An open house and ribbon cutting ceremony Monday afternoon, November 28 at Pointe Monterey Business Park, made official Loma Linda University School of Dentistry’s (LLUSD) dental hygiene Associate of Science degree program that opened in Palm Desert this fall.
The public, administrators and faculty from Loma Linda University and its School of Dentistry, administrative leaders from the College of the Desert, and representatives from state, county, and city government were welcomed by Loma Linda University President Richard Hart, MD, DrPH, and the Coachella Valley’s congenial winter climate: a clear and quiet 75 degrees at sundown.
School of Dentistry Dean Charles Goodacre, DDS, just returned from a trip to Israel, presided in a buoyant mood over a very optimistic associate degree launch. The eight young women who comprise the program’s student vanguard were all on hand to assist visitors with a tour of the 10,411-square foot, state-of-the-art space at 34-280 Gateway Drive where their training is nearly nine weeks under way.
Remarking that, “Palm Desert has a proud history of being the Coachella Valley’s foremost destination for higher learning,” Mayor Pro Tem Robert A. Spiegel welcomed the “creation of this new Associate of Science degree program in dental hygiene” as “a wonderful thing for our city and for the Coachella Valley as a whole.” Spiegel was particularly pleased that “local students who aspire to become dental hygienists will be able to study and train close to home,” and that “area residents will also enjoy better access to dental and oral health care through the program’s new public clinic.”
On behalf of the California State legislature, California Senator Bill Emmerson, DDS, MS (and LLUSD alumnus), congratulated the School with a handsomely framed Joint Member Resolution (No. 617) resolving that “they draw special attention of the public to … the Loma Linda University Dental Hygiene Program and Clinic in Palm Desert, and point with great pride to the outstanding opportunities it will provide to its students well into the future.”
Dean Goodacre recognized the essential administrative contributions to the program’s development made by Department of Dental Hygiene chair Kristi Wilkins, RDH, MA, and Joseph Caruso, DDS, MS, MPH, associate dean for strategic development.
The LLU School of Dentistry’s new program will matriculate 28 students annually, including a large number of students from nearby College of the Desert where many will receive their general education and biomedical science prerequisite education. Loma Linda University professors will provide the dental hygiene science and clinical training for the program—a teaching staff of seven, including a full-time dentist and board-certified hygienists.