Author Archives: contactpoint

Collaboration Amid Crisis

We kicked off our spring quarter on March 30 in a way we never would have imagined—our campus facility closed due to a statewide shelter-in-place directive. 

Amid this disruption, the Dugoni School community came together in new ways to collaborate and support each other. We found innovative new methods to work, teach and learn.

Our academic affairs and information technology teams collaborated to make sure our faculty members could deliver their programs online. Our students found new ways to meet online for their coursework and social activities. Our faculty and staff stepped up so we could offer emergency services to our patients of record, relieving hospital emergency rooms from any additional visits for dental needs. Our administrative leaders worked daily on contingency plans to be ready for a campus re-opening at a later date.

As I write this message in early April, we are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, I know we will get through this difficult time by working together guided by our school’s core values of courage, empowerment, excellence, innovation, integrity and leadership. 

This has been a time of disruption for our alumni—for your personal lives and for your dental practices as well. If there are ways we can help or connections we can make for you, please reach out to our Alumni Association.

Fortunately during this tough period for our society, we have a wonderful team of people—our students, residents, faculty, staff, alumni and other supporters. We are committed to each other and to the purpose of the Dugoni School of Dentistry, and that is something we can all celebrate today and in brighter days ahead. 

Sincerely,

Nader A. Nadershahi ’94, DDS, MBA, EdD
Dean

A New Chapter in the Pacific Story

By Jennifer Langham

In November, the Board of Regents announced that Christopher Callahan will be the next president of University of the Pacific—the 26th person to hold the position in the history of the University. Over the last few months, Callahan has been preparing for the job with a series of visits to all three campuses.

As president designate for University of Pacific, Christopher Callahan is doing more than simply introducing himself to students, faculty and staff prior to his July 1 start date. Callahan is making it his mission to learn and to tell the stories about how Pacific offers something unique in undergraduate and graduate education.

Callahan’s own higher education story begins as the first person in his family to attend and graduate from college, an achievement for which he credits his hard-working parents. “It was made crystal clear to me that the path for success in life would be through higher education,” said Callahan. “My parents did many things through my K-12 schooling that would prepare me for that experience, but mostly they provided a culture in our house where going to college was expected.”

He loved sports as a child—baseball remains a passion—but in high school he discovered journalism. A beloved math teacher died, and Callahan wrote an article about her for the school newspaper. “I found it very empowering, this notion of sharing stories with others, and despite the sad topic matter, I was really excited by that,” he says.

Callahan decided to attend Boston University (BU) because it had a strong journalism program and wasn’t too far from his home on Long Island, New York. He earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism from BU’s College of Communication and worked as a journalist for the Associated Press before returning to school for a master of public administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. An adjunct teaching opportunity back at Boston University sparked an interest in journalism education. Callahan says, “It was really rewarding to be on the other side of the higher education equation, to help young people with similar interests with their career goals.”

He went on to serve in faculty and leadership roles at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism, one of the early experiential learning environments in journalism education. In 2005, Callahan became the first dean of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University (ASU). Currently, he also serves as vice provost of ASU’s downtown Phoenix campus and CEO of Arizona Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).

Callahan is making it his mission to learn and to tell the stories about how Pacific offers something unique in undergraduate and graduate education.

In his 30 years of working in higher education, he notes, he has never been at an institution with a dental school. “So I’ve been doing a deep dive to get to know the Dugoni School,” Callahan says. And this meant learning about the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry story from the source: Art Dugoni himself.

Callahan describes sitting down with Dr. Dugoni in December: “I had read about all the wonderful things he has done for the school and for the discipline of dentistry, and I expected to meet an elder statesman. But what I found was someone who seemed to have more energy than I did when I was 30. We had a wonderful conversation and he told me about his philosophy on leadership. It was really a privilege to have that interaction, and then to also see how Dean Nader Nadershahi was just the perfect person to continue Art’s work.”

Touring the dental school, meeting the dedicated faculty and staff and seeing the state-of-the-art facilities on the campus in the heart of San Francisco was impressive, Callahan said. But meeting with students at the Dugoni School illustrated what makes the school special. “It was just before finals, and I expected these young people to be pulling their hair out, but they were incredibly welcoming,” he said. “The students are gregarious, passionate and positive, and they are unbelievably supportive of each other. It was so moving to see.”

“I’ve been doing a deep dive to get to know the Dugoni School,” Callahan says. And this meant learning about the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry story from the source: Art Dugoni himself.

The Dugoni School of Dentistry’s story is an easy one to tell, Callahan reflects, “because it’s a story about one of the very best schools of dentistry in the entire country by every measure, and at the same time it’s a place with this humanistic approach where you walk in the door and you feel like you’re part of the family.”

Creating a narrative about leadership, resources and students is a skill Callahan honed at the Cronkite School, where he increased student enrollment, more than tripled the size of the faculty, created new programs and research partnerships and raised more than $100 million. It was an experience that enhanced his sensibility for innovation and entrepreneurship, skills that are necessary for navigating today’s higher education landscape, he says. 

