Future dentists

Dental school orientation is a family affair

In what may become a new tradition at the School of Dental Medicine, more than 350 people—including family and friends of the Class of D06—filled Merritt Auditorium August 27 on the Boston campus for the school's first Family Orientation Welcome.

"When you finish at Tufts, you will be a competent professional—not just focused on drilling and billing—but competent to deliver oral health care," Dean Lonnie H. Norris promised the first-year students, who registered for classes while their parents toured the school and then rejoined them for lunch.

The Class of D06 at orientation. © Mark Morelli

Tufts President Lawrence S. Bacow was on hand to greet the families and urge the new students to see themselves as "citizens, not just of the dental school, but of the entire university."

He recalled that the "world changed" shortly after he assumed office last fall and noted that the proof of the depth of the Tufts community was that in contrast to some other colleges, no Tufts student left school because of the September 11 tragedy.

"When people speak of business school, they speak of Harvard; when they speak of dental school, they speak of Tufts," claimed Dr. Norman Diamond, president of the Tufts Dental Alumni Association, adding he considers the dental school "the flagship of all the schools of the university."

Families tour the dental school's simulation clinic. © Mark Morelli

The assembly also included overviews of curriculum and student research opportunities. Mark Gonthier, associate dean of admissions and student affairs, noted that the most important things students will learn—or have reinforced—at the dental school were taught to them by their parents in the third grade: "How to share, demonstrate compassion, maintain integrity and embody kindness."

"The turnout is really remarkable," said Rebecca Rounds, associate director of alumni relations, who helped organize the event. "We heard from the parents of one student who said they would have flown here from India for the event if they could have arranged the tickets." She added the success of the family day, plus the impressive attendance at the school's recently instituted Clinic Advancement Ceremony for second-year students, underline a desire on the part of families and friends to be involved in their students' education. More than 225 relatives of students in the Class of D04 attended that ceremony last spring to witness second-year students receiving their white clinic coats to mark the transition to the clinical phase of their dental education.

Dean Lonnie H. Norris, Brian Kiefer and Stephanie Purner, D06. © Mark Morelli