Spring 2019

Warm Welcome

A family who got its start at Tufts is supporting a space for new patients.

By Helene Ragovin

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Sophia and Richard Catrambone at the School of Dental Medicine. Photo: Alonso Nichols

When Richard Catrambone, D85, DG89, D19P, was growing up, he’d spend summer breaks riding along with his father, a salesman for a surgical supply company. They’d make calls at oral surgeons’ offices, and along the way, Richard Sr. urged his son to pursue a career in dentistry.

Though Catrambone jokingly referred to his father’s prodding as “brainwashing,” he now appreciates it. “He was always motivating me,” he said. “My father and mother made many sacrifices for their children. Who knows what would have happened if it weren’t for them?” No one in Catrambone’s family had gone to college, but with his father’s unyielding encouragement, Richard Jr. decided that dentistry, and oral surgery in particular, would be his path. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts—he warmly remembers his father calling to check in after every exam—and arrived at Tufts School of Dental Medicine in the fall of 1981.

Not long after—on April 7, 1982, to be exact—in the seventh-floor student lounge, Catrambone met a student from Northeastern University’s dental-assisting program who was doing a rotation at Tufts. Sophia, who endured life under the communist regime in Vietnam, had recently emigrated to the US with help from her older sisters and aid from the Roman Catholic society Opus Dei.

A rendering of the new lobby, expected to be open this summer. Rendering: PCA Architecture

Richard and Sophia Catrambone became one of the many couples for whom the School of Dental Medicine has played matchmaker, and it has always held a special place in their hearts. “My wife and I feel very blessed now,” said Catrambone, who went on to do four years of oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMFS) training after dental school. “Both of us had very modest backgrounds. We know what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck, with significant student-loan debt. And now that that’s not the case anymore, we decided to help the institutions that helped us get where we are.”

One way the Catrambones are doing that is by supporting the lobby-renovation project at One Kneeland Street, endowing the patient-services suite that will be part of the expanded ground-floor facilities. The lobby revamp began last fall and is expected to be mostly finished this June, with the elevator lobby scheduled for completion in November. The school will be using space that was previously occupied by the Bank of America, creating room for a more inviting “front door” to the dental school.

“I thought it was a grand idea to have a beautiful lobby,” Catrambone said, “because it’s the first impression we make on new patients, potential students, anyone who comes to visit.”

The patient-services suite. Rendering: PCA Architecture

The centerpiece of the patient-services suite will be the welcome room, said Mary Jane Hanlon, D97, associate dean of clinical affairs. When patients come in for their first appointment, they will learn how the clinics work. “We will discuss appointments, how long they are, and the educational mission of the school,” she said. Behind the welcome room will be a consultation area for private conversations. The area will also house the patient-relations team.

“Anything that would be helpful to the patients would be something we want to support,” Catrambone said.

Over the years, Catrambone has also supported the dental school with his time and energy. He has been a member of the board of directors of the Tufts University Dental Alumni Association since 2013 and will be finishing a year as president of the association in April. He also sits on the Board of Trustees of Assumption College. In his professional life, Catrambone practices on the campus of Good Samaritan Hospital in Brockton, Massachusetts, and is an assistant clinical professor at Harvard School of Dental Medicine. He holds an M.D. from Boston University School of Medicine. Sophia Catrambone worked for eleven years as a dental assistant at Limited to Endodontics, a Boston-area practice with many Tufts alumni.

Yet another Tufts connection: The Catrambones’s daughter, Karina, is a member of the D19 class. Following in her father’s footsteps, she will begin an OMFS residency at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in Brooklyn this fall. (Their son, Christopher, is an estate-planning attorney in Wellesley, Massachusetts.)

“Who would have thought, when we first met in 1982, that one day we’d have a daughter going through the dental school as well—and that so many of my D85 classmates would be educating and mentoring her?” Catrambone asked. “We consider ourselves very lucky.”



The following donors have also committed to  supporting the four offices in the patient- services suite:

• Dina Al-Tayeb, DG02

• Peter Delli Colli, A69, D73

• Sterling Beasley, D77

• William Sherman, D62 (deceased), and Samantha Sherman


For more information about the lobby renovation and how to get involved, contact Betty Ann Kearney, senior director of dental development and alumni relations, at 617-636-2783 or elizabeth.kearney@tufts.edu

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