UW School of Dentistry

Delta Dental gives $1 million for dental hygiene training at UW

Delta Dental of Washington has announced a $1 million grant to the University of Washington School of Dentistry to support a partnership between Shoreline Community College’s Dental Hygiene Program and the dental school. In addition, to further the growth of the program, Delta Dental will issue a $500,000 challenge grant to match funds raised by area dental and dental hygienist societies this year.

Shoreline dental hygiene student Vanessa Wardell prepares for clinic at the UW School of Dentistry.
Shoreline dental hygiene student Vanessa Wardell prepares for clinic at the UW School of Dentistry.

The funds will help cover the costs of renovations needed to accommodate expansion of Shoreline’s dental hygienist training program at the UW. Shoreline Community College is contributing $1.5 million to the expansion, and the School of Dentistry has also earmarked $1.5 million from its Campaign for Clinics fund-raising drive.

Shoreline’s highly regarded two-year program is considered one of the best in the state, and talks between the two schools quickly revealed an interest in collaborating on a long-term plan to allow the program to expand. In the fall of 2020, 10 Shoreline students in the second year of their program began training at the UW. This summer, the program will fully relocate to the UW with the dental hygiene students continuing to earn their degree from Shoreline Community College.

Delta Dental’s support will enable the program to expand quickly. With the dental community’s help, the goal is to enroll 25 students per year, hopefully within two years.

A 2020 Department of Health survey of dentists, hygienists, and dental assistants found that:

  • Dental hygienist positions in Washington are open an average of four months before being filled.
  • For every hygienist seeking a position, there are over four positions available.
  • The greatest number of open hygienist positions were in King and Snohomish counties with over 550 openings at the time of the survey.

“When the Seattle King County Dental Society approached us about the challenges at the Shoreline Community College Dental Hygiene Program, we knew we needed to do something,” said Delta Dental of Washington President and CEO Mark Mitchke. “Given our partnership with the Washington State Dental Association, we have made a commitment to address the dental hygienist and assistant workforce shortage in Washington state. Ensuring that our state’s future dental hygienists have access to high-quality education is the first of many activities we will embark on together.”

He added, “We applaud the University of Washington’s commitment to sustaining the Shoreline dental hygiene program and increasing the number of graduates to the historical level of 25 per year at minimum.”

The need for dental hygienists in our state is expected to grow, and the door is open for further expansion of the UW-Shoreline program, given the urgent need documented by workforce data.

“Obtaining a match to the challenge grant will enable aspirational planning for even larger class sizes to better serve our state,” Dean Gary Chiodo of the School of Dentistry and President Cheryl Roberts of Shoreline said in a joint statement. “Over the next few months, we will work closely with our partners at Delta Dental of Washington, the Washington State Dental Association, and the Washington Dental Hygienists’ Association to raise the matching funds from additional dental and dental hygiene societies throughout the state.”

When the two schools announced their partnership last year, Dean Chiodo said, “The integrated programs created a model for dental and dental hygiene education.” Having dental hygiene students learn and practice in tandem with dental students, he said, mimics the way in which they would work together in dental offices after graduation.

In their joint statement, he and Dr. Roberts cited another advantage. The School of Dentistry has robust programs of care for pediatric and medically compromised patients as well as those with special needs. The dental hygiene students will now have the opportunity to work with these patients, further enriching their training.

“This is an exciting time for the advancement of oral health in Washington, and the Shoreline-School of Dentistry partnership is exactly the right combination at the right moment,” the two leaders said.

UW School of Dentistry receives $2 million from late alumnus and wife

The University of Washington School of Dentistry has received a $2 million gift from the estate of Dr. Joseph Spinola, an alumnus and longtime faculty member, and his wife, Carole, Interim Dean Gary Chiodo has announced.

Dr. Spinola, who graduated from the school in 1956 and taught there for 45 years, passed away in January 2017. Carole Spinola passed away the preceding September. The couple had made their home in Kirkland, where Dr. Spinola practiced privately as a general dentist while teaching part time at the dental school. He retired from the faculty in 2001 as Clinical Associate Professor Emeritus.

