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As we recognize the various traditions and cultures of all members of the Dugoni School family, I would like to take a moment to wish you a happy Nowruz — the Persian New Year.

This “new day” is celebrated at the vernal equinox by millions of people around the world in recognition of the beginning of spring. I send you good wishes during this celebration of renewal and new beginnings.

Thanks to everyone who was able to join us for the 119th Annual Alumni meeting March 2-3 at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.

Throughout the weekend you could hear the voice of the Dugoni School family loud and clear, full of pride and passion for our great people and programs. The event theme of “Dugoni School Giants and Leaders” was brought to life through our CE speakers, alumni and other school and dental community leaders who shared their expertise and insights. Special thanks to our Alumni Association board of directors, including new president Dr. Mary Turoff ’77 and immediate past president Dr. Dan Castagna ’81, as well as all of our staff and volunteers for putting on an impressive event that attracted 1,450 alumni and friends. You can read more about the alumni weekend here.

The school’s 50th annual Legacy Ball (formerly P&S Ball) coincided with the alumni meeting. It was a special opportunity to gather at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel for dinner, dancing, camaraderie and conversation during this annual celebration of philanthropy. Prior to the gala, we held the first-ever gathering of the Dr. Frank A. Brucia Loyalty Society. The society is a new way to recognize donors who have demonstrated their support by giving to the Dugoni School for at least 10 consecutive years, with lifetime giving of $50,000 or more.

The picture below from the Brucia Loyalty Society Reception illustrates one of my favorite moments of the entire weekend. Together, Dr. Frank Brucia (100 years young), Dr. Doc Starin (95) and Dr. Art Dugoni (92) represent 287 years of experience and love for dentistry and our great school. What a moment it was to see these giants together!

As I looked around the alumni weekend and saw faces of classmates, friends and mentors, it occurred to me how many more giants have grown within the Dugoni School family. Look at the success that many of you have enjoyed over the years. You’ve become giants in the dental profession in your own unique way. You are looked up to by your patients, your families, your communities, and your friends. And to all of you “giants” reading this message today, I’m so proud to call you fellow alumni of the Dugoni School of Dentistry. I am grateful for all that you do to keep our legacy strong and our future bright!

collage of photos from the alumni meeting

Dental assistants play an important role both here at the Dugoni School and in the wider healthcare community. Our clinics would not be successful without their varied skills and keen attention to high-quality patient care.

This week we thank our many dental assistants during the national “Dental Assistant Recognition Week” being held March 4 to 10, 2018. This year’s theme is “Advancing the profession through collaboration and leadership,” which acknowledges the growing importance of dentistry's role in health care and the many responsibilities of dental assistants. Visit the American Dental Assistants Association website to learn more.

Please take a moment to express gratitude to our dental assistants this week and at other times throughout the year. We are glad they are part of the Dugoni School family as we strive to fulfill our school’s purpose of helping people lead healthy lives.

Having just visited with our Hawaii alumni at our annual January reception, I’m filled with the spirit of aloha, as well as a sense of family togetherness that these local events instill. We are fortunate to have such close-knit groups of alumni who support each other throughout their careers and continue to stay connected regularly.

These annual gatherings and traditions are important parts of the Dugoni School story. A couple of milestone events coming up are even celebrating “golden” anniversaries.

This month we will be celebrating the 50th year of our Asilomar retreat. We are bringing together the 20-year reunion class of 1998, the 5-year reunion class of 2013, Monterey-area alumni and the graduating classes of 2018. If you are in the region, come and join us for a fun event at the Monterey Bay Aquarium on Saturday, Feb. 17. The event is for the whole family and RSVP details can be found here.

We are also looking forward to seeing many of you at our upcoming Annual Alumni Meeting March 2-3 at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. The 50th anniversary Legacy Ball will take place on Saturday, March 3 at the Mark Hopkins Hotel. It will be a spectacular weekend of CE and celebration on the top of Nob Hill! We invite you to register for the Alumni meeting or learn more about the Legacy Ball.

We have some other exciting news involving the number 50. Thanks to the generosity of our alumni, friends and other supporters, we are approaching the milestone of $50 million raised toward our $65 million goal in the “Building Our Future, Embracing Our Legacy” campaign to support our people and programs. Thank you to those who have donated at any level to support the Dugoni School. It will take the support of all of us to build a stronger future.

There is more good news involving numbers. The Department of Endodontics received a strong showing of support from the American Association of Endodontics Foundation; last week foundation officials visited our school to award a $100,000 Endowed Faculty Matching Grant to support the Ronald F. Borer Endowment for Endodontics The impact of the foundation's generosity will be doubled to a total of $200,000 through $100,000 in additional funds provided by University of the Pacific's Powell Match program, which matches qualifying new endowment gifts on a 1:1 basis. You can read about their visit here.

We look forward to our next set of milestones in the years and decades to come! Meanwhile, I look forward to celebrating with you all this year.