EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The health care colleges in El Paso will soon see a boost thanks to the finalized state budget.
The Texas State Budget is set at $250 billion in total. About $20 million of that will now help the creation of a new dental school at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.
The Woody L. Hunt School of Dental is the first dental school being built in Texas in over 50 years. Also, the first health sciences center at the U.S.-Mexico Border. The closest dental school to El Paso currently is in San Antonio.
According to Texas Tech University, Health Sciences Center El Paso has a 57 percent shortage of dentists compared to the national average.
Dr. Richard Black, the soon-to-be Dean of the dental school says the money from the state is thanks to El Paso lawmakers who worked hard to make sure this project was successful.
”To have a school in an area which is West Texas and the Borderland where the need is so great and the number of dental professionals is certainly low is a great thing and it’s a wonderful thing for El Paso as well as Western Texas,” said Black.
The school is currently being built on the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso Campus and is expected to be completed in July 2021.
Another school that will receive money from the state is the School of Pharmacy at UTEP, which will receive $6.5 million. The School of Pharmacy was started in 2015, however, they did not start enrolling students until 2017.
According to the Dean of the School of Pharmacy Jose O. Rivera that impacted the school’s revenue, the money from the State will help fill that gap.
“As we speak were upgrading facilities in here putting more technology upgrading the learning environment in a way that maximizes the effectiveness of what we’re trying to do,” said Rivera.
Currently, the school has a little more than 150 students, and expect to soon have around 240. However, Rivera says before they can enroll more students they need to hire more staff, which is where the state funds will help the most.