Bitonte Foundation Commits $10M to NEOMED College of Dentistry
ROOTSTOWN, Ohio – A formal celebration will take place today at noon to announce the creation of the College of Dentistry at the Northeast Ohio Medical University and acknowledge the largest single financial contribution in the school’s history.
The Bitonte family, known for its philanthropic support for Youngstown State University and other institutions, has committed $10 million toward the estimated $25 million project, NEOMED has said.
NEOMED trustees granted approval for the medical school to pursue a dental college in September. Shortly thereafter, Drs. Gary and David Bitonte, sons of the late Dr. Dominic A. and Helen M. Bitonte of Youngstown, said they would pledge the $10 million toward the new college through their family’s foundation.
The Bitonte brothers serve as directors of the Dr. Dominic A. and Helen M. Bitonte Family Foundation. In honor of the Foundation’s commitment, the College will be named the Bitonte College of Dentistry.
The $10 million commitment is the largest individual amount that the NEOMED Foundation has ever received. The money will support the areas of greatest need restricted to the establishment, ongoing staffing, support and endowment of the College, the university said.
“As physicians and the sons of a dentist, Gary and David Bitonte have a first-hand appreciation of the critical access to care and concerns northeast Ohioans have held for some time,” noted Dr. John T. Langell, president of NEOMED. “The Bitontes have a history of giving back and their commitment to this much-needed dental college is a reflection of their family’s lifelong calling, contributions and caring for residents of Northeast Ohio and beyond.”
In 1999, Dominic and Helen Bitonte’s support for YSU led to the university to name its Bitonte College of Health and Human Services in their honor. Dominic Bitonte died in 2014 and Helen Bitonte died in 2015.
The Bitontes have been longtime supporters of NEOMED, and considered supporting a dental college at the university more than a year ago, when they first heard about the school’s interest.
“Gary and I talked about it and we said, ‘wow, this is a fabulous thing for NEOMED. It’s a fabulous opportunity for the community and for Northeast Ohio,’” said David Bitonte. “And to add a third dental school to the state of Ohio, which is in need of dentists, we thought that was a wonderful way to honor our parents.”
Gary Bitonte said having access to oral health is important to a person’s general health. “For instance, if there are detrimental bacteria in the oral cavity, the bacteria can migrate through the bloodstream and attach to the valves of the heart, which subsequently gives severe cardiac problems,” he said.
The family matriarch, Helen, was also heavily involved in the family dental practice. She was among the dental auxiliary — a group composed of the dental spouses who would go into schools and other settings to talk about proper oral care.
“Our father was at the forefront of so many things, but my mother certainly was one of those people supporting him and all the dentists in the area with her outreach that would promote proper dental care,” David Bitonte said.
“We are very grateful to the Bitonte family and their unwavering support for NEOMED,” said Doreen Knapp Riley, president of the NEOMED Foundation. “We hope others in the community, who have the capacity to help us bring positive change to these unmet dental needs, join the Bitontes in making philanthropic investments to launch this dental college more quickly.”
Pictured, from left: Gary Bitonte, M.D.; John Langell, M.D. andpresident of NEOMED; and David Bitonte, D.O.
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.