Bulletin of Dental Education

Gies Awards Honor Incredible Legacy of Dr. William J. Gies

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Gies AwardsThe Gies Awards program is a way for the ADEAGies Foundation to honor deserving people and entities that carry forward Dr. Gies' legacy of vision, innovation, and achievement. The Gies Awards draw attention to the essential role of dental education and educators in enhancing global oral health. A remarkable pantheon of people has been selected as Gies Award winners by a panel of judges drawn from the ADEAGies Foundation Board of Trustees.

In 1926, Dr. William J. Gies transformed dental education with the publication of his Report on Dental Education in the United States and Canada, sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation. Dr. Gies advocated that incoming dental students have at least two years of university-level education. While such education was required of medical students at that time, it was not for dental students. Dr. Gies wanted dental schools to receive recognition and support from universities much like medical schools had.

In 1950, friends and colleagues of Dr. Gies formed the William J. Gies Foundation with seed funds raised by the American College of Dentists. The first U.S. foundation to support dental education and scholarship, it joined with ADEA in 2002 to form the ADEAGies Foundation. In 2007, the ADEAGies Foundation announced "The Gies Awards," a preeminent recognition of contributions to and support of global oral health and education initiatives, to be presented annually in a public celebration.

In the three years since the debut of the Gies Awards, the reaction of winners and the dental education community has been extremely favorable. "The ADEAGies Award is a recognition that has a tremendous impact not only on the individuals who are honored, but upon the whole dental education community," said 2010 Gies Award winner for Outstanding Vision - Dental Educator, Prof. Patricia Nunn from Texas Women's University. "It gives us all a sense of pride in what we are doing and accomplishing. It's so difficult day-to-day to realize that we truly are making a difference - just the fact that efforts of colleagues are recognized on a national stage provides validation of the importance of our work."

Dr. Dorothy I. Height and 2010 Gies Award host Rene SylarMs. Barbara J. Sabol, formerly of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, agreed. "The award is a reminder of the difference individuals can make and what a difference outstanding faculty make in preparing practitioners and future researchers and educators," she said. Her 2010 Gies Award for Outstanding Vision - Public or Private Partner had a personal impact as well. "Dr. Dorothy I. Height joined us to celebrate this important event and watch me receive the award [this year]. This was her last public appearance before she passed away," she recalled. [Editors' note: Dr. Height was an American educator and veteran of the civil rights movement who served as President of the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. She died April 20, 2010.] "Her presence, nomination by Dr. Jeanne C. Sinkford, and receipt of the award are among the most cherished moments of my life. Meeting some of the other awardees motivated me to try to do more to promote health professions and health professions education, especially for young people of color - even in my retirement."

"The ADEAGies Award presented to Louisiana State University (LSU) School of Dentistry had a major and positive impact on our school," said Dr. Eric J. Hovland of LSU's award, received in 2008 for Outstanding Innovation - Academic Dental Institution. "The faculty, administration, staff, and students of LSU demonstrated remarkable innovation, commitment, and courage after the devastation of hurricane Katrina. Being recognized for their efforts through the Gies Award was special for everyone and helped share the remarkable story of the LSU School of Dentistry with the New Orleans, Louisiana, and dental education communities."

Prof. Nunn had a similar reaction. "Professionally, it's probably the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me," she said. "By knowing that colleagues considered my efforts worthy of acknowledgment, it has given me a strong desire to continue forward and not be timid about helping to change the future." The Gies Awards continue to inspire researchers and faculty across the dental education spectrum, a tribute to Dr. Gies' legacy.

Nominations are now open for the 2011 William J. Gies Awards for Vision, Innovation, and Achievement.�Download the 2011 call for nominations� �for instructions, information, and an entry form. All nominations must be received on or before Friday, October 29, 2010.

Dental education was Dr. Gies' life. His passion for dental research and education began in 1909 when he joined the New York Institute of Oral Pathology in biochemical research related to dentistry; ten years later he founded the Journal of Dental Research, in part from his own money. He helped found both the International Association for Dental Research in 1920 and the American Association of Dental Schools (now known as the American Dental Education Association) in 1923. Before his death in 1956, Dr. Gies published more than 600 papers, pamphlets, and books. Through his groundbreaking report in 1926, accreditation standards and stricter admission requirements to dental schools were established, raising the quality and caliber of dental education and its students and bringing new respect to the dental profession.

"The work of the Gies Award honorees has transformed the paradigm of dental education, research, and leadership by forging paths of vision, innovation, and achievement," said Dr. Josh Ghaim, Vice President, Oral Healthcare Research, Development & Engineering, Johnson & Johnson Consumer & Personal Products Worldwide, Division of Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc., premier corporate sponsor of the Gies Award since 2008. "We are honored to continue our support of this program that will drive the advancement of dental education and ultimately help the public achieve their healthiest smiles in the years to come."

To read more and see photos and videos from past Gies Award celebrations, visit www.adeagiesfoundation.org.

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