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Kansas City University announces plans for dental school in Joplin, Missouri

June 06, 2019
Rendering of KCU College Dental Medicine
New school: The image shows an image rendering of the Kansas City University College of Dental Medicine in Joplin, Missouri. The school is expected to break ground in 2020 with a goal to seat a class of 80 in 2022.
Kansas City, Mo. — Kansas City University announced June 4 its plans to open a College of Dental Medicine on its Joplin, Missouri, campus, with an anticipated groundbreaking in 2020. The goal is to seat a class of 80 students in 2022.

School officials hope the new dental school will address the growing oral health needs of the four-state region of southwest Missouri, northwest Arkansas, northeast Oklahoma and southeast Kansas, according to a news release.

“We believe an innovative, community-based dental education program will help bridge the gap between medical and dental care and expand access to care for children and adults in the region,” said Dr. James Koelbl, vice provost who is spearheading the project. “Our community-based plan for offering oral health services will ensure our students have the experience in providing comprehensive care to a large and diverse group of patients in the region.”

According to Kansas City University, the project’s anticipated cost is more than $80 million. The university has committed $40 million towards funding the program with the remainder from philanthropic efforts, which has already raised about $20 million.

In addition, the dental school is estimated to generate a financial impact of $45 million annually, support over 200 jobs and generate at least $1.7 million in state and local taxes, according to the news release.

According to the university, nearly all counties within a 125-mile radius of Joplin qualify as Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.

“In our four-state region, the need—and the opportunity—to tackle the oral health crises has never been greater,” said Marc B. Hahn, president and CEO of Kansas City University, in a news release. “At KCU, we embrace both by identifying creative solutions, building partnerships and training professionals to face today’s health issues head on.”