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Harvard University

Updated: 2009-12-16 10:52:27

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Front Stairs fo Harvard Dental School


The first university-based dental school in the country, Harvard Dental School was founded in 1867. It was also the first to be established in close affiliation with a medical school (Harvard Medical School) and to make the full scholarly and scientific resources of a university available to dental education.

In 1940, under President James B. Conant, the School was reorganized as Harvard School of Dental Medicine to place stronger emphasis on the biological basis of oral medicine and to institute multidisciplinary programs of dental research. A unique feature of the curriculum placed dental students in joint classes with medical students for two years of basic science and pathophysiology and for an introduction to clinical medicine on the wards of Harvard teaching hospitals and in community health centers.

In 1957, the School of Dental Medicine was awarded National Institute of Dental Research training grant funding and began to expand and enhance its postdoctoral educational programs, combining advanced clinical and biomedical research training for dentists planning careers in academic dentistry. Several postdoctoral programs were developed under the leadership of former dean, Dr. Paul Goldhaber. These include a four-year Doctor of Medical Sciences in Oral Biology program; a five and six-year Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery/MD/General Surgery program; and a group of three and four-year, joint-degree programs combining advanced clinical training and research in health-care systems, health policy or biomedical sciences.

A message from Dean Bruce Donoff, D.M.D., M.D.

Dean of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine
Walter C. Guralnick Distinguished Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

Speech Given at the Dedication of the HSDM Research and Education Building June 10, 2005

It has been said that the best way to imagine the future is to create it.  Two years ago, on June 6, 2003 you joined me to break ground for this building and now we are here to celebrate and dedicate it to defining the future of dental medicine.  It does this by bringing together clinicians and scientists to help put science into practice in new ways.  By design it fosters interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary learning and discovery and gets us ever closer to creating an academic dental center where education, research and patient care occur simultaneously and inform and improve one another.  Dentistry must remain part of the university and Harvard#s support of this building represents a major endorsement of that principle.  Dr. Joseph Martin#s personal support of HSDM and this project was also critical to its success.  Thank you Joe.

Wacker and Taylor wrote in The Visionary#s Handbook that the closer your vision gets to a provable truth, the more you are simply describing the present.  So here we are today and the future is now, but isn#t it the present and there will be a new future.  To succeed in the short term, you need to think in the long term.  Yet the greater your vision and the longer the time interval over which you predict results, the greater the risk that you will be unable to take the necessary steps in the short term to achieve the long-term goals.  The tension between short- and long-term planning has never been more at odds.  Discoveries about the future tend to make actions in the present irrelevant, but only if you look at them in the context of future activity.  Activities in the present tend to make discoveries about the future irrelevant, but only if you judge them by the standards of short-term success.  By its very nature the future destabilizes the present.  By its very nature the present resists the future.  To survive you need duality, but people and institutions by their very nature tend to resist living in two tenses.  The students, faculty and staff of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine have lived dual lives for the past several years and I want to publicly thank them and congratulate them for their tolerance and understanding.  During my watch we had our first successful school accreditation in 1996 while we were supporting both the last classes of the 5 year curriculum and the first of the 4 year PBL program.  It was fitting then, that our most recent accreditation in October 2003, which went even better than the first, occurred when people were scattered, classrooms all over the place, and the framework of the new building was rising.  So what shall we plan for 2010?  Just kidding.

The seeds for this structure were sown in 1993 when we opened and dedicated the Harvard Dental Center.  It was clear that eliminating the laboratory and classroom space for better clinical facilities was important, but one for which HSDM paid a price, the price of science.  Fortunately, our new collaboration with the Forsyth Institute signed December 3, 1993 enabled a joint program of science with a shared basic science department that benefited both institutions.  At the time I asked the architects of the Dental Center to prepare plans for a building which might replace the Interim Building and simultaneously and surreptitiously I changed its name to the Temporary Building.  Out of such false starts do triumphs emerge and to make a long and very complicated story short, the rest is history, which included selection of architects and delays due to the need for a Longwood Medical area master plan.  This was not the first attempt to acquire or build new facilities for the school.  The building we celebrate today is the result of good planning, good fortune and luck.  I am also sure that making Bob the Builder our unofficial mascot for the project helped somewhat.  It is a dream come true.

Let me take a few moments to recognize all those who were instrumental in the planning, design, construction, move and livability of the building.  First, Kevin Hurton of the Medical Area Planning Office and Kevin Connors who began the selection process for architects in October 2001 and squired the entire project.  Bruce MacIntyre and Pat Agostino who put up with my constant requests for tours during construction.  The architects, Rothman partners, and Gabriel Yaari and Martha Rothman in particular for an unbelievable result.  Berry Construction for its part of erecting this magnificent structure in a relatively short time, specifically Charles Viola and Peter Campot.  The Boston Redevelopment Authority chaired by Mark Maloney, whose dad was an HSDM graduate.  The faculty and staff program planning

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