As part of the Central Missouri Innovation Campus initiative, students will be able to transfer credits more easily from Linn State Technical College to Lincoln University.
On Tuesday in the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce's boardroom, Gov. Jay Nixon presided while leaders from both higher education institutions signed the articulation agreement making the proposal a reality.
Last summer, Nixon awarded a $1 million grant to create the Central Missouri Innovation Campus. The grant was awarded to the Chamber of Commerce through a partnership with LU and Linn State.
Provided by the Missouri Department of Economic Development, the $1 million will be divided among 127 students who each will receive $7,500, funding that will allow them to prepare for careers in Information Technology. Students may start applying for the grants this fall.
"Information technology skills are in demand across many different industry sectors. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find a business today that doesn't have an IT need," Jefferson City Area Chamber Chairman Joseph Scheppers said.
Nixon said creating more jobs and moving the economy forward have been his top priorities as governor. He also said he wants to make sure a college education remains as affordable and accessible as possible.
"Education is quite simply the best economic tool there is," he said.
Under the agreement, students who earn an associates degree in computer programming from Linn State can easily transfer those credits to LU to work on a bachelor's degree in computer information systems. The agreement guarantees that LU will accept those students and the credits they have earned, making it faster and less expensive for students to attain their diplomas.
Under the agreement, students at three local high schools - Jefferson City High School, Helias Catholic High School, Osage High School in Fatima - will continue to have opportunities to earn dual college credits. High school students will also receive additional guidance counseling encouraging them to consider careers in the field.
"Innovation campuses connect what is taught in the classroom with what is needed in the workforce. This initiative helps students build up specialized skills, instead of student loan debt," Nixon said.
Nixon called the innovation campus trend a "big idea" that will move Missouri's economy forward.
"This is exactly the type of strong public/private partnership we need to grow our economy and keep our state moving forward. This is the type of cutting-edge approach we want to replicate around the state."
Jill Hansen, an officer with Central Bank, said her organization is pleased to be one of the CMIC business partners.
"As a local business trying to hire information technology professionals, this is definitely a step in the right direction," Hansen said.
Hansen said the bank has been working with educators to help them identify the skill sets the business community needs.
"This is going to help schools create a curriculum and educate their students so when they graduate they're going to have the skills that we are looking for to integrate into our businesses, to help them be successful in their career," Hansen said.