Tag Archives: history

Passion for Pacific: Alumni Give Back

by Christina Boufis

Imagine a dental school with no running water on the second-floor clinic. “The patients would expectorate into porcelain cuspidors, and underneath there was a box with a gallon jug in it,” explains Dr. F. Paul Senise, ’65. “At the end of the day, you had to empty the jug.”

Now picture the third-floor anatomy lab without air conditioning, just like the rest of the building at 14th and Mission Streets. “You almost lost your breath,” Senise continues. “All the cadavers were wrapped in gauze. And in the heat of the summer, flies would lay their eggs.”

“In spite of that, the quality of dentistry that was taught was superb,” adds Senise. Such rough conditions were very real at the old dental school, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, where in the early 1960s four students—Paul Senise, Ernest Giachetti, Kenneth Frangadakis and Morel Fidler—became roommates and forged a deep friendship that still continues after more than 50 years.
“We have been very close since our graduation,” says Dr. Morel Fidler ’65. “Our children are friends. Our grandchildren are friends,” explains Dr. Kenny Frangadakis ’66. “We spend our vacations together up at Lake Tahoe.” All have given back to the dental school many times over, in different ways, both collectively and individually. “We didn’t know it at the time, but in our hearts we wanted to make the school a better place than the one we graduated from,” says Dr. Ernie Giachetti ’67, assistant professor in the Department of Integrated Reconstructive Dental Sciences at the dental school. “That’s been the driving force for me teaching all these years,” he adds. Indeed, Giachetti is the Dugoni School of Dentistry’s longest continuing instructor, now in his 47th year of teaching.

Senise served as president of the Alumni Association and as a board member for many years. Frangadakis served as a member of the Pacific Dugoni Foundation, the school’s fundraising board. Fidler was a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors for six years, from 2002 to 2008, and while on the board was the school historian, giving a history lesson to the board at the beginning of each meeting. “It has always been a pleasure to be involved in the school,” adds Fidler.

The deep friendship these alumni share developed decades ago when they became roommates. “We were four single guys living in San Francisco,” explains Senise. “We became this little mini family. Ernie was our chef. We all did the shopping. We didn’t have a whole lot of time for nonsense,” he recalls.

The four worked hard under the adverse conditions of the school, “akin to a prison camp,” says Senise. They’d come home to eat and study for a few hours then do lab work until 1:00 am or 2:00 am in the morning. Their lab was a garage in the house they shared, where they did everything from casting and polishing crowns to pressing and finishing dentures. “There weren’t too many things we didn’t do,” adds Senise.

“We graduated in spite of everything,” says Giachetti. “And it made us lean and mean and very success-oriented. We have shared our success wholeheartedly with the school to try to make it a better place than we had to endure.”

“It was a pretty oppressive educational environment,” adds Frangadakis. “But a couple of people stood out, like Art Dugoni, who was an orthodontic instructor when I was at school. He is a man you want to emulate. He has that humanistic approach to education. And he’s been a life mentor to me.”

[pullquote]We didn’t know it at the time, but in our hearts we wanted to make the school a better place than the one we graduated from.
—Dr. Ernie Giachetti[/pullquote]

After graduation, they all married and had children at about the same time, says Senise. The family bonds that were formed during their dental school days are continuing strong into the next generation.

Perhaps students and alumni remember Drs. Senise, Giachetti and Frangadakis for the annual First-Year Welcome and Cioppino Dinner where they make and serve a traditional San Francisco fish stew to incoming students every year?

The tradition began almost 40 years ago when Frangadakis and his family went on a fishing trip in the mountains, recalls Giachetti. “We had such a great time that weekend, we said why don’t we do it next year?” Each year they invited more friends, so the fishing party grew and now has been going strong for about 38 years. They go fishing at the start of trout season, right after Mother’s Day.

And it was on one of the fishing trips where they first started making cioppino, a seafood stew, en masse to feed a large group. One of the fathers of their fishing friends, a native San Franciscan, Mario Puccinelli, had a recipe for cioppino. “We used that recipe in our get-together and it was successful,” says Giachetti. When Senise was president of the Alumni Association, he noted that the school attracted the best students, so why serve them hotdogs on the first Friday? “Let’s cook cioppino.”

“When you invite someone into your family, what do you do?” asks Senise. “You sit and break bread.” That is exactly the family sentiment behind the Cioppino Dinner. “We encourage these young people to become a part of the Dugoni family, to show them we are welcoming them into the family,” he adds. “We hope that this is just the beginning, and that they would like to come back and participate in the school for the next generation,” just as he and his classmates have done.

