Monday, August 13, 2012 - 10:12am
The University of Texas School of Dentistry (UTSD) at Houston has welcomed new dental and dental hygiene students with the traditional white coat ceremonies marking the start of their careers in health care. For the first time, both events were held in the new Denton A. Cooley, M.D. and Ralph C. Cooley, D.D.S. University Life Center, named for the world-renowned heart surgeon and his father, a 1908 graduate of UTSD.
The DDS White Coat Ceremony was sponsored by the UTSD Alumni Association, UTSD Family & Friends Association, and the American College of Dentists. The Dental Hygiene White Coat Ceremony was sponsored by the University of Texas at Houston Dental Hygienists’ Alumni Association.
More than 100 new dental students and 40 dental hygiene students participated in the separate ceremonies. Of the dental hygiene students, 36 are in the bachelor’s degree program; four are working toward certificates.
Dean John A. Valenza, DDS ’81, shared demographics about the incoming dental class, noting that 93 of them have bachelor’s degrees, two have master’s degrees and three hold doctorates, including one PhD, one MD and 1 foreign DDS. The students are graduates of 36 different universities and colleges, led by Texas A&M, the University of Houston, UT Austin, Baylor and Texas Tech University. Twenty-six students have a parent, sibling or other family member in the dental profession.
Houston general dentist W. Kenneth Horwitz, DDS ’61, was again the keynote speaker for the DDS ceremony, on the topic of ethics. UTSD Alumni Association President Herb Wade, DDS ’69, drove to Houston from Bryan to address the students, encouraging them to reach out to each other, faculty and alumni when the going gets rough.
Associate Dean for Professional Development and Faculty Affairs Paula O’Neill, EdD, wrapped up 10 years as the keynote speaker for the Dental Hygiene White Coat Ceremony. O’Neill, who will retire Aug. 31, was inducted as an honorary member of the UT Dental Hygienists’ Alumni Association.
UTSD Friends & Family Association President Bruce Smith, DDS, encouraged anyone interested in helping students (dental or dental hygiene) to volunteer for or donate to the association. The group sponsors white coat ceremonies, a barbecue for freshmen, the annual Dental Olympics, the dental prom, and provides snacks during exams and other support for students. Dues are $20 per person or $40 per family.