By Debby Woodin
Joplin is the sole location under study currently as a possible satellite campus for Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences.
A decision on whether to establish a school in Joplin is to be made in April, said Lisa Cambridge, director of public relations for KCUMB. She said two people scouted Joplin last week on behalf of the medical school’s Strategic Expansion Task Force.
“They were in Joplin looking at the possible options there are for any expansion of the KCUMB campus,” she said.
The visitors were Dr. John Dougherty, associate dean for clinical education and medical affairs and a professor at KCUMB, and Dr. Clinton Adams, a consultant to the task force. He is a former dean of the College of Osteopath Medicine of the Pacific.
They visited Missouri Southern State University, met with the city’s contracted master developer, David Wallace of Wallace Bajjali Development Partners, and visited with civic and business leaders, Cambridge said.
Pat Lipira, vice president of academic affairs at MSSU, said, “The purpose of the trip was that they are doing a study to see if it would be feasible to have a satellite school here and, if so, where — on our campus or elsewhere.”
Lipira said the task force representatives toured MSSU’s Health Sciences Building and student amenities. “Our Health Sciences Building is a very attractive building in terms of what we house in there,” she said. “We have respiratory therapists, radiologists and nurses all under one roof. In the Ummel Technology Building, we have new labs and we have a cadaver lab” that was built with the help of KCUMB.
“They also were interested in what type of research our faculty was doing,” she said. “They did look at the health center — what would be available to students such as the rec center,” and they wanted to know that MSSU has a suitable location for holding graduation ceremonies.
“For us, we’d just love to see a medical school, regardless of where it is located,” Lipira said. “We know many of our students would be interested in that. We have a good rate of acceptance into medical schools. We have had 100 percent acceptance into dental school, 100 percent acceptance into chiropractic school, 91 percent in pharmacy school, 73 percent in medical school, 100 percent in optometry. Our students are very well-prepared to go on to medical school.” She did not have the number of students who go on to those schools.
“From the city of Joplin’s perspective, it is a significant benefit to the entire city of Joplin,” Wallace said of a prospective medical school.
“We had a whole group of folks to articulate why KCUMB should locate a medical school in Joplin. We think the site selection team understands the benefits.”
He told the City Council on Jan. 14 that he was to make a presentation the next day to a school in regard to a proposal to build a $79 million campus downtown. His firm has proposed construction of a campus at Fourth and Main streets if the Joplin Public Library is moved to 20th Street and Connecticut Avenue as part of the projects for Joplin’s tornado redevelopment.
Wallace told the council that other buildings and locations could be involved because representatives of the university had indicated they might want to use the Main Street location for offices and classrooms, and have students housed in a different location.
KCUMB had been in discussions with MSSU in recent years about the possibility of establishing a satellite campus in Joplin, but those talks were derailed in the spring of 2010 by a dispute involving the KCUMB president at the time and its board.
Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean attended the presentation Wallace made to the visiting team at the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce.
“We are all for a medical education facility coming here, whether it be on the Missouri Southern campus or the downtown area,” the mayor said. “We are just happy it would be in Joplin. It would be a catalyst to continuing downtown development. I think it will be a win all around for the city.”
A MEDICAL SCHOOL could add $50 million a year to Joplin’s economy, master developer David Wallace has told the City Council.