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University Celebrates Landmark Purchase of New Home for Dental School

The future of University of the Pacific looks bright in the Bay Area.

The recent landmark purchase of a new home for the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry and other Pacific programs is generating much excitement among the University community and San Francisco’s civic leaders and community members alike.

University of the Pacific’s purchase of a seven-story building at 155 Fifth Street in San Francisco marks one of the largest facility projects ever undertaken by the University. The future new campus is located in San Francisco’s burgeoning South of Market (SoMa) district. It will provide a distinctive new home for future generations of Pacific students.

Five floors of the 395,000-square-foot building will house the Dugoni School of Dentistry, as well as classroom space for other University programs. The remaining two floors will be leased as premium office space. The building will undergo a comprehensive renovation, including a complete replacement of the building’s exteriors and interior spaces, which is expected to take approximately two years. The new campus is expected to open in mid-2014.

“This new facility will allow Pacific to strategically expand its footprint in San Francisco by providing a highly visible presence downtown,” said Pamela A. Eibeck, president of University of the Pacific. “This will give us important opportunities for our dental school, which has been in San Francisco since 1896, and also will allow us to build programs for students in our eight other University schools and colleges.”

“I am proud to welcome the University of the Pacific’s Dugoni School of Dentistry to their new home in SoMa,” said San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “This new campus represents a significant investment in San Francisco, bringing new jobs, new economic activity and one of the top dental schools in the nation to the heart of our City.”

The new building will contain flexible learning environments, labs research areas and support space for the dental school, and will also accommodate clinical changes and technology enhancements to support patient care. The SoMa location offers many neighborhood amenities and close proximity to parking and public transportation options for students, faculty, staff and patients.

“We are proud to be part of the exciting development activity taking place in the South of Market neighborhood,” said Dr. Patrick J. Ferrillo, Jr., dean of the Dugoni School of Dentistry. “The new facility will allow easier access for our patients to receive oral health care, and provide state-of-the-art learning environments to support our academic programs.”

Key partners for the renovation and construction project include the San Francisco office of SmithGroupJJR, Inc. as the lead architect; San Francisco-based Plant Construction Company as the general contractor; and Nova Partners, Inc., of Palo Alto, for project management services. The 155 Fifth Street renovation project is estimated to employ about 200 tradespeople over its duration.

The University is funding the cost of the purchase and renovations through an upcoming fundraising campaign, revenue from commercial leases and the sale of two properties currently used by the dental school in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood.

So What Do You Think of the Big Move?

By Kathleen Barrows

In the words of Student Body President Greg Gardner, Class of 2012, “In its 116-year history, the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry has been like a living document, modifying to meet the needs of its patients and its students.” It goes without saying that the purchase and building of the new dental school, which will open in 2014, is a bold step forward in the school’s evolution.

So what does the “dentist on the street” think of the big move? We interviewed people representing the past, the present and the future of the dental school—alumni, faculty, outgoing and incoming students—to find out their thoughts.

Excitement, sometimes mixed with nostalgia, were the emotions that predominated. Nearly everyone heaved a communal sigh of relief about having better parking options and recognized that the school has outgrown its present location. And all anticipated a spacious and modern clinic space that would allow for enhanced patient care as well as better teaching and learning in an environment more representative of real-life dental practice settings.

But each person, reflecting his or her individual and professional histories, had unique thoughts about what the move would mean. Here’s what they had to say.

Dr. Jack Saroyan ’62 – A Pioneer Looking Forward

“I never thought I’d live to see another dental school built,” admits Dr. Jack Saroyan. And he should know. He can still picture the special spade used at the groundbreaking in Pacific Heights, which he and his wife attended in 1967.

Saroyan remembers well the wooden building at 14th and Mission Streets across from the armory, which served as the school’s home from 1923 to 1962. “The clinics were like those in a horror movie, with the equipment all black and rows of dental chairs.” Those were the days when dental students didn’t even touch patients until their second year.

[pullquote]“Now, we’re going to be the new showplace.”
– Dr. Jack Saroyan ’62[/pullquote]

The long-time assistant professor, who retired from his 44-year San Francisco dental practice in 2006, understands why the school needs to move beyond its present site. And he’s especially excited about all the new equipment and the additional square footage in the new clinic design. He also looks forward to more research into areas like bone regeneration. “Now, we’re going to be the new showplace.”

For those like himself who might be concerned with security issues, he points out that there will be three entrances—one for the students and faculty, one for the patients and a third for people going to other parts of the building.

