HIGH POINT — High Point University intends to add a dental school to a long list of recent additions to its academic portfolio — and more programs could be coming.
The university announced Wednesday that it plans to launch the School of Dental Medicine and Oral Health in fall 2023 pending approval from two accrediting agencies.
“This is a new chapter ... in the life of High Point University,” President Nido Qubein said at an event announcing the new dental school. “But it is not the last chapter in the life of High Point University.”
High Point’s dental school will be only the third in the state and the first among private North Carolina universities. The state’s other two dental schools are at UNC-Chapel Hill and East Carolina University.
Qubein said he expects HPU’s dental school to open with 32 students and grow eventually to 180 students. Dental school typically takes four years to complete, and graduates earn a doctoral degree.
The school will be housed in a new campus building. High Point plans to build it on a parking lot adjacent to Congdon Hall, which is home to High Point’s health sciences and pharmacy schools and part of the university’s science- and tech-focused Innovation Corridor.
High Point on Wednesday announced the school’s founding dean. It’s Dr. Scott De Rossi, who stepped down as dean of UNC-Chapel Hill’s dental school in January after four years. De Rossi earned his doctor of dental medicine from the University of Pennsylvania and was a professor and administrator at Augusta University Dental College of Georgia before going to UNC-CH.
High Point will seek approval for its new dental school from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, which accredits colleges and universities in the Southeast; and the Commission on Dental Accreditation, which accredits dental and dental-related education programs throughout the United States and Canada.
Qubein said a dental school was a logical addition to a growing university of more than 5,600 students that has invested heavily in health and science programs in recent years.
High Point opened its pharmacy school in 2016, launched its physician assistant and physical therapy graduate programs in 2017 and started an engineering school in 2019.
The next new offering will be a nursing program, which High Point expects to open in fall 2022.
A dental school, Qubein added, will educate dentists for a growing and highly-paid field.
The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics says median salaries for dentists are a little more than $164,000. The agency projects that employment for dentists will grow by about 3% — or 4,000 jobs — between 2019 and 2029. The federal Health Resources & Services Administration, meanwhile, predicts a 9% growth in demand for full-time dentists by 2030.
Qubein said he and other university leaders have considered 24 different academic programs over the past three years. Some, like nursing and dental medicine, have made the cut. Others might be in the works, he added.