R. Bruce Donoff, D.M.D., M.D., Dean of
Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) for 28 years, announced he will step
down from the position effective Jan. 1, 2020.
Throughout his tenure, Dr. Donoff moved
HSDM forward with a broad vision for global and community oral health. A
skilled oral surgeon and educator, he has been an advocate for the integration
of oral health and medicine as a way to ensure improved outcomes for his own
patients and dental patients everywhere. He not only shaped the dental
curriculum at Harvard but also influenced the way dentistry is taught around
the country and the world. He plans to transition to a role on the faculty
after Jan. 1.
“It has been an honor leading the school
and having had the opportunity to work with incredibly talented faculty,
students and staff, all of whom are dedicated to improving human health and
advancing our mission,” Dr. Donoff shares.
“I’m grateful to have had a career that
allowed me to treat patients, educate students and advance research, all while
being an administrator. It’s rare for a dean to have that opportunity, and I am
truly fortunate,” he adds.
“Bruce and I have been good friends for
decades, and I know from my tenure as president of Tufts the extremely high
regard in which he is held throughout the academic oral health community,” says
Harvard President Larry Bacow, J.D., M.P.P., Ph.D. “His personal commitment to
academic excellence has shaped his quarter century as dean, driving the
recruitment of extraordinarily talented students, faculty and staff, and
shaping efforts to make oral health care available and accessible to more
people across the country and around the world.”
Earlier in his career, Donoff led
Massachusetts General Hospital’s Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
as Chair and Chief of Service, becoming the first Walter C. Guralnick
Distinguished Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. A 1967 graduate of HSDM
and a 1973 graduate of Harvard Medical School (HMS), he returned to the Harvard
Longwood campus in 1991 when he was appointed Dean of HSDM.
“His work has built an important bridge
between dentistry and medicine,” writes HMS Dean George Daley, M.D., Ph.D., in
a joint letter with Provost Alan Garber, M.D., Ph.D. “Bruce has been widely
recognized for caring deeply about students and their success. As an educator
and a mentor, Bruce pioneered problem-based learning to help them better
understand the fundamental concerns of those seeking treatment and their
diseases, all the while stressing that students must listen closely to their
patients and treat them with respect,” they add.
A passionate advocate for research, Dr. Donoff
stressed the importance of scientific inquiry in dental education. He led the
charge to create more space for laboratories at HSDM and was successful in
nearly doubling the school’s footprint with a new research and education
building in 2004. His efforts were recognized with the prestigious William J.
Gies Foundation Award from the ADEAGies Foundation in 2008 for outstanding
vision by an academic dental institution.
In 2014, Dr. Donoff launched the HSDM
Initiative to Integrate Oral Health and Medicine, an effort intended to improve
quality and value throughout the health care system by, in his words,
“reuniting the mouth with the rest of the body.”
HSDM’s mission reflects his aspiration
to break down traditional barriers between oral and systemic health. He ensured
that dental students spent time working in community health centers as part of
their training and expanded the scope of HSDM’s international presence, helping
to launch Rwanda’s first dental school. Most recently, he has led efforts to
partner with dental schools in China and Vietnam to assist with curriculum
development and workforce training.
from The Harvard Gazette,
April 12, 2019