There are many words to describe Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni ’48. I know that we all have our own personal descriptors and fond memories of our legendary dean emeritus. Over the last few months, it has been heartwarming to bring the Dugoni School family together and share so many wonderful reflections during the virtual Celebration of Life, at our Alumni Meeting, on the In Memoriam testimonial web page and in other venues. Thank you for your outpouring of love for Dr. Dugoni, his family and for the Dugoni School.
This special issue of Contact Point brings more of these memories to life. Dr. Eric Curtis ’85 and Martin Brown have penned thoughtful feature articles filled with remembrances from many of our alumni and others whose paths have crossed with Dr. Dugoni professionally and personally. Past presidents of our school’s fundraising foundation have also taken time to share their thoughts.
Dr. Art Dugoni was my mentor, my friend, my role model and my biggest cheerleader. I know that he is always there in my corner and in our corner as we work together and build a stronger future for the Dugoni School and for our great profession.
As we reflect on Dr. Dugoni and his impact, he lives on in each of us through his lessons, words and deeds. By renewing our relentless pursuit of excellence and commitment to our humanistic approach to education filled with respect, leadership, service and other values, I know we will honor his memory. Thank you for joining me in carrying the torch and honoring the giant—Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni—upon whose shoulders we stand.
Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni: A Philanthropist Inspiring Others
With this issue dedicated to Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni ’48, it is difficult to overlook his contributions to his dental school in terms of philanthropy. I have had the pleasure to work intimately with Art in philanthropy, among other areas. He inspired so many of us to join him, always the first to lead by example, in making the dental school their first choice in supporting the school with the three “Ts” of philanthropy: time, talent and treasure. I sent out a “request for your thoughts” to 10 past presidents of our fundraising board, at times called the Pacific Dental Education Association, the Pacific Dugoni Foundation and currently the Dugoni School Foundation. I wanted them to answer why they felt compelled to lead the board. Below is a summary of their thoughts about Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni and philanthropy. —Dr. Craig Yarborough ’80
DR. COLIN WONG ’65
Dr. Dugoni has been my teacher, my dean, my fellow faculty member, my friend, my neighbor but most importantly, my mentor. I knew Art for well over half of a century. It started when I was in dental school and he was my pediatric dentistry professor. From then on, he had a big influence on my life. He had an amazing talent of recognizing your ability more than you did. When he organized the original P&S Club into what is now the Dugoni School Foundation, he appointed me to be on the board of directors to my utter surprise. What is even more surprising is when I was thinking of retiring from my dental practice, he again appointed me to be the president of the foundation which then embarked on the $50 million capital campaign—the largest among all the dental schools at that time. With Art leading by example, charisma and persuasiveness, together with the board and the development staff, we exceeded the $50 million goal. One of Art’s dreams was to have a scholarship endowment large enough to be able to provide free tuition for our students. I have always followed Art’s famous saying, “Will you all join me in my dream?” I had the honor to be his strong advocate on the Dean’s Search Committee that selected him. Look at what, as dean, he did not only for our school but for dentistry in general.
As friends, my wife and I had the pleasure of travelling with Art, celebrating Art and Kaye’s 50th wedding anniversary and finally becoming his neighbor at the Vi at Palo Alto. Together with his family, his colleagues, his students, his friends and his admirers, we will miss Art terribly, but we will always have him in our hearts. Rest in peace, Art, and may light perpetually shine upon you!
DR. RON REDMOND ’66
In 1965, Art was teaching undergraduate orthodontics, and at the end of the session that day he asked about my plans following graduation. I told him of my dream to practice crown and bridge in Palo Alto. He felt that was a laudable goal, but encouraged me to consider orthodontics. He felt my personality and caring nature would be perfect for the orthodontic specialty. I didn’t recognize it at that time, but one of Dr. Dugoni’s amazing talents was to see strengths possessed by individuals that they didn’t recognize in themselves.
As an orthodontist, I came into contact with Dr. Dugoni frequently and began to emulate his teachings. Art became one of my “giants” and the more I admired him, the more I wanted to repay him for his guidance. He suggested that I join the Pacific Dental Education Foundation (PDEF), and through his urgings I became president of the PDEF board. During my tenure, Art presented his dreams for the future of the dental school funded by a $50 million endowment. The PDEF board discussed Art’s proposal and launched a $50 million fundraising campaign. When Art asked me to lead the campaign, I agreed to do my best. My overwhelming purpose was to run a successful campaign and honor Dr. Dugoni when the University renamed the dental school as the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry.
On the day of the rededication of the school in Art’s name, he confided in me that his only regret was that his parents were not alive to see this honor. Then, Art corrected himself and acknowledged that they were always watching over him from heaven. God bless you, Dr. Dugoni, for the influence you have had on my life.
DR. JANET ANDREWS HOWES ’83
I remember the voice of Dean Dugoni speaking to our graduating class in 1983 telling us the importance of giving back. He said, “If every month you donate the fee you charge for one amalgam you can make a difference.” In 1985, as a new graduate only out of dental school for two years, I was fortunate to buy a dental practice in the same building as Art Dugoni. He was not only my neighbor but also my dean when I was in dental school. He became a second father to me. Art led by example. Over the last 40 years, Art showed me on a daily basis the power of giving back. After a successful career, I felt it was not only my duty but my responsibility to give back and pay it forward. As a member of the teaching faculty, I have the unique opportunity to make a difference in the young lives of our students. As the president of the foundation board, I try to follow Art’s example and try to make a difference in the lives of generations to come through philanthropy and leadership. It is a privilege to serve in this capacity.
I met Art Dugoni in 1986. At that time my father was on the P&S board. This was during a time when they would have lasagna dinners and call the alumni for donations to the dental school. When my father retired in 1996, Art asked if I would follow in his footsteps and become a member of the foundation board. Of course I had to agree. No one ever said “no” to Art because of the respect everyone had for him. After several years on the foundation board, he asked me to serve as the president of the board. I couldn’t help but question him. I am not a graduate of the Dugoni School nor a dentist. I told him I thought the president should be an alumnus. He disagreed with me and said a non-dentist, non-alumnus would have a unique perspective which would be very positive for the dental school. As mentioned before, I could not say “no” to him. I served two terms as president.
Art once asked me why I gave back so much more to the Dugoni School than the other dental schools I work with. I told him I felt an obligation to this dental school. As most of you probably know, that answer was insufficient for Art. He always wanted to go deeper, whether it was personal, school or business. He always searched for that deeper connection. This is why he was such a great inspiration; he pushed you to really think. I went on to tell him that he might not believe me but all of my closest friends, except my college roommate, were graduates of what we all now know as the Dugoni School. I told him that I do not know what you put in the water, but the faculty and staff are superb and the graduates are wonderful. I have no idea how to pay him back for such an amazing lifelong friendship. After all, what is a lifelong friend worth? I have continued to give back to this day and also had the good fortune of helping to come up with the idea of naming the school after him.
I hope I have made Art proud, because he has made me a better person and better man.
DR. STEVE ROSE ’79
When I joined the PDEF board and eventually became president it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career. I had always given what I could to the school over the years since graduating but it was a time to do more. The primary reason for being on the board was to meaningfully contribute to serving the school I love and its mission. Besides that, how could I ever turn down a chance to work closely with Dr. Dugoni and get to work alongside experienced and passionate people for the greater good? When you serve as president of the board, you have the honor, challenge and responsibility to understand how everything needs to work together to accomplish goals. I learned the school needs financial support from the board and alumni to keep running at its level of excellence. The main thing I learned, however, is that giving is really important—but I also came to know that it is incredibly rewarding. I feel there is insurmountable pride in saving and being able to give meaningfully to the Dugoni School of Dentistry. Many thanks to all of you who have contributed over the years. I know we are all proud to be members of the Dugoni School family.
