The University’s dental school has received its largest private gift ever — $27.68 million — and the school is being named for the benefactor, the estate of Dr. Claude A. Adams III of Durham.
The school’s new name — the UNC Claude A. Adams Jr. and Grace Phillips Adams School of Dentistry — honors Adams’ parents.
Officials said Adams’ gift was inspired by the school’s long commitment to making a world-class oral health education accessible to students and a high standard of care available to patients in North Carolina. Part of the gift, they said, will create merit scholarships for qualifying students and add to existing scholarship funds. Additional funds will support professorships and staff awards, helping the UNC Adams School of Dentistry to continue to recruit top faculty and staff.
Further investment will extend the student service-learning program. Students currently work side by side with practicing dentists at 50 partner sites in 35 North Carolina counties, giving students a hands-on opportunity to address patient needs in underserved areas. UNC Adams School of Dentistry students provide more than $3 million of in-kind services to North Carolinians each year.
Adams, who died in 2018, practiced dentistry in Durham for almost 25 years. He earned his undergraduate degree from Duke University in 1942 and his dental degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1949. His previous gifts to Carolina’s dental school include scholarships for nearly 100 students. One such gift is the Dr. Claude A. Adams Jr. and Ms. Grace P. Adams Scholarship, awarded to four students a year. Pegah Khosravi-Kamrani, a 2021 doctorate of dental surgery candidate, is one student who currently holds this scholarship.
“The scholarship from Dr. Adams has allowed me to better focus on my academics and service career goals in dentistry,” Khosravi-Kamrani said. “By reducing my financial burdens, I can devote more of my time and energy toward my aspiration of helping others facing dental hardships, traveling to underserved areas both local and abroad to provide care and continuing to seek knowledge and perspective throughout my career. I am honored to be a recipient and determined to uphold the integrity of this scholarship.”
“This is an incredible, transformational gift for our school,” said Dr. Scott De Rossi, dean of the school. “Dr. Adams III was a local dentist who, like his father before him, was dedicated to excellence in our profession. He knew a gift of this size would enable us to continue leading the way in oral health education. With this gift we can deepen our commitment to students through additional scholarship dollars and also to our community through increased financial support for service trips in North Carolina. It is an honor for our school to now carry the Adams name.”
Kevin M. Guskiewicz, interim chancellor, added: “The UNC Adams School of Dentistry is a leading school in education and research, patient care and community service. This generous gift from Dr. Adams will help the school advance its work and focus on harnessing emerging technologies, developing new health-care delivery models and training the next generation of dentists. Its commitment to helping the people of North Carolina is clear — nearly 50 percent of our state’s dentists graduate from our dental school.”
The school admitted its first class of 40 students in 1950, establishing North Carolina’s first dental school. The school now averages 82 students in each class. In-state students make up 75 percent of those pursuing doctoral degrees in dental surgery. Each year, 36 students enroll in the school’s bachelor of science program for dental hygiene. The school also offers 14 advanced dental education programs. In 2017 and 2018, it was rated the No. 2 dental school worldwide according to Academic Ranking of World Universities released by the Center for World Class Universities.
The dental school becomes the fourth named professional school at Carolina, joining Kenan-Flagler Business School, the Gillings School of Global Public Health and the Eshelman School of Pharmacy.