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Center of Excellence

Center of Excellence - Programs leading to careers in dentistry

In July 2012, a Center of Excellence to advance diversity in faculty and students at Texas A&M College of Dentistry was established through a $3.4 million grant to the college from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers of Excellence program.

This competitive grant program for health professions schools is intended to produce a quality health care workforce with racial and ethnic diversity representative of the U.S. population.

The College of Dentistry's five-year grant is titled “Bridge to Dentistry: Awareness to Practicing, Teaching and Research.” Dr. Ernestine Lacy, Associate Dean, Office of Student Affairs and Professor, leads the effort.

The Center of Excellence aims to expand the diversity of students the college enrolls and faculty that it appoints and retains. It builds on the successful pipeline program at the dental school, which has led the college to comprise the most diverse dental school enrollment in the nation.

It also bolsters the dental school’s ability to serve as a national resource and educational center for diversity and minority health issues and reinforces its commitment to improving access to care for underserved communities.

The center enhances programs that educate the college's students in providing health care services to diverse patient populations of off-campus, community-based facilities. A goal is to graduate dental professionals who are committed to improving the oral health of urban and rural underserved communities in Texas and beyond.

Information resources, clinical education, curriculum and cultural competence are emphasized as they relate to health issues of underserved populations. The center encourages faculty and student research in health issues that particularly affect minority groups who are underserved.

This comprehensive program links the Dallas Independent School District, three undergraduate institutions and community-based entities to provide activities involving Pre-K through dental students and dental faculty.

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as a part of an award totaling $3,493,000 with ~30% financed with non-governmental sources (Texas A&M College of Dentistry). The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit