Missouri Dental School


Members of the stage party turn the dirt for at the clinic site.

Members of the stage party turn the dirt at the clinic site.

ST. LOUIS – A groundbreaking ceremony for A.T. Still University-Missouri School of Dentistry & Oral Health’s (ATSU-MOSDOH) new St. Louis, Missouri, dental education and oral health clinic was held on Friday, April 25, 2014. The new 79,000-square-foot building will be located at the intersection of Truman Parkway and Park Avenue, a short distance east of La Fayette Square.

“Not only will this school provide an incredible opportunity for students to get hands-on, real world experience in a clinic setting, but it will also provide oral health services that are in critical need in this community,” said Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon.

Remarks were also made by several St. Louis dignitaries, including Mayor Francis Slay, as well as ATSU President Craig Phelps, DO, ’84, and Christopher Halliday, DDS, MPH, ATSU-MOSDOH dean. Grace Hill Health Centers Inc., represented on stage by Alan Freeman, president and CEO, will manage the clinic in partnership with ATSU.

“On these grounds you will see individuals, families, and communities being taken care of,” said Dr. Phelps.  “When we see young men and women from these neighborhoods fulfilling their dream to become a healthcare professional, working in this clinic, and returning to this community to provide healthcare to the people of St. Louis and Missouri, we will have reached our ultimate goal.”

The groundbreaking concluded with a ceremonial turning of the soil by the stage party, ATSU’s Board of Trustees, and the 42 members of ATSU-MOSDOH’s inaugural class of 2017.

Musick Construction and Cannon Design, both of St. Louis, will serve as  the general contractor and architect for the project, respectively.  For more information on the new clinic, visit www.atsu.edu/mosdoh.


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KIRKSVILLE, Mo. – A.T. Still University of Health Sciences (ATSU) has contracted Musick Construction as its partner for building the University’s new St. Louis dental education and oral health clinic for the Missouri School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-MOSDOH). Musick Construction is a St. Louis-based general contractor with more than 100 years of experience in the construction industry as a family-owned business.

“ATSU is pleased to work with Musick Construction on this important project. Improving lives of Missourians through increased access to oral healthcare and education are goals important to ATSU, Grace Hill Health Centers, and Musick Construction,” said ATSU President Craig M. Phelps, DO, ’84.

The new 79,000-square-foot building, designed by Cannon Design, will be located at the intersection of Truman Parkway and Park Avenue, a short distance east of La Fayette Square. The new facility is part of the City Hospital redevelopment effort.

“Musick Construction is honored to participate in the development of ATSU’s dental clinic in St. Louis.  We are certain ATSU-MOSDOH will be one of the nation’s preeminent dental schools and an asset to the St. Louis community, as well as the state of Missouri and the entire Midwest region at large,” said Don C. Musick, III, CEO, Musick Construction Co.

After spending two years on the Kirksville, Mo., campus, ATSU-MOSDOH students will relocate to St. Louis for third-year and fourth-year clinical experiences at the newly constructed clinic operated in partnership with Grace Hill Health Centers Inc. (GHHC). Under faculty supervision, students will deliver care to a full spectrum of patients including children, adults, geriatric patients, the disabled, the homeless, and the uninsured. Students will see approximately 9,400 active patients annually resulting in more than 39,200 annual encounters.

ATSU-MOSDOH and GHHC will employ approximately 95 professionals at the clinic who will provide needed oral health services and instruct dental students. The groundbreaking ceremony will take place Friday, April 25, 2014.


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Kim Butler Perry DDS MSCS (1)KIRKSVILLE, Mo. Christopher G. Halliday, DDS, MPH, dean of A.T. Still University’s Missouri School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-MOSDOH) is pleased to announce Kim Butler Perry, DDS, MSCS, has accepted the role of associate dean, clinical operations/director of dental services for the University’s new dental education and oral health clinic in St. Louis. The clinic is a pioneering collaboration between the University and Grace Hill Health Centers, Inc. (GHHC), its operations partner. Dr. Perry will assume her duties with the University and GHHC beginning April 21, 2014.

