Bulletin of Dental Education

Statements of the Nominees for 2022-23 Chair-elect of the ADEA Board of Directors

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Members of the ADEA House of Delegates will vote for the Chair-elect of the ADEA Board of Directors at the 2022 ADEA Annual Session & Exhibition in Philadelphia, PA. The ADEA Board of Directors has accepted the recommendations of the ADEA Nominating Committee and slated two candidates for the 2022–23 Chair-elect: Mert N. Aksu, D.D.S., J.D., M.H.S.A., Cert. DPH, and Ana N. López-Fuentes, D.M.D., M.P.H. Following are their personal statements.

Mert N. Aksu, D.D.S., J.D., M.H.S.A., Cert. DPH
University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry 

Mert N. Aksu, D.D.S., J.D., M.H.S.A., Cert. DPH

I was born in Detroit, MI and educated in public schools in Dearborn, MI, graduating high school in 1980. These were significant times, as Detroit struggled to find its way forward following the riots and civil disturbances of the late 1960s. These memories, as well as my experiences as the son of a Turkish immigrant, shaped my sensitivity to diversity, equity and inclusion and shaped my views on issues of social justice.

After graduating from the University of Michigan Dearborn with a B.S. in both biological sciences and psychology, I attended the University of Michigan School of Dentistry (U-M SOD), graduating in 1987. As a student, I was a recipient of an NIH training grant, where I was funded for dental materials research. In addition, I worked part-time as a dental laboratory technician for two years and also worked as a chauffeur, often driving the university president or the football coach, Bo Schembechler. I was the second youngest in my class, and these extracurricular activities provided me with great opportunities to grow as a person. Upon graduation, I was offered a clinical teaching position and, after six years at U-M SOD as a clinical instructor, I was recruited to the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry (UDM SOD), where I was a course director in the preclinical program and taught in clinic. During this time, I completed law school and passed the Michigan bar examination in 1995. Over the past 25 years, I have held many positions at UDM SOD, including as Founding Chair of the Department of Adult General Dentistry (setting the stage for comprehensive care education), Assistant Dean for Clinical Administration and Executive Associate Dean. I am in my 14th year as Dean and most recently, I was recognized by the ADEAGies Foundation for lifetime achievement with a William J. Gies Award for Vision – Dental Educator.

ADEA has been an integral part of my professional life. Initially, I was active in the ADEA Section on Practice Management, serving as an officer for three years and as a contributor to section programming. Later, I became more involved in clinic administration and the ADEA Sections on Business and Financial Administration and Clinic Administration (ADEA BFACA) Meeting, and also served as an officer for the ADEA Section on Clinic Administration. At Detroit Mercy, I was serving both as the finance administrator and clinical administrator. During this time, I provided the group programming on cost accounting, lectured for Drs. Allan Formicola and Howard Bailit on dental education costs and the benefits of community-based education as part of the California Pipeline grant. I have attended the summer ADEA Emerging Leaders Program, the ADEA Leadership Institute, and most recently, the ADEA-supported program with the Bell Leadership Institute. I am a frequent speaker on legal issues in academic administration and an annual speaker for the American College of Legal Medicine.

With regard to corporate relations, I have served on the board of advisors of Great Expressions Dental Centers for nearly 10 years. I have served on numerous nonprofit and community service boards as well. From the days of dental materials research, I understood the importance of corporate partnerships in dentistry and valued my relationships with the dental industry. I am a former attending dentist for Henry Ford Health Systems and practiced privately for nearly 20 years. I am often asked why I kept going to school. I respond by saying I am investing in myself. I believe our students need to see how we hold ourselves accountable to the standard of “lifelong learning.” Most recently, I completed my specialty training in dental public health and became a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Public Health. I am a life member of the Michigan Dental Association, the American Dental Association, and Detroit District. I have served on the Council of Dental Education and Licensure, and I am also a consultant to the Commission on Dental Competency Assessment. I am a member of Omicron Kappa Upsilon and an honorary member of Sigma Phi Alpha, the Dental Hygiene Honor Society, for my work in supporting dental hygiene education.

I am grateful to be considered for this nomination where we can work together to foster, develop and support both our current and next generation of dental educators, whose learning styles and visions for education will attract our future students. It is our duty to build an environment to support those who have the potential to bring new perspectives to our educational programs and model delivery systems to provide the public with the oral health workforce for tomorrow. As we find a new normal post-pandemic, we need to remain focused on the important work solving the issues that face us, including, student debt, future faculty workforce, changing educational models and honoring the need to support diversity, equity and inclusion by what we do, and not just by talking about it. I would be honored to leverage my lifelong experiences and connections to advance the interests of ADEA.

