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University acquires Hiwassee College dental hygiene program

As Tennessee Wesleyan prepares to celebrate the graduating class of 2019, the University now welcomes a new group of students with the acquisition of Hiwassee College’s (HC) dental hygiene program. Following the College’s closure announcement, TWU quickly began discussions with HC administration and faculty on how the school could support this program and the 15 rising seniors currently enrolled.

Hiwassee’s Board of Trustees met Wednesday, May 2 to determine the fate of the program and chose the fellow Methodist-affiliated institution to continue dental hygiene. “We are thrilled to welcome the current dental hygiene students and the faculty to the TWU family,” said President Dr. Harley Knowles. “Careers in this field are growing rapidly, and there is a high interest for incoming students. We constantly receive questions from visiting families if we offer, or plan to offer, this type of program,” Knowles added. Hiwassee College president, Dr. Robin Tricoli also expressed excitement about passing this program on to TWU. “The HC Board of Trustees and I are extremely pleased that our students will be taken care of and that this program will continue to thrive under the TWU umbrella of health profession programs.”

With complete support from the TWU Board of Trustees and approval from the faculty through the Curriculum & Policy Committee, the University will now seek accreditation approval from Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The program currently holds full accreditation status from the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) of the American Dental Association – a specialized body recognized by the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation of the U.S. Department of Education. A request to change sponsorship from Hiwassee to Tennessee Wesleyan has been submitted for approval.

The current space, housed at Hiwassee, will continue to be used as the University plans to move the equipment to the Athens campus in the next two years. President Knowles believes this will be a great addition to the surrounding area as the only bachelor’s program in dental hygiene in East Tennessee. “In recent years we’ve focused on growing our health profession related academic programs. While nursing and occupational therapy are housed in Knoxville, it’s exciting to bring such an in-demand career path to the heart of Athens.”

The University will immediately begin recruiting juniors to enter the program. Admission requirements and the process will be posted to the website in the coming days. The program is designed for graduates to receive an entry-level Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene upon completion of two years of pre-professional general education and two years of the dental hygiene curriculum. Program capacity is 20 students in a class for a total maximum of 40 students in their junior and senior year.

This acquisition continues TWU’s dedication to supporting those impacted by the HC closure announcement. President Knowles believes Hiwassee College students will find a similar, tight-knit community that they are familiar with. “Students and faculty will find a supportive group on campus and throughout the surrounding community. I am extremely proud of the way our campus-community has welcomed Tigers into the Bulldog family.”

Tennessee Wesleyan University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate and master’s degrees. The offering of the dental hygiene program is pending SACSCOC approval.