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Plans for New Missouri Dental School Suspended

Posted by the Joplin Globe
By Crystal Thomas

Plans for the Missouri Southern State University (MSSU) dental school, planned in partnership with the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), has been suspended after funds for the project were cut from the state budget, said Alan Marble, MSSU's president. 

On Monday, January 16, Gov. Eric Greitens announced he will withhold about $146 million from current fiscal year's budget, cutting more than $76 million from higher education funding. 

Along with about $1.77 million being cut from MSSU's core funding from the state, the state will withhold about $808,000 of the $2 million set aside for MSSU to pursue the dental school, Marble said. 

From both MSSU and UMKC, the governor cut about $1.2 million of the total $3 million allotted for the dental school in the yearly budget.

Marble said he made the decision with Leo Morton, UMKC's chancellor, this morning. He added that both MSSU and UMKC will be working during the session to convince lawmakers to make the allocation for the dental school part of the universities' core funding, instead of as a line item in the budget that has to be appropriated yearly.

"We just decided we should suspend it for the time being until we get the funding solid," Marble said.

The next step to prepare for the dental school was to move the psychology department from Reynolds Hall to Taylor Hall. Since funds for the move has been cut short, it will be put on hold, Marble said. 

MSSU's Childhood Development Center has already moved from Taylor Hall to the newly renovated Joplin Regional Center in anticipation of the dental school. Students were supposed to be able to attend the dental school starting the fall 2018 semester. 

The governor said he plans to withhold a total of more than $700 million over the next year and a half to be able to balance the state budget. The budget restrictions are on top of $200 million outgoing Gov. Jay Nixon withheld last month.