Dugoni School Alumni Celebrate Women in Dentistry at 124th Annual Alumni Meeting

Group photo at alumni weekend

Dramatic wintery weather couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm as the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry’s Alumni Association held its annual gathering the last weekend of February.

Nearly 1,000 alumni, guests and friends of the Dugoni School gathered for the 124th Annual Meeting – a long-standing tradition of camaraderie, continuing education and celebration.

The meeting — one of the largest alumni meetings of any dental school in the United States  — was held at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.

As befitting the “Women in Dentistry” theme, this year’s presenters were all women, providing continuing education courses on a wide range of topics.

A Friday luncheon honored several outstanding members of the alumni family. The program included remarks from Dean Nader Nadershahi ’94, Alumni President Dr. Jamie Sahouria ’04 and incoming President Dr. Peter C. Liu ’89,  along with leaders from the profession including Judee Tippett-Whyte ’86, past president of the California Dental Association. New officers were also installed during the event.

Medallion of Distinction honorees pose with Dean Nadershahi

Medallion of Distinction Awards honorees

At the luncheon, Medallion of Distinction Awards — the Alumni Association’s highest honor — were presented to Dr. Pat King and Dr. James Rolfe ’68. The award honors those who have made significant contributions to the school, the Alumni Association, the profession of dentistry and/or to society in general.

Dr. King was hired in 1990 as coordinator for the school’s International Dental Studies (IDS) program. As her role expanded and while working full-time, Dr. King earned her doctorate in education from Benerd College at the University of the Pacific and became director of the IDS program in 1998. She received an assistant professor appointment in the Department of Dental Practice, taught an Intercultural Communications/Ethics course, and initiated a Standardized Patients program for first-year IDS students. As director of the IDS program, Dr. King brought her calm wisdom to many unique issues experienced by foreign-trained students, including U.S. government academic student visa regulations. In 2018, after 26 years at school, she retired to spend more time with her daughter and grandson. Last year, a scholarship fund in her honor was created by two members of the IDS Class of 2022.

Dr. Rolfe is a practicing dentist in Santa Barbara, Calif. In 2003, he founded the Afghanistan Dental Relief Project (ADRP), a non-profit NGO created to provide treatment for disadvantaged Afghanis who otherwise could not access dental care. Along with a clinic in Kabul that provides free services to underserved people, he established training programs for dental hygienists, assistants, and technicians. The ADRP also trains practitioners, with a focus on recruiting women to become oral healthcare professionals. The project has been funded primarily by Dr. Rolfe who was the recipient of the U.S. National Award for Citizen Diplomacy in 2010. He relies on volunteers in Afghanistan and from the United States and around the world to work in the clinic and train Afghani citizens in dental-related professions.

Taking a selfie

Other Weekend Activity

Ten class reunion dinners were held Friday night at several restaurants in the city. The reunions offered alumni an opportunity to reconnect and also to show their philanthropic support for the school. Gifts raised across all reunion classes totaled $2.6 million, which will go toward supporting the Dugoni School’s people and programs.

On Saturday night, school donors and guests gathered for cocktails, dinner and dancing at the Legacy Ball in the hotel’s Grand Ballroom. All celebrated the successful, historic fundraising campaign concluded in 2022 that garnered nearly $70 million to support students, faculty and programs.

Before the Legacy Ball, members of the Dr. Frank Brucia Loyalty Society gathered for a special reception. The society that bears Dr. Brucia’s name honors donors who mark 10 consecutive years of giving to the Dugoni School and at least $50,000 lifetime total giving.

The Society members marveled at seeing Dr. Frank Brucia ’44A — at 106 years old  — presenting a short speech on video recorded in his home.

“Thank you for your continued loyalty and affection for our dental school,” said Dr. Brucia. “I’ve known six deans and marveled at how we have progressed from that old P&S school back in the 1940s to where we are today. Needless to say, we’ve only been able to accomplish this with your help, the alumni and the friends of our school.”

The Annual Meeting also featured an exhibit hall with commercial exhibitors, as well as a display room filled with scientific research posters by students and faculty.

The Alumni Association recognized Patterson Dental and Envista as Gold Sponsors of the meeting, and Align Technology, Bien Air, Crest & Oral-B, DMG America, Elevate Oral Care, First Republic Bank, and GC America as Silver Sponsors.

The meeting’s CE courses featured leading experts including:

  • Tara Aghaloo, DDS, MD, PhD — Oral Surgery for the GD
  • Diana A. Batoon, DMD — Wake Up Your Practice to Dental Sleep Medicine
  • Catherine M. Flaitz, DDS, MS — Always on My Mind: A Round-up of Common Oral Lumps and Bumps and Important Mimickers | Can’t Stop the Feeling and Nothing Helps! Symptomatic Oral Lesions in Adolescents and Adults
  • Jeanette K. MacLean, DDS — Minimally Invasive Management of Molar Incisor Hypomineralization | Pediatric Pearls for the GP
  • Cherilyn G. Sheets, DDS — AI and Quantitative Percussion Diagnostics
  • Audrey Yoon, DDS, MS — 37th Frederick T. West Orthodontic Lectureship
  • Leslie Canham, CDA, RDA, CSP — California Dental Practice Act 2023 | Infection Control Teamwork: How to Make Infection Sticky
  • Katrina M. Sanders, RDH, BSDh, MEd — Cracking Periodontal Codes with Class: Diagnostic Decisions

The mission of the Alumni Association is to foster lifelong relationships among its members and with the dental school. For more details, visit the Alumni Association’s website