Home » News » News Item

November 08, 2023

MDHEWD’s annual summit focuses on supporting students in rural communities

The Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development (MDHEWD) hosted its annual Equity in Higher Education Summit on Tuesday with the theme, “Advancing Innovation in Rural Education.”

The virtual event featured education research, policy experts, and higher education professionals who presented on topics such as the barriers rural students face and how organizations and higher education institutions can break through those barriers to strengthen workforce preparation in rural communities.

“Our department is committed to supporting rural communities by strengthening the pathways rural students have to higher education,” said Dr. Ben Boggs, commissioner of the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development. “By pursuing a certificate or a degree, students are investing in themselves, in their families, and in their communities – and that is good for all of Missouri.”

Dr. Michael McShane, director of national research at EdChoice, a nonprofit with the goal to “build support for state programs that expand educational opportunities for as many students as possible,” presented the keynote address, “Towards a Brighter Future: How Rural Education Can Thrive.”

“There are great opportunities for higher education institutions to help rural populations,” McShane said. “Look for students that are in those high school ages, whether they're in homeschool, whether they're looking for dual enrollment opportunities, whether they're participating in virtual learning programs, whether they're in standalone schools. And then look to adults, to people who want to upskill and reskill. They're out there, and they're hungry for education that will better themselves and their communities.”

Recordings of the event will be available in the coming weeks on the MDHEWD YouTube page. More information about the speakers and the topics covered can be found on the event’s webpage.

The Equity in Higher Education Summit is one way MDHEWD connects higher education institutions to its strategic plan as the department works to reach its goal of 60 percent in educational attainment and 70 percent in workforce participation for all groups of Missourians by 2030. See other work and opportunities for engagement toward equity in higher education at https://dhewd.mo.gov/equity_project.php