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ADA reaches out to students with educational tools

Houston—The University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston received the go-ahead last month to construct a new building.

The UT System Board of Regents approved the final plans for the $155 million project. Dr. John A. Valenza, interim dean of the Dental Branch, said construction will be under way by December with completion expected in 2012. The new building will allow the school to increase enrollment by about 20 percent.

"The Dental Branch was the first dental school in Texas, and with the continued support of UT System, we will make sure it continues to be a leader for decades to come," said Larry R. Kaiser, M.D., UT Health Science Center at Houston president.

A $2.2 million anonymous gift to the Dental Branch's Open to Health fundraising initiative will be used to help fund a conference and meeting center at the new dental school. Dr. Valenza said the gift provided a boost to the construction, which the school originally planned to complete in phases.

"One positive result of the recession is that construction costs have gone down, and we can now do the entire building, including the meeting center, in one phase," he said.

The overall fundraising for the new building is at $7.7 million. The Open to Health Initiative began in 2006 to support the new building, scholarships, faculty endowments, dental research and community outreach.

The University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston is also a partner in the ADA Foundation's Our Legacy—Our Future campaign, which was designed to raise awareness about the importance of dental education, promote a culture of philanthropy within the dental profession and solicit a call to action to address these issues.