Dental Class of 2024 and Dental Hygiene Class of 2023 Transition into the Profession

Care. Dedication. Trust. Integrity. Respect. Compassion. Responsibility. Self-Improvement.

These were some of the words emphasized by the students and speakers at the annual Transitioning Into the Profession Ceremony.

The ceremony was held at the Unity Temple on the Plaza on Friday, June 3, 2022. The ceremony welcomed the DDS Class of 2024 and DH Class of 2023 to the clinical phase of their educational programs. Dr. Lance Godley, Interim Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs, served as the master of ceremonies, along with Dean Steven Haas who welcomed and shared remarks with the over 1,000 participants in attendance. Each class also choose influential faculty members to provide keynotes. Professor Julie Sutton was chosen by the dental hygiene class and Dr. Luke Wezeman was chosen by the dental class. Following the remarks each class in unison rose to read their respective Code of Ethics, which were then signed by each class member as they crossed the stage after being presented with a white coat (DDS students) or scrubs (DH students). Students left the ceremony with a reaffirmed dedication to their patients, education, each other, and their profession. Family and friends witnesses their affirmation and celebrated the significant step each student has arrived at.  Supporters from several dental organizations contributed to the ceremony and included the following:  Dr. Roy J. Rinehart Memorial Foundation, Dental Hygiene Alumni Association, Dental Alumni Association; Pierre Fauchard Academy, Heart of America Dental Association, Missouri Dental Hygienists’ Association, Missouri Dental Association, Kansas Dental Association, and the Kansas Dental Hygienists’ Association.

Photos from the ceremony at the links below

Candid photos 

DDS Class of 2024 Signing Class Code and Receiving Their White Coats

DDS Class of 2024 Portraits in Their White Coats

DH Class of 2023 Signing Class Code and Receiving Clinic Scrubs

DH Class of 2023 Portraits with their Clinic Scrubs

DDS and DH Class Group Photos





Hooding Ceremony and UMKC Commencement Honor 2022 Dental Grads

Presiding, Dr. Steven Haas, Dean of the School of Dentistry noted “the Hooding Ceremony, this afternoon, and the Commencement Ceremony, on Sunday morning, are important moments for our dental school community to celebrate and recognize the successes and accomplishments of our graduates. This is especially true for the graduates before us today whose education has been so different, on a daily basis, for the last two years due to the worldwide pandemic – a major disruptive force in all our lives but especially in dental education.” Dean Haas acknowledged the numerous commendable class accomplishments, leaders of our student organizations, represented the school at regional and national meetings, volunteered in the local and regional community, participated in oral health outreach through opportunities like Give Kids a Smile, Mission of Mercy, Team Smile, JayDoc, and provided COVID vaccinations through our school dental clinic and the “Our Healthy Eastside Project”. He further notes “you’ve worked hard to fulfill degree requirements, pass boards, jurisprudence exams, and clinical licensure exams. Most importantly, you’ve cared for patients through extramural rotations across the state and while in our school clinic where you treated 7,906 patients. To be at this point in your journey has required a great deal of dedication, sacrifice, resilience, effort, humbleness, stretching, care, and accomplishment. I know that everyone here is in agreement when we say we are so proud of you!”

The class will be heading off for new challenges Missouri, Kansas, throughout the U.S., and even across the globe in Kuwait! Your plans include:

5 graduates who will be serving in the military
12 graduates who will be entering positions in public health clinics
49 graduates entering private practice
27 graduates entering a specialty/residency program
7 Advanced Education in General Dentistry Residency
9 General Practice Residency
7 Pediatric Dentistry Residency
1 Periodontics Residency
2 Orthodontics Residency
1 Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Residency
2 Oral Surgery Fellowship Residency

The ceremony included the special tradition honoring graduates entering the United States military upon graduation. The commissioning of the 2 uniformed dental graduates and oath were administered by Dr. Derek Williams, Commander, United States Navy Reserves, and Associate Professor, Department of Restorative Clinical Sciences.

Dean Haas shared a bit of the history, tradition and significance of the regalia, the cap, gown and hood before each graduate was called forward by name.

The hooding was performed Dr. Eric Gottman, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Restorative Clinical Sciences and Team 2 Coordinator or a family member that is a dental alum or dentist.

The Dean’s Academic Distinction Award was presented to Dr.) Katherine Hayes, honoring the graduate who completed the dental curricula with the highest academic rank.
Each year the graduating class recognizes a faculty member whom they selected as the most influential to their development as dental professionals. (Dr.) Nicole Kurlbaum, Class President, offered remarks and presented the 2022 Teacher of Excellence Award to Dr. Becky Smith, Clinical Professor, Department of Restorative Clinical Sciences and Team 1 Coordinator.

