It was my privilege and honor to become Dean of the University of Washington School of Dentistry in August 2012. My nine previous years as UW Chair of Pediatric Dentistry had already imparted a deep appreciation for the School’s enduring traditions of outstanding dental education, research and patient care.
Founded in 1945, the School of Dentistry has long been acknowledged as a national and even global leader in all these aspects of oral health. We believe that dentistry must be firmly grounded in a foundation of basic and applied science, and we support this approach through wide-ranging research in evidence-based dentistry, dental materials, oral biology, oral medicine, behavioral science and other disciplines.
Over the years, the School of Dentistry has produced more than 4,000 dentists and delivered care to thousands of patients, many of them among our region’s most vulnerable citizens. While our primary mission is to produce outstanding oral health professionals, we also recognize our profound responsibility as a public institution to the Pacific Northwest and its citizens. In programs such as the Northwest Center to Reduce Oral Health Disparities, Regional Initiatives in Dental Education and the Rural and Underserved Opportunities Program, we strive to make oral health care available to those who do not enjoy ready access. Our Center for Pediatric Dentistry, launched in 2010, is a leading institution of pediatric oral health care, a center of research and a clearinghouse of best practices, and it seeks to reduce the incidence of preventable dental disease among our children. In our research and educational programs, we maintain productive collaborative relationships as near as the UW and as far as leading universities in Asia.
At the same time, we value and promote diversity among our students, staff, faculty, and patient populations. We encourage imaginative inquiry and the free exchange of ideas, and promote personal development, professionalism and high ethical standards. Our greater goal is to improve the health and well-being of all our citizens, and to reflect the best values of our University, our Pacific Northwest and our nation.
We are moving into a new era in which dentistry incorporates advances in genetic research, oral biology and materials science. A rising focus on interprofessional education also means that our students will gain a better appreciation of how dental health relates to overall health. It will be an era whose dentists will have the tools to manage their patients’ oral health more effectively than ever before.
I am proud to lead the School of Dentistry at such an exciting time, and hope all of you in the Pacific Northwest share that pride in this remarkable institution.
Joel H. Berg, DDS, MS