The Spinolas’ gift will be divided, with $500,000 directed to the school’s Department of Endodontics, where Dr. Spinola was an early member of the faculty. The remainder is unrestricted and will go to the school’s Campaign for Clinics, which seeks to upgrade clinical infrastructure, and to support the new Health Science Education Building.

“The generosity of the Spinolas is humbling and sincerely appreciated,” said Dean Chiodo. “Their gift will be transformational for our School of Dentistry.”

Dr. Spinola, who received his undergraduate degree in microbiology from the UW in 1952, taught endodontics to post-doctoral and pre-doctoral students at the School of Dentistry even before there was a department devoted to the specialty. As the department grew and matured, his teaching focus shifted back to general dentistry and pre-doctoral students.

“Joe was one of the good guys. He was honest, straightforward, and said what was on his mind,” said Dr. Gerald Harrington, a longtime colleague who directed the school’s Graduate Endodontics Program for 29 years. “He was devoted to the school and the department.”

For several decades, Dr. Spinola was a general dentist in Kirkland, where his wife managed his practice before he retired in 2009. He served in the U.S. Army Air Force as a flight engineer from 1945 to 1946.

A native of Hawaii, he was descended from Portuguese immigrants who came to the islands in the 1880s from Madeira. Members of the family worked as “paniolos,” or cowboys, in Hawaii.

After his military service, Dr. Spinola left Hawaii to attend Seattle University. Within a month after starting school, he met fellow student Carole Delsman of Ferndale, Wash., the daughter of an oil distributor. The two were married in 1948, and Dr. Spinola later transferred to the UW to complete his undergraduate education and then attend dental school.

The Spinolas led a full, active life. They traveled the world, and kept a time share on the island of Maui. Dr. Spinola was a pilot who also owned a cabin cruiser, on which the couple cruised around Puget Sound and the San Juan islands and to Canada. Dr. Spinola was an avid swimmer, golfer, and tennis player, while Mrs. Spinola loved to ski.

The two “were savers, not spenders,” said longtime neighbor and close friend John Graham, a retired attorney. They invested wisely, including early purchases of Microsoft stock. Having no children, they left their entire estate to charity.

“It is so gratifying to have this level of support from our alumni,” Dean Chiodo said. “These funds will be used for facilities and programs that will benefit our students and patients well into the future. I think that the Spinolas would be very pleased to see what their generosity will accomplish.”

Delta Dental of Washington’s gift covers dental students’ exam fees

Fourth-year dental students taking the Western Regional Examining Board (WREB) licensure test may tell their patients that it won’t hurt too much. But with WREB application fees now totaling more than $2,600, those students feel the sting.

4th year student holding tray of dental instruments
Delta Dental of Washington picked up the tab for licensure examination fees for fourth-year students such as Corina Marcus.

However, a gift of more than $169,000 from Delta Dental of Washington, the state’s largest dental insurer, to the UW School of Dentistry’s Class of 2017 this spring will ease the pinch. As it has in several years past, Delta is covering the WREB fees for all 64 students who took the exam in March.

“After four years of dental education, most of our students have acquired significant financial debt, and there are numerous unplanned expenses they will likely face in the last months just before and after graduation,” said Carol Brown, the school’s director of student services.

“This generous gift from Delta Dental of Washington will ease some of that financial burden and remove some of the financial stress our students experience as they transition to professional life. The gift could not come at a better time.”

Kalob Lesh, president of the graduating class, expressed the students’ appreciation to Delta Dental of Washington and added: “With ever-increasing tuition for a dental education, students experience continued distress surrounding how to repay their loans. Contributions such as this help ease the burden of loan repayment. Thank you for your generosity.”

“This is an extraordinary gift and says a lot about Delta Dental of Washington’s commitment to the success of our school and students,” said Dr. Susan Coldwell, Associate Dean of Student Services and Admissions.

“Congratulations to the 2017 University of Washington School of Dentistry graduates,” said Jim Dwyer, President and Chief Executive Officer of Delta Dental of Washington. “At Delta Dental, we believe that everyone deserves a healthy smile, and we commend these new dentists for their commitment to improving oral health.”

