September 17, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, MO – The five Springfield-area universities will collaborate on two projects, one academic and one service-oriented. The leaders of Drury University, Evangel University, Missouri State University, Ozarks Technical Community College (OTC) and Southwest Baptist University announced two joint initiatives today (Sept. 17) at the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce.
The five presidents/chancellors signed agreements regarding creation of a Foreign Languages Institute and announced plans to work together on an annual community service project. This year that project will be Meals a Million in November sponsored by Friends Against Hunger.
The five presidents/chancellors included Drury President Todd Parnell, Evangel President Robert H. Spence, Missouri State President Clifton M. Smart III, OTC Chancellor Hal L. Higdon and Southwest Baptist President C. Pat Taylor.
Foreign Languages Institute meets regional demand
Missouri State University will establish the Foreign Languages Institute (FLI) attheJim D. Morris Center and will allow students from Evangel, Drury, Southwest Baptist and OTC to enroll in classes offered through the FLI.
By consolidating some of the language resources into one location, the institute will be able to offer more language options than any school would be able to offer individually. The first two new languages that institute staff leadership hope to be able to offer are Portuguese and Italian. The institute will also offer additional sections of Chinese and Arabic for the universities who presently cannot offer those subjects.
“Southwest Missouri continues to undergo dramatic change,” said Smart. “Its population is growing, its economy expanding. The region is moving beyond the relative isolation of the past in order to engage more fully not only the national but also the global society. Language education and training are crucial elements in MSU’s focus on public affairs and its efforts to increase cultural competence.”
During the announcement, the presidents recognized the need for the teaching of foreign languages. They also recognized that as individual universities, it is hard to get classes of sufficient size, particularly in the less commonly taught languages, to be economical.
“We appreciate the opportunity for collaboration and are very pleased that our students will be able to engage in language studies beyond those which we are able to offer,” said Spence. “The Foreign Languages Institute will benefit Evangel students in their business and church-related careers.”
The anticipated market for the Foreign Languages Institute will include traditional Missouri State students, other higher education institutions, regional and state businesses, government agencies, school districts, and non-profit organizations.
“The creation of the Foreign Languages Institute will meet an increasing need in our area,” said Higdon. “As we continue to grow, education in foreign languages and cultures will become crucial to doing business, engaging our community, and supporting southwest Missouri’s position in the state and national economy.”
The FLI is a partnership between MSU’s international programs and the modern and classical languages department and will collaborate with other university units, including Missouri State Outreach, the Management Development Institute, the Small Business and Technology Development Center, Ozarks Public Television and KSMU Radio, to develop innovative and targeted language training programs.
Schools to pool volunteer resources for Meals a Million
The university presidents/chancellors also announced that they are joining together on a fall service project, which they plan to do annually.
This year’s project is to provide more than 1,000 volunteers for Meals a Million, a three-day event to package 1,111,111 meals for impoverished people from Nov. 9-11 at the Springfield Expo Center. (College of the Ozarks is also participating in the Meals a Million project.)
According to Friends Against Hunger, which sponsors Meals a Million, each meal is a vegetarian recipe that provides a rich source of easily digestible proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins with nine essential amino acids. The combination was developed by food scientists to help the undernourished recover from malnutrition. The meals are intentionally easy to prepare, requiring only the ability to boil water. The meals are distributed both domestically and internationally through non-governmental organizations.
“I’m encouraged and optimistic about the future when I see all of our institutions coming together for the benefit of our students and the community,” said Parnell. “Meals a Million and the Foreign Languages Institute are just the latest examples of how the Ozarks’ robust and diverse higher education community is an asset to our region.”
“SBU is extremely pleased to participate in the Foreign Languages Institute with our colleagues from other area universities,” said Taylor. “I appreciate Missouri State University’s leadership for providing this opportunity for our students to study languages that we could not offer on our campus. And SBU students are excited to be involved with Meals a Million. This type of project teaches students that they can make a difference and meet needs in our community.”