Innovation Campus comes to Western

By Matthew Hunt

August 21, 2012

This fall Missouri Western will be one of nine universities awarded a grant of $1 million to establish an Innovation Campus. Thanks to the partnership of the state of Missouri, Gov. Jay Nixon, Missouri Western, Metropolitan Community College and several others who made these projects possible, students will now have the chance to discover endless career possibilities. President Dr. Robert Vartabedian stated in a press release that Western would be working closely with its partners to help the participants in this program become aligned with job openings and career opportunities in high demand. Due to the current condition of the economy, the innovation campus will include fields that need high demand employment such as human health and animal health. The partnership includes businesses such as Heartland Health, Hillyard Industries, Lifeline Foods, Altec Industries, Blue Sun Biodiesel, Albaugh, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica and Gray Manufacturing. This program will cut the time it takes to earn a degree for these students. Western has wanted to increase their number of college graduates in recent years and with this project, it will ensure that Western will uphold their commitment. The project shows that they will work with adults in a timely manner. Cutting the time it takes to graduate in half could possibly ensure more college graduates. Many high school students dislike the idea of a four-year commitment and possibly having to endure even more education depending on their choice of major. Vartabedian stated in a press release that this project will provide students with real-world applied learning opportunities. The project itself is very symbolic in the fact that it gives many individuals dual credit courses to earn their post-secondary degree in a shorter manner than the average college student. Western has been handed a golden opportunity to show not just the St. Joseph community, but the entire state that we have something to offer everyone. Only nine universities in the state have this project and with Western being cut hard last year by the state in funding this may be just what the university needs. It also gives students the option of financial aid up to $7,500 to finish this college degree. It is a great moment and come this fall we might see more students at Western thanks to this project. Participants in this program should be thankful for the opportunity that Western was selected for this grant and for the possibility of a higher number of graduates in the future. Students who decide to be part of this project will receive on-site training and mentoring beyond what would otherwise occur within the company by the partnering business.