Banking & Finance
Joe Driscoll joined Regions Financial Corp. as vice president and community banking relationship manager for the southwest Missouri region. Driscoll has a bachelor’s in business finance and an MBA from Missouri State University.

Empire Bank promoted Sherry Downen, Carolyn Gentry and Julie Hoffman. Downen was named assistant vice president and loan officer of the bank’s Chesterfield Village facility. Gentry was appointed assistant vice president and retail officer of Empire’s main Sunshine Street and Glenstone Avenue branch. Hoffman was named assistant vice president and retail officer on South National.  

BKD Wealth Advisors LLC named Rhonda Christopher as Springfield office director. Christopher, who has 18 years of experience with BKD LLP, joined BKD Wealth Advisors in 2010.

Education
David Hough, a professor of reading, foundations and technology at MSU, was reappointed as dean of the College of Education. Hough succeeds Dennis Kear, who is returning to the faculty after serving three years. Hough, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Missouri State and a doctorate from the University of California at Riverside, was selected to lead MSU through its bid for continued accreditation from the National Accreditation Council for Teacher Education.

Robert Pavlowsky, an MSU professor of geology, geography and planning, was awarded a $86,060 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Pavlowsky, who also directs the Ozarks Environmental and Water Resources Institute, is directing the funds to reduce nutrient sources at Pearson Creek from farms and ranches by using buffer strips and soil management techniques.

The Missouri School Public Relations Association selected Zac Rantz, director of communications with Nixa Public Schools, to serve a one-year term as president. Rantz, an 11-year employee of Nixa schools, has served the statewide association as Ozarks Region director and secretary.