[pullquote]We became this little mini family. Ernie was our chef. We all did the shopping. We didn’t have a whole lot of time for nonsense.
— Dr. Paul Senise[/pullquote]

“What could be more of a great introduction—and something uniquely San Francisco—than cioppino?” says Giachetti. The three alumni, Senise, Giachetti and Frangadakis, make a day of cooking vast pots of cioppino and serving it to the incoming class.

“Paul Senise gives a great speech about how incoming students might end up marrying each other or being best man at a wedding or being a godfather for one of their friend’s children,” says Frangadakis. And while students may chuckle, there’s no denying that strong bonds form during dental school, ones based on tradition, friendship, giving back and excellence in their profession. Both of Senise’s daughters, Kristine and Kimberly, graduated from Pacific. Dr. Kristine Cameron ’98 married another dental school graduate, Dr. Paul Cameron ’95, and Kimberly Fanelli ’06 Hygiene serves on the Alumni Association Board. “In my practice, we have 13 dentists,” says Frangadakis, “and all but three are Pacific grads.”

Three of the colleagues, Senise ’65, Giachetti ’67 and Frangadakis ’66, have received the Medallion of Distinction, the highest honor awarded by the Alumni Association for their exemplary service to the community and profession.

“It’s a tremendous honor,” says Frangadakis, “especially coming from a school that means so much to me. It puts me in good company with the other people who received the honor. I’m not sure I’m worthy of it, but I accepted it graciously.”

[pullquote]I’m very proud and honored to be a Pacific graduate. I can’t wait for the new school to open up. It’s going to be phenomenal.
— Dr. Kenny Frangadakis[/pullquote]

“The three things in my professional life that I’m most proud of are getting through the harshness of the old school, my longevity of teaching 47 years at the dental school and meriting—in the eyes of whoever hands it out—the Medallion of Distinction,” says Giachetti. “We have been fortunate to be given these Medallions of Distinction,” adds Senise, who also counts it among his highest professional honors.

And what do these four former roommates think about the new state-of-the art dental school downtown? “It should be a source of pride for all alumni. The physical building matches the quality of our students, faculty and alumni,” says Fidler. It’s the third dental school building for these friends. “There’s an enjoyment for the four of us, looking at what was, what is and what’s going to be with the advent of the new school. We are on the cutting edge of dental education,” says Senise.

“The Dugoni family as we call it today started from slim beginnings,” says Senise. “And here we are today after the hard work of a lot of people, probably the best school dental school in the nation and maybe even the world. A lot of that is due to alumni, people who went back and gave of their time, money and knowledge.”

“I wanted to make it a better place and it is,” says Giachetti. “Leaders like Art Dugoni and Pat Ferrillo, and faithful followers like us all have the same hopes and dreams for the school.” What could be more like family than trying to make things better for those who come after you?

Christina Boufis, PhD, is a freelance health and medical writer from the East Bay.

There and Back Again: The Dental School Family Returns to its Roots

Founded in 1896 as the College of Physicians and Surgeons, University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry has served the San Francisco Bay Area for 117 years.

1896 The College of Physicians and Surgeons (P&S) is founded in San Francisco, and takes up residency at 818 Howard Street, between Fourth and Fifth Streets.

1899 Enrollment exceeds capacity in the rented Federation Hall on Howard Street and P&S moves to a newly constructed school on Fourteenth Street between Mission and Valencia Streets.

1945 To accommodate the increasing demand for dentists, the school purchases a lot behind the building on Fourteenth Street in San Francisco and brings in portable clinic units and offices.

1958 The school outgrows its building on Fourteenth Street and begins raising funds and searching for a new building in San Francisco.

1962 The College of Physicians and Surgeons affiliates with University of the Pacific and becomes University of the Pacific School of Dentistry.

1965 Ground is broken for the dental school’s new building at 2155 Webster Street in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood.

1967 The school moves into its new building at 2155 Webster Street.

2004 In honor of its incumbent dean of 28 years, the school is named the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry.

2011 The University purchases a former Wells Fargo office building at 155 Fifth Street and establishes a new location for the school in the city’s South of Market district and extensive renovations begin.

2014 The University’s new San Francisco campus, housing the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, will open at 155 Fifth Street.

From Classrooms and Clinics to Condos: What Happens to 2155 Webster Street? Whether as a location for learning, receiving care or employment, 2155 Webster Street has been part of the lives of thousands of people since it opened in 1967. What does the future hold for the building?

