Cape Partnership advisory board elects officers

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The next order of business for the Cape Partnership for Higher Education is evaluating the need for additional health care education programs, and a member of the industry was chosen Tuesday to guide its newly formed advisory group.

The Partnership's 16-member advisory committee met for the first time Tuesday. The group elected officers and discussed the future of the Partnership, a collaboration primarily between Southeast Missouri State University, Three Rivers Community College and Mineral Area College.

The outgoing commissioner of higher education, Dr. Robert Stein, helped run the meeting. Stein came to Cape Girardeau several times to help a coalition of business and education leaders come to an agreement about expanding community college services in the area. The group funded a study, formulated a plan and received approval from the Coordinating Board for Higher Education.

"I ask only one thing: that you continue what was established by those before you," Stein said.

Three members of the coalition now serve on the committee, which includes local superintendents, city representatives and business leaders.

The group chose one of the new faces to chair the committee, Wayne Smith, vice president of development and administrative services at Saint Francis Medical Center. Kathy Swan, a businesswoman who was recently elected to the Cape Girardeau City Council, and Mary Burton-Hitt, executive director of the Southeast Missouri Hospital Foundation, will serve as vice chair and secretary respectively.

So far, about 45 students have been admitted to the Partnership, which will start the bulk of its classes at the Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center in the fall.

During the meeting, the advisory committee was also briefed on a similar collaboration between Southeast and Three Rivers at their regional campuses in Sikeston, Kennett and Malden.

With the background of their work with the Partnership, the presidents of both institutions worked out an agreement to grant associate degrees at the outlying centers. Both had submitted competing proposals to the Department of Higher Education that were withdrawn in lieu of working together.

Three Rivers will grant degrees provided students complete at least 12 hours of credit through the college. The credit can be obtained at the main campus in Poplar Bluff, Mo., regional campuses, online or remotely through interactive television. A block of credits will be shared by the institutions.

Southeast president Dr. Ken Dobbins said the agreement will bolster graduation rates for the community college and give students more options.

"It really gives the flexibility that we don't have now," he said.

Three Rivers president Dr. Devin Stephenson said it is a new model that has the potential to be adopted statewide.

"I really believe we are on to something good," Stephenson said.

The Partnership's advisory committee will meet again in the next 30 days to discuss the specifics of a health care study.


Pertinent address:

1080 S. Silver Springs Road Cape Girardeau, MO

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