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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Board of Governors calls for cheaper dental school plans

The Florida Board of Governors recommended Wednesday that UF rework its proposal to expand its dental program with Florida A&M University and return with a less costly proposal in January.

The Board, which was expected to vote on the proposal Wednesday, expressed support for the collaboration between the two schools, but several members balked at the proposed costs, which amount to $6 million in recurring funds by the program's fourth year.

UF and FAMU's proposal aimed to increase the number of dentists in Florida's rural and under-served areas and increase diversity of dental students by expanding UF's program by 48 students over the course of four years.

UF has requested an initial $2.2 million for renovations to the dental science building.

Some members voiced concerns about the cost to the state of each new dental student under the expansion.

UF President Bernie Machen countered that intense programs such as dental medicine have always cost more than others.

Board member Dean Colson reminded fellow members there is a problem with the lack of dentists practicing in under-served and rural areas of the state.

"I think it would be a worthwhile expenditure," he said.

The Board agreed to move the discussion out of the Strategic Planning Committee and hear a revised proposal with the entire Board of Governors at its next meeting in January.

The University of Central Florida on Tuesday withdrew its proposal for its own dental college.

"Although this innovative project does not require state appropriations, we are not moving forward at this time," UCF spokesman Grant Heston said in a statement. "We look forward to continuing to work on this project in the future."

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