The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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July 24, 2013

Discussions continue on possible medical school in Joplin

JOPLIN, Mo. — Discussions with Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences are back on again after a decision by the university’s board to decline offers to put a satellite campus in Joplin.

KCUMB’s board voted in May not to move forward with either of two proposals, one by Missouri Southern State University and another by the city of Joplin, to establish a medical school in Joplin.

The Globe, in an email to KCUMB’s director of university relations, Lisa Cambridge, asked whether the university had ruled out either proposal.

Joplin’s proposal was made by the city’s contracted master developer, Wallace Bajjali Development Partners, which was hired in the wake of the May 2011 tornado. That proposal entailed building a downtown medical education building at the current site of the Joplin Public Library. Missouri Southern’s proposal would place the school on its campus.

In a reply from KCUMB on Wednesday, the Globe was told: “Based on the information that was available as of the last Board of Trustees meeting in May, the Board of Trustees determined that there was not the requisite level of support necessary and it voted not to move forward at this time with respect to either proposal.”

David Wallace, chief executive officer of Wallace Bajjali, said in response that new offers have been made on behalf of both Joplin and MSSU.

He said that when he learned about the vote by the university board, he spoke with KCUMB officials.

“They gave me two issues,” he said. “One was that, from an administrative standpoint, they have a lot of things on their plate. They needed to get a new president and a new chancellor or provost in place. But, it was really more of an economic issue to help fund the startup costs.”

Wallace said he made a proposal on how to take care of the funding. He said he believes that MSSU also renewed discussions as well.

Alan Marble, interim president of MSSU, could not be reached for comment late Wednesday afternoon.

Richard Walter, chairman of MSSU’s Board of Governors, said he would need to speak to Marble about the status of the KCUMB proposal.

“We have been trying to talk with them, too,” he said. “For some time, we have been trying to pursue a medical school, and we will continue to try to pursue a medical school for this region.”

He said Missouri Southern has been seeking funding to bring a medical school to the campus.

When asked about the details of the offers he has made to KCUMB, Wallace declined to specify.

“Since it is an ongoing negotiation, I would rather not discuss what the overall economics are,” he said. “It is an attractive arrangement for KCUMB, and we understand the economic impact to the community is significant, and we want to do everything in our power to establish a school here in Joplin.”

Cambridge said she could not confirm that more discussions are taking place without conferring with the officials with whom Wallace has been speaking.

“I can say that, at the time that the board met, the university was not in a position to do this on our own,” she said. “But if the level of support with startup costs, infrastructure costs or building support and clinic training opportunities would be at a sufficient level, we would go back to the board for discussions.”

KCUMB has had ties to Joplin — in particular Missouri Southern and Freeman Health System — since 2008.

Officials previously talked about bringing a 600-student KCUMB satellite campus to MSSU, but that deal fell through in 2010.

Wallace said he is pursuing discussions on behalf of the entire community.

“I really don’t care where KCUMB goes,” he said, in regard to the two offers. “I just want to make sure they land in Joplin.”

Private school

KANSAS CITY UNIVERSITY of Medicine and Biosciences is a private university that is the No. 2 provider of physicians in the state.

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