The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Joplin Metro

December 9, 2009

MSSU: Medical school effort in ‘silent’ phase

By Greg Grisolano

ggrisolano@joplinglobe.com

The prognosis for Missouri Southern State University’s planned medical school could depend on the financial health of the Joplin region.

That’s the message MSSU President Bruce Speck is sending now that the university has decided to rely solely on private funds for the $10 million needed to construct a building to house an osteopathic medical school program.

“When you look at this as a campaign, we’re now in what’s called ‘the silent phase,’” he said. “We are talking with some different people, the steering committee is meeting regularly, and we’re beginning to discuss the opportunities we have here.”

Speck said the committee is waiting on the results of studies aimed at estimating the economic impact a medical school would have on the region, and a feasibility study to determine if the community can support the fundraising campaign.

Funding confidence

“I think the feasibility study will demonstrate that we clearly have that capacity here (to raise the $10 million),” Speck said.

The university has entered a partnership with Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences — a private institution — to bring an osteopathic medical degree program to Joplin.

Speck and some members of the steering committee who were interviewed said they are optimistic that the financing can be raised.

“I’ll put it this way: If I didn’t think it was a doable project, I wouldn’t be spending my time on it,” said committee member Bill Gipson.

Gipson, the president and CEO of Empire District Electric Co. in Joplin, said the committee hopes to have an attractive package of information and schematics for the new building in hand before it approaches prospective donors.

“We need to get to a point where we can pull all these things together so we can go out to a potential contributor and present to them its size, its cost,” he said. “We all know it’s going to have a tremendous economic impact for our community and our region. But we need to tie it all down so we can make our case.”

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