The Delta Dental gift adds to a substantial record of support for the School of Dentistry during the last three decades. In that time, Delta Dental of Washington and its nonprofit arm, the Washington Dental Service Foundation, have earned UW Presidential Laureate designation, given to donors of at least $10 million, with gifts supporting dental faculty, staff and programs.

Delta Dental’s support was critical to the launch of the school’s new “Dentist of the Future” curriculum over the last several years, as it enabled the addition of critical faculty and staff positions. Delta Dental’s contributions also funded several task forces appointed by Dean Joel Berg to study all aspects of the school’s curriculum, clinical systems and administrative operations as work began on the new curriculum.

“I believe our new curriculum has already begun to have an impact on our standing among the world’s elite dental schools,” said Dean Berg, noting that the school has achieved a top-15 world ranking in each of the last two years in Britain’s annual Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings.

“Delta Dental of Washington has provided critical support for us all along the way, and with this latest gift, they have reaffirmed their commitment to helping us produce dentists who will set the standard in oral health care.”

School announces new $2.3M gift from Delta Dental of Washington

In another major boost for the School of Dentistry’s transformation, Delta Dental of Washington has announced a gift of $2.3 million in support of Dean Joel Berg’s Dentist of the Future initiative.

This marks the third and biggest gift by Delta Dental for the initiative, for a total of $5.4 million since the end of 2012. Since 1987, Delta Dental of Washington and its Washington Dental Service Foundation have given the School a combined total of nearly $16 million, making them by far the School’s largest and most consistent supporter.

“I am thrilled and grateful to have Delta Dental of Washington’s support for our Dentist of the Future initiative,” Dean Berg said. “Their support has been absolutely essential to our transformation.”

Delta Dental’s Dentist of the Future gifts have underwritten the addition of several key leadership and staff positions needed to undertake the initiative, which includes a new third-year clerkship program of clinical rotations and a new fourth-year general practice model. Delta Dental’s funding has also supported the work of the task forces that Dean Berg appointed and charged with evaluating the School’s administrative operations, organization, curriculum and clinical systems.

“What has made Delta Dental’s support so critical is that it allowed us to implement a unified vision for transforming our School rather than doing it piecemeal over a long time, which was not feasible,” Dean Berg said. “Our initiative has so many interrelated components that this was the only way we could proceed.”

The Dentist of the Future initiative has also included a comprehensive curriculum revision that places even greater emphasis on evidence-based instruction and interprofessional education. It incorporates advances in science and technology and reflects emerging trends in dental practice and the integration of oral health into overall health.  It also includes a restructuring of the School’s administrative operations to promote greater efficiency and utilize modern lean-management business techniques.

“I am delighted that Delta Dental shares our vision for the Dentist of the Future, which will help us remain a national leader in dental education,” Dean Berg said.

“At Delta Dental, we strongly support Dean Berg and his compelling vision for the future of dental education and what dentistry can be,” Jim Dwyer, president and chief executive officer of Delta Dental of Washington, said at the time of the initial gift in 2012. “We believe his plan will help ensure that the people of Washington will continue to receive the highest standard of patient care, and we fully share that goal.”

Over nearly 30 years, Delta Dental of Washington’s support has underwritten advances in oral health research and interprofessional education, expanded community outreach, provided scholarships for under-represented minorities and met critical needs for UW dental students. Delta Dental of Washington and its Washington Dental Service Foundation have supported every department in the School and established five major endowments to support faculty, students and programs.

In addition, Delta Dental of Washington and the Washington Dental Service  Foundation provided the lead gift of $5 million – at that time the largest philanthropic gift in the School’s history – to launch construction of the UW Center for Pediatric Dentistry, which opened in 2010 at Seattle’s Magnuson Park in partnership with Seattle Children’s hospital.

Delta Dental gift helps ease dental students’ burden

Despite the grueling intensity of licensing board exams at the end of March, fourth-year UW dental students could still smile about one thing: Someone else was footing a large chunk of their costs.

