The Editorial Board: Daemen’s plan for a dental school will help both the university and the community | Editorial

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News Editorial Board

The need for higher education institutions to reinvent themselves in the face of increased competition for students may dovetail with community needs. The need for change serves the greater good, as seems to be the case with Daemen University in Amherst.

The university plans to open its own dental school and in doing so, add to the school’s health science offerings. This is pending state approval and accreditation.

Perhaps the biggest benefit would be the addition of a second dental school in the Buffalo Niagara area. In addition, the planned operation would make it possible to offer dental care at a lower cost. Daemen President Gary Olson said the new college will help meet the need for dental professionals in Western New York. This would add another option for services. The University at Buffalo School of Dentistry is the only dental school in the area.

The school would provide another community benefit and health safety net. Last June, D’Youville University in Buffalo opened a state-of-the-art health professions center serving the area’s community needs and primary care for West Side residents. The focus of the hub also provides students with increased clinical experience.

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Daemen focused on dentistry largely due to interest from Amherst dentist Dr. Todd Shatkin. His company, Shatkin Dental Health, is working with Daemen to establish Shatkin College of Dentistry. The facility will be built in part of the Phillips Brothers Supply building on Kensington Avenue near Shatkin’s Amherst dental facilities and the city’s growing “medical backbone” along I-290.

Amherst supervisor Brian Kulpa noted Shatkin’s renovation of the building, as “an adaptive reuse of former industrial space.” The analysis is spot on, as is his description of the Shatkin College of Dentistry project: It is a partnership between higher education and private business that is helping Buffalo Niagara’s economy grow while helping to develop its education and medical sectors.

Daemen’s efforts with Shatkin began over two years ago. The plan was submitted for accreditation by the Chicago-based Commission on Dental Accreditation and the New York State Department of Education. If approved, the new college will open in the fall of 2023, accepting 40 students per year, or 120 by the final year of a three-year program.

The result will not only increase opportunities for those interested in an in-demand medical field, but help strengthen the growing health safety net around Western New York.

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