missouri’s financial aid programs in helping students complete a college degree or certificate.

Missouri awarded $107 million in state financial aid to more than 72,000 students during fiscal year 2014. While state funding for financial aid has increased in recent years, several of Missouri’s largest programs are not fully funded, resulting in smaller awards to students.

“Increasing access to college is an essential part of our new plan for higher education, and the role of state financial aid is an important part of the conversation,” Russell said.

The public is invited to testify at the hearing. Public comment also can be submitted on the Department of Higher Education’s website at: dhe.mo.gov/blueprintcomments.php.

Future public hearings are planned in St. Joseph and Kansas City in April and Springfield and Cape Girardeau in June. For more information about the meetings, visit dhe.mo.gov/documents/PublicHearings.pdf.

The new plan, “Preparing Missourians to Succeed:  A Blueprint for Higher Education,” will be presented to the coordinating board for approval in December.

More information about the March public hearing is available at dhe.mo.gov/documents/Hearingagenda-Kirksville.pdf. For additional information about the development of the plan, visit dhe.mo.gov/blueprint.php