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I hope your Tuesday is off to a good start. Yesterday was a time of observance of both Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples' Day. Columbus Day was proclaimed a national holiday in 1934, while the celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day took root more recently. Read a brief overview of both days here.

As we look toward the future, please take a minute to reflect on where we have been. Our newly published 2020-2021 Academic Year in Review highlights some of the stories, metrics, and milestones of our last academic year. We compile this publication each year to showcase the important work done by School family. You may see your own projects highlighted among the pages. Thank you to our team members in the Marketing and Communications and Design and Photo departments for your work on the issue. The publication is available online and we will also have a limited number of printed copies available upon request.

This week marks Sterile Processing Week (formerly International Central Service Week), celebrated October 10 - 16, 2021. Please thank the members of the Central Sterilization and Dispensing Department for the important work they do each day. They are on the front lines of patient and provider safety here at the Dugoni School, as they are responsible for cleaning, decontaminating, sterilization, assembling, testing, and otherwise managing the instruments and equipment used to care for our patients. Our clinics could not function safely or successfully without their important contributions.

Thank you for what you have been doing to keep each other healthy. Through our protocols, we are also keeping our patients, families, friends and others in the community healthy.

I would like to start this post by thanking Hiba Akhtar, Pacific ASDA, our office of student affairs, and all our participants for a wonderful Virtual Bridge Builders week. I loved the videos (some of which you can see on Instagram) and know that we are all grateful for everyone taking the time to share your culture and family with your Dugoni School family.

The American College of Dentists — Northern California Section held its virtual awards program this past Saturday. Congratulations to Kenji O’Brien DDS ’21 for being named the Outstanding Student Leader, and to Professor Eve Cuny for being named Outstanding Faculty Member. Your leadership over the past year has been admirable and we are proud of both of you!

Congratulations also to Dr. Ned Nix, associate professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the Dugoni School, who was recently elected Regent, Regency 7, for the American College of Dentists. He will represent Hawaii, Northern California, Southern California, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico for three years beginning at the ACD Annual Meeting in October.

Tonight, we will hold the virtual Tau Kappa Omega (TKO) celebration for selected students and honorees. The dental school organized its TKO dental honor society in 1927 to promote honor and service to alma mater. Students are admitted on the basis of ideals, scholarship, and character, and those elected graduate with honors. I look forward to seeing our students virtually this evening to mark this wonderful achievement. Thank you to our student co-presidents and faculty advisor Dr. Alan Budenz.

Yesterday, we conducted a new interprofessional education opportunity. Six students from the Clinical Nutrition program at Pacific’s School of Health Sciences joined our dental students. They participated in the morning ICS 1 course and in the afternoon clinic ODTPs where they offered nutrition consultations for patients. Thank you to Dr. Michelle Brady and others here at the dental school for developing IPE opportunities with colleagues at the School of Health Sciences.

An update about travel for employees. All university-related travel must be approved in advance according to the school, program, or unit policies. Fully vaccinated individuals may travel within the United States if approved by their supervisor, manager, program director, department chair, or dean. People who are not fully vaccinated should delay travel until they have had a chance to complete vaccination and wait until two weeks after their final vaccine injection to travel. The updated interim travel guidance is available on the university website (scroll to click “Travel” section) at COVID-19 Information for Employees | University of the Pacific.

Finally, a reminder that we are hosting a first-dose COVID-19 vaccine clinic for children ages 12+ this Thursday, May 20, from 5:00 pm to 6:20 pm.  Appointments are still available so please spread the word to your family, friends, or community contacts. Sign up online

March 16… exactly one year ago today, was a momentous day. The mandatory Shelter-in-Place had been announced by Bay Area counties.  I had just gathered members of our Crisis Management Team and on short notice, we needed to quickly adapt and prepare for a campus closure.

When we announced that the campus would be closed for a period of three weeks, we never would have imagined the days, weeks and months that were ahead of us, and the dramatic impact that the pandemic would ultimately have on us and our world.

Today, we are in a better situation and beginning to have some hope as we see the beneficial effects of public health measures and the impact of mass vaccinations. We have much more work ahead of us, but it is remarkable to think of how much we have accomplished together, and the road travelled. One year ago, we would not have believed that we could endure the challenges of the last twelve months. Thank you for inspiring and supporting one another and showing that with resilience, effort, and relentless commitment to our shared values…we can overcome ANY obstacle.

The ADEA Annual Session is wrapping up today and we received good news from our students over the weekend. Our student ADEA Chapter won two awards — the Gold Chapter Level Award and Growth Award — from the ADEA Council of Students Residents and Fellows (COSRF).

Despite challenges during the pandemic, our students grew and expanded the chapter. They hosted virtual events such as Why I Teach, First Year First Aid, wellness events on social media, Cases That Haunt Us, and even a dental socks sale fundraiser. Our students also served as members of district and national boards at ADEA. They have other events coming up, including the ADEA Academic Dental Careers Fellowship Program information session and Roads to Residency.

