Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

July 21, 2013

BC dental school progresses

KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD, Va. — Strides are being made toward the completion of the new Bluefield College School of Dental Medicine as officials work to secure architects, funds and staff for the project.

Dr. Frank Serio, dean of the new School of Dental Medicine at Bluefield College, said officials with the county are working toward the physical construction of the school. The school will be built at the Bluestone Regional Business and Technology Park.

“Finalists in the architect selection process have been determined and ranked in order of preference,” Serio said. “The county has begun negotiations with the preferred architectural firm to design the new school of dental medicine facility to be built at the Bluestone. Once the firm has been selected and plans finalized, the construction bidding process and construction will be underway. A firm date for ground-breaking has not yet been established.”

Contingency plans are also being made in case construction is not finalized before students are set to arrive in 2015, according to Bluefield College President David Olive.

“At this time, the former Tazewell County Health Department building is not being actively pursued for use by the dental school,” Olive said. “Temporary offices for School of Dental Medicine staff are being created at the Workforce Development Center adjacent to the Bluestone.”

Meanwhile, officials at Bluefield College are working on recruiting the people who will make up the dental school.

“The college has begun to advertise locally, regionally and nationally for faculty, administrators and staff,” Serio said. “Recruitment is a time-consuming process, and the College is using all professional venues to publicize available positions. One such initiative is to use the Christian Medical and Dental Association — headquartered just down the road in Bristol, Tenn. — to help spread the word. Several people have independently approached the College after seeing articles in the ADA News and elsewhere. Recruitment will be ongoing for the foreseeable future.”

Along with recruiting professors and administrators, the college is also working on the course of study future students will pursue.

“The general curricular framework is being established,” Serio said. “Final details rest with those charged with delivering the content to the dental students. Once the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the Chair of Biomedical Sciences are in place, the development of the first two years of the curriculum will proceed rapidly.”

Officials with both the college and county are working together to secure funding for the construction of the school.

“The school of dental medicine recently received a $150,000 grant from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission to assist with curriculum development,” Olive said. “Other grant requests are pending, and we will share the successes of receiving those grants as they are awarded.”

In addition to the newest grant,  $1 million has been committed toward the construction and equipment of the facility along with a $3.5-million loan from the Virginia Economic Coalfield Development Authority.

Recently, members of the Bluefield College Board of Trustees toured the site of the future dental school at the Bluestone Regional Business and Technology Park. The project was unveiled in the fall of 2012 and the school is expected to open in the fall of 2015.

In addition to boosting enrollment at Bluefield College, officials hope the dental school will promote local economic development and address the shortage of dental care providers and improve oral health in the local area.



— Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.com