Woody L. Hunt School Dental School
The Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine is the first dental school in West Texas. Its inaugural cohort of 40 students will start classes in July. | Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters

Hunt School of Dental Medicine’s Academic Dean Honored with Prestigious Award from Texas Tech University System Chancellor

It didn’t take long for the new Hunt School of Dental Medicine to be recognized for excellence. The Texas Tech University System Chancellor honored the school’s academic dean on Feb. 24, just months after the school welcomed its inaugural class.

Wendy Woodall, D.D.S., MAGD, professor and associate academic dean of the Hunt School of Dental Medicine, received a 2022 Chancellor’s Council Distinguished Teaching Award. Chancellor Tedd L. Mitchell, M.D., presented her with an engraved medallion and $5,000 stipend during the TTU System Board of Regents meeting on the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso campus.

“Faculty members are an integral part of all we do at the Texas Tech University System,” said Tedd L. Mitchell, M.D., chancellor of the TTU System. “Through their research, outreach and mentorship, they impact our students, our communities and the world. I am proud of the excellence and leadership our award winners exemplify as they conduct innovative, meaningful research and guide our students and institutions to even greater success.”

Chancellor’s Council Distinguished Teaching and Research Awards recognize academic excellence across the TTU System. The honors are the most prestigious awards granted to faculty throughout the TTU System. The awards are funded by gifts to the Chancellor’s Council, a giving society that supports the chancellor’s priorities across the TTU System. Since the honors were established in 2001, 219 faculty have received awards totaling more than $1.3 million.

Dr. Woodall was instrumental in getting the Hunt School of Dental Medicine prepared for its inaugural class of students. TTUHSC El Paso President Richard Lange, M.D., M.B.A., credits Dr. Woodall along with school Dean Richard C. Black, D.D.S., M.S., for preparing the most innovative dental education curriculum in the country, just as the Foster School of Medicine did with medical education when it was established more than 10 years ago.

“She knew exactly what needed to be done to turn our vision into what is now the Hunt School of Dental Medicine,” Dr. Lange said. “She’s one of the most humble people you will ever meet, and she’s changing dental education in the U.S. from right here in El Paso.”

Since arriving in El Paso, Dr. Woodall said her No. 1 goal has been to prepare the Hunt School of Dental Medicine for the inaugural class, which began in 2021. She never expected to be given any awards, but was honored and humbled to even be considered.

“It’s been really fun to get the Hunt School of Dental Medicine opened,” Dr. Woodall said. “Of course, I cannot take credit for what we’ve done here. It’s been a team effort, and we have an excellent group of students. With the dedication of everybody involved, it’s really come together well, and that’s going to benefit El Paso, the Borderplex region and West Texas.”

The Hunt School of Dental Medicine offers a unique education for students through culturally competent, hands-on training and an introduction to early clinical experiences among a diverse population. As part of curriculum requirements, dental students learn conversational and medical Spanish, allowing them to bridge language and cultural barriers to deliver the highest quality of oral health care.

A first for any dental school in the nation, Hunt School of Dental Medicine students begin clinical training and patient interaction during their first semester. Additionally, one-of-a-kind community immersion courses encourage interprofessional collaboration with Foster School of Medicine students, while also providing insight into the social factors that affect health in the Borderland.

“I’m looking forward to the growth of the Hunt School of Dental Medicine as our students become active in our clinics and out in the areas we serve,” Dr. Woodall said. “In about one more year, we’ll start to get out more into the community. It’ll be four years of constant changes before we graduate the first group, but I think they’ll be four amazing years.”

As of 2020, El Paso County had 50% less dentists in the region when compared to the average for the state of Texas. In the past 10 years, only 22 out of 2,390 Texas dental school graduates have chosen to practice in West Texas. Because most graduating dentists establish their practices in proximity to their dental schools, the Hunt School of Dental Medicine will help alleviate the severe shortage of dentists in the Paso del Norte region.

In addition to her duties at the Hunt School of Dental Medicine, Dr. Woodall has been involved with Texas Missions of Mercy, Remote Area Medical and the American Dental Association’s Give Kids a Smile program. Prior to coming to El Paso, she was a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she also worked with various service clinics caring for children, sheltered women and the homeless.

 

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