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What an extraordinary weekend at the Dugoni School, with two great events sponsored by our great Alumni Association. The welcoming cioppino feast and the White Coat Ceremony were the key activities this weekend.

The cioppino dinner began many years ago when a group of our graduates came together to provide a meal to welcome the new students. These gentlemen from the alumni get together each year in one of their backyard kitchens, begin early in the morning, select the seafood, and prepare the cioppino. For two years, I have had the privilege to watch them and somewhat participate in the cioppino preparation. During the time I spent with them, I got to see their passion and commitment to the Dugoni School, but more important, their passion and commitment to each other.

I have said to the classes as they enter that the people you meet during these three years will become some of your very best friends. This group of graduates is truly an example of how that friendship has been maintained through many years. They are not only colleagues, but they are truly deep friends. They celebrate all the important occasions together as a large family.

The White Coat Ceremony has also been a long term tradition at the Dugoni School. It is important to point out that we were the very first dental school to conduct the White Coat Ceremony. Today, I am pleased to say that most dental schools in the United States have a similar event. It was impressive to look from the stage into the audience and see our DDS, IDS and dental hygiene students in their white coats. It made me think about how lucky we are to have such dedicated young people. I realize our profession is in good hands with them, but more important, the patients they will be treating now and into the future are in excellent hands. These young people are about to embark on the new experience of patient care. I am so proud to be a part of this new experience.

As always, we celebrate important occasions. That is a part of our great culture here at the Dugoni School. I want to again thank all the staff who worked so hard to pull these events together, and all the volunteers who give up the precious little time they have to help make these events extraordinary.

Finally, thank you to the great Alumni Association. It is so impressive all the things they do, the alumni weekend, which I know many of you will participate in as students and future graduates, and the graduation awards banquet at the Ritz Carlton is also an extraordinary event. They support the Articulating Paper. These are just a few of the examples of all that they do for the Dugoni School.

I am proud of you – the alumni – and I really want to say on behalf of everyone, thank you for what you do.