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Alum’s gifts to WVU School of Dentistry enhance oral surgery education

Gifts to the WVU School of Dentistry from alumnus Dr. David Sheinkopf will enhance oral surgery education for future dentists by helping to attract and retain skilled faculty members.

Gifts to the WVU School of Dentistry from alumnus Dr. David Sheinkopf will enhance oral surgery education for future dentists by helping to attract and retain skilled faculty members.

A West Virginia University alumnus’s gifts to the School of Dentistry will help attract and retain skilled oral surgery specialists to enhance education for future dentists.

Dr. David E. Sheinkopf contributed up-front funds to establish a namesake endowment that will supplement faculty salaries within the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. He also made a significant planned gift to establish the David Sheinkopf, DDS ’72 Oral Maxillofacial Surgery Professorship after his passing.

Dr. David E. Sheinkopf

Sheinkopf, of Durham, North Carolina, said he hopes his gifts help WVU address a common challenge for dental schools.

“One of the problems with finding faculty is that a specialist oral surgeon is going to be much more attracted to private practice than teaching, and the bottom line of that is money,” he said. “If someone looks at a private practice position and looks at a faculty position, they’re going to say, ‘Do you think I’m crazy?’ Unless they have a personal love for teaching. And that’s the problem.”

School of Dentistry Dean Dr. Stephen Pachuta said Sheinkopf’s generosity will help strengthen oral surgery education at WVU, both for residents and general dentists.

“We are extremely fortunate to have exceptional faculty who dedicated their entire professional careers to the School of Dentistry. Their impact on access to specialty care throughout the state has been significant,” Pachuta said. “The national demand for oral and maxillofacial surgery faculty has never been greater. Dr. Sheinkopf’s incredibly generous support of our oral and maxillofacial surgery program allows us to competitively address a genuine need for recruitment and retention of oral surgery faculty. We will be able to continue to attract highly skilled and renowned oral surgeons to train our surgery residents, as well as meet the specialty needs of those entrusted to our care.”  

Sheinkopf is a Brooklyn, New York, native who earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from University College of New York University. He had never been to West Virginia before he arrived for his on-campus interview, yet he immediately agreed to attend WVU upon being accepted.

Dental school was challenging in a variety of ways, but he received an excellent education and made lifelong friends – including longtime WVU faculty member Dr. Robert Wanker, who was Sheinkopf’s roommate during dental school. Sheinkopf was drawn to oral surgery because of his exposure to oral surgery patients and faculty at the WVU School of Dentistry clinics, as well as an externship between his third and fourth years of dental school at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx borough of New York City. 

After graduating from WVU, Sheinkopf returned to New York City to complete a two-year general practice residency at Sydenham Hospital and an oral surgery residency at Jacobi Medical Center. He met his wife – Dr. Shelley Weiner, a radiologist – at Jacobi and worked there as an attending oral surgeon until he retired in 2016.

Sheinkopf was in private practice in Manhattan for 37 years. He also taught part-time during his career, which reiterated the pay disparity for specialists working in private practice versus public service in academia.

“Ultimately, I hope – eventually, and I probably won’t see it with my own eyes – it will allow the school to hire another full-time faculty clinical oral and maxillofacial surgeon to help the department grow,” Sheinkopf said. “I think that particular specialty is one of the important specialties that any dental student should be exposed to.”

Sheinkopf previously established a scholarship at the WVU School of Dentistry to benefit dental students. He said it’s been rewarding to see the scholarship grow and make a difference for students.

Sheinkopf also volunteers as a non-faculty mentor for newly starting freshman dental students.

Sheinkopf’s gifts were made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.

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