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Around Campus: Volume 4

"Bonehead" to Brilliant

by Jim Delahanty, D.M.D. ('75)

Awards, trophies, the occasional pat on the back. Everyone needs to be recognized for a job well done and to be reminded that it is OK to blunder once in awhile, as long as lessons are learned from the mistakes. With awards given by two New Jersey Dental School professors, students are up for public recognition at both ends of the spectrum.

The "Thinker Award" is presented to students whose work dazzles Dr. Patrick Quaranta (D'72), associate professor of clinical Oral Pathology, Biology and Diagnostic Sciences (OPBDS). "Insight, independent thought, clinical judgment, and seeing the big picture. Call it what you will, this is what teachers hope for in their students," he says. "If during a clinical activity I am surprised by a student's wisdom and level of thought beyond what I would normally expect at that stage of his or her education, I award them with 'The Thinker.'"

The 12-inch award, a replica of Auguste Rodin's famous sculpture, is proudly displayed at the recipient's dental unit for a week. Dr. Quaranta says he came up with the idea of "The Thinker" in response to the marsupial award given by Dr. Robert Flinton, professor of clinical Prosthodontics and Biomaterials and a diplomate of the American Board of Prosthodontics.
On this flip slide, Dr. Flinton takes a different approach to his pedagogy. "Dental school is one of the most stressful environments I know. We place tremendous pressure on these young people, and in turn, they place even greater pressure upon themselves," he says. "No one is perfect, and we all make mistakes. That is the basis for my 'DUMB' award."

If during a clinic session, a pre-clinic lab, or in the lecture hall a student is guilty of a particularly boneheaded moment, Dr. Flinton presents the individual with a stuffed toy kangaroo. Thus, the Distinguished Union of Marsupial Brotherhood was formed, more casually referred to as the "DUMB" award.

"I think it is important that at a time of stress and public embarrassment, we take a step back, take stock of the situation, and have a good laugh, even if it is at our own expense," says Dr. Flinton. "The 'DUMB' award is not an attempt to belittle or ridicule. On the contrary, I am trying to get everyone to reflect, think, laugh-and then move on. There is no sense in worrying about what is done, but we should learn from our mistakes."

Indeed, students don't perceive Dr. Flinton's award as cruel or intimidating. The recipient takes care of the kangaroo until the professor passes on the award. The kangaroo, which may be displayed on the student's dental unit, has been taken to student dances, parties, and even on vacation. When recently seen, the kangaroo, her baby safely tucked in her pouch, was adorned with Mardi Gras beads.
Dr. Quaranta and Dr. Flinton are award winners themselves, with the tables turned somewhat. They both were chosen by NJDS students to receive the "IQ" Teaching Award, named in memory of Dr. Irwin Quinn, and the Foundation of UMDNJ's Excellence in Teaching Award.

Although Dr. Quaranta's and Dr. Flinton's styles differ, the results are the same. Two excellent educators, who enjoy teaching, are interacting with students and providing the necessary pat on the back.

 

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A Tip of the Hat to Top Students

by Jim Delahanty, D.M.D. ('75)

"We ask for excellence from our students at NJDS, and when it is achieved, we must be ready to celebrate it," says Dean Saporito.

The academic accomplishments of 60 high-achieving New Jersey Dental School students were recognized last October at the inaugural Dean's Scholarship Reception hosted by Dean Robert Saporito.
Omega Omega Chapter of Omicron Kappa Upsilon, the national dental honor society, was instrumental in developing a "Dean's List" to identify the top-achieving students. "Any student who earned a grade point average of 3.5 or above during the 1997-98 academic year made the 'Dean's List' and was invited to the reception," explains Dr. Gary Vitaletti (D'72), president of Omega Omega Chapter. "This will be an annual event at NJDS, and I look forward to congratulating the next recipients."

The student honorees were:

Class of 1999

Fabio G. Apolito; Donna M. Babyak; Edward N. Burg; Maura E. Conniff; Joshua Z. Epstein; Scott D. Galkin; Patricia A. Gardner; Lauren C. Hebel; Jennifer D. Huether; Chi F. Ip; Jason B. Karns; Minah Kim; Ricki H. Krantz; Gabrielle C. Larrea; David A. Lipani; John F. Mielo: Yelena Nutskovsky; Suzanne M. Quigley; Nina D. Ranaldi-O'Connell.

Class of 2000

Gail-Ann Allen; Suzanne Bunn; Tonigail Castaldi: Michael J. Cisar; Jason H. Deblinger; Brad J. Elkin; Mario Frangiskou; Sonal J. Gandhi; Paula A. Gencarelli; Dov Hook; Sharon Kaminetzky; Irina Lekht; Manolis G. Manolakakis; Cory J. Metzger; Edward M. Millward; John Panzarino; Ernesta Parisi; Zev Schulhof.

