The dream of many in this community became a reality Monday as a community college came to Southeast Missouri.
Mineral Area College opened a small campus (sharing a building with the Career and Technology Center behind the CTC). MAC will use six or seven classrooms in the 25,000-square foot building at 1050 S. Silver Springs Rd. to offer 27 classes this fall.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at 1 p.m. Monday.
State Rep. Barry Hovis told The CBJ that only about two percent of A+ scholarship money available is used by Southeast Missouri students, probably because until now there were no community colleges in the area. (MAC’s main facility is in Park Hills.) With the opening of MAC’s Cape facility and classes starting next Monday, Aug. 22, Hovis hopes to see that number go up.
“This community has trying to get a community college for 20 years or so,” said Joseph Gilgour, MAC president. “We’re honored to be chosen to provide that quality, affordable education. In addition to the general education we’re offering, we’ll soon be expanding into more technical programs to help do training for workforce development, help students in this region get certificates and get hired, so they can stay local and not go to tech colleges outside of this region. It has been a really long journey to get to this point.”
He thanked people who worked hard to make this dream a reality, including area state representatives and senators. He thanked the school boards of Jackson and Cape Girardeau who voted that Mineral Area College would be the service provider for their school districts.
“The state received an unprecedented volume of support documents for our presence in Cape Girardeau,” states Gilgour. Nearly 160 letters were received from businesses and industries, eight different unions, a dozen school districts, and many more supporters, he added.
“Today marks the addition of another great educational institution,” said Cape Girardeau School Superintendent Neil Glass. “It’s a valuable resource that can lead students of all walks to a brighter tomorrow. Cape Girardeau and the region welcomes Mineral Area College as another tool in our arsenal to improve the lives of people in our greater community.”
“One of the first school districts to step up and vote to change to the Mineral Area College service region was the Jackson School district. Dr. John Link [a former Superintendent] was a key player in that process” said Gilgour.
New Jackson R-2 Superintendent Scott Smith said, “We are getting to open up some additional offerings for our students and our communities that I know will pay huge dividends for all of our communities. Throughout Southeast Missouri, there is a great need for workforce development. We see that as we are trying to recruit and retain additional staff on a daily basis. We hope that by opening up the doors with partnership with MAC, that workforce development will become a reality.”
Graduates of MAC programs will be able to transfer their college credits to any college or university, but Southeast Missouri State University will now have a representative in the same building as MAC, giving greater access to the local university.
“Southeast Missouri State University has partnered with Mineral Area College a long time — decades, as a matter of fact, said
Carlos Vargas, president of SEMO. “We currently have over 20 articulation agreements signed with them. We look forward to the presence of Mineral Area here in Cape Girardeau County. We are excited about exploring opportunities to further enhance the pathways for students to get an education. Certainly for those students who are interested in pursuing a college degree, we are ready and willing to serve.” The representative in the building will help students who want to transfer to SEMO to do so.
MAC also has had a partnership with Central Methodist University for more than 30 years, providing students an additional transfer opportunity. CMU will be on site to assist students who wish to transfer there.
CMU offers about 30 undergraduate degrees and several graduate degrees, serving students in 17 different locations, said CMU Regional Site Coordinator Jeff Williams. “We are really looking forward to bringing that experience to the Cape Girardeau region as well, and we hope to help Mineral area College fulfill its goals at this location.”