ECU dental students participate in Missions of Mercy

East Carolina University dental students participated in the North Carolina Missions of Mercy dental clinic Friday and Saturday, Jan. 20 and 21, at Garber Ministry Center in New Bern. Pictured Saturday, Jan. 21, with Gov. Beverly Perdue are, from left, Bridgette Jones, Christine Wingo, Christin Carter, Shannon Holcomb, Alex Ho, Perdue, Anna Liakh, Holland Killian, Nirav Patel, Hanna Zombek, Lara Holland, Amanda Stroud and Dr. Joseph Califano, professor and chief of periodontology. A total of 22 students participated in the event. The Missions of Mercy portable free dental program is an outreach program of the North Carolina Dental Society. (Contributed photo)

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ECU dental students assist in free dental clinic

East Carolina University dental students Amanda Stroud, left, and Sheena Neil provide care for a patient at the North Carolina Missions of Mercy free dental clinic held Oct. 28-29 at the Dare County Parks and Recreation Center. Formed in 2003, the North Carolina Missions of Mercy portable free dental program is an outreach program of the North Carolina Dental Society. The program is sponsored by the North Carolina Dental Health Fund. The goals of the program are to provide free dental care to as many underserved persons within North Carolina as is possible and to involve as much of the dental community of the state in the treatment of the underserved as is possible.

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Future docs enjoy team-building exercises

Participants in the ECU Summer Program for Future Doctors enjoy team-building exercises May 16 at East Carolina University. The program has traditionally given undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students working toward admission to medical school a chance to learn what medical education is like and to showcase their academic potential. This year the Brody School of Medicine is partnering with the ECU School of Dental Medicine, and three of the 28 total students participating plan to enter dental school. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

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Words of Support

Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Operations Bill Bagnell and Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences Phyllis Horns greet Gov. Beverly Perdue during a quick inspection of the ECU School of Dental Medicine construction site on Feb. 17. Operating funds for the dental school were included in the governor's proposed budget which she announced earlier that day. (Photos by Jeannine Manning Hutson)

Perdue pledges support for dental school during visit Feb. 17

By Mary Schulken

GREENVILLE   (Feb. 17, 2011)   —   N.C. Gov. Beverly Perdue said funding to open East Carolina University’s School of Dental Medicine is an urgent need that should stay on track despite the state’s toughest budget in 60 years.

“I don’t know what we would do if we were to build a building this sophisticated to train dentists for all of North Carolina and have it stand empty,” she said during a visit to the school’s construction site Thursday, Feb. 17.

“I hope the people of the General Assembly understand you can’t do that,” she told university officials and reporters gathered on west campus, where the school’s foundation has begun to rise.

Perdue proposed biennial budget includes the $5 million the UNC system and ECU have requested to keep construction of the dental school on schedule. It also includes funding for enrollment growth and financial aid at the state’s universities while trimming the state’s work force by an estimated 10,000 employees.

University of North Carolina President Tom Ross said state funding for enrollment growth and financial aid are priorities.

“We are particularly thankful that (Gov. Perdue) recognizes the critical importance of our enrollment growth funding and need-based financial aid, although those needs would be only partially met, as well as operating reserves for new buildings,” Ross said.

Still, cuts of the magnitude proposed in the governor’s budget would put an estimated 1,500 jobs at the state’s universities in jeopardy, he said, and students will feel the impact.

“With fewer faculty, staff, and course sections, many more students would not be able to obtain the courses and academic services they need to graduate on time,” he said.

ECU’s School of Dental Medicine is set to admit its first 50 students, all North Carolina residents, in August, with plans to admit 50 each year. Currently, the construction site consists of the building foundation, utilities, and the structure for the dental school basement. The steel to frame the building is expected to arrive later this month.

The UNC system has asked for $3.5 million in fiscal year 2011-2012 and $1.5 million in fiscal year 2012-13 to operate the dental school.

North Carolina is below the national average in the ratio of dentists to population, and that ratio has declined recently as the population has increased faster than the supply of practitioners. That need drove the establishment of a second state dental school.

On Thursday, Perdue chatted with ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard at the construction site, asking him how things were going at ECU.

“Things are good,” Ballard said. “We are doing what we are supposed to be doing.”

“I hope I’ll be back again when there’s more to see here at the dental school,” Perdue said.

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