El Paso business, education and health care leaders gathered at the future home of the Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine Tuesday to mark two milestones.
They announced the approval of the school’s Doctor of Dental Medicine degree program by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and a $25,000 gift from El Paso dentist Dennis Care to establish the Care Family Dean’s Dental School Discretionary Fund.
“Knowing the great need we have in El Paso to provide quality oral health care for our community, it is very exciting to see it so close to reality,” El Paso businessman Woody Hunt said in a news release.
The creation of the El Paso dental school is supported by a $25 million gift from the Hunt Family Foundation, $6 million grant from the Paso Del Norte Health Foundation and $30 million in state funding.
It will be the first dental school on the U.S.-Mexico border and the first to open in Texas in more than five decades.
El Paso has one of the lowest ratios of dentists to residents in the state, and the school is aimed at alleviating the acute shortage of dentists in West Texas. For every 100,000 El Pasoans, there are about 30 dentists. The national average is about double that, according to a feasibility study published by Texas Tech.
The school will be housed on the third floor of Medical Sciences Building II, which is under construction on the Texas Tech El Paso campus in South-Central El Paso.
It is slated to open in 2021 and will include a 38,000-square-foot clinic with 130 dental chairs that will serve as both a training ground for students and a provider of low-cost dental care for the community.