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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.

Image may contain: 8 people, people smiling, text that says '68TH ANNUAL Juneteenth: Reflection and Growth Saturday, June Sixteenth 2018, 11am-6pm (Fillmore Street between Geary Blvd & Golden Golden Gate Ave) Special Performance by Lloyd and a host Local Artists Parade & Celebration with: Marching Bands Drill Teams Clubs Horse Ridding Clubs Zone with Pony Rides Petting Face Painting Live Entertainment Health Wellness |Art Craft Vendors Art |Art Craft Vendors Community Information Resources Exciting Food Vendors! sfjuneteenth.or 415.378.0408'

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

Dear Dugoni School Family,

This has been a long week, so today’s update is focused on the importance of our families and, in particular, moms around the world.

Mother’s Day is this Sunday and I hope you take a moment to connect with your mom, or spend some time reflecting on positive memories of your mom.  Some of you may even be living at home right now with your parents, while others may be far away from them.  No matter where you are, we can all celebrate the people who have influenced us and the importance of the support from our families.

I am so grateful for my mother as she was one of the most influential people in my life that helped shape who I am today.  There is not a Mother’s Day that goes by or, in fact, any day where I do not think of the wonderful example she set for my brother, for me, and for our broader family.

If you are looking for some musical inspiration this weekend, click here for a Mother’s Day playlist with a few mom-related songs.

Have a great Friday, enjoy your weekend, and happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms out there.

Dear Dugoni School Family,

As we continue every day to work toward our return plan and you are working and learning from home, I would like to share some different news and updates. The world’s first “Earth Day” was celebrated back on April 22, 1970, to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Today marks the 50th anniversary of the event. One interesting aspect of the current pandemic is how air quality and some other aspects of the environment have improved since so many people are staying home, reducing automobile pollution, and reducing our impact on the planet. As humanity emerges from the impact of this pandemic, I hope that one silver lining may be that our environmental researchers can learn from this unique moment and identify some evidence-based steps for us to take in ensuring a healthier planet for this and future generations. You can learn more about the history and impact of Earth Day here.

April 22 also is the national celebration of Administrative Professionals Day. I encourage you to take a moment to thank and acknowledge the important role of the administrative professionals we are fortunate to have as part of the Dugoni School family. We would not be as successful as we are without the dedication of our administrative assistants, support specialists, and others who help us deliver excellence across our departments. All areas of our school function better thanks to their talents and they are truly some of the unsung heroes of our ability to transition so quickly and successfully during this unusual time.

I look forward to connecting with our Class of 2022 today at 1:00 pm. Also, I invite everyone to please remember to join us for a Virtual Town Hall this Friday, April 24, from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm by WebEx. The event is open to all students, residents, faculty and staff. An invite with the link has been sent out. Members of our Crisis Management Team and I will discuss our school’s “roadmap to reopening” and some other important updates. If you would like to ask a question in advance, please email it to sf_deansoffice@pacific.edu. You can also ask questions during the town hall.  We will successfully make it through by keeping our strong culture and continuing to share ideas through open lines of communication.

After I shared the video of a singing dentist last week, I have received a few other links to videos, including this one from Dr. Eddie Hayashida entitled “Dentist Singing Disney’s Reflection.” This dentist is our alum Sarah Kym, a DDS graduate of the Class of 2015 who practices in Tucson. What a beautiful rendition! Enjoy the video here.

Thank you for your incredible show of strength as you are enduring this shelter in place and for your outpouring of positive thoughts and well wishes for one another.

Be well,

Nader A. Nadershahi, DDS, MBA, EdD
Dean

Dear Dugoni School Family,

I hope you were able to enjoy some time away from your screens during this beautiful weekend.  I find it hard to believe that it has been five weeks since we were all together in our school home at 155 Fifth Street. We have all adapted with a positive attitude and shifted to teaching, learning, and work from home to keep one another safe. It has not been easy, and I am sure you feel some of the same frustrations that I feel. I miss seeing you in person when I would walk through the building. I miss our celebrations and the warmth of our humanistic culture and environment. I am confident that we will make it through this with the grit and perseverance that I see in so many of you. George Washington said, “perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.” Our perseverance and spirit will do wonders in making the Dugoni School family grow and excel through these challenges.

During our Virtual Brown Bag with the Class of 2020 on April 10, some students came up with a very forward-looking and generous idea to support patients in need, once we are able to resume clinical services. We know there will be great need in the community as the financial impacts of the pandemic continue to burden our society.

Students asked whether the funds from the Dr. Henry A. Sutro Oral Rehabilitation Award, for this year only, could be transitioned to our patient care fund to support continuing care for patients who may now be facing economic hardships due to COVID-19. The $100,000 amount would be a significant addition to our fund, which targets chronically underserved individuals in our community.

The funds come from an endowment established by the late Dr. Henry Sutro ’50 and his family. We reached out to the Sutro family last week and they have graciously agreed to this idea. We thank them for their vision and generosity in supporting the change for this year.

As a result, many patients in financial need will be able to have their treatment subsidized. Students, too, will benefit as they will be able to obtain patient experiences that they will need to complete their training, once we are able to resume clinical care.

I also would like to thank the members of the Dugoni School family who pitched in to make a donation to the Dugoni School Student/Patient Emergency Fund. This crowdfunding project has generated nearly $8,000 in donations from 30 people. Thank you for your generosity in helping to grow this fund and help people in need. If you would like to provide support to this critical use, please follow the link here and support the Emergency Fund.

I want to end with gratitude for the incredible generosity of our students in coming up with this idea and our residents, faculty, staff, and alumni.  I cannot say enough about how much you all touch my heart as you continue to live the very best of our values and look for ways to help and support other members of the Dugoni School family and our communities.

Difficult times can bring out the best in people or they can bring out the worst.  This incredibly difficult pandemic has created an opportunity to bring out the very best of the Dugoni School family… I see it bringing out the very best in each of you.

Thank you and be well,

Nader A. Nadershahi, DDS, MBA, EdD
Dean