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Education news and issues in the Ozarks.

MSU President Confident in Continued Funding for Health Program

This month’s national settlement with credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s equals $21.5 million for Missouri, a portion of which will benefit two major projects in Springfield.

Missouri State University President Clif Smart announced this week that Gov. Jay Nixon has released $620,000 of the $1.325 million withheld for the school’s occupational therapy program and health programs in West Plains.

“The positive thing about that is that’s enough funds that we’re confident that we can continue to go forward with the occupational therapy program on the Springfield campus, which is slated to start in the fall,” Smart said.

Smart emphasized that the remainder of that funding has to be released, and then continued thereafter. Missouri State wants both its fiscal year 2015 operating base plus performance funding and health initiatives funding to be combined into one ongoing appropriation. It’s one of three legislative priorities the school is pushing.

As for the building to house those health initiatives, Smart says it’s a bit behind schedule but still should be open by the fall, as planned.

The three-story, 50,000 square foot O’Reilly Clinical Health Science Center, named in November, will feature a multi-disciplinary health clinic, skills laboratories, and classrooms and group study spaces for the occupational therapy, physician assistant studies, nursing and nurse anesthesia programs.

Additional private funding is sought, and Smart believes there are “folks eager to fund these programs.”

Gov. Nixon has also pledged to make available from the S&P settlement $4.68 million for the University of Missouri School of Medicine Clinical Campus in Springfield.

Under the program, medical students would be allowed to spend their final two years in Springfield observing doctors from both CoxHealth and Mercy. It’s been touted as a plan to improve health, education and the economy by meeting Missouri’s need for more physicians.

Annual funding required for operations is approximately $10 million. That amount had previously been approved for the campus but withheld by the governor last summer.

It is not immediately clear what the release of funds means for the clinical campus. An MU official that overseas implementation of the program was not available for comment Friday.

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