Dr. Walter and Lynne Fain of Knoxville, Tennessee, have made a major gift of $1 million to help the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Dentistry launch a dental training center in Knoxville.
Dr. Fain, a longtime Knoxville dentist, recalls that in the fall of 2019 at a University of Tennessee, Knoxville football game reception, UTHSC College of Dentistry Dean James Ragain, DDS, MS, PhD, FICD, FACD, shared his vision for the college. Since becoming dean, he has consistently stated his desire to improve the access to dental care for the underserved citizens of Tennessee. The college has a plan to increase the size of future dental and dental hygiene classes to provide additional dental health care professionals to the state. The college currently trains dental health care providers in Memphis, Union City, Nashville, Bristol and Chattanooga. The increase in class size will require additional clinical training sites. The college’s strategic plan is to place clinics across the state to help address the needs of those with limited access to dental care.
Upon hearing of this strategy, the couple decided to make the generous gift toward the Knoxville site, which is the first step in a larger plan. “The initial plan for the Knoxville training site is to establish a senior dental student clinical rotational site, followed by an Advanced Education in General Dentistry program,” Dean Ragain said. “Ultimately, we plan to provide a facility, where approximately 40 dental students will complete their last two years of dental school in Knoxville.
“The seed gift provided by Dr. Walter and Lynne Fain is greatly appreciated and will significantly impact the college’s ability to achieve these objectives,” the dean continued. “The facility will be named the Walter and Lynne Fain Dental Center in honor of their generosity and will serve as a testament to their commitment to the UTHSC College of Dentistry. Walter and Lynne have made significant contributions to the community, and we are honored to have them as alumni. With alumni support, we look forward to launching additional sites around the state.”
The Fains graduated from UT Knoxville. Walter graduated from the UT College of Dentistry in 1970. He has been in private practice in Knoxville for the last 50 years. Lynne has served as president of the UT Alumni Association and has chaired the UT Alumni Past President’s Council. She is currently a member of UT President Randy Boyd’s President’s Council. Walter serves on the Board of the Tennessee Dental Association and is vice-president for East Tennessee. He is also a member of the House of Delegates for the American Dental Association.
A UTHSC learning center for dental education in Knoxville, eventually planned for the UT Conference Center on Henley Street, which is now undergoing renovation, could partner with area dentists and the nationally recognized Second District Dental Society to provide a strong future for dentistry in East Tennessee.
“I realized I could make a difference and move this initiative forward,” Dr. Fain said. “What would be more fitting than to return something to a profession I have enjoyed for 50 years and to the community where I have always lived. Practicing dentistry in Knoxville is not just what I do, it is who I am.”