EL PASO, Texas - The Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso has received the final accreditation necessary to open the dental school next year. Here is a statement from Texas Tech University-El Paso:
On Jan. 30, the school received initial accreditation of its Doctor of Dental Medicine program from the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). CODA is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education.
The Hunt School of Dental Medicine has already received approval of their doctoral program by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The dental school, set to welcome its inaugural class of students in July 2021, will be the first dental school to open in the state in more than 50 years. It will be the first dental school in West Texas, the fourth in the state of Texas and the first on the U.S.-Mexico border.
El Paso is designated as a Dental Health Professional Shortage Area by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. El Paso County has only one dentist for every 4,480 residents, compared to a national average of one dentist for every 1,639 residents, according to recent data from the Texas Health and Human Services and the American Dental Association.
The addition of the Hunt School of Dental Medicine to the TTUHSC El Paso campus will help reverse this trend and put El Pasoans and other West Texas residents on a track to better oral health.
One great benefit to the community will be the dental clinic that will accompany the school. The 38,000-square-foot clinic, equipped with 130 treatment chairs, will be located on campus, where students, under faculty supervision, will provide reduced-cost dental care.
The vision of a dental school for the region became a reality in 2016 when businessman Woody L. Hunt and his wife Gayle gifted $25 million to TTUHSC El Paso through the Hunt Family Foundation to establish the school. That gift was soon followed by a $6 million grant from the Paso del Norte Health Foundation to fund the dental school’s curriculum.
In June 2019, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a $250.7 billion, two-year state budget approved by the Texas Legislature. The budget included an appropriation of $20 million to establish the Hunt School of Dental Medicine at TTUHSC El Paso.
The Hunt School of Dental Medicine will be housed in the five-story Medical Sciences Building II, under construction on the TTUHSC El Paso campus.