A New School of Oral Health & Dental Medicine.
For Arkansas.


Our Vision

Oral health is essential to a thriving Arkansas. Sadly, our state—ranked last in oral health in the United States—lacks dental professionals and places where aspiring students can train. Currently, there are no colleges of dentistry in Arkansas. It’s time to solve this challenge. For Arkansas.

Lyon College has launched a historic effort to build our state’s first School of Oral Health and Dental Medicine. This school, located on a new campus in Little Rock, will train countless dentists to meet oral health needs across Arkansas.

This is a rare opportunity to make a vital, enduring investment in the health of our residents, the career pathways of Arkansas students, and the vitality of our state.

We invite you to take a closer look at our plans. Learn more about the need for dental education in Arkansas, all it can do for our communities, and why now is the right time to realize this bold vision.

Our goals are clear. Momentum is building. Join us—early gifts from farsighted donors like you make this vision possible.

The School of Oral Health & Dental Medicine

The future of dental health in Arkansas starts here.

Lyon students will graduate better prepared for today’s multi-disciplinary healthcare environment.

In building a new college, there are three key phases. First, the development of goals and curricula. Then, the plan for accreditation. Finally, the infrastructure: the physical space and the expert faculty who will support a top-quality education. Good news: all three are in place or firmly underway.

hours of patient care

Our plan is for students to learn through a wealth of real-world experiences. Starting in year one, they’ll be immersed in hands-on education, completing more than 3,200 hours of patient care experiences over the three-year program.

With earlier and more frequent guided practical exposure to clinical environments, Lyon graduates will start their careers ahead of others, with key skills already established.

A key component of broader health needs

Oral health is increasingly recognized as integral to overall health. Future graduating dentists will be trained to work collaboratively with other Arkansas healthcare providers and to take a more comprehensive approach to care. This is where Lyon’s legacy of liberal arts education is so relevant. Our rigorous academic programs, grounded in a liberal arts philosophy and community-based learning, produce outstanding graduates.

A fast-paced program

We’re designing our degree to lower tuition and debt burdens for students. This distinctive model will offer an accelerated three-year, year-round program that produces practice-ready graduates with the knowledge and skills to succeed.

A national model

With several already-committed partners—ranging from large dental-service organizations to health foundations to community centers and other clinics—Lyon College will provide students unmatched practical experiences and real-world rotations. In fact, thanks to unique industry partnerships forged as part of this vision, our goal is for the School of Oral Health & Dental Medicine to become a national model for practical dental education grounded in hands-on learning.

Part of a larger effort

The School of Oral Health & Dental Medicine is just one component of the Lyon College Institute of Health Sciences, which at launch will also include a new School of Veterinary Medicine.

The Little Rock Campus

The next generation of dental professionals
will get their start here.

We will launch in a new building in Little Rock’s vibrant East Village, home to plentiful cultural, culinary, and creative amenities.

This growing, mixed-use neighborhood, anchored by the Clinton Presidential Library, will also be the home of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s new state-of-the-art music center.

Currently in the final stages of design, our building will offer the classrooms, meeting rooms, offices, and clinical spaces needed for the dynamic programming being developed. And yet, as excited as we are about the facility, what happens inside is what truly matters.

When completed and accredited, the Lyon College School of Oral Health & Dental Medicine will provide students:

  • Greater access to new dental technology and leading expertise.
  • Access to the best of what’s available in today’s dental practices.
  • Use of cutting-edge technologies.
  • Expert guidance from active practitioners.
  • Rotations and placements with Lyon College’s diverse industry partners.
30,000sq ft

of auditorium, didactic teaching space & classroom learning

18,000sq ft

of dental 
simulation space

7,500sq ft

of clinical teaching space

Our Impact

Our Impact

Arkansas is poised for transformation. But that requires a healthy workforce.

An industrious state, a growing state, a scenic state. Now, it’s time to invest in a healthy state.


