The Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine celebrated the opening of the Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic as well as a $323,000 gift from the GECU Foundation during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 22. The public clinic will serve as the clinical arm of the new dental school, and the gift will support the Dean’s Excellence Fund and student scholarships.
“GECU’s philosophy is people helping people,” said Crystal Long, president and CEO of GECU. “Our foundation’s commitment to TTUHSC El Paso is a commitment to the health of our entire community. Our aim is to elevate El Paso through education, community programs, and philanthropic giving.”
The GECU Foundation’s commitment to the growth of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) El Paso campus, where the Hunt School of Dental Medicine is located, aims to help the surrounding community thrive, the school said, and other community partners share this sentiment.
“The entire TTUHSC El Paso campus has transformed the healthcare landscape in our region. Having a single campus in El Paso that houses a medical school, biomedical sciences school, nursing school, and now a dental school allows El Paso to be a national leader on healthcare,” said Woody L. Hunt, chairman of the Woody and Gayle Hunt Family Foundation.
“This institution provides young El Pasoans who want to pursue who want to pursue a career in healthcare the opportunity to do so here locally, fills tremendous health needs in our unique border community, and provides a boost to our regional economy,” Hunt said.
The Hunt School of Dental Medicine will offer reduced-cost dental care in its 38,000 square-foot public Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic. It will have more than 60,000 patient encounters annually by 2025 and is expected to be the top dental care destination for the public and for faculty, staff, students, and their families.
“As the first dental school in Texas in over 50 years, the Hunt School of Dental Medicine will be a change agent for health in the Borderland,” said Richard C. Black, DDS, MS, dean of the Hunt School of Dental Medicine.
“In the past, local patients may not have had access to dental care. With 42% of the inaugural class hailing from West Texas and border regions in Texas, we’re focused on our patients having access to the highest quality care in the region, while also preparing students to be culturally competent providers,” Black said.
The state of the art facility is a first for West Texas and Southern New Mexico, the school said. It includes nine multipurpose suites, two special needs suites, six faculty practice rooms, one CAD/CAM lab, five pediatric suits, five oral surgery suites, and 130 individual student-learning operatories.
“TTUHSC El Paso would not be here today if it weren’t for the support of our community,” said Richard Lange, MD, MBA, president of TTUHSC El Paso.
“Continued investment in our students from generous financial institutions like GECU are investments in our community. The Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic will train future dentists in the most advanced setting, preparing our students for a meaningful career in the healthcare field,” Lange said.