University of Alberta School of Dentistry launches Dentistry for Life fundraising campaign

Campaign celebrates school's presence in the community.

Cheryl Deslaurier - 1 November 2017

To help celebrate the School of Dentistry's centennial anniversary, an $8 million Dentistry for Life fundraising campaign to mark the school's presence in the community for over a 100 years was launched on October 25.


This is the first comprehensive fundraising campaign on record for the School of Dentistry. The funds raised through the Dentistry for Life campaign will support access to care initiatives, student support and wellbeing, and research and innovation.


"Since its founding in 1917, the School of Dentistry has produced the majority of dental professionals in Western Canada, contributing greatly to the health and well-being of people throughout the country and this province," says Paul Major, chair of the School of Dentistry.


At the launch, the Honourable Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Seniors and Housing presented the School of Dentistry with a certificate to recognize its 100 years. She reinforced the good work the school is doing and mentioned that her own parents come to the clinic for their dental needs.


The School's vision of being "Vital to the Health of our Communities" through educating the oral health care practitioners of tomorrow, providing patients with high quality oral health care and through oral health care innovation is at the core of the campaign.


"When you're a part of the university and dentistry community, you are a part of something special," says Major. "You are a part of a school that in the last decade has reached more than 250,000 patients. You are part of a school that has educated more than 5,500 of the best dental and dental hygiene professionals and orthodontist specialists in Canada. You are part of a school that in partnership with Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services, Boyle McCauley and the Alberta Dental Association & College gives back to its community through programs like the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital Dental Clinic, the Northern Alberta Satellite clinics, and the SHINE Dental Clinic at Boyle McCauley."


The school is committed to responding to the oral health care needs of the community added Major. It's first priority is Access to Care.


Linda Ghobad, volunteer with Catholic Social Services spoke about how the SHINE dental clinic and the school's dental clinic in Kaye Edmonton Clinic were instrumental in helping a Syrian family with their oral health needs.


"If it wasn't for these services I'm not sure where this family would have got treatment," she says. "The quality of care and how we are treated from the students at both facilities is amazing."


The second fundraising priority for the campaign is Student Support and Wellbeing. Student support and wellbeing is all about creating an environment that is supportive and capable of nurturing optimal learning and professional development in students.


"The scholarships I received did not completely cover my tuition, but they certainly lessened the burden," says Shahed Bayesteh, a member of the DDS class of 2019. "The gifts of student financial support allowed me to worry less about micro managing my finances and helped me focus on the things that really matter to me. I am so glad I chose the School of Dentistry for my dental education, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for the school."


The third priority of the campaign is Research and Innovation. It's essential to advancing the dental profession and to developing the critical thinking skills needed for long term professional success.


"As a School of Dentistry, we have two main responsibilities regarding research," says Owen Addison, professor and ADA&C Endowed Chair in Oral Health Translational Research. "We have a responsibility to generate new evidence to guide the improvement of our professions and the care we provide, and more importantly we have a responsibility to educate our students to understand, and critique evidence by themselves, preparing them to be lifelong learners and enabling them to adapt as the profession change.


A lifelong professor and donor also reflected on the impact the school has had.


"I am proud of my association with the School of Dentistry at the U of A," says Geoffrey Sperber, a dedicated faculty member since 1961 and now a professor emeritus. "It's a wonderful place to work, and it's been a fulfilling place for me to learn and teach. I am confident the school will continue and improve on our tradition of educational excellence.


The Dentistry for Life fundraising campaign has a goal to raise $8 million over a four-year period and provide donors with the opportunity to support a variety of initiatives.