DR. KEN FAT
There is so much praise and so many accolades for Art Dugoni, and I, too, can be counted among his admirers. In 1986, I became active with the Pacific Dental Education Foundation board and served with Art through 2003. This board consisted of dentists and individual supporters who met monthly in a small room at the school while it was still on Webster Street. I would drive in from Sacramento after work to hear and discuss the needs of Art’s programs for the dental school. We were fed Art’s favorite lasagna dinners, sometimes lukewarm and served on paper plates with plastic utensils, during the meeting. Having come from a restaurant family, I found that the real treat for the evening was not this Italian specialty, but Art’s presentation regarding his goals and aspirations of excellence for the dental school and its students. He always said that University of the Pacific School of Dentistry’s philosophy was to “grow people, and along the way they become doctors.” This certainly turned out to be true with my dental family. My son J.C. ’88 met his wife Shareen ’86 at the school, and now my granddaughter, Michelle ’19, is the most recent graduate. My daughter Diana, who completed her program in 1999 and went on to become an accomplished prosthodontist, credits Art for having a positive impact on her as well as the rest of the family. Even though I am a graduate from the other dental school in San Francisco, I have seen the tremendous difference in the spirit and professionalism at Pacific.
It is not often that one is able to witness or be inspired by such a great leader. To have Art Dugoni as the dean mentoring my family, and so many other wonderful dentists who have come through this institution, is quite a rare opportunity. I have faith that his vision will endure. To this end, I am and will always be committed to supporting the excellence that is part of his legacy.
DR. JOHN FEASTER ’74A
Dentistry has allowed me to realize my dreams. I have had personal and financial success because of this wonderful profession. It was Dr. Colin Wong who invited me to join the PDEF board after one of the trips to China with a small group of dental school alumni. I served eight years and was president during Art’s final year as dean. Art was not only a mentor but also became a dear friend. We worked together on the new dean search and the $65 million fundraising campaign. I valued and appreciated my education and wanted to give back in some way. One of my favorite memories with Art was in Beijing, China, where he was the keynote speaker at an international meeting. It was a giant hall with about 1,000 dentists from China and Southeast Asia. There were three or four of us from the dental school with him. He was introducing Invisalign® to this part of the world and at the end of his presentation there was a thunderous standing ovation, the stage was mobbed with dentists trying to meet Art and come to the San Francisco dental school. I leaned over and told Art, “You just became a rock star.” That magical smile of his lit up his face. He will always be my rock star!
DR. GABBY THODAS ’77, ’95 ORTHO
Throughout one’s life, there are many people who touch, inspire and influence you. You may be aware of these touches or you may not. You may interact with these people or they may remain anonymous. I never discovered the identity of those who made it financially possible for me to complete my dental education. I am sure I knew some of them and met them at some point throughout my career, but those who enabled the financing of my education when my scholarship was eliminated remain to this day unnamed. These are the people who inspired me to give back in any way possible.
One must not make the mistaken assumption that only the large and public instances of philanthropy are beneficial. One can be of service and value at all levels of participation. I was deeply honored when I was asked by the dean to be president of the PDEF board. With the talented and hardworking members of the development team, we were able to continue to work toward our fundraising goals, which included financing for the new building at 155 Fifth Street as well as programmatic and scholarship endowments. But we never believed, and those of you reading this must never think, that any gift of time, talent and treasure is of lesser value than any other. Your gift is the inspiration that keeps all of us motivated an encouraged to keep moving forward.
Art was an inspiration to me in many ways and I miss him very much. I was asked to join the PDF board in 2000 and have been proud, privileged and honored to be president of the board for three years. Not being a dentist but a CPA, I, along with my firm Tiret + Company, work mostly with dentists and many Dugoni School graduates. It has been our way of giving back mostly inspired by Art.
While on the board for more than 20 years, I developed a close professional and personal relationship and friendship with Art. I enjoyed the rounds of golf we played, as well as trips to visit donors. I’ve never met a more incredible man. With all the accomplishments in Art’s life, he was always one of the guys. On one of our trips, I shared that when I was very young I wanted to be a dentist. Dr. Herb Ward was our family dentist and Dr. Ward offered me a scholarship to the dental school. Unfortunately at that time, I was fully engaged in our CPA firm so I had to decline.
Art is always in my thoughts and I loved the man he was.
DR. TOM BALES ’74B
Serving on the PDEF board with Art in the final years at the 2155 Webster Street campus was one of the highlights of my volunteer experience at the dental school. While Art was not dean when I was there as a predoc student from 1971 to 1974, he made himself available to all alumni just as if he was. Fortunately, my daughter Katie had him as her dean from 2000 to 2003 and she remembers him fondly, especially for remembering her name even after a dozen years. I joined and served on the PDEF board and as its president to help with fundraising and enjoyed it immensely. Thanks Art, for all you have done, and continue to do with your scholarships.
Remembering Dr. Dugoni through Philanthropy
The Office of Development has been receiving many gifts in memory of Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni ’48. Thank you all so much! His profound legacy of humanism and philanthropy, among so many other core values, have inspired individuals to support one or both of the designated memorial funds: the Art Dugoni Scholar Endowment and the Arthur A. Dugoni Orthodontic Endowed Scholarship.
The Art Dugoni Scholar Endowment will help offset the tuition — hopefully the entire tuition when fully funded — of an incoming DDS student who will shoulder the legacy of Dugoni throughout their education here. At graduation, the scholarship will be designated to another incoming student, in perpetuity — the value of an endowment in solidifying our future. The endowment was started by five individuals associated with Rodeo Dental in Texas, including three classmates — Drs. Saam Zarrabi ’08, Brian Dugoni ’08, ’10 Ortho and Yahya Mansour ’08 — and two additional partners — William Dunklin, DDS, and Raffy Kouyoumdjian, DMD.
Zarrabi explained the group’s motivation, “After seeing Art for the last time at the 2020 Legacy Ball, his grandson Brian and I got to talking about the need for us to step up, rally the troops and give until we feel it. On a Zoom call with Art a few weeks before he passed away, I was able to tell him that Brian and I, along with our other dental partners, had decided to fund an endowment and name it in his honor. In true Art fashion, he was thankful for our support and immediately offered to match what we were giving. So, before we knew it, the five partners at Rodeo Dental had committed to give $100,000, and so did Art!”
The Arthur A. Dugoni Orthodontic Endowed Scholarship (formerly the Orthodontic Resident Endowment) is another Dugoni endowment that helps offset tuition for our current graduate residents, collectively. Dr. Ken ’85, ’87 Ortho and Laurie Shimizu generously gave a lead gift of $250,000 which has been split between the two endowments. Shimizu says, “It’s a great feeling to be able to offer help, whether it is to an individual, an institution or to a dream. Laurie and I recently decided to make a gift to the Dugoni School of Dentistry and also to the Department of Orthodontics in support of the dream that was so dear to Art Dugoni. His dream was to attract the best students to our dental school and to lessen the financial burden of their education. It would be wonderful to have you join me in making Art’s dream a reality.”
These are large commitments helping turn dreams into reality, but every dollar counts—and is matched dollar for dollar by the University’s Powell Match program. Make a difference today by going to dentalgifts.org or contact Jim Dugoni, senior director of development, at email@example.com.
Dentists and dental school faculty volunteers across the state are making an impact as healthcare workers become involved in vaccine rollouts. The Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, in partnership with the San Francisco Department of Public Health, is doing its part, playing an important role in speeding up the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in the community.
The school began providing vaccines to students, residents, faculty and staff on January 30 as allowed by local health guidelines. The initial vaccines were allocated to those involved in the dental and audiology healthcare programs on the San Francisco campus.
The vaccine rollout was a collaborative effort involving many of Pacific’s healthcare programs, including the Dugoni School of Dentistry, the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and the School of Health Sciences. Pharmacy, physician assistant program and dental school faculty, as well as dental student and staff volunteers, were involved in the organization and launch of the vaccine distribution.“We are proud to have the Dugoni School family step up to help face and end this pandemic,” said Dean Nader A. Nadershahi ’94.