A  reception followed and UMKC’s Commencement ceremony was held at Kauffman Stadium on Sunday.

Find photos from the hooding event and reception here.

Photos from the military commissioning ceremony here.

Photos of the grads being hooded.

Portraits of the dental grads from the hooding ceremony are here.

Class group photo.

Photos of dental school grads taken at UMKC Commencement at the “K” here.


Midwest Dental Conference Welcomes Alums and Friends – Friday Events

Friday began by welcoming MDC’s more than 2,500 attendees to the learning sessions. Day two of this four-day conference offered attendees 70 top-notch technical exhibits, as well as Continuing Education sessions with topics like digital impressions and new 3D technology, better ways to give personal and customized care to patients, and even how to spot obstructive sleep apnea and save lives. As the evening began, a special happy hour gave attendees more chances to connect, followed by the ever-popular Friday night Welcome Party. This year, the party served as an opportunity for many to meet the new dean, Steven E. Haas, D.M.D., J.D., M.B.A.  Photos from the day here.

Omicron Kappa Upsilon and Sigma Phi Alpha 2022 Inductees Honored

UMKC Omicron Kappa Upsilon (OKU), Rho Chapter and Sigma Phi Alpha (SPA) Alpha Gamma chapter, 2022 inductees and scholarship recipients were honored April 20th, at a joint dinner and induction ceremony, an annual school tradition, at the Grand Street Cafe in Kansas City.  OKU President, Dr. John Ball presided.  The “charge” was delivered by Dr. Steven Haas, Dean of the School of Dentistry and the officers-elect for both organizations were inducted.

Sigma Phi Alpha
Alpha Gamma Chapter Officers, 2021-2022
President  Julie Sutton
Past President  Tamra Hoffman
Secretary-Treasurer  Katie Baker

* Scholarship Awards *
Annual Chapter Award
Kennedy Bauer

R. Lois Scott Award
Tawnya Guthrie

* Initiates *
Ryann Flax
Brandie Simonsen
Alex Tucker

* Degree Completion *
Kaylynn Stratton

*MSDH Education*
Vicky Kishinevsky

Rho Chapter Officers, 2021-202
President  Dr. John Ball
President Elect  Dr. Rebeca Weisleder Urow
Vice-President  Dr. Ken Frick
Secretary-Treasurer  Dr. David Thein

* Scholarship Awards *
William S. Kramer Award
Jacky Lung

Richard Ackerman OKU Scholarship Awards
Lane Anderson
Maria Bieber
Blake Clarke
Josie DuBois
Nathan Gamache
Katie Jehle
Alyssa Ly
Naiya Patel
Alec Piwowarczyk
Nathan Romme
Claire Simon

* Initiates *
Megan Bearden
Sam Bertholf
Bryce Boyd
Megan Ching
Ryan Greenway
Katie Hayes
Stephanie Kubik
Samantha Mahaffey
Taylar Morgan
Molly Petrie
Mikayla Stevens
Devon Whyte

* Faculty Initiates *
Dr. Juliana Redford

Photos from the event here.

Acknowledging Excellence – Student Council 2022 Faculty, Staff and Student Awards Recognition and Reception

The School of Dentistry recently hosted their annual reception and recognition event to honor faculty, staff and students who go above and beyond.  The honorees are selected by each respective Dental and Dental hygiene class and are presented with a memento of appreciation.  Following are this year’s recipients.

DDS Class of 2022:
Dr. Narayanan Sreenivasan | Rotation Faculty of Year
Dr. Harlan Hassen | Team 1 Faculty of the Year
Dr. Todd Brower | Team 2 Faculty of the Year
Dr. Timothy Wezeman | Team 3 Faculty of the Year
Jonathan Wright | Staff of the Year
Katie Hayes | Student of the Year
Roda Mena| Dr. John Killip Student Leadership Award

DDS Class of 2023:
Dr. Solon Kao | Rotation Faculty of Year
Dr. Becky Smith | Team 1 Faculty of the Year
Dr. Todd Brower | Team 2 Faculty of the Year
Dr. Timothy Wezeman | Team 3 Faculty of the Year
Jonathan Wright | Staff of the Year
Brandon Ortega | Student of the Year

DDS Class of 2024:
Dr. Timothy Wezeman | Lecture Faculty of the Year
Dr. Timothy Wezeman | Pre-clinical Lab Faculty of the Year
Claire Tira | Staff of the Year
Nicole Riggs | Student of the Year

