Linda Niessen, D.M.D., M.P.H., M.P.P.

Dr. Linda Niessen serves as Vice Provost for Oral Health Affairs for Kansas City University (KCU) and Founding Dean and Professor for the KCU College of Dental Medicine in Joplin, Missouri. Committed to KCU’s mission of “improving the well-being of the communities we serve”, the College of Dental Medicine builds on KCU’s traditional of academic excellence, innovation, and inter-professional education in the development of caring, compassionate health professionals. KCU College of Dental Medicine provides innovative education incorporating state of the science dental technologies, enabling students to develop clinical decision-making skills using an integrated, patient-centered approach to dental medicine. 

As a clinician, Dr. Niessen has been dedicated to providing oral health care for medically complex and vulnerable populations. She is a diplomate of the American Board of Dental Public Health and the American Board of Special Care Dentistry. Dr. Niessen started her career as a Commissioned Officer in the US Public Health Service working with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma in Talihina, Oklahoma. Her career includes serving as a clinician caring for medically complex and older adults at several VA Medical Centers. As a faculty member (at University of Maryland, Baylor College of Dentistry, Nova Southeastern University and now Kansas City University), she has authored numerous papers in peer reviewed journals, conducted research on oral disease patterns in older adults, and has been an invited speaker at meetings throughout the world on these topics. During her tenure at Baylor College of Dentistry (now Texas A&M School of Dentistry), she launched and hosted a 2 minute television news segment, “Dental Health Check” about oral health. “Dental Health Check” aired weekly on WFAA-TV (Dallas’s ABC affiliate) for 15 years providing oral health news for consumers.

From 2013-2019, she served as Dean and Professor for Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Prior to serving as Dean, Dr. Niessen served as the first Vice-President and Chief Clinical Officer for Dentsply International (now DentsplySirona) where she oversaw the global clinical education and professional relations activities. She also participated in the product development process for the global dental manufacturing company. She currently serves on several corporate boards.

Dr. Niessen has served as President of the Santa Fe Group and has been active in dentistry. She has served as president of the American Association of Women Dentists, American Association of Public Health Dentistry, American Board of Dental Public Health, Friends of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the American Academy of Esthetic Dentistry and the Dallas County Dental Society. She has served as a member of the National Advisory Dental Research Council for the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and a member of the US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration Advisory Committee on Training in Primary Care Medicine and Dentistry.  She is recipient of numerous awards for her leadership, more recently being named one of the “32 most influential people” in dentistry and one of ten “most inspiring women in dentistry” by Incisal Edge Magazine.

Dr. Niessen received her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry (Phi Beta Kappa) from the University of New Mexico. She received her dental degree (DMD cum laude), her Masters in Public Health degree (MPH) and her Masters in Public Policy degree (MPP), all from Harvard University. Her passion lies in identifying programs, models and partnerships that improve the oral health of the public, whether through education, research, reimbursement, new technologies and/or community service programs.