AAF/Class Leaders Meeting

It’s June 2021 and, while we’re inching toward normal in Florida, we are not quite there yet. So on June 23, just before the Florida Dental Association Convention in Orlando, we hosted a Zoom meeting for our Academy of Alumni & Friends Board & Class Leaders to accommodate those who are unable to travel to Orlando for the annual meeting.

Dean A. Isabel Garcia, UF College of Dentistry
Dean Isabel Garcia, D.D.S., M.P.H.

Dean Isabel Garcia provided an update about the college including programmatic highlights of the education, research and patient care/service missions.

  • The DMD Class of 2025 begins orientation on August 25. The 93 class members were selected from 1,600 applications.
  • Despite the pandemic, UF dental students volunteered more than 6,000 hours which is exemplary considering that many volunteer opportunities were paused during the height of the pandemic.
  • UFCD completed 111,000 patient visits during the 2020 fiscal year and, through the UF Statewide Network for Community Oral Health, cared for patients from all 67 counties in Florida.
  • During COVID-19 vaccination events, faculty, students, residents and staff volunteered 320 hours in the community, and also volunteered going door-to-door to help educate people about the available vaccines.
  • UFCD’s research enterprise is 7th among all U.S. dental schools in NIH funding; 4th among public institutions in National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) funding.
  • Five UFCD researchers are working on three new projects related to COVID-19.
  • The UFCD Summer Research Program includes 10 students and mentors this year, a record number. Participating students spend 10 weeks during the summer executing a research project and deliver their findings in an oral presentation.
Carson Smith, DMD Class of 2022 President
Carson Smith, President, DMD Class of 2022

Carson Smith, president of the DMD Class of 2022, was in his sophomore year when COVID-19 tilted the world. Now, heading into his senior year, he joined the meeting and shared his perceptions about how it affected his educational path.

“I feel like that university and the college adapted well to the circumstances. College leadership really came together and quickly moved our didactic learning online, and front-loaded our curriculum so that it would free our time to be in clinics when we were able to return to campus,” Smith said.

Smith said that he and his classmates appreciated frequent communications from leadership at UF, UF Health and UFCD, as well as weekly meetings between students and UFCD administration, “They listened to our input and made changes where they could.”

Smith also thanked the alumni leadership for the various ways that AAF funds help support student events and programs, particularly for scholarship support without which, he said, many of his classmates would not be able to afford their dental education.

Photo of Richard Miller
Rick Miller, Senior Director of Development

Rick Miller, senior director of development, reported that UFCD alumni traditionally give back at rates that are higher than other UF colleges. During the last fiscal year, 7.85 percent of the dental alumni made gifts to the college or the university, and that UFCD received a total of $3.8 million in gifts and grants.

Miller announced two new funds created during the past year, both to honor former or current faculty members.

The Dr. Henry A. Gremillion Memorial Fund was created in honor of Gremillion who passed away in May 2020. The fund is intended to support college programing and lectures that focus on pain management, particularly orofacial pain, an area of treatment for which Gremillion was known as a worldwide expert.

Another new fund, the Dr. Cecil White Jr. Scholars Fund, supports scholarships for dental students who have demonstrated commitment to breaking down recognized barriers for those who are underrepresented in the dental profession and in our college. White is a UFCD alumni who also serves as a courtesy faculty member in periodontology.

UFCD Commencement
During the UFCD 2021 Commencement on May 14, held in the O’Connell Center, the university conferred 87 dental degrees and recognized 61 residents who completed advanced education programs.

Miller also shared plans for the 2021 Dental Fall Weekend, November 12 and 13, which features DMD class reunions, a continuing dental education program, a pre-game tailgate party and, of course, the UF Gators vs. Samford University Bulldogs football game.

For more information about how you can support the UF College of Dentistry through engagement or giving, please contact:

Rick Miller, Senior Director of Advancement
UF College of Dentistry / P.O. Box 100405
352-273-5779 / rwmiller@dental.ufl.edu

Abel Gilbert, Development Coordinator
UF College of Dentistry / P.O. Box 100405
352-273-5780 / agilbert@dental.ufl.edu