Dr. Blanton
Patricia L. Blanton DDS, PhD

“Do not wait; the time will never be ‘just right. Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.” - Napoleon Hill 

It seems like only yesterday that we welcomed the incoming Class of 2017, and now they have graduated with all of the requisite pomp and circumstance. As many of you personally experienced, we enjoyed a most successful honors convocation made more special with the added experience of dental professional parents hooding their children.

Now, as a new academic year begins, we should pause to reflect on the immediate past. In the summer of 2016, I was asked to serve as interim dean of the College, following the retirement of Dean Jack Sanders. Much of that summer was spent providing regular updates to the leadership and our constituents to ensure accountability and transparency in the administration of our College. Over subsequent months, and with the support of genuinely dedicated faculty, staff and students, I am proud to report that our collegiate environment remains stable and well-poised for sustainable growth.

The James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine is strong, academically progressive, financially stable and prepared for the Accreditation Site Visit in September.

In preparation for accreditation, we committed to three specific goals: 1. recommit resources to the education mission, 2. ensure fidelity, transparency and rigorous oversight in financial transactions and, finally, 3. increase efficiencies and potential revenue from the clinical practice domains. These three goals, above all else were, considered mission-essential for our College.

I also take particular pride in having had the opportunity to represent South Carolina’s only dental school. Since its founding in 1967, it has remained one of the most respected of its kind and has become a leader in inter-professionalism. It consistently and historically graduates top clinicians (67 percent of whom practice in South Carolina) who boast the greatest percentage of alumni support of all six MUSC colleges. We deliver more than 65,576 clinical care visits per year, generating more than $9 million in revenue in a clinical building that has become a model for other schools. In addition to the DMD degree, the college grants DMD/MS and DMD/ Ph.D. degrees, has a strong basic science didactics with cadaver dissection and is ranked among top 29 in the nation for research funding. Our public health program received $5 million in grants and participates in a variety of outreach programs. Our clinical curriculum includes care in seven outreach clinics, is high-ranking in digital dentistry and is distinguished for its special-needs clinic. Our school is a showcase for evidencebased dentistry that is offered as a model for a national program and is one of only two dental schools that houses an affiliated museum (Macaulay).

It is an honor to report on the following recent achievements and to recognize that our successes are made possible because of our faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends. It’s a testament to what can be achieved when we work together with a shared vision.

Successes for the 2016/2017 Academic year:

  • Administrative and financial components restructured to enhance accountable leadership and productivity and increase funding with more balanced funding portfolio19 new/replacement hires (faculty & administrative staff)
  • 95 percent of CDM faculty rated as effective educators
  • 93 percent of graduating seniors reported their education was good, very good, or excellent, with an 11 percent increase in graduating seniors reporting their education to be very good to excellent
  • 84 percent of pre-doctoral curriculum above the institutional standard, up from 76 percent last year
  • Practice Management/Critical Thinking/Collaborative Learning curricula enhanced
  • Selected from consortium of five schools to become beta test site for competency mapping with the potential to revolutionize healthcare curricula
  • Launched “Pride of Place” with renovations and upgrades throughout Basic Science Building
  • Clinical Revenues up by 14 percent this calendar year
  • Computer replacement policy established ensuring cutting edge software and hardware for both the clinics and simulation lab
  • Task Force on Continuing Education created to establish a business plan to meet expressed educational needs of alumni and practicing community at large
  • Legislative Advisory Workgroup (LAW) created
  • Safety Net Dental Practice Certificate Program launched for students and residents
  • New technical assistance and analytics partnership with The Duke Endowment created to support its new oral health grant portfolio
  • Established the North Carolina- South Carolina Oral Health Research Consortium to advance evidencebased oral health policy in the Carolinas.
  • Dedicated the Alumni Board Room (BSB 451) to our alumni for their loyal support.
  • Seated the Class of 2021, from more than 1,200 applicants

Finally, I am excited to introduce to you our recently appointed dean, Sarandeep Huja, whose academic experience and leadership skills no doubt will take our College to the next level. An orthodontist, Dr. Huja comes to us from the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry and will assume his position on Oct. 1.

I thank all of you for your support of our College and for your support of my service as your interim dean. Ironically, my favorite quote regarding achievement comes from Helen Keller, a woman of great vision in spite of her lack of sight. “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement,” she said, and with hope and confidence, there is really nothing that you cannot accomplish as you continue to achieve for the College.