Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

April 29, 2013

Officials reviewing construction bids for dental school, acquiring funds

By KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD, Va. — Officials with Bluefield College and Tazewell County are reviewing construction bids and seeking funding in preparation for the anticipated 2015 opening of the new School of Dental Medicine at the Bluestone Regional Technology Park.

Bluefield College President Dr. David Olive said both the county and the college are working together to help finance construction of the facility and have already attained $4.5 million in grants and loans.

“Tazewell County is committed to providing the necessary funding for the school,” Olive said. “As part of this process the county and Bluefield College plan to seek support from external resources to reduce the amount being provided principally from Tazewell County. A grant of $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. Additional applications for funding are being prepared and will be submitted to foundations over the next few months.”

Olive said both the college and county are currently looking into architectural bids for the design of the dental school facility.

“No date has been set for the commencement of the construction of the facility,” Olive said. “A process is currently underway for the selection of an architectural firm to design the building. The preferred date of completion for the facility is the summer of 2015, to welcome the school’s first incoming class in August 2015.”

Olive said there is a contingency plan in place to give students a place to learn before the construction of the school is completed.

“Contingency plans are being developed to utilize the former Health Department Building in Tazewell to host the first year’s classes if the new facility inside the Bluestone Business and Technology Park is not completed by August 2015,” Olive said.

Meanwhile, Olive said the school will be welcoming Dr. Frank Serio, the first dean of the Bluefield College School of Dental Medicine, to the Bluefield area this summer. Olive said Serio will help establish the curriculum for the school as well as help interview potential educators for the program.

“In the short-term, Dr. Serio will lead critical staff and faculty searches for positions essential for the start-up phase of the dental school,” Olive said. “He will continue to complete additional faculty and staff searches for essential leadership and instruction positions at the dental school and begin to develop and/or oversee the design of the school’s curriculum, while pursuing accreditation with Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). He will also work with college and dental school leadership to assess community health clinics and design the layout of the educational building and simulation laboratory. Finally, Dr. Serio will work with regional and state dental associations in Virginia toward creating critical acceptance, support and understanding of the need for the new dental school in Virginia.”

— Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.com