$3.4 million grant funds new Center Of Excellence

June 24th, 2013

excellence-titleA Center of Excellence to advance diversity in faculty and students at A&M Baylor College of Dentistry has been established through a $3.4 million grant to the college from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers of Excellence program.

Awarded through the department’s Health Resources and Services Administration, the competitive grant program for health professions schools was developed to strengthen the national capacity to produce a quality health care workforce with racial and ethnic diversity that is representative of the U.S. population.

“I’m delighted by the opportunities that this grant will afford to the students and potential faculty of BCD,” said Sen. Royce West, a longtime champion of oral health education and increasing access to care.

Starting with first-year funds of nearly $700,000, with recommended renewal for four additional years, TAMBCD’s five-year grant is titled “Bridge to Dentistry: Awareness to Practicing, Teaching and Research” and is led by Dr. Ernestine Lacy ’94, ’96 (Educ), professor and executive director of student development and multicultural affairs. The Center of Excellence will provide the college with the opportunity to further increase the numbers of underrepresented minority students that it enrolls and faculty that it appoints and retains.

“We are ecstatic about receiving this highly competitive award,” said Dr. Lawrence E. Wolinsky, TAMBCD dean. “This will give Dr. Lacy and her team the opportunity to lead our college in the significant expansion of an already successful pipeline program. The grant also bolsters the dental school’s ability to serve as a national resource and educational center for diversity and minority health issues.”

The center is a comprehensive program linking the Dallas Independent School District, three undergraduate institutions and community-based entities to provide activities involving Pre-K through dental students and dental faculty. Designed to establish, strengthen and expand programs that enhance the academic performance of minority students attending TAMBCD, the center also will serve as a catalyst for the college to further institutionalize its commitment to improving access to care for underserved communities.

The additional funding will enable the college to improve information resources, clinical education, curriculum and cultural competence as they relate to minority health issues and help facilitate faculty and student research in health issues particularly affecting minority groups.

— Carolyn Cox