The U’s School of Dentistry now has 86,000 square feet to house its growing program.
The dentistry program, previously located in the Health Sciences Education Building, has moved into a recently completed three-story structure in Research Park called the Ray and Tye Noorda Oral Health Science Building.
Rick Pike, development director of the School of Dentistry, said the new space matches the new program. The School of Dentistry, which began offering classes in fall of 2013, is still in its early development.
Rachel Smith, a second-year student in the dentistry program, said she is amazed by the facility’s technology.
“It’s making a big difference on our education — just the accessibility that we have [and] the space that we have,” she said. “It makes it so that we can be fully prepared for when we serve the public.”
One of her favorite additions is the simulation lab, where each student has access to a dummy for practice.
The building accommodates up to 45 students in each class, and the dentistry program will likely expand as a result. The current two classes have about 20 students, which is a limit set by state legislation to regulate the number of dentistry graduates per year. Officials from the school hope to pass legislation to allow more students into the program, especially those who live out of state.
Gary Lowder, assistant dean and professor in the School of Dentistry, was one of the founding fathers of the program. He and Lynn Powell, founding dean of the school, have worked for about 15 years to get dentistry its own home at the U. Lowder is pleased with the new building.
“They are meeting every need for students, faculty and research,” he said. “We’re really excited.”
Pike said the overall cost of the building and facilities was $36 million and was made possible by a $30 million donation from Ray and Tye Noorda. Construction took 18 months to complete.
Another feature of the space is the clinic on the ground floor. Sixty spacious cubicles sit ready for use by patients from the public and dentists from the school. There is a pediatric unit as well, Pike said. Since the school is fairly new, simple dental care will be performed for now and the oral surgery labs will be used as students become more experienced.
“Dentists do a lot of continuing education,” Pike said. “We want this to become a real continuing education hub for dentistry along the Wasatch front. We’ve got the technology and the size to, we hope, do it.”