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Memphis Grizzlies Honor UTHSC’s Dr. Orpheus Triplett With HBCU Empowerment Award

Dr. Orpheus Triplett, right, and Dr. Volk Vinall, interim chair of the UTHSC Department of Pediatric Dentistry, help coordinate Give Kids A Smile, the annual dental clinic to help children at Freedom Preparatory Academy.

The Memphis Grizzlies will honor Dr. Orpheus Triplett, DDS, assistant dean of Community Oral Health and Outreach in the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Dentistry, with its HBCU Empowerment Award during the game on February 28.

The honor is a nod to the contribution Historically Black Colleges and Universities and their graduates make in Memphis.

Dr. Triplett earned his undergraduate degree at Alcorn State University in Lorman, Miss., and a DDS degree at Howard University, both are HBCUs.

The Grizzlies and Pinnacle Financial Partners will give $5,000 to Alcorn in Dr. Triplett’s honor.

“We are extremely proud of Dr. Triplett and his service to the community,” said Felecia M. Nave, Alcorn president. “His commitment to public service and engagement are unmatched. He represents the epitome of an Alcornite.”

Dr. Triplett is a tireless advocate for Memphis and its residents. He serves as treasurer of Christ Community Health Services board of directors and is a member of numerous advisory boards.

“The UTHSC College of Dentistry is very proud that the Memphis Grizzlies has awarded their HBCU Empowerment Award to Dr. Orpheus Triplett,” said James Ragain, DDS, MS, PhD, FICD, FACD, EPFA, professor and dean of the College of Dentistry.

“Dean Triplett has led the way for our college’s extensive outreach to those citizens with no or limited access to dental care. His positive, can-do outlook on life is a beacon for us all. This award is well-deserved, and we are very proud of him and the great things he does for our community.”

Before joining UTHSC in 2014, Dr. Triplett was director of dental care at Christ Community Health Services, where he oversaw the network’s expansion from one dental clinic to five.

“He also helped us launch our Head Start dental outreach program. Honestly, he was the visionary for the start,” said Shantelle Leatherwood, Christ Community executive director. “He is the best dentist. He is very passionate. He would sing with patients; he would pray with patients.”

What drives him, she said, is his passion for improving oral health in the region. “And providing education.”

At UTHSC, Dr. Triplett created partnerships with Head Start, Agape Child and Family Services, New Horizon Apartments, Red Door Ministries, Freedom Preparatory Academy, day care centers, senior citizen centers and nursing homes.

Among Dr. Triplett’s many honors are a Congressional Recognition from U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen in 2018 and University of Tennessee President’s Award Citation of Merit in 2019.

Also receiving the Grizzlies’ HBCU Empowerment Award are Anthony Norris, executive vice president and chief operating officer of YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South, and Amber Hamilton, executive director of Memphis Music Initiative.