8. Dr. Timothy Hottel has a punch list to complete and a deadline to do it by.
As the new dean of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Dentistry, his tasks are to renovate a 33-year-old building, raise the money to pay for the improvements and revamp a program that was once ranked among the best in the nation.
Next year, the College of Dentistry could face accreditation problems because of outdated equipment and a faculty shortage.
Although he’s been on the job for only five months, Hottel is making progress. He has added two key faculty members and upped the timetable for a crucial renovation.
Out to hire well
One of the new faculty members, Dr. Franklin Garcia-Godoy, followed Hottel to Memphis from Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Garcia-Godoy, who has authored dental textbooks and more than 370 articles in scholarly journals, came on board this month as the new dean of research. His focuses include biomaterials, tooth erosion and teeth whitening.
“We will be building new labs for Dr. Garcia-Godoy,” Hottel said. “He does a lot of clinical research that’s very applicable to private practice. He’s very, very well known.”
Dr. Lina Cardenas agreed last week to become the chair of pediatric dentistry. She will be coming to Memphis from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.
Cardenas will be making history as the first woman to chair a department within the College of Dentistry.
“She’s a young lady who is full of energy,” Hottel said. “I’m trying to hire younger faculty because we need younger faculty to build up so that when older ones like myself leave, we’ll have people that will be in their place.”
Hottel currently has 12 faculty positions to fill.
“I’ve got some others coming of similar quality,” Hottel said. “We are really going out to find the right people to fill the spots. I have a commitment from the chancellor’s office to go forward with these positions.”
Time for a cleanup
In discussing the needed renovations, Hottel will joke about the ugly pink curtains in his basement office when his primary concern is actually what’s happening on the fourth floor, which is ground zero for keeping accreditation. It is the clinical area for pre-doctoral students.
The American Dental Association Commission on Accreditation is scheduled in March to inspect the college and review its program – which happens every seven years.
“With the fourth floor, we are $200,000 shy of having all the money to do that and we are going forward with that project starting in September,” he said. “When I came here, I was told we would be lucky if that project got started by the time accreditation came here. I said we can’t do that.”
When the accreditation team arrives, the renovation to the clinical training area will either be complete or nearing completion, he said.
“Eventually, the entire inside of the building is going go have to be changed and modernized,” Hottel said. “We’re 33 years old and there’s lots of problems, mechanically, structurally, etc., so we’re going floor by floor, area by area, and redoing. That’s a challenge, but one that I feel like we will be able to meet.”
Back to greatness
The UTHSC College of Dentistry has a rich history. Founded in 1878, it is the oldest college of dentistry in the South and the third-oldest public dentistry school in the U.S. Over the past three decades, the college has suffered from a decline in state funding and budget cutbacks.
Former Gov. Winfield Dunn, the man that the dentistry building at 875 Union Ave. is named after, warned the state Legislature in March that the program could lose accreditation. His comments generated media attention, but no additional state dollars.
Dunn is also the honorary chairman of a capital campaign to raise $15 million from private donors.
So far the campaign has $2.8 million in the bank and more than $6 million in pledges. Big donations have come from Delta Dental of Tennessee and Delta Dental of Arkansas.
However, the campaign is also reaching out to alumni.
“What we’ve been doing is going to areas where there is a concentration of UT alumni, having either dinners or just little social gatherings,” Hottel said. “Sometimes, it’s been at someone’s house as a private party for six people to do this campaign.”
As the college focuses on raising money for needed renovations, Hottel said, it will not neglect its community service mission. The college is a partner with the Church Health Center and the Christian Mobile Dental Clinic. It is also working with the state of Tennessee to open a community dental clinic in an impoverished area of Jackson, he said.
A goal in Memphis is to improve the visibility of the College of Dentistry, he said, having discovered that many city residents don’t even know it exists.
“My biggest goal long-term is to pull this school up from where it’s at and put it up in the top 10 schools in the country, where it historically has been,” Hottel said....