Everyone is looking ahead to the Millennium: computer scientists grappling with the Year 2000 issue; party planners; politicians vying to become the first U.S. president of the 21st century; and even doomsday predictors. While I don't claim to be clairvoyant, I did share some insight with the NJDS Class of 2001 last fall at Convocation. Now, I'd like to share these thoughts with the alumni.
"I'd like to assure youif you have any doubtsthat you are preparing to enter a great profession. You have heard of all the gloom and doom that permeates the daily lives of practicing dentists and how terrible the future will be compared to the 'good old days.' In reality, those of us who knew the good old days may have difficulty adapting to the challenges and the changing face of the profession. Those of us who can and do adapt know that these are the good days of dentistry."
"Never forget that dentists are uniquely trainedprofessionally and morallyto do our jobs and care for our patients. No one else is permitted to do what we are trained to do. If we allow individuals, corporations, institutions, or government agencies to take our futures away from us, we have no one to blame but ourselves. No one forces you to compromise your values and ethics. No one forces you to engage in practices that are detrimental to your successyou do so willingly. You sacrifice your potential voluntarily."
"That said about your future as dentists, let me speak on your more immediate future as dental students. The student body is this university's most valuable resource, and the Alumni Association looks upon you as ambassadors in its goal to foster, maintain, and enhance the reputation of the New Jersey Dental School."
"As students and our ambassadors, you have a responsibilityto embrace a desire for success and achievement. Your professional success directly relates to your level of clinical and didactic achievement: to be ordinary is easyexcellence requires commitment. We want you to be disciplined. Long hours are the rule, not the exception. We want you to be both caring and dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, so learn."
"Learning is an attitude and a process, not a final destination. You are a student the rest of your professional life. I commend and recognize your efforts as you progress through this difficult curriculum, and I applaud your professors for their dedication to excellence. Of the many things we hold in common, one transcends all othersan appreciation for knowledge and how it can enrich our lives."
"Look around you. These buildings are steel, concrete, and glass. Yet they are merely a facade. You are the New Jersey Dental School. Together, we are the profession of dentistry. Your individual success reflects on all of us. Collectively, your academic performance and level of achievement fosters, maintains, and enhances the school's reputation. Like it or not, you are responsible for our reputation. We stand ready to give you an opportunity to show what you can do."
"The Alumni Association has its own role. Our mission is to promote the welfare of the University, its graduates, and the profession of dentistry. We strive to maintain a high standard in continuing education and assist in establishing and maintaining scholarship awards, endowments, and memorial foundations. We work to improve alumni-university relationships through programs designed to foster high levels of academic, ethical, and clinical standards. And we do these things knowing that the foundation of the continuing success of the university, the Alumni Association, and the dental profession rests in the student body."
"On behalf of the Alumni Association, I welcome you. We want your idealism, your questions, and your challenges. We want your criticisms of things that are not working well. We want your energy, your enthusiasm, your drive. We welcome you now and after graduation."
Joseph A. Battaglia, D.M.D. ('79), President, New Jersey Dental School Alumni Association