New dentistry dean has vision

Justin Costley

The Board of Regents has unanimously approved Peter Polverini as the new School of Dentistry dean.
Polverini, who currently serves as a department head in the University of Michigan’s School of Dentistry, will begin his new job Aug. 1.
He will replace Michael Till, who is retiring after more than 30 years of service at the University’s School of Dentistry.
Polverini said his vision for the future of the dental school will coincide with that of the students, faculty and staff. His job will be to implement that vision and create opportunities for students to develop their careers.
“It’s a very strong school,” he said. “It’s got some excellent faculty. The students are quality students who do very well when it comes to being educated as dentists.
“I’d like to take it a step further and really make it better than what it is in terms of making it more integrated into the health sciences.”
After nearly a yearlong national search, the search committee, made up of a student and community representatives as well as faculty from the School of Dentistry and other departments, chose Polverini.
Frank Cerra, Academic Health Center senior vice president, said Polverini’s leadership skills and his experience will help him work with other schools in the Academic Health Center. His added cooperation with other schools is a must in today’s health professional marketplace.
“Dr. Polverini was the clear choice to lead the School of Dentistry, based on his track record as a leader, a researcher, an educator and on the basis of his interaction with the community,” Cerra said.
“He was well liked by everyone who saw him, and well supported by all those who interviewed him. I’m very pleased and excited that he’s coming, and I think that he will be an outstanding dean for the School of Dentistry,” he added.
Throughout his 25-year career in academic dentistry, which includes a dentistry degree from Marquette University and a doctorate in medical sciences from Harvard University, Polverini has done renowned research in angiogenesis, which is the study of blood-vessel growth.
His administrative experience includes not only serving as head of the Department of Oral Medicine, Pathology, and Oncology at the University of Michigan, but also as chairman of the Oral Medicine and Biology Study Section of the National Institutes of Health Center for Scientific Review.
Dallas Bohnsack, vice chairman of the Board of Regents’ Faculty, Staff and Student Affairs Committee, said Polverini will continue a trend of great leadership for the dentistry school.
“He’ll bring a new dimension, and we’re really looking forward to that,” he said.
In his position as dean, Polverini said he will not abandon his research and teaching roots. He plans to serve as a tenured professor in the school as well.
Polverini said his experience in these areas allow him to understand what it takes to be successful scientifically. He added it will also allow him to be creative in terms of implementing or improving curriculum.
“I’m real excited,” Polverini said. “I have a lot of respect for the people who are there. It’s a strong medical school and a very strong medical center that is on the upside of the curve.
“I think it has the potential to be truly one of the outstanding institutions in the world. I really believe that.”

Justin Costley welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3224.