Spring 2006 Table of Contents
Message from the Dean

Dean Michael C. Alfano
Dean Michael C. Alfano

One measure of a society is the commitment it makes to succeeding generations, to guide the steps and lift the lives of its children and grandchildren. A great way to take the measure of the dental profession will be by its response to the ADA's and ADAF's call to action to support the next generation of dentists.

“Philanthropy is America’s most distinctive virtue. There is no other aspect of American life that is so vast in scale, so rooted in tradition, so broadly supported by the law and public policy or more gratuitously neglected by the educational community.” So writes Robert L. Payton,* one of the founders of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

According to Mr. Payton, philanthropy, which he defines as “voluntary action for the public good,” is ignored in American college classrooms, despite the fact that it “touches the life of every student and every faculty member at every American college.”

Although both private and public undergraduate colleges and professional schools depend on charitable giving to a greater or lesser extent, there has traditionally been no place in higher education for a systematic approach to the concept of philanthropy. The result, says Mr. Payton, is the loss of a unique opportunity to explain to successive generations of Americans that the right and the obligation to raise money and to give it – a concept nurtured in America – is vital to the continuation of a free, open and democratic society. Or, one might say, to the continuing independence, autonomy and prestige of a profession, including the dental profession.

This is precisely the conclusion that the American Dental Association (ADA) and its philanthropic arm, the ADA Foundation (ADAF), have come to – namely, that if dentistry is to successfully address the core issues facing its future, and to continue as a respected, self-determining profession, dentists and other stakeholders must become philanthropic.

More than 20 years ago, Dr. Art Dugoni, a former President of the American Dental Association (ADA) and of the American Dental Education Association (ADEA), and the current President of the American Dental Association Foundation (ADAF), realized that the future of the practicing profession depends upon the strength of its infrastructure, which is dental education.

The excellence of American oral health-care, he argued, owes much to dental education. But dental education in the United States faces many challenges, including faculty shortages, lack of diversity, aging physical and clinical facilities, lagging governmental support and escalating costs, among them. These challenges place severe strains on the dental education system and need to be addressed. Art envisioned a $1 billion campaign dedicated to addressing these issues. But the time wasn’t yet right.

But Art never gave up, and so several years ago, he orchestrated an intensive planning study to test the feasibility of raising $1 billion to meet challenges to dental education that had by now become extreme. As part of that study, nearly 150 dental education stakeholders were interviewed. The data proved what many of us have believed for years – that challenges facing dental education in America cannot and will not be addressed with anything less than a national response.

And so the decision was made to establish a National Campaign for Dental Education, Dental Education: Our Legacy, Our Future, with a comprehensive goal over 10 years of raising approximately $500 million – the first step toward a longer-range objective of reaching Dr. Dugoni’s $1 billion goal.

The NYU College of Dentistry strongly supports the ADA’s and the ADAF’s historic decision to place the role of private philanthropy front and center in its project to secure the future of dental education and the dental profession, and we are pleased to feature a campaign preview in this issue of Global Health Nexus.

To explain the campaign’s rationale, objectives and plans going forward, we have invited the campaign Co-Chairs, Dr. Richard Haught, President of the ADA, and Dr. Cecile Feldman, Dean of the UMDNJ New Jersey Dental School, to contribute an article.

We are also delighted to include an interview with Dr. Dugoni, Honorary Chair of Dental Education: Our Legacy, Our Future. Dr. Dugoni, who on June 30th will retire as the esteemed Dean Emeritus of the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry at the University of the Pacific, is arguably the longest-serving dental school dean in the nation. Dr. Dugoni has long been a role model for many dental deans, not least because of his great success in inspiring alumni and others to generously support dental education during his many decades at the University of the Pacific.

No one believes that achieving the campaign goals will be easy. The fact is that American dental education does not have a tradition of strong stakeholder charitable support. Indeed, results of the 2003-04** survey on dental school finances conducted by the ADA Survey Center indicate that of 56 dental schools, only 46 reported receiving private philanthropy of any kind. Moreover, the median amount of private funding reported by the 46 schools was $248,856, and the average gift contributed by individual alumni to their alma mater in 2003-2004 was $702.78.

