WEST PLAINS, Mo. – Members of the Missouri State University Board of Governors today, June 20, approved several changes to the academic offerings available at Missouri State-West Plains.
During their meeting in Kansas City, Mo., members passed resolutions adding the Associate of Science in Agriculture degree and certificates in Health Information Technology, Agricultural Business, Animal Science, Basic Bookkeeping, Basic Office Management, Equine Studies, General Agriculture, Natural Resources, Plant Science, Wildlife Management, and Wine Business and Entrepreneurship.
In addition, they approved resolutions to add Agricultural Business, Culinary Arts and General Business as new emphasis areas for the Associate of Applied Science in Entrepreneurship degree; to remove Web Development as an emphasis area for the Associate of Applied Science in Computer Graphics and Programming degree; to rename the Certificate of Entrepreneurship to the Certificate of Applied Entrepreneurship; and to remove the Associate of Applied Science in Computer Technology degree from the list of academic offerings.
The resolutions were approved as part of the board’s consent agenda and will now be submitted to the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education (CBHE) this fall for approval, university officials said.
“In today’s quickly changing world of business, industry and technology, Missouri State-West Plains must align its academic offerings with those changes and, as far as possible, anticipate what our students will need when they soon enter or re-enter the workforce in our region and beyond,” said Dennis Lancaster, interim dean of academic affairs. “These additional certificates and degrees are a result of our faculty’s latest efforts to meet those demands, as well as to provide a foundation for those students who want to continue their college education toward a bachelor’s degree or graduate degree.”
The AS in Agriculture is designed for students who wish to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the discipline at Missouri State in Springfield or any other four-year institution following graduation, according to Cathy Proffitt-Boys, assistant professor of agriculture and entrepreneurship. She pointed out agriculture has long been an important part of the economy and community in Missouri State-West Plains’ service area. The degree will help prepare students for new agricultural initiatives, including new agricultural cooperatives and value added product development that are creating new opportunities and the need for additional education in this field.
The new agriculture and business-based certificates are designed to meet the specific educational needs and interests of area residents based on their current employment status or future employment desires. All will dovetail into specific associate degrees offered at Missouri State-West Plains, and several are designed to meet requirements of specific bachelor’s degrees at Missouri State in Springfield, Boys said.
The Certificate in Health Information Technology is part of the university’s push to expand its allied health offerings, according to Amy Ackerson, division chair of nursing and allied health. Society’s transition to an information-based economy has impacted health care in dramatic ways, she said. “Developments such as the electronic health record (EHR) as a repository for digital health information and the enhanced ability of providers, payers and patients to share the information has provided a positive impact on our nation’s healthcare system,” she said.
“Medical billing and coding professionals are an important link between healthcare providers and insurance companies. These professionals are responsible for ensuring that physicians receive the correct reimbursements from insurance companies. Working with organizations such as Medicare and Medicaid, medical billing and coding professionals are essential to many healthcare establishments,” she added.
“As more baby boomers reach retirement and the elderly population continues to grow, a larger number of people will need frequent medical care. This includes supportive functions from medical billing and coding professionals who can pursue opportunities at hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, public health facilities and insurance agencies. Furthermore, healthcare organizations in our local service area have expressed demand for professionals with these competencies on a continuum. The study of healthcare information technology has become central to all that a practitioner does and a healthcare management instructor teaches.”
Those who complete the certificate will be able to seamlessly integrate into Missouri State-West Plains’ new Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology degree, which is still in the development stage, she said. After completing the degree, students could potentially transfer into established bachelor’s degrees in information technology at selected four-year institutions, she added.
The Certificate in Wine Business and Entrepreneurship is designed to support the existing AAS degrees in Viticulture and Enology offered by Missouri State-West Plains as part of its participation in the Viticulture Enology Science and Technology Alliance (VESTA). The business courses offered as part of the certificate are specifically designed to help winery and vineyard entrepreneurs by focusing on business-related aspects of that industry, Boys explained.
Boys said the addition of emphasis areas for the AAS in Entrepreneurship degree will better serve students and the community by preparing them for careers with many local opportunities. The removal of Web Development as an emphasis area for the AAS in Computer Graphics and Programming degree is the result of low enrollment, she explained, adding the change will better support student needs and interests. The title change for the Certificate of Entrepreneurship to the Certificate of Applied Entrepreneurship better describes the program and differentiates it from other certificate and degree programs in this discipline, she said. The deletion of the AAS in Computer Technology is due to low enrollment. Its removal will allow resources to be directed to programs with more student demand, she explained.
Now that resolutions for these academic program changes have been approved by the board, Lancaster said university officials hope to forward the proposals to CBHE in time for action at the group’s September meeting. If approved by CBHE, Missouri State-West Plains will then be authorized to offer 15 associate degrees and 19 certificate options.
For more information about these degrees and certificate options, visit the Missouri State-West Plains website, www.wp.missouristate.edu,