KCU prepares to welcome students to the New College of Dental Medicine: “This is what we’ve been building for.”  

Kansas City University celebrated the grand opening of the new College of Dental Medicine on June 26, marking the completion of a facility that will provide quality, patient-centered dental care to rural communities in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

“[A] study revealed that every single county within a 100-mile radius of Joplin – that cuts into four states – was identified as a dental health professional shortage area by the federal government,” said Dr. Marc B. Hahn, President and CEO of Kansas City University, during the standing-room-only grand opening. “Missouri today has a shortage of more than 700 dentists. Poor oral health contributes to a wide range of systemic diseases… This makes the shortage of dentists in this state a true public health emergency.”

“The work on these facilities, when you see them — this is going to be the finest dental education and oral health center in the world,” said Dr. Hahn. “Right now, we have the best, and it’s right here in our Joplin community.”

With only three dental schools in the region, there is a critical need for educating and training future generations of dentists — and more importantly, encouraging these professionals to practice in rural areas. In alignment with their values, KCU is now able to make a significant impact on oral health for the communities in Joplin and beyond. The College of Dental Medicine provides innovative education through simulation and state-of-the-art technology, and the Oral Health Center gives students the opportunity to obtain real-world experience on actual patients in need of care.

The new Oral Health Center is a unique feature to KCU’s Joplin campus, which previously did not have a space that interacted with the public. The Oral Health Center has a striking, metal-clad exterior that establishes a new presence on the west side of campus. Parking is intentionally located directly in front of the clinic for an easy, accessible patient experience. Upon entering, the lobby is a bright, welcoming space with a mix of comfortable and colorful furniture. Patients are able to take in views of Joplin through the expansive windows, which provide plentiful natural daylight. The operatories are meticulously planned to provide the right balance of privacy for patients and space for faculty to monitor and engage with students.

Leveraging functional space for more impactful, usable space, the elevated skywalk between the clinic and the College of Dental Medicine offers an area for students and faculty to collaborate or find a quieter place to study. It also serves as a connection between the College of Dental Medicine and KCU’s existing School of Medicine, encouraging interdisciplinary interactions and learning opportunities.

The user experience reflects the caliber of students and faculty that KCU attracts, as well as the sophistication of the University’s curricula. “This is what we’ve been building for. It’s all about the students,” said Dr. Linda Niessen, Dean of the College of Dental Medicine.

Navigating across the skywalk, there are more apparent connections between the College of Dental Medicine and the School of Medicine through similar materials and finishes. By employing a cohesive identity, the two disciplines are strengthened by shared values. All throughout the space, students and faculty have access to quality views of the new landscaping. The layout and connections between the buildings create a series of courtyards to provide a moment of respite in nature.

The College of Dental Medicine was designed in collaboration with SmithGroup.

Back to Academic