Harvard School of Dental Medicine alumni returned to the School on Friday, June 7 to reconnect with their classmates, and enjoy a program that included a presentation of the annual Distinguished Alumni Awards, a panel on The Changing Landscape of Oral Health Delivery, and Dean Donoff’s State of the School address.
Ladan Basiri, DMD93, president of the Harvard Dental Alumni Association (HDAA) kicked off the morning program with a warm welcome to attendees as she called the HDAA business meeting to order and reviewed the past year of activities. Dean Bruce Donoff, DMD67, MD73, then presented the annual Distinguished Alumni Awards to individuals chosen for their contributions to the profession that honor the mission of the School.
This year’s award recipients were Robert Leaf, DMD69, and Michael Newman, PD74. Dr. Leaf was recognized as an innovator in the field of dental insurance, and Dr. Newman was recognized for his contributions as an author, educator, researcher, and clinician in the field of periodontology.
In accepting his award, Dr. Leaf acknowledged the impact HSDM had on his career, and the careers of many alumni who make their mark in dentistry and beyond. “This institution has the ability to inspire its graduates,” he said.
At the end of awards program, Dr. Basiri presented another special honor. “As you all know, our beloved Dean Donoff will be stepping down from his position in January. On behalf of the Harvard Dental Alumni Association and all of the alumni of HSDM, it is my honor and my pleasure to present him with a token of our appreciation for his steadfast leadership and unwavering commitment to our School and the entire HSDM community,” Basiri said as she presented an engraved silver tray to Dean Donoff.
Dino Bertini, DMD97, MMSc99, vice president of the HDAA, then brought to the stage a panel of alumni to discuss The Changing Landscape of Oral Health Delivery. Panelists Patrick Assioun, MMSc99, founder and president of New England Family Dental; Justin Cooper, DMD09, co-owner of Cooper Orthodontics; and Kevin Trexler, MBA06, CEO of American Dental Partners, and HSDM Dean’s Advisory Board member, engaged in a lively discussion about the state of the dental industry and private practice with Dr. Bertini serving as moderator.
Dean Donoff closed the program with his final State of the School address. “When I return to the faculty in January, I will have plenty to do, but being dean of this extraordinary School has been the greatest job I have ever had,” he said.
He contrasted today’s State of the School with the years before he became dean, and reviewed progress made during his deanship. During Donoff’s tenure, class size was increased and new postdoctoral programs added, new faculty were recruited and the faculty group practice established, fundraising was reinvigorated, endowed chairs created, and research resurrected—culminating in the completion of the Research and Education building.
“We’ve made great strides in diversity and inclusion, and fundraising, and moving the mantle of oral health in general health forward,” he said.
He also cited recent progress made in global and community health and dental education that integrates interprofessional practice with oral health and primary care.
“I would like every graduate of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine to feel as I do, that an education here made a difference,” he said. “This is a special place and I look forward to helping make it an even more special place.”