Dental grads support clinical program with pledge

During their senior year, students in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry practice in community-based and private-practice dental clinics. This preceptorship experience made a significant impression on members of the Class of 2009.

At a recognition dinner in April, 24 soon-to-be D.D.S. graduates each pledged to give $2,009 over the next five years to their alma mater in support of the preceptorship program. Their combined gift totals $48,216. In addition, members of the dental hygiene Class of 2009 pledged $7,232 to the school.

Class President Eric Whidden said the group was inspired by last year’s graduating class, which was the first since 1962 to make a graduation pledge as a group. He sees the pledge as a way for the class to say thank you to the faculty and staff of the School of Dentistry and to provide resources to enhance the experiences of future dental students.

“It’s important to give something of yourself back. It shows the value of your education,” he said. “I think it’s important to invest in the people who have invested in you.”

Members of the class collaborated to determine how their collective money should be spent, he said. They agreed the preceptorship program was a worthy cause. In addition, the class made the gift in honor of Dr. Frank Robertello, who retired in June from teaching first-year operative dentistry.

“I’m honored to be included in this magnanimous gift,” Robertello said.

The school’s preceptorship program gives students opportunities for clinical enrichment by visiting public sites such as free clinics, many in rural areas, to provide dental care to those who might not otherwise have access.

Kim T. Isringhausen (B.S. ’95; M.P.H. ’04), assistant professor of dental hygiene and director of the preceptorship program, sees the gift from the school’s newest alumni as a testament to the significance of the program in their clinical experience.

“For them to so unselfishly give money they haven’t even yet earned to enhance the program — it’s phenomenal. It will only make the experience better for the students who will follow behind them,” she said. “Most importantly, this is a gift that extends beyond the school and has a much broader impact and will be felt throughout the VCU community and the commonwealth of Virginia.”

Because they work in the clinics and can assess the needs, students will provide feedback to Isringhausen to help determine where the money will be spent each year.

“As students, they were experiencing first hand the powerful impact of alumni giving on the quality of their education,” said Jim Doyle, director of alumni engagement for the dental school. “As graduates giving for the benefit of future students, they are creating a remarkable example of alumni generosity in action.”

To make a gift to the School of Dentistry, contact Jim Doyle, director of alumni engagement, at (804) 828-1138 or