Fall 2018

S. Walter Askinas


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S. Walter Askinas at his retirement from Nova Southeastern University in 2008.

When Samuel Walter Askinas arrived at Tufts School of Dental Medicine in 1983, he had already had a long and successful career as a prosthodontist in the U.S. Air Force. As it turns out, he was just gearing up for his second act. During his fourteen years at the dental school, he earned a reputation as an inspiring teacher and an endlessly energetic administrator. Askinas died April 2 at his home in Boynton Beach, Florida, at age ninety-two.

In his early years at Tufts, Askinas was a professor and chair of restorative dentistry. “He was very, very passionately committed to his students,” said his stepson, Richard Herman, A73, M77. “Everybody at Tufts whom he touched has a story.” His legacy lives on through the S. Walter Askinas Student Prize for Integrity and Citizenship, established in his honor in 1999 by his family, friends, and colleagues, and given annually to a graduating student. “He was extremely supportive of the next generation,” added Mark Gonthier, executive associate dean at the dental school.

In 1995, Askinas was appointed executive dean, joining Dean Lonnie Norris, DG80. “His leadership experience, ability to implement plans, and devotion to advance all aspects of the school were valued by all, and especially by me,” Norris said. “I enjoyed his intellectual insights, positive attitude, sense of humor, and friendship.” Norris presented Askinas with one of the first Dean’s Medals, the highest honor awarded by each school at Tufts.

Askinas’ move into a leadership position came at a financially critical period for the dental school. “He was a stalwart as the school went through difficult times,” said Tufts Executive Vice President Patricia Campbell, former executive associate dean. “He was always open to new ideas. He had a sense of humor; he was very smart and very kind, and he was a really important leader for the school.”

After the death of his first wife, Frances Roslyn Cooper Askinas, he married his high school classmate Mae Herman. “My mother whisked him off to Florida to play bridge and sit in the sun,” Richard Herman said. “But that didn’t happen.” Instead, Askinas became the chair of restorative dentistry of the new dental school at Nova Southeastern University, in Fort Lauderdale. In 2008, he became Nova Southeastern dental’s first professor emeritus.

In addition to his wife, Askinas is survived by stepsons Richard, Barry, M80, and Jonathan; four grandchildren; and two cousins. Donations in Askinas’s memory may be made to Trustees of Tufts College, c/o the Samuel W. Askinas Student Scholarship Fund, Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, One Kneeland St., 7th Floor, Boston, MA 02111.

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