Health Team

UNC dental school expansion to open Friday

Posted April 26, 2012 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated April 26, 2012 9:01 p.m. EDT

— The expansion at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry is scheduled to open Friday, more than four years after construction began. 

The Koury Building, which adjoins Tarrson Hall, Brauer Hall and Old Dental Building at the corner of Manning Drive and South Columbia Street, will officially open its doors in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4 p.m. Friday. The $118-million facility will allow UNC to train more dentists while also providing more space for oral health research. 

Students will take up shop in the new space May 7, when the summer semester begins.

The added space, all 216,000 square feet, will also allow dental students within the expanding program the chance to spread out. 

"Everybody's excited, just to have somewhere to throw our bags and sit next to each other without being on top of each other," dental student Elizabeth Consky said. 

Dr. Jane Weintraub, the dean of the UNC School of Dentistry, says the new space will allow professors to promote a different learning environment for current and incoming students.

"The new ways of teaching are in small groups," she said. "We're trying to get away from doing everything in large lecture halls."

Thanks to the addition, the school will be able to accept about 20 more students per year than before. It also includes video conferencing technology, which allows professors to record lectures that can be viewed later. The expansion also includes a new patient stimulation lab with work stations that include everything but patients. 

A new research lab will reunite researchers with teaching faculty and students. 

"The wow factor is here, and I think this space will only help in recruitment and retention of our faculty and our researchers," said Janet Guthmiller, associate dean for Academic Affairs. 

Established in 1954, the UNC School of Dentistry has had a long history of educating and training dentists who practice in North Carolina. Eighty percent of the school's students end up practicing in the state.

The cost of the expansion was paid for by $112 million in state funds and $6 million in UNC money.