Missouri State University-West Plains has been selected as a 2020 Bellwether Award finalist by the Bellwether College Consortium for its participation in the Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Technology (GOCAT) partnership.
The university is one of 30 finalists selected for the highly coveted award. Bellwether finalists represent leading institutions of higher education whose outstanding and innovative programs and practices in community college education were selected among competitive submissions as exemplary, according to consortium officials.
The finalists will undergo a second and final round of rigorous peer review at the 2020 Community College Futures Assembly Feb. 2-4 in San Antonio, Texas, consortium officials said.
Awards are presented in three categories:
- Instructional Programs and Services
- Planning, Governance and Finance
- Workforce Development
Missouri State-West Plains is one of 10 colleges listed as finalists in the Workforce Development category, which recognizes strategic alliances that promote community and economic development.
“Being honored as even a finalist for this type of national award is truly incredible,” said Dr. Dennis Lancaster, dean of academic affairs at Missouri State-West Plains. “The Bellwether Award is testament to the many innovative and effective projects among our two-year college colleagues, each trying – like our GOCAT partnership – to increase the skills and knowledge for an escalating need of highly trained, technically-demanding workforce.
“On behalf of Missouri State-West Plains, I’m honored to sit at the table with our friends at South Central Career Center, the City of West Plains and South Central Workforce Investment Board as we continue to enhance the GOCAT and its programs,” Lancaster added.
“Being recognized as a Bellwether finalist in the area of workforce development is truly an honor,” said Sheila Barton, director of workforce development programs at GOCAT. “We have worked collaboratively over the past five years to make workforce development a reality in our region. This recognition is really for all of our partners who have been an integral part of creating and supporting our programs at the GOCAT.”
Community College Futures Assembly
All finalists will be presented at the 2020 Community Colleges Futures Assembly, and one winner will then be selected from each category by a panel of national experts, consortium officials said.
The Bellwether Awards are widely regarded as the nation’s most competitive and prestigious recognition for community colleges and the only award evaluated by experts and practitioners in the field. In its 26 years of celebrating community colleges, the consortium is proud to identify outstanding and innovative programs or practices which can then be shared and replicated.
“From day one, now some five years ago, we have sought through authentic collaboration to bring something of great potential to West Plains and beyond,” Lancaster said. “This award – again, even to be among the finalists – means we must be doing something right, and I think it’s because we’ve done all of this together.”
The Community Colleges Futures Assembly, now in its 26th year, convenes annually as an independent national policy forum for key opinion leaders to work as a “think tank” in identifying critical issues facing the future of community colleges, and to recognize Bellwether winners and finalists as trend-setting institutions.
The Bellwether College Consortium is a group of colleges charged with addressing the critical issues facing community colleges through applicable research and the promotion and replication of best practices addressing workforce development, instructional programs and services, and planning, governance and finance. The Bellwether Award is sponsored by the Alamo Colleges District in San Antonio, Texas.
For more information, visit the Bellwether College Consortium website.