Fall 2013

Our Shared Aspirations

Dean Huw ThomasGreetings! six months ago, when I wrote my last column for this magazine, the events of the Boston Marathon attacks were upmost in everyone’s mind. And while we can never forget those horrific scenes on that April day, we must marvel at the resiliency of the human spirit, exemplified by the bravery of the survivors of the bombing, and, in some small way, by the attitude of those “bearded fellows” down at Fenway. I was delighted to be able to attend Game 6 of the World Series and share in the excitement of a great victory. During the Red Sox victory parade, when the trophy was placed on the marathon finish line and everyone sang “God Bless America,” it helped us all come together again.

I’m pleased to share with you that our efforts to forge a common path for Tufts University School of Dental Medicine through our strategic plan—known as Vision 2020!—are nearing completion. Over the past 18 months, faculty, staff, students and alumni have developed a set of priorities, goals and objectives that will guide the school over the next seven years. We envision your School of Dental Medicine as a global leader in oral health. That vision is underscored by our mission statement—“education committed to clinical excellence”—and framed around four strategic areas: curriculum, research, people and community.

The cover story in this issue of our magazine, on interprofessional education (IPE), highlights one of the underlying themes of our strategic plan. We have been fortunate, through a grant from the DentaQuest Foundation, to recruit an IPE director, Ellen Patterson, who will assist us in developing didactic and, most notably, clinical experiences in which our students can collaborate with other health professions students in caring for patients.

Tufts is one of just a few dental schools in the nation to have an individual with IPE expertise on the faculty, but in fact, it continues a long tradition of collaboration among Tufts’ schools of Dental Medicine and Medicine and the Friedman School of Nutrition.

Another area of renewed interest in academic dentistry is the so-called transformational experience—providing our students with those life- and perspective-changing experiences during their four years with us. (Transformational learning is also a major theme in the university-wide strategic plan, which the Tufts Board of Trustees approved on November 2).

This issue of the magazine offers several examples of this kind of experiential education: You will learn about our students’ participation in service learning and research initiatives in this country and in Europe, the Caribbean, Central America, Australia and Africa. I also encourage you to read the remarkable story of Shoji Inomata, D15, who, with the help of his classmates, has truly had a life-changing experience.

Many other stories in the following pages reflect the wonderful environment that faculty, staff, students and alumni have created at the School of Dental Medicine. As always, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts, by phone (617.636.6636), or email (huw.thomas@tufts.edu). I wish you and your families and loved ones a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

Huw F. Thomas, B.D.S., M.S., Ph.D., Dean and Professor of Pediatric Dentistry



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