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I would like to take a moment to wish each and every one of you happy and safe holidays. I recognize that this is a very busy time of the year. Much is happening to wrap up the academic year, not to mention all of the holiday-related preparations and activities. I hope that the upcoming break offers you a chance to relax, reenergize, and spend special time with family and friends. Pacific Dugoni is a unique family of students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, patients, and friends. Our collective impact on the world is significant thanks to all of your efforts.

2013 was an extraordinary year in the history of Pacific Dugoni. You have completed many of the significant tasks that we embarked upon when we set up the strategic plan Advancing Greatness. Several months ago, I sent you a partial list of all your accomplishments. It is extraordinary. You have contributed so much to Pacific Dugoni’s legacy.

2014 will be another major milestone for us. Thank you for all the hard work that you are doing in preparing our new home. I know it is always a challenge to move from a place where we have fond memories, but in our new home, we will build on those memories and create new ones.

I know there will be a lot of work for every one of you during the coming six months. Please accept my deepest appreciation for all that you have done. Your contributions and commitment to our vision and leading the improvement of health by advancing oral health is commendable. We have much to celebrate and much to look forward to in the new year.

Happy holidays!

I’m very proud of our newest DDS and IDS classes for giving back to the Bay Area community during the first-year student retreat in August.

The annual two-day retreat gives students a chance to get to know each other outside the school walls so that they can bond as a class and prepare for their exciting educational journey ahead. In the last three years we have also incorporated a day of community service into the first day of the experience.

On Aug. 1, I had the opportunity to join student volunteers at GLIDE, a well-known nonprofit organization headquartered in the Tenderloin district that serves disadvantaged people throughout the city. I couldn’t have been more proud of seeing our dental students preparing meals in the kitchen to be served later that day to hundreds of people in need. Other students, faculty and staff volunteered that same day at the San Francisco Food Bank, Project Open Hand and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

While at GLIDE I also had the opportunity to learn more about the health services the organization offers to the public. Patricia Dennehy, Director of Glide Health Services, introduced me to some people on her team and showed me around the health clinic.

Our school’s core values include collaboration, philanthropy, humanism and leadership. On this day of community service, it was encouraging to see our students living these values through their actions out in community. Congratulations to all who participated in this outreach and to all of the staff and faculty members who volunteered to organize a memorable first-year student retreat.

The Pacific Dugoni family recently gathered for the 114th Annual Alumni Association Meeting and what a weekend it was! It is enjoyable to talk with alumni and hear the latest about their lives, personally and professionally. In addition to running successful practices, our alumni mentor students, provide leadership in organized dentistry, volunteer in the community and support their alma mater.

A special thanks to those who so generously gave class gifts to the Pacific Dugoni Annual Fund at the meeting. You help keep us at the forefront of dental education.

We have a strong alumni network – among the best of any dental school, in my opinion. The reason it remains so strong: because people get involved. I encourage alumni to attend our upcoming events such as the breakfast on April 12 during the CDA Annual Session. More details are at www.dugonionline.org.

At the alumni meeting luncheon, I also provided updates about our new campus construction. Please feel free to explore the following:

Construction Progress 3.2013Construction will continue throughout the year, with the remaining exterior glasswork being completed in the coming months. Interior work will include the build out of state-of-the-art clinics, learning spaces, a new simulation lab, research, communal and office spaces. We plan to move all programs and clinics during the Summer break of 2014. We will also shift some of our departments to the new campus in the Spring of 2014, once construction is finished. However, we do not plan to interrupt any of the educational or clinical experiences of our students during the move period, so that is why we plan to move the majority of people over the Summer 2014 break.

Thank you for continuing to stay engaged with Pacific Dugoni, particularly as we plan for an exciting next chapter in our school’s rich legacy.

As our new campus construction moves forward in San Francisco's South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood, we are also making strides in introducing the school to local businesses, health organizations, cultural institutions and community members in our future neighborhood. It’s never too early to make these important connections, since our transition to the new campus in the spring and summer of 2014 will be here before we know it.

We want to be a good neighbor. We also want our future neighbors to know the many ways we serve the community. We treat nearly 10,000 patients at our San Francisco dental clinics and handle approximately 135,000 patient visits across our various clinics. We also lead health outreach events on and off-campus, and bring thousands of alumni and other dental professionals to San Francisco each year for continuing education. Plus our students, faculty and staff members frequent restaurants, retail stores, fitness centers, entertainment venues and neighborhood cultural organizations, providing an economic boost to the local economy.

Our school recently hosted a reception on Feb. 25 at the InterContinental Hotel (right next to our new campus location) to bring civic leaders together to learn more about the plans for our new campus. The event was co-hosted by Dr. Mike Antonini, a Pacific Dugoni graduate from the class of 1972. Dr. Antonini is a member of the San Francisco Planning Commission and a practicing dentist in San Francisco. We were joined by board members from the Pacific Dugoni Foundation, as well as several department chairs, students and staff, and incoming Alumni Association president Dr. Suzanne Saidi ’91.

We had a great time getting to know representatives from organizations such as SFMOMA, Market Street Association, Rotary Club of San Francisco, Intersection for the Arts, Target, CityPark, San Francisco Museum and Historical Society and The Moscone Center, along with many local real estate professionals, apartment leasing managers and other influential people in the city. We hoped they learned a little more about our school and, in turn, we look forward to getting to know more about our new neighbors in the coming months and years.