DDS Class of 2025:
Dr. Mark Johnson | Lecture Faculty of the Year
Dr. Gustavo Leal | Pre-clinical Lab Faculty of the Year
Claire Tira | Staff of the Year
Nik Wickerhauser | Student of the Year

DH Class of 2022:
Professor Tanya Mitchell | Lecture Faculty of the Year
Dr. Kim Bray | Clinical Faculty of the Year
Tammy Woods | Staff of the Year
Brandie Simonsen | Student of the Year

DH Class of 2023:
Professor Julie Sutton | Lecture Faculty of the Year
Dr. Kim Bray | Clinical Faculty of the Year
Professor Tamra Hoffman | Staff of the Year
Shairry Lene | Student of the Year

Find photos from the event here

Remembering Dr. Bob Cowan

It is also with a heavy heart that we heard Dr. Robert David Cowan, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, passed away on Sunday, March 6, 2022, at the age of 86. He was born in Detroit on February 20, 1936, to Eugene C. Cowan and Lillian E. Cowan. Bob graduated from Cooley High School in Detroit in 1954. After two years at Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois, he transferred to the University of Michigan where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1958 and a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 1961.

In 1958, he met Margaret Helmer of Grand Rapids, Michigan, at Upper Peninsula Bible Camp where they were summer workers. They were married three years later at Eastern Avenue Gospel Chapel in Grand Rapids and left immediately for Washington, DC, for Bob’s one-year dental internship. Because of the draft, he was commissioned as an officer in the United States Air Force in 1962.

After tours in England and Limestone, Maine, Bob was able to complete post-graduate studies at the University of Texas in Houston and Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio, receiving his Master of Science degree in 1972. Future assignments were in Washington, D.C., Thailand, California, Texas and Florida, where he retired in 1987 as Colonel after serving for 25 years.

Desiring to stay active, he accepted the position as Director of the Advanced Education in General Dentistry Program here at UMKC. Respected by patients and colleagues as a gentleman of the highest order, Dr. Cowan was first and foremost a clinician.  If you needed to locate him, you could be assured he was chairside with the residents, never leaving for the day until the last patient was completed.  Bob served in this position from 1987 until his retirement in September 1999.

During this time, he was awarded tenure, received a sizeable grant to expand the AEGD program, and was honored with the Elmer F Pierson Award for excellence in teaching. Upon his retirement, Dr. Cowan was acknowledged by his peers with an appointment as Associate Professor Emeritus.

In 2000, Bob and Margaret moved to the Chicago area to be near their daughter and son-in-law and two granddaughters, all of whom he loved dearly. Bob was a loving husband, father and grandfather. He is survived by his wife, Margaret, his daughter and son-in-law, Marilyn and Eric Enstrom, his granddaughter and grandson-in-law, Alicia and Grant Coulson, and granddaughter Nicole Enstrom.



Celebrating Scholarship and Generosity

The School of Dentistry annually gathers to recognize and celebrate the scholarships awarded to our students and the generous donors who support these scholarships.

Due to the pandemic, we were unable to gather as in the past but don’t want to let this important recognition pass. To highlight the incredible scholarship support, the Rinehart Foundation, Dental and Dental Hygienists’ Alumni Associations, and the School released in early March this video of appreciation. We invite you to take a few moments to watch and hear the gratitude from members of our community.

To further recognize the student recipients and donors, we prepared a slideshow that includes each award and recipient.  View the slide show here.

This year we accomplished an incredible feat together, our students received the largest amount of scholarship dollars in our history totaling $1,082,740!  This is amazing and our students will be impacted for the rest of their lives by the support.  Here is a breakdown of this year’s award amounts.

    • Total Number of Student Recipients:  195
    • Total Dollars from Rinehart:  $767,060
    • Total Dollars from DDS Alumni Association:  $1,880
    • Total Dollars from DH Alumni Association:  $15,000
    • Total University Held:  $153,800
    • Total Outside Scholarships:  $145,000
    • Total Dollars Our Students Received:  $1,082,740

The UMKC School of Dentistry is lucky to have such strong supporters of scholarships and this wouldn’t be possible without the Roy J. Rinehart Foundation, the Dental Alumni Association, the Dental Hygiene Alumni Association, and our many outside partners.  Our appreciation to all our donors and scholarship partners for their committment to giving back and congratulations to our student recipients.  When the time comes we hope you will do the same for future students.  THANK YOU!

On With The Show

The Annual Faculty, Staff and Student Variety Show was held on February 25th, 2022 before an enthusiastic and very receptive audience.

