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Over the past month, the Pacific Dugoni family gathered together to celebrate an exciting milestone in our school’s history. But more importantly, you celebrated the bonds you have with your fellow classmates and colleagues. You remind me every day of how fortunate I am to call you my family.

Staff Photo
Dugoni staff exploring the new building.

More than 2,000 members of the Pacific Dugoni family visited San Francisco for Alumni Weekend and the dedication of our new building at 155 Fifth Street. It was amazing to see so many generations of students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends exploring our new home. Your enthusiasm and energy put the finishing touches on the building and filled it with life.

Dedication - Students
Pacific Dugoni students get a preview of their simulation lab.

Having an extended family means that there’s a home for you wherever you travel. I had the opportunity to meet with more than 30 Pacific Dugoni alumni in Dallas, and I was touched to hear that they get together frequently to socialize and share what they are up to personally and professionally. They have built a community in their city and continue to live out Pacific Dugoni’s values of humanism, collaboration and respect.

Last month, more than 70 members of the Pacific Dugoni family gathered in San Antonio for the American Dental Education Association’s Annual Session. We hosted a dinner on the River Walk on the Sunday evening of the event, and invited our alumni who live in and around San Antonio. As a school family, we learn and work together. But we also have the chance to relax, gathering together over a table to share food and conversation.

Alumni Meeting
Alumni come together at the Annual Alumni Meeting.

One of my favorite philosophers, Marcus Aurelius, once said, “Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart.” I know that transition can bring challenges and opportunities, whether it’s moving to a new school, graduating, starting out in a new program, finding mentors, developing a practice or just trying a new way of doing things. Fortunately, the Pacific Dugoni family is a strong support network that reaches far and wide. With all my heart, thank you for being a family that stays connected.

Alumni Luncheon

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Over the holiday break I had an opportunity to visit my extended family in Italy. My travels took me to San Salvatore Telesino, located just a bit northeast of Naples. My grandparents lived there before they immigrated to the United States. It is where my grandmother was born and raised.

Meeting my extended Italian family was quite a thrill. They showed me the local sights, shared delicious food and wine, discussed family members past and present, and shared stories about their daily life in Italy. The importance of family in Italian culture cannot be understated and this trip certainly brought that point to life.

Similarly, the Pacific Dugoni family ties run deep. The anticipation I felt in Italy before meeting my extended relatives was similar to how our new students might feel before they first meet their fellow classmates and faculty members.

Our school family enjoys a special bond built over time. Shared interests and experiences bring us together. Just like in Italy, food and family hospitality are part of our school culture. Our traditions include the Cioppino dinner for first-year students hosted by alumni, new student orientation weekend, the Over the Hump party, our Bridge Builders international culture and food festival, White Coat Ceremony, dinners for student leaders/administrators, and the third-year class trip to Asilomar in Pacific Grove, just to name a few. The school’s family ties are strengthened during the countless hours of classes, clinic sessions, community outreach, lunch and learns, and socializing.

These ties continue after a student graduates from our school. He or she will be an alumnus of Pacific Dugoni for life. We hope our graduates will stay in touch after they have “left the nest” and come home for reunions and other events.

As with any family dynamic, the dental school experience has many aspects. It can be challenging, humorous, joyful and stressful – but ultimately rewarding. We members of the Pacific Dugoni community grow, laugh, challenge ourselves and learn from each other knowing that each of us cares for the success of one another.
My famiglia, indeed!

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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.

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.