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
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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