A Message From Dean Huja

Sarandeep Huja
June 27, 2023
Congratulations to the Class of 2023!
Congratulations to the Class of 2023!

Dear James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine alumni and friends,

It is always both a pleasure and honor to share updates with you this time of year.

It could be said that the 2023 academic year is one for the record books with: a very strong performance by our students on the Integrated National Board Dental Exam, many planned and actualized curriculum enhancements, significant progress toward the long-anticipated integration of the Epic health record system, and the simultaneous rollout of the college’s restructuring initiatives.

We graduated the Class of 2023

Their hard work, and that of our incredible faculty and staff, especially through the COVID-19 pandemic, is evidenced by their 98% first-time pass rate on the Integrated National Board Dental Exam and their successful transition to private practice and residency programs.

Rising third-year dental students received their white coats

Students standing with Dr. Huja at white coat ceremony. 
The White Coat Ceremony on June 9 celebrated the entrance of our third-year dental students into the clinical portion of their education.

We welcomed 78 students in the incoming Class of 2027

As the state’s only dental school, we have profound responsibility to prepare the next generation of leaders and providers for the oral health needs of the future.

For the sixth year in a row, we have succeeded in holding tuition steady, thanks in large part to our generous alumni, friends and state support.

We announced an advancement in the college’s organizational structure for the new academic and fiscal year

The goal of the department restructure is to enhance the fulfillment of the college’s mission, ensure continuous quality improvement, and position the college as THE dental college known for innovation and education as it rises to national prominence. The college will function effectively and efficiently with better alignment of clinical, education and research collaborations through a new academic department structure. Following the delivery of a 2022 external consultant’s report and further engagement with faculty and staff, MUSC leadership and Board of Trustees approved a three-department structure with three to four divisions and approximately 22 faculty members in each department. Much of the existing structure is legacy-based, rather than functionally aligned. The new structure allows the college to achieve imperatives of expansion and integration with greater impact. The restructure will facilitate enterprise-wide opportunities for growth and build clinical and educational synergies across all work units. It takes effect July 1.

Dr. Sompop Bencharit, assistant dean for Innovation, and chair, Department of Reconstructive and Rehabilitation Sciences, will be supported by division chiefs Dr. Monica Cayouette, Division of Pre-Doctoral Prosthodontics, and Dr. James Loe, Division of Restorative Services.

Dr. Theresa Gonzales, chair, Department of Advanced Specialty Sciences, will be supported by division chiefs Dr. Martin Steed, Division of Surgical Services & Applied Technology, and Dr. Hua-Hong (Ben) Chien, Division of Regenerative Sciences & Periodontology. Dr. Gonzales will serve as interim chief of the Division of Applied Craniofacial Sciences, supported by section heads Dr. Christel Haberland in pediatric dentistry and Dr. Timothy Tremont in orthodontics.

Dr. Amy Martin, chair, Department of Biomedical & Community Health Sciences, will be supported by the following division chiefs: Dr. Theodore Ravenel, Division of Emergency Services, who will be supported in pre-doctoral endodontics by section head Dr. Chin-Lo (Ellen) Hahn; Dr. Joni Nelson, Division of Population Oral Health; and Dr. Charles Ferguson, Division of Diagnostic Sciences & Services. Dr. Martin will serve as interim chief of the Division of Basic Science Research.

We have many strong and experienced leaders among our faculty, and I remain grateful to all my colleagues. It is a privilege to serve alongside them.

I am perpetually reminded of how fortunate we are in the loyalty and support of our alumni and friends. Watching our graduates receive their hoods from beloved faculty members, and in some cases, dentists in their family, is just one example. Your care for the college runs deep. The students and patients of today and tomorrow are all the better for it.

Wherever your dental journey has taken you since your time here at MUSC, I hope this update finds you well. If the James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine can be a resource to you or your practice, my talented colleagues and I are always glad to hear from you.


Sarandeep Huja, D.D.S., Ph.D.