Largest philanthropic gift in UofL dental school history to crea - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Largest philanthropic gift in UofL dental school history to create an endowed fund

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's a rags-to-riches story. The founder of Mortenson Dental Partners is giving back, in what is being called the largest philanthropic gift in the history of the University of Louisville's School of Dentistry.

Doctor Wayne Mortenson and his wife are giving $5 million to the dental school.

"We have, as a family, been so blessed," says Mortenson, "Sue and I came to Louisville about as financially poor as any student could come to dental school."

Mortenson made his comments at a Friday morning news conference announcing the gift at the dental school in downtown Louisville.

Wayne Mortenson graduated from the school in 1979. During his career, he has built a $100 million company, first as Mortenson Family Dentistry, now named the Mortenson Dental Partners.

It has more than 80 dental offices in 10 states, including Kentucky and Indiana.

"My philosophy in a dental practice is that you never limit growth," said Mortenson. "You make it accessible to as many people as you can."

Accessibility to dental care remains a problem in Kentucky.

The state has the highest proportion of adults under 65 without teeth, and half of the state's population is without dental insurance. Mortenson hopes his gift can make a difference.

"Hopefully the university will be able to use those funds to put some outreach programs into place," he said, "and use the funds to train students with the ability to reach out into parts of the state that are under-served."

The donation will go into an endowed fund for the dental school.

Explains the dean of the school of dentistry, Dr. John Sauk, "This kind of endowment can help support the kind of scholarships that allow individuals to be able to go out and establish practices, and not necessarily have to transfer those costs directly to patient care, which will save patients money."

The U of L Dental school has just completed a $48 million building renovation and established a new pediatric dentistry clinic at Kosair Charities.

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