Till fund created to honor former dean, enhance pediatric dentistry

Group picture of people celebrating Till Fund

Funds raised to honor a beloved faculty member will soon be used to enhance the Division of Pediatric Dentistry at the School of Dentistry.

Michael Till, DDS, MA, PhD, was no ordinary instructor. As a faculty member, chair of Pediatric Dentistry and later dean, he offered encouragement to his students, made strides in the advancement of pediatric oral health and participated in organized dentistry.

“Dr. Till is foundational to pediatric dentistry, in our state and at the school,” said Teresa Fong, DDS, clinical associate professor of pediatric dentistry. “We appreciate him and his leadership so much.”

Dan Shaw, DMD, MS, who completed his pediatric dentistry residency from 1973 to 1975 and later served as an instructor, faculty member and director of the Pediatric Resident Clinic, agrees.

“He made so many contributions in dental education and organized dentistry, serving as MDA president and ADA Trustee,” Shaw explained. “He played a significant role in my education, encouraging me to continue teaching and to get involved in organized dentistry. That resulted in many long-term friendships and my taking on a variety of leadership positions. I often sought his advice on professional and personal matters.”

Because of that significant contribution, and how Till impacted him personally, Shaw made the decision to create an endowed fund in Till’s name in 2019. The Michael J. Till Fund for Pediatric Dental Education seeks to “support the Division of Pediatric Dentistry for projects or initiatives focused on directly impacting the pediatric dental education of dental students, residents or practicing dentists.”

Shaw was excited to honor Till with the fund, and felt that a broad purpose aimed at the betterment of the division would suit him well. “The description of how the fund can be used is intentionally broad, so that the money can be used in many different ways for pediatric education,” Shaw explained. “This is fitting for a fund in his honor, since he was interested in a wide range of topics within the discipline, including international dental education, continuing education for practitioners, scholarships, resident education and the application of technology in pediatric dentistry.”

Shaw hopes that the fund will continue to grow and impact the division. “I hope that other former residents, practitioners and friends will make contributions, so the amount of money available increases,” he said.

Till  recently had the opportunity to return to the school to take a tour of the clinic. “We’d done some updates recently, and I thought he would appreciate seeing how the clinic looked now,” explained Fong. “I had a little gathering for him. We appreciate his leadership so much, and we just wanted him to be able to see the improvements we had made.”

That meeting also got Fong thinking about the many possibilities of how to use the Till fund. “It’s an innovators fund, so we want to find a technological innovation that will benefit our students and their learning in the future,” she explained. She is excited about the possibilities for enhancing the use of digital dentistry in the clinics as a result of the fund.

Till finds himself humbled and honored by the fund, and looks forward to its positive impact on the division.

“I am proud of the fact that many of the former residents decided to make a contribution in my name, but even prouder that those contributions will support the Division of Pediatrics and of the faculty and staff who have done a wonderful job in the clinic,” he said. “I am thrilled that these funds will support the division as a whole and its improvement.”

The School of Dentistry continues to accept gifts to the Till fund.