More Missourians getting degrees

Missouri ranks sixth in the nation in the increase number of residents with a college degree, according a report released in June by Lumina Foundation. In 2011, 36.4 percent of the state’s population had a college degree, up from 34.9 percent in 2008. However, even with these gains, Missouri lags behind the national average of 38.7 percent.

Increasing the amount of college graduates in the workforce is especially important for the state’s economic well-being because the 2008 recession triggered the loss of most medium-skilled, middle-wage jobs, says Dewayne Matthews, the Lumina Foundation’s vice president of policy and strategy.

The report notes several reasons for the growth of college graduates in Missouri, including low tuition at state colleges and universities, a product of the tuition freeze that took place during 2010 and 2011, and easily transferable classes.

MU chancellor to retire in November

Brady Deaton, the chancellor of the University of Missouri, announced June 12 that he will retire, effective Nov. 15. Deaton has been MU’s leader since 2004 and has been at the university since 1989. He will remain involved with MU by acting as chancellor emeritus with a focus on international development and will continue to reside in Columbia.

Under Deaton’s leadership, MU experienced a period of unprecedented growth. Enrollment rose by almost 30 percent, and 21 new buildings were added to the campus. The university also moved to the Southeastern Conference, a step up from the unstable Big XII Conference.

New artwork being shown at Boone County National Bank

Boone County National Bank is exhibiting new artwork from two local artists in the Bank Lobby Gallery of its downtown location until July 18. One of the artists, Kerry Hirth, specializes in pastel representations of music, born from her synesthesia; the other, Laura Beth Konopinski, creates glass sculptures that draw on the relationship between human emotion and animal behavior.

No more old boys’ club

The Missouri Legislature has more women and more middle-aged members than before, according to a report released by the Institute of Public Policy in May. According to the report, the main factors behind this shift are the state’s redistricting in 2000 and the implementation of term limits in 2001 and 2003 for the House of Representatives and the Senate, respectively. Term limits have forced out career politicians, and the turnover has opened up more seats for women and younger congress members. However, there has been no notable growth in the number of minority legislators, whose numbers are proportional to Missouri’s minority population.

Citizen Jane Film Fest returns for sixth year

Passes have gone on sale for the sixth annual Citizen Jane Film Festival, which takes place Oct. 4 to 6. The female-centric film fest has two levels of passes: the $100 insane Jane pass, which allows holders to reserve tickets ahead of time for all films and attend all festival events, and the $60 plain Jane pass, which grants one ticket to every film playing.

Rotaract steps up to help grow produce for food bank

The Columbia chapter of Rotaract, a service organization for students and professionals younger than 30, has decided to sponsor the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture’s Planting for the Pantry program, which grows fresh fruits and vegetables for the Columbia Housing Authority’s Annie Fisher Food Pantry. So far this year, more than 300 servings of fresh produce have been donated to help those in need.

MU students create ‘blue light’ safety app

A group of MU business, journalism and computer science students have created an application that allows users to directly signal police if they are in danger. The app, called Safe Trek, works by allowing the user to press a button when they feel unsafe. If the user lets go of the button, he or she must then enter a code or the app will directly contact the police dispatcher; the user can then speak directly with the police or have his or her movements tracked until he or she feels safe.

The app was developed for a Windows 8 development competition held by the Reynolds Journalism Institute at MU. The Safe Trek app won the competition, and the team that created it, made up of students Zach Beattie, Natalie Cheng and Zach Winkler, received a Microsoft tablet and a trip to the Microsoft headquarters in Washington state.

The team is pushing for the application to replace the costly and inefficient “blue light” system around campus. MUPD and the Columbia Fire Department are already interested in implementing the application. The team plans to expand to more college campuses, but first the application needs to come to iOS and Android, the two largest mobile operating systems.

(Fiberglass) tigers on the loose at Columbia Mall

Ten life-size fiberglass tigers, all decorated by local artists, have been let loose for Tigers on the Prowl, a benefit for 10 local charities, that kicked off June 21 in the Dillard’s wing of the Columbia Mall. The event will culminate on Oct. 13, when the tigers will be auctioned off at a party at The Crossing church. All funds raised will to go the 10 charities, including Central Missouri Honor Flight and True North.

June 13

At their June 13 meeting, the University of Missouri System curators voted to extend employee benefits to “sponsored adult dependents,” a category that includes same-sex partners of employees.

160, 13, 29, 90

Federal cuts to Medicare payments have triggered layoffs and cutbacks at some of the state’s largest health care providers. BJC HealthCare announced it will lay off 160 employees, including 13 workers at the Boone Hospital Center in Columbia. MU Health announced similar cuts, reducing hours and pay for 29 employees and eliminating 90 unfilled positions.

Fourth Amendment

Jessica Kempf, president of the Columbia Board of Realtors, publically called for the City of Columbia to rescind a new law that would require landlords to disclose “all tenant information” to city authorities investigating code violations at the June 17 City Council meeting because it violates the Fourth Amendment rights of tenants.

$7.1 billion

Smithfield Foods, whose subsidiary Premium Standard Farms operates 63 hog farms and nine large-scale CAFOs in northern Missouri, has agreed to be acquired by Chinese firm Shuanghui International for $7.1 billion, pending approval from regulators.

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