Skip to content

Our strong alumni network is one of the great assets of the Dugoni School. We recently had an opportunity to gather with more than 1,600 of our distinguished alumni and friends at the 118th Annual Alumni Meeting held next door at the InterContinental Hotel.

Thank you to our Alumni Association staff, alumni board of directors, and all of our volunteers for organizing the events. It is a very large meeting and we could not have made it a success without your help. Special congratulations to our immediate past Alumni Association President, Kimberly LaRocca ’06 DH, and to the new Association President, Daniel Castagna ’81, for stepping up as leaders among the alumni family.

During the event the Alumni Association presented its highest honor, the Medallion of Distinction, to Dr. Dorothy Dechant, Melanie and Richard Lundquist, and Dr. Ariane Terlet ‘86. Congratulations to each of these recipients for the impact they have made on the school, our profession, and the community.

Another aspect of the meeting was the reunion dinners held that Friday night at locations throughout the city. I had the opportunity to attend all of these gatherings, held this year for the Classes of 2012, 2007, 2002, 1997, 1992, 1987, 1982, 1977, 1972 and 1967. The IDS alumni each held a reunion gathering as well. The reunion classes held mini fundraising campaigns and collectively donated nearly $2 million to support the Dugoni School’s fundraising campaign. We thank the classes for this amazing display of philanthropy to support our people and programs.

Saturday’s Legacy Ball at the InterContinental ballroom was a festive opportunity to celebrate and socialize with our alumni, donors, friends, and guests. Thanks to those of you who volunteered at the gala, and especially to our Office of Development for all of their work on this signature event. It is always one of the highlights of the weekend, and this year’s Nowruz-themed event was no exception.

Looking ahead, we are excited about the upcoming American Dental Education Association Annual Session being held March 18-21 in Long Beach, California. Nearly 30 faculty, staff, and/or students are involved in presentations or posters at the event, and we have others involved in leadership activities for their ADEA Sections. The Dugoni School has a history of strong involvement with ADEA and it is great to see this tradition continue. More details are available at

 The ADEA conference will be special for the Pacific Center for Special Care, which is receiving a “Gies Awards for Innovation” on March 20. We congratulate Dr. Paul Glassman and the entire team at the Pacific Center for their work on the Virtual Dental Home system and their many other innovations.  The Gies Awards, named after dental education pioneer William J. Gies, Ph.D., debuted in 2008 and are the profession’s preeminent recognition for individuals and organizations that exemplify the highest standards in oral health and dental education, research, and leadership.

 We have much to celebrate as our Winter Quarter soon comes to a close. From our students to our patients to our alumni family and our colleagues in dental education, the Dugoni School is making an impact. Thank you for continuing to support each other and creating an environment of success.

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.

What a month it has been! March has been packed with important events and activities.

Pacific ADEA attendees gathered after the Gies Awards ceremony to celebrate the school's award.
Pacific ADEA attendees gathered after the Gies Awards ceremony to celebrate the school's award.
On the weekend of March 4, the Alumni Association hosted its 112th Annual Alumni Meeting here in San Francisco. It was the first time since my return from Stockton that I really got to reconnect closely with the greater Pacific Dugoni alumni family. We’re fortunate to have one of the largest alumni reunions of any dental school and it really shows the pride people have in their alma mater. The best moment for me — during a weekend of many wonderful moments — was during the Friday Alumni Luncheon, when I was presented with the Medallion of Distinction. What a terrific “welcome home” gift.

Then this past Monday, I had the pleasure to attend the Gies Awards ceremony at the ADEA Annual Session where the school received its award for Outstanding Vision — Academic Dental Institution. I was so proud to accept the award on behalf of the entire school in a ballroom filled with leaders in dental education.

The vision, talent, and collaborative hard work of our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends keep us on the forefront. Our peers continue to take notice of our many student and faculty accomplishments, curriculum enhancements, community service, international partnerships, facilities planning, and other projects identified as part of our school’s strategic plan implementation.

Congratulations to our entire school community — this is your award. Thank you for your commitment to living our vision — “Leading the Improvement of Health by Advancing Oral Health” — and for making our school such a special place.

Amid this month’s flurry of holiday activities and festivities, the Dugoni School of Dentistry received notice that we have been selected to receive the 2011 Gies Award for Outstanding Vision — Academic Dental Institution. This is a very special honor that speaks to the vision, talent and hard work of all of our students, faculty and staff.

While you are undoubtedly familiar with the Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards, you may not be as familiar with the dental education community’s very own awards presented during the American Dental Education Association session each year. The William J. Gies Awards, given by the ADEAGies Foundation, recognize exceptional contributions to oral health and dental education worldwide.

I am so proud of the work of our entire team. The education community continues to take notice of our curriculum enhancements, student leadership, community involvement, new approaches to faculty development, international partnerships and our focus on feasibility planning for new facilities, to name just a few areas.

We look forward to the ADEA Annual Session in March in San Diego where we’ll join fellow recipients on stage during an awards dinner. Even though it won’t have the celebrity quotient of the entertainment industry’s award shows, the Gies Awards will certainly celebrate some of our own “stars” from the dental education world. We’re pleased to be part of the excitement.