Clay County Hopes To Land Missouri University Satellite
Clay County and Missouri University of Science and Technology officials met Aug. 1 to discuss an area branch for Missouri’s school of engineering. Among those present were (from left) S&T Vice Provost for Global Learning Dr. Anthony Petroy, Interim S&T Chancellor Christopher Maples, and Michael Lally, vice president of the engineering firm Olsson Associates.
Leaders of the Missouri University of Science and Technology met with Clay County representatives Aug. 1 to discuss funding for a major satellite of the state’s premier school of engineering.
Interim S&T Chancellor Christopher Maples said the initiative could fit well with new University strategies that include an emphasis on reaching out to the state’s communities. He said the funding issues would be challenging but promised to lend his support.
“We have a lot of families in Missouri who went through tight times in 2008 and 2009,” he said. “They saw people lose jobs and houses. They value these kind of educational opportunities because they can live at home and take on less debt. We have to get our programs out where people are.”
Tony Reinhart, Past Chair Advisor for the Clay County Economic Development Council, said the concept grew from the EDC’s four-year-old Strategic Initiative, which found that an advanced learning center would boost Clay County’s environment for entrepreneurs and business development. Other successful initiatives include the Northland Center for Advanced Professional Studies, the Northland Angel Investor Network and other efforts to nurture business growth.
“We’re working to create a balanced economic presence,” Reinhart explained, “and education is a big part of that.”
Missouri S&T was identified for several reasons. Based in Rolla, the state’s flagship engineering school has no presence on this side of Missouri compared with a major satellite in St. Louis. Metro Kansas City is home to a large number of national and international engineering firms, including Burns and McDonnell, Black and Veatch and HNTB. The area consistently needs more engineering graduates than are available.
“St. Louis has strong ties to Rolla (S&T’s main campus),” noted Michael Lally, vice president of the engineering firm Olsson Associates. “Here we are in Kansas City with all of these engineering firms. There’s a market here.”
Plans call for a development of classroom and support areas in the Gladstone Innovation Campus, already home to Northland CAPS, courses provided by Northwest Missouri State University and several North Kansas City School District programs. The nationally recognized engineering school would initially offer masters and doctoral level programs in three areas. Other fields could later include IT and computer sciences.
The effort had a good start with budget authorization the past two years by the Missouri Legislature, but the Governor’s office held the funding due to fear of budget shortages. An estimated $750,000 is needed.
After the meeting, Dr. Maples and others at the meeting toured the 90,000-square-foot Innovation Center. Others at the meeting included Christina Adams, Missouri S&T Financial and Accounting Manager; Gladstone City Manager Scott Wingerson; Gladstone Mayor R.D. Mallams; Chad Sutton, North Kansas City Schools Assistant Superintendent; Clay County Presiding Commissioner Jerry Nolte; Northland CAPS Executive Director Sandy Henshaw; S&T Vice Provost for Global Learning Dr. Anthony Petroy; EDC member Tim Kristal of Kristl & Lieber, LLC; and EDC Executive Director Jim Hampton.