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Dental alumnus makes $1 million gift to Medical University

Couple’s gift to help build state’s first dedicated dental education building

Charleston, SC, (January 14, 2008) - Columbia dentist Dr. Harold Jablon and his wife Irene have made a $1 million gift to help the Medical University of South Carolina build the state’s first facility designed exclusively for dental instruction.

As a member of the MUSC College of Dental Medicine’s first class, Jablon said he had long felt a sense of obligation to give back to the school that had given him so much.

“Being part of a new school, my classmates and I always felt like pioneers,” said Jablon. “We felt like we helped set the standards that came to define our College, and I believe we should still help pave the way today through the development of the school’s first dedicated clinical instruction building.”

Since it opened in 1967, the MUSC College of Dental Medicine has operated in space designed for purposes other than dental instruction.  Its first classes were taught in an old, undersized building that has since been demolished.  In 1970, the College relocated to its current home in the University’s Basic Science Building, which provided more space but nevertheless was built primarily to train medical students.

Faced with growing enrollment and a shortage of modern, functional space, the University’s Board of Trustees in 1999 approved a proposal to build a new educational facility for the College of Dental Medicine.  Furthermore, they agreed that the College should be named in honor of oral surgeon and MUSC President Emeritus Dr. James B. Edwards.

The College of Dental Medicine broke ground for its new education center in August 2007 and is expected to open in the fall of 2009.  The building is estimated to cost approximately $61 million to build and equip. Of this amount, the state Legislature has so far agreed to commit $21 million toward the effort.  The remainder is currently being financed by short term notes, the Medical University and private benefactors.

Jablon said his decision to help fund the new building was rooted firmly in his deep gratitude for the educational experience he received there.  After graduating from dental school in 1971, Jablon worked in a Navy clinic in Jacksonville with 17 other dentists from Harvard, Iowa, UNC-Chapel Hill and other highly esteemed dental schools.

“That’s when I realized how much I owed the Medical University,” said Jablon. “I felt like my training was as good as or better than all of theirs.  Over the years, the school has allowed me to build a successful career as a dentist. I feel very fortunate in that respect. I have friends who are 50 or 60 years old who have never thoroughly enjoyed what they do for a living, but I have been able to live my dream.”

Jablon said that, when the University issued a call for private support to help fund the new building, there was never any doubt he and his wife, whom he met while in dental school, would respond enthusiastically.

“Very few people realize how little state support the University receives: less than 10 percent,” he said. “It makes you want to do everything you can within your means to help the school. This College has always excelled didactically and clinically speaking. It’s so exciting to think about what we will do with the most modern and superior facilities in the country. It’s going to be incredible.”

The Jablons’ gift will help the College build a new center designed to greatly enhance the convenience and effectiveness of the college’s patient-care experience.  Located on the first floor of the new dental building, the Jablon Center for Diagnostic Sciences will bring together the Oral Medicine, Radiology and Treatment Planning Clinics, as well as their patient waiting areas.  Because it will house activities currently performed in different locations across campus, the center will allow patients for the first time to be assessed, diagnosed and staged for treatment, all in one central location. 

Dental Dean Jack Sanders described the Jablon Center as “an invaluable hub for the students’ clinical education experience and the backbone of their future knowledge. 

“I am thrilled that through Harold’s and Irene’s contribution, our College will be able to provide state of the art diagnostic services and equipment for our patients.  Additionally, the Jablon Center for Diagnostic Sciences will be an invaluable resource for private dental practitioners statewide who cannot afford to house I-CAT equipment in their smaller practice settings. We will be happy to be a referral center for those practitioners to provide the latest in radiographic equipment for their patients.”