Class of 2001

Agnieszka D. Bara; James C. Byrne; David J. Caggiano; Michael Cicalese; Darryl S. Engel; Fariba Farrokhi; Tara L. Gostovich; Melissa Grieder; David Kallus; Stephen L. Kao; Christopher G. Kaplan; Alison H. Lee; Gerardo Linarducci; Jason H. Lizzack; Robert Lorino; Rene Majsiak; Anup Muduli; Jonathan A. Nitche; Derek R. Noonan; Sarah C. Rich; Andrew T. Ruvo; Adam B. Schulhof; Blanca I. Soto.

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Murphy's Law: A Dental Check-Up Every Six Months

by Jim Delahanty, D.M.D. ('75)

In 1968, Anthony Murphy fell and chipped his tooth. "The elementary school dentist told me that the tooth might need a root canal and a cap," recalls his mother, Mary Murphy. "With five other children, I simply could not afford this treatment." At the recommendation of her family physician, Mrs. Murphy brought her son to NJDS, then located in Jersey City.

That was the beginning of a 30-year relationship. Mrs. Murphy was so impressed with the care and attention her son received, she became a patient herself. One of the most active recall patients at the school, she recently finished having a new set of partial dentures made under the supervision of Dr. Peter Kudyba ('60), clinical professor of Prosthodontics and Biomaterials.

"Loyal patients like Mrs. Murphy deserve recognition and thanks," says Dr. Kudyba. "So I talked to Dean Robert Saporito about having a little party to celebrate her 30 years at NJDS."

Last October, Dr. Saporito did just that. When she arrived for her recall appointment, Mrs. Murphy was surprised with a cake, balloons, a bevy of well wishers, and a "Certificate of Loyalty," which was presented by the dean.

"I want to thank all the doctors and students who took care of me and my son all these years," said Mrs. Murphy. "I have always appreciated their honesty and sincerity."

Greater New York Dental Meeting

Greater NY Dental Meeting
Cocktail Reception
Well upwards of 200 alumni guests attended.
"Don't miss it this December"

 

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Student's Notebook

There has been a lot of activity at UMDNJ-New Jersey Dental School since I last addressed you in this column. The best way to handle all of this, I believe, is chronologically. The school graduated 68 students in May 1998, 51 of whom went on to graduate dental education residencies. Of that 51, more than 90% were matched to their first choice. Our current seniors hope to maintain the same level of success.

In August, the Class of 2002 began its tenure at NJDS. This entering class is the first in the school's history to have males as its minority component. Yes, this year's first-year class is composed of 41 females and 40 males.

September and October were very busy months as the school made the final preparations for the accreditation site visit of October 13-15. As the school was dressed up for the October visit (e.g., walls painted, floors tiled, furniture replaced, and signs posted), the students put forth their best efforts to impress the accreditation committee. On the visits to the clinics, all of the students, staff, and faculty worked seamlessly to maintain optimal infection control and treatment of the patients.

The final result was that the school did not receive a single recommendation. The committee found no major flaws in our documentation, curriculum, or clinical work. This has been a great source of pride for everyone. It will only enhance the school's reputation and the value of our degrees. As Dr. Saporito said during his congratulatory address, we have much to be proud of and much to still accomplish.
November brought with it the second annual Family Day for first-year students and their families. Though the preparatory time was cut short this year because of accreditation, it was, nonetheless, a resounding success. The turnout surpassed last year's with more than 400 attendees, and several stations were added to the line up. In addition to radiology, intraoral photography, and gross anatomy stops, this year's program included prosthodontic, clinical, and computer stations. Unfortunately, the pre-clinical stop was literally a washout, as a water main break flooded the pre-clinic and surrounding areas. But that didn't dampen (excuse the pun) the spirits of the day.

The computer station was most interesting as Dr. Fotinos Panagakos ('92) displayed the school's new web site, which was constructed under the direction of Dr. Cheryl Biber ('78). This exciting new project allows anyone to find out information about NJDS, from vital statistics to admissions to continuing education courses. Please visit the site at www.umdnj.edu/njdsweb. As you enter the site, you'll notice that there is a little Martian who guides you through the "Best School in the Universe." There is currently a contest to name this guide; fittingly, the winner will receive a lap-top computer.
November also ended with tremendous excitement as the New Jersey Dental Association (NJDA) House of Delegates voted unanimously to approve NJDS as a component of NJDA. We were only the second school in the country to be awarded such a distinction from its state dental society. Students will now have an even greater chance to participate in organized dentistry and will be allowed to sit on each of the Association's dozen or so councils, such as the Council on the New Dentist and the Council on the Annual NJDA Convention.

This is my last chance to address you as Student Government President. Let me take this opportunity to say what an honor it has been to work with the administration, faculty, and most especially my friends and colleagues in the student body, as we try to ensure that a degree from NJDS is respected and recognized wherever our paths take us.

Christopher J. Perry
NJDS Student Government President

 

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