In early January, the California Department of Consumer Affairs issued a waiver that allows dentists to administer vaccines authorized by the FDA after completing a short training program. As additional vaccine supplies became available in February, the Dugoni School of Dentistry opened up appointments to the professional dental community and the wider public.
Pandemic Creates New Research Opportunities
Restrictions related to the pandemic prevented the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry from conducting many of its scheduled on-campus research projects in 2020. However, the dental school has launched several new research projects directly related to COVID-19, including measuring aerosol generation during procedures; tracking the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in different populations and the effect of the pandemic on dental school patients; and testing the effect of various medications on COVID-19.
Cuny Becomes First Woman to Serve as Executive Associate Dean
In October 2020, Dean Nader A. Nadershahi ’94 named Eve Cuny as executive associate dean, the first woman in the dental school’s history to be selected for this position. Cuny also serves as associate professor in the Department of Diagnostic Sciences and leads the school’s Environmental Health and Safety division and global relations initiatives. She has served in numerous administrative, academic and clinical roles during her 35 years at the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry.
“It truly is an honor to have been selected to serve as executive associate dean and I am proud to work alongside Dean Nadershahi and the rest of the leadership team,” says Cuny. “It means a lot to me personally to be the first woman to fill this role. Women of my generation were not encouraged or expected to take on leadership positions, and I feel grateful and fortunate to be here in this moment when that is changing all around us.”
Cuny helped develop the school’s original clinical quality assurance program and created and managed the professional liability risk management program. Some of her global relations activities have included expanding and reorganizing the Dugoni School of Dentistry’s global service learning program (formerly known as mission trips).
Professor Cuny is a widely respected expert in infection control and serves as a consultant to the ADA Council on Dental Practice and as a past consultant to the Council of Scientific Affairs. Her leadership activities also include roles with the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention, where she previously served on the board of directors. She is also a member of the National Occupational Research Agenda Council.
Cuny has presented hundreds of continuing dental education programs, and published numerous textbook chapters and articles in peer-reviewed journals. Her involvement as an expert resource in the infection control community has only grown during the COVID-19 pandemic. She has presented several webinars to state and national dental and endodontic associations since the shelter-in-place order in March 2020. She continues to serve on the school’s Crisis Management Team and has contributed greatly to both the dental school and the University’s efforts to address the challenges of the pandemic.
“It is a pleasure and privilege to work with Eve in her new role as executive associate dean,” said Dean Nadershahi. “She is the perfect partner as we work together with the Dugoni School family to successfully face the challenges of a global pandemic and emerge as a premier oral health education program in the world.”
Dr. Chávez Honored with CDA Foundation’s Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni Faculty Award
Dr. Elisa Chávez is the recipient of the California Dental Association Foundation’s Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni Faculty Award for 2020. A professor in the Department of Diagnostic Sciences and director of the Pacific Center for Equity in Oral Health Care, Chávez was nominated for her service to the school and the profession, and for her work in improving access to care for geriatric patients.
Founded in 2006, the award honors and recognizes eligible faculty members affiliated with California’s six dental schools for their exceptional leadership, innovation, collaboration, compassion, philanthropic spirit and integrity in dental education. The award is named for the late Arthur A. Dugoni, DDS, MSD.
Chávez began teaching at the Dugoni School of Dentistry in 2000. In 2001, she launched the clinical education program for the dental school at On Lok Lifeways, a nonprofit organization that provides care and support for older adults and their families.
She continues to serve as director of the student rotations and as a staff dentist at On Lok. Chávez also developed and launched a clinical rotation for predoctoral students at Stanford University’s Department of Surgery. As course director of Integrated Clinical Sciences II, she is recognized for her ability to integrate interprofessional education and collaboration in unique and innovative ways to benefit students.
Beyond the classroom, Chávez serves as chair of the school’s Strategic Plan Oversight Committee. She is a founders’ fellow with The Santa Fe Group, an action-oriented think tank with a mission to improve lives through oral health. She is an advocate for improving the oral health of America’s seniors, and she has authored or co-authored more than two dozen articles and served as guest editor of the CDA Journal’s April 2019 issue dedicated to improving the oral health of older adults.
“Dr. Chávez is an exceptional credit to dental education and the extended professional community. Her genuine, sustained commitment to vulnerable older adults makes her a force for change,” said Dean Nader A. Nadershahi ’94.
Leaders Named to Roles in Academics and Administration
Two highly respected educators have been appointed to positions within the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, bringing new leadership in the areas of preventive and restorative dentistry and pediatric dentistry.
Rebecca Moazzez, BDS, MS, PhD, will join the Dugoni School of Dentistry as the new chair of the Department of Preventive and Restorative Dentistry in late spring 2021. Previously, Moazzez was professor of Oral and Craniofacial Sciences on the faculty of dentistry at King’s College London, where she began teaching in 1998, focusing on predoctoral and specialty prosthodontics. In 2013, she also served as the college’s founding director of the Oral Clinical Research Unit. Moazzez received her BDS in 1986 from University of London and subsequently engaged in postgraduate specialty training, earning the gold medal and prize for the fellowship examination of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, a master’s degree in prosthodontics and a PhD with work in the field of dental erosion and gastroesophageal reflux disease. She is a specialist in prosthodontics and a consultant in restorative dentistry with special interest in dental erosion, TMJ dysfunction and minimally invasive dentistry. She has to her credit more than 50 publications and grants totaling $4 million from commercial and non-commercial organizations to help fund her research.
To support the strong and continuing leadership of the school’s Department of Pediatric Dentistry and clinic, Dr. Geraldine Gerges is serving as interim chair upon Dr. A. Jeffrey Wood’s retirement in April 2021. She will serve in this capacity until a permanent chair is named.
Gerges received her DMD degree from Université of Montreal in Canada. She completed GPR program in 2008 at Montreal Children’s Hospital and continued there as a faculty member for two years. She subsequently completed her pediatric dentistry residency and earned her master’s degree at the University of Michigan. In April 2014, she joined the Dugoni School of Dentistry faculty, where she currently teaches three days per week while continuing in private practice.
Young Art Dugoni pictured in San Francisco with mother Lina Bianco Dugoni (left), great-grandmother Orsola Sciondino (middle) and grandmother Rosa Sciondino Bianco (right)
Given his station in life on the date of his birth—June 29, 1925—Arthur Albert Dugoni’s future success was far from guaranteed. However, in a nation that honors perseverance, character and intelligence over social status, anything is possible.
Art lived in a small home on a little-known narrow lane called Glover Street in San Francisco’s Russian Hill neighborhood from birth to the age of 10. He attended Spring Hill Elementary, a public school founded in 1852, which operates to this day. “It was when I entered public school that I discovered not everyone in the world was Italian,” Art explained in one of more than two dozen interview sessions he and I shared in the creation of his 2015 biography, Quest for Excellence.
As could be said of countless other immigrant families, what was lacking in wealth and social status was compensated for by the presence of determined parents who made the success and happiness of their children a top priority. Art’s mother, Lina, had only the highest expectations for her first-born child. He rarely, if ever, considered falling short of those expectations. On Glover Street, along with his parents, Art was loved and nurtured by his maternal grandparents Rosa and Benedetto Bianco, and his great-grandmother, Orsola Sciondino.
Grandfather Benedetto Bianco; Lina Bianco, her brother Leo and Benedetto; young Art; Art, Lina, brother William and sister Evelyn
Art’s father, Arturo, and his grandfather, Vittorio Dugoni, arrived at Ellis Island in New York Harbor, 30 months after Lina’s parents passed through that same famous port of entry in 1910. Shortly after they arrived, both families traveled by train across the continent to their final destination, California.
