On March 15, amid sunshine and unseasonably warm temperatures, ATSU celebrated a symbolic milestone in the establishment of the Missouri School of Dentistry & Oral Health.
Approximately 500 people with shovels in hand gathered around a 150-foot strip of dirt representing the site of the new dental school, which is set to open its doors in the fall of 2013.
ATSU President Jack Magruder, who led the ceremony, was joined on stage by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon; Craig Phelps, DO, ’84, FAOASM, ATSU president-designate; Clyde Evans, PhD, board chair; and Christopher Halliday, DDS, MPH, inaugural dean, MOSDOH.
“We’re here to break ground for a fantastic situation in Kirksville, Mo., that’s going to have ramifications throughout the world,” said Dr. Magruder.
Keep up with the progress at MOSDOH. Visit www.atsu.edu/mosdoh, for updates, pictures, design plans, and other important information.
Dr. Magruder shared details about the MOSDOH Interprofessional Education & Dentistry School Building, significant dates throughout the development of the school, and the critical need for dental healthcare, particularly within the state.
“This is a landmark moment, not only for this University and this community, but for the state of Missouri. Addressing our population’s oral health, especially among children and underserved groups, is vital to the overall state of public health,” said Gov. Nixon. “It’s a challenge we must and will meet. This is a capstone of excellence that will lead to opportunities in the future.”
Dr. Magruder introduced Dr. Halliday to the ATSU community. Dr. Halliday, who will officially begin his duties July 1, most recently served as rear admiral, assistant surgeon general, and chief of staff to the surgeon general of the United States and has a career-long history of serving diverse and underserved populations.
Dr. Halliday indicated his primary goal is to develop MOSDOH as the dental center of excellence in the country, if not in the world, ensuring these graduates will be the best dental providers.
“This is going to be a partnership,” said Dr. Halliday. “I hope all of you consider yourselves to be partners in this dental school, and we’re going to strive to develop dentists that emphasize collaboration, a comprehensive delivery of oral healthcare, community-based activities, and compassionate healthcare providers.”
Before Dr. Magruder gave the go-ahead to turn the soil, he said, “I honestly believe that this is a God-given piece of earth for us, right here. It’s entrusted to the citizens of this community and A.T. Still, to cause it to bring forth fruit. Amen. That fruit is for persons in need to live better lives, be healthier, increase wellness, and lessen pain and suffering in our own community as well as throughout the world.”