This summer, Penn announced the reappointment of Denis Kinane as dean of the School of Dental Medicine. Kinane, who was first appointed in 2009, will serve until June 30, 2021.
Kinane’s first term was marked by many changes, including the renovation of the Dental School’s facilities and the strategic recruitment of top faculty.
“Right now, and what we will be doing going into the next phase of my appointment, is [to] complete the Evans building,” Kinane said. “We’re also looking to enhance the students’ experience by improving and increasing the number and quality of clinical faculty.”
While Kinane will serve as dean for six more years in a familiar post, his reappointment follows six new dean searches at Penn over the past two years. The University appointed new deans for the School of Nursing, Graduate School of Education, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, Penn Law School, the Wharton School and the School of Social Policy & Practice.
Kinane believes that it is important to pour the best resources into giving students hands-on learning experience. Although roughly 80 percent of students choose to continue their education beyond their four years at the Dental School and specialize in a particular field, some move directly to practicing dentistry.
“We have to give you the best possible experiences and best possible simulators and the best possible methodologies, so we can teach you in an environment where you will also be able to work with patients,” he said. “It’s a big task that we undertake.”
Kinane has also focused on implementing efficient use of resources during his time as dean, a step he says helps to reduce student tuition, as well as adapting traditional teaching models to reflect the reality of the digital and social media age.
“At the end of those four years, you will be a skilled physician,” he said. “And that is quite something.”
Over the next six years, Kinane hopes to recruit more star faculty and complete the building renovations. He also plans to work closely with the other graduate schools to create tailored multi-degree programs — allowing students to earn dental and medical degrees or dental and law degrees in a more streamlined fashion.
“With an ambitious vision and through a series of bold moves, the dean has realized significant change in virtually every aspect of the School’s programs and operations,” Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vincent Price said in a joint statement. “Penn Dental today — its stature, scholarship, clinics, finances and facilities — is considerably stronger and better positioned than it was just six years ago.”
So far, Kinane’s impact has extended beyond introducing academic initiatives and revamping school facilities — he has engaged with Dental School students on a personal, individual level.
Lamarr Holland, who graduated from the School of Dental Medicine in 2014, recalled a time when he and his friends were studying in the library, and Kinane engaged them in conversation, asking them what they liked and didn’t like about their curriculum.
“He’s the kind of guy who likes to joke around,” Holland said. “He was very personable and relatable.”
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