To the UNE Community,
In keeping with UNE's role as a leader in health professions education and in alignment with our Vision 2017 strategic plan, the UNE Board of Trustees approved plans for the creation of Maine's first College of Dental Medicine. UNE has secured $6.5 million in funds toward launching this dental college, but additional funds are needed to launch the college in 2012.
The state of Maine faces an oral health crisis. All of Maine's 16 counties have dental health professional shortages, and more than 200,000 Maine residents are unserved in the area of dental health care. Because 41 percent of Maine dentists are 55 or older, this shortage will increase in the coming decades without a plan to meet that shortage.
UNE is uniquely positioned to address this problem by opening a College of Dental Medicine and teaching clinic in Maine.
Not only will the UNE College of Dental Medicine improve the health of residents in our region, but also it will shape the future of dentistry by educating compassionate, socially aware, competent dentists to become community and educational leaders serving those in need. During third- and fourth-year rotations, UNE students will practice in clinics all over the state, providing badly needed services in rural areas and enabling an additional 60,000 patient visits per year.
The economic benefits to Maine will also be great. The construction phase of the dental school alone will generate $37 million, and it is projected to deliver $35 million in ongoing economic benefits to the region.
Question 2 on the statewide ballot in November asks voters to consider investing $5 million to help build dental clinics throughout Maine.
$3.5 million would go to a new dental schools flagship clinic, where students will practice in their third year, providing 12,000 low-cost visits per year.
$1.5 million would go to expanding or creating clinics around the state, providing 48,000 low-cost visits per year.
If Question 2 passes, UNE will apply for these funds to make the UNE College of Dental Medicine a reality.
More than three dozen organizations and individuals -- including the Maine Dental Association and all the gubernatorial candidates -- have endorsed UNE's plan for a College of Dental Medicine (see attached list).
I strongly urge you to Vote Yes on Question 2 on November 2, and to help spread the word about this important bond to your colleagues, friends and neighbors around the state. For more info, visit www.DentalCareforME.com.
Danielle N. Ripich, President
University of New England