Marquette questions need for 2nd dental school

Marquette University is vigorously opposing the prospect of a second dental school in the state of Wisconsin, and its position recently led to a tense exchange between university representatives and state Sen. Bob Jauch (D-Poplar), according to an article in the Daily Reporter.

The disagreement stems from a bill passed in April, sponsored by Jauch, that offers a $10 million grant to an organization that can match the amount. The expressed primary goal was to train rural dentists with the money, and Marshfield Clinic was awarded the grant.

The dispute arose when Marshfield's intention to convert the program into a dental school was discovered by Marquette, which had been in favor of the bill earlier this year.

Marquette claims that the program's goals were misrepresented and that the subject of opening another dental school in the state was never raised. According to university representatives, the agreed-upon concept described Marshfield's role as that of a host for dental school graduates' residencies.

Jauch maintains that all parties were made aware of Marshfield's long-term goals months ago. Marshfield does not deny that it intends to open a dental school but insists that the program will not compete with Marquette's when it is eventually opened. However, Marquette is concerned that another dental school sapping state funds will imperil their own, which is already facing budget shortfalls.

On Wednesday, an impromptu discussion between Jauch and Marquette's representatives turned into an argument prior to a Building Commission's Higher Education Subcommittee meeting at the state Capitol.

Another senator attempted to amend the bill with a stipulation that a dental school cannot be opened by Marshfield using state money but he was rebuffed, since the bill has already been passed. Other senators encouraged the parties involved to sort out their differences in light of the tremendous need for dental care in rural Wisconsin.

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