Filling a Need in Dentistry

May 26th, 2022

Filling a Need in Dentistry

This story is featured in the Spring 2022 edition of the HPU Magazine.

Learn how North Carolina’s only private dental school will prepare the next generation of dental health leaders.

Dr. Scott De Rossi can see it.

As the founding dean of High Point University’s Workman School of Dental Medicine, he pictures a gleaming new academic facility, the equipment it will include and the competitive students who will call it home.

De Rossi is turning that vision into reality as he builds the foundation for one of the most distinctive dental schools in the country. In less than a year after High Point University announced it will establish North Carolina’s only private dental school, De Rossi has hired faculty, achieved milestones in the accreditation process and helped establish HPU’s Oral Health Network, which will offer clinical sites for dental students.

He’s even started recruiting a high-level group of students for an accelerated two+four-year program that will begin their HPU journey this fall.

In this Q&A, De Rossi reveals exciting, behind-the-scenes developments as HPU’s 10th academic school takes shape.


Q: What attracted you to become founding dean for the Workman School of Dental Medicine?

Being a dental dean is a tremendous honor as there are only 68 in the U.S. Being a founding dean is an incredibly unique privilege, and helping to start and grow a dental medicine school is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The distinction of doing it at a place like HPU under the leadership of President Nido Qubein and his executive team is really a dream come true.

Q: How will the dental school provide students with premier life skills experiences?

Our curriculum will leverage haptic simulation, which is a combination of virtual and augmented reality, along with high-fidelity technology. We are building an innovative and integrated curriculum that will, most importantly, provide early and comprehensive exposure to team-based care. Because our practice model will embed students into settings such as federal qualified health clinics and community-based practices, we’re readying our students for the way the world will be and the way dental practice is evolving.

Q: What do you love most about working at HPU?

I think this is a place that lives its values — values that I share. Many schools and organizations talk about values, but that’s where it ends for them. Not HPU. There is something uniquely special about this place, our programs and the people of HPU.

Q: What are your priorities as you build this new program?

The word “build” is a good one — building accreditation documents, building a curriculum, building programs, building a faculty and building a building! The priority is to create a program that puts those who need our care at the center of everything we do. My priority is to ensure every decision will be made through that lens.

Q: How will you help students develop life skills that they will use to achieve lives of success and significance after they graduate from HPU?

I want to help our students succeed inside the classroom, in clinics and beyond. Even more important, we want them to succeed in whatever path they choose. We are designing a contemporary, flexible and agile curriculum to ensure that HPU graduates are prepared for the future of oral health care. They will be nimble health professionals ready to adapt to changing demographics of disease, innovative technologies and ever-emerging models of health care delivery. We will graduate caring professionals who will promote better health.

Q: What motivates you most about educating the world’s future dentists?

We know that future oral health professionals will not just be competing locally or across the nation. They will be competing in a global arena. The continued globalization of health care will be demanding, competitive, turbulent, complex and uncertain. I am motivated to prepare our students in every way, to render value and to advance better health locally and globally in an ever-changing world.

Q: How do you contribute to HPU’s mission to ensure every student receives an extraordinary education in an inspiring environment with caring people?

Every person and program on this campus needs to hold this mission near and dear. Those three pillars are so interconnected, and our Workman School of Dental Medicine will be no exception in advancing that mission. Our students will get a dental education second to none. The addition of a health profession school like dental medicine will enhance the already inspiring environment at HPU.

Q: What’s one thing you want students and parents to know?

Learning is all about growth, and there is an awe inspiring growth mindset in HPU’s institutional DNA. While the campus growth has been impressive, the real story to me is the collaborative and innovative environment that fosters an entrepreneurial mindset. Some universities talk about being aspirational, bold and fearless, but HPU lives and executes it at the highest level. Parents and students alike need to know they are getting a preeminent education that will prepare them for the future world of work.

“Professors at HPU are phenomenal,” Cromartie said during Fall 2021 Homecoming Weekend, when she participated in a panel where alumni offered career insight to current students. “Dr. Kelly Sapp was my biology professor and my advisor, and she continued supporting me after I graduated from HPU and completed graduate school. Keep those relationships with your HPU professors going after you graduate. They’ll be there for you.”

Cromartie is unique. She is an HPU alumna, a practicing dentist and one of the first official faculty members in High Point University’s Workman School of Dental Medicine.

Cromartie earned a Bachelor of Science in biology from HPU in 2013. She went on to earn a Master of Arts in intercultural services in health care from Wake Forest University, and she earned both her Doctor of Dental Medicine and Advanced Education in General Dentistry Certificate with distinction from East Carolina University.

“I am extremely excited to return to HPU and assist in building the foundation for the Workman School of Dental Medicine,” said Cromartie. “HPU is where my pursuit to become a dentist all began as an undergraduate student, so I am deeply honored to come aboard as inaugural faculty.”

As an assistant professor of general dentistry, she will assist in the development of clinical manuals, including those to be used in faculty calibration, competency assessment and accreditation. She will advise students in different specialties of dental medicine and supervise clinical sites. She will also advise pre-dental students and be a resource to students seeking to learn more about the dental profession.

“I am excited to contribute my energy, passion and expertise to provide an extraordinary experience for every patient, student, resident and faculty member.”