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Grant Addresses Minority-Dental-Faculty Shortage

By Lois Baker

Release Date: April 15, 2005

BUFFALO. N.Y. -- The School of Dental Medicine at the University at Buffalo is a member of a five-school, state-based consortium that has received a $250,000 grant to increase the number of unrepresented minorities on dental-school faculties.

The program, called the Minority Dental Faculty Development Program (MDFD), is funded by the American Dental Education Association and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

The money will provide scholarships for junior faculty, fourth-year pre-doctoral students and post-graduate dental students to complete an M.S., M.P.H. or Ph.D. degree in preparation to enter, or advance in, academic dental medicine, as well as mentoring and other benefits.

"This program provides significant support for our efforts to overcome two serious and interrelated national problems: a severe shortage of dental faculty in general and a specific shortage of faculty from under-represented groups," said Richard Buchanan, D.M.D., dean of the UB dental school. "The financial assistance and career mentoring are the two most important elements of this model."

UB plans to have three or four MDFD fellows in the program each year.

In addition to receiving financial help, each fellow will be assigned a mentor, who will meet with the fellow monthly, act as an advocate, monitor progress and make sure the fellow is on target to become a faculty member.

The program will include training in curriculum design, education foundations, teaching methods and performance evaluation, in addition to advanced study and training in the fellow's academic discipline. Research is a major component of the program.

The New York consortium, composed of dental schools at the University at Rochester, Columbia University, New York University and Stony Brook University, in addition to UB, is part of a national effort to bring more underrepresented minorities onto dental school faculties.

Other schools in the MDFD project are the University of Oklahoma, University of Michigan, University of Alabama, Howard University, Texas A&M University system, Baylor University and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Frank Catalanotto, president of the American Dental Education Association, said the grants create a dynamic network for the recruitment of junior faculty that can be shared with all U.S. dental schools.

"In addressing issues related to under-represented minority and low-income faculty recruitment, these grants provide models that can be shared not only with dental schools, but with other academic units across the university spectrum," he said.

The MDFD grant complements the $165,000 donation to the UB School of Dental Medicine for an endowed fund to help low-income third-and fourth-year dental students, established in December 2004 by Lois Mae Rinck in memory of her husband, the late Carlton F. Rinck, a 1946 alumnus of the UB dental school.