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Aug. 9, 2016
State Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, visited Northwest Missouri State University Monday to discuss the passage and signing of Senate Bill 997, a comprehensive higher education bill signed into law in June.
Joined by Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski and other legislative and higher education leaders from the region at the University’s Dean L. Hubbard Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Pearce led a roundtable discussion that provided an overview of the legislation’s measures and its potential impact on Missouri universities, community colleges, students, faculty and staff.
Senate Bill 997 authorizes multiple scholarship programs, allows students to enroll in dual credit courses, enables student loan forgiveness for certain students, and offers financial aid for veterans and their families, among other provisions.
“Senate Bill 997 really focuses on college completion, because we know that if we can get students in and out quickly, they’re less likely to drop out. Also, they’re going to have less student debt,” Pearce said.
The bill was largely constructed as the result of work conducted by a Missouri Higher Education Coordinated Plan Steering Committee, on which Jasinski served. The committee’s report, titled “A Blueprint for Higher Education” and issued by the Missouri Coordinating Board of Higher Education, cited five goals: attainment; affordability; quality; research and innovation; and investment, advocacy and partnerships.
Jasinski praised the bill, noting Northwest’s strength in retaining students and supporting them on their path to degree completion. Northwest’s freshman retention rate of 71 percent is higher than national and regional averages, and its 59 percent graduation rate is in the 89th percentile of Northwest’s national peer group.
“What I love about this bill is that it’s focused on student success,” Jasinski said. “That’s our mission. We’re focused on student success – every student, every day.”
Also participating in the discussion were Rep. Allen Andrews; Mike Thomson, a member of the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education; Brandt Shields, director of external relations at Missouri Western State University; and Dr. Lenny Klaver, president of North Central Missouri College.
For more information about Senate Bill 997, visit www.senate.mo.gov/legislation/.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468