Governor Parson visits MU for statewide tour

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COLUMBIA - Governor Parson made his first stop of a statewide tour at MU Wednesday morning. The governor talked about his future partnership with higher education institutions. 

Much of the table discussion focused on economic development and infrastructure. Governor Parson said those two things are priorities for his administration and can no longer be ignored.

"Infrastructure is going to have to be one of the top priorities of the state. We cannot keep kicking that can down the road," Parson said. "At the end of the day, it’s probably going to cost something. We need to present to the people of Missouri what we think is the best avenue and let the voters decide whether they want it or not."

Parson also said that he is aware of the budget cuts that continuously impact higher education institutions. He said he believes that in order to achieve economic development, there needs to be more support for students.

"We need to start preparing our young men and women for what the real world is like and what they’re going to face when they go out there," he said. "The old days of having a boatload of debt when you come out of college and you go out there and there’s not a job waiting on you or a job that doesn’t pay enough for your debt load, are things we need to figure out."

Parson also got a chance to see and try out some of the virtual and augmented technology devices available to MU students. He toured the Immersive Visualization Lab the university uses to train doctors and assist with surgeries.  

"When you listen today, when they’re talking about technology, the future, that’s where we’re headed and we have to be prepared for that," he said. "I just want Missouri to lead in that. There’s no reason we have to ever be known as the fly over state again."

The President of the UM system Mun Choi said he believes the governor's visit was a success.

"The fact that the governor, within his first week in office, came to the University of Missouri and spent an hour and a half talking about the value of workforce development, the value of research and the role that we can play in economic development, I think it really sent a very strong message," Choi said. 

After the tour Parson said he looks forward to partnering with the universities and the schools around the state.

In addition to Columbia, Governor Parson planned to visit Gordonville, Sikeston and St. Louis on Wednesday.