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Fellow friends and leaders from the Class of 1994 gathered during one of the many CDA events in San Francisco.

Leadership takes many forms at the Dugoni School. It might be an enthusiastic new staff member volunteering to chair a school committee. A student who organizes a study club to help fellow students, or steps up as a class officer to represent her classmates. A faculty member who offers to co-lead an outreach project in the community. Or an alumnus whose impact goes beyond the walls of his practice through involvement in a local chamber of commerce or neighborhood association.

One of my favorite notions is that dental professionals and dental educators are all leaders by nature of our jobs. Patients look up to us to lead, to give them trusted advice about what’s intimately important to them — their health. Students look up to us for sage guidance, training and encouragement about their future. In our private practices, staff members turn to us regularly to make choices that impact the success of the practice.

Leadership is identified as one of our school’s seven core values. Along with humanism, I think that leadership is one of the most important values that makes a Dugoni-trained dental professional stand out in the dental field.

Leadership was on full display at the recent CDA Fall Session in San Francisco. The Dugoni School’s influence was felt deep and wide at the event. Many of our faculty led CE courses, our CDA student leaders participated in events and other volunteers from our school helped make the event a success.

You may have read in CDA program that the CDA Fall Session was dedicated to our very own Dr. Craig Yarborough '80, senior development officer. In addition to his duties at the Dugoni School, Craig also serves as Speaker of the House for the California Dental Association. What a tremendous honor for Craig to be recognized for his leadership by the CDA. He and other school alumni certainly have made their mark on the profession through their involvement in organizations such as CDA, ADA and ADEA, to name a few.

Another opportunity to lead will be at the CDA Cares event in Stockton, October 15-16. We look forward to seeing many of you who will join our school volunteers in caring for underserved people in the Central Valley. If you’d like to get involved, please visit this page.

Thanks to our entire Dugoni School community for everything you do each day to be leaders in your homes, dental practices and communities.

CDA Cares with patient

“One of the most amazing experiences I’ll remember from my time at dental school,” is how Michelle Hsiao, DDS Class of 2016, described her recent experience caring for the underserved at Project Homeless Connect (PHC) in San Francisco.

Michelle was just one of the many volunteer students, faculty and staff who donated their time and skills over spring break to care for people in need. Their efforts make an impressive display of philanthropy, humanism, leadership, collaboration and other core values we hold high at the Dugoni School.

For a decade, our school has been a lead dental provider at Project Homeless Connect. On March 23, more than 25 school volunteers and alumni conducted free dental screenings, provided basic oral healthcare, and shared oral health information to nearly 150 working poor and homeless individuals. Thirty people were brought back to the dental school’s Oral Surgery clinic for additional same-day care provided by a team of volunteers. Michelle is right – it’s an amazing experience for all involved. Read more and see pictures here.

Our community involvement over spring break spanned all the way to Fiji. During four days in Moala Village, 22 students, seven dentists, and an additional spouse/volunteer cared for more than 300 individuals, treated and/or restored almost 1,100 tooth surfaces, extracted 259 teeth, performed one root canal, instructed hundreds of people in brushing and flossing, and educated Fijians on caries management by risk assessment (CAMBRA). Students creatively raised their own funds to help pay for the trip by selling baked goods, Dugoni School bow-ties, hot dogs and snacks during lunchtime fundraisers.


Looking ahead, many of our alumni in Southern California will be joining the contingent of Dugoni School volunteers at the California Dental Association’s “CDA Cares” event in Ventura, April 16-17. We look forward to another opportunity to partner with the CDA on these events that make a difference in the lives of so many people in local communities. Click here to learn more about volunteering.

Thank you to all of the members of the Dugoni School family, including many of you, who give of your time, talents and other resources. This spirit of community involvement and our impact on thousands of underserved people each year makes the Dugoni School a remarkable force for good in the world. If you’re ever interested in joining or financially supporting one of our volunteer “expeditions” in a local community, or around the world, please stay in touch!


Thanks to all of the alumni and guests who joined us in San Francisco for the 117th Annual Alumni Meeting! We hope you enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with classmates and learn some lessons that will help you go from “Good to Great” in your practice. What a wonderful and warm gathering of the Dugoni School family. Special thanks to our Alumni Association board members, staff and volunteers who really shined in putting together the event, held for the first time at the InterContinental Hotel. The team is already working hard on the program for next year, so we hope you will put March 3-4, 2017 in your calendar.

