(JOPLIN, Mo.) – Incisal Edge dental lifestyle magazine has named Linda C. Niessen, DMD,
MPH, MPP, Kansas City University (KCU) College of Dental Medicine (CDM) dean and vice provost for
oral health affairs, among its 32 Most Influential People in Dentistry for 2022.
The magazine describes Niessen as combining “…her university’s mission and ‘just say yes’ culture of dentistry, seeking out talented dentists and academics to staff the school and mentor young people and the underrepresented as they begin their dental careers.” Incisal Edge named Niessen a Woman Who Inspires in 2021.
A highly esteemed dental educator, consultant to industry and dedicated public health professional,
Niessen joined KCU in 2020 as the inaugural dean where she oversees the development of all academic,
research and service activities as well as administration of the dental college. Most recently, she led
efforts on behalf of the CDM to earn initial accreditation from the Commission on Dental Accreditation.
With initial accreditation granted, the CDM has begun accepting applications for the first dental school
class of 80 students to start in July 2023.
“Dr Niessen brings expertise and enthusiasm to everything she does,” said Marc B. Hahn, DO, president
and CEO of KCU. “We are proud to have an academic dentist of her caliber leading the development of
our College of Dental Medicine as KCU works to improve oral health in the communities we serve.”
KCU’s College of Dental Medicine will fill a serious health-care gap in the four-state region of Missouri,
Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma. All counties within a 100-mile radius of Joplin qualify as a Dental Health Professional Shortage Area (DHPSA) by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
Niessen’s extraordinary career also includes work in the public service sector as well as geriatric
dentistry. She began her dental career as a lieutenant in the United States Public Health Service, Division
of Indian Health, where she served as chief of the Service Unit Dental Program at the Choctaw Nation
Indian Hospital in Talihina, Oklahoma. She has also held positions with the Veterans Affairs Medical
Centers in Boston and Bedford, Massachusetts; Perry Point, Maryland; and Dallas, Texas, caring for
veterans with medically-complex conditions.
Niessen earned her Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree from the Harvard School of Dental
Medicine. She also holds a Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree from the John F. Kennedy School of
Government at Harvard University, a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from the Harvard School of
Public Health and a Certificate of Residency in Dental Public Health from the Harvard School of Dental
She has received numerous awards including the American Student Dental Association
Paragon Award, Jack Hein Award for Public Service from the American Association of Dental Research,
and Choctaw Nation Award of Honor for Outstanding Service to Choctaw People from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.