Dean’s Message

August 16, 2012 marks my one year anniversary as Dean of the West Virginia University School of Dentistry, and I must admit it’s been one incredibly dynamic year!  Let’s take a look back over the last 12 months and see what we have accomplished, as well as where we are headed for 2013 and beyond.  Due to the incredible work of a highly dedicated group of faculty, staff, students and administrators, since mid-August 2011, the School of Dentistry has:

  • Completed our Strategic Plan.
  • Implemented our electronic patient record and digital radiographic imaging systems.
  • Implemented our cone beam CT unit.
  • Developed and launched (as of fall 2012) dual degree programs for our pre-doctoral students combining the DDS degree with a Masters in Public Health or a Masters in Business Administration (we’re only one of about six dental schools who offer both dual degree programs).
  • Provided soft tissue laser instruction and credentialing for our Senior DDS students—this program was moved from the end of the Senior year to the start of the Senior year beginning Fall 2012, to allow our students to not only train on the equipment, but to use it in the clinic before graduating.  WVU is only one of two schools who provide this training.
  • Provided our Senior DDS class with training on the surgical placement and restoration of the mini-dental implants used to retain the mandibular overdenture.  WVU is the ONLY school in the US to offer this training.
  • Completed, as of mid-August 2012, the renovation of our pre-clinical simulation lab.  This facility, funded by grant dollars and a gift-in-kind from a corporate sponsor, will provide our incoming students with the opportunity to train on state-of-the-art clinical simulation units.  It also allows us to increase our DDS class size from 50 to 60 students, and provides the opportunity to greatly expand our hands-on continuing dental education opportunities.  The ribbon-cutting celebration will occur Monday, September 17, at 4:30 p.m.  Please plan on joining us for this celebration in Morgantown.
  • Increased the number of continuing dental education courses offered annually and expanded our alumni outreach.
  • Began the recruitment of six DDS/PhD faculty positions to enhance the research and scholarship at WVU.  This is a part of the recently awarded $19.6 million Federal grant for the Clinical and Translational Research Initiative.
  • In development, we have generated over $4 million to help fund a new school of dentistry building, support student scholarships, and fund endowed professorships.  In addition, we have launched the public phase of our Capital Campaign for the entire university, entitled “West Virginia University--A State of Minds” which will conclude in December of 2015.  The School of Dentistry has set a goal of raising $10 million for a new building and infrastructure, $5 million for endowed professorships, and $4 million for student scholarships.
  • Expanded our rural outreach programs.

Although we have accomplished a lot in the past year, we have a long way to go on our journey to becoming an extra-ordinary School of Dentistry.  Here’s what we have in the planning and implementation stage for the 2012-2013 academic year:

  • Expansion of the School of Dentistry facilities into the Suncrest Center building.  This expansion will improve the student-to-clinical-chair ratio and allow expansion of our graduate programs in Endodontics, Orthodontics, Prosthodontics, and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.  In addition, it will create space to allow new graduate program launches in both Periodontology and Pediatric Dentistry.
  • The addition of new graduate programs in Periodontology and Pediatric Dentistry.
  • Implementation of an all-digital dental curriculum.  Our incoming students in 2013 will be required to purchase tablet or laptop computers, and all courses will be fully digital as of May of 2013.  This will enable our classes to be competitive for the high-tech classrooms in the Health Sciences Center, and allow students improved access to new teaching materials and technologies.
  • Continue to develop plans for the new School of Dentistry building.  Currently, our School of Dentistry occupies a footprint of less than 60,000 square feet.  When comparing this to peer institutions, we are woefully deficient, which hampers our growth and expansion.  Architectural renderings of a new facility have been drawn to allow us to raise the revenues necessary for construction.  Those renderings can be seen below.  A new facility will enable us to remain competitive with other schools of dentistry for recruiting the best-and-brightest faculty, students, graduate residents, and staff.  It is critical to our long-range success.
  • Continue to recruit toward open faculty lines in Pediatric Dentistry, Restorative Dentistry, Oral the Maxillofacial Pathology, and our emerging DDS/PhD faculty lines. 
  • Purchase new cutting-edge technologies that will allow our students the opportunity to train on the newest and best equipment.  This includes CAD/CAM technologies, digital impression systems, hard tissue lasers, and other emerging technologies.
  • Initiation and completion of a comprehensive curriculum review and revision, to make certain our students are learning contemporary dental techniques.
  • Implementation of new requirements in our teaching programs in evidence based dentistry, research, and other technologies as required by new guidelines from the American Dental Association’s Council on Dental Accreditation (CoDA).  These guidelines will have to be implemented, and evaluated for two years prior to our next CoDA accreditation site visit (in 2016).

Each of these new initiatives will take long hours of diligent efforts to reach fruition.  However, thanks to the efforts of our incredible full-time and part-time faculty at WVU, and to our outstanding staff, I am confident we can achieve each of these goals.  Our journey toward becoming an extra-ordinary School of Dentistry has just begun.  I invite you to join us in this journey.  If you would like to assist us in any of these projects, please contact me at, or at 304-293-1000.  Thank you in advance for your assistance! Let's Goooooooo Mountaineers!

David A. Felton, DDS, MS
Dean, WVU School of Dentistry