“We don’t have the luxury anymore, in higher education, of moving at a slow, methodical pace,” Callahan says. “But what I found at ASU is that it’s empowering to move faster, to move collaboratively. And frankly, it’s much more fun when you’re accomplishing things, when you’re providing new, exciting experiences for students and you see them growing from those.”

What are Callahan’s ideas for innovating at Pacific? He says that Pacific’s three campuses provide a unique characteristic that can be capitalized upon in new ways. “Today you see some interconnectivity between the campuses, but I could envision a future where, instead of students taking a semester abroad, you might have a Conservatory of Music student from the Stockton campus who spends a semester working with artists in San Francisco, or a student who wants to go into government spending a semester in Sacramento with a law firm or nonprofit.”

He points to what he sees as some of the special characteristics across the three Pacific campuses: small classes with master teachers, innovative joint-degree programs, experiential learning opportunities and nine different colleges on three different campuses in three distinct cities. 

“We have the base of really extraordinary, innovative programs for our students, but I think there’s a lot more to do, and it comes back to that notion of distinctiveness. What makes Pacific distinctive? Certainly the three campuses do that in a way that other universities simply don’t have.”

Callahan’s visits to Pacific’s campuses have all included his wife of 33 years, Jean, whom he describes as a “full partner” in the move to this next chapter of their lives. Jean is a human resources executive whose job enables her to work remotely, but she also plans to be highly involved with the University. On a recent visit the couple made to Pacific, Jean met with student body presidents to get ideas about how she could help student leaders on the different campuses.

The younger of the Callahans’ sons, Casey, is still a student himself, completing his degree at ASU where he’s studying computer gaming design. Their older son, Cody, who also graduated from ASU, is a staffer doing baseball analytics for Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks. “It’s a good time in the family for this career opportunity,” Callahan says.

And as the next president of the first chartered university in California prepares to begin his tenure, it’s a great time for Pacific to differentiate its own story.

“I think the ability to tell our story is absolutely critical to Pacific’s future success,” Callahan says. “As higher education becomes more and more competitive, we need to be able to articulate our story in powerful ways across all sorts of different platforms to prospective students, and to our own community supporters and leaders and throughout higher education.”

Callahan reflects that the disparate experiences in his own life story—his experience as a first-generation college student, his work as a journalist and his work in higher education—have the common thread of a natural curiosity for gathering information and sharing information.

And as the next president of the first chartered university in California prepares to begin his tenure, it’s a great time for Pacific to differentiate its own story.

As he learns more about Pacific’s three campuses, about their histories and resources, this curiosity, Callahan says, will help him articulate why a student would want to come to Pacific, why a donor would want to give to Pacific and why a corporation would want to partner with Pacific.

“Pacific has a powerful story, and telling that is one of my challenges.”

Jennifer Langham is a contributor to Contact Point and other University of the Pacific publications.

Identifying Unconscious Bias

A Movement Toward Equity and Inclusion in the Classroom and Beyond

By Kirsten Mickelwait

Consider this scenario: a member of a dental school’s clinical faculty responds to a student’s question with the assumption that the student is part of the International Dental Studies program. “They should have taught you this in dental school in your own country,” the professor says. In fact, the student is a U.S. citizen and is part of the Doctor of Dental Surgery program. 

Or this one: a transgender patient enters a dental clinic and requests to be referred to as “she.” Despite the request, a clinical staff member refers to her as “he” within earshot of the patient.

Or this: a student, for whom English is her second language, asks the professor for clarification on an exam question. “There was some confusion about question five related to learning English in general,” the professor announces to the class.

All of these interactions actually occurred within the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry. And they demonstrate “unconscious bias”—situations where perfectly well-intended people make unfair assumptions about others based on long-held stereotypes about race, gender, sexual identity, physical or mental ability or appearance. Despite dramatic progress in diversity in both academia and the professional fields, we have a long way to go toward being fully equitable and inclusive in our interactions—in the classroom, in the clinic or in society at large.

At Faculty Development Day in December, Dr. Magali Fassiotto, assistant dean in the Office of Faculty Development and Diversity at Stanford University School of Medicine, used these examples during a presentation to dental school faculty and staff on how they can identify unconscious bias in the classroom and clinical settings. Fassiotto manages Stanford’s efforts in professional development activities, strategic initiatives related to the recruitment and retention of a diverse and inclusive faculty and research related to faculty development and diversity.

“Becoming aware of our biases and developing strategies to address unconscious bias is so critical for the medical education environment because both education and clinical care are built on human relationships,” Fassiotto says. “On the educational front, students need to be able to have faith that their faculty were, in fact, once in their shoes. In the patient context, research has shown that patients may place greater trust in their care providers if they perceive that the provider understands their cultural backgrounds.”

“At the Dugoni School, we strive to be inclusive, foster diversity and be respectful of all voices and ideas,” says Stan Constantino, assistant dean for admissions, student affairs and diversity, who serves on the school’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the University’s Diversity Leadership Committee. “Dr. Fassiotto’s presentation encouraged all of us to be aware of potential personal or institutional biases that can affect our school and work environment.”

Becoming aware of our biases and developing strategies to address unconscious bias is so critical for the medical edcation environment because both education and clinical care are built on human relationships.

