With eyes on oral health, KCU adds administrator from Colorado dental school

Kenneth Durgans

As the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences prepares to break ground next year on a dental school at its Joplin campus, it has hired another top administrator from a higher education institution focusing on oral health.

Kenneth Durgans has been appointed associate provost for diversity and inclusion for KCU, which has campuses in Kansas City and Joplin. He most recently worked as an administrator for diversity and inclusion activities at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine.

He also has held similar positions at Purdue University-Indianapolis, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, Xavier University in Ohio, and the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

"His experience at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine will provide unique insight as KCU prepares to launch a dental school on the KCU Joplin campus in 2022," said Ed O'Connor, provost and executive vice president for academic, research and student affairs, in a statement. "We are thrilled to have someone with Dr. Durgans' vast experience, expertise and enthusiasm as KCU continues to grow as a health sciences university that is inclusive of all backgrounds among students, faculty and staff."

As associate provost, Durgans will promote a diverse and inclusive environment at KCU, implementing strategies to attract a diverse student body and workforce through training, community outreach, pipeline programs and cross-cultural understanding.

"Any place I have been where the people are serious about doing this work, we've been successful," Durgans said in a statement. "I feel there is an opportunity to do something really special at KCU because of the attitudes and the optimism of the people here."

He holds degrees from Western Michigan University, the University of Dayton, Kent State University and Baldwin-Wallace College. He also is a member of the American Association of Black Psychologists, American Association of Blacks in Higher Education and the John D. O'Bryant National Think Tank.


KCU opened its Joplin campus in 2017 and announced earlier this summer that it will build a dental school here. The new school aims to seat its first class of 80 students in 2022 after a planned groundbreaking next year, and officials believe it will help address the oral health needs of the region. In March, it named James Koelbl as its new vice provost for oral health initiatives.