Dental Medicine Dean Braun Retires After 18 Years in Role

Thomas BraunThomas W. Braun has retired as dean of the School of Dental Medicine, effective Jan. 31, having established it as an internationally respected school that serves patients through innovative medical centers.

Braun served as dean for the last 18 years as part of a distinguished 40-year career at the University. He joined the dental medicine faculty as a part-time anatomy instructor in 1977 and soon became an assistant professor. He later transitioned to teaching oral and maxillofacial surgery, rising through the ranks to a full professor.

During Braun's deanship, the School of Dental Medicine moved into the ranks of top 10 dental schools for National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research funding.

“Tom represents our University at its very finest,” said Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “He is a distinguished surgeon, but also a dedicated community member and visionary leader, and his countless contributions to the science and art of dental medicine will underpin our University’s successes for years to come.”

Arthur S. Levine, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and the John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine, said: “Tom Braun has distinguished himself in every facet of his professional and personal life. He is an inspiring role model for his students, faculty and colleagues. His leadership will have a long enduring impact on the entire University community as well as the field of oral and maxillofacial surgery.” 

Under Braun’s deanship, the Center for Patients with Special Needs opened in 2008. The center provides multidisciplinary care, including anesthesia when needed, for patients with physical, developmental, neurological and behavioral disabilities. The center also provides dental residents, pre-doctoral dental students and dental hygiene students the training and skills needed to care for special needs patients. The program was the first clinic of its kind nationally and has become a blueprint for others like it across the country. 

“The purpose of the center is not only taking care of people with disabilities, which is essential, but to train our students so that when they leave here, they’re comfortable taking care of people with special needs — because not everyone needs to go to a major center like this,” Braun said. “A lot of people can be cared for in a private office, but the dental practitioner needs to know that they can do it.”

Braun was also instrumental in establishing the Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics, the Center for Craniofacial Regeneration and the Center for Oral Health and Research in Appalachia.

He is succeeded as dean by Bernard J. Costello, professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery, effective April 1. Costello was named interim dean in February 2018 after Braun announced his retirement. Costello joined Pitt’s faculty in 2001 in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and he has served as the School’s associate dean for faculty affairs and senior associate dean.

To honor Braun’s tireless dedication to the school and the University, faculty, alumni and friends have established the Dr. Thomas W. Braun Fund, which will provide educational support for students at the School of Dental Medicine. To learn more about giving to the fund, please email To give to the fund, please visit


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