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Gifts totaling more than $27 million ensure construction of new OHSU School of Dentistry

Gene and Bonnie Skourtes’ $10 million philanthropic investment is the largest private contribution in the school’s 112-year history; longtime corporate advocates ODS and A-dec, Inc. also make lead gifts totaling more than $9 million

The Oregon Health & Science University School of Dentistry will build a new home at the OHSU Schnitzer Campus, thanks to significant philanthropic investment from Oregon’s dental community. Eugene and Bonnie Skourtes have pledged $10 million; ODS has committed $5 million; and A-dec, Inc. has pledged to provide state-of-the-art dental equipment valued at $4.35 million. Together with more than $8 million in additional commitments from donors across the region, these gifts launch a $43 million fundraising initiative that will ensure a second century of innovation and service for the school. 

Last year, OHSU convened a Blue Ribbon Panel of experts from across Oregon’s dental community to chart a new course for dental education in Oregon. Seeking to leverage the school’s plan to move preclinical dental education (the first and second years of a four-year curriculum) to the OHSU/OUS Collaborative Life Sciences Building under way at the South Waterfront, the panel recommended that the school simultaneously construct a state-of-the-art facility at that location to replace the dental school’s 1950s-era building on Marquam Hill. As a result of strong initial philanthropic support, OHSU President Joe Robertson, M.D., M.B.A., is recommending the OHSU Board of Directors approve construction of the new dental school facility at their upcoming meeting on June 30.

“Thanks to these transforming investments from Gene and Bonnie Skourtes, ODS, A-dec and so many others, we can initiate an exciting new era for dentistry in Oregon and beyond. Carrying out this vision will enable the school to train more dentists, serve more patients with expanded services, stimulate research and clinical innovation, and create a sustainable funding base,” said Jack Clinton, D.M.D., dean of the OHSU School of Dentistry. “We are profoundly grateful to the longtime friends who have stepped up to lead the campaign for our future.”  

“Finally, all the right factors have fallen into place – the right location, the right plan, and inspiring leadership from the dental community,” said Robertson. “Our exceptional philanthropic partners are creating a lasting legacy that will benefit every Oregonian. I strongly support moving this project forward.”  

Gene and Bonnie Skourtes’ investment is a natural expression of their commitment to promoting oral health in our region. Gene Skourtes graduated from the OHSU School of Dentistry in 1968 and went on to found Willamette Dental Group, a multi-specialty group dental practice providing dental care in more than 50 offices throughout the Northwest. Skourtes, a strong proponent of preventive dentistry, has been an active School of Dentistry alumnus for decades, establishing the Willamette Dental Foundation Student Scholarships in 2010, among other philanthropic commitments. 

“I am proud of the education I received at the OHSU School of Dentistry. Bonnie and I are honored to have the opportunity to invest in the next generation of dentists and in the tools and techniques they will need to improve their patients’ overall oral health,” said Gene Skourtes, D.M.D.

“Gene’s personal story of determination and achievement is an inspiration to all,” said Clinton. “He is a distinguished alumnus who believes that preventive dentistry can fundamentally improve human health. That kind of visionary thinking will challenge us in vital ways.”

ODS’s total investment of $5 million is the largest corporate philanthropic contribution in the company’s history and the latest in a long line of gifts to the school, including support establishing the ODS Scholars program and the Robert G. Gootee/ODS Companies Lectureship on Leadership and Professionalism. Founded in 1955 to provide affordable dental coverage for longshoremen and warehousemen, ODS today provides a range of health care products to customers throughout the Pacific Northwest.

“The OHSU School of Dentistry has graduated generations of our region’s best dentists. We are proud to play a role in helping the school carry out its ambitious plans and consider our gift a prudent investment in the health of all Oregonians,” said ODS CEO and President Robert G. Gootee, who volunteered many hours of his time to co-lead OHSU’s Blue Ribbon Panel on the future of the school.  

Newberg-based dental manufacturer A-dec has pledged to outfit the school with state-of-the-art dental equipment valued at $4.35 million. A-dec was established in 1964 and is now a top global supplier of dental equipment. Over the years, A-dec’s founders Ken and Joan Austin have forged a close and productive relationship with the School of Dentistry. Their willingness to provide leadership and donate equipment and expertise has earned them a unique place in the school’s history – and future. Ken Austin was also member of the Blue Ribbon Panel.

“The OHSU School of Dentistry has been a valued partner to A-dec for nearly half a century, so of course we were excited to be a part of the next major advancement. In contributing equipment to furnish the school’s clinic, we are doing our part to give Oregon dental students the best training available – and provide Oregonians with the best dental care possible,” said Scott Parrish, president of A-dec. 

“This is truly a measure of the strength and loyalty of Oregon’s dental community,” said OHSU Foundation President Allan Price. “These exceptional philanthropic partners have recognized the historic opportunity before us and invested at the perfect time. They are helping to transform dental education and the practice of dentistry. We are now more than halfway toward achieving our goal of raising $43 million in private philanthropic contributions to support the vision.”

“The OHSU School of Dentistry is integral to better oral health care for all Oregonians,” said Jay Lamb, chairman of the ODS Board of Directors. “I am proud to see it moving forward with this initiative.”

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