U of L School of Dentistry Reinvents Itself with $45 million of Renovations

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

 The University of Louisville School of Dentistry today marked the completion of a two-year renovation with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The $45 million project added more than 20,000 sq. feet and renovated another 211,000 sq. feet. The school had received few updates since it moved from Brook and Broadway to Preston Street in 1970.

“U of L has a mission to improve the lives of people in the Commonwealth, and this is a visible way in which we are accomplishing that goal,” said James Ramsey, PhD, U of L President. “If we are to provide the education and training for the next generation of health care providers for Kentucky, we must remain on the leading edge of teaching and training practices, which requires the appropriate investment in new technology. This renovation will enable our students to have the best possible learning environment.”

Luckett and Farley spent 8 months on the design of the new space and as well as the space that needed to be renovated. The renovation was not an easy task because of altering the infrastructure while patients were still getting care. In fact, faculty and staff were part of the design process which helped to ensure a more effective patient care flow in the clinics.

The renovation took approximately 21 months of construction with 375,000 man hours, where construction workers from the Messer Construction Company worked 24/7 to get the job completed in the shortage period of time. Dental faculty and dental students continue to work diligently so take care of 90,000 patients during the renovation.

Enhancements include updates to infrastructure, operatory equipment and clinical education support. There are 120 individual operatories for students and staff which increased the patient care area substantially.  The specialized lighting, flooring and soft wall colors on makes the treatment area more like going to a private practice rather than going to a dental school setting.

Other features include new digital radiography, incorporation of an electronic health records system and state-of-the-art classroom technology.  Improvements in patient waiting rooms and clinical space include new chairs, lighting, cabinetry and touch screen computer terminals. In addition, the main entrance has moved to the east side of the building – creating a safer area for patient drop-off.

“These upgrades are critical to competing nationally for high quality students, recruiting talented faculty and attracting patients who need care and who augment the educational experience of our students,” said David Dunn, MD, PhD, U of L Executive Vice President for Health Affairs.

“Collaboration among departments and disciplines is essential to treat and solve the complexities of oral diseases,” said John Sauk, DDS, MS, School of Dentistry Dean. “The renovated facility will foster a practice-based research network.”

The new patient simulation clinic provides students with a non-human patient which can simulate actual dental procedures that can provide effective student learning experiences. First year Dental Student, McKinley Soutt, from Columbus, OH, demonstrates how the dental simulator helps him learn proper techniques before he is exposed to patients in the dental clinic.

Our freshman dental student tour guide, John, was from Lebanon, TN. He said he had interviewed at 5 other dental schools and chose U of L because of the new technology, new operatories, the new patient simulators and the excellent new lecture halls because they were full of all types of new media and technology that would make their dental education experience exceptional. He said the class size increased from 80 to 120 students per year.

Senior dental student Caroline Curtis, from Alaska,  said students are very excited about the new opportunities.


“We have access to new technology like the digital scanner – an optical wand that allows us to take multiple pictures and build a three dimensional image on a computer – technology that will ultimately replace the traditional metal tray used to take an impression of the teeth,” Curtis said.


The improvements will have a far-reaching effect on the school’s capacity for innovation.



Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N, is a registered dietitian (www.DayByDayNutrition.com) who has been teaching healthy lifestyles strategies to consumers for over 35+ years. Check out Barbara’s new healthy lifestyles website: www.KentuckianaHEALTHwellness.com.