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Living the American Dream and Giving Back: A Major Gift from Dr. Jan Linhart, ’79, Establishes the NYU Linhart Continuing Dental Education Program

Dr. Jan and Ellen Linhart
Dr. Jan Linhart has lived the American dream. Born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, he emigrated to the US at age 13 with his family, who were fleeing both a communist regime and memories of life under the Nazis. During World War II, Dr. Linhart’s mother, now in her 90s, whom he calls the “ultimate survivor,” had been imprisoned at Auschwitz; his father, a physician, had been conscripted into military service in Hungary. Once in America, the Linhart family settled in Brooklyn, and Jan Linhart began the kind of upward trajectory that can only happen in America.

After graduating from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, where he was a biochemistry-Russian double major and an avid hockey, lacrosse, and squash player, he returned to New York to attend the NYU College of Dentistry, from which he graduated in 1979. The following year he married his wife Ellen, who is the Chief Marketing Coordinator for his highly successful practice located in the landmark 1926 Helmsley Building on Park Avenue in Manhattan.

In the early years of the practice, the surroundings were considerably less grand. Just out of dental school, Dr. Linhart began to practice in a small office with one dental chair and no support staff. Over the years, the practice has evolved to become a 4,000 square-foot, top interdisciplinary specialty practice with a large staff, who treat people from all walks of life and from all over the world, including many celebrities.

Since graduating from NYUCD, Dr. Linhart has consistently demonstrated his gratitude to the College for giving him the opportunity to pursue dentistry by supporting the Annual Fund. But it was when his son Zach, now in his second year, decided that he wanted to attend NYUCD, rather than any of the other schools to which he had been accepted, that Dr. Linhart experienced a renewal of his bond with the College. That experience, combined with his passionate belief in the importance of continuing dental education, motivated him to take his philanthropy to a new level, which he did by singing the gift agreement to establish the NYUCD Linhart Continuing Dental Education Program on his 55th birthday.

“I believe strongly that it is not possible to have a quality practice without constantly improving your education. Continuing education is not an option; it’s a necessity.

“Dentistry is changing at exponential speed,” says Dr. Linhart. “Procedures that were inconceivable five years ago are the norm today. Moreover, today’s patients are extremely intelligent, sophisticated, well-read consumers. If a dentist is not staying ahead, his or her practice will suffer. Dentists can use the NYUCD Linhart Continuing Dental Education Program not just to keep up, but to stay in the forefront of advances in the profession.

“Moreover, because my international patients give me a window onto dental care around the world I know first-hand that NYUCD provides fabulous and sophisticated care that is far superior to what is available in other countries. Dentists from all across the globe need and want what NYUCD has to offer. It is therefore extremely important that the program expand globally, both by bringing international dentists to NYUCD for continuing education and by bringing NYUCD to international dentists. NYUCD is doing both, making it a very exciting time to be involved.”

“Jan and Ellen Linhart have demonstrated exemplary commitment to NYUCD,” said Dean Charles N. Bertolami. “Jan’s story, of an immigrant’s successful rise to prominence through higher education, is at the core of the American dream, as is his determination to give something back. By investing in continuing education at NYUCD, the Linharts are keeping the dream alive. We are extremely grateful for their generosity and their faith in NYUCD’s future.”

In addition to Zach, the Linharts have another son, Alexander, an investment banker. The family, including Dr. Linhart’s mother, live in Purchase, New York.

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