Major gifts from KC and Joplin donors bring university a big step closer to breaking ground
In just four months since announcing plans for a new College of Dental Medicine (CDM) on its Joplin, Mo., campus, Kansas City University (KCU) has now secured three-quarters of its $40 million philanthropic goal. This fundraising includes a recently announced 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. Additionally, the University Board of Trustees has committed $40 million towards the $80 million project. The KCU College of Dental Medicine will provide an opportunity to educate dental students to meet the critical oral health-care needs in the surrounding underserved region of Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
“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 health care crisis and a troubling shortage of dentists. Through this new college of dental medicine, we hope to expand access to oral health care for those who need it most.”
In 2015, the community based foundation JRMSA helped to raise over $40 million to support the construction of KCU’s Farber-McIntire Campus (KCU-Joplin) and the university’s second 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,” said McIntire, president of JRMSA. “KCU’s recent efforts to develop a KCU College of Dental Medicine has been embraced as an important part of our mission. 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.”
A $6 million grant from The Sunderland Foundation was the lead gift to KCU to develop the CDM. This gift will be commemorated with The Sunderland Skyway Bridge, an elevated walkway connecting KCU’s future College of Dental Medicine with its current College of Osteopathic Medicine on the Joplin, Mo. campus.
“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.”
Mr. Cornell’s $10 million gift is the second donation to KCU in the past five years. His first gift of $10 million was instrumental in the development of the KCU-Joplin College of Osteopathic Medicine. Mr. Cornell’s generosity will be honored by naming the new College of Dental Medicine building The Harry M. Cornell Dental Education Center.
According to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the majority of counties within a 125-mile radius of Joplin are Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas (DHPSAs). In Missouri, 376 dentists are currently needed to remove the DHPSA designation, with Arkansas needing 105 dentists, Kansas needing 103, and Oklahoma requiring 166. What’s more, there are currently only three dental schools in the region: two in Missouri and one in Oklahoma, with none in either 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,” said Hahn. “We know that oral health profoundly impacts overall health. 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.”
KCU anticipates breaking ground on the facility in 2020, with plans to welcome the first class of 80 students in 2022. A nationwide search for a dean of the College of Dental Medicine is currently underway.