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October 13, 1994


To the University community:

Richard Lawson Russell, professor and assistant chairperson of the Department of Biological Sciences, died of cancer on Friday, Sept. 9, 1994.

His family, friends, colleagues, former students and fellows have established the Richard L. Russell Memorial Endowment Fund in his memory. It will be used to sponsor an annual lectureship in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. A prominent speaker in the field of developmental biology or neurogenetics will be selected each year.

Contributions to this memorial fund can be sent to the Department of Biological Sciences, with checks made payable to the University of Pittsburgh and noted for the Richard L. Russell Memorial Fund.

David R. Burgess

Professor and Chair

Department of Biological Sciences


To the editor:

As a newly recruited faculty member of two years duration, I am writing to inform the University Administration that I disagree with the recent negative articles concerning the School of Dental Medicine.

Upon arriving at the SDM, I received total support from Dean Suzuki and continue to do so. If at any time a consultation is needed he has made himself available.

As an administrator, Dean Suzuki has made his goals clear to me. He puts student education first and research second. The students receive and perceive that they are obtaining a quality education. This is demonstrated by rising National Board scores and conversations with students. Our graduates are readily accepted into graduate programs throughout the world.

Before coming to the University, I started a graduate program 10 years ago and went through the accreditation process for five of those years.

The apprehension concerning ADA accreditation, I feel, is unfounded. Dean Suzuki has streamlined the school's administration. He has gained and lost faculty as all dental schools do. He has retained and acquired a well-qualified and dedicated faculty with whom I perceive no problem with accreditation.

As with the second goal of increasing research, I can only speak for our division which has significantly increased research and publications. Forging an alliance with UPMC as Dean Suzuki is leading can only strengthen our resources for funded research.

James A. Wallace

Division of Restorative Dental Sciences

School of Dental Medicine


To the editor:

As a senior tenured professor and a prior candidate for the deanship of the School of Dental Medicine, I am compelled to write this letter of concern regarding the manner in which some of my colleagues have expressed their opposition and/or disagreement with the school's administration.

During my tenureship at the University, I have served under four deans (including one interim dean) and I have never witnessed such disgraceful public attacks on a chief administrator like what I have seen lately. In addition to my academic responsibilities, as a clinical faculty member, my main concern is my dental students and my patients; I do not have time to waste debating how collegial Dean Suzuki is. I am certain most faculty members of the school share the same view as mine.

Finally, I have one piece of advice to pass on to my disgruntled colleagues: Please follow proper channels if you have grievances, otherwise let us attend to our duties and responsibilities whether they are teaching, research, administration or patient care.

Y. H. Ismail

Professor and Chair

Department of Prosthodontics

School of Dental Medicine


To the editor:

In the Sept. 29, 1994, issue of the University Times, an interview regarding the Senate survey of dental school faculty quotes Senior Vice Chancellor for the Health Sciences Thomas Detre as saying "But nobody has ever cited a single example where they (dental faculty) were penalized for speaking their mind or being critical of something." I would like to take this opportunity to cite what I consider to be such an example.

As brief historical background, I would note that on July 12, 1982, then-Provost Rhoten Smith formally appointed me as the director of the School of Dental Medicine's Learning Resource Center. A letter from Dean Jon B. Suzuki dated Feb. 21, 1990, requested that I continue to serve as director of the Division of Learning Resources which included the teaching responsibilities for statistics in the School of Dental Medicine. Further, Dean Suzuki requested that the division be responsible for the statistical efforts for virtually all research efforts published and presented by the School of Dental Medicine.

On June 6, 1993, at the School of Dental Medicine's annual faculty retreat, plans for a reorganization/restructuring of the school were first presented. That plan identified Learning Resources as part of a group of "other clusters" and for the first time depicted biostatistics a subunit/subsection within Learning Resources. At no time had the faculty or staff of the Division of Learning Resources been asked to provide any input to the ad hoc committee that prepared the reorganization report.

In response to a memo from Dean Suzuki (June 10, 1993) requesting input from members of the then Executive Committee regarding the proposed reorganization, I provided a response (June 15, 1993) detailing my concerns. In that memo I noted that, in my opinion, the proposed plan did not have a clear statement as to why the School of Dental Medicine should restructure its academic units. I also noted that the plan lacked a clear vision as to the purpose of the restructuring. In that same memo, I also called attention to the fact that the restructuring plan had not followed the University's Planning and Budgeting System.

