A stalwart of dental education
By Emily Leighton, MA’13
51 years. More than 2,500 graduates. Numerous academic leadership roles. Dr. Stanley Kogon represents the long tradition of extraordinary dental education at Western University.
“My claim to fame is that I’ve taught every dental student who graduated from Western,” he said with a laugh.
After five decades of service, he has been instrumental in advancing Schulich Dentistry’s education mission through administrative and clinical leadership, and teaching excellence.
And although retired since June 2017, with plans to travel and spend more time with his grandchildren, Dr. Kogon will remain connected to the School as an adjunct professor for the foreseeable future.
“This place was a big part of my life,” he said. “I continue to want to make it as good as it can be.”
Dr. Kogon’s long association with Western University began in 1967 when he approached founding Dean of Dentistry Dr. Wesley Dunn with the hopes ofhelping to teach in the new dental school, which had just taken its first class in 1966. With a dental degree from the University of Toronto and several years of general practice under his belt, he was hired as a Demonstrator to teach oral anatomy, dental anatomy and oral histology with the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology.
In 1968, Dr. Kogon decided to enrol as a student at Western, and completed a master’s degree in pathology with well-known oral pathologist Dr. Gardiner. Even before completing his graduate studies, he was offered a position as an assistant professor in Oral Medicine.
"Although I never completely left private practice, I felt that there were opportunities in teaching, research and administration which would offer more scope to my professional life," he said.
Dr. Kogon’s passion and dedication for dental education is evident in the numerous leadership positions he has held throughout the years.
During the leadership of former Dean Dr. Ralph Brooke, he was appointed as Chair of the Division of Oral Medicine, a position he held for 25 years. During this period, he also led the Divisions of Radiology and Periodontics, and was tasked with rebuilding the School’s strength in these disciplines.
“There was a period of time when I was chairing three divisions,” Dr. Kogon explained. “I was focused on rebuilding and hiring new faculty, as well as curriculum development and management. They were busy and exciting times.”
In 1995, Dr. Kogon became Associate Dean and Director of Clinics at the School, a role he held until 2001. While at the helm of this portfolio, he led a major change in how dental students were clinically trained and assessed – transitioning the School’s clinics to a patient-centred model of care.
“This was an enormous change in philosophy, student assessment and understanding patient needs,” he explained. “But it was an important change in the evolution of the School.”
Testament to his academic leadership skills, Dr. Kogon was appointed to Schulich Dentistry’s top post, serving first as Interim Director in 1997-98, then as Director from 1999 to 2004.
During this time, he helped manage the complexities of merging with Western’s Faculty of Medicine. “There was no blueprint on how to merge the faculties, so that was a challenge,” he said. “But it was an important step in the success of the School – Dentistry became more visible, and was seen as a vital part of the university’s science community. The merger also opened up new opportunities for research collaboration with our medicine colleagues.”
Renovations and facility updates were also significant milestones during Dr. Kogon’s leadership. In the early 2000s, major facility updates were completed, including the paediatric clinic, new patient reception areas, the multifunctional clinic, some areas of the main treatment clinic, facilities for sterilization and instrument distribution, and improved student infrastructure. The expansion of the Dental Sciences Building also enabled room to build a designated research area on the Lower Ground (LG) Floor.
“I’m very proud of the decisions we made to invest in these projects,” said Dr. Kogon. “The result is that we have well-designed and attractive spaces for students and faculty.”
More recently, Dr. Kogon promtoed and oversaw the construction of a new preclinical Simulation Laboratory. This new facility on the Lower Lower Ground (LLG) Floor is a sophisticated training space equipped with the latest teaching and dental technology.
"This project was done at a significant time in the School's history," said Dr. Kogon. "It put our School again at the forefront of preclinical dental education."
In addition to his strengths in education and administration, Dr. Kogon is also an expert in forensic dentistry, and has worked with Ontario’s Coroner’s Office, Ontario Forensic Pathology Service and police agencies since 1970.
His work in this area has been carried out on an international scale. In 1998, he assisted in the Swiss Air disaster identification process in Nova Scotia. In 2004, he was sent by the Canadian government to assist in the identification of the tsunami victims in Thailand.
Dr. Kogon is also a co-developer of a computerized aid to dental identification, DIP3W, which is in active use in Ontario and whose logic is incorporated in the RCMP nation-wide identification system.
“Helping families, giving them a sense of relief and understanding about what happened to their loved ones, is important, and I’m immensely proud of that work,” he said. “It’s quite meaningful to me to be able to make these contributions to the citizens of Ontario.”
Reflecting on his award-winning career and contributions to dental education, Dr. Kogon believes that, even with the advances in technology, the spirit of teaching hasn't changed in his 51 years at the School. “Good teaching by dedicated teachers at the chair and in the classroom – that is still the fundamental piece,” he said.
This view is affirmed when he connects with former students. “I’m always delighted when I meet a dentist who graduated from the School and they remember me – that they take the time to say hello and share their memories is enormously pleasing,” he said. “It makes this whole transit of time even more satisfying and worthwhile.”
“I look at my career with a degree of satisfaction,” he added with a smile. “I’ve been able to survive it all and make, what I think are, useful contributions to science, education and administration."