Southern, KCUMB hope to avoid repeat of 2010

Bruce Speck

Bruce Speck

Missouri Southern President Bruce Speck says the University has been “very active” in efforts to bring Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences to Southern’s campus.

“We have had contact with KCUMB and kept in touch,” Speck said. “And so I think that KCUMB is now at a point where they want to make a decision.”

KCUMB previously considered putting a satellite school on Southern’s campus in the 2009-10 school year, but talks broke down when KCUMB’s then-president Karen Pletz faced multiple charges, including embezzlement.

It was also revealed that Pletz was working without the support of her board on the MSSU partnership.

Part of the current contact between the two schools has been direct conversation between Speck and KCUMB’s board president.

“We know the board [at KCUMB] is fully aware of this now,” Vice President of Business Affairs Rob Yust said. “Whereas before, we were making presumptions that their president was working through their board, and, obviously, that came back to bite us.”

Pletz was fired in December of 2009 and later sued by KCUMB. She committed suicide on Nov. 22, 2010 in the Fort Lauderdale home of a family member.

On April 20, 2010, KCUMB’s board voted 14-0 against pursuing a partnership with Southern.

“I would say it was probably back in February, seeing everything that we had coming down with the university, with the lawsuit against the president and the regulatory agencies, et cetera, that we don’t need to be adding something else to our plate at this time,” Pletz’s replacement Danny Weaver told The Chart after the board’s vote almost three years ago.

The Chart broke news last week that KCUMB was the school being courted by Joplin’s contracted tornado redeveloper Wallace Bajjali Development Partners as part of a plan to put a KCUMB satellite campus downtown, and that the school was also considering placing such an expansion on MSSU’s campus.

Wallace Bajjali’s plan calls for the school to be housed at the current site of the Joplin Public Library. KCUMB’s board is expected to vote on the issue at its April meeting.

Wallace Bajjali CEO David Wallace has not returned calls from The Chart.

If KCUMB votes to establish a campus at Missouri Southern, private funds would be used to construct an entirely new building for the satellite school.

The previous plan called for that building to be erected at the northeast corner of Newman and Duquesne roads, but Speck says that location is not the only one where a medical school building could potentially go.

“Actually, there are a couple places,” Speck said.

“The master plan, you know now, puts a new building over here in the quad, so that’s an opportunity.

“We really haven’t settled on that,” he said.