KCU College of Dental Medicine Nears $30 Million in Fundraising

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Kansas City University (KCU) of Medicine and Biosciences has secured three-quarters of its $40 million fundraising goal in the four months since announcing plans to open its College of Dental Medicine (CDM) on its campus in Joplin, Missouri. 

This fundraising includes a pledge of $10 million from the Joplin Regional Medical School Alliance (JRMSA), a $10 million gift from Harry M. Cornell, a $6 million gift from the Sunderland Foundation, and gifts from Neosho banker Rudy Farber, the Farber Foundation, and Larry McIntire, DO. The university’s Board of Trustees also has committed $40 million toward the $80 million project.

The KCU College of Dental Medicine will provide an opportunity to educate dental students to meet the critical oral healthcare needs in the surrounding underserved region of Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, the university reports.

“KCU is proud to have reached this milestone so quickly and is grateful to these generous benefactors for their support of this important effort,” said Marc B. Hahn, DO, president and CEO of KCU. 

“The four-state area faces an oral healthcare crisis and a troubling shortage of dentists. Through this new college of dental medicine, we hope to expand access to oral healthcare for those who need it most,” said Hahn.

In 2015, the community-based JRMSA helped to raise more than $40 million to support the construction of KCU’s Farber-McIntire Campus and the university’s College of Osteopathic Medicine location.

“Alliance members, donors, and the community at large retain a vital interest in the new medical school and its students. KCU’s recent efforts to develop a KCU College of Dental Medicine has been embraced as an important part of our mission,” said McIntire, president of JRMSA.

“The success of KCU’s medical school campus in Joplin contributes greatly to the confidence that the College of Dental Medicine on the same campus will also be successful,” McIntire said. 

The $6 million grant from the Sunderland Foundation was the lead gift to KCU to develop the dental school. This gift will be commemorated with the Sunderland Skyway Bridge, an elevated walkway connecting the future dental school with the current College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“We focus on the bricks and mortar because they represent the rich history of our company, Ash Grove Cement,” said Kent Sunderland, president of the Sunderland Foundation Board of Trustees. 

“Yet we keep in mind the people who will be served in those facilities, and we are happy to support an initiative that will result in people in the Joplin region living healthier lives,” said Sunderland.

Cornell’s $10 million gift is his second donation to KCU in the past five years. His first gift of $10 million helped develop the KCU-Joplin College of Osteopathic Medicine. The new College of Dental Medicine’s building will be named the Harry M. Cornell Dental Education Center. 

According to the US Health Resources and Services Administration, most of the counties within a 125-mile radius of Joplin are dental health professional shortage areas (DHPSAs). In Missouri, 376 dentists are needed to remove the DHPSA designation. Arkansas needs 105 dentists, Kansas needs 103, and Oklahoma needs 166. The only dental schools in the region include two in Missouri and one in Oklahoma, with none in Kansas or Arkansas. 

“Two years ago, we answered the call to meet the growing primary care and rural health needs of the region by establishing a medical school campus in Joplin. We know that oral health profoundly impacts overall health,” said Hahn. 

“Having a CDM physically located next to our College of Osteopathic Medicine provides a tremendous opportunity to integrate oral health into overall health to make the broadest impact and improve the well-being of the communities we serve,” said Hahn. 

KCU expects to break ground on the facility in 2020, with plans to welcome the first class of 80 students in 2022. A nationwide search for a dean for the College of Dental Medicine is currently underway.

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