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I had the great pleasure of attending the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) Annual Session held recently in Iguacu Falls, Brazil. As you can see from the picture, the falls are spectacular. But more importantly, my visit was an opportunity for me to attend the IADR meeting as a representative of the International Federation of Dental Educators and Associations (IFDEA) as well as Pacific Dugoni. Although it rarely happens, during this meeting I had a great deal of free time that allowed me to sit in on many of the oral presentations. I spent the afternoon attending most of the presentations focusing on implantology and learned quite a bit.

I was particularly struck by how science continues to evolve at such a rapid pace. I feel strongly that all of us should be taking a strong interest in the new discoveries — how they can address age-old problems as well as new problems. 

It seems to me we need to continue to always focus on science. We, as teachers and educators, need to ensure we are incorporating the latest findings and, of course, also contributing to the body of research whenever possible. Truly, there should really be no distinction between attending an American Dental Education Association (ADEA) meeting and an IADR meeting. Education and science are deeply intertwined and inseparable — as they should be. As teachers, we want to know the latest research, and, as researchers, we want to know how to best incorporate our teachings in a healthy learning environment – and encourage a new generation of scientific explorers.

I want to encourage all of us to attend future IADR meetings as teachers as well as researchers. One does not need to have a strong background in research, only a desire to learn.

I hope you all are enjoying your break and that when we all return, we will be refreshed, revitalized, and ready to continue teaching, researching and serving the community — and always learning along the way.

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This past weekend, I had the great fortune of returning to my alma mater, Georgetown University, to observe commencement, as the son of one of my good friends was graduating. My visit prompted much reminiscing about my time at Georgetown. Although it was many, many years ago – too many to think about – my memories are fond: the high quality of the education I received, as well as how well that education prepared me for both a career and life. Attending my friend's son's graduation also gave me the chance to revisit my memories of my own decades earlier.

Several aspects of Georgetown's commencement ceremony made me think about our own school's upcoming commencement, and the qualities that all commencement days share. First of all, there is the excitement of the parents, friends, and members of the family on this extraordinary day. Second, the excitement of the graduates themselves, and their gratitude for the quality of education that the school has provided for them in preparing them for both careers and life. Third, the comments of the various speakers encouraging the graduates to be members of the community, and to provide leadership as the world continues to change. Finally, the excitement of the faculty and administration. It came across clearly that they believed the purpose of the university's existence, and their role as part of it, is to prepare graduates for the world.

All of these elements seemed very familiar. The families and friends of our graduates are certainly excited for this great day. Our students are also excited about their accomplishments. The years of study have been long, but now they begin to go on to the next phase of their lives. Both our faculty and administration should feel good about the quality of our graduates, who are not only competent in providing oral health care, but who will also be leaders and provide services, not only to the local communities, but the community at large.

I know everyone at Pacific Dugoni is excited about the upcoming commencement. It is a time to celebrate, as we did at Georgetown. My best wishes to all of the graduates, their families and friends. My extreme gratitude goes out to the faculty and staff of Pacific Dugoni, who created this healthy environment so that our students not only become great dentists, but also great people of the world. They continue to make us proud and justify our very existence as an institution.

In my role as dean, I have the pleasure of meeting with graduates of our dental school on a regular basis, at everything from social activities hosted by our Alumni Association to informal dinners and official school events. I consider myself extremely lucky to have the chance to interact with our network of great alumni so often.

February signals the start of a busy time of year at school. I always look forward to the many spring events and traditions our school celebrates, and the lead up to Commencement Weekend when we welcome new graduates into the fold of the alumni family.

In February I attended the Asilomar Conference in Pacific Grove, California, an annual retreat for our soon-to-be graduates, as well as an event in which we welcome back certain reunion classes for a weekend by the ocean. I love seeing our alumni reunite with one another at this event, and I thoroughly enjoy reconnecting with them myself. This year we hosted the twenty-year reunion class of 1992 and the five-year reunion class of 2007. It was fun to hear about their lives, and of course, their memories of dental school.

Each year in March, the school hosts our Annual Alumni Meeting. This is the weekend when more than 1,600 alums and guests descend upon San Francisco to partake in continuing education courses, reunion dinners, our alumni luncheon, hosted reception, and the not-to-be-missed Legacy Ball. I feel invigorated by our alumni during the weekend, and this year (our 113th annual!) was no different. I had the opportunity to chat with many of our distinguished alums, and the pleasure of attending numerous reunion dinners throughout the city.

I say with confidence that our strong network of alumni is something that sets the Dugoni School of Dentistry apart from all other schools. I am humbled by the accomplishments of our graduates, and inspired to continue to make the Dugoni School a place where we send forth the very best dentists into the world.

So cheers to you, Pacific Dugoni alumni — I look forward to seeing you at future events.

There’s a lot of excitement about our school’s future new campus in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood. There are also some questions I hear from alumni or others who may not have been back to the school in many years. How will the new facility be different from the school’s current building?  How will the changes ultimately benefit our students and graduates?

Please take a read through a new white paper that takes a look at how the new campus will help the Dugoni School of Dentistry stay on the forefront of dental education worldwide. This is the third in a series that examines our vision for the future and what it will take for us to get there.

The latest paper examines how upgraded facilities will allow for full implementation of our integrated Helix curriculum; how new facilities will better support our community and culture; and how the new building will deliver on University of the Pacific’s “three-city” campus concept. It also discusses the advantages of the new SoMa location and the environmental efficiencies and benefits of the new campus.

If you have thoughts or feedback about our facilities project, please stay in touch. To learn more, see architectural renderings and read the latest updates for the school community, visit www.dental.pacific.edu/plans.

Read the white paper >>