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

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

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

Perhaps the greatest benefit would be the addition of a second dental school to the Buffalo Niagara region. Moreover, the planned operation would provide lower-cost dental care. Daemen President Gary Olson said the new college would help address a need for dental professionals in Western New York. It would add another option for services. The University at Buffalo’ School of Dental Medicine is the only dental school in the area.

The school would offer another community benefit and health safety net. Last June, D’Youville University in Buffalo opened a state-of-the-art health professions hub addressing community needs in the region, and primary care to West Side residents. The hub’s goal also offers students increased clinical experience.

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Daemen’s focus on dentistry is occurring in significant part because of the interest of Amherst dentist Dr. Todd Shatkin. His company, Shatkin Dental Health is working with Daemen to create the Shatkin College of Dentistry. The facility will be constructed in part of the Phillips Brothers Supply building on Kensington Avenue, near Shatkin’s Amherst dental facilities and the town’s growing “medical spine,” along I-290.

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

Daemen’s efforts with Shatkin began more than two years ago. The plan has been submitted for accreditation by the Chicago-based Commission on Dental Accreditation and the New York State Education Department. If approved, the new college would 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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