Medical school plans call for new building

Brennan Stebbins

Plans for a medical school at Missouri Southern now call for a building to be constructed on the northeast corner of the intersection of Duquesne and Newman Roads. Southern will have to raise around $8 million for the project, and would then lease the building to the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences. The University plans to use $1.1 million in Caring For Missourians funding to help complete the building. “That is federal stimulus money designed to make sure we have more health care workers,” University President Bruce Speck said. “Our perception of this is we will be able to, by putting that money in this building, create 150 new doctors when they finally start graduating. There’s probably no better use of that money in terms of being able to create more people to go into the workforce.”Original plans for a medical school building called for construction of a cadaver lab on the plot of land between the health sciences building and the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center. But underground utilities in that area and evolving plans for the new building made it necessary to look elsewhere. Speck said initial talks called for a building of approximately 23,000 square feet. That number has been revised upward, and the new building could approach 35,000 square feet. “That’s our property all the way to the tree line and to the church,” Speck said. “That will be a great place to put it. It will highlight it, and it would be nice over time if we could have some residence halls there for medical students. There’s also opportunities for us to maybe bring in other types of industries related to health sciences so that whole complex could become a very important complex over time.”The project could break ground next summer or early next fall. “We need to have money in the bank, we need to have pledges,” Speck said. “We’ll be looking for people to give five-year pledges, so if you say you’ll give us $10,000 a year for five years, that’s $50,000 and there will be some naming opportunities for various parts of the building. We are moving ahead and we do need to move fairly quickly to get the money so we can begin construction.”Speck said the plan has not met with opposition in Jefferson City, he believes, because the school is not requesting state funds for the project. “We’re not asking the state for any money to build the school, we’re not asking the state for any kind of money for maintenance of the building,” he said. “KCUMB is going to rent the building and that rent will be used to maintain the building.”Speck has spoken with presidents at Missouri State University and the University of Missouri – Columbia to update them about the medical school plan. The opening date for the medical school has also been pushed back from fall 2011 to fall 2012. “It has to do with how ambitious initially we were,” Speck said. “We knew that 2011 would be pushing it, and as we began to look at it more realistically.”Given all the accreditation deadlines we moved it to 2012. That’s realistic.”Southern has not yet sought final approval from the Coordinating Board for Higher Education. “They know where we are and what we’re doing,” Speck said. “They’re in the loop, they understand what’s happening. I would be very surprised if there’s any kind of problem, because again, when you take state funding off the table there’s not much of an objection.”