Getting a new building up and running won’t be easy, Saroyan realizes. As he puts it, “Transitions are always difficult,” especially when the move must happen during the one-month summer break in June 2014. But he’s confident that with proper planning, it can be done. As for funding, Saroyan points out that the sale value of the parking lot and building on the present site is a great asset. And he’s counting on the generosity of alumni, who responded so well to the last capital campaign, to come through again as he has.

Ms. Lauren Powell, Class of 2015 – Envisioning a Better Chance to Serve Patients

Lauren Powell knew she wanted to become a dentist since age 12. That was when she got her first braces—as she describes them, “shiny wires, pink bands, the works!”—and loved them. Even earlier, at the age of eight, she had jumped at the job of turning the tiny key on the rotating wheel of her older brother’s palatal expander. Now, as a member of the first class that will graduate from the new campus, her dream is a reality.

Under the mentorship of Dr. Bruce Valentine ’69, her beloved family dentist in Modesto, California, who “opened her eyes to the world of dentistry,” Powell attended Pacific Pride Day at the age of 17 and enrolled in the accelerated dental honors program at the University’s Stockton campus. She’s elated to have been invited to speak at the recent groundbreaking by Associate Dean for Institutional Advancement Craig Yarborough ‘80.

[pullquote]“It will be better for patients as well as students.”
– Ms. Lauren Powell, Class of 2015[/pullquote]

Powell says she’s feeling privileged that she’ll be involved in the big move, and her “biggest excitement is the restructuring of the entire clinic to implement the idea of actual general practice in real life.” The present system of four group practice administrators (GPAs) will increase to eight practice leaders (PLs), so that there will be closer support and monitoring of the students in the clinic setting, with adjacent seminar rooms for discussions.

And, she emphasizes, “It will be better for the patients as well as the students.” Right now many patients don’t live in the area, and parking and transportation are real issues. The new location will mean a shorter journey to receive treatment. After all, she says, “we’re there to serve them,” and that’s what she plans to do.

As Powell puts it, “I know this is a university that will not only teach me how to be a great dentist, but a great person as well.”

Dr. Binh Dao ’07 – Letting Go of Nostalgia

For Dr. Binh Dao ’07, the present campus holds a lot of memories. He’ll always remember, from his first tour of the school, the magnificent view from the top of the building of the Golden Gate Bridge, downtown and the Bay. And later he’d discover that there was “a cool little neighborhood sandwich shop where the lady knew everyones’ names.”

His classmates would sit in the same seats that other family members had occupied as dental students a generation before. Binh himself, whose father immigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam in 1980, has a cousin who inspired his own decision to attend the dental school.

[pullquote]“I’m excited to see how a school will be started from scratch.”
– Dr. Binh Dao ’07[/pullquote]

And then, of course, it was here that he met his wife, Dr. Alexis Lyons ’07. They were married this past September, with more than 40 classmates and their significant others present at the wedding. The two now have their respective practices in the Sacramento area.

After speaking with both Dean Patrick J. Ferrillo, Jr. and Associate Dean Craig Yarborough about his initial concerns two years ago, he realizes that it was the “nostalgic part” of him that was getting in the way. “As a student you don’t realize you’ve outgrown an old building,” he says. It’s more “economically smart to buy and build the way you want” rather than remodel an aging structure. Besides, he asks, where would the students have gone during the renovations?

Most importantly, Dao is impressed with how the dean has planned for the future in a rapidly evolving technological world. “I’m excited now to see how a school will be started from scratch,” and he’s confident that whatever happens, it will be an improvement on an already great school. “Dean Ferrillo is taking the school in a forward direction, and that’s what’s important.”

Dr. Judee Tippett-Whyte ’86 – Hoping to Enhance Continuing Education

As a former president of the Alumni Association, Dr. Judee Tippett-Whyte ’86 is well aware of all the effort and planning that has gone into the move to the new campus. And she was thrilled to be present at the January 18 groundbreaking, where she witnessed the excitement of the University regents as well.

She sees the move as a potential boon to the school’s continuing education program. The CDA Presents fall meeting happens annually at the Moscone Center, right around the corner from the new site. This could mean a collaboration with the CDA—an organization she’s been actively involved in since 1986—using the new clinic for some of the hands-on sessions to bring in revenue and showcase the school.

Having come from the “era of long bench labs,” Tippet-Whyte is very appreciative of the new clinic design, with its feel of a group practice. It will be more practical and “help the students learn the business side of dental practice, something which has always been a challenge.”