The greatest predictor of group success? Diversity

Why is unconscious bias such a critical factor in the dental and medical fields? To begin with, studies have repeatedly shown that diversity is, in fact, the greatest predictor of group success. “When forming teams, we often default to the familiar,” Fassiotto says. “But homogeneous groups operate with less information, have fewer opportunities for learning (because everyone already agrees) and lack fresh perspectives. What results is ‘groupthink’—the illusion of being right because your own group is in agreement.”

Heterogeneous groups, on the other hand, benefit from distinct experiences, diverse points of view and differing opinions. Even after reaching a consensus, the group is open to the possibility that its opinion isn’t always the right one. 

How serious a problem is unconscious bias? Here are just a few examples:

  • The Implicit Association Test (IAT) conducted by Harvard University among three million subjects between 2002 and 2015 revealed that 78% of the American population showed an automatic preference for a European American to an African American. 
  • In the same test, 72% of respondents showed an automatic association of males with science and females with liberal arts.
  • Another study, conducted by the National Academy of Sciences, reported that people believe that hurricanes cause significantly more deaths when the hurricanes have female names than when their names are masculine.
  • In a study by the research firm Nextions, 60 partners from 22 law firms participated in a “writing analysis study” in which they were given a memo with 22 errors written by “Thomas Meyer.” When told that Meyer was African American, they ranked him 3.2 out of 5 points, and commented that his work was “average at best” and “needs a lot of work.” When Meyer was represented as white, he was ranked 4.1 out of 5, and received comments that he “has potential” and “good analytical skills.”
  • In an analysis of 14 million reviews on RateMyProfessor.com, male professors scored much higher in “brilliance,” while female professors scored higher for “niceness.” 

Even more important in clinical care

It’s not difficult to imagine how these unspoken preferences might play out in an academic or professional environment. And the consequences of such biases are even more critical in clinical care. Research demonstrates that some populations are disproportionately affected by certain conditions, which can create disparities in treatment. Puerto Ricans, for example, have a four-times-greater mortality rate due to asthma compared to European Americans. When it comes to pain management, prescription rates for analgesics and opioids are dramatically different depending on race. And weight bias in medicine can make obese patients reluctant to seek health care, increasing the likelihood of medical problems and costs.

At the Dugoni School, we strive to be inclusive, foster diversity and be respectful of all voices and ideas.

Whether it’s in a clinical setting, a classroom or merely in our day-to-day encounters, our biases stem from cognitive shortcuts. And they’re commonly activated by four key conditions that make us rush to judgment: stress, multitasking, time constraints and/or a need for closure.

Our biases are expressed in what are known as “microaggressions”—acts that aren’t intended to be cruel, but that carry negative subtexts. Asking where a person is from and observing that they speak English really well says, “You’re not American.” A person of color being mistaken for a service worker says, “You couldn’t possibly occupy a high-level position.” A patient who speaks only to the white male in the room says to the female, “You’re not qualified to be the attending physician.” These microaggressions happen with such regularity that they can have an overwhelming effect on those who receive them. 

Strategies for change

How can we as individuals change the culture around unconscious bias? “While you can’t control the actions of other people, you can teach by example,” Fassiotto says. “First, remember that intent and impact are two different things. Consider another person’s past experiences before saying something without thinking. Second, own your actions. If you recognize that your behavior was biased, own the consequences. And finally, reinforce and repair. Rebuild the trust you may have inadvertently broken. And, self-reinforce unbiased behavior in the future. The best possible outcome is addressing the bias and educating the offender so it doesn’t happen again.”

Some active bystander strategies might include: asking questions, which can allow for self-reflection; using humor, which can feel less confrontational; being literal, which can show that unspoken assumptions don’t make sense; expressing your discomfort, which serves as a “speed bump” and allows others to chime in; and communicating directly, which can explain your reaction.

“Research around workplace dynamics shows the importance that diversity and feelings of belonging have for both innovation and individual employee well-being,” Fassiotto says. “Given the impact that an understanding of unconscious bias has across disciplines, it becomes incumbent upon all of us who are a part of medical education to address it head on.”

Since Faculty Development Day, “We’ve received feedback that Dr. Fassiotto’s thoughts were interesting, well-presented and engaging for attendees,” says Dr. Terry Hoover, associate professor and vice chair of the Department of Diagnostic Sciences. “What we have learned will continue to be discussed as we strengthen our teaching strategies, our patient care and our personal interactions.”

Kirsten Mickelwait is a San Francisco-based copywriter and professional storyteller.

An Officer and a Dentist: from Scholarship to Service

By Louise Knott Ahern

For Savana Brown, Class of 2021, it all comes down to helping people.

“Ever since high school, I knew I wanted to be a dentist,” said 23-year-old Brown, a current second-year student at the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry. “I have always had an obsession with oral hygiene and also helping those in need. I realized I could satisfy both through dentistry.”

And, as it turns out, through the U.S. Navy.

Brown is one of 26 Dugoni School of Dentistry students who are enrolled through the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP), which funds students’ medical or dental education in exchange for future military service in the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy or U.S. Air Force. After graduating, the new doctors will serve as active-duty dentists on their assigned military bases for three or four years, depending on the terms of their scholarships. 