In contrast, an American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) 2004 Annual Development Survey, in which 66 institutions out of a total of 120 medical institutions participated, reported that the median amount of total private support was $19.6 million, about 80 times higher than private giving to dental schools, and the average gift from medical school alumni was $1,106. While medical schools have the benefit of higher levels of foundation giving and the support of grateful patients, which explains in part the huge difference in giving to dental schools, dental education must do much better if it is to prosper. One key to solving this problem is for individual dentists to do more. While many dental alumni are quite generous, far too many do nothing, thereby weakening the profession and denying themselves the wonderful fulfillment that comes with giving something back.

In recent years, NYUCD has begun to change this tradition, with gratifying success. Indeed, one barometer is alumni giving, which has grown eight-fold over the past eight years. To give you an insight into the evolution of private philanthropy at NYUCD, we offer an article by Assistant Dean for Development and Alumni Relations Rita Startup. NYUCD owes a huge debt of gratitude to Associate Dean Stuart Hirsch, Assistant Dean Startup, and their terrific team for catalyzing the dramatic improvement in fundraising at NYUCD.

We close the philanthropy section with vignettes on just a few of our incredible donors. We present a personal perspective on giving by Dr. Alex Mikhailov, Class of 1988, who talks about why he gives and how it has transformed his life. We learn what moved Dr. Dennis and Karen Tarnow to make their substantial donation, which will allow us to build a new wing for Periodontology and Implant Dentistry that is worthy of the world-class program that will be housed there. Finally, we tell the wonderful story of an amazing gift by Dr. George and Ann Witkin that will transform postgraduate education and dental specialty care at NYU.

Also in this issue of Global Health Nexus, you’ll read about the enormous strides that NYUCD has made in securing federal funding for research over a rather short period of time. Indeed, we are extremely proud to report that the 2005 rankings for federal research grants to dental institutions in the U.S. show that NYUCD ranks sixth in the nation in order of grants funded by the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), and first among private dental schools.

Speaking of research, in the following pages you’ll find an insider’s look at the PEARL Network, which was established last spring with a $26.7 million NIH/NIDCR award to NYU to create a research network of dental practices. Other research highlights include advances by NYUCD faculty in the areas of osteoporosis treatment, bone regeneration and understanding HIV-disease, among others.

We believe that this issue is chock full of interesting stories – and people. This is the first issue of Nexus to feature four dental school deans from across the country: Deans Art Dugoni, Cecile Feldman, Ira Lamster and Connie Drisko, which underscores our message that Nexus is about more than NYUCD.

You’ll also find news of the imminent opening of an NYU nursing faculty practice within the NYU College of Dentistry; the first-ever New York City Oral Cancer Walk – organized and led by NYUCD students; the round of distinctions won by NYUCD faculty and administrators at the annual ADEA/AADR meeting; and major all-University awards won by NYUCD faculty, administrators and students, plus stories on international outreach and faculty, to name just some of what’s in store.

Sadly, this issue of Global Health Nexus also includes an announcement of the passing of Dean-Emeritus Edward G. Kaufman, who served as Dean of NYUCD from 1985 to 1998, in the process leading NYUCD through a period of great challenge and great achievement.

No period in the history of an institution is immune from challenge, and NYUCD is no exception. But we are New York University College of Dentistry after all. We’re not people used to sitting still. We will continue to make the decisions that will enable us to move toward our goal of becoming the dental institution in the world with the greatest impact on the health of society. One of the ways we will do this is by using the Dental Education: Our Legacy, Our Future logo and campaign tools in many of our communications in order to generate a rapid level of interest and support among our alumni. I hope that every dental school in the nation elects to accept this challenging but urgent responsibility.

This is the first issue of Nexus to feature four dental school deans from across the country: Deans Art Dugoni, Cecile Feldman, Ira Lamster and Connie Drisko, which underscores our message that Nexus is about more than NYUCD.

* Mr. Payton's essay can be found at PaytonPapers.org.

** The latest year for which figures are available.