Before the winter break, Florida A&M Board of Trustees voted unanimously to submit a request to the Board of Governors for a dental school. The State University Legislative Budget Request would seek $1.5 million in planning funds.
The proposed FAMU College of Dental Medicine is intended to serve the needs of Florida’s underserved rural and inner city communities.
FAMU currently has 13 schools and colleges and institutes. Three of which-the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Nursing, and School of Allied Health- form the Health Sciences foundation for FAMU.
This does not include the many pre-med programs that are also offered at FAMU.
“There is a tremendous need, yet very little access to oral health care,” said President James Ammons in an official press release.
“FAMU not only recognizes, but intends to address this need. By allowing FAMU to train students in the College of Dental Medicine, we plan to come to the aid of those communities in need.”
So far, all that has been done is approving the submission of the request for funding.
If funding is approved, FAMU will be the first Historically Black College and University with a school of dentistry.
Though the benefits are easily recognizable, some students wonder how the school will be implemented in light of recent budget cuts.
With FAMU’s operational budget decreasing by anywhere from $4.4 to $8.9 million for the 2010-2011 school year, questions arise about the ability to afford a dental school.
“Academically, it would be great for the medically-minded students to have another avenue to explore,” said Joshua Johnson, 18, a freshman mechanical engineering student from Miramar, Fla.
“My only question is, how exactly are we going to pay for it? I have heard that they are talking about expanding the pre-veterinary school at FAMU also,” said Johnson.
“It’s good to hear that FAMU is expanding while some universities like Florida State University are closing programs like women’s studies and anthropology,” said co-op student Jennifer Holston, 20 who attends FAMU and FSU.
The actual cost of opening the school of dentistry has not been determined.
“Getting your teeth cleaned at TCC, is much cheaper for me, because I don’t have insurance and I live close to campus,” said James Petral, 21, from Jackson, Miss.
“I do not believe that FAMU would open a new school if they do not have the financial backing to support it,” said Lorienne Smith, 19, a sophomore education student from Sarasota.
“I think [a dental school] is necessary so the pre-med students can have a more effective education,” said Smith.
Provost and vice-president of student affairs Cynthia Hughes-Harris said she sees the number of benefits the school could bring to the university.
“The proposal of the College of Dental Medicine further solidifies FAMU’s commitment to health care disparities locally and across the nation. Access to oral health is scarce, and a dental school is essential if we are truly committed to providing for the community,” said Harris.