Keeping in Touch

Early in his life, Roger Johansen ’84 saw the importance of building connections. For instance, it was his photography teacher at Rutgers that inspired him to go into dentistry. In another case, he started teaching at Rutgers School of Dental Medicine (RSDM), when his faculty mentor recruited him upon graduation. His students as well as classmates became lifelong friends and colleagues.

Roger Johansen of the Class of 1984
Roger Johansen of the Class of 1984

“If you look at partnerships, jobs, and things like that, a lot of people who meet in dental school stay together for the rest of their careers,” he said. “So dental school relationships are very important.”

Johansen has been strengthening these relationships through the RSDM Alumni Association. At the association’s alumni reunion, he just celebrated his 40th anniversary.

Johansen received his undergraduate degree from Rutgers in 1980. He then attended RSDM for his dental degree as well as his specialty degree in prosthodontics. As he was wrapping up the prosthodontics program, then-Department Chair and Professor Emeritus William Cinotti approached Johansen to join the faculty. Johansen began working full-time at the school while practicing privately on weekends and some evenings. He got involved in the school from serving as an admissions committee member to chairman of the admissions committees to the president of the Alumni Association.

“I was always in the alumni association,” said Johansen for its social aspect of fostering relationships, mentoring, and giving back. “We can build our school and not just forget what it’s done for us, allowing us to have this career.”

 Roger Johansen ’84 with classmates
Johansen (center) with classmates at the 2024 Alumni Reunion. 

His career trajectory was also partly shaped by his mentor, Cinotti. “Bill was my guide through the teaching process,” said Johansen. “He was a wonderful person, a brilliant teacher, and a great department chairman. And he was a good friend.”

To pay it forward, he mentored his own students and also joined the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) as a faculty to be a voice for his colleagues. Since retiring from RSDM in 2021, he has been a labor representative for AAUP. This summer, he’s starting law school online, so he can better represent the faculty union members at Rutgers.

“The school needs people to be involved,” he said. “That's how it runs. You have to get involved, or it doesn't work.”

RSDM alumni can get involved with RSDM in various ways. If interested, please contact Latoya Carroo, alumni engagement and donor relations coordinator, at and visit our calendar for upcoming opportunities to meet fellow alums.