“I love the student interaction that comes with teaching.”
Dr. Cindy Lyon's desire to become a dental educator started long before she entered dental school. In 1980, just two years after earning her dental hygiene degree, Cindy accepted an opportunity to teach clinical and didactic courses for a dental hygiene program at Cabrillo College. She didn't realize then that she was laying the ground work for a bright future in dental education.
"I love the student interaction that comes with teaching," Cindy recalls. "I decided to go back to dental school because I wanted more autonomy than I would have as a hygienist in private practice, but ultimately, I hoped I would end up in education somehow."
Cindy earned her DDS degree from University of the Pacific in 1986, the same year she and her husband, fellow alumnus Dr. John Muller '85, bought a private practice in Murphys, California. The couple sold the practice in 1998 to explore practice management opportunities with a private firm. In 2001, Cindy found her way back to dental education, taking on a part-time teaching position as a clinical periodontics instructor at the dental school in San Francisco.
Less than a year later, Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni, dean at the time, tapped Cindy to launch the dental hygiene program on the University's main campus in Stockton, California. Dr. Dugoni charged Cindy with developing an innovative curriculum and obtaining accreditation for the nation's only three-year baccalaureate dental hygiene program.
"I was thrilled when Dr. Dugoni asked me to start the hygiene program because I was really passionate about it," she says. "I'd been part of the advocacy efforts of my local dental society to bring the program to Stockton almost from the time I graduated from dental school because the need was so great. Pacific took a chance on a baccalaureate program at a time when many were closing nationwide, so that was a tremendous commitment."
After six years as its leader and graduating three classes of dental hygienists, Cindy assumed the position of chair for the Department of Dental Practice. She now manages the academic and clinical programs for a number of disciplines, as well as faculty development.
In addition to her role at the dental school, Cindy is pursuing a doctorate in education through Pacific's Benerd School of Education. She is a liaison to the ADEA Commission on Change and Innovation and serves as a member of the California Dental Association Foundation board of directors. Cindy and her husband live in Murphys, California.