Texas Lawmakers Approve Funding for Hunt School of Dental Medicine at TTUHSC El Paso

Bill awaits Gov. Abbott’s signature

The Texas Legislature has approved a $250.7 billion, two-year state budget that includes an appropriation of $20 million to establish the Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso. The 86th Texas Legislative Session concluded on Monday, May 27. The spending bill now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk for his signature.

The Hunt School of Dental Medicine, expected to welcome its first class of students in 2021, will be the first in Texas in over 50 years and the very first at a health sciences center based on the U.S.-Mexico border.

An artist's rendering of the Dental Learning Center within the Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine.

An artist’s rendering of the Dental Learning Center within the Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine.

“We are very pleased that our state lawmakers recognized the need to close the gaps of dental health disparities in West Texas and support the creation of the Hunt School of Dental Medicine in El Paso,” said TTUHSC El Paso President Richard Lange, M.D., M.B.A. “I applaud our El Paso legislative delegation for their work in pursuing funding for the school, and thank the community for supporting our vision of improved dental health care for the Borderland and West Texas.”

El Paso has a 57 percent shortage of general dentists compared to the national average, and is designated as a Dental Health Professional Shortage Area by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The vision of a dental school for the region became a reality in 2016 when businessman Woody L. Hunt and his wife Gayle gifted $25 million to TTUHSC El Paso through the Hunt Family Foundation to establish the school. That gift was soon followed by a $6 million grant from the Paso del Norte Health Foundation to fund the dental school’s curriculum.

The Hunt School of Dental Medicine will be housed in the five-story Medical Sciences Building II, now under construction on the TTUHSC El Paso campus.