Groundbreaking Ceremony on the Dental School Expansion
Thank you, President McRobbie. It is my great pleasure to welcome you all this afternoon on behalf of IUPUI.
As chancellor of this campus, I take special pride in the fact that we are home to the state of Indiana’s only dental school. President McRobbie mentioned this fact, but it certainly bears repeating. This fact reflects the significant commitment we have made to the health professions and the responsibility associated with that commitment. The majority of our dental school graduates—around 80%—stay right here in Indiana to practice. I would bet that most of the people in this room have a dentist who was trained at the IU School of Dentistry. I know I do.
I am proud to say that I have another connection to the dental school. A number of years ago, I worked with legendary leader in the field of preventative dentistry George Stookey. Some of you might recognize his name. He and a group of us from the School of Engineering and Technology, the School of Science, and the School of Medicine worked together to create the Biomechanics and Biomaterials Research Center. In addition, I had the good fortune to work on a National Institutes of Health project on oral health in collaboration with colleagues in the dental school.
That experience gave me a first-hand view of the outstanding work my colleagues were doing in clinical and research areas. They were resourceful, creative problem solvers. Even with limited resources and space, they were able to excel.
The majority of our dental school graduates—around 80%—stay right here in Indiana to practice.
That experience also brought home to me the highly collaborative and interdisciplinary nature of the dental school, both hallmarks of the IUPUI campus. Even today, the stories in the news about the School of Dentistry highlight that spirit. When our dental school researchers build a new jaw for a cancer patient using 3D printing or analyze the impact of social networks on oral health, they reach across disciplines and in doing so, they strengthen our scholarly community, and they create previously unimagined opportunities for further research and education.
That is exactly what the expansion of the School of Dentistry will also achieve. It will enable our dental school to strengthen oral health education through the creation of much needed patient treatment rooms that will provide new opportunities for teaching, learning, and clinical practice. The design itself is testimony to community. An enclosed courtyard featured in the new design will connect all four of the dental school’s buildings and so will further strengthen the ties between and among dental school faculty, staff, and students.
Projects like this bring so many people together who deserve our deepest thanks for all that they have contributed. Let me begin by adding my own thanks to Dr. James Fritts and the Fritts family for their incredibly generous support of this project. The legacy that you are creating is a gift to future generations that will help transform oral health care in Indiana and beyond. Would you all join me in thanking Dr. Fritts and his family once again?
In addition, I would like to thank Dean John Williams for his leadership on this and many other projects in the School of Dentistry.
Finally, I am also pleased to thank the faculty, staff, students, and alumni of the dental school.
If you look towards the stairs in this room, you will see current students in the School of Dentistry wearing the classic white coats that designate their field. As you look at them, you are also looking at the future of oral health care. This new space is a gift to them, to their future, and to our future as well.
Thank you very much.