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PAS program students in class

Our Master of Physician Assistant Studies program on the Sacramento campus is fairly new, but it joins a field of healthcare that is marking its 50th anniversary this year.

The physician assistant, or PA, profession was born in the mid-1960s out of a need for healthcare providers in the midst of a primary-care physician shortage in that decade. You can learn more about the interesting history of the PA field on the American Academy of Physician Assistants website.

I would like to thank Program Director and Department Chair Mark Christiansen, PhD, PA-C, and his entire team for everything they have done to successfully launch the PA program this past year. It is a shining example of success and inter-professional collaboration for the Dugoni School and the entire University. We are glad to play an important role in serving as the temporary academic home for the program.

I am pleased to share with you the 2016-2017 Academic Year in Review, a new report that covers just some of the successes and highlights of our last academic year (spanning July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017).

The report highlights some of the many metrics we track as part of our school-wide outcomes measures. As you can see, we collectively make a positive impact on the lives of thousands of people each year through our academic programs, clinical services, research, community outreach, and other areas.

Thank you for making our last academic year a success and for your ongoing efforts to help the Dugoni School thrive.

You can read the report electronically, or download a copy of it below.


Following our national search and the recommendations from our search committee, I am pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Cindy Lyon ‘86 to serve as our new Associate Dean for Oral Health Education, effective July 1, 2017.

This is a new, expanded leadership position that will play a key role in our future success. In this new role, Dr. Lyon will provide oversight of all educational programs at the Dugoni School. She and the leadership team will support the excellence of our curricula, faculty, students and residents, research, Continuing Dental Education, and associated outcomes.

Along with this new position comes some changes in our reporting structure. Dr. Lyon will report directly to me, and her direct reports will be the Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs, Assistant Dean for Research, Associate Dean for Student Services, all academic department chairpersons, and the Director of Continuing Dental Education. Dr. Lyon will also be deeply involved in our faculty recruitment, appointment and promotion, as well as our faculty development programs as chairperson of the Faculty Development Oversight Committee. She also will serve as chairperson of the Faculty Appointment, Promotion, and Tenure Committee; the Student Academic Performance and Promotion Committee; and the Curriculum Committee.
Dr. Lyon brings outstanding knowledge, skill, experience, and personal/professional qualities that will serve the Dugoni School family well in this role. She began her career at the Dugoni School in 2001, when she was asked to create a dental hygiene program on the University’s main campus in Stockton. She was instrumental in developing the innovative curriculum and obtaining accreditation for the nation's first three-year baccalaureate dental hygiene program.

Dr. Lyon earned her bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene from USC in 1978 and her DDS degree from University of the Pacific in 1986. In 2009, she earned her doctorate in education from Pacific’s Benerd School of Education. Prior to joining the dental school, Dr. Lyon and her husband Dr. John Muller ‘85, owned and operated a private practice and worked for a private practice management firm. She also was the founding director of the Calaveras County Children’s Dental Program, a grant-funded school-based care program. Dr. Lyon also gives back to our profession in so many ways. She has served the California Dental Association as Chair of the CDA Foundation and a member of the Foundation’s CDA Cares steering committee. She is the recipient of the Omicron Kappa Upsilon Charles Craig Teaching Award and is a fellow of the American Dental Education Association Leadership Institute and Drexel University’s Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine program.

Dr. Lyon will assume her new responsibilities on July 1, 2017. Dr. Alan Budenz, currently Vice Chair of the Department of Diagnostic Science, has generously agreed to act as interim chair until a search can be completed.

I also want to thank the members of the search committee for their work in organizing the search, reviewing CVs, interviewing candidates, and providing feedback. They include Dr. Daniel Bender, Dr. Des Gallagher, Ms. Esther Hill, Ms. Hannah Hurley, Dr. Gene LaBarre, Dr. Bill Lundergan, Dr. Anders Nattestad, Ms. Shanel Wright-Hooks, and Dr. Richard Fredekind. They did an excellent job of managing the process and people involved in this important search.

Please join me in congratulating and thanking Dr. Lyon and Dr. Budenz! We are so lucky to have such dedicated, caring, and talented individuals who will help the Dugoni School achieve our vision for oral health education.


Spring marks the start of Nowruz, the Persian New Year. Nowruz (or “new day” in Farsi) is an ancient festival that marks the beginning of spring and celebrates the rebirth of nature. It promotes values of peace and solidarity between generations and within families, as well as reconciliation and neighborliness, thus contributing to cultural diversity and friendship among peoples and different communities.

 The Dugoni School is a multicultural family that includes many people of Persian descent, so I wanted to send an announcement to acknowledge this “new day.” Please enjoy a happy Nowruz celebration with your friends and family as we celebrate the beginning of spring and strengthen our commitment to one another.