VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota broke ground on the new School of Health Sciences building and announced a $1 million gift from the Delta Dental of South Dakota Foundation on April 1.
The gift from the South Dakota dental benefits provider’s foundation will support USD’s dental hygiene program. In honor of the gift, the new community dental hygiene clinic at USD will be named the Delta Dental Oral Health Center.
The new three-story, 45,000 square-foot School of Health Sciences building will be connected to the Andrew E. Lee Memorial Medicine and Science Building. In addition to the Delta Dental Oral Health Center, there will be modern classrooms, health science labs, simulation centers, study spaces and faculty offices.
“We are honored to receive the gift from the Delta Dental of South Dakota Foundation and delighted to be able to celebrate their generosity as well as the groundbreaking of the new School of Health Sciences building,” said USD President Sheila K. Gestring. “As the state's only comprehensive school of health sciences, we prepare our students to fill critical needs in so many areas vital to South Dakota’s health and wellbeing.”
“Oral health plays a significant part in overall health," said Scott Jones, president and CEO of Delta Dental of South Dakota. "Expanding the dental hygiene program at USD helps ensure access to oral health care for South Dakota's future. The new facility also offers unique oral health learning opportunities among all of the health sciences programs.”
The state-of-art structure will house many programs of the School of Health Sciences, including dental hygiene, nursing, physician assistant, addiction counseling and prevention, medical laboratory science, public health and health sciences, and social work.
Housing all the programs together allows students to collaborate in the type of real-life practical situations they will encounter every day in hospitals and clinics across South Dakota.
“The new building will stimulate collaboration and innovation among our students, faculty and staff,” said Haifa Abou Samra, Ph.D., School of Health Sciences dean. “Unifying the many health sciences programs under one roof with innovative technologies will create a transformative and dynamic learning environment that allows our faculty to prepare students for the emerging and increasingly complex needs of health care.”
Over the last decade, 4,400 people have earned degrees from the USD School of Health Sciences, with 63% living and/or working in South Dakota. With nine health education-focused departments, 22 programs, two dental hygiene clinics and two significant public service centers, the School of Health Sciences is the largest and most comprehensive source of teaching and clinical preparation of health care in South Dakota. Many of USD’s health care programs are unique to South Dakota and are only offered at USD.
“By providing the next generation of health care professionals an opportunity to learn and grow as professionals, we will ensure future generations of South Dakotans and their families have the opportunity to live happy, healthy and productive lives,” said Gestring.
The School of Health Sciences building is projected to be completed in August 2023.