HIGH POINT — High Point University will invest $150 million to develop a new dental school that will become the only one in North Carolina on the campus of a private college, HPU President Nido Qubein announced Wednesday afternoon.

The HPU School of Dental Medicine and Oral Health will be housed in a new building near the campus entrance from Centennial Street. The university intends to welcome its inaugural class of a little more than 30 students for the 2023-24 academic year.

At full capacity, the dental school will enroll 180 new students for each academic year.

The dental school unveiling, which drew one of the largest in-person crowds for an announcement since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, continues the expansion of health care educational programs at HPU. In the past five years the university has established a School of Pharmacy and programs for physician assistant, physical therapy and nursing students.

“As HPU’s transformational growth plan continues, the university has continued to pursue additional health care programs,” Qubein said. “Establishing the state’s only private school of dental medicine and oral health reflects HPU’s commitment and innovative approach to health care education.”

Qubein told the crowd that the combination of the new dental school and completion of the basketball arena and conference center, now under construction, will lead to 300 new jobs.

During the announcement in an auditorium of Congdon Hall, Qubein introduced Dr. Scott De Rossi as the first dean of the HPU School of Dental Medicine and Oral Health. De Rossi comes to HPU after serving as a professor and dean at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Adams School of Dentistry.

The announcement drew elected officials such as U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, R-13th, Guilford County commissioners and members of the High Point City Council, as well as local business and community leaders and HPU students.

The dental school adds to the steady expansion of HPU since Qubein became president 16 years ago. Undergraduate enrollment has grown 217%, from 1,450 students in 2005 to 4,600 students for the current school year.

The geographic scope of the campus has spread 449%, from 91 acres in 2005 to 500 acres. Square footage of HPU buildings has expanded 515%, from 650,000 in 2005 to 4 million.

Qubein said that the university is approaching having a $1 billion economic impact on the greater High Point community, and the dental school will extend HPU’s impact further.

“High Point University’s health care programs have seen tremendous success, achieved academic prestige and produced graduates who are filling crucial health care positions,” he said.

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