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Education news and issues in the Ozarks.

MU Chancellor Highlights Value of Choice with Higher Education

Scott Harvey

University of Missouri Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin says while college may not be for everyone, some education beyond high school has its rewards.   

Loftin was visiting Springfield this week as part of MU’s Show-Me-Value Tour, in which he spoke with local high school students, business leaders and education experts on the value of higher education.

“Everyone’s different," he says. "They have to find their particular way to make an impact. It may be you become a welder down the street here at a manufacturing plant here which requires you be trained for 18 months. Maybe you get a Ph.D. in molecular biology someplace and go and change the world through developing a new treatment or a new drug."

Loftin emphasized that the more education a person has the more choices they have. He applauded Ozarks Technical Community College and its ability to prepare students within a two-year framework. The Missouri College Advising Corps (MCAC), a division of MU, is another area that allows choice, Loftin said.

MCAC was recently introduced at Springfield’s Parkview and Hillcrest high schools. Loftin’s visit allowed him to meet with those students on Monday morning and learn about their future goals and concerns.

“The questions I had were very practical. Financial aid, preparing myself for some college, dealing with what kind of choices do I have regarding my majors, what kind of opportunities if I go to the military first or just particular questions about how to navigate the landscape.”

He says that with MCAC, along with counselors already present at area high schools, students can use these services to make good choices.

Loftin’s visit also included a business tour at Askinosie Chocolate, where founder and CEO, as well as MU alum Shawn Askinosie shared details about Chocolate University. The factory along Commercial Street has played host to the educational learning program as a way to engage local students on its business practices. Since expanding to high school students, Askinosie says juniors and seniors have had the opportunity to embark on a summer program that takes them to the cocoa bean farms of Tanzania.

“It’s a life-changing trip for these students," Askinosie says. "They work on community development projects in Tanzania. They get to witness an international business transaction from the front row. And the impact this has on student’s lives is immeasurable in terms of what their future careers may be."

It’s yet another experience that gives students choices, Loftin adds, noting his conversation with a group of Chocolate University students that’ve participated in the summer abroad program.

“These students I met today have already decided how to live their lives. They’re gonna to be doing things which are impactful for their entire lifetime now. Without that experience [Tanzania] who knows what will happen,” he said.

Monday’s stop in Springfield for Chancellor Loftin was one of several he’s conducted and will continue to make going forward.

The Show-Me-Value Tour was established by University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe in 2013 to promote the value of higher education to Missourians and encourage middle and high school students to enroll in higher education institutions. In 2014, it was expanded to include the chancellors of each MU campus. Since its inception, the Show-Me-Value Tour has included presentations to more than 5,000 junior high school and middle school students across the state.

“We all have our individual gifts,” Loftin said. “We all have to find best how to employ them. And higher education, education beyond high school of all types, is the opportunity you have to make that choice.”