Trumark Urban, a Bay Area residential condominium developer, purchased the building from University of the Pacific this past June. The developer plans to build 75 condo units averaging 2,000 square feet each, along with 4,000-square-foot, two-story penthouses with views of the Golden Gate Bridge. The building will get a new exterior “skin”—expected to be a mix of glass and earthy materials. The company also plans to redevelop the parking lot into townhouses.

The dental school will continue to hold all of its academic programs and clinics in the 2155 Webster Street location until it completely vacates the building at the end of July 2014. There will be no interruption to or impact on the existing experience for students and patients. The building operations team will continue to maintain the facilities through the end of the academic year.

University of the Pacific worked with Newmark Knight Frank Cornish & Carey Commercial to complete the real estate transaction with Trumark. According to Dan Cressman, executive managing director of the Newmark Knight Frank Cornish & Carey Commercial Capital Group in San Francisco, 2155 Webster Street is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a developer to create a world class condominium development in San Francisco’s most prestigious neighborhood, rivaling high-end condo projects in New York and London.”

Standard Operating Requirements

By David W. Chambers

Several years ago I met a man who owns a car wash. When he found out where I work, he told me he had once wanted to be a dentist. In fact, he had been a student at P&S when it was on 14th Street. “I didn’t make it,” he said. “It seemed like all the professors wanted to show you how much they knew. And they didn’t mind telling you how little they thought I knew, and they weren’t very kind about how they did it.”

I told him things have changed. He didn’t seem bitter, just disappointed that he missed out on the transformation that former Deans Dale Redig and Arthur A. Dugoni made at Pacific, in dental education generally and in the profession. Our attitude today is “We’re very glad you are here; let’s develop you into a fantastic practitioner!”

The twin cultural changes go by the names of competency and humanism. The first views education as a learner-centered process for producing a professional ready for practice; the second is grounded in a community that respects the dignity and potential of all its members.

Although these sea changes both started at Pacific and have been nurtured here for more than 40 years, they are now standard operating requirements in every dental school in the United States. That is a bold statement, but one that has teeth. In 1997, the Commission on Dental Accreditation adopted standards saying that, “The stated goals of the dental education program MUST be focused on education outcomes and define the competencies needed for graduation, including the preparation of graduates who possess the knowledge, skills and values to begin the practice of general dentistry [Standard 2-4].“ The American Dental Education Association has adopted, by policy, a generic set of competencies; and all dental schools have developed ones that match their unique missions while honoring the core skills, knowledge and values of dental practice. These are not suggestions; all dental schools must operate this way now or they will lose their accreditation.

In July 2013, a new set of accreditation standards will go into effect, maintaining competency and adding humanism. All dental schools will be expected to maintain a “dental school environment characterized by respectful professional relationships between and among faculty and students … that inculcates respect, tolerance, understanding and concern for others.”


Competencies were introduced to dentistry in a 1993 Journal of Dental Education paper I wrote, called “Toward a Competency-Based Dental Curriculum.” Since then scholarship in this area has accumulated and other professional programs have adopted competency, including nursing, dietetics, business and optometry.

The process began more than a decade before the first paper when then Dean Dale Redig appointed me as director of the Introduction to Comprehensive Patient Care (ICPC) course. This is the Monday, all-day lecture-preclinical-clinical course during the first four quarters that gets students ready for their fast start in clinical care. It was an unconventional move by Redig to put a non-dentist in charge of the second-largest dental course in the program.

But it was critical for competency-based education. There was no way I could make students in my own image: I had to ask “the customers,” the department chairs and clinic administration, what they expected passing students in ICPC to look like.

The deep roots of competency can be traced to Harvard University’s John Carroll who advocated mastery education. No one should be allowed to move on to the next level until they have mastered the preceding steps. Stanford University’s Lee Cronbach also has his fingerprints on the idea. He was fond of saying that the prevailing approach to education was wrong because it standardized the method and expected a distribution of outcomes. He advocated instead that we fix the outcome and vary the methods.

Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni pushed competency-based dental education farther. In 1990, he appointed me as academic dean and made it clear he expected the competency system to be applied to the whole school. Part of the process was the so-called “big bucket” approach. Virtually all 10-hour lecture courses were combined into larger and more multidisciplinary ones. At the time, the policy of the American Association of Dental Schools (the forerunner of ADEA) was based on complete coverage of all that teachers in various disciplines felt comfortable teaching. This amounted to about four feet of curriculum guidelines and an estimated nine-year predoctoral program. The Curriculum Committee adopted a policy that the educational program would only be justified based on what dentists needed for practice rather than what faculty members wanted to teach.

