New Beginnings | A Message from the Dean

A Message from the Dean

In just a few weeks, some will celebrate the Summer Solstice, or the longest day of the year. For the past few weeks, many of you, like me, have been toiling away in your gardens to create beautiful lawns, gardens, and landscapes that will be enjoyed throughout the summer.

This year I planted three trees. The day after the first one was planted, my wife teased me because the tree was less than two feet tall. But I was proud of my little tree, because it is an investment in the future; it is the way that hope has to be seen. It is my hope that the roots of the tree will grow and thrive in the fresh soil that I planted with it. It is my hope that many years from now the tree will become a beautiful 20-foot magnolia with fragrant white blossoms.

Similarly , this June, we begin to plant small seeds of restorations after experiencing a pandemic for the past year. We plan for full in-person work and educational activities in the fall. As a school, we have learned we have an excellent ability to adapt and develop alternative ways to do what is necessary to care for our patients and educate our learners.

Similar to most events in life, our experiences shape our approach to managing future events. We have learned that certain activities, but not all, may be managed remotely. We have learned we can administer classroom course examinations via computer software like Examsoft. We have re-learned that we play an important role in being a collaborative partner with other health professional schools. We have also learned that our physical space needs modernizing, as we operate an educational and clinical enterprise in the 21st century.

Today, we are embarking upon a new journey, as Provost Croson announced this week my appointment as Dean pending approval by the Board of Regents. With the same hope I have in planting that tree, I am hopeful in all the educational, research, and service endeavors that we, as a school, will embrace in an effort to “advance health through scientific discovery, innovative education, and the highest-quality care for all communities.”

Over the next few months, we will cultivate the soil and garden of our pathway through what I hope is the end of the pandemic. We will all need to work together to develop a collaborative, humanistic, equitable, and inclusive environment for patients, students, staff, and faculty. We must understand that as one of us succeeds, we all succeed. As the saying goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Let us work together for the future of oral health and the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry.