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Local Universities Form Foreign Language Institute, Program to Feed Hungry

The leaders of five area colleges--Drury University, Evangel University, Missouri State University, Southwest Baptist University and Ozarks Technical Community College--have announced that the schools will collaborate on two projects. Each university leader signed an agreement Monday to create a Foreign Language Institute, and they announced plans to work together on a community service project. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark has details.


The community service project this year will be Meals a Million, sponsored by Friends Against Hunger. This fall’s service project will aim to get more than 1,000 volunteers to package over a million meals for hungry people in the community. The three day event will be held at the Springfield Expo Center, November 9-11.

Jim Baker is the Vice President for Research/Economic Development and International Programs at Missouri State.

“One of the things that President (Clif) Smart is really focused on is developing collaborative programs with other high education institutions in the area. I think what they’re going to do in the future is each year have one event that all the institutions would get together and support as a big community service project.”       

Each meal packaged for Meals a Million will consist of a vegetarian recipe that provides essential proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins. The recipe was specifically made to help undernourished people restore their health. The meals are easy to make; all that’s added to the recipe is boiling water.

The second project focuses on academics: MSU will establish the Foreign Language Institute at the Jim D. Morris Center in downtown Springfield. Students from Evangel, Drury, SBU and OTC are welcome to enroll in different language classes. The first two new languages are scheduled to be Portuguese and Italian.

“It’s sometimes hard to get enough students in some particular kinds of language classes, so the idea was if we had one institute that was established at Missouri State University, they could provide language training for, not only for students from Drury, Evangel, Southwest Baptist and OTC and others, but also be a resource to the community. So if a business community needed assistance on, for example, Portuguese training, the Foreign Language Institute would be available to help that.”  

The Jim D. Morris building already houses other MSU international programs. Baker says primarily, the FLI will be offering for credit classes to interested students starting in January.

“But we’re also going to do a lot of workshops and non-credit things as well, which will be a little bit more tailored down to individuals that don’t necessarily want to go through an entire semester of classes, but a little more of a focused thing. Say if they were going on a trip and just needed to pick up some of the language—we’re going to try to do a combination of for-credit and not-for-credit courses.”

If everything goes according to plan, Baker says the first courses will be offered in the Spring semester of next year.

“My office will be doing some of the upfront funding. We’re going to hire a staff person to help coordinate everything, and then the money that’s generated from the classes will be used to pay for that person and also for the faculty we hire. So it’s intended to be a self-supporting program.”

Baker says he thinks there will be more collaboration like this between local universities in the future.    

For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.