INDIANAPOLIS — Before graduating Indiana University School of Dentistry students cross the stage one by one to accept their degrees, they will listen to parting words from IU Distinguished Professor Emeritus George K. Stookey, one of the world’s renowned leaders in the field of preventive dentistry.
Long considered one of the IU dental school’s living legends, Dr. Stookey devoted his entire career as a scientist, academician and administrator to Indiana University.
He got his start in the mid-1950s as a young IU graduate in the lab of Dr. Joseph Muhler, whose research with IU chemistry professors Harry Day and William Nebergall was on the verge of bringing worldwide acclaim to IU through development of the first successful stannous fluoride formula, which became the decay-preventing agent in Crest toothpaste.
He quickly emerged as a pioneering dental researcher in his own right in such areas of study as fluoride and the early detection of dental caries (decay), turning the IU dental school’s Oral Health Research Institute into a global leader in preventive dentistry research and product testing. His myriad roles at IU have also included service as the dental school’s interim dean, executive associate dean and associate dean for research.
Holding three IU degrees (B.A.’57, MSD’62, Ph.D.’71), Stookey will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree from IU this year. IU awarded him the title of distinguished professor of preventive and community dentistry in 1998.
Since retiring from IU in 2001, Stookey has continued to contribute to Indiana’s economic development as president and CEO of Therametric Technologies, one of the first businesses in the IU Emerging Technologies Center in Indianapolis and now located in Noblesville, Ind.
After the School of Dentistry’s pre-commencement program at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, May 10, the candidates officially graduate during IUPUI’s commencement exercises, also held at the convention center, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, May 11, in Exhibit Halls A-B-C.
John N. Williams, dean of the IU School of Dentistry, will give the welcome and opening remarks at pre-commencement, and Nasser H. Paydar, executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, will give the welcome on behalf of the campus.
The IU dental school’s classes of 2014 are composed of 216 students from hometowns in 18 U.S. states and commonwealths and 16 nations and regions. About 70 percent of the candidates are from Indiana hometowns:
• 102 candidates for the Doctor of Dental Surgery degree • 39 candidates for the Associate of Science degree in dental hygiene • 28 candidates for the dental assisting certificate • 7 candidates for the Bachelor of Science degree in public health dental hygiene • 40 candidates for degrees and certificates in advanced dental programs
At pre-commencement, the dental assisting, dental hygiene and dental classes will each recite a pledge to professionalism led by Cathy J. Roberts, president of the Indiana Dental Assistants Association; Melissa J. Spriggs, president of the Indiana Dental Hygienists’ Association; and Desiree S. Dimond, president of the Indiana Dental Association.
Students receiving the Doctor of Dental Surgery and Doctor of Philosophy degrees have been given the choice of being hooded either by a dental school faculty member or a loved one who holds a doctorate.
Dentistry’s pre-commencement program will be preceded by a Saturday open house and reception from 2 to 4 p.m., hosted by Williams for the graduates and their families at the dental school on the IUPUI campus, 1121 W. Michigan St.
Additional celebrations for dental graduates and their families include the school’s awards program and breakfast at the Indiana Convention Center on May 11, which leads into IUPUI’s commencement. A total of 59 graduating students of dentistry will be recognized with 104 honors and awards, including 17 men and women who were inducted at a previous ceremony into Theta Chapter of Sigma Phi Alpha national dental hygiene honor society and Theta Theta Chapter of Omicron Kappa Upsilon national dental honor society.
This year marks the 136th graduating class for Indiana’s dental school, which began as the Indiana Dental College in 1879 and became part of IU in 1925. Classes have graduated every year since 1880 except for 1920, the year the school transitioned from a three- to a four-year dental program. To aid in the war effort during World War II, the dental school graduated two Doctor of Dental Surgery classes in 1942 and 1944.