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On the Road with President Wolfe


University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe visited Washington, Missouri, on November 6 on the 17th stop on his Show Me Value tour to continue the conversation he began with Missourians nearly two years ago to counter growing sentiment that a college education is not as valuable as it once was. As part of the tour, Wolfe visited Washington Middle School where he spoke to more than 300 middle school students about the importance of a college education.

Focused on communicating the value of higher education to Missouri’s middle and high school students – as well as community members – Wolfe used today as an opportunity to talk about the innumerable benefits of going to college. In addition, he visited Mercy Hospital in Washington to discuss workforce development and spoke with nearly 100 members of the Washington Chamber of Commerce. In addition, Wolfe was the featured speaker at a Franklin County MU Alumni organized community event to provide an update on the university and discuss its impact in Franklin County.

“I firmly believe that a college education is a person’s greatest opportunity for a successful life,” Wolfe said. “By any measure – income, prosperity, health – a college education has a profound effect on an individual, which in turn can provide a tremendous boost to our communities, culture and state as a whole.”

Wolfe – a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia – said he became alarmed that this message was getting lost soon after he became university president in February 2012.  In recent years, there has been a growing body of literature that points to increases in student debt and declining job placement rates, which he fears could cause some students to reconsider a college education.

Wolfe said that in reality, insurmountable debt for students following graduation is the exception, rather than the norm, and the alternative of not going to college has more dire consequences than paying off student debt. For instance, a person with a college degree will make nearly twice as much in his or her lifetime as someone with a high school diploma. And the rate of return on a college degree is about 15 percent – compared to the stock market at around 7 percent and the housing market at .4 percent.

At the four campuses of the University of Missouri System, about eight out of 10 students also get some form of financial aid.

Aside from the financial advantages, President Wolfe also said that a college education allows students to discover their talents, hone their strengths, think creatively and strategically, and learn to work in teams, which are all skills needed in today’s workforce, regardless of the job. College graduates also lead healthier, longer lives, on average.

Missouri Commissioner of Higher Education David Russell applauds Wolfe’s willingness to travel the state to promote the value of postsecondary education to students’ future success.

“President Wolfe explains to students how college can change their lives, and then tells them it is up to them to decide which of Missouri’s many colleges and universities is right for them,” Russell said. “It is an important message that our young people need to hear.”

“Missouri has a very strong and diversified system of higher education, with more than 200 public, private and proprietary colleges and universities serving students with widely-varied academic interests,” Russell elaborated. “A student will be well served by any college they choose to attend in the state.”

“As a son of two college professors, a college graduate myself, university president and – most importantly, the father of two college freshmen – I urge all Missouri students to think about college when they consider their future,” Wolfe said. “Whatever their life ambition, a college education can truly help make their dreams a reality – and we as a society will be better off for it.”

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Campus: System
Key words: Board of Curators, President, UM System,
County: Franklin

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