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Maine voters set stage for new dental school

Biddeford, Maine—Maine residents said "yes" Nov. 2 to the issuance of a $5 million bond to increase dental access by starting a new dental school at the University of New England.

In November 2008, UNE’s board of trustees approved the academic program for the dental degree and charged the university with securing the necessary funds to launch the College of Dental Medicine.

"On Nov. 2, Maine voters affirmed the need for dental access in our state and expressed hope for a solution," said UNE President Danielle N. Ripich. "By moving forward with our plans to open Maine's first dental school, UNE will continue its leadership role to educate students for the health sciences in the 21st century, while simultaneously addressing the state’s most pressing health care workforce needs."

The $5 million bond allocates $3.5 million to establish the dental school's community-based teaching clinic and $1.5 million to expand or create dental clinics around the state. Even if awarded, UNE must raise additional funds to make the UNE College of Dental Medicine a reality, and it has an active campaign under way.

Earlier this year, UNE received a lead gift of $2.3 million from Northeast Delta Dental in support of the UNE College of Dental Medicine. With the addition of other generous gifts and pledges, UNE has secured $6.5 million toward launching the college but to open its doors in fall 2012, up to $20 million is needed.

"As we prepare our application for state bond funds and for accreditation, it is essential that we continue our successful fundraising to demonstrate the capacity to open and sustain the new college," says Kneka P. Smith, UNE associate dean for planning.