WVU Launches Fundraising Campaign to Upgrade Dental School Facilities

Dentistry Today


The West Virginia University (WVU) School of Dentistry has launched “Transforming Oral Health: The Campaign for Facilities,” a $15 million fundraising effort to upgrade the school’s environs and equipment.

“In order to stay competitive with other dental schools—but, even more importantly, to provide a true quality education and, equally important, provide true state of the art patient care—we really have no choice but to renovate, modernize, and become much more efficient,” said Anthony “Tom” Borgia, DDS, dean of the school.

“We cannot be treating the patients in 2020 with 1957 technologies,” Borgia said, referencing when the school’s current space was first created.

Preliminary renovations to administrative offices and a hallway that houses storage lockers for dental students have already been completed. A total makeover of the Urgent Care Clinic and central patient reception area is now underway.

The work will install double doors designed to clearly define the entrance to the School of Dentistry, expand waiting area seating to 100 patients, provide private consultation rooms, add modern finishes, and incorporate an office suite for Diagnostic Sciences.   

Upon completion, the facilities will be equipped with modern technologies for dental treatment, the school says. For instance, Diagnostic Sciences will add two CBCT imaging devices, which are designed to provide a more accurate 3-D view of a patient’s mouth than traditional X-rays.

School administrators are working with facilities staff to identify swing space that can be used throughout construction to maintain the same level of care for patients. Over the past five years, the school’s Urgent Care Clinic has treated 8,807 patients at 5,626 office visits. 

Additional work will be completed as funds become available. As design plans evolve, other areas that will see transformation and upgrades include Dental Hygiene, Endodontics, Oral Surgery, Pediatrics, Periodontics, and Prosthodontics. If funding allows, renovations will extend to services currently housed off campus at Suncrest Towne Centre.

To complete the renovations, the school’s leaders hope to raise $1.5 million through 2020 and another more than $9 million through 2023. Funds also are needed for equipment, furnishings, signage, and more. Borgia said that philanthropic support from alumni and other supporters is essential to complete the upgrades.

“One of my biggest advantages is my alumni,” he said, noting that there “was a time the dental school was threatened with closure for financial reasons, and they stepped up to the plate. I would say that they are one of our most valuable assets as our contributors, without which we would not exist. We want to have them continue to contribute and know how much we appreciate it.”

“This is an amazing opportunity to enhance the learning environment for our state’s future oral health practitioners,” said West Virginia First Lady Gayle Manchin, an advocate for oral healthcare who will assist the school in promoting the campaign.

“WVU is home to the only dental school in the state. We need to ensure that the very best resources are available to these students so they are empowered to transform oral health statewide,” said Manchin.

About 85% of West Virginia’s practicing dentists attended the WVU School of Dentistry, the school reports. The new facilities will complement the training provided by its faculty with expertise in specialties such as oral pathology, oral medicine, pediatric dentistry, implantology, and bone biology to ensure graduates are prepared to use the latest technologies and techniques in an evolving field, the school says.

“We are so excited to usher in a new era for the WVU School of Dentistry with this capital campaign,” said Jeffrey Schoenherr, associate vice president for medical and health sciences development at the WVU Foundation.

“Dean Borgia has 300 students who benefit from amazing research and teaching, but they’re doing it in wildly outdated facilities. We want to make sure they have access to facilities, innovative technologies, and more that are in line with the education they receive and the care they provide,” said Schoenherr. 

Borgia hopes to elevate the school’s reputation and profile to stand among the best in the nation for education, research, and patient care.

“I would put our school up against any other dental school in the US and Canada. Our dental students are number one, without question,” Borgia said.

“Because West Virginia may not get the best press that we’d like, the School of Dentistry is going to change that and show we can absolutely have the best practitioners and best care available, not only in this part of the country, but the entire country,” said Borgia. 

People and businesses interested in supporting the campaign can contact director of development Karen Coombs at (304) 293-1868 or karen.coombs@has.wvu.edu. Naming opportunities are available for those who wish to honor a loved one’s legacy, sponsor a student locker, or explore other options.

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