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March 14, 2005

Dental School Reorganized
To Enhance Research, Teaching

The School of Dental Medicine has undergone a reorganization into three departments representing the spectrum of dental disciplines.

The smaller number of departments – there were nine previously – is intended to encourage collaboration among the 160 students, 110 residents and graduate students, and 70 full time faculty and 50 part-time faculty.

“This reorganization will result in taking an outstanding dental school to an even higher level of performance,” says Peter J. Robinson, dean of the school.

The three new departments are:

  • The Department of Oral Rehabilitation, Biomaterials and Skeletal Development, which includes the former departments of Prosthodontics, Operative Dentistry, Biomaterials, BioStructure and Function, and the Center for Research Education in Technology Evaluation. Dr. Thomas Taylor is the head;
  • The Department of Oral Health and Diagnostic Sciences, which includes the former Oral Medicine, Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Endodontology, Periodontology, Neuroscience, Behavioral Sciences, and Community Health departments. Dr. Maurizio Tonetti is the head;
  • And the Department of Orthodontics, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Pediatric Dentistry, and Advanced Education in General Dentistry, which includes the foremer departments of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Orthodontics, Pediatric Dentistry, and Advanced General Dentistry. Dr. Ravindra Nanda is the head.

The dean says the three department heads are outstanding. “They are faculty with world-wide reputations,” Robinson says. “If you mention their names in international dentistry, people will know who they are.”

The new structure, which has been approved by the Dental Council, the Health Center’s Board of Directors, and the University’s Board of Trustees, was developed by a task force of faculty from various disciplines, with input from deans and directors, faculty, and administrators at all levels of the University.

The 18-month process began when Robinson was reappointed as dean in 2003, and was charged by President Philip E. Austin and Dr. Peter Deckers, Vice President for Health Affairs, with reorganizing the school.

The goals were to bring the disciplines together to enhance research opportunities and create a critical mass of faculty in the departments to provide more effective mentoring for junior faculty; achieve economies of scale in teaching and consolidation of the curriculum, and streamline faculty governance; and use support staff more effectively.

The three department heads are enthusiastic about the opportunities afforded by the reorganization.

“This is an exciting and challenging time,” says Nanda. “We’re in the process of identifying areas in which we can develop new programs and improve some clinical efficiencies. The synergy of combined divisions and departments is stimulating.”

Taylor says, “I believe the reorganization is good for the School of Dental Medicine and good for both current and future faculty. The consolidation of the departments will substantially increase the mentoring potential for younger faculty, and will improve the collaborative potential between the basic scientists, the translational scientists, and the clinicians.”

Says Tonetti, “The opportunities are phenomenal. The faculty are meeting and engaging in discussions, and we’ve identified areas of collaboration and areas where we can exploit the department’s unique synergy.”