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'Someone believed in me', donor reflects on dental school

1986 graduate challenges alumni gifts on Day of Giving


Halley’s Comet made an appearance.
Tom Cruise was Top Gun.
And, Cleveland was chosen to be the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

Meanwhile, a Mountaineer was embarking on an out of this world, top-notch, and notable career.

“I am where I am today because of the career I was able to have because of the dental school,” said James Anderson, DDS, a 1986 graduate of the West Virginia University School of Dentistry.

Dr. James Anderson smiles from a dugout at Progressive Field where he does a lot of outreach work.  In his thirty years as a general dentist in Kent, Ohio, Dr. Anderson has extended his reach from his family of patients to countless Boys and Girls Club members and their families in the Cleveland area. He generously offers his skills, time and leadership as a member of the club’s board of directors.

Leadership is among the qualities that make Dr. Anderson of Tree City Dental a catalyst for positive change. His accomplishments and generosity qualify Dr. Anderson as a member of the Pylons Alliance Leadership Society (PALS) recognizing special friends and supporters of the dental school.

“As part of a dental school campaign that will be formally announced after the first of the year, I am pleased to be a member of the Pylons Alliance Leadership Society,” Anderson said.

Those familiar with WVU’s Health Sciences Center recognize the marble pylons as the entryway to the schools of dentistry, medicine, pharmacy and nursing and additional professional programs. More than half a century ago the pylons, Greek for the word root, were commissioned to celebrate the accomplishments in those professions. They were meant to create an awareness of the “wholeness” with the medical community of the past, present and future.

Reflecting on the past, Dr. Anderson has a number of great memories from dental school. The most distinct is that “someone believed in me,” he said.

He is proud of what his alma mater is doing. “The school has an incredible reputation of producing dentists with excellent clinical skills,” added Anderson.

But, Dr. Anderson has the school’s future in his sites. “While Dean Anthony “Tom” Borgia, DDS, has strengthened the dental school through the recruitment and retention of faculty members with impressive credentials, he also has an incredible plan for renovating facilities.”

Some of that work has been completed. The dean’s office was relocated to the main entrance of Health Sciences Center North. The academic affairs and student affairs teams share a new space near the dean’s office. Plus, the main dental student locker hallway has been transformed from 1957 to 2019.

“As alumni, we need to take pride in the education we received at a first-class school of dentistry,” Dr. Anderson said. Pride can take many forms. Anderson has shown his pride serving on the leadership council. Now, he is taking his support a step further.

Dr. Anderson and his wife, Dianne, a WVU Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources graduate, have gifted $50,000 to the School of Dentistry for continued transformations and renovations.

“This means so much to us to be able to kick off the renovations for the school. And, what better day to commit to the school than the WVU Foundation’s Day of Giving,” said the dentist.

The next phase of improvements at the dental school will be in the dated urgent care treatment area and waiting room. The main registration desk will become a focal point for guests and patients.

“I want to challenge the school’s alumni to be on board and support this mission. I would challenge my colleagues to give thoughtful consideration to joining me. It would be great if one or two others would commit on the Day of Giving,” Dr. Anderson said.

Thinking even more broadly, Dr. Anderson added, “I would like to see at least ten more by the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2020.”

Click to give. 

A signature event is planned for the fall of 2020 to recognize those who commit to supporting the WVU School of Dentistry by becoming a member of the Pylons Alliance Leadership Society.

To make your commitment or for more information, please call Karen Coombs at 304-293-1868 or email her at