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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.

Dear Pacific Dugoni Family,

I would like to wish all of you a happy, safe and restful holiday season.

You have all accomplished so much over this remarkable year. The move to the new building, setting up our new clinics and classrooms, welcoming our new students, completing CODA accreditation, implementing more of the Pacific Dental Helix Curriculum and The Pacific Promise, providing care to thousands of people in our community – these are just some of the major accomplishments made possible by your efforts. There are so many other stories of individual achievement by our students, faculty, and staff. You are an amazing group of people, and I am proud to be your Dean.

Over the past year, the Pacific Dugoni family demonstrated collaboration, humanism, leadership, innovation and other values we hold high as a school. You showed flexibility and a bit of humor as we got settled into our new home and launched into the new school year. You showed that you cared for each other and most importantly for the success of our students and patients.

I hope you get a chance to enjoy the downtime and spend much-deserved time with family, friends, and other loved ones. You deserve it.

Happy holidays!

Pacific Dugoni gets festive for the holiday season.
Pacific Dugoni gets festive for the holiday season.

I want to thank the entire Pacific Dugoni family for your involvement in a successful accreditation site visit held October 28-30 by a team from the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). I want to inform you that there are no recommendations and many positive comments toward all our programs that were under review:  Pre-doctoral (DDS), AEGD and Orthodontics.

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Students enjoy a reception celebrating the accreditation success.

The strengths the team highlighted included the planning of our curriculum, having a facility that lines up to it, the faculty, faculty development, humanistic environment, collaborations and university support. Regarding humanism, one site visit team member commented, “As you know, there is a standard requiring that dental schools demonstrate a humanistic environment.” As he said, it is very difficult to document that and put it on paper. He mentioned walking through the building, you need no documentation, because the humanistic spirit is all over the place.

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I want to give you all a special thanks and pat on the back. I know this was a difficult job. To do this under normal circumstances is difficult enough. Having to do it as we transitioned into the new building made the task even more challenging. As I always thought, the Pacific Dugoni family was up to it.

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I want to give special recognition to Dr. Nader Nadershahi and Dr. Daniel Bender. They did an incredible job working to make sure this process was done successfully. Thank you to everyone else, writing teams, and support – you were fantastic.

Bottom line: Pacific Dugoni has always been great. As a result of this process, we are even greater.

Thank you again.

I’m very proud of our newest DDS and IDS classes for giving back to the Bay Area community during the first-year student retreat in August.

The annual two-day retreat gives students a chance to get to know each other outside the school walls so that they can bond as a class and prepare for their exciting educational journey ahead. In the last three years we have also incorporated a day of community service into the first day of the experience.

On Aug. 1, I had the opportunity to join student volunteers at GLIDE, a well-known nonprofit organization headquartered in the Tenderloin district that serves disadvantaged people throughout the city. I couldn’t have been more proud of seeing our dental students preparing meals in the kitchen to be served later that day to hundreds of people in need. Other students, faculty and staff volunteered that same day at the San Francisco Food Bank, Project Open Hand and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

While at GLIDE I also had the opportunity to learn more about the health services the organization offers to the public. Patricia Dennehy, Director of Glide Health Services, introduced me to some people on her team and showed me around the health clinic.

Our school’s core values include collaboration, philanthropy, humanism and leadership. On this day of community service, it was encouraging to see our students living these values through their actions out in community. Congratulations to all who participated in this outreach and to all of the staff and faculty members who volunteered to organize a memorable first-year student retreat.