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September: Briefly in the News

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William Woods University begins new equestrian program
The Fulton school is merging its esteemed equestrian program with biology. The Center for Equine Medicine will offer students an interdisciplinary veterinary degree.

WWU hired a full-time doctor of veterinary medicine, Paul Schlitz, who has worked as an offsite equine vet for the university in the past. The school also purchased a 17-acre property near campus. In 1972, WWU was the first university in the world to offer a four-year degree in equestrian science.


MU researchers make breakthrough in HIV research
A University of Missouri microbiology research team identified and modeled a vital protein in the structure of HIV, which they hope will lead to further information about how to fight the disease.

The team, led by professor Stefan Sarafianos, uncovered the structure of HIV’s capsid protein, which cloaks the virus and allows it to proliferate without being detected by the immune system. Researchers used a process called X-ray crystallography to model the protein.

Research was funded with grants from the National Institutes of Health.


Providence Bank closes the deal in latest merger
Providence Bank merged with Community First Bank, of Fairview Heights, Illinois. The two companies agreed to the merger this spring, with the stock purchase between the two parent companies being carried out this summer.

Community First is the latest in a line of Providence acquisitions. What was once the small Bank of Lincoln County now has about $900 million in assets, with the last $218 million coming from the Community First merger.

“This merger is a significant milestone for Providence Bank,” says Kit Stolen, president and CEO of Providence Bank. “We could not be more excited to have Community First Bank’s founder, Chuck Daily, join us to lead his team of banking professionals in Fairview Heights.”


OATS honored by the American Legion
Rural community transit company OATS was selected as the 2015 American Legion Employer of Older Workers award winner for Missouri. The award recognizes the company’s commitment to employing and retaining older employees as well as OATS’ community service on behalf of older workers and veterans.


MoDOT plans for fewer improvements without more funding
The Missouri Department of Transportation approved the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, a five-year program of projects and improvements on which the department will focus. With decreased funding, this year’s STIP takes on fewer projects. The plan calls for a focus on improvements to highways and “primary routes,” though all previously existing projects will continue as planned.

The STIP is part of MoDOT’s new “Missouri’s 325 System,” a reference to the department’s lowered $325 million budget. According to the STIP, 89 percent of Missouri’s roads are in good condition, and 80 percent of bridges in good or fair condition.


Benjamin Akande assumes role as Westminster College president
Westminster College welcomed its new president, Benjamin Akande. Previously, he was a professor of economics and dean of the business and technology school at Webster University. Akande was born in Nigeria before immigrating to America, and he comes to Westminster after 15 years in the St. Louis academic world.

Akande says he’ll focus on managing the university’s endowment and finances to provide more opportunities for potential students. In a press release, Akande said, “Westminster stands ready to achieve an even bolder and broader future — and even greater world impact — than ever before.”


MFA Oil buys out Big O Tires franchisee
MFA Oil is now the sole owner of BORE/MPC, previously a joint venture between MFA and Big O Tires. The oil cooperative bought out Big O’s stake in the company, which operates 15 Big O Tires stores in Missouri and Arkansas.

MFA declined to give financial details of the transaction. The two companies originally partnered in 1988, which gave MFA franchising rights for Big O stores in mid-Missouri and Arkansas.


MU earns reaccreditation
The Higher Learning Commission renewed MU’s accreditation after an HLC evaluation. As part of the accreditation process, an HLC representative visits the university every 10 years; the most recent visit came in February. HLC accreditation evaluates the overall quality of instruction at a school.


Boone County recognized as Top 10 in tech
Boone County’s IT department has been on an impressive run in the past decade. Last week, the Center for Digital Government recognized Boone County for exceptional success in information and communications technology, placing the county fourth for its population group.

The CDG recognizes the top 10 in four different population segments every year. Boone has been recognized for 10 of the previous 11 years.


MU School of Medicine partners with private health providers for new facilities
The MU School of Medicine, in conjunction with CoxHealth and Mercy, both of Springfield, began construction of a new medical education building in Columbia. The groups are also constructing an MU clinic in Springfield.

The partnership aims to produce more physicians in the state. The Springfield clinic is scheduled to open in 2016, and the MU building is scheduled to open in 2017.


University Hospital nationally recognized for cardiac care
The American College of Cardiology awarded University Hospital a Silver Performance Achievement Award for 2015. The hospital is one of 91 hospitals nationwide to receive the award, which signifies that the hospital carried a composite score of 90 percent or better on performance measures in heart attack treatment.

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