Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni, who served as dean of the University of the Pacific’s school of dentistry from 1978 to 2006, died in his home in Palo Alto, California, on September 23. He was 95 years old.
According to the school, Dugoni was a charismatic and energetic educator who championed a student-centered, caring, and humanistic approach to dentistry that became a national model in dental education. His oft-quoted mantra was “at Pacific we grow people, and along the way, they become doctors.”
“Art Dugoni was one of the most important leaders in the 169-year history of California’s first university. He not only transformed the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, but the discipline of dental education,” said Pacific president Christopher Callahan.
“Art will be deeply missed, but his legacy will live on through the thousands of alumni, faculty, students, staff, supporters, and friends at the school that bears his name,” Callahan said.
Before being named dean of the school, Dugoni served as an assistant professor of operative dentistry and pediatric dentistry, and as well as an assistant professor, associate professor, professor, and chair of the department of orthodontics.
“Art led a purposeful life, and his legacy lives in the people he educated and the lives he touched,” said President Emeritus Don DeRosa.
“I’m proud I was president when Pacific honored him by naming the dental school the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry. He so wonderfully exemplified Pacific’s mission of preparing individuals for lasting achievement and responsible leadership in their careers and communities.”
Dugoni also served as president of the California Dental Association, the ADA, the American Dental Education Association (ADEA), and the American Board of Orthodontics. He presented about a thousand lectures, papers, clinics, and essays and published more than 175 articles.
“Dentistry and dental education are stronger today because of Dr. Dugoni and his passion for people and the profession,” said Dr. Nader A. Nadershahi, dean of the Dugoni School of Dentistry.
“The Dugoni School family honors his legacy and how he touched our lives by building on our defining characteristic of humanistic education and commitment to excellence. Thank you to an incredible mentor and role model,” said Nadershahi.
On August 28, 2004, the University of the Pacific renamed its dental school the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in honor of his contributions to dental education and organized dentistry during his silver anniversary as dean. He became the first and only person in the United States and Canada to have a dental school named in their honor while holding the position of dean.
According to the school, it flourished under his leadership. Advances in digital dentistry, creation of a state of the art simulation lab, the launch of the International Dental Studies program, expansion of clinical services and community outreach, clinical research that led to new dental products and techniques, and many other advances all took hold during his tenure as dean, the school said.
Dugoni also had a passion for philanthropy and supporting students and the community. In 2006, the school completed the largest dental school capital fundraising campaign at the time in the United States, raising $65.7 million. He has received numerous awards as well, including:
- The Hinman Medallion for Leadership
- The Albert H. Ketcham Orthodontic Award from the American Board of Orthodontics
- The Medallion of Distinction from the School of Dentistry
- The Chairman’s Award from the American Dental Trade Association
- The Pierre Fauchard Academy Gold Medal
- The Distinguished Service Award from the ADA and ADEA
- The University of the Pacific Order of Pacific
- The Ellis Island Medal of Honor
- The ADEA William J. Gies Award for Outstanding Achievement as a Dental Educator
During the FDI World Dental Federation’s 1998 World Dental Parliament meeting, Dugoni was elected to the List of Honour, which is the highest award that FDI bestows upon its members. It is limited to 30 living members worldwide who have made distinguished contributions to international dentistry and FDI.
Also, Dugoni was a member of the Tau Kappa Omega, Phi Kappa Phi, and Omicron Kappa Upsilon honor societies. He was a fellow of the American and International College of Dentists and the Academy of Dentistry International as well.
Born in San Francisco on June 29, 1925, to Italian immigrant parents, Dugoni excelled in track and basketball before graduating as valedictorian from St. James High School. He briefly attended the University of San Francisco before completing his degree at Gonzago University.
Dugoni then began his dental education at the University of Missouri-Kansas City before earning his DDS in 1948 from the College of Physicians & Surgeons in San Francisco, which was the forerunner of the University of the Pacific dental school. He next practiced as a dentist in South San Francisco for 14 years before earning his orthodontics degree in 1963 from the University of Washington in Seattle.
Upon returning to the Bay Area, Dugoni pioneered the mixed dentition orthodontic clinic at the University of the Pacific and maintained a private orthodontic practice in South San Francisco until 1987.
Dugoni is survived by his companion, Cathie Perga; his children, Steven, Michael, Russell, Mary Rouleau, Diane Harris, Arthur, and James; his sister, Evelyn Fiorina; 15 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife, Katherine; his parents, Arthur and Lina; and his brother, William.
Donations may be sent to the Art Dugoni Scholar Fund, an endowment that will support a Dugoni dental student.
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