“Dr. Perry’s extensive experience in academia, public health, and clinical dentistry will augment well the innovative clinical training ATSU-MOSDOH students will receive,” says Dean Halliday. “She will be a very welcome addition to the School, and her extensive knowledge of clinical dentistry and dental education will greatly benefit the community served by ATSU-MOSDOH students and Grace Hill Health Centers.”

“GHHC is delighted Dr. Perry is coming on board,” said Alan Freeman, GHHC president and CEO.  “This multifaceted executive role is key, and we believe she is a perfect fit.”

Dr. Perry most recently served as associate dean of clinical affairs and associate professor for the Office of Restorative Sciences at Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry in Nashville, Tenn. She received her DDS in 1988 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry, Chapel Hill, N.C., and in 2006 was selected as the first dental faculty member in the United States into a NIH Roadmap Clinical and Translational Research Scholar Master’s Program. Dr. Perry completed her master of science in clinical science degree with distinction from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas.

Dr. Perry’s experience spans more than 25 years in leadership and clinical care in oral health, in addition to a broad range of research focusing on health disparities, health promotion disease prevention, and vulnerable children.  She has received numerous awards and recognitions throughout her career including several Army commendation and achievement medals focused on dentistry and service.

ATSU-MOSDOH’s St. Louis dental education and oral health clinic will provide comprehensive, state-of-the-art oral healthcare in a community health center setting for some of Missouri’s most underserved, including those without access to care, and serve as a “home” for the School’s third- and fourth-year student clinical experiences.


A.T. Still University’s Missouri School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-MOSDOH) was founded to address the disparities in oral healthcare in Missouri and across the nation. One of only two dental schools in the state, ATSU-MOSDOH will graduate a new generation of community-minded dentists who have an in-depth understanding of and a commitment to serving at-risk populations. For more information, visit www.atsu.edu/mosdoh.



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mosdohKIRKSVILLE, Mo. At its August 2013 meeting, the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) adopted a resolution to grant initial accreditation to A.T. Still University’s Missouri School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-MOSDOH), a new dental school and only the second in the state.* Initial accreditation was the final step needed before the school could welcome its inaugural class and begin classes on October 1. Selected from 954 applicants, the student body will comprise 22 women and 20 men from 19 states, including nine students from Missouri.

The mission of ATSU’s Missouri School of Dentistry & Oral Health is to increase access to oral healthcare for Missouri’s most vulnerable populations. The number of dentists in the state is declining, while the underserved population and demand for dentists are rising.

Central to the new school’s curriculum is extensive, in-depth clinical training inside community health centers (CHCs), as called for in a 2011 Institute of Medicine report. In Missouri, CHCs care for 420,000 vulnerable residents, or 25 percent of the total number of low-income and uninsured citizens. Collaboration with CHCs for on-site clinical education is the most effective way to break down the barriers to care faced by Missouri’s underserved populations.

Unlike any other dental school in the Midwest, graduates of ATSU’s Missouri School of Dentistry & Oral Health will earn a certificate of public health, in addition to a doctor of dental medicine degree (DMD), which will prepare a workforce uniquely qualified to care for diverse, underserved populations. Partnerships with CHCs are expected to increase retention within the state’s oral health workforce by encouraging graduates to practice public health dentistry.

“We are very pleased with CODA’s decision to grant initial accreditation,” said ATSU President Craig Phelps, DO. “It means ATSU may begin educating a new generation of oral healthcare providers to meet the needs of our state and nation. Our “hometown” partnership program with CHCs will allow young women and men from underserved communities the opportunity to receive a degree and return home. Each dentist returning to his or her community will not only provide needed oral healthcare and public health expertise, but will also provide a valuable, positive economic impact.”

