The Board of Governors at Missouri Southern State University has given unanimous approval to a new partnership with Kansas City University that will expand opportunities for students interested in entering the medical or dental fields.

During Friday’s board meeting, members approved a new agreement and then attended a formal signing ceremony between the two universities for the early acceptance program. Qualified students will have the opportunity to complete their baccalaureate degree with an accelerated, three-year curriculum before making a seamless transition to KCU.

“This is something very special,” said Dr. Dean Van Galen, president of Missouri Southern. “Our partnership with Kansas City University began in 2015. Since then, 88 talented students have met the high standards to be accepted as Missouri Southern freshmen. Thirty-two students have successfully completed their degree and matriculated to the outstanding medical-school program at KCU.

“Today’s agreement expands the previous partnership to include dental medicine. It allows for a cohort of 25 students for osteopathic medicine and 10 for dental, under the new name MSSU-KCU Early Acceptance Program (MKEAP).”

Marc B. Hahn, DO, president and chief executive officer at Kansas City University, said the partnership with MSSU has become very important to KCU.

“For over a century, Kansas City University has educated physicians for Missouri and the region,” he said. “Today, we’re the sixth largest medical school in the country, the No. 1 producer of physicians for the state of Missouri, the No. 2 producer for Kansas, and the ninth leading producer of primary-care physicians for the entire country.

“These are some of the best and brightest students, and this program will make an impact on access to medical and dental care for Joplin and the region.”

In other business:

  • Board members received an update on new students from Dr. Shellie Hewitt, Dean of Admissions. Hewitt credited recruitment and enrollment efforts for a 5.84-percent increase in new, first-time freshmen, as well as an increase in the number of graduate and international students. It marks the first time since 2016 for the university to welcome a new class of students with increased enrollment from the previous year. Key factors include the new MOSO Merit Scholarship program, an increased number of on-campus events designed to introduce prospective students and their families to MSSU, as well as virtual tours for those from out-of-state.
  • Brad Hodson, Executive Vice President, said that preparations are underway for the launch of “Lions Forward” – a $31.5 million fundraising campaign. The Office of University Development will work to raise at least $6 million toward the campaign goal this fiscal year. The Board of Governors voted unanimously to approve the campaign priorities.
  • Rob Mallory, Director of Athletics, updated the board on the annual Southernfest fundraiser. Held in July, the event included the Rod Smith Golf Classic and the newly-renamed Green & Gold Banquet. The event was a success, said Mallory, and brought in more than $100,000. The 2023 event is set for July 20-22.
  • Finally, the board voted unanimously to appoint Jeanie Nice, administrative assistant to the president, to serve as board secretary.

The next Board of Governors meeting is set for Friday, Nov. 11.