Focus on a Brighter Future
2015 Alumni of Distinction Evening celebrates impactful careers and new, charitable initiatives
Maybe this was why the whole thing was set up in the first place. When first envisioned by the senior academics of the day, the concept of the alumni of distinction award was framed around excellence and benevolence; companion qualities embodied and displayed by a person or persons from within the College of Dentistry’s oral health community.
The 2015 edition of the Alumni of Distinction Awards Evening was all of that and then some. The annual celebration of oral health excellence in Manitoba drew another sizable crowd to the stately Fort Garry Hotel this past October 2 to acknowledge a pair of practitioners whose careers have focused on community well–being.
Dr. Melanie Wood received the Alumni of Distinction award for the College of Dentistry in light of an entire career spent developing oral health professionals at the University of Manitoba and all across Canada. For over 30–years, Dr. Wood served as an instructor at the College of Dentistry where she had a pronounced influence on many future practitioners. And, while also in private practice, Dr. Wood has maintained extensive involvement with the National Dental Examining Board of Canada.
The School of Dental Hygiene recipient, Ms. Gladys Stewart, was also acknowledged for a career that made an impression upon the broader community. As part of a long and impactful career, Ms. Stewart influenced public policy through her research into bicycle helmets in Manitoba, resulting in safety legislation recently put in place by the Manitoba government.
The near–capacity crowd also welcomed and acknowledged a huge gathering from the dentistry Class of 1965 who appeared as part of their Golden Anniversary of graduation from the College of Dentistry. The group appeared as special guests of the UMDAA, the continuation of a tradition to honour the dedicated careers of those who have spent five decades in the profession following their graduation from the University of Manitoba. Each of the attendees was presented with commemorative gifts from the UMDAA marking the occasion in a brief ceremony that began the evening.
As well, the School of Dental Hygiene welcomed Dr. Bonnie Craig and Marsh Morris, two graduates from its Class of 1965, the first in the school’s history.
In welcoming all to the eighth annual formal affair, the president of the University of Manitoba Dental Alumni Association offered an insightful observation as to what the occasion is all about. “This marvelous evening is a continuation of our long–standing tradition of acknowledging the outstanding career of an individual who has gone the extra distance in service to others in our profession and in our community,” Dr. Danielle Jobb noted during the opening remarks of the evening. “It is truly appropriate that we take time to mark accomplishments such as these. It serves not only to acknowledge their efforts but also — and perhaps more importantly — to inspire our younger alumni to follow similar paths.”
But that was not all. The evening also included a surprise joint announcement of the official launch of the latest charitable initiative from the UMDAA and the College of Dentistry: University of Manitoba Dental Alumni Emergency Oral Healthcare Trust Fund. The fund is designed to help provide emergency services to patients who present to the College of Dentistry clinic and don’t have the financial means to cover their treatment.
Although the creation of the fund was actually announced a few months ago, there was some conjecture on when it might be rolled out and accessible at the college. Dr. Jobb noted that it was the proactive efforts of several members of the alumni community that helped get the fund off the ground and make it a reality.
“Everyone that we have approached has been very generous,” Dr. Jobb said. “Dr. Barry Rayter, a past winner of the Alumni of Distinction, was instrumental in establishing this fund as he saw how desperately it was needed from his work at the dental college. He so believes in the importance of this fund that he has made arrangements to forward his future earnings from working at the school to it.”
The announcement was warmly received by those assembled for the evening, a group that included several previous Alumni of Distinction recipients including Drs. Jan Brown, William ‘Bill’ Christie, Frank Hechter and Gene Solmundson. Dr. Hechter was also acknowledged by the UMDAA for his efforts in authoring the terms and conditions of the newly announced fund. In thanking the UMDAA for its efforts, the Dean of Dentistry noted the significance of the announcement and the launch of the fund.
“I can’t overemphasize the importance of this initiative as we seek to provide community access to services, comprehensive training for our students in emergent care, and address ever-increasing budgetary pressures,” Dr. Anthony Iacopino shared during his opening remarks. “The Alumni Association has provided strong support for the College over the years, in so many ways too numerous to mention.”