WREB gift funds endowed scholarships

January 31st, 2022

hands holding giftStudents are the future beneficiaries of a $2 million gift to Texas A&M College of Dentistry by the Western Regional Examining Board in honor of its decades-long partnership with the dental school.

This legacy gift was prompted by WREB’s merger with the Commission on Dental Competency Assessment in August 2021. It creates the Western Regional Examining Board Endowed Scholarship that will fund 12 dental student scholarships and two dental hygiene scholarships.

“It has been enjoyable and mutually beneficial to collaborate with Texas A&M during my tenure at WREB,” says Beth Cole, former CEO. “We’re very excited about the opportunity to leave a legacy, and to hopefully make a substantial difference in the ability of dental and dental hygiene students to achieve their desire to become dental professionals.”

Dr. Stephen Griffin, associate dean for clinical affairs, says that he and Cole met around 2006 or 2007 when WREB was testing at the college, the first time the exam incorporated digital radiographs. Over the years, he says, she’s relied on him for advice as WREB developed rules and protocols, and the college has provided field testing of different WREB initiatives.

Cole called Griffin out of the blue one day in 2021, he says, to bounce around the idea of scholarship endowments. WREB had some money set aside for operating costs, he learned, and they wanted to do something with it now that they were merging with another testing agency.

“We talked through what it might look like; she hadn’t even mentioned our school yet,” says Griffin. “I told her how it would help students best, and she wanted to make sure it spread to dental hygiene as well as dental students.

“Then she said, ‘I just want you to know, because of your school— because of our relationship and the things we’ve worked together on, because of your involvement with us and the ways you’ve helped us over the years—we want your school to be a recipient.’”

Of the 12 dental scholarships, six will be designated for third-year dental students and six for fourth-year dental students. If a D3 receives a WREB scholarship and remains in good academic standing in their fourth year, they will retain the scholarship. The two dental hygiene scholarships are for senior students.

“I knew that we had developed a really good symbiotic relationship with them, but I had no idea the extent of how much they appreciated the College of Dentistry’s contributions to their efforts,” Griffin says.

Dr. Rob Lauf, former WREB president, says, “We have always been impressed and thankful for Texas A&M’s commitment to WREB, and the students as well. The relationship we have between WREB and Texas A&M has always been phenomenal. We want to make a difference as best we can in dental students’ lives to help ease the financial burden of their dental education.”

— Carolyn Cox