Though there is no limit on the number of military students that the Dugoni School of Dentistry will accept, the number who are enrolled each year varies widely from five to 30, according to Marco Castellanos, director of financial aid.

Their reasons for serving are as varied as their backgrounds. Brown comes from a military family and decided to seek the scholarship because she wanted to use her dental career to give back in as many ways as possible. Others, like 23-year-old Lindsay Treppa, Class of 2021, will be the first in their family to serve.

Savana Brown

Class of 2021
Age: 23
Hometown: Lake Tapps, WA
Undergraduate: Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
Military Branch: U.S. Navy

Why she chose the Dugoni School: “I was initially intrigued by the three-year intensive program, and then when I began to do more research, I realized that the school prepares you well for not only getting a job after school, but also later on in life through the curriculum and excellent educators and doctors who work with us in the clinic each day.”

Future plans: “To me, military service means dedicating my life to serve our country however I am needed. I will attend Officer Development Training in Rhode Island for five weeks before assuming a position as a dentist on a Naval base somewhere in the United States. I hope to work in a private practice and eventually have my own shortly afterwards.”

“I will be the first member of my immediate family to serve in the military, so it has been quite a learning curve for me and will continue to be through officer training,” said Treppa, who serves as a California Dental Association student representative. “I am often thanked for my service, and while I feel like I have done nothing for my country while being in school, I know that my future contribution to the oral health of military families in the U.S. Navy, wherever I end up, will make a difference in their lives.”

The U.S. Navy represents the bulk of the Dugoni School’s HPSP students, with 17 students on Naval scholarships. Three students are enrolled through the U.S. Army and six through the U.S. Air Force. The scholarship covers all tuition and fees, and students also receive a monthly stipend for living expenses of approximately $2,100, according to Castellanos. For many HPSP students, the financial benefits are often what first appeals to them about the program. 

Patrick Gomez

Class of 2022
Age: 23
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV
Undergraduate: University of Nevada, Reno
Military Branch: U.S. Navy

Why he chose the Dugoni School: “Dugoni is the best dental school around. My dad, aunt and cousin all went here, and I am proud to say I go here as well. This place challenges you to be the best dentist you can be, while still being a warm place to learn with peers and faculty. I couldn’t picture attending any other school.”  Future Plans: “My plans are to specialize in oral surgery, and then to serve in the military as an oral surgeon. Then I am going into private practice in Denver.”

“When you’re still paying off your undergraduate educational costs and then looking forward to $500,000 more of debt, it’s a daunting number,” said 29-year-old Steven Leung, Class of 2022, who will serve in the U.S. Army after earning his DDS degree. “So finances were definitely a factor.”

But though the financial aid is what first catches their eyes, it’s not the factor that usually closes the deal for most students once they meet with recruiters and other military students. It’s about giving back.

Lindsay Lanilyn Treppa

Class of 2021
Age: 23
Hometown: Clayton, CA
Undergraduate: University of Southern California
Military Branch: U.S. Navy

Why she chose the Dugoni School: “After my college experience in Southern California, I was eager to return home to the Bay Area, where most of my family lives. I believe it is important to make connections where you want to be, and the Dugoni School has an exceptional presence. The academics, clinics and facilities are world-class and students can thrive here. I already had my scholarship in place so when I got my acceptance it was the easiest ‘yes’ I’ve ever made.” Future plans: “During the payback period of my military career, I expect to move to a place I have never lived before,” she said. “I want to gain skills and knowledge from the senior dentists. I am interested in serving on a base in another country, to expand my understanding of how our practice in the states differs from that of foreign cultures.”

“My parents are immigrants, and I’ll be the first in my family to serve in the military,” said Leung, who is president of the Class of 2022. “I’ve always wanted to give back to my country. In high school, I participated in the Junior Navy ROTC and really enjoyed the sense of responsibility it instilled, the duty. There is a lot of humility in taking on this position.”

To qualify for a Health Professions Scholarship Program, students must meet certain physical and academic requirements and be U.S. citizens. They must also have earned their undergraduate degree and been accepted to a medical or dental school.

Steven Leung

Class of 2022
Age: 29
Hometown: Milpitas, CA
Undergraduate: University of California, San Diego
Military Branch: U.S. Army

Why he chose the Dugoni School: “The standard of care we hold ourselves to at the Dugoni School was definitely a driving factor for my decision.” Future plans: “During my service, I will request to be stationed out of the country. Being in the Army gives me the chance to branch out and see the world. I’m very interested in policy making and volunteering, and either private practice or corporate dentistry would be my next step after the military.”

During the course of their education, they are required to remain full-time students but are not required to participate in active military service. After they graduate—and after basic training—HPSP participants are given the rank of captain in the Army and Air Force or lieutenant in the Navy and will be stationed at a military base, either in the U.S. or overseas. 

“There is a lot of humility in taking on this position.”

–Steven Leung, Class of 2022

Patrick Gomez, Class of 2022, is looking forward to the commitment. Dentistry is in his blood. His father, aunts, both grandfathers and his maternal great-grandfather were all dentists. His uncle is an oral surgeon. So there was never a question in his mind that he would follow in his family’s footsteps…or give back to his community.

