JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) – With a June deadline quickly approaching, work on a Joplin campus of the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences is progressing smoothly, according to officials overseeing the work.

A ribbon-cutting for the new campus is scheduled for June and the first class of students is expected to begin classes on July 28.

“It’s moving forward very quickly,” said Paula Gregory, dean of the campus, which will be located at the site of the former temporary Mercy Hospital.

Hiring is continuing but faculty members who are already on board come from “all over” and are planning their classes, which will use the same curriculum as the Kansas City campus, Gregory said.

“They’re a very experienced faculty,” she said. “We’re very fortunate that they’re interested in coming to Joplin.”

Gregory now is talking to local faculty and physicians to find people interested in teaching guest lectures or labs. And actors are being recruited to participate in simulations to give students experience in patient interactions.

Several staff positions, such as housekeeping, food services and the library remain open and Gregory hopes to find those employees in the Joplin area.

Enrollment also is progressing, Gregory said, with the first class of 150 students about half-filled. Gregory said applicants have come from across the country.

“The admissions team has made sure we look carefully at local applicants because we know local interest will keep people here over time,” she said.

Pete Stobie, director of strategic initiatives, said about 150 people work at the KCU Joplin site every day and the project is “on time and budget.”

The campus has been funded largely through an investment by the Regional Medical School Alliance, which had pledged $30 million toward the project.

At Missouri Southern State University, officials have interviewed 21 applicants to the Yours to Lose program, an advanced medical school acceptance program that guarantees up to 25 slots at KCU Joplin each year to Missouri Southern graduates. The program is designed to encourage high-performing students to obtain their pre-med bachelor’s degree in three years, rather than the traditional four.

About two-thirds of program applicants are regional students, although some are from Chicago and Memphis, Tennessee, according to university officials.

Yours to Lose will begin in the fall, with its first graduates entering KCU Joplin program in 2020.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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