The Texas Tech University System Board of Regents approved a doctor of dental medicine degree to be offered by the Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine (WLHSDM) at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso) during its meeting on August 10. With the board’s approval of the dental school and degree, TTUHSC El Paso may now pursue state approval and external accreditation.
First, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board will review the proposal, with a parallel review by TTUHSC El Paso’s institutional accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Then, TTUHSC El Paso will pursue programmatic accreditation by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), a process that lasts several years.
Pending accreditation, the WLHSDM will be the first dental school to open in Texas in nearly 50 years and the only dental school on the United States-Mexico border. TTUHSC El Paso proposed the dental school in 2016 in response to a severe shortage of dentists in West Texas. The WLHSDM expects to enroll its first cohort of dental students in 2021.
This first milestone was made possible by a gift from the Woody and Gayle Hunt Family Foundation and a grant from the Paso del Norte Health Foundation. Richard C. Black, DDS, MS, who was recently named dean of the WLHSDM, said there are now opportunities for all El Pasoans to help as the work continues.
“We’re going to be asking the community to support this school,” Black said. “Whatever they give will come back many times over with the kind of educational institution we’re building here. And as this health sciences center grows, it is going to continue to be a strong economic engine for West Texas.”
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