GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Jose E. Medina, D.D.S., former dean of the University of Florida College of Dentistry and UF assistant vice president for facilities planning and operations, died Thursday (July 19). He was 81.
Medina, who arrived at the College of Dentistry in 1967 as associate dean and a professor of clinical dentistry, served as dean from 1969 to 1974, the college’s formative years. He supervised the development of an innovative, self-paced dental curriculum and spearheaded faculty recruitment initiatives. Under Medina’s watch, the college’s first class of dental students was admitted in 1972 and, in the summer of 1974, three members of that charter class were the first students in state history to deliver dental care to Florida residents.
Medina helped shape the character of the Health Science Center campus. He was appointed director of health center space planning and utilization in 1974, and was promoted to UF assistant vice president for facilities planning and operations in 1976, a position he held for 10 years. Medina was instrumental in guiding facilities planning and implementation during the historic “Project I” expansion of the Health Science Center campus. Project I encompassed construction of the Dental Sciences Building, the Communicore Building and facilities to house the College of Veterinary Medicine. He retired from the university in 2000 as a professor of operative dentistry.
Medina was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, in 1926 and entered undergraduate studies at Johns Hopkins University in 1942 as a gifted 16-year-old. He was accepted by the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery at the University of Maryland in 1944 at the age of 18, and graduated cum laude in 1948. He joined the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery faculty after graduation, eventually attaining the position of assistant dean and professor of operative dentistry before leaving to join UF.
Medina’s teaching career spanned more than 50 years, and he was a mentor to students, practitioners and dental educators worldwide.
Medina’s numerous honors and awards included the Florida Dental Association’s Distinguished Service Award, the George M. Hollenback Memorial Award from the Academy of Operative Dentistry, the Distinguished Faculty Award from Florida Blue Key, the UF College of Dentistry’s Teacher of the Year Award, and Knight Commander, Order of Bernardo O’Higgins, Republic of Chile.
Medina is survived by his wife, Glinda Medina; three children, Lee Medina Lovette and her husband, Jerry Lovette; Rick Medina and his wife, Teina Phillips; and Ginny Medina Wagner; two stepchildren, Karla Dyer and her husband, Greg, and Aaron Neeper; 10 grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and his brother, Dr. Eduardo Medina and his wife, Sylvia.
He was preceded in death by his first wife, Betty Lee Mansfield Medina, and by his second wife, Patricia Fay Pachler Medina.
Funeral services will be private, but friends and colleagues are invited to a celebration of Medina’s life, which will be held at 10 a.m. Aug. 2 at Trinity United Methodist Church, 4000 N.W. 53rd Ave., Gainesville. A reception will follow.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that contributions be made to the Climb for Cancer Foundation’s “Butterfly Connection.” 5745 S.W. 75th St., #317, Gainesville, FL 32608. The Butterfly Connection provides free admission to the Florida Museum of Natural History’s Butterfly Rainforest for cancer patients and their caregivers.