U. opening country’s first dental school in 40 years
Published: August 23, 2013 01:51PM
Updated: August 23, 2013 07:32PM
Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune Donor Tye Noorda chats with Rena D'Souza, dean of the new School of Dentistry, at the Friday groundbreaking for new dental school building at the University of Utah.

The University of Utah broke ground Friday on a $36.4 million building for its new School of Dentistry, the first of its kind built in the country in more than 40 years.

The 80,000-square-foot building will be located on Wakara Way in the U.’s research park and is expected to be completed in December 2014.

The inaugural class of 20 students has already started classes at the U.’s School of Medicine. The university started its Regional Dental Education program in 1980, educating dental students at its medical school for a first year, then sending them to Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. to complete their degrees.

U. trustees approved the new school last year. The project is chiefly funded by a $30 million gift from Tye Noorda, the wife of Novell founder Ray Noorda, who died in 2006, and their children. The building’s formal name will be the Ray and Tye Noorda Oral Health Education Building.

“Highly qualified Utah students no longer have to leave the state to finish their education at a first-rate, four-year dental school,” said medical school dean Vivian Lee in a statement.