Celebrating 50 years of Dentistry

Celebrating 50 years of Dentistry

Schulich Dentistry is gearing up for a special year-long Anniversary celebration.

Dentistry’s 50 extraordinary years will be celebrated throughout 2015 with numerous events and activities planned. The activities will culminate at a special celebration weekend, and during Homecoming, in September.

Each month leading up to September, a different decade will be celebrated, highlighting the people, achievements and special events that made it memorable. You can visit the 50th Anniversary website to learn more about the events and activities and learn more about the great people and history of Schulich Dentistry.

Five decades, five alumni, five stories – a lifetime of experiences

Drs. Peter Fendrich, Steven Bajura, Theresa Hofstede, Veronica Lee and Amar Kuruganti share their memories about their four years studying dentistry at Western University – the highs, the lows and everything in between.

Dr. Peter Fendrich, DDS’75

It was 1972 when Dr. Peter Fendrich, DDS’75, and his classmates found themselves glued to a television at Saugeen-Maitland residence for the Canada-Russia hockey series. They were not alone – the rest of Canada joined them in spirit and collectively cheered as Paul Henderson scored the series-winning goal.

For Dr. Fendrich, the hockey game was a break from the intense learning required in dentistry, where the sheer volume of material was formidable and the achievement of precision and detail a challenge. His class was fortunate to be taught by amazing faculty.

Individuals such as Dr. John Gwinett, considered a pioneer in the area of bonding, and dynamic personalities such as Drs. Stan Kogon, Hy Goldberg, Wilf Feasby, Gerry Wright, Paul Sills and Ron Jordan. “The thing that made them special was how they imparted knowledge,” said Dr. Fendrich.

Despite the long days of studying, the 47 members of the Class of ’75 will be remembered for their creative celebrations during Homecoming and Winter Weekend.

As a faculty member since 1977, Dr. Fendrich advises today’s students and new dentists to maintain their knowledge base through continuing education and remember that “connecting” with patients is paramount to making the practice of dentistry a worthwhile experience.

Dr. Steven Bajura, DDS’85

Growing up, Dr. Steven Bajura, DDS’85, had always dreamed of being a dentist.

And in 1981, he came to a turning point in his life – accept a job offer, pursue his PhD, or apply to dentistry? With the encouragement of his wife, he took the chance and applied to Western’s then Faculty of Dentistry.

With that, he became a member of the Class of 1985. He was joined by 55 other students, including nine women. It didn’t take long for the class to become cohesive. At the University’s Winter Carnival, they made a memorable snow sculpture, the “General Molars '57 Chevy Incisor.”

His class was taught by outstanding faculty. “They were all engaging and totally committed to providing us with the best education any dental school in North America could deliver.” Unquestionably, Dr. Ronald E. Jordan was a standout. He was a prolific and sought after speaker, who still took the time to teach and mentor students.

It was the 1980s and people were listening to John Mellencamp and Soft Cell on the radio, watching Magnum PI and Cheers on television, becoming more familiar with the acronyms HIV/AIDS, and with heads of state including Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Brian Mulroney.

Dr. Theresa Maria Hofstede, DDS’91

Dr. Theresa Maria Hofstede began studying dentistry in 1987. The next four years at Western University were the most formative years of her career, with the culmination of hard work, good friends and exceptional mentors.

While Canadians were talking about the Goods and Services Tax, the new Skydome, the Gulf War and the trading of Wayne Gretzky to the L.A. Kings, Dr. Hofstede learned how to tackle 14 finals in the span of one week, and became more involved with the summer research group working on dental materials testing.

Dr. Hofstede originally came to Western to study dentistry because of its reputation as the best program in the country. She wasn’t disappointed. “There were so many faculty members who could fall into my ‘favourite’ category, and many had a strong influence on my development as a dental professional,” she said. For her, however, Dr. Paul Sills stands out, as he introduced her to the field of maxillofacial prosthodontics, the specialty she now practises.

Dr. Hofstede focuses on the highly specialized field of rehabilitation for post-cancer patients. She advises current students not to shy away from the challenging cases, as they will learn the most from them.

Dr. Veronica Lee, DDS’07

Studying dentistry is a family affair for the Lees, as is attending Western University. So when Dr. Veronica Lee, DDS’07, was considering dental school, it was an easy decision. Her father had graduated from Western in 1974, a school he loved, and Dr. Lee had heard about its reputation for great clinical skills development for most of her life.

Dr. Lee’s experience mirrored that of her father’s. “I loved the whole dental school experience,” she said. “I had a wonderful class that helped each other with notes, studying, and clinical requirements. It was a very hectic and busy time, but I made some life-long friends.”

The Class of 2007 was known for their wonderful skit night performances, videos and their small but mighty slow pitch team that won almost every year.

In the classroom and clinic they benefited from the outstanding teaching of so many faculty, including the memorable Dr. Haase, as well as Dr. Daley, who Lee described as the “perfect” professor. “We studied hard and partied hard,” said Dr. Lee. They did so amidst the Blackout of 2003, the SARS outbreak, and the capture of Saddam Hussein.

Dr. Amar Kuruganti, DDS’14

"Dental school was the hardest, most stressful, most enjoyable and life-changing experience,” said Dr. Amar Kuruganti, DDS’14.

Dr. Kuruganti chose Schulich Dentistry based on its reputation for offering exceptional student and academic experience.

During his four years, Dr. Kuruganti was active in student government, the dentistry curriculum committee and various outreach activities. Like his fellow alumni, he found the most challenging aspect of dental school was achieving balance.

“We were expected to learn and integrate a vast amount of knowledge, develop novel hand skills and manage multiple clinic responsibilities, while balancing extracurricular activities and a personal life,” said Dr. Kuruganti.

He’s very grateful to Drs. Amornsang, Bajura, Daley, Darling, Ferrier, Ibarra and Manzur for their genuine care and dedication toward providing quality clinical and didactic dental education.

His greatest memories remain with his classmates, and the many experiences they shared. He thinks of his class as a second family. “While I expected to make close friends, I never imagined we’d all become so close."