• October 28, 2017

The University of Illinois at Chicago on Oct. 28 launched IGNITE: The Campaign for UIC.

The College of Dentistry has announced its goal of $37 million as part of the overall $750 million campaign and our theme is “Changing the Future of Oral Health.” The public phase of the campaign will last five years and conclude on June 30, 2022.

“We are inviting everyone to play a critical role in the success of this transformational campaign for the College of Dentistry,” said Dean Clark Stanford. “We want each of you to be the spark that lights the fire within us and to join in a campaign like no other.”

During the IGNITE campaign, the College of Dentistry will leverage its world-wide status and position of leadership to improve the manner in which students learn and of how the profession impacts society. The College’s next important steps will directly address these challenges by creating a sustainable model of dental education, recruiting and retaining talented faculty and staff, promoting relevant research that includes basic and translational science, and increasing our focus and reach in community-based activities.

Through the success of the IGNITE campaign, we will: 1.) Redefine the model for student experience and success; 2.) Cultivate and empower faculty leaders; 3.) Drive life-changing discoveries; and 4.) Strengthen connection to our communities.

“Success in this campaign will propel us forward to where our students are performing at the top one to two percent in the nation, of not globally,” Dr. Stanford said.

IGNITE: The Campaign for UIC will provide the resources for the College to focus on five key areas.

Realize a new model of care: We will partner with fellow UIC health sciences colleges to realize a model of providing healthcare throughout northern Illinois and the State. We envision a model that allows patients to see a team of primary-care providers—dentists, physicians, nurse practitioners, and many others in the primary care team, all in one visit located in a clinic in their own community.

“The patients in the future are going to be much more complex in terms of their medical, social, and emotional history, and we’re going to have to provide an education that is immersive and makes our future graduates competent in that complex environment,” Dr. Stanford said. “They need to be able to operate within the primary care environment of the future where they are going to be working much closer with colleagues from all different parts of the healthcare system.”

Support students: The future of the College is in its people, so attracting and supporting the most talented and ambitious students is critical.

“The IGNITE Campaign from the College’s perspective is to really focus on student outcomes,” Dean Stanford said. “The best way to do that is through continuously improving our faculty, because faculty are an important part of the student outcomes, as well as increase the amount of student scholarships to support a broader range of students to be able to come here and be able to experience the profession of dentistry.”

He noted that scholarships are crucial because there is a concern that “people who traditionally would be excellent dentists aren’t even considering entering the profession because of the cost.”

“There are many ways to support the IGNITE campaign and we invite alumni and friends to create named endowed scholarships that are enduring or to designate their support to the A.C.E. Student Scholarship Fund, which provides current use scholarship dollars annually to help alleviate student indebtedness,” said Associate Dean for Advancement Mark J. Valentino.

Partner for innovation: We will enter into public/private partnerships where research interests align.

“There are two big areas of exploding science right now in the areas of health and healthcare,” said Dr. Lyndon Cooper, Associate Dean for Research.

“One is the area of ‘Big Data,’ which deals with everything from the microbes, the fungi, and the viruses that make up who we are,” Dr. Cooper said. “The interplay among them is so important to most of the chronic diseases we treat. Understanding that really is a computational issue. Big Data science provides strategic linkages and bridges to other expertise, and makes sure that dentistry plays a leading role.

“The other area extremely important for us is implementation science, looking at everything from design, to how a patient identifies that they have a health issue, to how they engage with a health provider, to how they get themselves—both individually as well as a population—to a state of health, and maintain that health,” Dr. Cooper said. “This is so important because this is where many of our other allied health colleagues are going, and dentistry needs to take a leadership position.”

In addition, Dr. Cooper said, the College is also particularly strong in regenerative medicine, and among the College’s IGNITE goals are obtaining funding for a Center for Regenerative Medicine and an Endowed Chair for its Director.

“Endowing faculty positions to retain and recruit the brightest and the best faculty will allow the College to build on the excellence of its research enterprise and donors who fund research projects will be our partners in incredible discovery over the next five years,” added Valentino. “Private support in this critical space also will give our students increased research opportunities at the undergraduate and graduate levels.”

Fund faculty excellence: We will secure endowed chairs and professorships to attract and retain the faculty expertise and bandwidth necessary to carry out the strategic goals we outline.

“Recruiting and retaining the very best faculty is one of the biggest challenges—there’s a lot of competition out there,” Dean Stanford said. “We have to make sure that when we recruit, that potential faculty member knows he or she is coming to a place of excellence.

“One measure of excellence is having endowed faculty positions, which provide additional resources to allow the faculty member to do great things, like trying innovative educational approaches, innovative science, and innovation in terms of addressing social equity issues,” he added.

Invest in infrastructure: We will continue to make strides in updating our infrastructure, technology, and learning environments to create a comfortable, contemporary, and welcoming environment for our students, staff, and the populations we serve.

“Students not only want the best in terms of faculty, but they want the best in technology,” Dr. Stanford explained. “They want to know that when they will have the best education they possibly can. That takes the creation of leading-edge facilities, so facilities are going to be an ongoing part of this.”

The College’s specialty departments also have compiled a list of fundraising priorities for the IGNITE campaign.

Dr. Stanford also noted that one of the features of the campaign “is to embrace and expand on our ability to intellectually visualize for the students their role in that process of improving equity of health—the role that they play in improving health for both the individual patient and the health of the community.”

He looks at the College’s future legacy as “to continuously create opportunities. To never shut doors because of cost, resources, difficulty, and challenges of a complex profession. We want to continuously create those opportunities to let everyone have a chance.

“Along with faculty, staff play an invaluable role in the education of our students,” Dean Stanford said. “The people who run this place day-to-day are the staff. Those are the people who also need to be supported, rewarded, and embraced with an invitation to be part of what is a high quality education and research enterprise as we provide excellent service to every one of our patients.”

"People are what makes this place work,” Dr. Stanford concluded.

Look for more information regarding IGNITE:  The Campaign for UIC and our effort to “Change the Future of Oral Health.”

For more information on the Ignite campaign, contact the College’s Office of Advancement at (312) 996-0485.

Photo Caption: The College of Dentistry contingent at the IGNITE kickoff included Dr. Budi Kusnoto, Interim Head, Orthodontics; Dr. Manal Ibrahim, member of the College's Alumni Board; Dr. Terry Sellke, longtime Orthodontics faculty member; Dean Clark Stanford; and Dr. Dale Nickelsen, longtime Pediatric Dentistry faculty member.

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