Spring 2017

Hilde Tillman Awarded Dean’s Medal

She was instrumental in developing Tufts’ geriatric dentistry program.

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Hilde Tillman has been on the faculty of Tufts School of Dental Medicine since 1960. Photo: Anna Miller

Hilde Tillman, D49, who influenced generations of Tufts dental students and is a champion of dental care for the elderly, was honored with a Dean’s Medal from the School of Dental Medicine in December 2016.

Tillman, a clinical professor emerita of public health and community service, has been a member of the Tufts faculty for more than 50 years. She graduated from Simmons College in 1945 and from Tufts School of Dental Medicine in 1949. She was instrumental in developing Tufts’ geriatric dentistry program, which is known for blending academic knowledge and community outreach to serve a diverse aging population. “Dr. Tillman’s ongoing work with the school and our local communities exemplifies the leadership principles of passion and humanitarianism that we want our students to embody,” said Dean Huw Thomas.

She joined the dental faculty in 1960 as an instructor in oral pathology and became a professor in 1988. She received major research grants from the American Cancer Society and the National Institute on Aging. In 2007, she received the Alpha Omega International Award for her contributions to geriatric dentistry. She received the President’s Award for Outstanding Faculty at Tufts in 1999 and the Provost’s Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2004.

Tillman continues to serve Tufts in conjunction with the city of Boston’s Elderly Commission to provide free dental screenings for the elderly and disabled in the greater Boston area.

A Dean’s Medal was also awarded posthumously to Esther M. Wilkins, D49, DG66, clinical professor emerita of periodontology, who died just days before the medals were to be awarded (see her obituary, page 2).

“Drs. Tillman and Wilkins enrolled in dental school when not even 2 percent of practicing dentists were women,” Thomas said. “Now more than 50 percent of the dental students at Tufts are women.”

The Dean’s Medal is the highest honor bestowed by the dean of a school at Tufts University and is awarded to individuals who have made significant contributions to their school and the greater community.

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