Reflections

John D.B. Featherstone

Dean John D.B. Featherstone

Recently, as I was putting together my presentation on “10 Years of Progress” here in the School of Dentistry, I had the opportunity to reflect: on things that have happened in the School; in my life and others’; and on what’s important in life. (If you missed the presentation, you may view it here: http://tiny.ucsf.edu/10yearsprogress.)

As we get older, we do tend to reflect a bit. One might be tempted to look back and think, “Should I have done what I did?” (That’s not a good idea. There’s nothing one can do about what’s done; best to just move forward.) However, it can be fun to look back on successes, on the impact one may have had on family, friends, colleagues, one’s line of work.

I’ve been with UCSF for nearly 23 years, 10 of which I’ve served as dean in the School of Dentistry. In that time, there have been many highlights. We’ve made major improvements in our physical plant: upgrading our clinical facilities, our preclinical simulation lab, our research laboratories, our teaching facilities, and many more.

More important are our people. I reflect on the wonderful faculty and staff I’ve had the privilege to work with, particularly those I’ve worked with directly. You have made the UCSF School of Dentistry the wonderful place that it is.

I reflect also on our remarkable students, and the opportunities they have to excel. One example is our Master of Science in Dental Hygiene program. Every year this program produces new leaders in dental hygiene education, leaders who are making an impact. Similarly, our DDS/PhD program also is producing tomorrow’s leaders in research and scholarship. Our scholarship programs and our holistic approach to admissions have helped to change the face of our student body in the DDS program.

I can’t say enough about our students. We have a fabulous student body and I am confident we will continue to do so. I’ve worked with some amazing student leaders over the last 10 years, who have made tremendous contributions to the School and to the dental profession.

One of the things I really enjoy is the feedback I get from alumni. Recent graduates often let me know that they’ve moved into a role they’ve dreamt of — resulting from their education here at UCSF. I recently received a letter from a not-so-recent alumnus, congratulating the School on changing the way faculty teach and interact with students, in a very different manner from how he was taught. While we continue to teach many of the same technical skills, teaching is done in a very different, humanistic, compassionate way.

Reading that letter made it clear that we have made some big changes here. But we still have a long way to go. I hope that as I step aside as dean, that the School of Dentistry community will continue to show respect for each other and maintain a professional approach to what we do as we strive for excellence. I commend everyone to embrace UCSF’s PRIDE values, as well as our school values, as a code of how we go about our teaching, our patient care, our research, and our support for others.

I’ve enjoyed a great deal of support over the years. I particularly thank my family and loved ones for their indulgence. I thank everybody who has given me their support and strength to do all I’ve been able to do in leading this team.

I am very much looking forward to my new life in retirement. I plan to spend much more time with family, on my outdoor pursuits, music, languages, culture and travel. And yes, I do plan to keep in touch with dentistry: by way of continuing education courses, consulting and, of course, feedback as might be requested by the School. The School of Dentistry will forever be in my heart.

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