Bulletin of Dental Education

In Memoriam: Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni Led a Life of Service, Inspiration and Excellence

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Dr. Arthur Dugoni, Courtesy of Dugoni School

Arthur A. Dugoni, D.D.S., who transformed University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry (Dugoni School) into one of the nation’s best during his 28 years as dean, died Sept. 23 at his home in Palo Alto, CA. He was 95.

The charismatic and energetic educator championed a student-centered, caring, “humanistic” approach to dentistry that became a national model in dental education.

His oft-quoted mantra was, “At Pacific we grow people, and along the way they become doctors.”

“Art Dugoni was one of the most important leaders in the 169-year history of California’s first university,” says University of the Pacific President Christopher Callahan, M.P.A. “He not only transformed the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, but the discipline of dental education. Art will be deeply missed, but his legacy will live on through the thousands of alumni, faculty, students, staff, supporters and friends at the school that bears his name.”

Dr. Dugoni’s remarkable life and leadership inspired countless dental students, residents, faculty and staff to pursue their passion for oral health care education and practice, leading to the improvement of millions of lives.

A legend in the profession of dental education, he served as Dean of the Dugoni School from 1978 to 2006. His prior roles at the school included Assistant Professor of Operative Dentistry, Assistant Professor of Pediatric Dentistry, Assistant Professor of Orthodontics, Chairman of the Department of Orthodontics, Associate Professor of Orthodontics and Professor of Orthodontics.

“Art led a purposeful life and his legacy lives in the people he educated and the lives he touched,” says President Emeritus Donald DeRosa, Ph.D. “I’m proud I was president when Pacific honored him by naming the dental school the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry. He so wonderfully exemplified Pacific’s mission of ‘preparing individuals for lasting achievement and responsible leadership in their careers and communities.’”

In addition to leading the dental school for 28 years, Dr. Dugoni served as President of the California Dental Association, the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) and the American Board of Orthodontics. He presented some 1,000 lectures, papers, clinics and essays during his career, and published more than 175 articles. He was one of only 30 living members globally of the FDI World Dental Federation’s List of Honour.

“Dentistry and dental education are stronger today because of Dr. Dugoni and his passion for people and the profession,” says Nader A. Nadershahi, D.D.S., M.B.A., Ed.D., Dean of the Dugoni School. “The Dugoni School family honors his legacy and how he touched our lives by building on our defining characteristic of humanistic education and commitment to excellence. Thank you to an incredible mentor and role model.”

In 2004, University of the Pacific renamed its dental school the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in honor of Dr. Dugoni’s contributions to dental education and organized dentistry during his silver anniversary as dean.

He became the first and only person in the United States or Canada to have a dental school named in their honor while holding the position of dean.

The Dugoni School flourished under his leadership. Advances in digital dentistry, creation of a state-of-the-art simulation lab, the launch of the International Dental Studies program, expansion of clinical services and community outreach, clinical research that led to new dental products and techniques, and many other advances all took hold during his tenure as dean.

He also had a passion for philanthropy and supporting students and the community. In 1996 the school completed the largest dental school capital fundraising campaign in the United States at the time ($65.7 million).

Dr. Dugoni received the Hinman Medallion for Leadership; Albert H. Ketcham Orthodontic Award from the American Board of Orthodontics (1994); Medallion of Distinction from the School of Dentistry (1989); Chairman’s Award from the American Dental Trade Association (1994); Pierre Fauchard Academy Gold Medal (1996); Distinguished Service Award from the ADA and ADEA (2000); University of the Pacific Order of Pacific, Pacific's highest honor, for 55 years of service (2006); the Ellis Island Medal of Honor (2008); and the William J. Gies Award from ADEA for Outstanding Achievement as a Dental Educator (2009).

At the World Dental Parliament meeting of the FDI World Dental Federation in Barcelona, Spain, in 1998, Dr. Dugoni was elected to the List of Honour, the highest award the FDI bestows on a member and is limited to 30 living members worldwide who have made distinguished contributions to international dentistry and the World Dental Federation.

Dr. Dugoni held membership in the honor societies Tau Kappa Omega, Phi Kappa Phi and Omicron Kappa Upsilon. He was also a fellow of the American and International College of Dentists and the Academy of Dentistry International.

Born in San Francisco on June 29, 1925 to Italian immigrant parents, Dr. Dugoni excelled in track and basketball before graduating as class valedictorian from St. James High School (later affiliated with Riordan). He briefly attended the University of San Francisco before completing his degree at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA, where he met his wife, Katherine Agnes Groo. He began his dental education at the University of Missouri-Kansas City before earning his D.D.S. in 1948 from the College of Physicians & Surgeons in San Francisco (the forerunner of the school that would ultimately bear his name). Dr. Dugoni practiced as a dentist in South San Francisco for 14 years before deciding to earn his orthodontics degree in 1963 from the University of Washington School of Dentistry in Seattle.

Upon returning to the Bay Area, Dr. Dugoni pioneered the mixed dentition orthodontic clinic at Dugoni School and maintained a private orthodontic practice in South San Francisco until 1987.

Dr. Dugoni was preceded in death by his parents Arthur and Lina (Bianco) Dugoni, his wife of 66 years Katherine and his brother William. He leaves behind his companion of recent years, Cathie Perga of Palo Alto, his sister Evelyn Fiorina of Denver, and seven children: Steven (Lisa) of Hillsborough, Michael (Marianne) of Fremont, Russell (Maureen) of Fairfield, Mary Rouleau (Bertrand) of Los Altos, Diane Harris (Robert) of Foster City, Arthur (Kristen) of Sacramento and James (Lisa) of Stockton. He is also survived by 15 grandchildren: Patrick and Emily (Steven); Brian and Christine (Michael); Paul and Eric (Russell); Sean, Aaron, Nicolas and Elizabeth (Mary); Joseph and Mary (Diane); Benjamin (Arthur); and Tyler and Jackson (James); as well as nine great grandchildren: Brendan, Kenzie, Connor and Jonathan (Sean); Claire and Evan (Christine), Charlotte and Everett (Aaron) and Kaylyn (Paul). He is also survived by many nieces and nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.

Memorial gifts may be made to The Art Dugoni Scholar Fund, an endowment that will support a Dugoni School dental student. Visit the fund’s site or call the dental school’s Office of Development at (415) 929-6406.

Courtesy of Dan Soine, Director of Marketing and Communications, University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry

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