By Ashley Musick
Keep moving forward. For Dr. Richard E. Fredekind, recently retired executive associate dean of the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, this motto encapsulates his constant drive for self-improvement. As highlighted by his numerous awards, a few of which include the Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni Faculty Award, Drs. Eugene and Noelle Santucci Humanism and Service Award, the Medallion of Distinction and his most recent Order of the Pacific, the University’s highest honor, Fredekind’s exceptional motivation and passion for improvement have led to an enduring and meaningful connection with faculty, staff, students and patients alike.
In the words of Dean Nader A. Nadershahi ’94, “Our school has benefited greatly from his more than 30 years of involvement with us as an instructor, leader, administrator, mentor and friend. He exemplifies our humanistic spirit through his caring, wisdom and thoughtful and friendly approach to issues large and small.”
Born in Spokane, Washington, as one of two children, Fredekind inherited both his mother’s reserved nature and his father’s humor. He recalls a supportive and educational upbringing that provided the foundation for his future aspirations; namely, his interest in dentistry, which originated at a young age, inspired by childhood trips to the dentist’s office.
After receiving his undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Idaho, Fredekind completed his dental degree in 1979 at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts, before returning to the more temperate West Coast to work at a general practice residency in Oakland, California. Two years later, he purchased a private practice with partner Dr. Robert Bonahoom in Foster City, California, where he proceeded to practice for the next five years.
Motivated to engage himself outside of work, after graduating from dental school, Fredekind became an avid nonfiction reader and potter, at one point owning his own pottery wheel and kiln. Though he no longer actively pursues pottery, Fredekind is considering taking it up again during retirement. That being said, he is also looking forward to exploring new mediums of art that will push him outside of his comfort zone.
In 1984, Fredekind began teaching part-time at the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry as an instructor in the Emergency Clinic. Five years later, he switched to teaching full-time as a group practice administrator which allowed him to explore the complexity of dental practice while working with faculty members to maximize the educational experience of students. When asked to describe his career as a group practice administrator, he explains, “Every day was full of lots of work, each day different from the previous day. It was busy, hectic and challenging, but I enjoyed all of that—it was my favorite job.”
Fredekind adds, “Working with students, staff and faculty was a great experience for me, and helped me understand that staying at the Dugoni School was the best opportunity for me, for the school and the people at the school. I enjoyed being a part of the school community and working together to make the school as effective as it could be.”
Colleagues agree that Fredekind is a kind, unassuming person who has devoted years to the dental school and its students without seeking the spotlight.
“A graduate of Tufts dental school, Dr. Fredekind embodied and lived the humanistic model that is the core value of dental education at the Dugoni School. He always demonstrated the values of integrity, kindness and fairness,” says Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni ’48. “His commitment to excellence was second to none. Many generations of graduates are demonstrating Dr. Fredkind’s inspirational leadership.”
“Dr. Fredekind is a cherished friend and colleague who is one of the most dedicated, principled and hard-working people I know,” adds Dr. Eddie Hayashida, former associate dean of administration.
In 2000, Dr. Ron Borer, associate dean for clinical services, whom Fredekind had worked with for the previous 11 years, retired, and Fredekind was offered the position, which he gladly accepted.
“Paying attention to how Ron worked with people taught me so much about education and helping people reach their full potential,” Fredekind said of his experience under Borer’s mentorship. “That means not only the students, but the staff and faculty who work at the school.”
Fredekind served in his role as associate dean for clinical services for 15 years and then in 2015, Dean Nadershahi appointed him to executive associate dean.
“The three deans Richard worked for tasked him with many daunting responsibilities which he completed with an exemplary level of excellence,” says Hayashida. “He stayed on point, inspired and collaborated with others and finished projects on time all while inspiring, challenging and bringing out the best in others, leading by example and striving for the best. His successful completion of many critical assignments, such as the coordination of the move from Webster Street to Fifth Street, the digitizing of patient records, working on the strategic plan and accreditation and upgrading the clinic model, are just a few examples of his tireless work.”
Following his retirement on June 30 of this year, Fredekind and his wife of 29 years, Linn Brown, took a much-deserved vacation to visit family in upstate New York. They are making more plans to travel, with hopes to visit Ireland and Scotland. When asked why Scotland, Fredekind disclosed two reasons: the cooler weather and the many distilleries Scotland has to offer.
In addition to travelling, Fredekind is looking forward to exploring new forms of creative expression using media he is unfamiliar with, such as food. He hopes to develop his culinary skills—as cooking is an activity he describes as something he “does virtually none of and knows nothing about,” despite maintaining a health-conscious vegetarian diet. His other interests include biking, walking and the Golden State Warriors.
Though undecided on which new activities he wishes to pursue in retirement, Fredekind is determined to continue to challenge his current perspective, push outside of his comfort zone and remain both active and engaged in the world around him.
“He is deeply admired by our students, alumni and staff,” says Hayashida. “During my travels to meetings such as CDA and ADEA as a representative of the dental school, Dr. Fredekind is one of the people who alumni ask about the most and share fond memories. He has been a cornerstone of the success and reputation of the School of Dentistry.”
Fredekind’s determination and commitment to self-improvement formulate a legacy that will continue to inspire both those he has touched and those he has yet to encounter to keep moving forward.
Ashley Musick is a freelance writer from Los Altos, CA.