‘Completion of our promise’
ECU cuts ribbon on dental school home
By Doug Boyd
ECU News Services
Local, state and university leaders cut the ribbon Oct. 12 on one of East Carolina University’s most significant buildings in recent years: Ledyard E. Ross Hall, the home of the School of Dental Medicine.
The 188,000-square-foot building rises four stories on its northwest side and three stories on its east side on ECU’s Health Sciences Campus. It houses classrooms, dental clinics, administrative offices and teleconference rooms. Its fourth floor is yet to be completed, but plans are for it to house offices and research space.
“Ross Hall not only provides a world-class learning facility for our students, it represents the completion of our promise to build a unique dental school that serves every area of North Carolina that is currently without sufficient oral health care,” said Dr. Steve Ballard, ECU chancellor.
“It is also symbolic of ECU’s historic mission to make a difference for North Carolina.”
Ballard also praised Dr. Ledyard E. Ross’ commitment to the community, calling him a “great friend of ECU.” Ross, a retired Greenville orthodontist, donated $4 million to the school.
“I’m fortunate to be able to help the dental school,” said Ross. “I am very lucky to have the financial means to do so.”
Officials expect the school to help ease the statewide shortage of dentists, especially in eastern North Carolina. Three eastern counties – Tyrrell, Hyde and Camden – have no dentists. The new school will aim to educate dentists who want to stay in the state to practice, particularly in rural areas.
“Our new dental school and Ross Hall symbolize the state’s commitment and East Carolina University’s commitment to improving the quality of life of North Carolinians,” said Dr. Gregory Chadwick, dean of the dental school. “We look forward to not only educating future practitioners but to providing care across the state. Today is a celebration of the cumulative efforts of literally thousands of individuals who have made the ECU School of Dental Medicine and Ross Hall a reality.”
The first two classes total 104 students. They began their studies in the Brody Medical Sciences Building, home of the Brody School of Medicine at ECU.
“Following the ‘grow your own’ philosophy established by ECU’s School of Medicine, all students accepted into the School of Dental Medicine are North Carolina residents with a demonstrated commitment to serve the people of their home state,” said Tom Ross, president of the University of North Carolina system. “Once again, ECU has put our university system in a positive national spotlight, and other states are already taking note and learning from our new model for dental care and training.”
First-year dental student Drew Jordan of Greenville praised the new building.
“It’s very modern and very welcoming, not just for us but for patients,” he said.
Second-year students, such as Alex Crisp of Burlington, began their dental studies last year in classrooms and labs in the Brody Medical Sciences Building, home of ECU’s medical school.
Smiling, Crisp said he feels like “I finally moved off my brother’s couch and got my own apartment.”
The school is continuing to hire faculty and staff. Its innovative curriculum uses technology to improve traditional dental education. Outside Greenville, the school’s first community service learning center opened this year in Ahoskie, and the second one should open by the end of the year in Elizabeth City. Centers will also be built in Lillington, Spruce Pine, Sylva and Davidson County, and up to 10 are planned for the state. At those centers, faculty members, dental residents and fourth-year dental students will provide care. Students and residents will learn what running a practice in an underserved area is like.
Construction on Ross Hall began in the summer of 2010. ECU officials are seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver certification for Ross Hall. Design elements that make it a green building include the atrium that allows natural light to penetrate more parts of the building, a parking lot designed to minimize stormwater runoff, the use of regional materials to reduce freight and the use of materials with recycled content for a significant portion of the building structure, roof and walls.
Officials expect to announce plans in November for beginning patient care in the new building.
North Carolina general construction firm Balfour Beatty built the dental school, which cost $68 million. Architects were Raleigh-based BJAC and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson of Pennsylvania.