EL PASO, Texas - Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso houses hundreds of medical and nursing students and is looking to expand its campus.
The university is working to bring a dental school to El Paso. While it is still in the preliminary stages, TTUHSC president Dr. Richard Lange said it is very much needed in the region.
Lange said previous studies have shown a 70 percent shortage of dentists in the area.
A current feasibility study, approved by the Texas Legislature and the state's higher education board, is looking at whether a dental school can be successful in El Paso.
"I think when the studies are completed, that will be a definitive yes," Lange said.
Lange and TTUHSC interim dean Dr. Richard Black have been traveling across the nation visiting other dental schools.
"That will help solidify the study we're doing," Lange said.
The study is expected to be complete in a year and a half and after data is presented, the dental school would need approval by the state and higher education board and accreditation.
The dental school already has financial backing from the state and other organizations.
The Texas state budget approved during its regular session gave TTUHSC El Paso $142 million, some of that money will go to the dental school.
Last year, the Paso del Norte Health Foundation gave the university a $6 million grant to help develop curriculum for the school and hire faculty mambers.
The Hunt Family Foundation has also donated millions to TTUHSC.