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Greetings and Happy New Year!

As we begin 2017, I am pleased to provide an update about the Dugoni School’s new strategic planning process. Our theme is Transforming the Future of Oral Health Education. The Dugoni School has led in transforming dental education in many ways — our humanistic model, our accelerated year-round predoctoral program and a vibrant alumni association — to name only a few. We are well positioned to expand our role as a global leader in education and patient care. Such leadership requires vision combined with the foresight and initiative to prepare for, create, and shape the future.

This is a perfect time to look at the future of oral health and the Dugoni School's place in that future. Our last major strategic planning effort was over 10 years ago. While we updated the plan in 2013, many changes have occurred locally, nationally, and globally over the past four years. In today’s rapidly changing education and health care environment, the Dugoni School must position itself to move to even higher levels of prominence as a leader among academic dental institutions if we are to transform the future of oral health education, and so oral health.

Our initiation of a strategic planning process coincides with the University’s engagement to develop a new plan, Pacific 2025. The Dugoni School’s plan will be informed by, align with, and complement the University’s vision, mission, values, and priorities. I have appointed a Strategic Planning Oversight Committee (SPOC) to help guide us in the planning process. SPOC is assisted by the Academy for Academic Leadership, a consulting firm that has worked with the Dugoni School and the University for many years. I am pleased to report that SPOC conducted its initial meeting on December 16 and will begin engaging the entire school family, as well as external stakeholders, this month. SPOC members are:

  • Dr. Elisa Chávez (Chair)
  • Dr. Homer Asadi
  • Mr. Marco Castellanos
  • Dr. Richard Fredekind
  • Dr. Des Gallagher
  • Dr. Alan Gluskin
  • Dr. Natasha Lee
  • Dr. Cindy Lyon
  • Mr. Blake Swimmer
  • Dr. Gabrielle Thodas

Serving as internal consultants to SPOC are:  Ms. Joanne Fox, Director, Dugoni School Alumni Association; Mr. Jeff Rhode, Associate Dean for Development; and Mr. Dan Soine, Director of Marketing and Communications.

Strategic planning is a communicative, consensus-building process. SPOC will seek input from faculty, students, staff, University administrators, alumni, and other major stakeholders as it facilitates the plan’s development. The committee will create communication conduits to ensure that the Dugoni School family is informed about activities and has ample opportunities for input. During its first meeting, SPOC identified these principles to guide the strategic planning process:

  • Prioritize and limit efforts to those areas most likely to have a significant impact on the future of oral health education.
  • Foster open and transparent communication, respectful of all opinions.
  • Encourage creativity and informed risk-taking.
  • Look beyond ourselves and traditional dental education for transformative ideas.
  • Focus on the good of the entire Dugoni School community.

Building on our school’s distinctive character and historic strengths, SPOC is charged with creating a bold and dynamic strategic plan to advance us to new levels of success. A living document, our new strategic plan will be public, accessible to all stakeholders and interested parties as a model of educational distinction. The implementation plan and associated outcomes assessment plan will be disseminated throughout the school as we work together to create a new and exciting future. Please join me and the Dugoni School in transforming the future of oral health education!

As our new campus construction moves forward in San Francisco's South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood, we are also making strides in introducing the school to local businesses, health organizations, cultural institutions and community members in our future neighborhood. It’s never too early to make these important connections, since our transition to the new campus in the spring and summer of 2014 will be here before we know it.

We want to be a good neighbor. We also want our future neighbors to know the many ways we serve the community. We treat nearly 10,000 patients at our San Francisco dental clinics and handle approximately 135,000 patient visits across our various clinics. We also lead health outreach events on and off-campus, and bring thousands of alumni and other dental professionals to San Francisco each year for continuing education. Plus our students, faculty and staff members frequent restaurants, retail stores, fitness centers, entertainment venues and neighborhood cultural organizations, providing an economic boost to the local economy.

Our school recently hosted a reception on Feb. 25 at the InterContinental Hotel (right next to our new campus location) to bring civic leaders together to learn more about the plans for our new campus. The event was co-hosted by Dr. Mike Antonini, a Pacific Dugoni graduate from the class of 1972. Dr. Antonini is a member of the San Francisco Planning Commission and a practicing dentist in San Francisco. We were joined by board members from the Pacific Dugoni Foundation, as well as several department chairs, students and staff, and incoming Alumni Association president Dr. Suzanne Saidi ’91.

We had a great time getting to know representatives from organizations such as SFMOMA, Market Street Association, Rotary Club of San Francisco, Intersection for the Arts, Target, CityPark, San Francisco Museum and Historical Society and The Moscone Center, along with many local real estate professionals, apartment leasing managers and other influential people in the city. We hoped they learned a little more about our school and, in turn, we look forward to getting to know more about our new neighbors in the coming months and years.

Every day, great examples of leadership are displayed around the clinics, classrooms and research labs at the Dugoni School of Dentistry. If you’re familiar with the heritage of the dental school, it should come as no surprise to hear that the people at Pacific continually show their passion for pav­ing the way.

Our commitment to excellence keeps our school in the vanguard, a term which describes people who are fore­most in a movement, field or cultural trend.

Leadership is one characteristic we especially foster, contributing to our success as an organization and keeping us on the forefront of oral health education around the world.

My new white paper focuses on the topic of leadership and outlines some of the many ways that our school’s people and programs have stayed on the cutting edge. It also highlights our plan for new facilities that will allow us to provide a distinctive and flexible home for students, patients, faculty, staff, alumni and others.

A leader must evolve, plan strategies for the future and make changes that set the pace for others. Our school’s move to new facilities in San Francisco is an opportunity for us to do just that.

"Any organization that becomes stagnant dies."

These were the rather strong words I heard the other day spoken by former GE CEO Jack Welch on television. While I certainly don't agree with everything that he has said over the years, the quote resonates with me as we think about the future of our organization. We have several initiatives moving ahead that will greatly impact our future — most significantly, our school’s strategic plan update and our new facility project in the South of Market neighborhood.

January is a great month to look ahead, whether personally, professionally or as an institution. With the holidays now over, it’s a time to reflect and plan for future directions in all aspects of our lives.

Thinking about our school, we can appreciate what we have achieved as an educational institution, but at the same time, we must also recognize that we can’t stop where we are. If we do not continue to move forward, we could easily lose our first-place status.

Many dental schools closed in the 1980s because they remained stagnant. They did not face the reality of a changing world or changing dental education, choosing to live on their reputations. But they also eventually "died" on their reputations.

We will not share their same fate. All the progress we are making — the development of our integrated curriculum, the refinement of our strategic plan and ultimately the move to new facilities — clearly indicates that the Dugoni School is not stagnant at all. We have a bright future ahead.

Change, while sometimes difficult, is often necessary. We have become comfortable in our present environment — we have outstanding people, some of the best and brightest students we could imagine, and a strong dedication to our mission. However, I believe we must continue on our path forward and plan for even greater achievements as a school.

I’m very excited for 2012 and the great strides we will make this year and beyond.