“My grandparents immigrated with their families from the Philippines and were able to make a good life here in the U.S.,” said Gomez, an American Student Dental Association (ASDA) representative. “I chose to serve in the military because it is a way to give back to the country that gave my family an opportunity to thrive. My cousin went to West Point and is serving in the Army, and my uncle is a retired Army colonel. I seized the opportunity when a recruiter came to talk to my pre-dental society, and I saw this as a great opportunity to serve and for my dental career.”

“I chose to serve in the military because it is a way to give back to the country that gave my family an opportunity to thrive.”

–Patrick Gomez, Class of 2022

Students say they expect the lessons from their military service will carry through into their dental careers, and vice versa.

“One of the main lessons I have learned from military service that I have brought with me to my dental studies is the value of preparedness, hard work and communication,” Brown said. “I have been told that once you get good at doing dental work, the hardest part is staying organized and communicating efficiently with patients and others. I am looking forward to applying these aspects of military service to my studies and for future patients.”

Treppa said her dental education has prepared her well for military service. “The curriculum has made me more organized and an efficient learner,” she said. “Through my positions with CDA, SCOPE and Philippines Dental Outreach I have improved my confidence and leadership skills, both of which will be of importance as a lieutenant in the Navy.” 

Louise Knott Ahern is an award-winning journalist, fiction writer, editor and writing coach, and is the founder of LKA Publishing.

Dr. Alan Budenz | Leading by Example

By Marianne Sampogna Jacobson

Dr. Alan Budenz has long contributed in myriad ways to the dental profession, the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry and the student experience. Modest by nature, Budenz, who is currently a professor and vice chair of the Department of Diagnostic Sciences, is a quiet leader. When speaking of him, students and colleagues express gratitude for his dedication, patience and mentorship, and laud his commitment to patients, students and service.

He now has a new role in which to display those qualities: president of the Dugoni School of Dentistry Alumni Association. Joanne Fox, director of the Alumni Association, calls him “an enthusiastic faculty member who gets to know our students well—developing valuable and sincere insight into future alumni who will become our association’s base.” 

As president, Budenz aims to support the mission of the school and increase the size of the association’s membership by enhancing the value for its members. He is the first person to serve as president of both the Dugoni School of Dentistry Alumni Association and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Dentistry Alumni Association, which he led from 1998-99.

As a young man in Riverside, California, he enjoyed rolling up his sleeves, and favored hobbies and puzzles that required both hands and mind. His father, a radiologist, was an active role model who taught Budenz and his two brothers woodworking and steered him toward dentistry because of his aptitude for working with his hands. Budenz picked up ceramics in college, a hobby he has continued for many decades. His innate dexterity and strong drive to create is a huge asset and was part of his motivation to pursue dentistry. In college he was initially pre-med, studying comparative anatomy and zoology at University of California, Los Angeles. He went onto UCSF School of Dentistry, where he earned his DDS degree in 1982. While there, he served as class treasurer for four years as well as student body president. In those days, the students were responsible for purchasing much of their own materials and one of the duties of the class treasurer was placing high-value gold orders for restorations.

After graduation, Budenz worked in private practice in the Marina District of San Francisco in the early 1980s, but discovered his true passion was teaching. He served as a teaching assistant for many courses at UCSF and enjoyed tutoring his peers. Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni recruited him to teach at University of the Pacific because of his broad talent and expertise. “Dr. Budenz is a Renaissance man with a vast knowledge of anatomy and other subjects,” commented Dugoni. “He is a very generous person with his time, talent and treasury! Because of his passion, he gives so  much to his students.” Students echo that Budenz cares deeply about them and their patients. In 1984, he began teaching one day a week. Over time, that one day became five, leading to 27 years as a full-time educator.

Budenz’s work as a faculty member went beyond the classroom. In 1993, he helped launch the CARE Clinic, a unique program specializing in treatment for HIV and AIDS patients. Budenz found that work very rewarding as he learned a great deal about general medicine and psychology in an intense environment, which helped make him a stronger instructor.

Often he finishes lectures with a picture from another locale to inspire his students to travel the world and to be fascinated and inspired.

One of the many significant contributions he has made over the years has been leading more than 10 student service trips to Jamaica and the Philippines. Budenz coaches students on fundraising for these travel programs and inspires students to serve the underprivileged during these transformative trips. Victoria Saykally, Class of 2020, recalled, “Dr. Budenz is incredibly passionate about these outreach trips and does everything he can to empower students, like pitching-in, grabbing instruments and cleaning operatories rather than just standing and evaluating.”

In addition to his academic mentorship, Budenz adds to the fabric of the close-knit community by bringing fun and humor to students. As Leah Life, Class of 2020, shared, “Every interaction with Dr. Budenz leaves me with a little pearl of knowledge but also a smile or a laugh.”

He founded the Ultrasonics Swim Team in 1996 to foster camaraderie and fitness while balancing busy workloads. Wanting to help his students manage stress, he also sponsored them on boat trips and swimming events at Lake Tahoe. He continues to urge students to find balance in their lives and think beyond their work. Often he finishes lectures with a picture from another locale to encourage his students to travel the world and to be fascinated and inspired.

