Kelly Slaughter is a 23-year veteran of Ameren Missouri’s Callaway Energy Center, a senior outage scheduler and now a member of the first MBA cohort offered through a unique partnership between his employer, Maryville University and Westminster College. He thanks his son, Samuel Slaughter, for his student status.
Last year, Kelly Slaughter had reached a point where he wanted to advance his career by furthering his education.
“At the same time, Sam was looking at colleges,” says Slaughter. “He decided early that he wanted to go into the nursing program at Maryville. Meanwhile, Ameren announced they would offer an online MBA program with Maryville and Westminster. Sam encouraged me to apply immediately. He kept saying, ‘You gotta go Dad, you just gotta go.’ So, I applied.”
The program is an academic partnership that offers the flexible education opportunities required by Ameren employees and others who balance their time between a host of professional and personal responsibilities.
“Ameren’s leadership wanted to provide access for employees to graduate education,” says Katherine Louthan, executive director of Maryville’s School of Adult and Online Education. “Utilizing Westminster’s established relationship with Ameren, we were able to offer Ameren our online virtual classroom, which accommodates the reality of shift work and the very specific needs of these highly specialized employees.”
Launched in January of 2017, 12 Ameren employees are enrolled in the MBA program. It’s the job of Caitlin Ladd, associate director of Adult and Online Education, to identify ways in which organizations can best invest in their employees.
“Maryville doesn’t deliver the same education package to everyone,” she says. “We work closely with a company’s human resources leaders, listen to their needs, then discuss how we can best meet them. In this case, we were able to creatively design an online course delivery model, complemented by either virtual or face-to-face engagement.”
The online format opens a door to education long sought by Ameren employees in Callaway County. The prospect of traveling to nearby Columbia or St. Louis for classes had always been out of the question.
“With our busy lives and varied work schedules, we simply don’t have the time, nor the physical and mental energy, to be sitting in classes,” says Slaughter. “Maryville has just been great to work with. They have helped make our cohort a cohesive group. We support each other, and congratulate each other on a great online post or comment. And with a son in college, partnership benefits like tuition reimbursement make it all possible.”
Sam, who began classes this fall, has quickly immersed himself in academics and campus life. Two serious knee injuries playing football in high school helped steer him toward a nursing career.
“I toured Maryville and looked at the nursing program in June, before my senior year of high school,” he says. “It was a great decision, because someday I can help kids like me. And now, I get to tell people how cool it is that my dad is going to the same school.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This article first appeared in the Fall 2017 edition of Maryville Magazine.)