Dr. Bryan Dye (right) works with DDS student Payal Patel in the School’s simulation laboratory. A matching gift from Dye and his wife, Dr. Lora Graves, will aid patients in need and enhance educational opportunities for School of Dentistry students.
Two $25,000 gifts to the West Virginia University School of Dentistry will help improve oral health care for patients in need and increase hands-on learning opportunities for the next generation of dentists and dental hygienists.
Married associate professors Lora Graves, DDS, and Bryan Dye, DDS, matched a $25,000 contribution from Sanjay Chaudry, MD – for a total of $50,000 – to endow the existing Project Smile Fund. The fund was established by WVU’s Chi Chi chapter of Delta Sigma Delta, an international dental service fraternity, to assist qualifying low-income WVU Dental patients with treatment costs.
“We are extremely appreciative of the very generous contributions from Dr. Chaudry, Dr. Graves and Dr. Dye to support the mission of our School,” said Stephen Pachuta, DDS, dean of the School of Dentistry. “These funds allow us to provide treatment that might be beyond patients’ means and significantly contributes to their quality of life.
“Our alumni and friends of the School of Dentistry continue to make a real difference in the lives of our patients and our students. Their unwavering support, commitment and confidence in our School allows us to continue to meet the mission of educating the next generation of dental healthcare professionals.”
Graves, a WVU alumna who teaches in the Department of Dental Practice & Rural Health, serves as adviser to the Delta Sigma Delta Chi Chi chapter. She worked with chapter leaders to create the Project Smile Fund in 2018. To date, the fund has provided dental treatment for four patients, with a fifth candidate awaiting approval.
Graves always hoped the Project Smile Fund would continue beyond her tenure at WVU. When Chaudhry showed interest, his matching contribution made it feasible for Graves and Dye, chair of the School’s Department of Restorative Dentistry, to join him in endowing the fund.
(Left) Dr. Lora Graves and Dr. Bryan Dye; (Right) Dr. Sanjay Chaudhry (second from right) poses with (from left) daughter Nisha, wife Ranjana and daughter Pooja
Although Chaudhry is a gastroenterologist now based in St. Clairsville, Ohio, he has called West Virginia home for most of his adult life. His daughter Nisha is a current DDS student and Delta Sigma Delta member at WVU; his daughter Pooja plans to join her at the School of Dentistry this fall.
He was compelled to make a gift after Nisha told him how many patients struggle to afford treatment, even with the reduced fees offered at the student clinic.
“I hope that it is able to help the people in greatest need for dental care, the people who can’t afford it,” Chaudhry said. “It has a dual purpose: One purpose is to help the needy, the indigent ones. The second purpose is dental students at WVU need to get more experience, they need to attract more patients. A lot of times, money gets in the way. Hopefully we can attract more patients to come to the WVU [School of Dentistry], so the students can get better experience learning.”
Graves said other Delta Sigma Delta chapters are taking steps to create programs similar to Project Smile after members at WVU shared their success at a national meeting. As she nears retirement, Graves is excited to leave behind a legacy of philanthropy that boosts education and patient care at the School of Dentistry and beyond. She encourages others to support the School in any way they can.
“If you have the means available, it’s very rewarding to help our students – whether it’s in the line of a scholarship, or what we’re doing trying to help them succeed, or as a mentor,” Graves said. “People can give other than monetarily. … It just depends on what type of rewards you want.
“I feel like this has finally come full circle for me, because it was my brainchild and I’m really happy that it looks like it will continue to propagate funds and continue helping students in this manner.”
The Project Smile Fund has been renamed in recognition of each donor’s generosity. Their gifts were made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.
To make a gift to the Delta Sigma Delta Drs. Graves/Dye/Chaudhry Smile Fund, visit the Foundation’s secure online giving page and specify fund number 2W1228 as the designation. Interested donors are also encouraged to contact Karen Coombs, director of development for the School of Dentistry, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-216-3784.