As president, Budenz aims to support the mission of the school and increase the size of the association’s membership by enhancing the value for its members.

Budenz has earned numerous honors and awards for his many contributions to dentistry and continuing education. He has been recognized for creating educational content, presenting hundreds of lectures, writing dozens of articles, conducting research, volunteering in the community and serving on boards and committees. At the Dugoni School of Dentistry, he has served on the alumni board for six years, followed by three as an officer. After this coming year as president, he will work an additional year as immediate past president—a total of 11 years of service to the association. Fox commented, “Alan’s voice has been consistently steady and calm. He weighs situations carefully and makes feasible suggestions and I look forward to the ideas he’ll bring to our association for implementation as president.”

Budenz enjoys traveling all over the world, lecturing in new places and keeping active by bicycling, skiing, surfing and hiking. He swims every weekday morning in the San Francisco Bay at the Dolphin Club.

In Memoriam: Dr. Dennis Daizo Shinbori (1951-2020)

Dr. Dennis Daizo Shinbori ’75, a giant in our profession, passed away peacefully on February 18, 2020 at the age of 69.

Since graduating from the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in 1975, he touched the lives of more than 7,000 graduates and mentored many in the profession. He was a 45-year faculty member, Medallion of Distinction recipient (the highest honor of the Alumni Association), chair of the Annual Meeting Committee, supporter and friend. He built and maintained a thriving dental practice in San Francisco’s Japantown for 40 years and consistently gave back to the school, the profession and the community.

“He was a role model, not just in every educational and leadership position he held, but also in how he ‘walked the talk’ throughout his life—an example of true humanism.”

In 2006, he began helping recruit speakers for the California Dental Association and American Dental Association, and took on numerous leadership roles for both organizations, helping to create inspiring continuing education opportunities around the country. For many years, Dr. Shinbori also spearheaded the San Francisco Dental Society’s Children’s Poster Contest, which sparked the imagination of thousands of schoolchildren and raised awareness about the importance of good oral health. 

“Whether you knew him as a classmate, colleague, faculty member, mentor or friend, you undoubtedly were inspired by his devotion to the school, the profession and the community,” said Dean Nader A. Nadershahi ’94. “He was a role model, not just in every educational and leadership position he held, but also in how he ‘walked the talk’ throughout his life—an example of true humanism.”

Shinbori was a rare and extremely valued member of the profession of dentistry.

For the many ways he shaped the profession, Shinbori was recognized with the status of faculty emeritus, an official designation bestowed by University of the Pacific. The Alumni Association has created the Dennis D. Shinbori Endowed Lectureship Series, underscoring his impact on the profession and school. And in December, the Dental Faculty Council (DFC) awarded him the 2019 Distinguished Faculty Award—the highest award given by the DFC. 

Shinbori was a rare and extremely valued member of the profession of dentistry. He was also an avid golfer, foodie, ballroom dancer and fan of the San Francisco Giants, San Francisco 49ers and Golden State Warriors. 

He is survived by his wife Wendy, their sons James and Kristopher, daughter Nicki ’10, three grandchildren, Leo, Avery and Ayla, and the many others who loved him throughout our communities. The family requests that memorial gifts be directed to the Dennis D. Shinbori Endowed Lectureship at the Dugoni School.

Old School | Dentists at War

Step into the Past

Several current DDS students will be entering the military upon their graduation as detailed in the feature story in this issue.

Dean Emeritus Arthur A. Dugoni ’48 served in the U.S. Navy, beginning as a volunteer in 1943 in the World War II V12 Officer Training Program and becoming a lieutenant. He completed his undergraduate education at Gonzaga University as part of his Naval training and earned his DDS degree from the College of Physicians & Surgeons.


His military service spanned 1943 – 1946 during WWII and then again from 1948 – 1951 when he was a Naval officer who was eventually assigned to the 1st Marine Division to provide oral surgery at Camp Pendleton during the Korean conflict. 

Lives We Have Touched

By Jennifer Langam

“Our purpose is to help people lead healthy lives,” says Dean Nader A. Nadershahi ’94. For student dentists at the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, the almost 900 clinical hours they spend in their second and third years are essential to their education; for the patients they treat, those hours translate to lives touched.

The clinics in San Francisco and Union City, as well as extramural sites, provide approximately 118,000 patient visits per year to 28,000 active patients. Those numbers are impressive, but, as Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs Sig Abelson ’66 says, the most important thing students should learn in the dental clinic is that these are all individuals with unique backgrounds, stories, expectations and health needs.

“From the day students arrive at the Dugoni School, we don’t talk about the teeth or the mouth; we talk about the person, about the patient,” says Abelson. “We teach the students about empathetic listening and that the most important thing dentists can do is listen to their patients.”

Around 35% of patients at the Dugoni School have Denti-Cal insurance, so the clinics are a healthcare safety net for people who have almost nowhere else to turn for dental care, given how few practices accept the low-reimbursement insurance. But, the remaining 65% of Dugoni School patients come from all walks of life, from businesswomen and musicians to retired individuals and military veterans. For these and for all patients, quality care is delivered in a highly supervised setting.

