Bulletin of Dental Education

Dr. Clifton Dummett, Leader in Academic Medicine and Dental Education, Passes Away

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Gifted Pioneer in Academic Dentistry a "Revered Intellectual and Historian"

Clifton O. Dummett, D.D.S. (photo provided by Aetna)Clifton O. Dummett, D.D.S., a pioneer in academic dentistry, former dental dean, and humanitarian, passed away on September 12, 2011. Dr. Dummett was Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry. His teaching career in periodontics began at Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry, where he ultimately became Professor of Periodontics. He became Dean and Director of Dental Education at age 28 in 1949, establishing a record as the youngest dental dean in the United States.

“Dr. Dummett was a revered intellectual and historian,” said Leo E. Rouse, D.D.S., ADEA President and Dean of Howard University College of Dentistry. “The breadth of his legacy, as evidenced by his voluminous writings and the students that he taught, assures that his memory and his contributions to academia and the health professions will be cherished for years to come.”

Dr. Dummett's subsequent appointments included Chief Dental Service and Associate Chief of Staff for Research and Education, Veterans Administration Hospital, Tuskegee, Alabama; Chief, Dental Service, Veterans Administration Research Hospital, Chicago, Illinois; Associate Project Director and Health Center Director of the University of Southern California South Central Multipurpose Health Services Center, Los Angeles, California; Professor and Chairman, Department of Community Dentistry and Public Health, and Associate Dean, University of Southern California Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry.

He was the first dentist to serve as Associate Chief of Staff for Research and Education at one of the nation's VA hospitals and the first dentist appointed Health Center Director at one of the nation's OEO health centers.

In 1969, Dr. Dummett became the first member of the dental faculty at the University of Southern California to be elected President of the International Association for Dental Research. In 1972, Dr. Dummett was one of the first three dentists in the nation and the first University of Southern California Health Sciences faculty member to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine. He was appointed to the Institute's Council and served on the program membership and international health committees. Until his death, he was a senior member of the institute.

Dr. Dummett was past president of the Los Angeles Dental Society, the American Academy of the History of Dentistry, and the American Association of Dental Editors. He served two separate terms as Chairman of Dentistry for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. A former Editor and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the American Association of Dental Editors, he served 22 years as Editor of the National Dental Association. In 1977, he was the only dentist appointed as a member of the U.S. President's Committee on National Health Insurance.

Contributor to more than 300 articles in dental, medical, and health publications, Dr. Dummett authored Growth and Development of the Negro in Dentistry in the United States, Community Dentistry and Contributions to New Directions.  

With his wife, Lois, Dr. Dummett wrote The Hillenbrand Era: Organized Dentistry's Glanzperiode (sponsored by the American College of Dentists); Charles E. Bentley: A Model for all Times; Afro-Americans in Dentistry; Sequence and Consequence of Events; Dental Education at Meharry Medical College: Origin and Odyssey; Culture and Education in Dentistry at Northwestern University; and NDA II: The Story of America's Second National Dental Association.  

Dr. Dummett was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the University of Southern California Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry. Among many honors, he received the Alfred C. Fones Gold Medal of the Connecticut State Dental Association and the Wm. J. Gies Award of the American College of Dentists. He was awarded the ADEA Presidential Citation in 2003. Dr. Dummett was an honorary member (1969) of the American Dental Association, and he held honorary doctorates in science from Northwestern University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Biographical information graciously provided by Aetna.

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