Said Christopher Halliday, DDS, MPH, dean of the new dental school, “We are grateful to CODA for enabling us to move forward with our mission to educate community-minded oral healthcare professionals through a groundbreaking, innovative model of dental education.” Dr. Halliday has spent his career caring for the underserved in Alaska, New Mexico, and Arizona, and advocating on their behalf, most recently as assistant surgeon general of the United States.

Students will not have to wait until they graduate to begin filling the gaps in Missouri’s dental care. During their third- and fourth-years, they will be embedded inside Missouri CHCs, where their clinical education will include treating patients under supervision of faculty dentists. This will allow the centers to reach an additional 11,500 patients each year. 

Students will be involved in every aspect of dental care from prevention to rehabilitation. They will work with the full spectrum of underserved patients, including children, adults, geriatric patients, the disabled, the homeless, and the uninsured.

ATSU-MOSDOH’s most comprehensive CHC relationship will be with St. Louis’ Grace Hill Health Centers, Inc. (GHHC), which provides primary medical, dental, and behavioral health services to a large segment of the city’s low-income and uninsured population. Beginning in the summer of 2015, GHHC in partnership with ATSU, will operate an expansive new 85-operatory dental clinic. After spending two years on ATSU’s Kirksville, Mo., campus, students will relocate to St. Louis for third-year clinical experiences at the ATSU-GHHC-operated clinic. During the fourth-year, students will divide their time between St. Louis and additional CHC locations throughout Missouri and the Midwest, who are partnering with ATSU.

 Alan O. Freeman, GHHC’s president and CEO, said, “A brilliant aspect of the ATSU model is that it benefits the patients we serve from day one. And, the students will be able to develop an unusually nuanced understanding of the skills needed to care for our patients in their communities. This is a remarkable opportunity for Grace Hill and other participating CHCs, and we are very thankful for it.”

“ATSU’s partnership with Grace Hill is the first of its kind in the country and an exciting development for the community health center movement,” said Gary Wiltz, MD, chair of the National Association of Community Health Centers Board of Directors and member, ATSU Board of Trustees. “We hope it will be a model for other dental schools of how to make oral healthcare an integral part of primary care services.”

The relationship with GHHC is just one of the critical partnerships enabling ATSU to realize its vision of an innovative model of dental education. In fact, it was a collaboration with the Missouri Primary Care Association (MPCA) that facilitated ATSU developing relationships with GHHC and the other CHCs.

Said MPCA’s CEO, Joseph E. Pierle, “This curriculum, with its emphasis on placing students inside the communities most in need, reflects the out-of-the-box thinking needed to fix the problem here in Missouri and around the country.”

The Missouri Foundation for Health also provided support to ATSU’s new dental school by awarding $3 million in grants toward its development. Beginning with its inaugural class, ATSU-MOSDOH will help transform dental education by graduating community-minded dentists who will help address the shortage of oral healthcare providers and improve access to oral healthcare among underserved areas and populations.

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* The developing program in dental education is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation and has been granted the accreditation status of initial accreditation. The Commission is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education. The Commission on Dental Accreditation can be contacted at (312) 440-4653 or at 211 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611. The Commission’s web address is: http://www.ada.org/100.aspx.


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KIRKSVILLE, Mo. – The Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH) recently awarded a Year 3, $1.5 million grant (effective April 1, 2013) to A.T. Still University (ATSU) to assist the University with further development of its new and innovative dental school based in Kirksville, Mo. MFH has provided $1.5 million since 2011 to assist the University with the initial feasibility/planning and development phases. ATSU plans to open its innovative Missouri School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-MOSDOH) with its first class of 42 students in the fall of 2013, pending accreditation.

The goal of ATSU-MOSDOH is to educate and produce a new generation of community-minded dentists who will help fill widespread oral healthcare workforce gaps in rural and urban communities, specifically within safety-net settings where outreach to underserved patients is achieved. The curriculum includes a focus on public health.

