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A simple gift

A board member’s no-frills invention continues to benefit tens of thousands worldwide

Woman and child smiling.

Four decades ago, board member Ken Austin created an invention that — with the help of several George Fox alumni and many others — has improved the health of thousands in the Third World.

Not long after Ken and his wife, Joan, founded Newberg-based A-dec, now one of the world’s largest dental equipment manufacturers, Ken designed a portable dental unit for missions organizations to use where there is little or no dental care available. Austin downsized and simplified his company’s commercial product to the very basics. Designed to run off an air compressor, it included a suction vacuum, an air and water syringe, and connections for powering drills (handpieces).

“That’s what a dentist needs,” says Stephen Gilroy (’72), a Newberg dentist who helped with assembling the units in the 1980s. “It’s all built into one unit.” Made of lightweight metals, the invention weighs less than 40 pounds and can fit in a large suitcase-sized carrying case.

Rota-Dent

To help with distribution, Austin turned to the Newberg Rotary Club. The partnership — and the invention — became known as Rota-Dent. Former George Fox trustee LeRoy Benham is chair of a five-member board that directs the Rota-Dent efforts. The units — 135 were distributed last year — have been shipped mainly to Central America, but also to Africa, Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe. Some are used in rural areas of the United States where teams of 40 to 100 dentists can serve more than 2,000 over a long weekend. Benham says tens of thousands have been helped across the globe.

The units are supplied — at a 70-percent discount from retail cost — to individual dentists and organizations including Medical Teams International, Samaritan’s Purse, Dentists Without Borders, and World Gospel Mission. “Almost all of the mission organizations have used it in some way,” Benham says.

Also available are portable dental chairs and low-cost handpieces. To be eligible for the Rota-Dent program, recipients cannot use the equipment for profit and must ensure that services will be provided by certified practitioners with minimal downtime.


Car accident claims student’s life

Police rescue three students from nearby flames

Kim Cullen, Arianne Reagor, and Faven Yirdaw honor police officers Jason Newton and Ben Humphrey at a chapel in February.
From left, Kim Cullen, Arianne Reagor, and Faven Yirdaw honor police officers Jason Newton and Ben Humphrey at a chapel in February.

Just days before graduating in midyear commencement ceremonies, senior Cara Moran of Chandler, Ariz., died in a Nov. 18 two-car accident in Sherwood, Ore.

Moran, 22, was with three other female George Fox students returning to campus from a friend’s birthday celebration. They were hit by a car driving the wrong way on a one-way stretch of highway 99W. The 26-year-old driver of the other vehicle died on impact, and her car was engulfed in flames. Sherwood police officers Jason Newton and Ben Humphrey arrived on the scene, and despite the intense heat and several explosions, pulled the other three students from the car. The officers later realized heat from the nearby car fire had melted portions of their uniforms. Both received the Sherwood Police Department’s medal of valor — the first in the city’s history.

Cara Moran
Cara Moran

Moran was remembered on campus as a hardworking student with a quick wit and a joyful spirit. She was known for her love of her family, her friends, and pop singer Justin Timberlake. With her family in attendance at commencement, the university honored Moran with an honorary bachelor of arts degree.

The other three students — Faven Yirdaw, a senior from Portland; Arianne Reagor, a senior from Kelso, Wash.; and Kim Cullen, a senior from Kelso, Wash. — were hospitalized. All three returned to class this spring.

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Bruin Notes
The Inauguration of President Robin Baker | Allen fills top academic post | Executive Team Expands | Conniry named seminary dean | A simple gift | Car accident claims student's life | Noteworthy (Web Exclusive Content) | Women's basketball returns to 'Sweet 16' | Bend it like Tsohantaridis | Satern stars  Full stories...