Lina and Arturo had a second child, Evelyn, in 1930 and 17 months later, Art’s younger brother, William, was born on December 25, 1931. Lina promptly declared William to be her “Christmas Angel.”
Glover Street was where Art learned about Italian opera from his grandfather Benedetto. He also learned how to produce homemade wine—a necessity in the dry years of prohibition— from his father, who worked as a pastry chef at San Francisco’s famous St. Francis Hotel.
On Art’s 10th birthday, Lina and Arturo purchased a home in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood. For Lina, the house offered three benefits: it was affordable and it had two bedrooms and a dining room that could double at night as Art’s bedroom. Best of all, there was a Catholic school a few steps away from their front door.
From the time Art entered fifth grade at St. Teresa’s and through his undergraduate studies at Gonzaga University, Art attended a total of five schools affiliated with the Catholic Church. Like the Italian culture that enveloped his early years, devotion to the church and its teachings were simply a way of life.
Lina was a born impresario. There was never an opportunity to advance the future success of her children that she did not pursue. Art, the first of her children, like many oldest siblings, was quieter and shier than his sister and brother. In Lina’s view, all the more reason she needed to open doors for him. One such effort was encouraging her family dentist, Dr. Jean P. Cantou ’32, a graduate of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, to speak to Art about his future.
Art and a friend playing the accordion; Art’s school portrait; high school track star; in cap and gown with proud parents Arturo and Lina
Art knew his parents had high expectations for him. He was a good student and an outstanding athlete in track and basketball. But, like all of us, his life was impacted by events that bend history in unexpected ways. Art was only four when the stock market crashed, and the Great Depression began. The impact of those difficult years stayed with him for a lifetime. In 1943, eight months before he graduated as valedictorian at St. James High School, President Franklin Roosevelt reduced the draft age to 18.
His high school principal, Father James, suggested that with Art’s outstanding academic record, coupled with a string of athletic achievements, he would be a successful candidate for one of several college-based officer training programs. Art was accepted to a six-month U.S. Navy V-12 college training program at the University of San Francisco (USF) for what would have been his final months of high school. He greatly missed that last term at St. James. Art was a track star, basketball player and a standout in city-wide debate competitions. But at that time, nearing his 18th birthday, his parents agreed with Father James that he needed to put youthful pursuits aside and adjust to the reality of a world on fire. As he neared the end of his time at USF, he requested placement in a pre-med or pre-dent program.
Art was accepted as a U.S. Naval cadet in Gonzaga University’s pre-dent program in Spokane, Washington. And it was there that he met a girl 14 months his junior, Katherine Groo, whose family lived just six blocks from campus.
In describing the events of their first encounter in 1943—when their eyes met, and their hearts leaped—it was apparent this was a memory that had been rekindled countless times over the decades.
During the war and his years of service in the U.S. Navy following the war, Art’s life was a time of great uncertainty that pulled these two young lovers in very different directions. Their relationship survived more twists and turns than most Hollywood melodramas of that turbulent decade. But it came to a happy conclusion when Art and Kaye married in 1949 at St. Aloysius Church on the Gonzaga University campus, six years after they first set eyes on each other. Their nearly 67 years of marriage made the world a better place in countless ways, beginning with their seven children: Steven, Michael, Russell, Mary, Diane, Arthur Jr. and James. Subsequently, there have been 15 grandchildren, and to date, nine great-grandchildren.
Art at Gonzaga University; Art with Lina, 1944; Art and Kaye’s wedding, 1949; in uniform at their home in Bethesda, Maryland
Art’s first goal after Gonzaga and his years of service in the U.S. Navy was to return home to San Francisco and complete his dental education. But when he applied to University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Dentistry, Art was told he would have to retake courses he had completed earlier while stationed in Kansas City. It quickly became clear that UCSF would not be the right option for him. There was, however, a second option for Art to consider, as he recalled Cantou’s enthusiastic words of praise for his alma mater, the College of Physicians and Surgeons (P&S).
Art, who never believed in putting off for tomorrow what could be done today, boarded a streetcar to San Francisco’s Mission District. P&S was in sad shape at the time. The faculty, staff and students joked that the aging structure’s longevity could only be attributed to the miracle of “termites holding hands.” But Art knew not to judge a book by its cover. To his surprise, he quickly realized that P&S consistently attracted stars in the field of dental education.
Just as Art saw something special in P&S, its dean, Dr. Ernest Sloman, saw something special in him. The determined young man who had been stationed in many parts of America during his Naval service found his calling in his beloved hometown. It wasn’t long before he justified the confidence of Drs. Sloman, Harry True, B.C. Kingsbury, Fred West and other members of the school’s faculty, all of whom saw something special in this young man.
Even before he graduated from P&S in 1948, Art appeared to be one of those rare individuals who would help shape his chosen profession’s future. Not long after entering into his first practice, he became active in local dental associations, volunteering for various positions. Involvement in the advancement of one’s chosen profession was a guiding principle—one that Art preached to countless students during his six-plus decades as an educator and academic leader.
His 28 years as dean of the School of Dentistry and his election as president of the American Dental Association are a testament to his determination to hold high his profession. He never settled for anything less than doing his best.
In appreciating Art’s impact in shaping the dental school of today and tomorrow, here are two of countless examples. One of Art’s former class presidents, Dr. Nader A. Nadershahi ’94, is now dean of the dental school. Art preached the “humanistic model” of education throughout his 28 years as dean—an ideal unheard of when he entered dental school. Today, it is accepted as the standard—a natural part of dental education.
Many of Art’s children and grandchildren are directly connected to furthering the Dugoni School of Dentistry’s work and success. Jim Dugoni, the youngest of Art and Kaye’s children, is a senior director of development. And their first-born child, Dr. Steve Dugoni ’81 Ortho, a practicing orthodontist in South San Francisco, has been part of the school’s faculty for 40 years. Art’s son-in-law, Dr. Bertrand Rouleau ’82 Ortho, also serves as an orthodontic faculty member at the dental school. Two of his grandsons, Drs. Brian Dugoni ’08, ’10 Ortho and Aaron Rouleau ’11 and ’13 Ortho, completed both the DDS and Graduate Orthodontic programs at the Dugoni School of Dentistry.
“I have no doubt that development, securing the school’s financial future and being able to cover tuition costs for every deserving student, will someday be the beating heart of my father’s legacy,” Jim Dugoni explains. “Dad embraced the past while thinking about the future.”
Kaye died in 2015 at the age of 89. Art lived to celebrate his 95th birthday in 2020. Undoubtedly, a life that spanned nearly a century was, in his estimation, far too little time for all he hoped to accomplish. As the end of his life drew near, Diane Harris, who has her father’s passion and talent for leadership, called her sister and five brothers and said, “There are seven of us, and there are seven days of the week. Each of us should take one day of the week and spend it with Dad.” And that’s exactly what they did.
And so, in his apartment at the Vi at Palo Alto, a retirement home and care complex near the Stanford University campus and medical center, each of Art’s children spent those final precious weeks with their father along with his companion Cathie Perga. “Spending one day a week with Dad was wonderful,” recalls Dr. Steve Dugoni, who practiced with his father and, like Art, served as president of the American Board of Orthodontics. “He loved sports, particularly the Giants and the 49ers. It always gave us something to talk about. But what I will remember most was his kindness. He would advise me that when talking with students, patients—in fact, everyone—to ‘stop and really listen.’ Every individual has value.”
When Steve said that, I thought back to when University of the Pacific retained me to write the story of its campaign, Commitment to Excellence. It raised $65 million in the early years of this century and was a critical foundation in constructing the school’s Fifth Street campus in San Francisco. I had several occasions to watch Art up close. He took an unprecedented degree of interest in every individual he encountered. I’ve had the privilege to work among many famous people, none of whom showed the attention or respect for each and every person as Art Dugoni did. Yes, he was brilliant, inspiring and visionary. But his simple kindness left a lasting impression on me, and no doubt countless others.
