On May 20, 2008, with nearly 3,000 people in attendance, the Class of 2008 was honored at a joyous graduation ceremony at Madison Square Garden. The College presented 44 Advanced Education Program Certificates; 11 certificates in clinical research; eight Master of Science degrees in clinical research; three master’s degrees in biomaterials; 13 Bachelor of Science degrees in dental hygiene; 55 Associate in Applied Science degrees in dental hygiene; and 343 DDS degrees.
Additional highlights of the ceremony included the presentation of the Dr. Harry Strusser Memorial Award for distinguished contributions to improved public health to Dr. Larry W. Rosenthal, '72, for whom the College’s Rosenthal Institute for Aesthetic Dentistry is named; the presentation of the inaugural Michael C. Alfano Award for Promoting Diversity in Dental Education to Dr. Gerald W. Deas, a prominent physician and advocate for young people of color to enter the healthcare professions; and the presentation of the David B. Kriser Medal to actress Blythe Danner for her efforts to promote oral cancer awareness. Ms. Danner is a very visible spokesperson for the early detection of the disease in TV public service announcements and in TV and print interviews.
Ms. Danner spoke of the loss of her husband, the director Bruce Paltrow, to oral cancer in 2002, and challenged the Class of 2008 to make an oral cancer screening a routine part of every examination. Had my husband’s cancer been detected earlier, she said, he might be alive today.