BC names first dean for dental school - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

BC names first dean for dental school

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Dr. Francis G. Serio Dr. Francis G. Serio

BLUEFIELD (NEWS RELEASE) - Bluefield College, a private Christian college in southwest Virginia, has named the inaugural dean for its School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Francis G. Serio, a professor of dentistry and associate dean for clinical affairs from East Carolina University, who has served in various academic fields since 1981, will serve as the inaugural dean, bringing more than 30 years of experience to the BC Dental School.

The School of Dental Medicine at Bluefield College will work to train individuals to be able to provide critical dentistry needs to the underserved Appalachian area. Dr. Serio is experienced in dental school development and administration, having worked with ECU during the construction of its new dental school building and the opening of the school in 2011. He also demonstrates a passion for serving the underserved. 

"We are blessed to have Dr. Frank Serio coming as the inaugural dean of the School of Dental Medicine at Bluefield College," said BC president, Dr. David Olive. "His vast experience, including the launch of a new dental program at ECU, and his heart for service and lifelong commitment to giving back to the community makes him the ideal person to found this new program."

Dr. Serio will begin working for Bluefield College in June of 2013.       

"I am truly honored to be named the founding dean of the Bluefield College School of Dental Medicine," said Dr. Serio. "My career has been dedicated to the education of general dentists and serving the underserved."

Dr. Serio is an editor of and contributor to the International Dental Volunteer Guide, an American Dental Association publication educating dental practitioners about volunteer opportunities. His involvement in the publication is a testament to his passion for service.

"This position allows me the opportunity to help bring a tremendous resource to southwest Virginia that will train general dentists for the region and help set up a system to provide care not only at the dental school clinic in Bluefield, but also across the region in select community health centers," said Dr. Serio. "In addition to the improvement of the health care network, this school and the many ancillary activities will provide a significant economic shot in the arm to Tazewell County and the surrounding area. My wife, Cheryl Serio, and I are excited to be a part of this tremendous endeavor."

Dr. Serio's work with the ECU School of Dental Medicine provides an excellent foundation for his training of dentists to serve the Appalachian area. That school wasfounded training well-rounded dentists to bring dental care to underserved regions of North Carolina. The School of Dental Medicine at Bluefield College is being founded on the same principles, as it is designed to address the growing shortage of dentists and dental care professionals in southwest Virginia and Central Appalachia.

"This new school will help address the longstanding health needs of southwest and southside Virginia, as well as throughout Central Appalachia," said Dr. Olive. "Our dispersed clinical model will place our students in underserved areas throughout the region, which hopefully will reverse the negative health trends experienced by our children. By educating students from Appalachia, our hope is that many of these students will stay in Appalachia. I believe this school will positively impact the lives of many through improved oral healthcare and transform communities throughout Tazewell County and beyond. And, I am confident Dr. Frank Serio is the ideal person to help bring this vision to reality."

This vision of bringing students into the school from the Appalachian area and then sending these individuals out into their communities as trained dental practitioners is one that will benefit local areas as well as Appalachia as a whole.

"This dental school is important to Tazewell County and our region," said Jim Spencer, county administrator for Tazewell County. "I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Serio a few weeks ago and spend some time with him. I was impressed with his abilities and vision for the new school. This is a huge step forward with the announcement being made today."

In addition to Dr. Serio's passion for education and serving the underserved, his work at the ECU School of Dental Medicine shows a combination of qualifications andexperience that will be essential for the position of inaugural dean at theBluefield school. These include serving as an associate dean for clinical affairs, as well as the interim vice dean since 2011. His work was primarily focused on the main clinical facility, Ross Hall, located in Greenville, South Carolina. He has also been involved with the development and construction of Community Service Learning Centers.

During his time at ECU, Dr. Serio managed a $9 million capital equipment and investment budget. His other responsibilities at ECU included bid processing and purchasing for all clinical purposes and equipment. He also was in charge of executing the clinical operations plan, which included recruiting, hiring and training staff, development of the standard operating procedures and policies, and interacting with the clinical departments to ensure that clinical procedures are designed to work with the anticipated clinical training requirements of each department. 

Since January of 2010, Dr. Serio has also been the chair of the Information Technology Steering Committee, and he has been involved with the selection and integration of clinical technology. He also has a reasonable working knowledge of educational technology.

Dr. Serio has been published on multiple occasions, having written several textbook chapters, three monographs, three books, including a textbook on clinical periodontics, articles in 14 periodicals, as well as a variety of other published writings. Additionally, Dr. Serio is the founder and past director of the Dominican Dental Mission Project, a volunteer program providing dental care to the rural poor of the Dominican Republic, another testament to his passion for serving the underserved. Dr. Serio first traveled to the Dominican Republic in 1982, and after seeing the needs of the Dominican poor, returned the next year with four other dentists. The project was honored on its respective 10th and 20th anniversaries by receiving the President's Volunteer Action Award in 1991 and the Daily Points of Light Award in 2001.

"Dr. Serio brings a unique set of skills that focus on knowledge of the specific requirements necessary to construct a dental facility, knowledge of the accreditation process that will be required to be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, as well as a commitment to dental volunteer missions," said BC's Dr. Robert Shippey, vice president for academic affairs.

For more information about Bluefield College or its School of Dental Medicine, visit the BC web site at www.bluefield.edu, or call 800-872-0176.

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