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Historic $27.68M gift to UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Dentistry to enhance education, advance public service

Gift funds scholarships, professorships and outreach benefiting North Carolina

Dental students work on patient
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry holds its sixth annual Give Kids A Smile day February 1, 2019. (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

(Chapel Hill, N.C.— Feb. 20, 2019) – Today the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced a $27.68 million gift for the UNC School of Dentistry, the largest single donation to the school. The bequest from the estate of Dr. Claude A. Adams III of Durham will enable the school to continue to serve North Carolina by training oral health professionals and offering public programs.


To commemorate the historic gift, the school has been renamed the UNC Claude A. Adams Jr. and Grace Phillips Adams School of Dentistry in honor of his parents.


“The UNC Adams School of Dentistry is a leading school in education and research, patient care and community service. This generous gift from Dr. Adams will help the school advance its work and focus on harnessing emerging technologies, developing new healthcare delivery models and training the next generation of dentists,” said Kevin M. Guskiewicz, interim chancellor of UNC-Chapel Hill. “Its commitment to helping the people of North Carolina is clear – nearly 50 percent of our state’s dentists graduate from our dental school.”


Adams’ gift was inspired by the school’s longstanding commitment to making a world-class oral health education accessible to students and a high standard of care available to patients in North Carolina. Part of the gift will create new merit scholarships for qualifying students and add to existing scholarship funds. Additional funds will support professorships and staff awards, enabling the UNC Adams School of Dentistry to continue recruiting innovative faculty and service-driven staff members.


Further investment will extend the student service-learning program. Students currently work side by side with practicing dentists at 50 partner sites in 35 North Carolina counties. This intensive training allows students the hands-on opportunity to address patient needs in underserved areas. UNC Adams School of Dentistry students provide more than $3 million of in-kind services to North Carolinians each year.


“This is an incredible, transformational gift for our school. Dr. Adams III was a local dentist who, like his father before him, was dedicated to excellence in our profession. He knew a gift of this size would enable us to continue leading the way in oral health education,” said Dr. Scott De Rossi, dean of the UNC Adams School of Dentistry. “With this gift we can deepen our commitment to students through additional scholarship dollars and also to our community through increased financial support for service trips in North Carolina. It is an honor for our school to now carry the Adams name, in accordance with Dr. Adams’ wishes as a tribute to his beloved parents.”


Adams, who died in 2018, practiced dentistry in Durham for almost 25 years. He earned his undergraduate degree from Duke University in 1942 and his dental degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1949. Some of Adams’ previous gifts to Carolina’s dental school included scholarships for nearly 100 students. One such gift is the Dr. Claude A. Adams Jr. and Ms. Grace P. Adams Scholarship, awarded to four students each year. Pegah Khosravi-Kamrani, a 2021 doctorate of dental surgery candidate, is one student who currently holds this scholarship.


“The scholarship from Dr. Adams has allowed me to better focus on my academics and service career goals in dentistry,” said Khosravi-Kamrani. “By reducing my financial burdens, I can devote more of my time and energy toward my aspiration of helping others facing dental hardships, traveling to underserved areas both local and abroad to provide care and continuing to seek knowledge and perspective throughout my career. I am honored to be a recipient and determined to uphold the integrity of this scholarship.”


The UNC School of Dentistry admitted its first class of 40 students in 1950, establishing North Carolina’s first dental school. The school now averages 82 students in each class. In-state students make up 75 percent of those pursuing doctorate degrees in dental surgery. Each year, 36 students enroll in the school’s bachelor of science program for dental hygiene. The school also offers 14 advanced dental education programs. In 2017 and 2018, the dental school was rated the No. 2 dental school worldwide according to Academic Ranking of World Universities released by the Center for World Class Universities.


As a result of this generous gift, the UNC Adams School of Dentistry is increasing its campaign fundraising goal from $50 million to $70 million. The most ambitious university fundraising campaign in the Southeast and in University history, For All Kind: the Campaign for Carolina launched in October 2017 with a goal to raise $4.25 billion by Dec. 31, 2022. By the end of fiscal year 2018, the Campaign for Carolina exceeded half of its dollar goal, ahead of schedule. The Campaign for Carolina is inspired by the Blueprint for Next, the University’s overall strategic plan built on two core strategies: “of the public, for the public,” and “innovation made fundamental.”




About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 74 bachelor’s, 104 master’s, 65 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools including the College of Arts & Sciences. Every day, faculty, staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s nearly 330,000 alumni live in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, US Territories and 161 countries. Over 178,000 live in North Carolina.


About the UNC Adams School of Dentistry

The UNC Claude A. Adams, Jr. and Grace Phillips Adams School of Dentistry is transforming dentistry for better health. Founded in 1950, the UNC Adams School of Dentistry was the first dental school in the state and is regarded as a leader in oral health care and education. More than half the dentists in North Carolina are UNC-Chapel Hill trained. Alumni of the school live or work in 96 of North Carolina’s 100 counties, all 50 U.S. states and 27 countries. The school sees more than 90,000 patients each year in its clinics and provides care ranging from general needs to complex cases. Consistently ranked among the top schools for NIH funding, the school strongly supports the University’s research mission. Together, the school’s faculty, staff and students passionately serve their community and field through service within North Carolina totaling nearly $3 million of in-kind care annually. The ultimate goal of the UNC Adams School of Dentistry is to be the global model for oral health education, in care and discovery.


University Communications: Carly Miller, (919) 445-8555,

UNC Adams School of Dentistry: Tiffany Brannon, (919) 537-3260,

Office of University Development: Lisa Marie Ferrell, (919) 962-5247,