Missouri Innovation Campus, called a national model, celebrates grand opening

Gov. Eric Greitens (third from right) and MCC Chancellor Kimberly Beatty were among the VIPs helping cut the ribbon for the grand opening of the Missouri Innovation Campus in Lee’s Summit. (Photos by Matt Scharhag and Clare Otto/MCC)

Hundreds gathered, including Missouri’s governor, to celebrate the opening of a collaborative educational facility that aims to help solve the country’s workforce problems by providing strong technical programming for students starting in high school.

The Sept. 5 grand opening of the Missouri Innovation Campus in Lee’s Summit resonated with thank-yous for great community partnerships. The new 135,000-square-foot MIC building is the result of fundraising by the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District and the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg.

Students in the MIC program, which focuses on the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math), are dually enrolled in both their high schools and Metropolitan Community College. They will earn an MCC associate degree at about the same time they graduate from high school. They then go on to UCM to complete their four-year degree, usually in two years.

Gov. Eric Greitens

“You know, what is so fantastic is that we’ve got students who are graduating with real skills, getting real jobs,” Gov. Eric Greitens said. “We’re proud to invest in that success, and this is a fantastic model for the entire state of Missouri.”

Greitens said he was pleased to see people excited, engaged in purposeful work and “having fun here.”

The MIC was established in 2012 at the Summit Technology Academy, Lee’s Summit’s secondary school that prepares students for technology careers, and has been using temporary space until the new building opened for business this fall.

“It is a shining example of what happens when people and organizations work together for the benefit of young people,” said Dr. Dennis Carpenter, Lee’s Summit superintendent.

It “will serve as a model for our country,” he added.

Dr. Kimberly Beatty

MCC’s chancellor, Dr. Kimberly Beatty, also spoke at the opening celebration. “We have been committed to this community, and the MIC merely deepens that commitment,” Dr. Beatty said.

She thanked MCC-Longview President Dr. Kirk Nooks for his visionary leadership in helping to negotiate the partnership.

The Longview campus is geographically strategic to the MIC’s successful dual enrollment progress.

MCC-Longview President Dr. Nooks (second from left)

“The Missouri Innovation Campus is so many things,” Nooks said recently. “Not only does it shorten the time to degree (completion), but it begins to take this notion about the cost of education and turns it on its head.”

Students in the program can save time getting in the workforce; they also save money on tuition.

“I think it’s the type of approach we need to take, because our students today need to be able to come out of the gate being successful, and I believe that’s what this is all about,” Nooks said.

Dr. Beatty mentioned current MIC high school senior Jeffrey Scarborough in her remarks. “Jeffrey says it is a very big commitment to the MIC program, but the practicality of dual enrollment at MCC just makes sense.”

“How about that from somebody that age?” she continued.

Dr. Chuck Ambrose, UCM president, defined how the partnership has grown.

“What has emerged and where we sit is the most aggressive K-16 accelerated pathway, leading to a college degree, relying on three-year paid internships, in partnership with 50 of Kansas City’s best businesses and industries,” Ambrose said.

UCM President Chuck Ambrose (from left), MCC Chancellor Beatty and Gov. Eric Greitens

“MCC is on the move and proud to be an important link in this very important chain in the lives of many young people,” Dr. Beatty concluded.

Click here for UCM’s livestream of the event.

Click here for our Facebook photo gallery.

Several media outlets covered the grand opening event: