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A Salute to Our Faculty

May 3, 2017

Dean John D.B. Featherstone's May column:

Dean John FeatherstoneIt should come as no surprise that faculty are a key part of the engine that keeps the School of Dentistry operating. Each and every one of them is integral to our educational mission.

Our full-time faculty members have made teaching their life. Some have gone out into the world but have come back; others have built their entire career in academia. Some have worked predominately in research; others have been exclusively in clinical teaching. All have played an important role.

We also could not function as a school without our part-time faculty, particularly those on the clinical side, who often are or have been in private practice but have decided to teach as well. This truly is a gift to the school — they could be making much more in private practice. Many are motivated by a desire to contribute, to give back in thanks for their education; for this, we are very much appreciative.

Similarly, our volunteer faculty, who primarily are in our clinical teaching arena, also add to our teaching: Without them, it would be difficult to provide the level, quality and amount of clinical teaching we do.

Research also is key to our enterprise. We have led all U.S. dental schools in National Institutes of Health research funding for 25 straight years. At the recent International Association for Dental Research general session, held here in San Francisco, faculty awardees included Ophir Klein, MD, PhD; Daniel Fried, PhD; and Grayson Marshall, DDS, MPH, PhD. Our researchers travel around the globe, discussing their work. This is just the tip of the iceberg of our faculty research, which is making groundbreaking discoveries in all aspects of oral health.

But teaching and research do not tell the entire story. For those who are at half time or more, service is a significant part of their duties; much of that service falls under committee participation. This, too, is essential work: Without the multitude of committees we have, we wouldn’t function as a university. It is part of UC’s mission: Shared governance — faculty as well as administration — is our watchword.

Our faculty, like their counterparts elsewhere on campus, sit on a broad range of committees. Some of the standing ones include our school’s admissions committee, the Dentistry Faculty Council and the campuswide Committee on Educational Policy.

Equally significant are the ad hoc committees that address many important issues. Our committee spearheading curriculum revision is one such group with a significant charge. No less important but with a broader focus is the deans and chairs group, made up of department chairs, associate deans and the chair of the Faculty Council; this group, to large extent, makes the major decisions for the operation of the School of Dentistry.

Even as we salute our faculty, we seek to support them as well. Development opportunities and mentoring programs exist both at the school and campus level. Faculty retreats focus on both work and growth.

We recognize that all the functions performed by each of our faculty are essential parts of the fabric of our school, and of dentistry as a whole. Research, clinical teaching, lecturing, supervising graduate students and visiting scientists, working in the preclinical labs — all are equally important.

In acknowledgement, I offer a huge thank-you to all our faculty for what you do, what you have done, and what you will continue to do into the future.