Our core values | A message from the dean

Headshot of Dean Keith Mays standing in front of the School of Dentistry sign

The School of Dentistry has maintained the following Core Values for some time now: “Diversity, Excellence, Integrity, Leadership, Pursuit of Knowledge, Respect, and Service to All Communities.” We have committed ourselves to “assuring that all persons shall have equal access to its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, or sexual orientation. We also acknowledge that we work and study on the traditional lands of the Dakota People and pay respect to elders both past and present.” This commitment is extremely evident in the success of our admissions team over the past decade. 

Last week, the Supreme Court reversed years of precedence and launched college admissions into uncharted territory by removing the ability of higher education institutions to use race as a consideration in admissions. At first blush, it would appear that goals of oral health education—described by the American Dental Education Association as having a provider base that mimicked society—would be challenged by this decision. However, at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, racial preferences as described by this case are not a part of admissions. The work of Dr. Lopez and the admissions team and committee has allowed us to work toward creating a diverse student body without using race as a single factor for admissions, instead as part of a cluster of social factors. We do not have any race-based correction to maintain any prescribed levels as described in the case. The Court’s decision may impact our documents and our language, but overall should not have a detrimental impact on our holistic review process. 

As we prepare to onboard a new Assistant Dean of Admissions, we will look to their leadership to navigate the future of our admissions process. We will uphold our core values, to live out our mission: advancing health through scientific discovery, innovative education, and the highest-quality care for all communities. To the best of our abilities, we will align our efforts with organizations such as the ADA, ADEA, NDA, and others to create a school environment that is diverse and inclusive, and one that fosters a sense of belonging. We will continue to train our students and residents to reduce oral health disparities. We are encouraged and led by the ongoing commitment from the University and Provost’s Office to “remain steadfast in our commitments to our educational mission of inclusion and access, to remove barriers to higher education for underrepresented populations, and to ensure that members of our community have equitable access to the University and its resources.”

We move forward with hope and conviction.