Congratulations to our ADEA leaders for all of your involvement!  I look forward to working with and supporting your future efforts.  Chapter officers are:

  • Shalaka Desai, ADEA Rep, Co-President IDS 2021
  • Jordan Jew, ADEA Rep, Co-President DDS 2022
  • Brandon Zegarowski, ADEA Rep DDS 2021
  • Sani‐E‐Zehra (Sani) Zaidi, ADEA Rep IDS 2022
  • Theodore Looney, ADEA Rep DDS 2023
  • Liz McCarty, ADEA Rep DH 2021

Finally, today is Faculty Development Day, a virtual opportunity to share best practices, learn from each other, and hear from special guests. I will be completing meetings of the ADEA House of Delegates and Council of Deans, but look forward to joining you this afternoon. I am proud of how our faculty and staff have worked together over the past year to support our students and residents while growing their skills as excellent educators and mentors.

To close our reflection on the one-year anniversary of our Shelter-in-Place, I will leave you with a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt that describes how the Dugoni School family has faced this last year.

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”

Today marks the celebration of Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. From its Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond. Even though the proclamation was declared by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, two and a half years later on June 19, 1865, the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation was finally fulfilled when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, learned that the Civil War was over and that slavery had ended. You can read more about the history of Juneteenth here, here, and here.

Recent events have put a national and international spotlight on racial inequities, police brutality and systemic racism. It is unfortunate that we continue to witness these events, such as the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tete Gulley, Tony McDade, Rekia Boyd, Oluwayotin Salau and so many others, and that our country continues to grapple with these inequities that impact Black members of our society.

The Dugoni School’s defining characteristic of Humanism — combined with our core values of Courage, Empowerment, Excellence, Innovation, Integrity, and Leadership — are all in stark contrast to these brutal actions and inequities. To achieve our purpose of helping people lead healthy lives, we must dedicate ourselves to health and social equity.

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Each of us, our families, friends, and institutions can take steps to address inequities we see around us. Training and educating ourselves is one part of the solution. I encourage all of us to be aware of potential personal or institutional biases that can affect our school and work environment. At our Faculty Development Day in December, Dr. Magali Fassiotto, assistant dean in the Office of Faculty Development and Diversity at Stanford University School of Medicine, provided training to faculty and staff on how they can identify unconscious bias in the classroom and clinical settings. Please take some time today to learn more in our recent Contact Point alumni magazine feature story “Identifying Unconscious Bias: A Movement Toward Equity and Inclusion in the Classroom and Beyond,” here.

As a school family, we will continue to work toward uncovering our own biases, prejudices, and unintentional behaviors, as well as work toward an even better understanding of how our values and our purpose can be put into action to end racism.

“Tolerance like any aspect of peace, is forever a work in progress, never completed and, if we're as intelligent as we like to think we are, never abandoned.” —Octavia E. Butler

The Diversity & Inclusion Committee, our Pacific ASDA Chapter, and other groups have been active with initiatives and I support their good work and actions. We also have a new resource to support our diversity and inclusion efforts, including our student recruitment. As I mentioned in our Town Hall on Wednesday, congratulations to Melissa Yamanaka, who has accepted a position with the Office of Student Services, as Diversity and Admissions Outreach Manager. She will report to Stan Constantino to advance and strengthen initiatives.

Today, there are discussions, forums, and online activities taking place all across the country in honor of Juneteenth. The San Francisco Chronicle has compiled a list of online events and resources here. One of our students also recommended the documentary “13th,” available on Netflix and YouTube, as an educational opportunity. There are many other educational resources available.  Please see the partial list of resources below shared with us by one of our students.

Links:

Books:

  • Forty Years of Medical Racism: The Tuskegee Experiments — Alondra Nelson
  • Black Man in A White Coat — Damon Tweedy M.D.
  • Medical Apartheid — Harriet A. Washington
  • Just Medicine — Dayna Bowen Mathew
  • Unmasking Racism in Healthcare: Alive and Well — Marie Edwige Seneque PhD, RN
  • The Health Gap — Michael Marmot
  • Black & Blue — John Hoberman

As suggested in our University Interim President’s message yesterday, I too encourage you to take time today to learn, educate yourself, and think about what diversity and inclusion means to you, and what it means for the Dugoni School. Please share your thoughts and ideas about any changes you would like to see or additional resources with our Diversity & Inclusion Committee and me.

The profession of dentistry must also take action to better reflect the current (and future) changes in the demographics of America.  We have much work ahead of us but I am more hopeful and optimistic today than I have ever been before.

It is important that all Americans pledge not just their support for racial justice, but to commit to action to effect real change.   Let us work together as members of the Dugoni School family to grow and change the world as it should be.

“It takes a deep commitment to change and an even deeper commitment to grow.” —Ralph Ellison