The end of 2022 is upon us, and with it comes the end of my rewarding career at The Dental College of Georgia. Once more, I want to express my great appreciation to all the students, residents, staff, faculty and alumni who have taught me so much over the years, even as I have endeavored to teach others.
It is normal at this stage of one’s career to ask if the work one has done has made a difference. No one works alone at the DCG, and our successes together have been incredible. I am proud of the progress we have made together in dental education, research, oral health care and community service.
Among our substantive achievements during my time as Dean, the DCG has:
• With the new dental school, increased class size from 72 students to 96 students and the number of residents from 55 students to 69 students. Georgia is the largest state in physical size east of the Mississippi River, it continues to be one of the fastest growing states in population – and it continues to grow. As the state’s only dental school, the DCG takes its role in meeting the oral health needs of Georgia seriously.
• Hired an additional 23 faculty members to accommodate the increase in class size as it is important to maintain our faculty to student ratios. Experienced faculty are essential to the quality of a student’s educational experience. I am proud that nearly all DCG faculty have advanced degrees and most specialists are board certified.
• Implemented a new curriculum in 2018 to better integrate the basic and clinical sciences and to better prepare students for the Integrated National Dental Board Exam. This exam replaced the former two-part National Board Dental Exam in 2020. To date, DCG students have a 96 percent pass rate on the exam.
• Prepared for and hosted a successful Commission on Dental Accreditation site visit in 2019. The visit was a comprehensive review of the DCG and all operations, a review of documentation and observations and interviews with students, residents and faculty. The site visit confirmed the commitment and quality of a dental education at the DCG.
• Established the Center for Excellence in Research, Scholarship, and Innovation (CERSI). Through CERSI, the DCG works in collaboration with other units of Augusta University and the University System of Georgia to perform innovative, multidisciplinary research in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and oral health-related diseases.
• Launched the Digital Dentistry Initiative. Still in progress, the initiative embraces technological breakthroughs in imaging, manufacturing and software integration to provide patients with the most minimally invasive care along with the greatest comfort. At the same time, we continue to teach analog dentistry as not all graduates will be entering a digital dentistry practice.
• Survived a global pandemic together. The dental profession was significantly impacted due to the aerosols we produce. And we were the first AU college to return students to campus. During this time, we produced more than 70,000 nasal swabs to support testing in our community and across the state.
Again, no one succeeds here alone. Our triumphs result from the work, collaboration and dedication of the entire DCG family. Some of my proudest moments come from watching our employees, students, residents and alums advancing their education, taking on leadership roles and soaring. The best is yet to come!
As my tenure as dean comes to an end, I am confident that our time together has been well spent, mutually beneficial and productive for the DCG and for Augusta University. I am confident that as we stood on the shoulders of giants who came before us, we continued to move the DCG forward. As I pass the torch to the next leader, that momentum will continue. Dr. Nancy Young will serve as Interim Dean while the university conducts a national search for a new, permanent dean. I trust that she will receive the same excellent and collaborative support from the DCG family that I have enjoyed.
I wish you a safe, relaxing and happy winter holiday break, enjoyed with friends and family.