UW School of Dentistry

Dean Berg reappointed

Dr. Joel Berg has been reappointed as dean of the University of Washington School of Dentistry by UW  Provost Gerald Baldasty, pending formal approval by the UW Board of Regents.

Dr. Berg at his deskDr. Berg began his deanship in August 2012 after serving as chair of the school’s Department of Pediatric Dentistry. He came to the UW in 2003 after serving on dental faculty at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Texas and working in the private sector as executive vice president for research and clinical affairs for ESPE America, Inc. and as vice president of clinical affairs for Philips Oral Healthcare.

Per UW policy, Dean Berg’s new term has no fixed length.

“I’m thrilled to be reappointed to lead the School of Dentistry,” Dean Berg said. “I’m looking forward to making continued improvements in our new curriculum and meeting our other challenges.”

Under Dean Berg, the school has implemented an extensively revised curriculum designed to give pre-doctoral students not only more procedures, but a more focused exposure to the core skills of general dentistry. This has been done through a series of third-year clerkships in which students spend from six to 12 weeks concentrating on one or two disciplines at a time.

The clerkships provide the foundation for a new fourth-year General Practice Clinic, which is designed to duplicate the conditions of private practice as much as possible.

At the same time, the biomedical science curriculum has been reorganized to integrate different ­fields of study into the study of one organ system at a time. Similarly, in the clerkships, students learn the theory of each dental specialty while they are practicing that specialty on patients. In addition, the new curriculum significantly beefed up instruction in practice management, which previously had been limited to a relatively brief stretch in fourth year. This material is now covered in all four years.

This past academic year also saw the launch of expanded five-week community clinical rotations for all fourth-year students. The new rotations draw on the experience of the Regional Initiatives in Dental Education program, whose fourth-year rotations have provided invaluable real-world experience.

“I think one of the clearest indications that we’re on the right track with the curriculum was this year’s performance by our fourth-years on the national board exams,” Dean Berg said. The students scored more than two deviations above the mean on the Part II examinations, which placed them in the top echelon of national performance. In addition, the Class of 2017 recorded a 100 percent passing rate on the Washington Regional Examining Board licensing exams.

While heading the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Berg also served as Dental Director for Seattle Children’s Hospital and as Associate Dean for Hospital Affairs, and he oversaw the creation of the Center for Pediatric Dentistry clinical teaching facility at Magnuson Park. After becoming dean, he served a one-year term as President of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

He received a DDS degree in 1983, a Certificate in Pediatric Dentistry in 1985 and an MS degree in oral biology in 1985, all from the University of Iowa. He has authored or co-authored more than 100 abstracts, articles and chapters, and is co-editor of a textbook on early childhood oral health. His research includes innovative new technologies for early caries detection, which has long been one of his major research and academic interests.

He is a Fellow of the American College of Dentists and International College of Dentists. In 2011, he was named the Washington Dental Service Foundation Distinguished Professor for Dentistry.