It is quite a rare feat to see a brand new University build a successful business right out of the gate. That is exactly what the University of Missouri Kansas City has done. Founded in 2013, the university currently offers Bachelors in Communication, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, and Psychology and Social Science, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Bioinformatics. With an increasingly online-centered world, the MO-KC school has positioned itself to provide students with the skills they need to succeed in an ever-evolving industry. We had a chance to speak with one of the founders of the university, Dr. Brian Corrigan, about their strategy and how they are already benefiting from their success.
A Bold Initiative
Founded in 1913, the University of Missouri Kansas City is one of the newer additions to the University of Missouri system. The school’s goal was to provide students with the skills they need to be successful in an ever-changing world, and that has certainly come to fruition.
With a history of successful businesses and innovative ideas, the university was in a unique position to become an industry partner with several startups and SMBs. According to Dr. Corrigan, this was made possible by the university’s commitment to research and education.
“We have a very strong commitment to research and educating, and we think that really resonates with the founders and the CEOs of our partner companies, who want employees that can think strategically as well as execute tactically,” he said.
This is quite a common sentiment amongst business leaders. As industries evolve and the traditional brick-and-mortar model becomes less relevant, companies are looking for universities with strong research records to partner with. The attraction to academia is two-fold. First, most business degrees require a considerable amount of coursework that can be applied to a variety of fields. This means that a business degree can be helpful for students who want to change careers or who want to explore a different area of expertise. Second, business and accounting degrees allow students to develop strategic and problem-solving skills that are in high demand in an ever-evolving work environment. The skills developed through these programs can be applied to a variety of industries, even if the student decides to pursue a different career path after graduation.
From Classrooms to Hack Nights
The University of Missouri Kansas City is a compact campus, with all of its classes and activities spread out over a five-story building. This allows the school to have a very hands-on approach to education. While most universities tend to hide their work-life balance, the opposite is true at MO-KC. Here, students can easily see how their education can be applied to the real world. Even the most practical students can get a taste of the research and scholarly atmosphere at MO-KC.
In addition to the hands-on learning environment, the university also offers a variety of online learning platforms, including traditional classes delivered through traditional means as well as MO-KC’s own Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The VLE is essentially a simulation environment that allows students to try out different business and marketing strategies, see the results of their decisions, and then iterate and repeat.
This is far different from the lecture-oriented learning environments that are all too common at universities. Traditional classes at the Missouri-Kansas City school are typically 30-40 minutes long, and include a mix of lecture, discussion, and mini-assignments. These classes are designed to be accessible to as many students as possible, and can be accessed via mobile device or desktop computer. This approach to teaching provides flexibility and convenience for those who want to learn.
The combination of a hands-on, research-focused learning environment and an open access model for learning makes the University of Missouri Kansas City the perfect place to gain business skills. With an average starting salary of $46,000, it is evident that this initiative has paid off. As of April 2018, the university had 147 students, with 44 in the graduate program. Its goal is to recruit and graduate 500 students by 2021.
A Well-Designed, Equipped Campus
Located in a thriving technology-centric area of Kansas City, the University of Missouri Kansas City has designated a specific section of its campus as a technology commons. The focus here is on high-tech educational facilities such as the Channelling Center for the Performing Arts and the McMunn Center for Science and Engineering. This area of the campus features several multi-purpose “smart” spaces, designed to foster interaction between students, faculty, and staff.
These spaces are equipped with the tools necessary for modern learning. For example, the Channelling Center includes a black box theater that can be used for rehearsals, plays, and concerts as well as for academic purposes. The center also has several galleries that host exhibitions and displays that are relevant to the education of the public.
A Valuable Resource For Startups And SMBs
With its commitment to research and education, the University of Missouri Kansas City is a valuable resource for start-ups and small businesses. The university has established a number of valuable relationships with local businesses and entrepreneurs who are looking to access high-quality education and skilled faculty and staff. These connections make the university attractive to potential employees and students.
This is quite a valuable commodity for businesses in a tight labor market, as well as those who want to expand their knowledge in a certain area. In addition to establishing valuable relationships with local businesses, the university also works with outside start-ups and SMBs who are interested in establishing strong connections with prominent educational institutions. The university offers entrepreneurship and business seminars, hosts a number of pitch competitions, and offers access to business advisors and experts who can offer guidance and advice to entrepreneurs and startups.
With a strong commitment to its students and an emphasis on providing them with the skills they need to be successful, the University of Missouri Kansas City is setting itself up for long-term growth and success.