Last Thursday, the Gillings School of Global Public Health and the School of Dentistry (SOD) communities at UNC-Chapel Hill celebrated dental public health and one of its truly great heroes, Gary Rozier, DDS, MPH, professor, Health Policy and Management, with an afternoon of panel discussions, reception and dinner. On the way to dinner, we were led from the SOD to SPH by the Bulltown Strutters. What a great time! Thanks to Angelica Figueroa for the video.
Gary Rozier has been on the faculty for 38 years, and his commitment to improve dental public health hasn’t wavered. The April issue of Pediatrics includes an article from Gary and his colleagues on Into the Mouths of Babes. The program delivers care to children who might not otherwise have access, reduces caries-related treatments and costs, averts hospitalizations and improves oral health status. It is a great innovation, the kind that makes a real difference for children, families and communities. That’s public health at its finest. There’s still an immense need for dental care and dental public health in N.C. and around the world. We’re so grateful to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of N.C. Foundation for providing a generous grant to the schools of public health and dentistry to build on the great contributions Gary has made through the Excellence in Dental Public Health Initiative. We also appreciate a gift from Delta Dental.
Brad Wilson, JD, chief executive officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of N.C. and its Foundation, spoke about the priority they place on improving dental public health. Too often, people with severe dental problems end up at emergency rooms, and ERs are not set up to deliver quality dental care. At the dinner Thursday evening, we announced the Douglass-Rozier Distinguished Professorship, a very generous gift from Chester W. Douglass, DMD, PhD, SMc, and his wife, Joy Douglass, two wonderful people. Chet is a distinguished dental public health researcher. Their gift will be another critical piece of delivering on Gary’s contributions to dental public health and will help to assure that the legacy remains alive. Outstanding dean of the SOD, Jane Weintraub, DDS, MPH, and I both are committed to this work and value that it has impact beyond our walls.
We closed the evening with Gary’s remarks, after being rendered nearly but not quite speechless when he discovered his name on the professorship, along with his beloved mentor, Chet Douglass. I was so impressed by the way Gary talked about the opportunities he has had here at UNC-Chapel Hill, and how he took the time to acknowledge and thank UNC, along with many individuals. His graciousness, his gratitude, and his contributions are awesome. Gary is a perfect example of someone who has published prodigiously, mentored on a legendary scale (over 100 mentees), and contributed deeply while also a fabulous citizen of his department, school and university. He’s kind, decent and truly a gentleman and a scholar – a great testament to the power of civility in an age of distraction.
Happy Tuesday. Barbara