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Grant to help ECU recruit, retain minority dental students

Dr. Margaret Wilson
GREENVILLE, N.C.   (Jan. 7, 2013)   —   East Carolina University is one of a handful of schools nationwide that is participating in a program to recruit and retain minority dental students.

The ECU School of Dental Medicine, working with N.C. A&T State University, will focus on minority students through the Dental Pipeline National Learning Institute.

Introduced by the American Dental Education Association in partnership with the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, the institute is a new training program dedicated to increasing recruitment and retention among underserved student communities at dental schools.

Nine other U.S. universities are participating in the program with the goal of creating a diverse workforce of dentists who understand the oral health care needs of patients from underserved populations. ECU began work on the project in October.

Participating schools will receive $12,000 from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, along with other support and resources such as access to online courses and fundraising tutorials.

ECU, N.C. A&T, the Old North State Dental Society and North Carolina's historically black colleges and universities will collaborate to implement the project, focusing on the recruitment and retention of under-represented minority dental students in North Carolina. This project builds on ECU's commitment to meeting health needs of diverse and underserved communities and on N.C. A&T's track record of educating students who are prepared to assume leadership roles in their professions and communities.

"The project funding will further support the ECU School of Dental Medicine's mission to educate dentists who will provide oral health care within communities of need across North Carolina," said Dr. Margaret Wilson, associate dean for student affairs at the ECU School of Dental Medicine. "We are especially pleased to be collaborating with Dr. Dinitra White of North Carolina A&T State University and Drs. Roslyn Crisp and L'Tanya Bailey of the Old North State Dental Society in this important endeavor."

Other dental schools participating in the NLI include the Georgia Health Sciences University College of Dental Medicine, the Harvard School of Dental Medicine and the Indiana University School of Dentistry.

"Our goal for the National Learning Institute is to create an environment that embraces differences so that future dentists can learn effectively," said Kim D'Abreu, ADEA senior vice president for access, diversity and inclusion. D'Abreau also said the project aims to increase awareness about the discrepancy in dental health and dental care among underserved populations.

The Dental Pipeline effort is based on the concept that dental institutions can address the access- to-dental-care crisis by recruiting and admitting more students who come from underserved student communities, increasing cultural competency of all students and educating dental students through community rotations in health centers and other safety net dental settings, such as ECU's community service learning centers. These principles served as the basis of a decade-long nationwide effort among dental schools and community partners that has positively impacted dental education and access to care.

Students interested in learning more about the ECU program can receive updates via the school's Facebook page. They may also email the ECU dental school admissions office.

More information on the Dental Pipeline National Learning Institute is online at


Contact: Peggy Novotny | 252-737-7031