Spring 2014

Great Expectations

Dean Huw ThomasGreetings! Wow, that was some kind of winter! While at times brutally cold, the descriptor that most characterizes the past season for me is “relentless.” Now, as I write this, we see the first vestiges of spring, and our school calendar portends the events that reflect that transition. My sincerest congratulations to the Class of 2014, which has distinguished themselves in a multitude of ways: academically, clinically, through their research accomplishments and through community engagement.

Our strategic plan, 2020 Vision!, is complete, and we have begun the ongoing process of assessing our progress toward its many goals and objectives. A story on the plan in this issue summarizes that effort and highlights some of the curricular changes that we have already instituted. That same story describes one of our initiatives to address the gender shift that is occurring in our student and faculty bodies and the strategies that we can develop to address it.

The cover story in this issue focuses on aging and on the many factors that require our attention, not just from a delivery-of-care perspective, but also on the implications for our educational programs. Tufts, as you know, has a long history of geriatric dental education, and I believe we are well placed to expand that legacy. We are also excited about our interprofessional initiative because it is clear that with the expanding demographic of the aging population, there will need to be much more integration of care. Innovations in reimbursements and access to care are necessary, and some of the challenges surrounding those issues are presented.

Access to care and third-party reimbursement issues are also at the forefront of another story that highlights the contributions of one of our alumni, Robert Chideckel, D80, who has chosen to work in the latter stages of his career serving the needs of American Indians in New Mexico. Interestingly, interprofessional practice seems to have already become a feature of the care provided there.

Other stories in this issue reflect the many and varied accomplishments of our Tufts University School of Dental Medicine family, including faculty, staff, students and alumni. I hope you enjoy reading all of them. I hope to have seen many of you at Alumni Weekend, and I wish you and your families and loved ones a safe and enjoyable spring and summer.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not use this opportunity to thank Dr. James Hanley for his many contributions to our school. Jim has assumed the deanship at the recently opened College of Dentistry at the University of New England. We wish Jim and his wife, Marian, the best of success in their new adventure.

As always, I welcome your comments by phone (617.636.6636), or email (huw.thomas@tufts.edu).

Huw F. Thomas, B.D.S., M.S., Ph.D., is dean and professor of pediatric dentistry at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine.

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