No longer forced to choose from out-of-state dental colleges, the next generation of dentists will learn, practice, and serve where they’re needed most: in their home state of Arkansas. And they’ll enter the profession with less debt than their counterparts who left the state to earn their degrees. That’s a win-win for local students and communities alike.

Local Business

Dental practices, of course, require a range of supporting professional services, including dental and administrative assistance. These are high-paying jobs that will fuel local economies. And every practice will depend on robust supply chains of both technical equipment and day-to-day supplies.


Within a decade, new dental practices will be established throughout the state, providing the clinical care so desperately needed by young and old. Trained in a range of dental disciplines, including the necessity of community service dentistry, these new practitioners will introduce better oral health to so many. And with improved care will come improved lives.

Dental Industry

An infusion of new and ambitious professional talent will bring even more energy to an industry that is always moving forward. From individual offices to large group practices, dentistry in general will benefit from stronger competition and collaboration.

From the president

Our state desperately needs an influx of healthcare professionals. Fortunately, the necessary components are present for a dramatic change in direction for Arkansas. A vital component is a new Lyon College School of Dental Medicine for students right here in our state.”

Melissa Taverner, PhD
Lyon College

Arkansas needs more dentists. There is a dentist shortage in much of the state. While it may seem like we are on every corner in the larger cities, we are spread very thin throughout most smaller towns and there are counties that don’t even have a single dentist. If Arkansas wants more dentists, we are going to have to educate more Arkansans to become dentists. To do that, we’re going to need to educate them here in Arkansas.”

Jay Powell, DDS
Lyon College, ’94, Sherwood Smile

As founding dean, I look forward to addressing the oral health needs of the underserved across Arkansas. I look forward to the school improving oral health literacy, access to dental care, and enhancing the efficiency of dental education with a focus on quality, person-centered care. I also look forward to working with state and local officials, organized dentistry, dental industry stakeholders, and dentists across the state to understand their professional needs and develop partnerships.”

Dr. Burke Soffe, DMD MEd
Founding dean of the Lyon College School of Oral Health and Dental Medicine

With no in-state options, aspiring dental students in Arkansas are forced to pay out-of-state tuition, which is significantly greater than in-state tuition fees. Once students migrate away from Arkansas for school, they are less likely to return, draining talent and energy from our state.”

Andy Goodman
President, Arkansas Independent Colleges & Universities

Little Rock is poised to be a hub of future economic growth in central Arkansas, we are excited to build upon the foundation that Heifer International has made in promoting health solutions for Arkansas and the world.”

Merritt Dake
CEO/Founder of OneHealth

Our Partners

Education Group

Lyon College is collaborating with OneHealth Education Group to help ensure success when the school opens. OneHealth applies private-sector capital and consultant solutions to support the launch of professional health science programs.

Heifer International

This global nonprofit works to end hunger and poverty in a sustainable way by supporting farmers and their communities. They work in 21 countries to strengthen local economies and build secure livelihoods that help guarantee a living income. Our new School of Dental Medicine will share space in Heifer International’s Little Rock-based headquarters.

Join Us

It’s time to make a difference in the lives of our students, our alumni, and all of Arkansas.

All we need is you.

Philanthropists have the opportunity to make a deep and enduring mark on the health of our residents, the career pathways of Arkansas youth, and the vitality of our state.

Lyon College has joined forces with respected partners in the healthcare sector to establish an innovative dental school. And early capital and capacity-building investments from farsighted donors will make this vision possible.

The catalyst that will bring these components together is the passionate philanthropic support of those who care about Arkansas’ future. We seek donors who share a vision for Arkansas as a healthy, thriving, desirable place to live and work. Who value the history and traditions that have built the distinctive culture of this state and of Lyon College. And who are ready to realize that vision, together. For Arkansas.

We invite you to help make this vision a reality. For the future of Arkansas.

Learn how you can assist today.

Join Us

To get involved please contact David Hutchinson at (870) 307-7208 or david.hutchinson@lyon.edu

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