Quick Facts: 

Penn Dental Medicine's Office of Diversity Affairs & Inclusion runs recruitment programs to attract underrepresented students, including the Summer Mentorship Program, and the School District of Phila./Oral Health Academy at Penn Dental Medicine. 

As Penn Dental Medicine nears completion of a two-year renovation of its historic home in the Evans Building, there are many new sights to behold: new classroom, study, and clinic spaces, a state-of-the-art simulation clinic, and a reimagined library that meets the needs of today’s students while preserving the building’s original architectural details. But the next change the School hopes to see has to do with the students that study there.

Since 2010, Dr. Beverley Crawford, Director of Diversity Affairs and Inclusion, has committed to increasing the diversity of students enrolled in the School. Penn Dental Medicine is facing a great and urgent need for scholarships for underrepresented minority and disadvantaged students, as well as funding to support its pipeline and community outreach programs designed to build diversity.

“Penn Dental Medicine is interested in attracting and supporting these students because we feel that a student body that is representative of the community-at-large fosters respect for other cultures and provides the skills our students need to serve an increasingly diverse population,” says Dr. Crawford.

The cost to attend dental school can be staggering. Although tuition accounts for nearly $72,000 annually, books and fees bring the cost closer to $110,000 to $115,000 per year. To help offset the expense, the School awards scholarships up to $30,000, but for many, it isn’t enough. The lack of available funding often lands top candidates at other schools, even if Penn was their first choice.

In a small class of about 125 total students, diversity matters even more. In the Class of 2017 and the Class of 2018, only four of ten accepted African American students chose to enroll. “We can do so much better,” says Dr. Crawford. “These are students who worked hard all their lives to be here. They are competitive and qualified, but we are losing them to peer institutions that can offer more scholarship money or lower tuition.”

Recently, Penn Dental Medicine has announced the Million Dollar Challenge Grant. Through this challenge, once the $1 million goal is reached, Penn Dental Medicine will double the amount available each year for scholarship awards.

“To continue building a dental profession that closely reflects the diversity of our society and the population, it is critical that dental schools actively encourage applications from candidates who demonstrate potential for the profession and who come from diverse backgrounds,” says Stanley Bergman, board member and chair of the board’s Diversity Committee.

The Office of Diversity Affairs and Inclusion also works to increase diversity in dental medicine by maintaining pipeline programs at every level of education. The Summer Mentorship Program, a month-long immersion experience for ten Philadelphia high school students, provides lab and facility tours, SAT prep, one-on-one mentorship and more. The program is funded by the Provost’s office and supplemented with in-kind gifts of instruments and lab materials from former students.

Penn Dental Medicine has also partnered with A. Philip Randolph Career and Technical High School to create the School District of Philadelphia Oral Health Academy at Penn Dental Medicine, which provides hands-on experiences and learning opportunities at the School.

Watch the video to learn more about Penn Dental Medicine’s diversity efforts, and click here to make a gift.