By Ben Edwards
On Friday, April 20th, the first meeting of the Midwest Inclusive Post-Secondary Alliance (MIPSA) was held at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) to discuss and advocate for post-secondary education programs for students with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
The meeting drew 64 people from Missouri, Kansas, Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio, and South Dakota, twenty-eight of them students. Universities and colleges in attendance included:
- University of Missouri at Kansas City
- University of Central Missouri
- Johnson County Community College
- Missouri State University
- Augustana University
- University of Missouri-Columbia
- Missouri Western State University
The meeting began with the attendees being welcomed by UMSL vice-provost Dr. Curt Coonrod. Afterwards the attendees heard from the staff of UMSL’s SUCCEED Program and residential life office. Participants toured Oak Hall dormitory, where SUCCEED students live on campus and listened to presentations and a Q&A with SUCCEED students on topics ranging from homework to laundry to independent living.
Afterwards there was a luncheon, and then some more presentations from Dr. Ann Taylor, the Dean of the UMSL’s College of Education and Dr. Clare Papay from Think College. These presentations talked about post-secondary education programs nationwide. There are currently 266 with four in Missouri.
Students at the conference brainstormed together about ways to improve the college programs, ranging from affordability to students having more freedom as adults on college campuses.
MIPSA’s goal is to promote access to quality inclusive postsecondary education for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the Midwest, by collaborating on program development, research, and public policy.