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Welcome back and I hope you enjoyed the break. We are looking forward to a fruitful quarter full of learning and growth.

Our Alumni Association board met on September 24th, and I had the opportunity to share some updates about all of your wonderful efforts.  We have so much to be proud of and that has been possible because of what you do to lift and pull one another up.  Thank you for your incredible efforts.

There are two ways of exerting one’s strength.  One is pushing down, the other is pulling up.” –Booker T. Washington

Congratulations to our three endodontics residents who will mark the completion of their 27-month program tonight with a celebratory gathering with the department. What an amazing accomplishment for these talented professionals. We wish them the best as they move forward in their careers.

We are looking forward to our Alumni Association Board of Directors meeting taking place tomorrow. We are fortunate to have such a supportive group of alumni volunteers who care deeply about the success of our students and residents.

A couple of other updates to pass along:

The Dugoni School was in the news this week as Dentistry Today covered the renaming of the Pacific Center for Special Care as the Pacific Center for Equity in Oral Health Care, along with some other updates about the center’s expanded focus. Thank you Dr. Elisa Chavez for assuming your new leadership role with the center along with many colleagues here at the Dugoni School and elsewhere in our profession. Read the Dentistry Today story and visit the Pacific Center for Equity in Oral Health Care website.

At the national level, much activity is underway in the U.S. Congress about adding dental, vision, and hearing benefits to the Medicare program. A Sept. 20, 2021 communication from the California Dental Association offers some background and context.

The US Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday it would grant emergency use authorization for a booster dose of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine in people 65 and older, people at high risk of severe disease, and people whose jobs put them at risk of infection.  See the full story here.  The CDC will make its final recommendations soon. 

Dear Dugoni School Family,

Thank you to all members of the Dugoni School family who were able to join us live or virtually at the White Coat Ceremonies on Saturday. This was a unique year, with two ceremonies in one day, and I know there was extra coordination to make the events possible. I am grateful we were able to celebrate the achievements of our outstanding students in person during these important milestones. Congratulations to our students!

The morning ceremony (DDS and IDS 2022) livestream is available here

and the afternoon ceremony (DDS and IDS 2023 and DH 2022) livestream is available here.

Congratulations to our colleagues Drs. Audrey Yoon, Linda Phi, Joorok Park, and Heesoo Oh in the Orthodontics Department and to Dr. Allen Wong who published “Clinical Signs of Sleep-Disordered Breathing in Children with Disabilities” in Exceptional Parent magazine, the magazine for clinicians, parents, and others in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities. According to Dr. Wong, the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry names “sleep” as a focus of one of the major disparities of health care for people with IDD. It is wonderful to see the growing expertise of our faculty and school in the areas of sleep medicine in collaborations between several of our departments.  Learn more in the article.

In news about vaccines for COVID-19, yesterday the Food and Drug Administration formally approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people age 16 and older. The vaccine has been known as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and will now be marketed as Comirnaty (koe-mir’-na-tee), for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older.  The vaccine continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA), for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain individuals.  This development is expected to usher in new vaccine requirements by hospitals, colleges, corporations, and other organizations around the country.  We are grateful to have almost all members of the Dugoni School family who have taken the important step of being fully vaccinated and look forward to the availability of booster doses later this year.  Learn more here, and listen to the media audio call here.

If you want to touch the past, touch a rock. If you want to touch the present, touch a flower. If you want to touch the future, touch a life.”–Unknown Author

Be well.

It is amazing to think we have reached the last week of the academic year. This year has moved ahead swiftly with each day bringing some important and historic milestones.

We hosted the WREB examinations over the weekend and are now hosting the ADEX exam. Yesterday was our last day of full services in the Main Clinic. Today, Faculty Development Day activities are taking place online. Wednesday is the day that graduating students will be officially certified for graduation, and we will welcome our incoming students at a “Meet the Family” session in the evening. Exams will take place the rest of the week for our continuing students. The circle of academic life continues.  We also look forward to the virtual awards program on Friday evening for the graduating Class of 2021 and our in-person commencement ceremony on Sunday. What a memorable week!

I would like to take this moment to express my deep appreciation to all of you as members of the Dugoni School family. You have worked so hard during some very unusual circumstances during this academic year. Thank you for all that you have done — and will continue to do — to collaborate, succeed, and thrive in the face of any challenge or obstacle.

This certainly was a remarkable year. Our Dugoni School family has been inspiring in achieving so many incredible milestones this year. I am grateful for your compassion, care, and commitment to excellence in all that we do. You helped us stay true to our values and achieve our purpose of helping people lead healthy lives. You helped the Dugoni School emerge through this year as a premier dental education program anywhere in this country or world.

I hope that you take time to reflect, appreciate your many achievements, and allow yourself some downtime to rest.