State of the School: Dean’s Annual Report Outlines Progress, Challenges for TUSDM

Faculty and staff recruitment, research and enhancements to the clinical business model were just a few of the initiatives outlined in the 2012-2013 TUSDM Annual Report.

The report, which Dean Huw Thomas submitted August 2 to Provost and Senior Vice President David Harris, is a summary of TUSDM’s progress and changes over the past fiscal year.

Dean Thomas gave a brief update of last year’s major initiatives. The school is nearing the end of its Strategic Planning process, has embarked on the implementation phase of curriculum reform, and has established a Self-Study Process to prepare for the upcoming accreditation site visit in February 2015. The school has made great strides to develop inter-professional education, establishing relationships with other schools at the university and other colleges in the Boston area. The Dean has also established two task forces (one focused on faculty evaluations and another on women’s issues), and plans to establish advisory councils for staff and faculty. Finally, this past May saw the creation of the new Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Oral Medicine and Craniofacial Pain, overseen by Department Chair Dr. Michael Kahn.

A major portion of the report was dedicated to the recruitment of key staff and faculty members. The report mentioned several hires that took place in the last year: Dr. Nadeem Karimbux as Professor of Periodonotology and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs; Dr. Carroll Ann Trotman as Professor and Chair of the Department of Orthodontics; Dr. Bjorn Steffensen as Professor and Chair of the Department of Periodontology; Jane Steffensen as Director of External Community Relations in the Department of Public Health and Community Service; Dr. Nicole Holland as Director of Health Communication, Education and Promotion; Michael Chin as Web Content Specialist; and Emma Johnson as Communications Coordinator. The department is also currently engaged in a search for a permanent Director of Inter-Professional Education.

Admission application rates and the academic profile of incoming students remain strongly competitive. The report noted that the enrollment of women in TUSDM programs exceeds that of men for the second year in a row, and TUSDM continues to be among the top dental schools for enrollment of underrepresented minority students.

The school’s predoctoral research programs continue to grow, thanks in part to participation by the student body. For the second year in a row, the American Association for Dental Research awarded TUSDM the National Student Research Group’s Award for the most student abstracts accepted to the organization’s annual meeting. In addition, Kelly Leong, D14 was accepted to the 2012-2013 Medical Research Scholars Program at the National Institute of Health. Fundraising at TUSDM has also developed positively. Most notably, the school had an unprecedented 100 percent participation rate in the D13 Senior Class Gift fundraiser. The Tufts Dental Fund achieved 104 percent of its goal for the fiscal year, raising $1,459,403, and Major Gifts booked over $2.6 million in Gift Planning. There has been a sustained emphasis on building individual and corporate relationships to strengthen the pipeline of prospective donors which has paid off admirably.

The report closed with a reflection on the operating budget for the school’s clinics and facilities. Despite major renovations to the school and the rising costs of clinic operations, TUSDM’s budgetary position is sound. There is, however, a need to continue to increase clinical efficiencies and to make optimum use of the space created as part of the Vertical Expansion Initiative. Even with these challenges, however, Dean Thomas said he’s looking forward to the next year.

“My first two years at TUSDM have been exciting yet challenging,” Dean Thomas wrote, “Its constituents, faculty, staff and students are warm, friendly, engaged, hard-working and totally committed to providing an exemplary educational and patient care experience.”