In June, Dr. Richard Schooler was announced as the university’s new dean of the School of Health Sciences.

Schooler will oversee the school – which includes nursing, radiology, respiratory care, dental hygiene and the EMT and paramedic programs – at a pivotal time in the Joplin area’s status as a health-care hub.

“Having been involved in the medical community for more than 30 years and on the business side for the last 12 years has given me a unique perspective on the needs and challenges that lie ahead,” said Schooler.

“With Kansas City University’s new medical school coming to Joplin and the two great health systems already here, there’s a huge opportunity to take that step to the next level. Education has to be the foundation, and Missouri Southern is in position to be the driver for that.”

From 1985-2004, Schooler practiced as an OB/GYN physician in Joplin before becoming medical director and director of medical education for Freeman . In 2006, he was named the hospital’s chief medical officer, and in 2013 the executive vice president and chief operating officer. He retired from that position earlier this spring.