Pacific’s competencies are posted on our website at www.dental.pacific.edu/x1867.xml. If they read a lot like the job description of a practicing general dentist, that is what they are supposed to be.

[pullquote]Although these sea changes both started at Pacific and have been nurtured here for more than 40 years, they are now standard operating requirements in every dental school in the United States.[/pullquote]


Humanism is not an educational process like evidence-based dentistry, problem-based learning, technology-assisted education, small-group discussion, vertically-integrated clinics or any other hyphenated methodology. It is a culture. It is who we are. Pacific changed its personality dramatically from the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s. In Dean Redig’s terms, it stopped being a place that tore people down. In Dean Dugoni’s terms, we started to grow people.

When Redig came to Pacific from Iowa in 1969 he found a culture of “toughness.” The College of Physicians and Surgeons was one of the last dental schools to meet the accreditation requirement for integration into a university. There were only a handful of full-time faculty members, and many of the part-time staff were organized into cliques. When William Gies visited P&S to prepare for his now famous Carnegie Foundation report: Dental Education in the United States and Canada, he characterized the school as having a “survivor mentality.” No eyebrows were raised when faculty members berated students in front of their patients. Unsatisfactory lab projects were destroyed on the spot as a kind of public entertainment. Students were dismissed in the middle of a term on nothing more than the suggestion to the dean from a department chair.

All deans until Redig had been insiders (one actually owned the school). The University wanted a change more than the faculty did. But it was obvious that the school’s conditional accreditation status could only be removed by curing the culture. Redig’s response was swift and structural. There were a few meetings, clear guidelines articulated, followed by a period of several months to see who would blink first. New faculty members were brought in to replace those who left. Part-time faculty members were required to take salaries so they could not remain a “fifth column”, and the number of faculty members was increased. Within a few years, a new foundation had been laid by professionalizing the faculty.

Redig had found students somewhat reluctant at first to become beneficiaries of humanism—and also wary of the possibility of getting caught in the middle of the tension between the dean and the faculty, of which they were clearly aware. There were other risks; the old system was more certain: survivors prospered. However, when they fully realized that Redig had meant what he said, and followed through with implementation of new rules and a new way of student, faculty and staff life in the school, they became strong supporters of the positive direction and change that had been put in place.

The second phase in converting Pacific’s culture to humanism was much more gradual and systemic. Dugoni was a product of and understood the old ways at P&S, but he was not sympathetic to its demeaning tendencies. In fact, at one point in his early, part-time teaching career, he had been threatened with immediate firing over his grading practices.

Dugoni focused on the student dimension of humanism. He made students partners in bringing about the humanistic culture. He met with students constantly, in small groups, several-hour meetings that demonstrated his willingness to listen and thus communicate respect, regardless of the details of the conversations. He learned student’s names, and the names of their patients and their children. He was saying, trust first, and then we can do business. It just made sense to Dugoni that students have a unique perspective on their situation and would accept responsibility for their education. The regular evening meetings between student and faculty leaders were notorious for Dugoni’s insisting that the dedicated and most concerned people regarding improving dental education at Pacific were in the room. If they could not make things better no one could.

Dugoni implemented formal changes designed to foster humanism as well. He directed me to lead all department chair searches, about 10 in all, and to oversee the hiring of all full-time faculty members. It was no accident that a criterion in every such search was “understands and respects the unique humanistic culture of Pacific.” That was often the deciding factor in who was hired and who was not. Dugoni also asked me whether anything could be done about student promotion standards. The old system, still used at some schools, involved dismissing students simply based on a low GPA. The new one began there but probed into why performance was below expectation and whether anything could be done to correct it. Contracts were written for students in trouble, requiring tutoring, counseling, diagnostic testing and retesting. Only when attempted remediation failed, or in a few cases, when students declined participation, would students be dismissed or asked to repeat a year.

Both Redig and Dugoni were fond of observing that the way students are treated in dental school shapes the way they will treat their patients, their office team and even their family once they graduate. Between 1995 and 2006, 176 practicing dentists had their licenses disciplined in California. Not one of them was a Pacific graduate.

We were fortunate in the selection and the order of our two previous deans. Redig’s decisive structural changes were needed to pave the way for Dugoni’s more gradual personal touch. The changes they created at Pacific made us all better and are now imitated by every other United States dental school.

I like to think that the fellow who runs the car wash was just the unfortunate victim of bad timing. If his likes were to come into Pacific today there is every reason to believe he would graduate a competent practitioner with a deep sense of worth and dignity.