Lyon College to receive $15 million in federal dollars for dental and vet schools

by George Jared ([email protected]) 668 views 

Lyon College will receive $15 million in funding from the federal government that will be used to form the school’s new dental and veterinarian schools. The U.S. Senate approved a legislative package of six appropriations bills in late March that includes funds for the Lyon College School of Oral Health and Dental Medicine.

“I’m proud to deliver investments to Arkansas that support growth and development as well as improve the quality of life for Natural State residents. These bills will enhance health services access and workforce capabilities to deliver quality care in addition to expanding our state’s national defense contributions,” said U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark.

“The appropriation supporting the creation of Arkansas’ first dental school is a game-changer for Lyon College and for the state,” said Dr. Melissa Taverner, Lyon College president. “Championed by Sen. Boozman, this funding will support the continuing development of the Lyon College School of Oral Health and Dental Medicine.”

“As we continue to meet benchmarks in our accreditation process with the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), we anticipate admitting our first class of dental graduate students in fall 2025, enabling us to educate healthcare professionals from Arkansas for Arkansas and beyond. We are grateful for the partnership with Sen. Boozman and his staff as we all continue to work to strengthen dental healthcare access and improve the quality of life for Arkansans,” she added.

In April 2022, Lyon College announced its plans to develop Arkansas’ first dental and veterinary medicine schools in Little Rock. The veterinary and dental schools will comprise Lyon College’s Institute of Health Sciences. Pending accreditors’ approvals, the college plans to begin offering classes for both schools in 2025.

“Oral health is essential to a thriving Arkansas, which is why it matters so much that Lyon College is making this critical, enduring investment in the health of our residents and the vitality of our state,” said Dr. David Hutchison, vice president for advancement at Lyon College. “This grant and Sen. Boozman’s championing of this initiative are a clear demonstration that bringing dental education to Arkansas is not just a Lyon College mission, but a priority for the people of Arkansas. This is for Arkansas.”

Including the 50 states and Puerto Rico, Arkansas ranked 50th in the United States – ahead of only Alabama – in the number of dentists per capita with 41.82 per 100,000 residents in 2019, according to the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine. The state is last in the number of veterinarians with 14.2 per 100,000 people, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers published at veterinarians.org.

“I sincerely appreciate Sen. Boozman and his staff for advocating for oral health in Arkansas. The state is in dire need of help as Arkansas ranks lowest in the nation in oral health and second to lowest in dentist to population ratio,” said Dr. Burke Soffe, founding dean of the Lyon College School of Oral Health and Dental Medicine. “With this funding championed by Sen. Boozman, Lyon College can move closer to providing a cost-efficient dental education for Arkansans to stay in the state. This alone will benefit Arkansas for decades to come. Furthermore, this funding will help facilitate our mission to address the oral health needs of the underserved in the state, improve access to care and enhance oral health literacy statewide. This funding will fundamentally benefit our effort to improve oral health in Arkansas.”