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Giving to the School of Dentistry


The UTHealth School of Dentistry is pushing the boundaries of how we use data to improve clinical health care delivery and accelerate biomedical discovery. Join us on our journey to discover, innovate and impact.

Giving to the School of Dentistry not only supports our students, faculty and researchers, it also aids in paving the way for future advancements in the field of dentistry. At its core, the School of Dentistry aims to educate students as they pursue solutions in health care that will improve quality, reduce cost and increase access; won’t you join them in that pursuit?

This is how you can make a difference.

Dean’s Excellence Fund
In order to support a diverse set of strategic initiatives, this fund allows the Dean to strengthen the school's highest priorities. This may include faculty recruitment, student scholarships, infrastructure development or research funding.

These funds give exemplary students the tuition assistance they need to attain academic achievement in our graduate programs. These current-use funds are essential to the success of the school. Creating an endowed scholarship allows our institution to attract the finest students, many of whom might not otherwise be able to afford to nurture their talents without the benefit of this essential financial assistance. Scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit, but also may consider financial need and other factors, if the donor chooses.

Community Outreach
Research has shown that Americans often do not seek routine dental care because of financial, cultural or even physical challenges, such as lack of transportation. As a result, dental diseases disproportionately affect the poor, children and the elderly. Your gift will help us reach out to these under-served patients through our mobile dental vans and in cooperation with a wide network of community organizations. This work also inspires our graduates to give back whenever possible -- now and in the future.

Dental Hygiene Fund
The Dental Hygiene Program at UTHealth School of Dentistry provides baccalaureate-level education to dedicated healthcare professionals who are critical to the mission of dentistry. Your gifts will support scholarship and research, ensuring the best possible experience for our students.

Research Fund
A wide variety of research efforts are under way at the School of Dentistry, ranging from biomaterials to diagnostics to better treatment for many kinds of diseases, injuries and birth defects. Your gift will help support research in its earliest stages. Presentations, travel and opportunities to collaborate are all assisted through the School of Dentistry Research Fund.

Impact Fund
In 2012, UTHealth School of Dentistry launched the UTSD Impact Fund, a permanently-invested endowment designed to support faculty and staff excellence in teaching, research, and clinical care at the school.

Mobile Dental Van Project
One major reason people do not get dental care is transportation—they are unable to get to a clinic or dental office. The School of Dentistry operates two mobile dental vans, each serving a specific population and purpose.

For children: Our Ronald McDonald Care Mobile serves young patients in the greater Houston metropolitan area. Through our affiliations with groups such as Communities in Schools-Houston and CHRISTUS Foundation for HealthCare, school-based visits are scheduled, providing annual dental check-ups and care.

For adults: Our Mobile Dental Van serves the greater Houston area and has a long-standing commitment to provide care in the East Texas towns of Jasper and Orange. Services include initial screening and dental hygiene, as well as preventive and restorative dentistry for some of the most at-risk populations in Texas.

For more information or questions about specific funding opportunities, the Impact Society, events, or other ways to give, please contact us at or 713-500-3200.

Donor News

  • Powers’ gift will enhance restorative dentistry, prosthodontics research

    Dr. John Powers

    Strengthening a well-established legacy of generosity to research at the School of Dentistry, John Powers, PhD, and his wife Susan Powers, PharmD, named the school as a beneficiary for part of their estate — a planned gift estimated at $600,000.

    Their commitment continues the tradition of giving the couple began in 1999 when they established the John and Susan Powers Dental Student Research Fund. In 2013, they created the John M. Powers, PhD, Professorship in Oral Biomaterials in the Department of Restorative Dentistry and Prosthodontics.

    The Powers’ estate gift will elevate that professorship to a distinguished professorship, increase the corpus of the student research fund, and establish the John M. and Susan M. Powers Dental Endowed Research Fund.

    John Powers is a professor of oral biomaterials in the Department of Restorative Dentistry and Prosthodontics and has a long and distinguished career in academic dentistry. He has authored more than 1,000 scientific articles, abstracts, books and chapters, and he serves on the editorial boards of numerous dental journals.

    “We are humbled and deeply honored by the Powers’ decision to entrust us with these resources,” said John Valenza,  DDS ’81, dean of UTHealth School of Dentistry and holder of the William N. Finnegan III Distinguished Professorship in the Dental Sciences. “For so long, they’ve been strong supporters of the school and our efforts in dental discovery, and their continued philanthropic vision will greatly enhance our research abilities for years to come.”


