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A Chapter Closes For An NJDS Original

by Jim Delahanty ('75)

After 40 years of association with the New Jersey Dental School, Dr. Peter Kudyba ('60) has decided it is time to put away the Hanau torch and the #7 wax spatula. Yet even retirement cannot dim the mark made by one of the dental school's 38 original alumni.

After graduating from Fordham University in 1953, Dr Kudyba spent two years in the Army as a medical laboratory technician. He was stationed in Germany. "I knew I wanted to go to dental school, so I began sending in applications," recalls Dr. Kudyba. "I heard a new dental school was opening in New Jersey, so I sent my application. I was pleased to receive a letter from Seton Hall asking me to report for an interview in March 1956. Unfortunately, I had to write back that I was not scheduled to be discharged from the Army until July, so I could not accept the interview."

"I thought that was the end of it, but to my surprise, I received another letter on July 25­five days after I was discharged­asking me to report for an interview on August 1. Since I was still living in Germany with my wife, Margaret, I had to scramble to put together the money for plane fare back to the States. A month later I started dental school."

The dental student graduated from the Seton Hall College of Medicine and Dentistry on June 4, 1960, and started his career two days later as a clinical instructor in the Department of Prosthodontics.

"Working at the school was great, but I knew I also wanted to go into private practice. It took two years to scrape together the money to finally start a private practice in Parsippany, New Jersey," explains Dr. Kudyba. "For the next 22 years I enjoyed the best of both worlds, teaching part time and practicing dentistry."

In 1981, Dr. Kudyba was asked to play a greater role at NJDS when he received a full-time appointment as director of patient services. "At this point, I decided it was time to sell my private practice," he says. A year later, he was made chairman of the Department of Oral Diagnosis and Radiology.

During his four decades at NJDS, Dr. Kudyba has never been shy about stepping forward and taking a leadership role. In addition to being a department chairman, he has served as president of the Faculty Academic Assembly, president of the Dental Alumni Association, president of Omicron Kappa Upsilon, and chairman of numerous standing committees at the school.

Dr. Kudyba's scholarly activities included being principal investigator or co-investigator for numerous research grants and author or co-author of many publications. "I am particularly proud of the 'Medal of Commendation' I received from the University of Warsaw in 1990 for my participation and role in the organization of an international symposium, 'Doing Business in Eastern Europe-Doing Business in the American Mid-West,'" says Dr. Kudyba. Perhaps one of his most unique contributions was representing the Colgate-Palmolive Company and delivering a lecture on removable partial dentures in Polish at a dental convention in Poland in September 1997.

After stepping down as department chairman in 1988, Dr. Kudyba was instrumental in the development of the current group practice program at NJDS. He was appointed senior group practice administrator. "Our clinical program has always been the backbone of our curriculum and has provided NJDS with national recognition," Dr. Kudyba explains proudly.

And so on June 30, Dr. Kudyba will end a chapter in a memorable book. "I've seen them come and I've seen them go," observes Dr. Kudyba. "I am happy to have been part of this great school from its inception."

Editor's Note: Plans are under way for a retirement dinner to honor Dr. Kudyba on June 15 at Mayfair Farms in West Orange. Any alumnus interested in attending should contact Ms. Yvonne Sherrill in the Department of Prosthodontics and Biomaterials at (973) 972-2192.

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