Affordable Education in Rural America

OUTdrive Episode 77 with Joe Gilgour

OUTdrive Episode 77 with Joe Gilgour

For many in rural America, a college degree seems unattainable due to the cost. According to a 2021 report by U.S. News, the national average student loan debt is currently $30,000. But, higher education doesn’t have to mean a higher price tag. In this episode of OUTdrive, I sit down with Mineral Area College President, Joe Gilgour, to break down the advantages of a community college education and getting the best return on investment.

Joe was named President of Mineral Area College during the summer of 2019. Prior to his role at MAC, Joe served 12 years in a number of leadership roles at State Fair Community College, including a seven-year stint as Dean of Student Services. A decorated graduate, Joe holds a bachelor’s degree in Theatre and Psychology from Southwest Baptist University, a master’s degree in College Student Personnel from Arkansas Tech University, and a doctorate in Higher Education Administration from Saint Louis University. He and his family reside in Park Hills, Missouri and can often be spotted at a campus or community event.

Tune into this episode to see how community college is a great option for anyone living in rural America.


  • 4:00 – Joe reflects on his time at State Fair Community College and how it prepared him for the next step in his career
  • 5:00 – Joe details his day-to-day responsibilities as President of Mineral Area College (MAC)
  • 7:45 – Joe breaks down the student population at MAC and why he thinks there is no “traditional” community college student
  • 9:15 – Joe discusses how MAC appeals to individuals in all career paths and backgrounds
  • 11:00 – An assessment of return on investment as it applies to education
  • 12:45 – Joe highlights the success of the MAC sports teams and the other activities available to students
  • 15:30 – Details behind the current Missouri Enhancement Grant fundraiser
  • 19:00 – Joe’s advice for someone who is looking to pursue a career path in higher education and administration
  • 23:15 – Trends that are currently affecting higher education, from COVID-19 to state funding to mental health in students.
  • 26:20 – Some of the things Joe enjoys in his off campus life
  • 28:15 – What Joe loves about living in rural America
  • 30:00 – Joe’s closing thoughts and career advice