For Release:
February 18, 2010

Contact: Kathy Love — 573.522.1463

Columbia — Missouri's rank in educational attainment has declined since 2002, a cause for concern among those who worry about the state's potential for economic prosperity. A conference set for March 2 in Columbia will address how to increase the number of Missourians with a college degree.

"Focus on Missouri: A Dialogue on Barriers, Strategies and the Future of College Access" will feature speakers with state and national perspectives, and directors whose on-the-ground programs are successfully sending low income and first generation students to college. The conference is co-sponsored by the Missouri Department of Higher Education and MU's Division of Enrollment Management with federal funds provided through the College Access Challenge Grant program.

Greg Darnieder, special assistant on college access for the U.S. Department of Education, will talk about the federal agenda for higher education, and how to obtain and leverage federal funding to increase college attainment.

The day-long event, to be held at Memorial Union on the University of Missouri-Columbia campus, also features Larry Isaak, president of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact; Nicole Hurd, executive director of the National College Advising Corps; Stacy Clay, leader of College Summit in St. Louis; Steve Green, executive director of Kauffman Scholars, Inc.; Lisa Zarin, executive director of College Bound in St. Louis; and many other state and local speakers.

The free conference offers sessions on financial literacy, creating a college-going culture, assessing college access programs, state and national higher education policies, and an overview of research and statistics relating to degree attainment.

Conference attendance numbers are growing, but registration is still open. For more information, go to