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It’s now almost the end of August and the University community is in full swing in Stockton. The students arrived this month and have enjoyed a whirl of activities such as freshman orientation, welcome barbeque and the adventurous Mountains, Ocean, Valley Experience (MOVE) program, a unique first-year experience designed to welcome new students to the Pacific community through participation in experiential learning and service projects in key locations throughout Northern California.

In my new temporary role here as interim provost, I have had the opportunity to meet and chat with many of them. It is exciting to see how enthusiastic they are in their new setting.

All of these activities are designed to introduce the new students to the University, Stockton, the state of California, and most importantly, each other. They will learn what many people at the dental school know already: learning is not a solitary endeavor. It is a collective effort and requires working together for the best outcome. It can be challenging but is worth it in the end.

I continue to work with others as we gear up for the search for a new permanent provost. In the spirit of collaboration, I hope some of you will be available to assist with the process so we can make a decision everyone will be pleased with. Fortunately, I understand that we have some outstanding candidates!

I look forward to my next visit back to the dental school. In the meantime, if any of you find yourselves visiting Stockton, please stop by and say hello. The dental school’s Alumni Association will be hosting a reception for all Stockton-area alumni on Aug. 31, so I look forward to meeting with some of our many alumni throughout the region. The event is being held in the President’s Room in Anderson Hall. You can learn more on our website.

Dean Ferrillo during his recent trip to Venezuela.
Dean Ferrillo during his recent trip to Venezuela.

I spent several days last week on an informative trip to Venezuela to represent University of the Pacific and the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in meetings with some of our international colleagues. It was a brief visit to the country, but it offered a good opportunity to build bridges with leaders in higher education and dentistry.

After starting my trip in the bustling capital city of Caracas, I took a short flight the following morning to the city of Barcelona to meet with the Dental School Faculty Council at the Universidad Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho (UGMA). I had the pleasure to get a tour of the UGMA’s dental school facilities and patient clinic. While there I also discussed some ways our dental schools might work together under the partnership agreement between UGMA and University of the Pacific. The University has a long history of commitment to international education and cross-cultural understanding. Some of these partnerships and programs, such as the Inter-American Program, are highlighted on the School of International Studies web page.

When I returned to Caracas, a group of dental school deans from throughout the country gathered together for a meeting of the Venezuelan Association of Dental Schools and Faculties (AVEFO). I gave a presentation — “Challenges Facing Global Dental Education” — and learned more about some of the issues and opportunities faced by the dental schools in Venezuela. I also had the chance to give an update on behalf of the International Federation of Dental Educators and Associations and inform the group about resources available from IFDEA.

All in all, I found a great deal of common ground and commitment to training the next generation of dentists, and to sharing knowledge and resources across the globe. It will be exciting to see what results from these partnerships.

Dean Ferrillo meets students at the dental school in Venezuela.
Dean Ferrillo meets students at the dental school in Venezuela.

As many of you already know, I begin my position as interim provost for University of the Pacific on July 1. I’m very excited about working with President Eibeck over the coming months and look forward to this opportunity to collaborate with many people across our entire institution.

For those who are unclear about what a provost actually does, the position serves as the University’s chief academic officer and has overall responsibility for the institution’s educational and research programs, library services, information technology, enrollment and financial aid, and continuing education. The position oversees programs on three campuses in Stockton, Sacramento and San Francisco.

The Provost Search Committee will continue its work to fill the provost position in a permanent capacity. Once the position is filled, I look forward to returning as dean of the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry sometime in early 2011.

In the meantime, I wish Dr. Nader Nadershahi the very best as he serves as acting dean of the Dugoni School of Dentistry. Dr. Nadershahi is a talented, innovative and caring leader with many years of experience at the dental school. He exemplifies the humanistic approach and the school will be in very good hands. Students, faculty and staff will continue to see me around the San Francisco campus, as I anticipate spending one day a week at the dental school. In addition, I’ll also continue to lead the planning process for the new school facilities and maintain relationships with our alumni and friends by attending school events throughout this period of time.

In other transitions taking place, I want to wish the very best to our incoming students who are starting their new academic year on July 12. It will be a busy time for the new students as they transition into new surroundings in San Francisco and gear up for studies. And I wish a warm welcome back (amid the summer fog) to returning students, faculty and staff who will be back on campus for the start of summer quarter.

Even though my day-to-day schedule will be changing and you won’t see me as much, I’ll look forward to the times when I can meet up to share more about the exciting things happening across University of the Pacific.

Dean Patrick J. Ferrillo, Jr. speaks at the Commencement Ceremony at Davies Symphony Hall.
Dean Patrick J. Ferrillo, Jr. speaks at the Commencement Ceremony at Davies Symphony Hall.

Congratulations to our graduates from the Class of 2010 and all of their families, friends and other supporters. The school hosted a whirlwind weekend of graduation-related activities including the Alumni/Graduate Banquet, Thanks a Bunch Brunch, OKU Convocation and a Commencement Ceremony held this year at Davies Symphony Hall.

It was a pleasure to meet so many proud family members from around the country who were in town to celebrate. Our Pacific Dugoni family grew a little bit larger as we got to socialize with parents, siblings, spouses, partners and others throughout the weekend.

From my vantage point up on stage during the Commencement Ceremony, it was heartwarming to see all of the students seated together out in front as a group. The DDS, IDS, Dental Hygiene, graduate program students and residents don’t often have the chance to gather in one big group, except for at graduation, so this was a truly special time. We are so proud of every one of you.

In my commencement remarks, I discussed the importance of staying true to your values. Whether instilled by your parents and other key influencers in your life, or personally developed from your own experiences, values will get you through the ups and downs of life. While graduation is certainly a highlight and mark of distinction in your academic life, there will be times on the road of life when you will encounter challenges. Staying true to your values will help get you through these times.

Our school, too, has a set of values we aim to uphold: humanism, innovation, leadership, reflection, stewardship, collaboration and philanthropy. More than just words on a page in our Strategic Plan, they are central to how we operate. Our school community identified these values several years ago after a strategic planning process that involved students, faculty, staff and administration. We take these values seriously. They are helpful guideposts that infuse decisions small and large.

If you haven’t taken some time recently to think about your own values, graduation is the perfect time to reflect. Exams are done, the busy weekend is over, and your daily schedule is perhaps a bit more flexible for a few days or weeks. So graduates, I charge you to pick and develop your own values and hold yourself to them. They’ll help you stay true to yourself, no matter what comes your way in life.

Best wishes to each of our graduates as you embark on the next step in your journey.