Michele Ross, RDH, a graduate of the West Virginia University School of Dentistry’s (WVU SOD) Dental Hygiene program, will be the first to tell you how proud she is to be a Mountaineer. Ms. Ross demonstrated her enthusiasm for her alma mater with a $100,000 gift toward the renovation of the Dental Hygiene Lab.
With Ms. Ross’ gift and additional funds raised from fellow alumni, the Dental Hygiene Lab received a major facelift. The countertops, cabinets and lighting were updated, and an additional lab station was created. Each station is equipped with a new dental simulator mannequin head and monitor. The stations also have the added feature of laptop connectivity.
“Our students and faculty are very grateful to Michele for her continued support of our program,” says Amy Funk, M.S.D.H., Director of the WVU Division of Dental Hygiene. “Our Dental Hygiene Lab was long overdue for these renovations, and we couldn’t be happier with the results. It looks like a completely different room.”
For Ms. Ross, a Weirton, WV native who currently lives in Chicago, the biggest reward from her donation came at an unexpected time and place. “I was in Boston for a yearly dental hygiene conference, and a few students came up to me and thanked me,” she says. “At that point, the renovations weren’t done yet. It was exciting for me to see and hear how excited they were about it.”
This gift isn’t Ms. Ross’ first to the School of Dentistry. She donated $12,000 in 2011 to name a dental operatory in the student clinic. Both gifts were made on behalf of Ms. Ross and her husband, Tom Clark, through the Clark Family Foundation.
Anthony “Tom” Borgia, D.D.S., Interim Dean of the WVU SOD, observes it is the generosity of alums and donors that helps the school attract and retain the excellent students and faculty.
“We often talk about how we are known for producing highly skilled, clinically competent dentists and dental hygienists. In order to do that, we have to have cutting-edge equipment and technology on which to train our students,” Dr. Borgia says. “There are needs within the school that we cannot meet with state funding alone. With gifts like that from Michele Ross, we can bridge that gap, so we thank her for helping us fulfill our mission.”
The lab was dedicated during WVU’s Homecoming Weekend, when students, faculty, staff and alumni gathered in Morgantown. It made for the perfect opportunity to celebrate the Dental Hygiene Program’s 50th academic year.
To her fellow alums of the WVU SOD, future graduates and its supporters, Ms. Ross has issued a challenge.
“You shouldn’t ever forget where you came from. I’m proud to be a Mountaineer because of the friendships, the job and the opportunities it has given me,” she said. “You have to give back to the University so the School of Dentistry can continue to produce the highest quality of dental hygienists and dental professionals.”
The contribution was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The $1 billion comprehensive campaign being conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University runs through December 2017.
Pictured, from left: Anthony Borgia, D.D.S., interim dean of the WVU School of Dentistry; Michele Ross, RDH; Amy Funk, director of the WVU Division of Dental Hygiene