We write to share the news that Dean Huw Thomas, who has led the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine with distinction since 2011, will be stepping down on June 30, 2019. A thoughtful leader, an enthusiastic partner, and an accomplished researcher, Huw has advanced the school’s mission of offering dental students a world-class education focusing on comprehensive patient care.
Over the past seven years, Huw has led a number of groundbreaking initiatives, further enhancing the school’s reputation as the frontrunner in dental education and oral health. Under his leadership, TUSDM has attracted an increasingly diverse and competitive student body. As more women have enrolled, Huw has brought in more female junior faculty and appointed a number of women to senior leadership positions within the school.
In 2013, Huw led the development of the school’s strategic plan, “Vision 2020,” focused around the themes of Curriculum, Research, People and Community, and has overseen the introduction of innovative new programming in each of these critical areas. The Basic Science/Clinical Science Spiral Seminar Series brings together teams of students from all four years to develop comprehensive treatment plans for patients. Through inter-professional education programs, students have the opportunity to treat patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities. During his tenure, the school established a mind-body wellness program as part of the four-year curriculum that is open to the entire school community. He has formed faculty and staff advisory councils providing direct access to the dean, launched professional development programs for faculty and staff, updated the school by-laws, and revised the faculty handbook.
In addition to strengthening the school’s community and creating myriad opportunities for faculty, staff and students to interact, Huw has spent valued time with alumni and friends—listening and learning from them and building a pipeline of generous support to help achieve the school’s ambitious goals. Over the past several years, he has helped to raise more than $23 million in support of TUDSM’s campaign priorities, which includes construction of a new entrance, elevator and lobby that will serve as the gateway for many visitors to the health sciences campus.
Throughout his time at TUSDM, Huw has advanced the teaching and practice of dental medicine and inspired students and graduates to become the next generation of leaders in oral health. He has fostered an open, diverse, and collegial environment for which TUSDM is widely known and admired—a place where faculty, staff and students collaborate to create innovative educational experiences that have spanned the globe.
The search for the next dean of TUDSM will begin at the start of the fall semester and will be chaired by Dr. Kochevar. We are delighted that Huw will continue to lead the school while we search for his successor. We look forward to seeing many of you at the school’s 150th anniversary gala event on September 28, to celebrate 150 years of excellence in dental education. Huw’s message to the TUSDM community follows ours.
We hope you will join us in thanking Dean Huw Thomas for his outstanding and lasting contributions to the Tufts School of Dental Medicine and to Tufts, and in wishing him all the best in the years ahead.
Anthony P. Monaco
Deborah T. Kochevar
Provost and Senior Vice President, ad interim
Message from Dean Huw Thomas to the TUSDM Community
Dear Members of the Tufts School of Dental Medicine Community,
Greetings! It is with mixed emotions that I share the news that I will be stepping down as dean of the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (TUSDM) on June 30, 2019. This fall, the university will launch an international search, led by interim Provost Debbie Kochevar, for a new dean. During that time, I will remain as committed as ever to preserving and expanding the school’s excellence in dental education. I will continue to work with our vibrant and dedicated community of faculty and staff to provide our students with a comprehensive dental education that combines cutting-edge science, state-of-the-art technology, integrated patient care, and lifelong learning in a world-class environment.
I am proud of all that we have been able to accomplish together over the past several years to advance our mission and I look forward to us building on our impressive record of success. I am honored to have worked with an amazing group of faculty and staff who are devoted to the success of our school and our graduates, and a brilliant, committed student body who will undoubtedly influence the delivery of oral health care in the future. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have become part of the Tufts’ family.
In 2013, after extensive involvement of our faculty, staff, alumni and students we finalized a Strategic Plan, Vision 2020, around the themes of Curriculum, Research, People and Community. I am delighted that we have made significant progress in the implementation of all of the plan’s themes, to the immense benefit of the school and community.
At the core of TUSDM’s vibrant teaching and research community is our outstanding faculty, whose primary focus is on patient care. One example of this engagement is the Basic Science/Clinical Science Spiral Seminar Series, which brings together teams of students from all four years to develop a comprehensive patient treatment plan that includes a study of the patient’s health history, conditions, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options. Students draw on knowledge across subjects and across all four years of classroom and clinical instruction to hone their critical thinking, scientific reasoning, problem solving, and leadership skills.
For the past several years, we have seen more students than ever participate in research. We have consistently sent many of our students to national and international research and educational meetings and been proud to see them receive numerous external as well as school awards for their presentations. For five of the past six years we have received recognition as the U.S. dental school with the highest number of student abstracts accepted at the American Association for Dental Research. Our students assume leadership roles in national professional groups, and we routinely send students and junior faculty to American Dental Education Association Leadership Programs.
Another notable area of success has been our ability to attract and retain an increasingly diverse student body. The class of D2022 is one of the most diverse in the history of the school and our applicant pool has grown and become more competitive as the number of prospective students with advanced degrees has steadily increased. I am proud that for the past seven years, more than half of our entering student population has been female.
Tufts dental students gain real-world experiences through inter-professional education programs that reinforce the importance of approaching the patient holistically. Included in these experiences is the fact that all of our students spend time treating patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities, another unique feature of our educational program. We also have ties with 42 dental schools in 20 countries, helping us to gain a global perspective and advance the practice of oral health to underserved populations around the world. Many of our students graduate Honos Civicus, a reflection of our commitment to community service, which remains central to the legacy of TUSDM.
TUSDM goes beyond oral health to teaching mind-body wellness—an innovative program that further distinguishes the school from its peers. The four-year curriculum now includes a mandatory three-week program for first-year students, as well as sessions on meditation, yoga, exercise, nutrition, sleep disorders, and stress, which are open to the entire school community.
Our faculty and staff are exemplary. We have formed representative advisory councils of both constituencies that have direct access to the dean. And although there is much more that we can accomplish, I believe that this move has significantly improved the communication and working environment of TUSDM. Faculty and staff development programs are in place, new by-laws have been approved and we are nearing completion of our faculty handbook. Reflecting the increasing number of women in our student body, we have benefitted from an influx of female junior faculty and I am particularly proud of the appointment of women to senior leadership positions within the school.
Over the past seven years, I have enjoyed meeting and interacting with our amazing alumni and friends around the world, and relying on their guidance, mentorship and support as we strive to further TUSDM’s reputation of excellence in education, critical care, and global outreach. Through the generous support of our alumni and friends, we have raised more than $23 million over the last five years in support of our campaign priorities, which includes construction of a new entrance, elevator and lobby that will reflect the innovative look and feel of the school above it and help set the tone of openness and warmth for everyone who passes through it.
At our anniversary gala event on September 28, we will celebrate 150 years of building a legacy of excellence in oral health education at TUSDM. It has been an honor to serve as the Dean of TUSDM for the last seven of those 150 years and to lead our school’s efforts in so many important areas. It has been a privilege to work with each one of you in so many different ways, and I thank you sincerely for this opportunity. I look forward to a future for TUSDM as bright and dynamic as its past.