“He lived an incredible life of passion and excellence in all things,” wrote Christine Dugoni Hoffman, Art’s granddaughter, in the ADA News. “He taught us, when you love something, pour your heart and soul into it. Grandpa Art was a giant in the dental industry—when we were little, my brother Brian used to call him the ‘king of the dentists,’ when he was president of the American Dental Association. But it wasn’t just his passion for oral health care that made him remarkable, it was his incredible connection to people that truly made him one in a million.”
Martin Brown is a San Francisco-based writer and author of Quest for Excellence, the biography of Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni, and the Murder in Marin mystery novel series.
It’s easy to imagine what Carlyle, had he examined dentistry over the past 50 or so years, would have made of Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni ’48, because even several years into Dugoni’s deanship people were already referring to “the Dugoni era.” “When the Mt. Rushmore of dental education is carved,” says former American Dental Education Association President and CEO Richard Valachovic, “the faces that we will see will include Pierre Fauchard, G.V. Black, William J. Gies and, of course, Arthur A. Dugoni.”
Dugoni’s influence on dental education, organized dentistry, provision of care and philanthropy will echo for generations. In particular, people will continue to discern his influence in three main areas: the culture of the dental school, the university and the dental profession; particular educational and philanthropic rhythms at the school, including an expansion in programs and the cultivation of endowments; and a persistent flood of creativity and inspiration.
“Art could have been anything he wanted to be: the CEO of a major corporation, coach of a major league team, even president of the United States,” says Dr. David Nielsen ’67, former associate dean and Alumni Association executive director. “How extremely fortunate for us, he chose dentistry and dental education.”
Fortunate, indeed. Dugoni’s talents spanned a unique set of attributes, which, taken together, seemed to exceed the sum of their parts. But the parts were admittedly impressive. Heroic educational exploits? He was an early exponent of the high-speed handpiece, among other strokes of forward thinking, and Pacific’s five-sided, digital preclinical workstation design was copied by dental schools all over America. High-profile dental society adventures? As ADA president, and then past president, his image rippled across dental association exhibit halls for decades. Powerful public speaking? Students, alumni and colleagues alike were starstruck by the dean who presented like a celebrity. Even my kids wanted his autograph. Ironically, the tinier his gestures, the more formidable, and intriguing, his image grew. Dugoni’s reputation for excellence, for instance, included images of him prowling the halls of the school, French cuffs impeccably pressed and calfskin brogues gleaming, bending over to pick up bits of litter. Dugoni became, for many of his students, and probably a majority of instructors, larger than life.
“As a student,” says Dr. Bradford Smith ’86, dean of Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine-Arizona, “I could not imagine that he put his pants on one leg at a time, but only that they must magically hop onto his legs as he went off to save the world.”
Dugoni carefully funneled the influence and goodwill he generated into reinforcing his values—the kind that foster humanism, and the kind that honor family, in its intimacies, its constraints and its promise of encouragement and assistance. “Art was a person who lived close to his heart and loved deeply,” says Peter DuBois, executive director of the California Dental Association. For someone like that, of course dental school folks would become like kin.
“Dr. Arthur Dugoni’s family was far bigger than his immediate relatives, and included all those who were inspired by his life,” writes Dr. Arif Alvi ’84 Ortho, president of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. “He was a leader whom I have followed, sometimes knowingly, but mostly in being inspired by his actions, admiring them and then subconsciously improving as a person.”
Dugoni’s embrace of a family ethic, as well as his welcoming, avuncular manner and intense interest in other people, led many who knew him to respond with affection. “Many times Art would Dugoni came to concentrate on building endowments, which are essentially principal bank accounts from which the school can harvest interest in perpetuity for student scholarships, faculty development and other critical needs. He long ago established the Arthur A. Dugoni Orthodontic Endowed Scholarship to help offset tuition for residents, and in 1998 he created the Dr. Arthur and Kaye Dugoni Student Scholarship and the Arthur A. Dugoni Endowed Professorship in Orthodontics. In 2015, Dugoni funded the Katherine ‘Kaye’ Dugoni Memorial Endowed Scholarship. In his last months of life, Drs. Brian Dugoni ’08, ’10 Ortho, his grandson, and Saam Zarrabi ’08 told Dugoni of their plans to launch the Art Dugoni Scholar Endowment with the goal of raising $1.5 million to cover the annual tuition for one DDS student.
Groundswells of Inspiration
Dugoni’s great personal gift to the people he came across was to act as a mirror. He helped us see ourselves, not only for what we are, but also for what we could be, and what we should be. His actions, his belief system and the questions he posed, to himself and everyone else, made us stop and think. “Dr. Dugoni taught all of us what it meant to lead, and to give back, and to inspire,” says Dr. Kathleen O’Loughlin, executive director of the American Dental Association. “He encouraged me and so many others to do our best and be our best.”
For Dugoni’s part, after a lifetime of service, he was satisfied. Dean Nadershahi says, “He felt good about his life in what he left behind in all of us.”
Perhaps his most important legacy lies in the attitudes of the people he touched, people who remember his love, take confidence from his favor, gather inspiration from his example and recharge emotional batteries from his favorite sayings. “I think of him often,” says Dr. Craig Yarborough ’80, associate dean for institutional advancement, “and I think of one of Churchill’s great quotes, which he really appreciated, which was, ‘we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’”
Alumni Association Director Joanne Fox, asked to sum up Art Dugoni in one word, replies, “Because of his faith in me, and in thousands of other people, and because of his deep religious belief, the word is ‘believe’ and it can be added to ‘Dugoni’s list of Bs.’”
Dr. Eddie Hayashida, former associate dean for administration, says, “Dr. Dugoni was a true inspiration to me, as he inspired me to reach my potential, to model humanistic education, to treat others with dignity and respect, to learn to listen, to live a life worth living, to enjoy the ride and to make a life by giving to others.”
“Many years ago the executive director of the ADA was let go,” Dr.David Chambers, former associate dean for academic affairs, recalls.
“Several dentists introduced a motion of personal censure into the ADA House of Delegates. Art spoke against it, and it was dropped. Overheard in the halls afterward was some grumbling that, ‘We have just had a lesson in politics from the master.’ Someone joining the conversation said, ‘No, we have just had a lesson in humanism. He showed us how we could be better people.’”
“I know what Art would want us to do now,” says Dr. Robert Christoffersen ’67, former executive associate dean. “He would want his legacy to be moved forward by us. Yes, we all now carry an enormous challenge, but if we carry his legacy forward, our dental education will always remain at a high level of excellence, and we may even change our society. Each of us will never possess all of his traits, but we must try to master as many as possible.”
The dental school is named after Art Dugoni, U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier notes, “for obvious reasons. He was dean for almost 30 years and raised a truckload of money to build the new school. But more importantly, the school is named after him so that every student who crosses that threshold will be imbued with his values and ethics.”
“Art died on the 23rd of September,” Chambers muses. “But it’s been a bit eerie. I saw his spirit at the dental school two weeks ago, when I was seeking some help with my computer and a troublesome tooth. Everyone I encountered was smiling. Everyone was helpful. Everyone made me feel that they were glad to see me. It doesn’t matter whether you have actually met Art. You’ve been changed by him. He is no longer with us, but Art Dugoni will always be with us.”
In the great sweep of the history of dentistry, Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni was the right person at the right time, a time that he came to dominate. We inhabit the Dugoni era even now. Note to Thomas Carlyle: Art Dugoni was indeed a great leader. And great leaders have great followers.
Dr. Eric Curtis ’85 practices general dentistry and teaches college English in Safford, Arizona.