Congratulations to Dr. Steven Dugoni and Drs. Gabby and Gary Thodas who were honored with the association’s highest honor, the Medallion of Distinction, at the recognition luncheon. We also are extremely thankful to the reunion class members who contributed so generously to their class gifts, and to everyone who was able to join us for the Legacy Ball, our signature event to celebrate our core value of philanthropy. Special thanks to our Foundation board members and Development team for hosting this wonderful night.

As I mentioned in my luncheon remarks, it is an exciting time to serve as interim dean as we look for ways to refocus on our future. We are relentlessly focused on excellence in our programs. We are investing in people, our most valuable asset. We are also committed to addressing the challenge of the rising cost of higher education by supporting our students and programs through philanthropy. These are ambitious goals, but together the Dugoni School family will accomplish them and build an even brighter future.

In other celebrations among soon-to-be alumni, our DDS and IDS graduating classes recently enjoyed their retreat to the Asilomar conference center. In just two years, we will be marking the 50th anniversary of the first Asilomar weekend. Since 1968, this well-loved tradition has given our graduating students the opportunity to gather as a class one last time.

These two events exemplify the strong bonds that the Dugoni School creates among students and alumni. Thank you for staying involved in your dental school family. You were a dental student once, but you are an alumnus of your school for life. We look forward to seeing you at future events and staying in touch in other ways.


During the past few weeks, I had the chance to travel to several cities and meet with people, including many of our alumni, who are doing some remarkable things.

First, I had the opportunity to attend the graduation ceremony for Dr. Cindy Lyon, chair of our Department of Dental Practice, from the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) program. A one-year program of leadership training for women in academic medicine, dentistry and public health, ELAM is part of the International Center for Executive Leadership in Academics at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, PA.

Each year, ELAM selects a group of 54 women candidates from a significantly large pool of applicants. The applicants have already demonstrated leadership, but this is an opportunity to improve on their leadership skills. They ask the deans to come to two days of graduation activities at the end of the program, and I had the opportunity to participate.

Dr. Lyon graduated from the prestigious ELAM program.
Dr. Lyon graduated from the prestigious ELAM program.

I was extremely impressed with Cindy and the project she has accomplished as part of the program. Her project focused on the future move of our Dental Hygiene program from Stockton to San Francisco. While that may seem somewhat simple, it is a very complex project because it involves many people and areas. I heard a high number of positive comments about Cindy from her fellow classmates.

The next activity, which I enjoyed immensely, was attending the California Dental Association’s annual meeting in Anaheim held April 30-May 2. I had an opportunity to meet with many of our alumni from throughout the region. The Pacific Dugoni Alumni Reception held at the Anabella Hotel was a great opportunity to connect. I heard so many positive stories about what our alums are doing, not only in their practices, but also in their personal lives, and how they are giving back to their communities. As we all know, we are proud of our graduates. Meeting our alumni at these types of events reinforces that strong feeling. It is always inspiring to hear about their achievements and leadership in their local communities.

Meeting with alumni at the Pacific Dugoni Alumni Reception held at the Anabella Hotel during CDA Presents - Anaheim.

Finally, on May 2, I had the opportunity to meet up with one of our graduates, Dr. Bill Dorfman ’83. In addition to his very successful cosmetic dentistry practice, he is involved in METal International, a membership group for dynamic entrepreneurs in the Los Angeles area. The purpose of their Saturday gatherings is to network, not necessarily to help themselves with their businesses, but to connect each other to all the good things that they are doing in the community.

Today, we hear about so many negative things in the world, but it was heartening and impressive to listen to these leaders as they discussed all the different community activities they are involved with and to which they are giving their time, talent, and treasure.

Bill Dorfman himself is making a difference through a program he co-founded called LEAP (which stands for Leadership, Excellence and Accelerating Potential). It helps young people begin to prepare better for their future by teaching them goal-setting, mentorship, self-motivation, professionalism and effective communication skills. Often, these young people have limited exposure to role models. People who volunteer for the program help fill that void.

Once again, I am always proud to see what our people are doing out in the world. As dean, it is very fulfilling for me to visit with our wonderful graduates and hear their stories.