Ana N. López-Fuentes, D.M.D., M.P.H.
Professor and Former Dean
University of Puerto Rico School of Dental Medicine 

Ana N. López-Fuentes, D.M.D., M.P.H.

It is a distinct honor and privilege to have been nominated for Chair-elect of the 2022-23 ADEA Board of Directors. As an active ADEA member for the past 29+ years, I accept this nomination with humility and a great commitment toward serving all our members and advancing this organization into a new era of success in dental education.

As a woman of color, mother, member of a historically underrepresented minority group, former professor of allied health programs, and former Dean, I have always embraced the responsibilities of an educator. ADEA has been pivotal in my career. It has given me the opportunity to grow as a leader, to have a voice, and to become a collaborator on many educational forums, both nationally and internationally. I have participated in numerous committees, advisory boards, leadership trainings and fellowships. I have been a member of the ADEA Council of Faculties, served on the ADEA Council of Deans Administrative Board, as a Women Liaison Officer and currently as Councilor for the ADEA Section on Women in Leadership. I am a board member of the Hispanic Dental Association and faculty advisor of the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM), fellowship program. Taken together, these experiences have enriched my academic journey and positioned me well to serve ADEA in this leadership role.

My proudest accomplishments at ADEA are those that support underrepresented voices. As Chair of the ADEA Women’s Affairs Advisory Committee (which is now part of the ADEA Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee [ADEA DIAC]), I have worked alongside excellent leaders advocating for the needs of women faculty. This experience empowered me to contribute with another cohort of leaders to form the Women in Leadership Special Interest Group (WIL SIG), and two years later, to help promote the WIL SIG to a Section.

As Co-chair of the ADEA DIAC, I have been privileged to work with the ADEA Access, Diversity and Inclusion (ADI) staff, leaders and experts on the development of ADEA’s ADI Framework, Faculty Diversity Toolkit, and Phase I and II of the ADEA Collaborative on Dental Education Climate Assessment (ADEA CDECA).

I am not a stranger to crisis. When I was Dean of the University of Puerto Rico School of Dental Medicine, I led my school through the devastation of Hurricane María. We made sure our students graduated on time, we provided support and care to the community and our school maintained its accreditation despite the disaster. As a result, I was honored with the 2018 ADEA Chair of the Board Citation for significant contributions to dental education.

Climate change and social challenges are present in our daily lives. We continue to learn many lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic and racism. Among these are the importance of justice, equity and access to care in a diverse world coupled with the urgent need to advocate for wellness, well-being and mental health in our academic communities.

I will draw upon my experience as a resilient leader to guide ADEA into its next century of success. By engaging all ADEA constituencies, I will create new possibilities in dental education that value members’ different opinions as well as their unique characteristics and values.

As a leader, I will bring open and transparent communication, compassion, empathy, entrepreneurial leadership, resilience and positivity about the future. This is a critical time in our history and we face decisions regarding strategic opportunities that will shape our future. Opportunities to advance ADEA abound and I pledge to collaborate on the following initiatives:

  • Sustainability of our dental, advanced education and allied oral health programs;
  • Global relationships, international collaborations and advocacy;
  • Wellness, well-being, mental health and safety for our students, faculty and staff;
  • More diverse, equitable and inclusive communities where all members feel they belong;
  • Leadership opportunities and academic development for our faculty, staff and students;
  • Innovation—teledentistry, telehealth, virtual learning environments and artificial intelligence;
  • More academic opportunities through ADEA’s Academic Dental Careers Fellowship Program, ADEA chapters and pipeline programs for our students; and
  • Licensure reform and portability for all our graduates, including allied oral health professionals.

As your next Chair-elect, I am committed to working with all of you: our students, staff, corporate members and faculty of dental and allied oral health programs. I will represent you, be your advocate and pay close attention to your needs. I will also work with ADEA’s President and CEO and Board of Directors to move ADEA’s strategic plan forward, making ADEA even more accessible to our needs. Collaborations, networks and partnerships with our membership and other associations will make us stronger as we face the future together.

I have the time, experience, passion and commitment to serve as your next Chair-elect. I want to thank you in advance for your support. I look forward to working with each of you, to be your voice at The Voice of Dental Education, ADEA.

Published on Dec. 8, 2021

Duggan ad 2013