Dr. Nava Fathi ’95, a member of University of the Pacific’s Board of Regents, recalls a very different reception at Pacific. “Dear Dr. Dugoni,” she writes, “Twenty-nine years ago, the first day of school, you cast your spell on my classmates and me with your empowering welcome speech: ‘Look to your right, look to your left and you will see your best friends and family for life.’”
Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni ’48 had a way of turning problems into solutions and crises into breakthroughs. He had a gift for spinning, as Fathi’s recollection implies, past threats into future blessings. Under his jurisdiction, dental education would no longer be a zero-sum game, but a big, welcoming tent, and its participants, instead of competitors, partners in success.
And that’s exactly what a leader does. A manager organizes people’s progress—the work of becoming a dentist, say, or holding down a faculty position or taking on a volunteer assignment—into intelligible and reasonable steps, explaining how to take those steps, and even why you should. A leader, on the other hand, makes you want to reach your potential. In Dugoni’s case, any number of students, instructors, administrators, colleagues, employees, alumni, family, friends, acquaintances, dentists all over the planet and folks he might meet in a hallway or on the stairs somewhere—want to go forward. A leader skillfully aligns your interests and impulses with something bigger than yourself, so that, finally, you are lifted by something more than mere pride of progress. A leader propels you toward a palpable sense of destiny.
To this end, leaders may harness a variety of qualities. In assessing potential executives, investor Warren Buffet reportedly looks for three virtues—intelligence, initiative and integrity. The Marine Corps identifies 14 essential leadership traits, including dependability, decisiveness, tact, unselfishness and loyalty. Dugoni likely knew all that. “He was a student of leadership,” says Dr. David Nielsen ’67, former associate dean and former executive director of the Alumni Association. “He read every book he could find on leadership, attended lectures and corresponded with many great leaders in all areas.” Dugoni’s own governing values, products of both scholarship and experience, might be divided into five broad categories: vision, generosity, example, energy and optimism.
U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who represents California’s 14th congressional district, says, speaking at Dugoni’s virtual Celebration of Life on December 12, 2020, “When I think of Art Dugoni, I think of the man who had the charisma of a politician, the good looks of a movie star and the savvy of a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. But that’s just what was on the outside. People gravitated to Art. They worked for him. They embraced his vision—because of what was in the inside.”
People also embraced Dugoni’s vision because it was remarkably consistent and easily grasped. He established his focus early, balancing imagination with practicality, and he never wavered. As dean, he would develop Pacific into the finest dental school in the world. He would make its students, faculty, staff and alumni deeply proud of their program. He would develop, foster, encourage and endorse good ideas, whether modest or bold— graduate programs in orthodontics, general dentistry (AEGD) and oral and maxillofacial surgery; an International Dental Studies (IDS) program, a student housing facility; a state-of-theart preclinical laboratory; a student White Coat Ceremony; a baccalaureate dental hygiene curriculum; a Special Needs Clinic; an annual open house called Pacific Pride Day (now called Dugoni Discovery Day)—with discernment and a refreshing splash of camaraderie.
He would accomplish these good ideas with a combination of discipline, efficiency and human warmth. While willing to entertain a certain level of experimentation, he would ultimately execute them with precision, bringing to his table of projects the fruits of voluminous preparation, analysis and research. And he would advertise them relentlessly.
Dugoni was fond of communicating with slogans, pithy catchphrases that people would remember, relate to and repeat. He pushed for the improvement of physical facilities and patient care by calling for Pacific to become the “Ritz-Carlton” of dental schools. He pressed students, faculty and staff to surprise people with excellent service, exclaiming, “Knock their socks off!” He often called attention to the “Three Bs” of success, which eventually became 10: be there, be there on time, be prepared, be involved, be disciplined, be balanced, be kind, be generous, be happy and be alive.
Dugoni received the 2009 William J. Gies Award, presented by the ADEA Gies Foundation, for Outstanding Achievement — Dental Educator, in support of global oral health and oral health education.
Dugoni refined and personalized his vision of “humanism,” the doctrine of treating students with tolerance and dignity, encouraging them to hone not just technical competence but also to develop their full potential as human beings. As University Provost Emeritus Phil Gilbertson observes, “Under Art’s vision and leadership, the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry has stood out as the most admired dental school in the country, noted for excellence in all arenas of dental education and uniquely shown as a beacon for the powerful role of character building, to prepare professionals to be leaders in their field.”
While humanism seems, in retrospect, natural and inevitable, it began as a concept advocated by Dean Dale Redig, Dugoni’s immediate predecessor, to a behavior modeled by key faculty, among them Drs. Leroy Cagnone, Bob Christoffersen ’67, David Chambers, Ron Borer, Rollie Smith and Eddie Hayashida, to a belief system embraced throughout the school, to, finally, the assumption it is today. To drive the point home, Dugoni produced an aphorism heard—and ultimately absorbed—in the corridors of dental education around the world: “At Pacific we grow people, and along the way they become doctors.”
Art Dugoni’s Generosity
No leader can demand change without bringing a great deal of self-confidence to the task, but Dugoni successfully tempered his ego with great generosity of spirit. Pacific Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs Maria Pallavicini says, “I remember so many things about Art—his generosity, his passion, his integrity, and most importantly, how much he cared about each individual. Art was very generous with his time and with his ideas. He played a key role in recruiting every senior administrator at our University.”
Dugoni’s generosity also manifested itself in humility. Even as the man in charge, he accepted correction. “One time I told him I didn’t think the tone he was using in a letter would have the effect he hoped for,” Alumni Association Director Joanne Fox remembers. “He edited the letter.”
Dr. Ron Borer, former associate dean of clinical affairs, who helped pioneer the student clinic group practice model in the 1970s, marvels at Dugoni’s confidence in delegation. Instead of barking orders, he remembers, “Art would come down and ask me how I was going to do things.”
Famously supportive, Dugoni remained nonetheless careful in dispensing advice, leading by suggestion rather than judgment. Former American Dental Education Association President and CEO Richard Valachovic says, “Art Dugoni was a venerated mentor to deans, faculty and students throughout the United States, and beyond. He would tell us on many occasions, ‘A mentor doesn’t tell you what to think; a mentor helps you understand how to think.’” Yet Dugoni’s counsel was no less joyous for being discreet. “I learned from him how to be a better provost, a better leader, a better educator, a better person,” Gilbertson says. “His modeling for us was smart, ambitious, caring, loyal and generous.” Many remember Dugoni’s compassion. Others describe his empathy, and still others his patience. His correspondence was vast. His attentiveness was legendary. “Art went beyond being a friend,” Nielsen says. “He was respectful of others, and he had a huge ability to listen.”
Dr. Bradford Smith ’86, dean of Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine-Arizona, recalls that Dugoni’s consideration always felt personal. “One trait that really always stuck with me was his ability to focus on an individual,” he says. “I don’t think I ever saw him get anxious or in a hurry when someone was talking to him. He always made others feel important, no matter what their stature in life.”
Grandson Dr. Brian Dugoni ’08, ’10 Ortho, says,” My grandfather, as we all know, had this charm about him. When he talked to you, you felt like you were the most important person in the room.”
Dugoni’s attention, while liberal, was also strategic. People could approach him with “the craziest ideas,” Nielsen remembers. “Art would listen to the whole story, ask some questions, and say, ‘Great idea. Let’s try it.’ Or, ‘Have you thought about this or that?’ Or, ‘Why don’t you run it by a couple more people and then come back to me, and we will discuss it some more.’ You would go away with a plan that was probably not what you started out with at all, but you would go away thinking that Art thought it was a great idea and we are going to try it out.”
Dr. David Chambers, former associate dean for academic affairs, sees in Dugoni’s forbearance a means of persuasion. “Art listened to you,” he says, “until you agreed with him.” Nielsen detects in such encounters a nurturing moment: “Art always brought out the best in every person he met.”
