Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

November 26, 2012

Dean search — Dental school plans advance

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — While additional funding must still be found before brick and mortar can be laid, plans for the new dental school in Tazewell County are still on a welcomed fast track.

In fact, Bluefield College has already launched a search for the inaugural dean for the school of dentistry. The college also is working to set up initial programs of study for the dental school.

Plans for the dental school were jointly announced this past summer by the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors, the Tazewell County Industrial Development Authority and Bluefield College. The new college of dentistry is planned at the Bluestone Regional Business and Technology Park near Bluefield, Va.

Chris Shoemaker, director of marketing and public relations with Bluefield College, says BC recently hired consultant Dr. Karen West, dean of the University of Nevada’s Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine, to guide the college in its planning stages for the dental school until a dean is hired. BC also has employed the services of Wheless Partners, an executive and management search firm, to launch a national search for the inaugural dean of the dental school.

Shoemaker says the college is also working to create a board of directors to supervise the creation of the dental school.

“The college is in charge of managing the dental school, and toward that end will jointly create a board of directors to oversee the administration of the dental school,” Shoemaker said last week. “In fact, during its fall meetings in October, Bluefield College’s board of trustees appointed trustee Michael DuVal to chair a committee assigned with the task of recommending 10 prospects to serve on the dental school’s board of directors.”

In the meantime, county officials are still working to secure funding for the actual construction of the dental school, according to Tazewell County Administrator Jim Spencer.

“There is quite a bit of work to be done, but both the county and the college are pushing forward on that,” Spencer added last week. “A lot of it at this time is not brick and mortar but important things like hiring a dean. A lot of the dental professionals we have talked to said they had never heard of a partnership like this between a college and the county. We are working on this as quickly as we can to meet our goal of accepting our first class of students in 2015.”

County officials are also aggressively searching for grant funding while also reaching out to area charitable organizations in an effort to fast track the project construction.

We are glad to see that this unique partnership between Bluefield College and Tazewell County is moving forward. It’s a great example of what can be done when officials are working together toward a common goal of creating new economic development and growth.

We wish all parties involved the best of luck in expediting this important project.