On June 28, 1993, without the benefit of any further discussion, I received a letter from Dean Suzuki notifying me that effective July 1, 1993, the responsibilities of the Office of Learning Resources would become part of the Academic and Administrative Services cluster and a part of Craniofacial Development and Health Services (for Biostatistics). In a rather strongly worded memo to Dean Suzuki dated June 30, 1993, I noted my dissatisfaction with the lack of a collegial process in the reorganization of the school. I also noted my concerns with having to split the responsibilities of the faculty of the Division between Learning Resources and Craniofacial Development and Health Services (Biostatistics).

Following a meeting with Dean Suzuki on July 9, 1993, I submitted a detailed letter (July 15, 1993) further explaining what I considered as potential problems in accepting to divide faculty time between those functions that could be termed as Learning Resources and those termed Biostatistics. On Oct. 8,1993, I received a memo from Dean Suzuki informing me that I was being assigned to the newly created section of Biostatistics housed within the Division of Pediatric and Developmental Dental Sciences. The staff person who had held the position of systems analyst in the Division of Learning Resources was named as director.

Finally, in February 1994, I was informed that I was relieved of my responsibilities as test administrator for the National Dental Board Examinations at the School of Dental Medicine, a position that I had held for nearly 20 years. Of course these actions may all have been necessary and best for the reorganization of the School of Dental Medicine. However, I cannot help but believe that they were the direct result of my open opposition to the lack of collegiality in the process of reorganization of the School of Dental Medicine.

Thomas G. Zullo


Public Health and Community Dentistry

School of Dental Medicine


To the editor:

Thomas Detre has once again refused to admit the serious leadership failures of School of Dental Medicine Dean Jon B. Suzuki (University Times, Sept. 29, 1994). This time his technique was to denigrate the University Senate's survey of dental faculty attitudes toward Dean Suzuki, in order to avoid addressing the shocking lack of confidence in the dean consistently expressed by the majority of respondents to the survey statements. For every tallied item, the negative response was highest, with an overall survey average of nearly 53 percent negative, 31 percent positive and 16 percent neutral.

* Detre contended the survey should not be taken seriously because slightly fewer than half the faculty responded to it.

He then contradicted his own criticism by claiming the survey was flawed because, in his view, too few faculty chose the "cannot judge/not applicable" response. Obviously one reason many non-responding faculty did not complete and return their surveys was that they either felt unable to judge a number of the statements or found them not applicable to their situations.

* Detre also complained that the phrasing of some of the survey statements was "somewhat inappropriate and leading," though he never specified in which items, nor did he suggest alternative wordings he would have approved.

Ironically, the survey itself was modeled upon one developed by the University of Pittsburgh for evaluating its high administrators, so had already met the demanding standards of the Provost's office. Though the survey had been successfully used to evaluate the president of one of Pitt's regional campuses, Detre whined that it "was not as good as a Gallup poll." It seems unlikely he would accept the results of any survey which failed to yield his desired result of casting Dean Suzuki in a favorable light.

* Detre's most egregious claim, however, is that "nobody has ever cited a single example where they (dental faculty) were penalized for speaking their mind or being critical of something."

Then why has Dean Suzuki replaced so many tenured department chairs who have spoken their minds with untenured ones who dare not? Why have so many Suzuki-recruited administrators and faculty already left the school in disgust after only a few years? Why has Dean Suzuki consistently given so many satisfactorily-evaluated faculty unfairly low pay raises in violation of University rules? Why did he discriminatorily impose the school's practice plan on untenured clinical faculty only? During several meetings held by three different provosts with many dental faculty, these and innumerable other examples of precisely such retributive treatment by the Suzuki administration have been documented in writing, but for unknown reasons corrective measures have yet to be taken. Significantly, for over a quarter-century such abuse did not exist during the deanships of Suzuki's two permanent predecessors: Edward Forrest and James Smudski both welcomed alternative views (even though they could not always be accommodated), making it clear that they were willing to listen without risk of reprisal to faculty members.

Fortunately, most University Times readers will recognize Detre's ploy of disparaging the survey as merely a clumsy attempt to deflect attention from the real issue, namely Dean Suzuki's dismal job performance rating, as judged by an overwhelming majority of the dental school faculty who returned their forms. Throughout his career Detre has characterized himself as "a good talent scout" who prides himself on "recruit[ing] outstanding people to academic jobs." Perhaps this is the reason he refuses to admit that he has made a series of major judgment errors in hiring, retaining and shielding Jon B. Suzuki as dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine.

Does Detre genuinely believe that he can continue covering up this fiasco until his retirement? Why is Chancellor O'Connor permitting such a disastrous situation to persist? It should be clear by now that dental faculty simply will not tolerate this outrage any longer.

John Baker

Associate Professor

School of Dental Medicine

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