Art Dugoni’s Example
Dugoni was an overachiever’s overachiever: valedictorian of everything—his high school and dental school class—and president of everything—the P&S dental student body, first, and eventually, the California Dental Association, the American Dental Association (he was also ADA trustee and treasurer), the ADA Foundation, the American Dental Education Association and the American Board of Orthodontics. He was treasurer of the FDI World Dental Federation, where he instructed a global audience, and co-founder of The Santa Fe Group, a think tank aimed at improving oral health. As Gilbertson points out, “Art’s internal drive to do his best, to be the best, fueled by his cosmic energy and talent, produced a universe of achievements.”
Dugoni loved to remind people that he had participated in every facet of dentistry. He had worked as a dental assistant, dental hygienist, dental lab technician, general dentist, pediatric dentist, orthodontist, dental school instructor (in all three disciplines), researcher, speaker, continuing education course presenter, board evaluator and administrator. This breadth of involvement ratified his sensitivity and wisdom, while its very intentionality also seemed to imply that his life’s work was foreordained. It was as if his background formed a chain and a correlation, an organic, binding growth pattern, upward and out, cell layer on cell layer, carrying him inexorably from the mailroom, as it were, to the proverbial corner office.
Dugoni also keenly felt linked to history, to his family history and Italian immigrant heritage—a classic American story—to the city’s history, and to his school’s history. He was proud to be a product of his environment: a San Franciscan, P&S graduate and dentist. His connections formed a continuum. He talked about his own mentors, including Dean Ernest Sloman, as if they were still conversing with him. And he reached out to potential protégés everywhere. Surprisingly, he never took his acclaimed, prodigious memory for granted, but reinforced it with diligent preparation. He read widely and constantly. Dugoni even rehearsed his celebrated ability to remember names. “Every year as soon as the class photo was available, he would have us develop brief bios on each student,” Nielsen says. “The dean would spend the night studying the material, and in the morning would have names of students, spouses and children committed to memory. And this would stay with him forever.”
Dugoni’s powerful example inspired thousands of us to do as Art did—get involved, of course, and become a leader; speak up; lend a hand; donate money; help someone; be friendly; remember people’s names.
“I learned many things from him,” says Dr. Richard Fredekind, former executive associate dean: “being well prepared for everything I did, taking care of all the details, listening first and talking second, the power of a smile and a pat on the back.”
Art Dugoni’s Energy
Dugoni’s deep interests, natural curiosity, inborn competitiveness, inexhaustible enthusiasm and hunger for excellence made him a tireless worker. Even when suffering from prostate cancer, he took treatments in the morning and got right back to his office. He was, in the words of Dean Smith, “always ‘on.’” He prided himself on needing only a few hours of sleep each night. If he never got fatigued, as Associate Dean for Institutional Advancement Craig Yarborough ’80 once asked him, “How do you know when to go to bed?” “When the work is done,” Dugoni replied.
He was an eloquent speaker, because he liked to talk and connect with people—he enjoyed having attention as much as giving it—because he had a flair for drama, because he carried a critical message and because he prized knowledge. He was as natural a student as he was a teacher and derived pleasure from consuming and communicating clear, useful information.
Dugoni’s energy, serving as a shield against doubt and discouragement, calibrated his performance across his 28 years as dean, and over time, it so finely tuned his leadership skills that they passed from an observable, measurable set to something felt, like an aura.
“Honestly, I was expecting a pleasant but perfunctory meeting with a 94-year-old,” says new University of the Pacific President Chris Callahan about the first time he encountered Dugoni, “where we would exchange pleasantries and best wishes. Instead, I was taken aback as he walked in, immediately commanding the room and the attention of everyone in it. You knew you were in the presence of a once-in-a-generation leader.”
Art Dugoni’s Optimism
Dugoni believed in people. He believed in their essential goodness, and he believed in their potential. This belief, driven by native good cheer and a quiet but deep religiosity, led him to equanimity, calm and conciliation. He expressed occasional anger not as an emotional reaction to perceived unfairness, but as energy in the service of change. Looking beyond others’ shortcomings, he was quick to forgive. He rarely experienced disappointment. In short, Dugoni was an optimist.
Optimism made Dugoni a peacemaker. He avoided arguments. “He asked me several times before I went off on campaigns to prove my point,” Chambers recalls, “‘Dave, do you really need another enemy?’”
Dr. Michael Alfano, former dean of New York University College of Dentistry and another founding member of The Santa Fe Group, says, “Art brought us gravitas, guiding us to our goals without ruffling too many feathers along the way.”
Dr. Anthony Caputo, a Tucson, Arizona anesthesiologist, graduate of University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine and veteran ADA 14th District delegate, was a student leader at the American Dental Education Association when he met Dugoni, who, of course, remembered him forever after. Years later, at an ADA House of Delegates meeting, during a heated debate, Dugoni offered his friend some advice: Give your best testimony and accept the outcome. “He looked at me with kindness and understanding,” Caputo recalls, “put his hand on my shoulder, and said, ‘Anthony, the wisdom of the House will prevail.’”
In The Alchemist, a parable of life’s journey, Paulo Coelho contends that when you resolutely follow a dream, “the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” In following his dream, Art Dugoni created his own universe. That universe is us.
Dr. Eric Curtis ’85 practices general dentistry and teaches college English in Safford, Arizona.
After finalizing this issue, we received the sad news about the passing of Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni ’48 on September 23, at the age of 95. Please see the inside front cover for the link to a special In Memoriam website. We held a virtual celebration of life on Saturday, December 12 for all members of the Dugoni School family and dental profession. Our spring issue of Contact Point will be dedicated to the life, legacy and impact of Dr. Dugoni—a teacher, friend, mentor and inspiration to us all.
As I reflect on recent months of what the Dugoni School and our society have gone through—and all that is ahead of us—one of the values that comes to mind is courage.
Courage, woven into the fabric that supports our humanistic education, is one of our core values. Courage involves taking risks—doing what is right, not just what is easy. It took courage to step out of our comfort zones to deliver our dental curriculum in new ways and to learn the new infection control protocols in the clinics as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It took courage to find new ways to communicate, shop for groceries and other essentials, exercise and perform other daily activities behind our face coverings using our sanitizer-scented hands. It took—and continues to take—courage to handle the daily news and stay strong physically and mentally while facing this pandemic.
As the Dugoni School navigated through the uncertainties of the past several months, many of our other qualities also shone through. In this issue, you will read how the Dugoni School family rallied to make sure our graduates became licensed by hosting our first simulation-based WREB exam. You will see examples of our crisis management in action and learn more about how so many individuals showed their leadership in such challenging times.
The story of the pandemic is far from over. However, we will build a better future and emerge even stronger than before. We are embracing innovation in teaching, patient care and our use of technology. We are pursuing research opportunities to understand the pandemic’s impact on oral health. We are reshaping the curriculum to prepare graduates to lead in the evolution of oral health care.
The Dugoni School of Dentistry family is strong, resilient and courageous. Our commitment to excellence and a world-class dental education remains at the forefront. A pandemic tried to get in our way, but our family rose to the challenge by harnessing their courage. I have never been prouder of being a part of this great organization.
The year Dr. Bernadette Alvear Fa ’06 was born, her father received his license to practice dentistry in California, solidifying a multi-generational lineage of dentists who provided the foundation for Fa to discover her passion for dentistry.
Though she never anticipated following in his footsteps, Fa visited her father’s dental office throughout her childhood, often crawling into the chair to play (or some might say, practice) with the instruments after a patient left. Fa’s childhood interest in her father’s work unconsciously inspired her to apply to University of the Pacific’s pre-dental undergraduate program on the Stockton campus—the beginning of what now marks more than 13 years of teaching dentistry.
Like her parents and grandparents before her, Fa and her husband, Dr. Jesse Fa ’06, met during dental school. What began as an introduction of two first-year students in the elevator of the Student Housing building evolved into trips to the bookstore for Sour Patch Kids candy, and eventually led them to move to Chicago after graduating from the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in 2006. It was while teaching part-time at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry that Fa realized teaching was the intersection of her passion for dentistry and her desire to help others.