ATSU President Craig M. Phelps, DO, states, “MFH and ATSU have similar missions focused on improving and increasing access to oral healthcare among Missouri’s most vulnerable populations. With the ongoing support provided by MFH and the creation of strong partnerships with Missouri’s community health centers (CHCs), ATSU is confident its new community and public health-focused dental school will successfully fulfill its mission and increase opportunities for inter-professional education among providers statewide.”

“We are proud to partner with ATSU’s Missouri School of Dentistry & Oral Health and its commitment to increasing oral health services to Missourians,” said Robert Hughes, President and CEO of Missouri Foundation for Health. “The School’s dedication to serving the underserved has the potential to have an exceptionally significant impact on dental and oral health services in Missouri.”

Missourians, particularly high-risk populations, continue to struggle in terms of accessing dental care services. The state ranks 41st in the nation relative to adults who visit a dentist annually. In particular, adults aged 35-44 years with less than a high school education experience untreated tooth decay nearly three times that of adults with at least some college education. Access to care is compounded by a lack of dental insurance, geographic and financial barriers, and shortages of dental providers—among other factors. Approximately 70 dentists are retiring each year in the state, while only about 45-50 are starting new dental practices. In essence, Missouri’s overall supply of dentists is declining, while the state’s population and demand for dentists are rising. ATSU’s intent is to respond to this growing gap in oral healthcare.

Christopher G. Halliday, DDS, MPH, serves as the inaugural dean of ATSU-MOSDOH. Dr. Halliday’s vast professional experiences include serving the underserved in areas as remote as Barrow, Alaska, for three years; and serving seven years with American Indian populations in New Mexico and Arizona. In several posts in Washington, D.C., he was a leading advocate for access to dental care and possesses extensive expertise in the fields of oral/public health – a track record that sets a strong example for ATSU-MOSDOH faculty and incoming students.

“ATSU-MOSDOH will utilize a progressive curriculum, which fosters an inter-professional learning environment,” said Dr. Halliday. “We will train dentists to treat individual patients and assure that they are capable of developing oral health promotion and disease prevention programs for entire communities.”

ATSU’s emerging four-year dental curriculum in Missouri will involve two years of pre-clinical, interdisciplinary oral health education on the University’s Kirksville campus in a new 62,000-square-foot, $26 million, state- of-the-art educational facility—which is slated for completion in June 2013. The final two clinical education years will be delivered primarily in cooperation with Grace Hill Health Centers Inc. in St. Louis, Mo., via a new 50,000-square-foot, $23 million clinic and via collaborating CHC partner sites throughout Missouri and beyond. This community-based clinical model sets ATSU’s Missouri dental school apart from others and maximizes the best teaching resources of academic and public health dentists.

“During the third and fourth academic years, dental students will provide much needed care and service to disadvantaged populations by working in community-based clinics,” added Dr. Halliday. “Through community service and scholarly activity, our goal is to raise awareness within our graduates of the significant impact and role oral health has on the overall health status of vulnerable populations, thereby creating a new generation of oral healthcare providers for today’s complex healthcare environment.”

Successful ATSU-MOSDOH graduates will earn the doctor of dental medicine (DMD) degree plus a certificate (or optional master’s degree) in Public Health, the latter in cooperation with ATSU’s online School of Health Management. In addition to the public health emphasis, the curriculum interweaves human systems and dental science courses to enable graduates to understand, analyze, and make decisions about disease, which are in the best interests of their patients, patient families, and communities.

“We are grateful for the continued support provided from MFH during the development of Missouri’s newest dental school,” adds Dr. Phelps. “ATSU-MOSDOH has the potential to transform dental education by addressing
the shortage of dental providers and improving access to oral healthcare.”

Once launched, ATSU-MOSDOH will be one of only two dental schools in Missouri and the only dental school in the Midwest dedicated, at a mission level, to enhancing oral healthcare for the underserved.

Missouri Foundation for Health is an independent philanthropic foundation dedicated to improving the health of people in our region. MFH works as a changemaker, educator and partner to promote community health and increase access to care for the uninsured and underserved.


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