The 68,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art building increases space for training Tennessee’s dental workforce and expands facilities to treat patients from across the Mid-South. The building opens as the UTHSC College of Dentistry is undertaking a $53 million project, as a part of the state’s five-year $94 million Healthy Smiles Initiative, to increase access to dentists and dental care across Tennessee.
The building’s name honors the support from Delta Dental of Tennessee and its Chief Executive Officer Philip Wenk, DDS, chair of the UTHSC Advisory Board and a 1977 graduate of the College of Dentistry.
Delta Dental of Tennessee provided $6.3 million for construction costs and $1.4 million for equipment for the building. Generous support also came from the state and other donations.
The building houses a clinic for patients with special needs; an expanded faculty practice for treating patients, including the underinsured; and dental technique labs for first- and second-year students.
The building also allows the college to expand its class size to 130 students over the next five years to meet the anticipated demand for dentists in Tennessee. This goal is part of the Healthy Smiles Initiative, which also includes expansion of dental student rotations at UTHSC-sponsored clinics in areas of greatest need across the state, as well as new dental residency training sites across Tennessee in Kingsport, Knoxville, and Jackson.
The UTHSC College of Dentistry, the third oldest public college of dentistry in the country, trains 75 percent of Tennessee’s dentists.
“This is a great day for Tennessee,” said Chancellor Peter Buckley, at the opening ceremony. “It is a transformation not just in the building and in the new training environment. It is a transformation that will benefit the health care of Tennessee.”
As Tennessee’s only public, statewide, academic health system, the mission of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center is to bring the benefits of the health sciences to the achievement and maintenance of human health through education, research, scientific discovery, clinical care, and public service, with a focus on the citizens of Tennessee and the region.