One of Fa’s first instructors at the Dugoni School of Dentistry was Dr. Jim Dower, associate professor, director of the local anesthesia curriculum and faculty advisor of the Christian Medical & Dental Association (CMDA) chapter. A steward of stimulating excitement for dentistry in his students, Dower was incredibly influential in Fa’s first experiences in dental school—so influential, in fact, that years later, Fa asked him to be the officiant for her wedding.
It was Fa’s own incredible mentors and faculty—Dower among them—who inspired her to return to the Dugoni School of Dentistry to teach. In a serendipitous twist of fate, Bernadette and Jesse moved back to the Bay Area in 2010, the same year that Dower announced his retirement. His encouragement and mentorship led Fa to humbly follow in Dower’s footsteps, taking over both his position as the director of local anesthesia and stepping in as the faculty advisor for the dental school chapter of CMDA.
From volunteering for outreach mission trips to the Philippines alongside dental school students and fellow faculty members to performing a Polynesian dance at an employee spotlight event, Fa’s enthusiasm has enabled her to develop close relationships with students and colleagues alike. When asked about her involvement in such a wide variety of activities, she explains, “People simply ask me to take part in things, and if it’s something that will bring joy to myself or others, I say ‘yes.’”
Fa’s dedication and commitment to her students extends beyond the traditional classroom setting, something that inspires her colleague and close friend, Dr. Debra Woo ’86. “Bernadette has such a kind heart. She’s very generous in professional matters, and gives a lot of herself on a personal level. She’s wonderful at taking charge and being a leader.”
Inspired by weekly, physical fitness boot camps, organized by her supervisor at the time, Fa worked to get her personal training certification so that she could keep the evening boot camps running at the dental school. Fa earned her personal training certificate in 2012, followed by a specialty in women’s fitness in 2014. She also has a background in cheerleading and teaching luau dances.
She says at first people stopped attending her evening boot camp classes because they were ” too intense,” despite Fa teaching while pregnant at the time. But she continued to encourage physical activity. As the content coordinator for a self-care and wellness course at the Dugoni School of Dentistry, Fa began incorporating stretch sessions into her interactions with students, and found that students reacted positively and it helped them feel more energetic.
Fa is passionate about teaching people to be more mindful about taking mental and physical wellness breaks and reminding students that self-care is an essential aspect of the dental profession, as well as their lives overall. She even encourages stretch breaks while teaching her courses remotely.
In 2014, the Dugoni School of Dentistry appointed Fa as chair of the Health and Wellness Committee, enabling her to implement wellness programs, fitness classes, guest speakers and an e-newsletter that benefit not only students, but also faculty and staff. The goal of the committee to promote healthy habits, physical fitness and balanced behaviors.
Fa attributes her energy and passion for self-care as the reason she is often asked to be a mentor for students’ Personalized Instructional Program (PIP) projects. She loves the variety of the projects and subject matter, noting that some students create brand-new videos, while others develop pamphlets on topics such as dental anesthesiology or yoga. Recently, Fa was asked to be a mentor for a project about Medicine in Motion, a non-profit organization composed of a diverse group of healthcare providers whose mission is to address medical burnout through fitness, interdisciplinary community building and philanthropy.
“Bernadette is such a developed, well-rounded person, which is something I really appreciate about her,” says Woo.
To Fa, dental school feels like family, and families take care of each other. Fa’s lifelong passion for self-care and helping others has culminated in 13 incredible years (so far) of teaching dentistry—and helping those around her be their healthiest selves.
Ashley Musick is a freelance writer from Anaheim, California.
Dr. Ron Borer, former associate dean for clinical services, has been an upbeat inspiration to Dugoni School of Dentistry students and alumni for decades. “His dedication to education is well known and he is fondly regarded as one of Pacific’s ‘living legends.’ He encouraged students to reach their potential while maintaining student dignity, respect and self-esteem,” said the late Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni ’48, dean emeritus, on the contributions Borer has made to the dental school.
Borer strove to know each student individually, including their unique strengths and development areas. His students remember his lessons decades later. Dr. Judee Tippett-Whyte’86, president-elect of the California Dental Association, shared, “Dr. Borer taught me to always remain calm when procedures aren’t going as planned. He taught much more than just clinical skills. He was one of my greatest ‘cheerleaders’ and one of the many reasons I can say I loved dental school!”
Born in Ohio, Borer “played just about every sport in the world.” He parlayed his love of sports into a college football career at Xavier University where he graduated in 1957. He then attended Loyola University Dental School in Chicago, graduating in 1961. His family dentist in Fremont, Ohio, Dr. Nunemaker, inspired Borer to pursue dentistry and became Borer’s mentor. Borer spent a great deal of time with Nunemaker and his wife at their dental office learning how they ran their practice and managed a healthy, work-life balance.
After dental school, Borer joined the U.S. Navy. He was stationed in San Diego, California, where he was trained in the specialty of endodontics. In 1968, Borer returned to Cincinnati and built a thriving practice over 10 years, where he thoroughly enjoyed caring for his patients. Borer also had a passion for working with students and began teaching at the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry. Borer was satisfied with his private practice but realized he loved teaching even more.
Thus, when dental school classmate Dr. Jim Pride, an associate dean at Pacific’s School of Dentistry, asked Borer to join him in San Francisco to launch a new strategic teaching initiative, he was intrigued. It took coaxing from Pride, but Borer finally accepted. Together, in 1971, they helped launch the most significant curricular program in the school’s history. Borer was one of the group practice administrators to implement the comprehensive patient care model, a core part of the current Dugoni School of Dentistry education and now the gold standard for clinics everywhere. Dr. Richard E. Fredekind, former associate dean for clinical services, summarized Borer’s lasting impact: “For years, the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry has been well known for the strength of its clinical programs. Dr. Borer was instrumental in developing and nurturing this image.”
Borer contributed to the dental school in many ways, helping create the new core team structure, teaching for nearly 30 years and founding the Ronald F. Borer Endowment for Endodontics. For his outstanding contributions and service, he was recognized with the Alumni Association’s Medallion of Distinction in 1998 and the University’s prestigious Order of the Pacific in 2001.
According to friend and colleague Dr. Joseph Schulz, “Ron is unselfish with his time and gave genuine care to students during his long career at the Dugoni dental school.” Schulz emphasized Borer’s devotion to teaching, sharing that he learned the incoming students’ names before the first day of school to address them personally from day one. Students were impressed and this gesture led to an impactful student-teacher relationship. Echoing that, Fredekind remarked, “Paying attention to how Ron worked with people taught me so much about education and helping people reach their full potential.”
As well as being a superlative instructor, Borer has a fun side and a contagious laugh. He hosted an annual beer and hot dog social for first-year students at a local pub to celebrate the completion of the required pre-clinical endodontic lab block, which became a much anticipated gathering for students and faculty to socialize.
Another alumnus, Dr. James D. Stephens ’82, admiringly recalled, “Dr. Borer was a significant presence in the dental clinic. He was a steady instructor with a gentle manner who gave clear and succinct instruction. His many years of teaching and distinguished service helped the Dugoni School of Dentistry become one of the most respected dental schools in the world.”
Borer fell in love with the wine country and bought a home in Sonoma in the 1990s, where he currently resides. Since his retirement in 2000, he has played lots of tennis and golf and has had many memorable outings with friends and Dugoni School of Dentistry alumni with whom he stays in touch. Borer expressed delight that his own dentist, Dr. Philip Gruell ’72, is a former student. Reflecting on his choice of profession, Borer is completely content. “I wouldn’t have wanted to be anything else.”
Marianne Jacobson, BA, MBA, is a freelance writer from Marin County.