Dentistry's admissions leader chosen to receive social justice award

Friday, April 20, 2018

On Friday, April 20, 2018, the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion honored Dr. Shelia S. Price with one of the university's most prestigious awards.

Read the full release: Associate dean of School of Dentistry honored with 2018 Bucklew Social Justice Award

Additional information from her years of dedication to the School of Dentistry, inclusion and social justice follows:

Dr. Shelia S. Price receives Neil S. Bucklew AwardShelia S. Price, DDS, MA, EdD

As they begin to reach their own goals, the most forward-thinking, compassionate leaders set out to open doors for others. Shelia S. Price, DDS, MA, EdD, earned her BS in biology from the University of Charleston in Charleston, West Virginia and her DDS, MA, and EdD at West Virginia University in Morgantown.

As the Associate Dean for Admissions, Recruitment and Access and a diagnostic sciences professor at WVU’s School of Dentistry, Dr. Price has impacted the culture of the university and beyond championing academic achievement and success while promoting diversity and encouraging collaboration as well as interprofessional inclusion.


Dr. Price’s student-focused approach is apparent in a number of programs she pioneered or worked with others to build. 

A diversity forum has been a mainstay in student orientation programming under Price’s leadership. First-year dental and medical students learn the importance of social justice in health care and are familiarized with the expectations of commitment to diversity, inclusiveness professionally and in patient care. The program, which highlights resources from the Center for Black Culture and Research and WVU Pastoral Care, was included as a best practice in dental education in a publication by the American Dental Education Association (ADEA).

The WVU School of Medicine piloted a Diversity and Inclusion in Health Care Online Training Module for students developed by Price and a group of colleagues. The project aimed to help health providers recognize and respond appropriately to the changing patient population and the diverse health beliefs, perspectives, and needs regarding health and wellness.

Dr. Price had a key role in 1997 in implementing and then expanding the School of Dentistry Kuwaiti Dental Program (KDP) program.  This global initiative nurtures the academic preparation of Kuwaiti pre-dental WVU students to ensure their seamless progression into the dental program.  The program promotes cultural infusion and supports the dental school’s diversity goals. In recent years the KDP served as a model for the School of Medicine and School of Pharmacy to implement similar programs. 


Dr. Price has directed more than $1 million in funded projects by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and W.K. Kellogg Foundation to address access to oral health care and foster a diverse dental workforce.

Dr. Price was principal investigator on the $100,000 Access to Dental Careers grant by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to support retention of under-represented minority students and individuals from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.  Through this initiative qualified dental students received scholarships to help offset the high cost of dental education.

Dr. Price works to promote diversity through holistic admissions practices that take into account cognitive and non-cognitive factors in evaluating applicants.  She has spoken nationally, conducted workshops and organized admissions committee training programs on this topic.  Her work linking admissions practices and fostering a diverse oral health workforce has culminated in articles in peer reviewed journals including the Journal of Dental Education and The Advisor, Journal of the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions. Her work in this area is acknowledged in the ADEA Transforming Admissions: A Practical Guide to Fostering Student Diversity in Dental Schools.  


Among her health care provider colleagues, Price is a conversation starter. Almost two decades ago, she led a lunch hour social justice series for dental school faculty titled “Discourse and Dine 2000:  Dentistry’s Discussion on Diversity Continues”.

Dr. Price joined two colleagues in the WVU School of Medicine to plan and implement the first ever Health Sciences Center grand round focused on promoting diversity at the university’s hub of health education and patient care.  The program, which included student input, examined organizational strategies to promote diversity in the health professions, analyzed policy challenges for implementing individualized holistic admissions, and summarized the research that makes the case for diversity in higher education.

As an ongoing effort to promote humanism and health equity, Price used the results of dental student surveys to stimulate dialogue on inclusivity, team promotion and diversity. Department chairs, administrators, students, faculty and staff took part in a culminating training session titled “Promoting a Culture of Humanism”.

Dr. Price’s commitment to faculty development in areas of social justice is apparent from her continuing education presentations including one titled Fostering Diversity and Inclusion in Health Profession Programs and another titled Pathways to Dentistry: Diverse Perspectives on Promoting a Culture of Health and Service.

Price is the first female, African-American WVU dental school graduate. She was the school’s first faculty member to complete the nationally competitive women’s Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) program.

To recognize women in dentistry, Dr. Price has chaired the Celebrating Women in Dental Professions Exhibit & Program Planning Committee at the Health Sciences Center and hosts a “Women in Dentistry Elevation Celebration Breakfast”.


Dr. Price is involved in initiatives not only in support of students and faculty, but also benefitting the community.  She is a guest presenter in the Christian Help Jobs for Life Program and a founding member of the Women’s Giving Circle of North Central West Virginia. She leads the dental school’s involvement in the Women Love Your Heart Health Promotion event and was the lead author of the peer reviewed article Promoting Oral Health as Part of an Interprofessional Community-Based Women’s Health Event.

Dr. Price has worked to prepare individuals to be more culturally proficient in the health care environment by organizing panelists to address challenges to providing health care across cultures and the strategies to improve clinical encounters despite cultural differences between patients and providers.

She has arranged for celebrations to highlight the traditions of students from local, state and global communities and to recognize military personnel for their service. 

Over 30 years of progressive experience in oral health education and advocacy, Dr. Price’s honors and awards include WVU Women in Science and Health Excellence Award, the WVU School of Dentistry Distinguished Alumnus Award, WVU Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Service, WVU Most Loyal Faculty Mountaineer Award, and election to the American College of Dentists.

Dr. Price’s elected leadership roles include Chair of the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) Dental School Admissions Officers Section and the ADEA Minority Affairs Advisory Committee.  She is a member of the HSC Faculty Development Advisory Committee and former chair of the HSC Committee on Diversity and Inclusion.