LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Even though it officially opened its doors to students in July, administrators and trustees from the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine joined with local, state and federal leaders Friday for the grand opening ceremony of the LECOM School of Dental Medicine.
The $52 million state-of-the-art School of Dental Medicine, at 4800 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., became the third dental school in Florida when it opened on July 16 to an inaugural class of 100 students. The cost of bringing the school to Manatee County includes building construction and the classrooms, equipment and laboratories.
On Friday John M. Ferretti, LECOM president and CEO, led members of the College Board of Trustees and local community leaders in a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
"It is the fullest expectation of the founders that the current and future needs of dental health will be served by the professionals educated and trained at the LECOM School of Dental Medicine," Ferretti said.
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchan
an, R-Sarasota, who spoke at Friday's grand opening ceremony, lauded LECOM as a "world-class institution."
Florida Dental Association Trustee Rudy T. Liddell, DMD, welcomed LECOM and Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh praised the professionalism of LECOM's students.
In January, LECOM's dental patient clinic opened to the public and students, guided by faculty members, have been providing full denture services at a reduced cost.
Part of LECOM's community service efforts involves providing service to homeless clients at the Bill Galvano One-Stop Center. LECOM has already provided more than $10,000 worth of denture and laboratory services for those clients. Comprehensive dental care will be available to the public next year.
The school plans to have an enrollment of 400 students by 2017. It will employ nearly 200 people, including faculty, administrators and dental hygienists, as well as technical, administrative and other support staff.