Montemorelos, Mexico …. [Nancy Yuen/ANN]
Though the journey from concept to reality took 40 years, the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Universidad de Montemorelos in Mexico has completed its quest to open a dental school. They recently held opening ceremonies for the Dr. Lloyd Baum School of Dentistry with the first freshman class, which started training in August.
The opening ceremony, held in conjunction with the university’s 62nd anniversary, began with speeches and mariachi music. Faculty, students and guests from throughout Mexico and the United States gathered in the new auditorium.
Among the speakers were the new dean of the dental school, Dr. Lloyd Bau; Hector Hernandez, an orthodontist from Victoria, Mexico; Pastor Ismael Castillo, university president; and Xeno Marcel, M.D., director of the health science center.
Though the school officially opened in this year, the seeds were planted nearly 40 years ago when Baum, one of the original faculty members of Adventist-owned Loma Linda University School of Dentistry, or LLUSD, became involved with Montemorelos in the 1960s.
Baum said the dream started when he was invited to speak in Mexico at an annual meeting of dentists — Grupo Estudios Odontolohicos de Monterrey — in 1965. He was invited back the following year and brought along Dr. Robert Kinzer, a professor of restorative dentistry at LLUSD.
“The second encounter,” says Dr. Baum, “cemented my relationship to the group and they graciously invited me to become one of their members, working with them to recruit speakers for future meetings.”
At the time, the Inter-American region of the Seventh-day Adventist Church was developing a medical school at Montemorelos and, Baum, excited about the work he was doing with the Grupo Estudios, became interested in the possibility of developing a dental school in Mexico.
Baum and Kinzer, then president of the National Association of Seventh-day Adventist Dentists (NASDAD), drew up a proposal for a dental residency program that was submitted to leaders at the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist church. They also began fundraising in preparation to purchase building materials to construct facilities for the clinic and faculty housing.
Baum and others also worked to convince church leadership that a dental school in Monterrey was needed. But the school had many starts and stops, becoming first a dental residency program with the understanding that if it was successful, church officials would seriously consider opening a dental school. The school soon morphed to include a program that offered dental laboratory training.
Harry Vega, an Adventist laboratory technician from Colombia, and his wife started the laboratory training program. Working 12-to 14-hour days, he did landscaping, road-building, plumbing, electrical work, and construction, in addition to dental laboratory teaching.
The clinic opened in 1984 and was operated with the help of volunteer Adventist dentists and dental students from LLUSD. NASAD members were also teaching, even though the residency program had not officially begun, Baum notes.
In 2000, with the assistance of Loma Linda University and Grupo Estudios, the former residency program, was turned into a one-year intense training program for clinical candidates. Nearly 30 people have completed the program and are trained and ready as the need arises, to serve as faculty in the dental school. In the fall of 2003, the board of trustees of the Inter-American church region voted to start a dental school at Montemorelos, an action that culminated in the school’s recent opening.
Copyright © 2004 by Adventist News Network.