Sometimes, it’s the unexpected opportunities in life that provide the greatest rewards.
That’s how it happened for Dr. Eddie K. Hayashida. The longtime faculty member and administrator retired in June after nearly 40 years at the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry. In those years, he became such a devoted pillar of the Dugoni School community. It’s hard to believe this wasn’t his original plan.
After completing dental school at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), in 1976, Hayashida worked for a few years at a private practice in Glendale, California. But soon, the pull of his roots in his native Bay Area brought him back home to be near family and open his own practice.
Two friends from UCLA, Drs. Richard Garcia and Dennis Hiramatsu who were instructors at the Dugoni School of Dentistry, suggested that since he wasn’t yet working full-time in clinical practice, perhaps Hayashida would like to volunteer at the school at 2155 Webster Street.
“My full intent was to start a private practice in Oakland or Piedmont,” said Hayashida, age 69. “I was going through things with the city planning commission, and at the same time was working as an associate in other dentists’ private practices. My friends invited me to University of the Pacific to teach a first-year preclinical course, and they said, ‘We can’t pay you yet.’ But I enjoyed it tremendously.”
He enjoyed it so much that it changed everything. By 1981, he was a full-time faculty member. And few who have walked through the doors of the Dugoni School of Dentistry aren’t grateful for the accidental path he chose.
“He helped and inspired generations of us as student leaders to become involved and make an impact on our school and then reach out into our practices, towns, organized dentistry, dental education and other places to leverage that leadership and impact our world,” said Dean Nader Nadershahi ’94. “There are generations of graduates who love Eddie and cherish what he has meant to us.”
His contributions include, but are by no means limited to: Associated Student Body faculty advisor for 25 years, faculty advisor to the Xi Psi Phi dental fraternity (including an award as the fraternity’s advisor of the year), member of the Kids in the Klinic Golf Committee, member of the Contact Point magazine editorial board and a coordinator for the school’s blood drive. He also created the Dr. Eddie K. Hayashida Student Government Endowment and has contributed more than $100,000 to the Dugoni School.
Hayashida has received numerous awards and honors, including the Lucian Szmyd Memorial Award, the Alumni Association Medallion of Distinction, the association’s highest honor, and several Associated Student Body Faculty Awards. He was recently honored by the Pacific Alumni Association with the 2017 Faculty Mentor Award as a professor who has made a lasting impact on students’ lives.
[pullquote]“There are generations of graduates who love Eddie and cherish what he has meant to us.”[/pullquote]
But Hayashida’s impact was felt in other ways, too. Example: food. “Everyone remembers the calls from Dr. Hayashida when there was food available after a meeting or reception,” Nadershahi recalled. “All of the students would clear the study rooms and labs to come and be nourished for a long day or night of studying. He would organize the Dugoni School family Thanksgiving meal where students, and even some of our staff and faculty, would join together to celebrate the holidays and spend time with one another.”
And if he wasn’t feeding students, he was helping them advance their careers. In his tenure, Hayashida wrote hundreds of letters of recommendation to help students get into graduate programs, mentored thousands of students and even donated his own frequent flier miles so one student could fly to an interview for a postdoctoral position. In addition, Hayashida interviewed countless prospective dental students as a member of the Admissions Committee for 27 years and continues to do so in retirement.
In every way, Hayashida exemplifies the humanistic model of education, said Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni ’48, dean emeritus. “For four decades, Dr. Hayashida has played an amazing role in the development and growth of the dental school as an educator, clinician, mentor, leader and champion for students, and the humanistic model of education,” Dugoni said. “There was never any job that was too small or too big for Dr. Hayashida to tackle. It was not necessary to ask him to accept a responsibility because he was always there before he was even asked. He lives the professional model of integrity, loyalty and making a difference.”
His commitment to the school is so strong that he even put off his retirement for a year to help Nadershahi transition smoothly into his new position of dean.
But despite retirement time finally coming, Hayashida is still a presence on campus and at school events, such as the recent Alumni Meeting at the Fairmont Hotel. When he’s not traveling, fishing, golfing or volunteering at a local food bank, Hayashida plans to work as an adjunct faculty member.
One reason he’ll stay involved is simply that the Dugoni School community is like family to him. “A lot of my very best friends are former students and current faculty members,” he said.
The other reason he’ll stay involved, however, is the same reason he stayed at the Dugoni School of Dentistry in the first place all those years ago. The school’s mission of serving others was the perfect fit with his own personal ambition. “One of the biggest driving forces in my life has been serving others,” he said. “I want to be known and remembered for what I did for other people.”