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Bluefield College suspends planned dental school

September 01, 2014 Bluefield, Va. — Bluefield College administrators announced June 30 that they have put on hold the college’s plans to open a new dental school.

The announcement came after Tazewell County officials informed the private Christian college in southwest Virginia that they suspended funding for the public-private project and terminated the memorandum of understanding between the two parties regarding the dental school, according to a news release.

“While our board of trustees remains supportive of the dental school project, we are suspending our activities until we know funding for the construction of the facility has been obtained and we have a new MOU with the county,” said Bluefield College President David Olive in the news release.

“This was a joint venture from the beginning, and it isn’t practical for the college to take the project forward on its own.”

The college announced the plans for a new dental school in 2012, along with the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors and the Tazewell County Industrial Development Authority.

Despite the help of gifts and pledges from numerous supporters, the school and county could no longer fund operations without added support, according to the news release. Both parties are awaiting the approval of $19.2 million grant from the Virginia Tobacco Commission, which is scheduled to meet in September. If approved, operations can resume with a new MOU with the county.

The Bluefield College School of Dental Medicine was envisioned as an institution that will train individuals to provide critical dentistry needs to the underserved; address the growing shortage of dentists and dental care professionals in southwest Virginia and central Appalachia; conduct community-based research; and spur economic development. It had planned on accepting its first class of 60 students in 2015.