Kansas City University (KCU) announced the appointment of Dr. Rex Archer as Professor and Director of Population and Public Health for Kansas City University College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Department of Curriculum and Integrated Learning.

Archer, a native of Kansas City who led the City’s health department for the past 23 years, began the position on August 2.

Archer helped guide Kansas City through the COVID-19 pandemic for the past year and a half, as the city has gone through mask mandates, a stay-at-home order and business restrictions.

“His collaboration with the university provided KCU students with the opportunity to contribute to vaccination distribution solutions throughout the communities in the Kansas City and Joplin regions,” the announcement from the university read.

Under Dr. Archer’s leadership, the Kansas City, Mo., Health Department (KCHD) is, to date, the only health department in the country to win the National Association of County and City Health Official’s Local Health Department of the Year award more than once. It is also one of a handful to have both earned national reaccreditation from the Public Health Accreditation Board and led its community to a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Culture of Health Prize.

Seven hundred forty peer local health departments ranked the Kansas City Health Department among the top five local health departments in the nation serving as a model for new public health programs, evidence-based practices, and policies intended to improve community health.

Dr. Archer also serves as chairperson for the international Public Health Accreditation Board and is a member of the Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice.

In May, Archer announced his plans to retire from KCHD effective August 1. While the City has initiated a nationwide search for his replacement, Frank Thompson is serving as interim director of the department.

“Dr. Archer, as he noted, is someone who has served this city for over a generation, going through a number of different challenges and focuses we’ve had, as we’ve confronted epidemics, healthcare, food safety and control, Rex Archer has been a leader among health directors, not just in our metro or in our region or in Missouri, but throughout the country,” Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said. 

In his new role, Dr. Archer will collaborate within and across KCU academic programs to integrate public health education into the preclinical curriculum and create clinical clerkship experiences for COM students.

“His passion for improving public health outcomes and addressing disparities in the health care system aligns well with KCU’s mission ‘to improve the well-being of the communities we serve,'” the announcement read.

Dr. Archer completed his medical degree at the University of Kansas and his General Preventive Medicine Public Health Residency and Master of Public Health at the University of Michigan.