Lincoln Memorial University to Develop College of Dental Medicine

Dentistry Today


Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) president Clayton Hess has announced that the school is developing a college of dental medicine. LMU also has applied for initial accreditation from the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) and approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

“This program is game changing for LMU and the East Tennessee region,” said LMU Board of Trustees chairman Autry OV “Pete” DeBusk.

“We are building something truly special by providing the most comprehensive offerings of medical programs in the region. Now the talent here in East Tennessee doesn’t have to leave to become dentists, physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, occupational and physical therapists, or veterinarians, and there is more to come,” DeBusk said.

Denise Terese-Koch, DDS, MBA, will be the founding dean. She has been tasked with developing a DMD program as well as an associate of science in dental hygiene program. Both programs will be offered in Knoxville at the LMU Tower. LMU anticipates welcoming inaugural classes in both programs in the fall of 2022.

Terese-Koch joined LMU in August of 2020, previously serving as chair of dental education at South College in Nashville, Tennessee, where she developed and implemented three dental programs. She has extensive experience as a comprehensive general dentist and knowledge of general dentistry, dental education, program development, and implementation, LMU said.

“I believe the oral cavity is the intersection between medicine and dentistry and is a window into the general health of the patient,” Terese-Koch said.

“Lincoln Memorial University is at the forefront of developing programs that not only train the next generation of healthcare providers but deliver practitioners to medically underserved communities to make those areas stronger. This is a dynamic institution, and I am excited to be a part of it,” she said.

Central to any dental curriculum is experiential clinical learning, said LMU, which plans to operate a public clinic in a building adjacent to the LMU Tower where faculty and students will provide dental care on a sliding scale for underserved populations in Knoxville and beyond.

Terese-Koch holds a license to practice in Tennessee and has already played an integral role in bringing a free dental clinic to the LMU main campus. The Appalachian Miles for Smiles mobile units, along with volunteer dentists and hygienists, served more than 70 students and staff in November 2020. The group held a second clinic on the main campus on March 29 and March 30.

Terese-Koch holds a DDS from the Loyola University of Chicago School of Dentistry. She completed a general practice residency at Loyola Medical Center and earned a certificate in hospital dentistry in 1993. She then spent the next 21 years in private practice in the western suburbs of Chicago.

In 2014, Terese-Koch entered academia as an assistant professor in the department of general dentistry at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center College of Dentistry and was the director of faculty practice. She went on to serve as associate professor and develop the Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) Program at Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

In 2017, she joined South College, where she developed a dental assisting program as well as an associate and bachelor of science in dental hygiene program, in addition to directing the AEGD. She also served as professor and chair of the Department of Dental Education.  

Terese-Koch received an MBA from Bellhaven University in 2018 and is in the capstone phase of earning a doctorate in education from Liberty University. She serves as a site visitor for CODA and is a licensure examiner for the Commission on Dental Competency Assessments.

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