University of Missouri shows impact on county
System of four schools lauds benefits to locals, work throughout county
The nearest school in the University of Missouri system may be 172 miles away from Cassville, but distance means nothing to those at the University of Missouri that hope to have a local impact across the state.
Tim Wolfe, president of the University of Missouri system, which includes Mizzou in Columbia, the University of Missouri in Kansas City, University of Missouri in St. Louis and Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, said he hopes to show how even though the Rolla campus is the closest to Barry County, the system still has a large presence in the county.
"When you go back to our mission statement, our constitution has established that the University of Missouri system should serve all of Missouri," he said. "So, we have things such as each county having an extension office, and our reaching out to cities through our health system."
According to John Fougere, chief communications officer for the University of Missouri System, 825 patients from Barry County were treated by UM Health Care in 2013, while the county's University of Missouri Extension Office had more than 19,000 contacts with county residents over the same time period.
"[Forty-five] Barry County students were attending a University of Missouri System campus in 2013, while 216 alumni were living in the county," he said. "In addition, 18 percent of all Barry County teachers and school administrators were University of Missouri alumni as of 2013."
Fougere said the system goes even further, as it provides Internet connectivity to schools and libraries in Cassville, Barry County and rural Missouri through the MOREnet program; has a presence in Barry County through the Missouri Telehealth Network, where local residents can have a live, real-time interaction with a University of Missouri physician through telecommunications at the Cox Monett Hospital in Monett; and provides farmers and livestock producers with access to the latest research and trends in agriculture through our agricultural experiment stations, with the closest one to Cassville being the Southwest Center located in Mount Vernon in nearby Lawrence County.
"We reach out to farmers with new business practices, and we collaborate and share results with Missouri-based agriculture businesses," Wolfe said. "MORENet provides Internet access to schools in Cassville, Exeter, Wheaton and Shell Knob, and it provides Internet access for the Barry-Lawrence Regional Library."
Cassville resident and Attorney Donald Cupps, vice-chair of the University of Missouri system's board of curators, said he has seen the impact of his alma mater in his own neighborhood, and he loves to be a part of it.
"Even though the University of Missouri is the flagship school with 35,000 students, we have a lot of graduates in Barry County from other University of Missouri institutions," he said. "And, you can go to the high school and see how many dual-credit courses are provided by the university, and how so many people are getting their educations online now. The impact to the state is huge, and there are benefits all over."
Wolfe said the University of Missouri system is hoping to increase awareness of its programs throughout the state, which he hopes will lead to more resources for residents.
"With more awareness, we hope to get more resources to fund growth, and you don't have to go too far to be a benefactor of one of our services," he said. "We're also constantly updating our services and have a portfolio of programs to help small businesses."
Cupps, a 1978 graduate of the University of Missouri with a degree in agricultural economics, and a 1981 graduate of the University of Missouri School of Law, said there's no replacing the University of Missouri system and all it does.
"If I need to know something about agriculture, I can just call up the extension specialist, and if he doesn't know, he will get me in touch with someone who does know what I'm asking for," he said. "The University of Missouri system is very important for that reason in southwest Missouri over the past 75 years."