Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

November 15, 2012

Search begins for dean of Bluefield College’s school of dentistry

BLUEFIELD, Va. — The search has begun for the inaugural dean of Bluefield College’s new school of dentistry.

Chris Shoemaker, director of marketing and public relations with Bluefield College, said setting up programs of study for the dental college as well as finding a dean for the college are top priorities for starting the new school.

“IThe college 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 until a dean is hired,” Shoemaker said. “The college has employed the services of Wheless Partners, an executive and management search firm, to conduct a national search for the inaugural dean of the dental school.”

Shoemaker said 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. “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.”

Tazewell County Administrator Jim Spencer said the partnership between Bluefield College and the county to create the school is a unique arrangement.

“There is quite a bit of work to be done, but both the county and the college are pushing forward on that,” Spencer said. “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.”

Presently, Spencer said the county is working on their end to secure funding to help construct the school building at the Bluestone Regional Business and Technology Park.

“We are continuing to work with the college to continue aggressively move things forward,” Spencer said. “The county is going to be applying for grants to help facilitate the construction of the building, and we are working on those right now. We are looking at all of our options and different grants that might be available since this is an educational facility.”

In addition to searching for grant funds, Spencer said the county is also reaching out to several charitable donations.

“There are several foundations we are talking to about contributing,” Spencer said. “The county and the college are both meeting with these foundations to see if they would be willing to help out with this venture. Some are locally-based foundations, but we are also looking at regional foundations and authorities that can offer donations and low-interest loans.”

— Contact Kate Coil at

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