UCM President Chuck Ambrose.

It was a big day for the University of Central Missouri as the President of the United States chose the Warrensburg campus as his back drop for a speech on the economy and education. Speaking at the University of Central Missouri, President Obama said improving education is one of the cornerstones of correcting the economy over the long haul.  Click to hear KMZU’s Chelsea Wade talk with UCM President Chuck Ambrose:

Chuck Ambrose

Obama said education was just one piece of a more positive economic picture. The President said college students need to be able to get a high-quality education to compete in the global workforce without worrying about their financial future.

University of Central Missouri President Chuck Ambrose agreed, saying it is important for a college like UCM to keep tuition rates low. “When you go to a job and the first thing you worry about is ‘How am I gonna pay my student loan’ you lose productivity. If you go to work and think I’ve got a salary and I can invest myself in other things like service…citizenship, then your in a much different position to make a difference,” Ambrose said. “UCM has been doing this since 1871. The world’s offering some new opportunities, and we are trying to meet those, and we’ll do it right here.”

Ambrose also called the President’s visit, “historic”. “There are already presidential historians saying today, it was very important. That this is the first day of his focus on making a match between opportunity and people who are equipped to take that opportunity,” Ambrose said. “And he did it on our campus and we are a part of it. An we are going to take his words very seriously and step up and try and try to do what we’re doing, better.”

Chief Strategy Officer Mike Racy also weighed in on the visit. Click to hear Chelsea Wade speak with him.

Mike Racy

Mike Racy says Wednesday’s visit highlights UCM’s innovation in education. “For the campus, what a great honor. To have the White House select the University of Central Missouri, and the things we are doing to help prepare students for lifelong success,” Racy said.

Racy adds, the Innovation Campus lays the groundwork for college. “The idea is, that you identify students going into their Junior year that have a strong set of skills and interests in science, technology, engineering, mathematics…And we bring them into our program, and their first two years in the program, their Junior and Senior year in High School, not only are they finishing High School, but they’re earning their Associate of Arts Degree.”

Obama plans to travel the country over the next few weeks discussing more economic and education goals.  He said he wants to take ideas from colleges, such as UCM, and apply them on a national scale.