Paul Olin, DDS, MS, named Professor of the Year

Paul Olin, DDS, MS

Paul Olin, DDS, MS, interim associate dean for patient care and clinical services, was selected as the 2021 Century Club Professor of the Year, Dean Keith Mays, DDS, MS, PhD, announced at Research Day last week. 

For the past 54 years, the School of Dentistry has recognized one faculty member each year for their outstanding contributions to the school in the areas of education, research and service. Historically, the award has been presented at an in-person reception during the Star of the North conference; however, throughout the pandemic, the award has been presented during research day. 

Instituted by Dean Erwin Schaffer, DDS, MS, the Century Club Professor of the Year is one of the school’s greatest traditions, and the highest honor bestowed upon a faculty member. Each year, the honoree is selected by a committee chaired by the previous year’s award recipient, with broad faculty representation from each School of Dentistry department as well as student participants from graduate ,dental, dental therapy and dental hygiene programs. 

Olin was chosen for the award due to his leadership, his passion and his genuine care for every part of his role. He has been part of the School of Dentistry for more than 35 years, holding positions including assistant and associate professor, director of prosthodontics,associate dean of clinical systems and patient accounting and interim chair of the Department of Restorative Sciences. He is currently interim associate dean for patient care and clinical services and director of the implant program. 

“Dr. Olin is unapologetically himself,” reflected Casie Fenner, strategy and operations manager for clinical affairs. “One of his favorite quotes is from Popeye: ‘I yam what I yam an’ that’s all I yam.” Fenner feels this quote perfectly represents Olin, who often works late into the evenings and on weekends in Moos Tower and frequently has more slides in his presentations than minutes to present. “This just speaks to his excitement to share all he knows with the audience,” she said. 

Olin is known for his leadership and ingenuity, expressed most recently during the COVID-19 pandemic’s early days, when his virology research, coordination with other Big 10 schools and close monitoring of CDC guidelines resulted in a safe clinical space where students could receive as many clinical experiences as possible before graduation. 

Gary Anderson, DDS, MS, professor and director of the cleft palate/craniofacial program and chair of the Professor of the Year committee, sees this work as an example of who Olin is as a colleague. “Dr. Olin distinguishes himself as a faculty member of our school through his willingness to take on tasks during challenging times, for which he receives little to no credit,” he said. “He makes us better as a school.” 

Olin has also published 20 journal articles, provided more than 130 presentations at professional meetings, conferences or continuing education programs, published more than 20 abstracts and presented more than 30 posters or abstracts. He has served as a member of ten professional organizations, has taught more than 30 courses and has developed numerous curricula in prosthodontics and beyond. He is a content expert in continuing dental education, having presented more than 80 continuing education courses in the last five years alone, with additional presentations spanning to 1985. His impact is global, with presentations given across the world: from Jamaica to Greece, from Singapore to Colorado, from Mexico to Minnesota and beyond.

But amid everything he does, he makes sure the people around him are a priority. That’s why he maintains so many connections, and why he’s never spotted alone. 

“You cannot attend a dental meeting without seeing Dr. Olin cornered by one of his former students, who may be from Iowa or the Middle East, Transpacific region, Europe or any corner of the world,” said Michael Madden, DDS, clinical professor of operative dentistry. 

“I am very humbled by this award and by the kind words said about me in the announcement,” Olin reflected. “I want everyone to know that I work with a lot of great people that make it enjoyable to be here. To work with such a great group of individuals makes work wonderful.”