“Dr. Niessen possesses a rare breadth and depth of oral health experience that bridges a number of critical disciplines, making her an outstanding choice for leading our new college of dental medicine,” said KCU President and CEO Marc B. Hahn in a news release. “Her deep commitment to rural health and meeting the needs of underserved patients will help KCU make an immediate impact on the growing oral health needs of the communities surrounding Joplin.
As dean, Dr. Niessen will oversee the development of all academic, research and service activities and administration of the dental college.
“For KCU, with a successful medical school having an emphasis on rural health and improving access to primary care, the decision to commit to the development of a dental school with a community focus presented a tremendous opportunity that excited me as a public health dentist,” Dr. Niessen said. “The future of health and wellness will require the integration of oral health into overall health. KCU will be at the cutting edge of innovation in interprofessional education as dental, medical and psychology students work together to broaden each other’s education and improve patients’ health outcomes and the community’s health.”
Kansas City University had announced in June 2019 its plans to open a dental school 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 the news release.