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by Sen. Mike Cunningham

Missouri has long been known for quality higher education. Continuing that tradition, it was recently announced that Missouri State University – West Plains was ranked sixth in the Best Community College category for the 2013 Washington Monthly college rankings. A national ranking list, this designation is a wonderful achievement for a school that is dedicated to providing affordable, quality education.

Based in Washington, D.C., The Washington Monthly has created these lists for eight years. Their lists of rankings are generated using several criteria, including student effort, academic challenge, support for learners and student retention and completion. These benchmarks are compiled from two sources: the Community College Survey of Student Engagement and the U.S. Department of Education.

This honor is a hallmark of the kind of quality education available in the 33rd District. I am proud of everyone involved in helping Missouri State University – West Plains reach this point. In addition to celebrating this fine achievement, the university is also planning events around another historic event, the 50th Anniversary of the university. Local events honoring the anniversary will kick off on Thursday, Sept. 12. A gala dinner open to current and future students, as well as alumni, faculty and staff will take place that evening, with proceeds going to benefit a scholarship endowment, ensuring that more students will have the opportunity to receive a quality education. Tickets are still available for the gala for $50 per person by reservation only. This will be a wonderful event, with many opportunities to meet new people.

I can think of no better way to begin this week of celebration than the naming of this deserving school as sixth in the nation. In a world where so many things have become disposable, even education, knowing that Missouri State University – West Plains is right here continuing the tradition of hard work and dedication to knowledge for 50 years is a huge relief to me and many of my colleagues. If you would like to read more about the rankings in The Washington Monthly, visit its website at www.washingtonmonthly.com and click on “college guide.” For more information on the 50th Anniversary of Missouri State University – West Plains, please visit www.wp.missourtstate.edu.

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