The School of Dentistry began construction on an expansion Tuesday in an effort to stay at the forefront of dental education in Wisconsin and the nation.
William Lobb, dean of the School of Dentistry, is largely responsible for the $16 million, 45,000 square foot expansion and is very excited to see the project out to its projected completion in the fall of 2013.
“The most exciting part of the expansion is anticipating its completion,” Lobb said in an email. “This opportunity will help to continue to establish the Marquette University School of Dentistry as a national leader in dental education. (It will also) help sustain our ability to provide patient care services throughout Wisconsin as well as (further cement our) reputation in producing contemporary, competent clinical dentists for the future.”
The dental school is slated for a variety of improvements that will increase the school’s graduating class size from 80 to 100 students. Other additions will include a clinic that houses 24 operatories, a larger faculty practice clinic, additional classroom space and a research lab. The expansion will also renovate the existing simulation lab to accommodate 24 stations.
“According to a January 2010 Wisconsin Dental Association work force study, while the state has enough dentists to meet the demand until 2020, this same study found that 52 percent of Wisconsin’s professionally active dentists are between the ages of 50 and 64,” Lobb said. “The proposed expansion is a measured approach and the most cost-effective way to address Wisconsin’s long-term dental workforce needs.”
Lobb said the expansion project was a result of a joint effort that began under the university presidency of the Rev. Robert A. Wild and was continued by current University President the Rev. Scott Pilarz.
Aside from the university contribution, funding for the expansion has come from the Wisconsin Dental Association, the state itself and hundreds of individual donors.
“We are grateful for our longstanding relationship with the state of Wisconsin and for the bi-partisan support we’ve received over the years,” Lobb said. “In addition to the hundreds of very generous dentists who have stepped forward to help with this campaign, Marquette is fortunate for the support of the Wisconsin Dental Association, (which) has also endorsed this project with (its) members.”
Rick Kushner, the president and CEO of the national dental firm Comfort Dental, is an alumni of the school and remembers his Marquette education fondly. Comfort Dental is the largest franchised dental organization in the world, and Kushner has come to appreciate the time he spent at Marquette above all else.
“We believed the dental curriculum at the time was difficult but very traditional and not lacking in any way,” Kushner said. “However, as a dental student, it was the only dental school any of us had ever attended so our frame of reference was quite non-existent. In recent years, I have come to appreciate Marquette’s dental school more than all the others because (it has) continued to reach out to me.”
Current faculty members are also excited for the expansion. Daniel Bures, an adjunct assistant clinical professor, said that because the needs of patients are at an all-time high, the dental school’s expansion will allow more dentists to be trained.
“The most important aspect of the expansion is that it keeps and ensures that the Marquette University School of Dentistry remains a prominent and visible leader in the education and training of tomorrow’s dentists,” Bures said, adding that the expansion wouldn’t have been as successful if it wasn’t for the support of Lobb.