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March 16, 2000

Dental dean need not be dentist, search group told

The next dean of Pitt's School of Dental Medicine won't necessarily be a dentist.

Senior Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences Arthur S. Levine has told the dean search committee to consider candidates from outside the dental profession, as long as they are accomplished administrators and/or educators who are familiar with emerging trends in dental science.

At a March 6 open hearing sponsored by the search committee, one dental professor pointed out that the school — with 85 full-time and 80 part-time faculty members — is no bigger than some departments in the School of Medicine. "To have somebody [as dean] who does not understand dentistry very, very well…we would certainly be hurting," said Michael Buckley, of the oral and maxillofacial surgery division.

Search committee chairperson Jonas Johnson replied that committee members are "very sensitive" to such concerns. "I think that Dr. Levine was being as global as possible in terms of allowing us to consider a wide variety of candidates," said Johnson, a professor of otolaryngology and radiation oncology.

Johnson said the search committee will consider internal candidates as well as international ones. "We're casting as broad a net as possible," he said, although ads for the dean's job have been placed in only one publication with an international distribution, The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The committee plans to begin interviewing candidates next month. It hopes to submit names of 4-5 finalists to Senior Vice Chancellor Levine by late spring, so the new dean can begin work here in September, Johnson said.

Last week's hearing, held in G-23 Parran Hall, was open to the University community. It lasted less than 15 minutes, and the 10 search committee members present outnumbered audience members. A hearing last month for dental school personnel drew more than 30-40 audience members, Johnson said.

— Bruce Steele

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