College of Dental Medicine

Watch Us Grow:

Construction progress live cam  |  Architectural renderings
Commission on Dental Accreditation Posting Form for Third-Party Comments

May 22 Groundbreaking event: Live stream recording  |  News release

KCU broke ground for a new College of Dental Medicine on the KCU-Joplin Farber McIntire Campus on May 22, 2021. We will welcome the first class of 80 students in 2023. Once fully enrolled, the College will have 320 students training to serve the four-corner region of Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas through a team-based, comprehensive care general practice model.

Working under the supervision of faculty preceptors, KCU's fourth-year dental students will provide comprehensive oral health care in clinical partner sites to patients throughout the four-corner region. The College of Dental Medicine expects to provide an additional 40,000 to 50,000 patient visits annually, helping to increase access to oral health care for the local community. 

Northwest Arkansas, Southwest Missouri, Southeast Kansas and Northeast Oklahoma have fewer dentists per capita than most areas in the United States. This multi-state region within a 125-mile radius of Joplin, Missouri, has an immediate and critical need for more dentists, specifically in rural and underserved communities.* Recruiting students from rural areas and increasing their awareness of oral health disparities and the effects they have on learning and employment, may improve the likelihood that KCU’s graduates will establish practices in underserved areas.

Watch Us Grow

Faculty Roster

Linda Niessen, DMD, MPH, MPP
Founding Dean, Vice Provost for Oral Health Affairs and Professor

Diane Ede-Nichols, DMD, MHL, MPH
Professor and Associate Dean of Clinical Education and Patient Care

Sharon M. Gordon, DDS, MPH, PhD
Professor and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Research

Erinne Kennedy, DMD, MPH, MMSc
Assistant Professor, Director of Pre-doctoral Education 

Katie Champion, DMD
Assistant Professor, Director of Clinical Operations

In the News

July 9, 2021
Incisal Edge announces 2021 recipients of the magazine’s signature ‘40 Under 40’ award for young dentists

May 22, 2021
KCU Breaks Ground on College of Dental Medicine on Anniversary of Joplin Tornado

April 15, 2021
Joplin Globe - Governor visits Joplin's medical school

April 15, 2021
KOAM News video - Gov. Parson tours businesses in Joplin

March 19, 2021
Joplin Globe story - KCU dental school construction, delayed by pandemic, now underway

March 17, 2021
American Dental Association - 10 Under 10 Awards: Recognizing the 'future of the dental profession'

Dec. 21, 2020
Joplin Globe story - KCU staff member appointed to Missouri Dental Board

Dec. 16, 2020
Dentistry Today - interview with Dr. Linda Niessen, dean of our College of Dental Medicine

Sept. 6, 2020
Joplin Globe story - How COVID-19 influenced the college's building design

Answering the Call

College of Dental Medicine's Regional ImpactKCU’s College of Dental Medicine will address the significant and growing oral health needs of the four-state region. With only three dental schools in the entire area, there is a challenge in training an adequate number of dentists to help meet these needs. Nearly all counties within a 125-mile radius of Joplin qualify as Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas (DHPSAs) by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

Economic Impact

Economic Impact of the College of Dental Medicine

Significant funding for the project comes from the generosity of the Harry M. Cornell, the Sunderland Foundation, Dr. Larry McIntire and Mr. Rudy Farber and the Farber Foundation. If you are interested in supporting KCU's College of Dental Medicine, please click this link or the buttons below to donate or contact the Office of Philanthropy and Alumni Relations at

National Oral Health Need Facts

The national demand for dentists will outpace growth in the supply of dentists in 2025.

More than 46 million people in the US live in Dental Health Professions Shortage Areas (DHPSA) and lack basic access to dental care.

7,000 dentists are needed to eliminate these shortages and another 8,600 to have adequate care in 2025.

* Tripp Umbach Market Assessment for the Development of a Dental School on the KCU-Joplin Campus, April 2018.