The University of New England celebrated the opening of the first dental school in northern New England on October 2, 2013 with a formal dedication ceremony followed by tours of the new Oral Health Center, the clinical home of UNE's College of Dental Medicine teaching clinic and dental simulation facility.
The inaugural class of 64 includes 24 students from Maine, representing 11 counties and more than 20 towns. There are also five students from New Hampshire, four from Vermont and other students representing 16 states in addition to Canada. Building of the Oral Health Center created approximately 300 local jobs at 45 companies in construction, manufacturing, trade, transportation, and other services.
UNE President Danielle Ripich thanked those who shared in her vision and helped make the dental school a reality, including Northeast Delta Dental, which donated the lead gift of $2.3 million, and leaders and citizens of Maine who approved a 2010 bond referendum providing $3.5 million to establish a dental school that UNE applied for and was awarded.
Governor Paul R. LePage attended the dedication ceremony and said, "UNE has invested in Maine to build world class facilities for the state's next generation of leaders, including dentists, doctors and pharmacists. I am pleased to see Maine's first College of Dental Medicine open its doors, and I look forward to UNE providing opportunities for our young people to stay and work in our great state."
UNE College of Dental Medicine Dean James Koelbl said, "This dental school is the result of a public-private partnership. First and foremost, it is an educational institution where pioneering students will become ethical, caring and competent health care providers.
"We will implement one of the most robust community education programs available anywhere with a focus in the fourth year on extensive clinical experience in a distributed, community-based clinical learning environment across northern New England (Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont)," added Koelbl.
Once the College is fully operational, faculty and students will provide approximately 12,000-15,000 patient visits per year in the Oral Health Center, with an additional 20,000-25,000 visits per year provided in the community-based network.
About the University of New England:
The University of New England is an innovative health sciences university grounded in the liberal arts, with two distinctive coastal Maine campuses and unique study abroad opportunities. UNE has internationally recognized scholars in the sciences, health, medicine and humanities, and offers more than 40 undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs.