Local, state and university leaders didn't let rain dampen their enthusiasm as they broke ground today for the new East Carolina University School of Dentistry.
The 112,500-square-foot building will go up near the ECU Health Sciences Building.
Officials expect the new school to help ease the statewide shortage of dentists, especially in eastern North Carolina. Four eastern counties -- Gates, Tyrrell, Hyde and Camden -- have no dentists. The new school will aim to educate dentists who are North Carolina residents and want to stay in the state to practice, particularly in rural areas.
"We know how to make a difference for those populations that have not been served well enough," ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard said to the crowd of more than 100 gathered for the event.
Plans are for the first class of 50 dental students will enroll in 2011, said Dr. Gregory Chadwick, interim dean of the school. The General Assembly appropriated $28 million for the $90 million project last year, and ECU hopes to receive the remaining $62 million this year, Chadwick said.
—ECU News Bureau