The First 100 Dentists of Color

Giving back for the next 100

An important milestone has been reached in the history of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry. The school has educated more than 100 dentists of color. This is a significant achievement, especially when you consider that the first dentist of color alumnus, the late James A. Booker Jr., D.D.S., graduated in 1961. 

Great strides have been made at the school, but current statistics indicate a desperate need for increased participation by all of our alumni to assure the success of our school’s next 100 students of color. National trends show that the number of students of color enrolling in dental schools has remained at 5.7 percent over the past few years. We know that there are many factors affecting this trend, but with increased private funding from alumni, we have the unique opportunity to address at least one of those factors—available scholarships.


A timeline of the first 100 dentists of color to graduate from VCU School of Dentistry. [View Image]


The Next 100 Dentists of Color

Who better to shape the future of your school’s next 100 dentists of color than the first 100 dentists of color? You can help influence a great future for your school. Join your fellow first 100 dentists of color and secure the dream with 100 percent participation.  

How you can help

Support the Francis Foster Sr. D.D.S./Student National Dental Association Scholarship. This endowed scholarship was created in memory of beloved faculty member and Richmond, Va.-area historian, Francis M. Foster Sr., D.D.S. He earned his D.D.S. from Howard University and practiced dentistry in Richmond’s Jackson Ward area for 41 years prior to teaching at the VCU School of Dentistry during the final 16 years of his life. This fund will provide valuable scholarships for members of the Student National Dental Association.

A portrait of Francis Foster [View Image]

Dr. Francis M. Foster Sr., an iconic member of the Richmond metro area's African-American community, a mentor and namesake of the scholarship created to support dental students who are members of the Student National Dental Association.

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David C. Sarrett, D.M.D. (back row, fourth from right), dean of the VCU School of Dentistry, and family of the late Francis Foster, D.D.S, thank Ralph L. Anderson, D.D.S. (front row, far right), and his wife, Judy (back row, fourth from left), for their generous leadership gift establishing the Dr. Francis M. Foster Sr. Student National Dental Association Scholarship. The scholarship celebrates the life and legacy of one of the school's most beloved professors.

Support the first scholarship fund established at the school to support students of color. The Parris-Wilkins Scholarship fund was established in 2012 by Tonya Parris-Wilkins, (D.D.S. ’03) and her husband, Joseph D. Wilkins (M.S. ’01, D.P.T. ’06, M.S.H.A. ’11), and gives consideration to third-year dental students.

Support one of the school’s many professorships, lectureships or scholarships honoring several talented and inspiring individuals who may have influenced your dental career. Randy Adams, D.D.S. (H.S. ’80) pledged a leadership gift of $50,000 to the Farrington-Mourino Professorship as a way to show appreciation for two leaders in the school’s pediatric dentistry department. He also created an endowed scholarship for Student National Dental Association members in memory of his deceased wife, Rose B. Adams.

Support the Jasmine R. Elmore Scholarship established by Jasmine Elmore (D.D.S. '13) in 2016 to support Student National Dental Association members.

Create your own endowment. The amount of $25,000 endows a scholarship fund to provide awards for whatever (or whomever) is most meaningful to you. 

Give generously to your class’s reunion gift when your classmates ask for support every five years. Your reunion gift can be designated to any fund of your preference. 

Remember the VCU School of Dentistry in your will. The development office would welcome the opportunity to schedule an appointment to meet with you to discuss planned giving options. 

Consider mentoring a current student of color or recent graduate. 

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 Dr. Jim Watkins (first row, third from right) was honored by his colleagues at Reunion Weekend 2010. Dr. Watkins was named the Dr. Harry Lyons Outstanding Dental Alumnus in recognition of his outstanding loyalty and dedicated service to the school, its alumni and students, and the profession.

Jim Watkins (D.D.S.'75) receiving the Dr. Harry Lyons Outstanding Dental Alumnus in 2010. [View Image] 

Jim Watkins (D.D.S.'75) receiving the Dr. Harry Lyons Outstanding Dental Alumnus in 2010. 

Alumni engagement opportunities at the VCU School of Dentistry

From hosting a student in your home during residency interviews or hosting an alumni event, to sharing advice with recent graduates or giving back through financial support, you can help shape the future of dentistry and oral health.