[pullquote]“Any move is bittersweet.”
– Dr. Judee Tippett-Whyte ’86[/pullquote]

She’s also convinced that the much-improved parking situation and accessibility to public transportation will make it much easier to attract patients to help ensure a well-rounded clinical education for students. The South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood represents a “hub of activity,” which will bring in a younger population to use the school.

Any move is bittersweet. Tippett-Whyte and her husband, Pacific Director of Events Steve Whyte, have many happy memories of their early married life in student housing, in a building which even had a lab. But it was “an added perk,” and not something that she feels would impact anyone’s decision to attend the dental school.

Of this she’s sure: “The advantages of the new site will far outweigh the disadvantages of losing the student housing.”

Mr. Greg Gardner, Class of 2012 – Moving into the 21st Century

Greg Gardner, Class of 2012, is quick to admit, “I’m jealous—jealous of the newness and the firsts that will happen at the new school.” His concern is that some students may forget “how great we already have it here” and he feels the new campus will only “launch us further from the reach of other schools.”

[pullquote]“Our shoes and clothes are getting tight.”
– Mr. Greg Gardner, Class of 2012[/pullquote]

It was the inspiration and mentorship of Dean Emeritus Arthur A. Dugoni ’48 and other administrators who helped Gardner step out of his comfort zone to become student body president. After graduating, he will participate in a one-year, postgraduate residency in general practice in Mississippi, pursue a private practice for 10 to 15 years and then begin a gradual return to academia.

Gardner recognizes that “our shoes and clothes are getting tight.” Larger gatherings of the school—in both good times to make important announcements and sad times to mourn a lost colleague—have been limited by space constraints. And he definitely won’t miss the lines in the clinics for both space and supplies.

Being an older student, who left behind a short career as a chemical engineer, Gardner appreciates that the new space will allow for what he calls “a greater variety of learning skills and styles,” from lectures to hands-on learning. He realizes that from the students’ perspective there may be worries about housing and a change in neighborhood, but “ultimately it’s about the patients and the care we provide.”

“This is a timely and much-needed step for the Dugoni School of Dentistry to go into the 21st century and build a new dynasty.”

Kathleen A. Barrows, an East Bay freelance writer, is a contributor to Contact Point.

Purchase Agreement Signed for New Home

The Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry recently  took a bold step forward in its plan for future facilities in San Francisco. The school has signed a purchase agreement for a seven-story downtown building which features approximately 395,000 square feet of facility space.

The building is located on Fifth Street between Mission and Howard Streets in one of San Francisco’s most vibrant districts, the South of Market (SOMA) neighborhood. The site was selected after an intensive review of more than 20 locations by a facilities task force made up of dental school representatives, University of the Pacific senior leaders and members of the Board of Regents. The purchase agreement, while not finalized, is expected to be complete by late 2011 barring any unforeseen delays.

Future plans will include an extensive renovation and remodeling of the entire building, which is currently vacant. The building will be completely stripped down to its structural elements. The exterior will be re-skinned and the interior designed from scratch. One advantage of the building’s large, open floor plan is the opportunity to have a blank slate for the dental school to design and create optimal facilities. Design and remodeling work is expected to take up to two years to complete before students, faculty and staff can occupy the building.

When it came time to look for a new location, the school had an extensive wish list driven by several years of new facility feasibility and programming studies. Key features include: flexible space for modern learning environments; clinical spaces to support the new group practice model being planned as part of the new Pacific Dental Helix Curriculum implementation; a more convenient location accessible via public transportation for patients; communal space to better support the school’s culture; and environmentally efficient facilities to replace the aging systems and equipment currently used in the school’s existing building in Pacific Heights.

Approximately 225,000 square feet in the building will house dental school facilities. Additional square footage will be used by University of the Pacific for other purposes, which include the possibility of leasing space to commercial tenants or use by the University for programs in San Francisco in years ahead.

“This exciting step is the culmination of many years of feasibility studies and planning as part of the implementation of our strategic plan, Advancing Greatness,” said Dean Patrick J. Ferrillo, Jr., a member of the Facilities Steering Committee. “While we have much work ahead of us, we are confident this new location will serve us well for decades to come. I would like to thank the school community, including our alumni and donors, who continue to support this vision to create state-of-the-art facilities that will keep us on the leading edge of dental education.”

The school also recently selected Nova Partners, Inc. as its project management firm, SmithGroup as its lead architectural firm and Plant Construction Company as its general contractor.

More details will be shared in future issues of Contact Point and other announcements to the school and alumni communities.