  • Dr. and Mrs. Koo pledge $100K to support OMS postdoctoral program

    Dr. Steve Koo

    School of Dentistry alumnus Steve Koo, DDS ’99, and wife Jessica have pledged $100,000 to enhance the Steve and Jessica Koo Endowed Fund, which supports the postdoctoral program of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.  

    The university matched the Koos’ commitment through the recent Game Changers Initiative, increasing the fund by a total of $200,000.

    “I have realized throughout the years that I’ve been blessed with great training and great mentorship,” Steve Koo said. “It’s a small token to give back for the appreciation of all that we’ve been given.”

    The Koos also helped found the Thomas M. Weil Professorship in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, currently held by Clinical Associate Professor James Wilson, DDS.


  • Delta Dental gift means scholarships for promising pediatric dentistry students

    Delta Dental of California and its affiliated companies, which include Delta Dental Insurance Company, have established a $250,000 endowment to fund scholarships for future pediatric dental professionals.

    The endowment will make scholarships available to fourth-year dental and second-year dental hygiene students who have shown the most interest, knowledge and proficiency in pediatric dentistry.

    As the dental insurance provider for UTHealth employees, Delta Dental, has built a strong relationship with the school. The company demonstrated its philanthropic commitment in 2011 with a $350,000 donation to the School of Dentistry Building Fund.

    “Scholarships are invaluable for attracting the most gifted dental and dental hygiene students who will someday treat our community’s children,” said Gary Badger, DDS, MS, chair of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry and holder of the Catherine M. Flaitz, DDS, MS Professorship in Pediatric Dentistry. “Some of these students might not be able to afford an education without the financial assistance made possible by friends like Delta Dental.”

  • Alumni use Game Changers to create $1.7 million gift for UTSD

    Dr. John Helfrick

    Five alumni organizations of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Dentistry have pooled their donations to turn a combined gift of $853,000 into more than $1.7 million for the school, thanks to matching funds from UTHealth’s Game Changers Initiative.

    The Game Changers Initiative provided a dollar-for-dollar match, up to $1 million, for qualified major gifts to establish an endowment or add to an existing endowment. The largest single contribution – $800,000 – came from the Edward C. Hinds Academy Foundation, an association of UTSD’s Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery alumni, to establish The E.C. Hinds Academy Foundation-John Helfrick Endowment. Dr. Helfrick was a former chairman of the department.

    “This gift by our oral surgery alumni is transformational,” said Dean John Valenza, DDS, “and now the university’s matching funds will make their gift even more impactful. The Hinds Foundation has set a new standard for giving by an alumni organization. I’m delighted they have also chosen to honor former department chair, Dr. John Helfrick, especially in light of what this gift will mean for the department and the school.”

    Other alumni organizations that have contributed so far include:

    • The Periodontics Alumni Association of The University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston, to create the new UTHPAA Heritage Fund in support of residents, faculty and the department;
    • The Alumni Foundation – School of Dentistry at Houston, in support of a new fund for veterans’ oral health care;
    • The University of Texas – Houston Dental Hygienists’ Alumni Association, toward student scholarships;
    • and The Thomas W. Wild Pediatric Dentistry Foundation, adding to The Thomas W. Wild Pediatric Dentistry Endowment.

    Valenza said the Periodontics Alumni Association, in particular, embraced the idea of creating an alumni endowment as something they can promote among their members, with goals for giving and growing the fund.

    “They’re considering a mission statement that says, ‘Investing in the future through the vision of today,’” Valenza said. “It’s exciting to know we share that vision.”

    Another new endowment matched through Game Changers is the David B. Meraz Fund for Veterans’ Oral Health, which will support the school’s tradition of providing oral health care to underserved populations in the community. Valenza and his wife, Debbie Valenza, established the fund in memory of her father, a U.S. Army veteran. The fund also has support from The Alumni Foundation and various alumni donors.

    Others who share an interest in the goals these endowments will serve — oral and maxillofacial surgery, periodontics, veterans’ oral health and scholarships for dental hygiene students — may still contribute. For information about ways to help, contact Beth Wilson, senior development director with UTHealth.

    “I am especially grateful to UTHealth President Giuseppe Colasurdo for his support of our school by allowing us to use the Game Changers Initiative across the five alumni organizations who gave,” Valenza said. 

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