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Alumni gifts sustain planned dental school expansion, which will tack on five floors

Published: Monday, December 8, 2008

Updated: Monday, December 8, 2008 14:12

Despite the ailing economy, alumni have made significant donations to fund Tufts' School of Dental Medicine's five-floor vertical expansion.

The $66.5-million project will lead to more office space, an alumni education center and a clinical simulation area. The university has allocated $30 million for the expansion, while the remaining funds will come out of the dental school's reserves and donations.

"At the present time, we still are fundraising for about $5 or $6 million. We are very close to meeting the goal in our fundraising effort," said Dental School Dean Lonnie Norris, although he noted that the economic downturn "has most people considering slowing down a little bit."

Norris explained that a number of large donations have boosted the school's efforts.

"We have already raised some of the gifts that we needed to move closer to the goal," he said.

Vincent Mariano (D '82) and Lisa Emirzian (D '82) gave a $50,000 gift to name a clinical operatory in the postgraduate prosthodontics department, where they serve as faculty members. The couple also runs a clinic in East Longmeadow, Mass.

Lino Calvani (D '91), now practicing in Rome, Italy, made a similar $50,000 naming donation for a clinical operatory in the same department.

Also among the donors are the postgraduate endodontic Classes of 1976, 1983 and 2007 and two Class of 1976 graduates, Maurice Belden and R. Scott Smith.

Once completed, the project will significantly expand the dental school's existing 10-floor structure.

The 12th and 13th floors will house treatment clinics, reserved for the orthodontics, endodontics, periodontics and postdoctoral prosthodontics departments.

The new patient clinics will feature a plethora of windows, taking advantage of natural light. The entire expansion meets Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.

The 14th story will largely serve alumni: It will consist of a continuing education conference center and will also house a preclinical simulation clinic with more than 100 new chairs for student practice.

"The new space will have better segregation from academic and clinical space, better opportunities to teach and to learn," said Joseph Castellana, executive associate dean of the dental school. "There will also be a space for students to be mentored out of the clinical area."

The new simulation clinics adhere to the dental school's focus on a strong technology core. The dental school was one of the first of its kind in the country to have electronic record keeping and digital radiology.

The 15th floor will contain administrative offices, which were previously situated on lower floors. This move will free up more space for classrooms and smaller learning areas for students.

"Everything that we do at the school we needed more space for," Norris said. "We see 20,000 patients per year, which comes out to a little less than 100,000 visits a year."

"The dental school is really staying with the aspiration that President [Lawrence] Bacow has, which is to make us one of the most remarkable dental schools in the country, not only in terms of technology or patient care that we provide, but also an increasing emphasis in active citizenship," said Mark Gonthier, the dental school's associate dean of admissions and student affairs.

Castellana emphasized the building expansion's lasting impact.

"I think it will position the dental school long into the future," he said. "You need to make these kind of investments. We are one of the few dental schools in the country to be fortunate enough to make this kind of investment for our future."

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