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UW names Dr. André Ritter new dean of dental school

Dr. André Ritter of the New York University College of Dentistry has been appointed as the new dean of the University of Washington School of Dentistry, UW Provost Mark Richards announced Thursday. The appointment takes effect Sept. 16, pending approval by the UW Board of Regents.

Dr. RitterDr. Ritter will succeed Dean Gary Chiodo, who said last September that he intended to step down for health reasons but would stay on until a new dean was chosen. Dean Chiodo came to the school in 2018. He had previously served on the faculty of the Oregon Health & Science University School of Dentistry, including a two-year stint as interim dean.

Dr. Ritter is a professor at the NYU dental school, where he has also chaired the Department of Cariology and Comprehensive Care. From 2018 to 2019, he was executive dean of the University of North Carolina’s Adams School of Dentistry. At both schools, he maintained a private dental faculty practice.

“The UW School of Dentistry is widely recognized as one of the top programs in the country and indeed in the world,” he said. “The school has a strong foundation steeped in research, clinical care, education, and service. Under the leadership of [UW] President [Ana Mari] Cauce and Provost Richards, I look forward to continuing to build on that foundation, further enhancing the school’s reputation as a center of excellence in oral health education, the delivery of care for all people, and oral and craniofacial research.”

“With Dr. Ritter’s impressive record of leadership in the clinical realm, we are confident that he will continue to improve the School [of Dentistry]’s facilities and revenue models and advance the school’s long-term financial picture,” Provost Richards said. “Throughout the interview process, Dr. Ritter expressed his commitment to strengthening the UW dental community, both within and beyond the University, and we look forward to supporting his work in that.”

At NYU, Dr. Ritter led 300 faculty members and oversaw staffing at all dental clinics and 14 group practices. He promoted diversity, equity, and inclusion through open forums and training, and he directed his department’s responses to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that students met requirements for graduation and promotion.

At UNC, his responsibilities included overseeing a $70 million operating budget as well as information technology, facilities and infrastructure, faculty development, clinical compliance and infection control, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. He also chaired the UNC Department of Operative Dentistry from 2014 to 2017.

Dr. Ritter earned his DDS from Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil, an MS in operative dentistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an MBA in health-care administration from Northeastern University in Boston, and a PhD from Universidade Positivo in Brazil. His research interests include diagnosis and management of tooth decay, conservative/minimally invasive restorative dentistry, esthetics, dental adhesion, and composite resin applications.

“Dentistry is rapidly evolving, and schools and programs have to adapt and innovate to be successful,” Dr. Ritter said. “To lead the UWSOD to further elevate its status as a leader in global oral health-care education, innovation, research, and care delivery, and doing so while advancing the mission of one of the world’s preeminent public universities, is an unparalleled opportunity.

“It is also vital to our success that we strengthen the School of Dentistry community, both within and outside of the university. As a dean, I will dedicate myself to fostering a culture of respect, enhanced communication and transparency, valuing diversity and inclusion, and recognizing the need for balance and well-being in our community.”

Dean Chiodo came to the UW at a time when the dental school faced a critical financial challenge, with a cumulative debt of more than $36 million after a series of substantial annual deficits. He quickly brought the school’s finances under control and has put the budget in the black ever since arriving. He also launched a Campaign for Clinics fund-raising drive to update the school’s aging infrastructure and add the new technology that students must master to practice in today’s dental profession.

Under his leadership, the school also hosted the relocation of the highly regarded Shoreline Community College dental hygiene program and has directed its expansion to help address a critical shortage in the state’s dental workforce.