FORMER Prime Minister Mr John Howard will receive a Doctor of the University from Charles Sturt University at the 2014 graduation ceremony in Orange in December.
CSU Chancellor Mr Lawrence Willett said the university would confer the honour in recognition of Mr Howard's efforts to secure funding in the 2007-08 Commonwealth budget to create the university's dental school, which opened in 2009.
"The Commonwealth Government's decision to fund a rural dental school recognised a growing inequity in the access to oral health services for rural and regional Australians," Mr Willett said.
"Mr Howard was a driving force behind that funding decision, and the university is very pleased to be able to recognise his efforts with the conferral of this award."
Mr Willett said he was encouraged to see so many of the first class to graduate from the university's Bachelor of Dental Science last year enter rural practice.
"The rationale behind creating a rural dental school was spelled out in the 2007-08 budget papers, which said rural training encourages graduates to pursue careers in rural areas," Mr Willett said.
"Charles Sturt University had already shown through its nursing and allied health programs that by providing rural training, which gives students the specific skills they need to work outside of metropolitan areas, we could help improve access to health services for rural Australians.
"We were very proud to see our first dental graduates complete their training last year and begin their careers, and we look forward to building on that contribution this year and into the future.
"As we look forward with our communities to a fairer distribution of oral health services, it is fitting that we also remember that we couldn't have come this far without the vision and support of Mr Howard."
The first 32 students to complete the Bachelor of Dental Science graduated from CSU in Orange last December.
The School of Dentistry and Health Sciences also trains oral health therapy students at CSU in Wagga Wagga, and operates dental clinics at CSU in Orange, Dubbo, Bathurst, Albury-Wodonga and Wagga Wagga.