The program featured an array of musical talent from members of the School of Dentistry and was hosted by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Student National Dental Association/Hispanic Student Dental Association (SNDA/HSDA).

This year’s event was emceed by Sunghee Choi, DDS 2022, and featured:
Casey Aschinger, DDS 2023 – guitar and vocals; “Fast Cars” by Tracy Chapman and “Coffee Shop on First Street” by Aschinger.
Erin Gilmore, Biomedical Communications – “How could I ever know” from the Secret Garden (video performance)
Brenda Everhart, Dental Clinic – “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Carousel and “Cry Out to Jesus” by Third Day
Anh Nguyen, DDS 2023 – guitar and vocals; “River” by Bishop Briggs
Luke Komotos, DDS 2022 – ukulele and vocals; “Picture” by Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow
John Cottrell, Director of Minority Special Programs – “Going Up Yonder” by Edwin Hawkins and “Only for One Night” by Luther Vandross.
Adbullah Akbar, DDS 2023 – “Umbrella” by Rhianna (video performance)
Shanon Black, DDS 2022 – parody performance of “Surface Pressure” from Encanto, with Dr. Todd Brower, Assistant Clinical Professor, Dr. Linda Seabaugh, Clinical Assistant Professor, Dr. Sarah Dunlap, Assistant Clinical Professor, Dr. Like Wezeman, Clinical Assistant Professor (all faculty in the Department of Restorative Clinical Sciences) and Stephanie Stewart-Towns, Office of Clinical Programs, on props and as background dancers.

Photos here.

UMKC SNDA/HSDA Hosts Impressions Day

The UMKC chapter of the Student National Dental Association hosted an Impression Day, Saturday, February 5, 2022, an event hosted by SNDA chapters across the country to increase exposure to underrepresented minority students to dentistry as a profession and the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) program. A hybrid event which included current dental students and faculty, twenty-five attended in person and fifty virtually via Zoom.

Breakfast was followed by an admissions presentation by Richard Bigham, Associate Dean for Student Affairs; Jimi Sode, Senior Manager of Dental Admission; and Jennifer Pennington, Enrollment Service Coordinator, all from UMKC. Scott Guerrero, STHAR Director, presented an overview of the STHAR program hosted at UMKC followed by John L. Cottrell, Director of Minority and Special Programs who discussed program requirements.  Participants were introduced to a dental student panel that focused on Student Life: Drew Dean, DDS Class of 2022, Precious Hollins, DDS Class of 2024; Dean Mohammadi, DDDS Class of 2024 and Vanessa Sena, DDS Class of 2024 panel. A second student panel, Lena Adams, DDS Class of 2022 Blake Echols, DDS Class of 2023, Francisco Flores, DDS Class of 2024, Daniel Archibong, DDS Class of 2024; and Anh Nguyen, DDS Class of 2024 provided DAT test taking tips and Applicant interview suggestions.

At noon, attendees participated in a drawing for a variety of door prized. The big prize was a DAT Boot Camp Certificate, followed by lunch and a Mock Grand Round Presentation given by Rukevwe Erhenede, DDS Class of 2022, and former SNDA/HSDA President.

SNDA/HSDA members gave those attending in person a tour of the school and then they had the opportunity to participate in hands on lab experience where they made the preparation for a dental filling on a plastic tooth.  The day concluded with remarks by Shonte Reed, DDS Class of 2024, President of SNDA/HSDA and Andrew Thompkins, DDS Class of 2024, Vice-President of SNDAHSDA.

Here are some participant comments highlighting the success of the event taken from an anonymous follow-up survey
• You guys were so helpful
• I appreciate the hard work that went into the Impressions Day
• I loved the transparency, honesty, and boldness.
• The workshop flowed well. I wish I could have been there in person

Photos here.

Retirees Recognized

Three faculty and staff retirees were recognized at this year’s Staff Holiday Lunch. Each were presented with a personalized memento commemorating their service and retirement. The keepsake features a picture of the school that includes well wishes from colleagues and students.  Because of the pandemic, they were previously recognized at a virtual event but it was wonderful honoring some of them in-person. Those included:

Sharon Codilla (38 years)
Senior dental assistant
Dental Faculty Practice

Lynn Prine (8 years)
Senior dental assistant
Radiology Clinic, Department of Oral Pathology, Radiology and Medicine

Dr. Richard Prine (DDS ’73, 26 years)
Clinical associate professor
Department of Restorative Clinical Sciences

Read more about their virtual retirement event and others that were recognized at