Oral Arts Gift Enables UAB School of Dentistry to Complete High-tech Student, Patient Lab
The University of Alabama at Birmingham's School of Dentistry dedicated the new D. Thomas Winstead Student Laboratory on Thursday, April 30, giving students and patients a new, cutting-edge technological dental space to enhance training and care.
The lab was completed thanks in part to a $500,000 contribution from Winstead, who is president and CEO of Oral Arts Dental Laboratories in Huntsville and has a relationship with the UAB School of Dentistry that dates back to the 1970s. Oral Arts has donated special equipment to the school on numerous occasions and helped arrange important educational events that benefit both students and alumni.
The school has been raising funds to renovate the third-floor student lab space for several years through its class reunion program but needed a sizeable donation to complete the much-needed renovations. Michael Reddy, DMD, dean of the school of Dentistry, contacted Winstead in 2013 to see if there was an interest, and the longtime friend of the school was eager to help.
"My partnership with UAB has been great for my business and even better for me personally because of the friends I have made across almost four decades," Winstead said. "The building of these types of relationships with UAB has continued on with my children as they are now connecting with various students, professors and alumni of the school. UAB has always aided me in the quest to stay on the cutting edge; I regularly attended seminars hosted by the school and learned many new techniques starting in the early phases of our partnership, which I'm proud to say continues to today with this gift."
"As a family and as a business, the Winsteads and Oral Arts have provided our students, faculty and staff with warm hospitality and outstanding customer service in what has been a tremendous relationship," Reddy said. "Now, thanks to this most generous gift, we have been able to further improve our dentistry capabilities in both training for our students and care for our patients. Our students benefit from this wonderful facility, and our patients benefit because they have the most advanced care possible. We are thankful for the generosity and vision of the Winsteads and Oral Arts, and couldn't be more thrilled to continue our relationship with such industry stalwarts."
"thanks to this most generous gift, we have been able to further improve our dentistry capabilities in both training for our students and care for our patients. Our students benefit from this wonderful facility, and our patients benefit because they have the most advanced care possible. " Oral Arts is heavily involved in computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing software for milling dental prostheses and completing restorations and donated this equipment as part of the gift to the school.
Winstead, a Philadelphia, Mississippi, native, is a veteran of the war in Vietnam, where he served in the dental support unit as a noncommissioned officer in charge of a dental clinic while in country. With the encouragement of the dentists on base, he came back to Huntsville in August 1969 and started Oral Arts Dental Laboratories in December of that year.
Oral Arts developed into a nationally recognized industry leader under Winstead's leadership with sales in excess of $22 million. Winstead's vision and business expertise have enabled his company to grow from a single location with fewer than five employees to locations in Huntsville and Mobile and in Maryville, Tennessee, and more than 285 employees, all of whom provide services to dental professionals nationwide.
UAB's School of Dentistry has developed a rich history of health care innovation and has gained a national reputation for excellence since its founding in 1948. The school continues to supply the community of Birmingham, the state of Alabama and beyond with the world's most equipped and knowledgeable dentists.