This means that students can practice skills essential for connecting with patients, such as using language patients understand, which can be challenging for student dentists, according to Dr. Bruce Peltier, professor of diagnostic sciences.

“They’ve just learned a whole new vocabulary of big words, and they want to use them! Instead, we teach students to show patients things, like pictures, clay models or models of the restorations they’re going to do. In fact, we talk to our students about the importance of teaching patients,” says Peltier.

The goal of their training, Abelson tells students, is not to teach them to become dentists but to become oral health professionals who care for patients.

And in caring for patients in the clinic, those student dentists and supervisors touch the lives of countless patients, often across many years.

Terry Irvin

Terry Irvin first came to San Francisco in 1968, hitchhiking from Michigan with $25 in his pocket. Irvin briefly returned to Michigan but has otherwise spent almost his entire adult life in the City. He owned a restaurant and then worked in restaurants, food service and catering for the rest of his career.

He heard about the dental school when he joined a union for restaurant workers in the late 1970s and has been coming to the clinic since the early 1980s.

“The clinic has been a godsend. I’ve had lots of difficulties with my mouth, since I was young, and I’m so thankful for the care I’ve received there,” he says.

[pullquote]Our purpose is to help people lead healthy lives[/pullquote]

Irvin has seen lots of changes at the clinic through the years, the most obvious of which is the location. “I love the new building,” he says. “The architecture is beautiful and the clinic facilities are so much nicer than in the old building.”

The location change has, however, changed how Irvin gets to his dental care. “I could walk to the old [Sacramento Street] clinic, and I especially loved my springtime appointments, when I could see the flowering plum trees lining the streets in Japantown,” Irvin remembers. “But times change, and now I take the bus for my morning appointment and get off at Fifth and Market and see the whole city coming alive. So, I appreciate that the new location gets me downtown and out of my neighborhood.”

Because of his long association with the clinic, Irvin has also gotten to know the people at dental school as well. Dr. Lisa Itaya ’98, ’00 AEGD, now associate professor of clinical oral health and a group practice leader in the clinic, was once a student and resident at the Dugoni School—and she was Irvin’s dentist in the clinic and now supervises the student dentists who treat him.

“Dr. Itaya has been taking care of my teeth for the last 25 years!” says Irvin. “Now I see her and she always gives me a big hug, and it makes it fun going there, knowing her and all the supervisors in the clinic. The Dugoni School is really family to me.”

“Patients like Terry are our most valued resource at the clinic,” says Itaya. “He is reliable, patient, cooperative and kind. It takes a patient with a certain temperament or personality to embrace being a dental school patient, and Terry has it.”

Itaya adds, “The patients who consider the Dugoni School as their dental home appreciate the energy of the students, the faculty expertise and the quality work they receive for the price they pay. I think they mostly like the fact that students enjoy being their doctors, and they are polite and caring. The students try hard, and I think patients like that.”

[pullquote]Dr. Itaya has been taking care of my teeth for the last 25 years![/pullquote]

Steve Plante

Born and raised on the Peninsula, Steve Plante now lives in San Bruno, California. “I love being near the ocean, and I love baseball and football, and this is a great place for that,” he says.

For 20 years, Plante worked for Sears, where one of his health benefits included access to an in-house dentist. But the 2008 economic downturn hit the retail sector hard, and by 2010 Plante had to leave his job—and his long-time dentist.

A friend referred Plante to the dental clinic, and he went there for the first time in 2012 to get some crowns replaced. His student dentist at the time, he remembers, was an international student from India, and he was very impressed with her work and enjoyed getting to know a bit about her.

“Everyone I’ve ever seen at the Dugoni School has been high quality,” Plante says. “They are professional and focused on their careers, and they explain things in a way I can understand.”

In addition to the crown replacements, Plante has had fillings and cleanings at the dental clinic, and he’s now in the process of getting an implant.

Plante has enjoyed finding things in common with his dentists—he has met some who are as passionate about the San Francisco Giants as he is—as well as learning about the different cultures and backgrounds of the students.

“You get to work with them, and I do everything they tell me to do,” Plante says. “And if I leave the clinic and have any questions, I can always call and get someone to answer them.”

Plante now feels a close relationship with the dentists and staff at the dental school. “It’s almost like you’re a part of the family here,” he says. “It’s a wonderful, wonderful place.”

Joaninha

Joaninha (known simply by her first name) has lived abroad for most of her life and has worked as a model, a fashion designer, an artist and most recently, a cookbook author. One of the downsides to her early traveling life is that she had almost no preventive dental care during her 20s when she was living in South America. So when she moved back to San Francisco for a time in the 1970s, she went looking for a dentist.

“My boyfriend’s brother worked in the lab at the Pacific dental school and he knew first hand who the best students were,” she recalls now.

Some of the gold foil restorations Joaninha received from the dental school at that time have lasted until quite recently. “They had a good run,” she says, noting that she just turned 70.

Over the years, as she has spent time in the Bay Area in between living in Paris, Kyoto, Taiwan and other global locations,  Joaninha has appreciated the team approach at the Dugoni School clinic. “The students are very well supervised, and the students and faculty dentists consult with each other when they need to do complex procedures for me.”

