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February 3, 2000

Dental search committee told of support for school

On Tuesday, as Pitt launched the search for a new dean of the School of Dental Medicine, the University's chief academic officer for the Health Sciences made an unequivocal statement of support for the school.

In giving the search committee its formal charge, Pitt Senior Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences and medical school Dean Arthur S. Levine said his commitment to the dental school is just as strong as his commitment to the medical school.

Not only did Levine tell committee members that he is committed to the dental school — he said he's committed to making it a great school, reported committee chairperson Jonas Johnson, professor of otolaryngology and radiation oncology, and Margaret C. McDonald, assistant vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, Health Sciences. McDonald works with the search committee as a representative of the Health Sciences administration.

The committee meeting was closed to the public.

The new dental dean will replace Jon B. Suzuki, who stepped down on Dec. 31 after 10 years as dean. He remains a professor on the school's faculty. Thomas W. Braun is interim dean.

In recent years, rumors have spread that Pitt plans to close the dental school — despite repeated denials by senior administrators at campus meetings, dental alumni gatherings and state legislative hearings. Suzuki himself came under fire from some professors who claimed that summary dismissals, transfers and intimidation marked his leadership and led to poor morale, declining student test scores, loss of faculty and research funding.

Johnson said the search committee hopes to submit names of 3-5 finalists to Levine by late spring, so the new dean can begin work here by Sept. 1.

Johnson said: "We think that there have been a great many changes in the field of dental medicine in the last 20 years, and we predict that there will continue to be many changes in the next 20 years. So, we need somebody who has administrative excellence, who has leadership experience and who has clinical relevancein order to be able to take the School of Dental Medicine to the next step."

The search committee won't limit its search to North America, Johnson said. "Dr. Levine was quite clear that the world is our arena. The idea is to find the best individual for this job."

The committee plans to hold at least two open hearings, Johnson said.

In addition to Johnson, the dental dean search committee includes: Barbara Barnes, associate dean for continuing medical education; Suneet Bath, School of Dental Medicine student body president; Nancy Berk, assistant professor, behavioral sciences; Lathe L. Bowen, associate professor and director of undergraduate education, oral and maxillofacial surgery; Kelly Jean Colwell, dental school payroll administrator; Kenneth R. Etzel, associate professor and associate chairperson, oral biology; Michael Gorin, associate professor of ophthalmology and human genetics in the medical school; private practitioner Don G. Lamparski; Joseph F. Petrone, assistant professor, orthodontics; Dennis Ranalli, professor and chairperson, pediatric dentistry; Angelina Riccelli, associate professor and director, dental hygiene; and Andrew Stewart, professor of medicine.

— Bruce Steele

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