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U.S. Surgeon General Congratulates Class of 2004

“Dentists have a critical role to play in national preparedness.” That was the message brought by the Surgeon General of the United States, Vice Admiral Richard H. Carmona, to nearly 3,000 guests attending the NYU College of Dentistry Graduation Ceremony on May 13 in The Theater at Madison Square Garden.

Vice Admiral Carmona was the keynote speaker at the 2004 graduation ceremony, which celebrated the achievements of over 300 candidates for the DDS degree, plus candidates for the AAS degree in dental hygiene, the BS degree in dental health education, MS degrees in clinical research and in biomaterials, and certificates in the postgraduate dental specialties.

“Today’s graduates are part of an unprecedented era in New York’s history,” he said. “Many of you were at Ground Zero in the hours and days following 9/11.”

The Surgeon General paid special tribute to NYU College of Dentistry for its role in spearheading what has become a national plan of action to address dentistry’s role in responding to catastrophic events, including possible acts of bioterrorism. “You have worked hard to educate the profession and your peers, and have helped local dental societies develop a response plan that is being integrated into larger mass disaster plans. We need you to continue these efforts.”

In recognition of Vice Admiral Carmona’s contributions to safeguarding the health of all Americans, Dean Alfano presented him with the David B. Kriser Medal, the NYU College of Dentistry’s highest honor.

A Surprise for the Dean
Just as Dean Alfano was about to bring the Graduation Ceremony to a close, an unscripted moment occurred when Dr. Ralph Katz, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Epidemiology & Health Promotion, stepped to the podium to announce a special presentation. “Dean Michael Alfano,” he intoned:

“We, your entire faculty, staff, and student body, are privileged to present you with this token of our esteem, and with our heartfelt thanks for being our Dean. We want you to know that you are fully appreciated by us for your leadership, your vision, your intellect, and your management style, but most of all, for your humanity, both in terms of the big picture and on the personal level. We all appreciate being part of ‘Mike’s Moment’ at NYUCD. We thank you from our heads and from our hearts, and we trust that you will enjoy this gift from us.”

With those words, Dr. Katz presented Dean Alfano with a unique piece of commissioned art created by a New York City artist, Tom Matt: A pastel rendering of NYUCD drawn on an original front page of The New York Times, shown below. Visibly moved by this tribute, Dean Alfano expressed his thanks and vowed his continuing dedication to the goal of making NYUCD the dental education institution with the greatest impact in the world on the health of society.

Dean Alfano subsequently invited artist Tom Matt to visit NYUCD and see the framed piece of art, which hangs in the Dean’s office. Tom, who studied art at Boston University and the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, switched two years ago from doing creative graphic design work to being a street artist, working on commission, because he felt the need to return to his first love – old-fashioned representational drawing. He uses New York Times newspapers as his canvas because he feels that they give his works a time- relevant, special feel. In addition to the painting of NYUCD, Tom counts among his favorite streetscapes a painting of the Verrazano Bridge for a woman who ran in the New York City Marathon last November, and a painting of a West Village apartment for the girlfriend of actor Jason Patric. Anyone interested in obtaining a print of the streetscape created for Dean Alfano, or for more information about Tom’s work, should contact him at 212-674-7882, or e-mail

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