Thanks to the extension of an earlier gift by Delta Dental of Washington, all students taking the Washington Regional Examining Board test had their application fees fully underwritten, to the tune of more than $2,200 per student.

Delta Dental began underwriting the cost of the exams with a two-year gift covering 2013 and 2014 and then extended its support with a gift of more than $145,000 this year.

“It’s absolutely huge,” said Carol Brown, Director of Student Services, “and it comes at just the right time for students.”

Fourth-year class president David Ludwig also said Delta’s support made a big impact.

“Delta Dental of Washington’s generosity not only eased the financial burden of the exam, but also let us focus on screening patients for this clinical and professional milestone,” Ludwig said. “On behalf of the Class of 2015, I want to express our enthusiastic appreciation to Delta Dental of Washington for this very welcome gesture of support.”

Over nearly 30 years, Delta Dental and its nonprofit arm, the Washington Dental Service Foundation, have been the School of Dentistry’s biggest supporters. Delta Dental’s gifts, which have provided support for faculty, students and programs, have earned it University of Washington Presidential Laureate designation, given to donors of at least $10 million.

“Delta’s support has also been absolutely instrumental in helping us begin to transform the School of Dentistry to produce a true dentist of the future,” said Dean Joel Berg.

He noted the company’s recent gifts totaling more than $3 million in 2012 and 2013, which enabled the addition of several critical faculty and staff positions. The funding also underwrote the work of several task forces appointed by Dean Berg to study all aspects of the school’s curriculum, clinical systems and administrative operations.

The task forces’ work and recommendations have led the school to the threshold of major changes, including a new “clerkship” system of student clinical rotations that begins this summer. A fully revamped curriculum will also be launched starting in fall quarter this year, and the school also plans to phase in a more intensive fourth-year clinical practice model during the 2015-16 academic year.

Delta Dental gift honors area dentist’s memory

Dr. Jack Neal, a prominent Seattle-area oral and maxillofacial surgeon who passed away on April 15, will be honored with a new endowment at the School of Dentistry.

Dr. Jack Neal
Dr. Jack Neal

The Delta Dental Jack E. Neal Endowed Fund for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery will be launched with a $50,000 gift from Delta Dental of Washington, on whose board of directors Dr. Neal served for eight years.  The endowment will provide financial support for pre-doctoral and post-doctoral students studying in the school’s Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery program.

“Our school greatly appreciates Delta Dental’s generous support of one of our key programs,” said Dean Joel Berg. “It’s a very fitting and meaningful way to honor the memory of an outstanding dentist who was thoroughly dedicated to serving the community.”

“We are grateful for the opportunity to have served with Jack on the Delta Dental of Washington Board of Directors,” said Joanna Lohkamp, chair of the board. “Jack brought to the board a warm and generous nature that contributed to better decision-making across stakeholders. With this gift we’re pleased to celebrate and recognize Jack’s distinguished service to his profession and to our company.”

Dr. Neal, who practiced in Seattle and Kirkland for 40 years, served terms as president of both the Washington State Society of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons and the Western Society of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. He was active in the Seattle King County Dental Society and the Washington State Dental Association, and served on several boards including the Washington Physicians Health Program and the Physicians and Dentists Credit Bureau.

In addition, he provided charitable care for patients through the Washington State Dental Association Access Program and the Donated Dental Services Program.  He also played an instrumental role on the Delta Dental board in helping provide dental care to more than 800 underserved children throughout King County.

After graduating from Furman University in South Carolina, Dr. Neal received his DDS from the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. He then served in the U.S. Army Dental Corps in Frankfurt, Germany.

After his military service, Dr. Neal entered the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery residency program at the University of Iowa, where he pursued clinical and laboratory research on bone grafting and reconstruction and received a master’s of science degree.  In 1973, he moved to Seattle and began private practice in Kirkland. He was certified by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in 1976.

“The Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery is grateful to Delta Dental for its leadership in supporting OMS education, and to Dr. Neal for his outstanding contributions to the profession,” said Dr. Thomas Dodson, chair of the department. “The vitality of our educational activities ensures that the UW will be the program of choice for top candidates.”