Summer Programs at the University of Connecticut Aim to Increase the Number of Black Dentists

According to a recent JBHE survey, there were 1,108 black students at the nation’s 56 dental schools. But 449 of these students, or nearly 41 percent, were enrolled at the nation’s two historically black dental schools at Howard University and Meharry Medical College. At more than one half of the nation’s predominantly white dental schools, blacks make up less than 4 percent of the total enrollments.

One predominantly white dental school which is making a concerted effort to increase black enrollments is the University of Connecticut. Backed by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the University of Connecticut’s School of Dental Medicine identifies promising black undergraduate students and invites them to campus for a summer program before their senior year. The students go through rigorous training to prepare them for the Dental Admission Test.

Of the 12 students who have participated in the University of Connecticut summer program over the past two years, 11 have scored high enough to gain admission to one of the nation’s dental schools. Students from the program who are admitted to any U.S. dental school return to the University of Connecticut in the summer after they graduate from college for a two-month academic immersion program that gives them a head start on their dental education.

The program has helped increase black student enrollments at the University of Connecticut dental school. In 2006 blacks made up 10 percent of the total enrollment at the school. Just five years earlier in 2001, blacks were only 1.9 percent of the total enrollments.