West Virginia University School of Dentistry Alumni Association members recently contributed $300,000 to ensure that the next generation of dentists and dental hygienists are trained in state-of-the-art facilities that mirror the excellent education and quality patient care provided at WVU.
School of Dentistry Alumni Association Board of Governors members donated $125,000 to support Transforming Oral Health: The Campaign for Facilities, a $15 million fundraising effort to support multiphase facility upgrades at the School. Members Michael George, DDS, and Loring Ross, DDS, made individual donations – $25,000 and $150,000, respectively – to ensure the Alumni Association would be recognized for its contributions to the new facilities. The patient reception and waiting area at the School’s Urgent Care Clinic will be named in honor of the School of Dentistry Alumni Association’s generosity.
“The School of Dentistry Alumni Association continues to seek new ways to support oral healthcare education and patient care,” Fotinos Panagakos, DMD, PhD, interim dean of the School of Dentistry, said. “We were fortunate to receive a previous gift by the Association to support a newly created faculty fund that helps subsidize things like advanced training. This donation toward the actual bricks and mortar of our school is literally leaving a permanent mark by our former graduates. The Alumni Association and Drs. George and Ross are helping improve the experiences of both our patients and our students.”
Dr. Mike George (left) and Dr. Loring Ross (right)
The planned renovations will modernize facilities at the School, which Ross said has changed very little since he graduated 43 years ago. A 1978 graduate from Parkersburg, West Virginia, Ross is now transitioning from private practice to part-time instructor of orthodontics for the Medical University of South Carolina.
“The University came to me and asked for financial assistance, and there was no hesitation on my end, because the students need a first-rate facility to learn in and we have to compete with other dental schools that have these great facilities,” Ross said. “We need the greatest minds and the most talented young people here at our program.”
Renovation work is already underway. Faculty and staff in the Diagnostic Sciences department moved into new office space in March. Upgrades to the Urgent Care and radiology clinics are ongoing, with those services temporarily relocated to ensure no disruption in training for students or treatment for the Morgantown community. Transformation of the patient reception and waiting area will follow, with completion of the entire space expected by August 2021.
George said he was eager to give to increase visibility and fulfill the mission of the School of Dentistry Alumni Association, which counts 914 graduates among its members. Ross and George have both been actively involved through the School of Dentistry Alumni Association Board of Governors. Their most recent terms ended last month.
George served as the Board’s president from 2004-2005 and again from 2019 through April. A 1984 graduate, he practices in nearby Uniontown, Pennsylvania, and enjoys supporting the School’s students, faculty and staff.
“I tell the dental students that we are here for you, just as the alumni were there for me,” George said. “I charge them the same way: Are you going to be here for the next generation of dentists years from now?”
Individuals interested in supporting the School of Dentistry’s capital campaign should contact Director of Development Karen Coombs at 304-293-1868 or email@example.com.
Donations to Transforming Oral Health: The Campaign for Facilities are made via the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University. The recent gifts by Ross, George and the School of Dentistry Alumni Association were made in conjunction with WVU’s fourth Day of Giving, a 24-hour online fundraising event held March 3. Across the University system, alumni and friends made over 5,000 gifts totaling $11.9 million.