She has memories of several noteworthy dentists at the clinic through the years: one who was particularly good with her dental sensitivities, another who spent extra time helping patients relax with shoulder massage and music and many international students whom she has enjoyed getting to know.

[pullquote]“I come into the clinic with my lavender eye pillow”[/pullquote]

“I have such a complicated mouth,” she laughs. “But everyone at the school is very understanding of all my issues and very patient in explaining every recommended procedure and answering my questions.”

Because of her long tenure with the clinic,  Joaninha has joked with students and staff that she could teach an extracurricular course on optimal patient care and management.

“I’ve had so much dental work done that I know a lot of the terms,” she says. “I come into the clinic with my lavender eye pillow; I meditate and I relax. I have the reputation of being a very good patient!” She adds, “It is because of the students’ and staffs’ careful guidance regarding preventive home care that my teeth and gums are quite healthy, even with all the dental work.”

Joaninha is not, however, ready to go abroad again yet. Her priority right now is finding a publisher for her new cookbook, which she describes as “a mélange of information on healthy eating and living” based on her global experience. But when she does travel again, it will be with a smile, probably not long after a visit to the dental school.

Jennifer Langham is a contributor to Contact Point and other University of the Pacific publications.

Filling the Gap: Students Learn and Patients Benefit from Denture Block Program

In what has become an annual event, second-year DDS and IDS students joined forces to provide complete denture prosthodontic services to a group of underserved individuals. Last November, the Fall 2012 Denture Block culminated with the delivery of new sets of dentures to 30 pre-identified individuals at no cost to the patients.

Launched in 2010 as a collaboration between the school and San Francisco’s Project Homeless Connect, Denture Block initially aimed to counter the lost treatment and educational opportunities for dental students and dependent patients resulting from elimination of many adult DentiCal benefits. Since then, the program has expanded its reach to include an underserved population of patients who are missing their natural dentition and cannot afford dentures. Patients are now referred to the program from numerous Bay Area social service agencies and religious groups, as well as by word of mouth.

The complete Denture Block experience includes five consecutive Friday appointments involving groups of five students and one regular or adjunct faculty mentor for each appointment. Faculty members include Bay Area prosthodontists and department staff from preclinical courses.

Drs. Peter Hansen and Eugene LaBarre, associate professors in the Department of Integrated Reconstructive Dental Sciences, spearheaded the fall project, which involved 30 patients and 160 dental students. Invaluable assistance was provided by Doris Bailey, clinic operations manager, and the clinical administrative staff together with Olga Matveyeva in the dental laboratory.

The Denture Block is funded in part through the generosity of private donors David and Jane Jackson, the Middleton Foundation and Richard and Linda Leao; corporate support from Salesforce.com and the Myerson Corporation; and interest from an endowment from Dr. Henry Sutro ’50. The dental school contributes support staff, supplies and other clinic resources.

“The Denture Block experience is replete with unanticipated appreciation for involved students and patients,” said Hansen. “These emotional responses result from the satisfaction the students receive from — for the first time — providing treatment which so dramatically affects a person’s quality of life and sense of self-worth.”

Future Denture Block programs remain contingent on funding. The school hopes to continue the program due to overwhelming positive feedback from all involved. If you would like to support this program, contact the Development Office at 415.929.6431.

Fueled By Passion

by Patrick J. Ferrillo, Jr., Dean

Among our many other responsibilities as healthcare providers, we are responsible for possessing an honest passion for what we do. Our patients expect us to care deeply about their health and well-being. An important motivator, passion plays a similar role in dental education. Often the best faculty members are those who feel a true drive to help students become thoughtful and well-rounded practitioners. Students who have a passion for learning or for helping others will get through the rigors of dental school better than those who don’t share that inner drive.

This issue of Contact Point is about passion — those things that make us feel fulfilled as individuals and professionals. In the following pages, you’ll find stories about passionate members of the Pacific Dugoni family. We’ll explore the non-dental passions of some of our alumni and faculty in one of our feature stories. From organic farming to singing, I think you’ll be fascinated by what these dental professionals do in addition to their work in dentistry.

You’ll also read about some recent school milestones and how these accomplishments were driven by passionate individuals from every level and group at our school — students, staff, faculty, alumni and friends. We’re in the midst of a very forward-thinking time at the dental school, especially with the creation of our new San Francisco campus, but it’s also important to reflect on what we’ve accomplished and from where we’ve come. I know that all of these milestones would not have happened if not for hard work coupled with—yes—a passion for keeping Pacific Dugoni on the forefront of dental education.

We round out our feature stories by profiling our Alumni Association, which recently transitioned from being a separate nonprofit organization to an official department of the dental school. You’ll get an up-close look at our Alumni Association’s activities, which are all driven by a group of individuals who care deeply about providing a reliable and valuable resource for our thousands of alumni.

Finally, I hope you enjoy an excerpt from the Journal of Dental Education, written by one of the most passionate individuals I know, Dean Emeritus Arthur A. Dugoni.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our students who are discovering and demonstrating their passion for caring for patients. It makes me feel optimistic and excited about the future of dentistry, dental education and Pacific Dugoni.

Sincerely,

Patrick J. Ferrillo

Dr. Patrick J. Ferrillo, Jr.

Dean