Message From the Interim Dean

WELCOME TO THE SUMMER edition of Explorer, featuring many great things happening in our School of Dentistry. I am so proud of all of our students, staff and faculty for the resilience, persistence and true grit they’ve showed over the past several months. They not only thrived but also rose to the occasion by helping with the COVID vaccine rollout.

Of course, the main mission of our school is to educate and train tomorrow’s dentists, hygienists, specialists and scientists. The major indicator of that success is graduation. This year was a special time in our history as we celebrated with a hooding ceremony on the lawn of the National World War I Museum and Memorial. Just as amazing as this beautiful celebration was the fact that the pandemic restrictions were loosened in Kansas City that same weekend. The symbolism of the event with caps and gowns was made even more special by the hope for a brighter future found in all those smiling faces. We capped off the celebrations with Commencement at Kaufmann Stadium where our graduates were recognized on a stage near home plate – truly amazing!

Alongside our education mission, our university is established to generate new understanding and new ways to translate findings to benefit mankind. Our faculty and students are constantly searching for new and better understandings of health and disease. Our students learn from our world-renown faculty in all the disciplines within the school and the curious mindset of our faculty is contagious. Within this issue of Explorer, we highlight how our alumni take that spirit of curiosity and put it into practice.

A special thanks goes out to everyone who attended this year’s virtual Midwest Dental Conference. After last year’s abrupt cancellation, it was great to see everyone come together – even online! We look forward to hopefully welcoming everyone back in-person for the 2022 conference, April 22-24.

I also want to share news that our school will soon welcome a new dean – Steven E. Haas, D.M.D., J.D., MBA. Coming from University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry in Lincoln, he will join the staff on Aug. 16. We will share more about him in the coming weeks, as well as the fall issue of Explorer. Please join me in welcoming him to the School of Dentistry. And please accept my gratitude for your support given during my time as interim dean. It’s been an honor to lead this exceptional dental school.

I hope this summer finds you and your loved ones as healthy and happy as can be. All of us at your School of Dentistry wish you the best.

With gratitude,

Russell B. Melchert, Ph.D.
Interim Dean, UMKC School of Dentistry