Ann Arbor, MI — April 17, 2012 — Surrounded by family, faculty colleagues, staff, students, and friends, Prof. Wendy Kerschbaum received abundant bouquets of “Thank you for all you have done” and was lauded for her life-long contributions to the dental hygiene profession and the School of Dentistry’s dental hygiene program.
The recognition luncheon, organized and led by dental hygiene students, followed Kerschbaum’s January announcement that she would retire as program director at the end of August, but that she would be available to help her successor with the transition when a new academic year begins in September.
Kerschbaum began her career at the School of Dentistry as a part-time clinical instructor after earning her bachelor’s degree from U-M in 1970. She was named dental hygiene program director in 1988, and was only the third director to lead it since the program was created in the 1920s.
A collage of nearly 80 photos showcased Kerschbaum’s career and focused on her achievements as a student, educator, program director, mentor, and visionary. The photos were accompanied by posted remarks from dental hygiene students.
“The Friars,” an all-male a cappella group that is a part of the U-M Glee Club, began the tribute to Kerschbaum with, fittingly, their rendition of “Ain’t too Proud to Beg (Please Don’t Leave),” a 1966 hit by Motown’s Temptations and concluded with “The Victors.”
Elizabeth Easter, DH4 and program emcee, said, “There is so much to celebrate about Mrs. Kerschbaum. She has been a role model for all of us.”
Faculty members who have worked closely with Kerschbaum throughout her career also offered tributes, including:
Karen Ridley, assistant professor of dentistry: “We were never discouraged from trying something new. If something didn’t work, Wendy would tell us, ‘let’s try another way’.” Referring to Kerschbaum’s professionalism: “Wendy always knows her course material and the subject matter, and her exceptional clinical skills were always up to date. She inspires students to learn.”
Susan Taichman, assistant professor of dentistry: “As a new faculty member several years ago, her open door policy meant a lot to me. That helped me professionally, and I also learned that she can see the big picture without losing sight of the small details.”
Janet Kinney, assistant professor of dentistry: “She became my mentor my very first day in clinic as a dental hygiene student when I was not sure I was ready to treat my first patient. That patient later became my husband.”
Mary Layher, research lab specialist: “What a wonderful influence you have been to so many, not just me. You helped me realize many potential opportunities as a dental hygienist. Now it’s my turn. I will be happy to mentor you in having a great time during your retirement.”
Laurie McCauley, former chair of the Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine, which encompasses dental hygiene: “Wendy has the qualities of a leader — a commitment to core values; an inspirational vision that identifies strengths and opportunities; an ability to broadcast a coherent message, not just in words, but in actions; treating faculty, staff, and students with respect; and being innovative and creative in her approach to learning.”
A video message from Ann Battrell, executive director of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, lauded Kerschbaum for her contributions to dental hygiene and announced a special award would be presented to her during ADHA’s annual meeting in Phoenix in June.
Rebecca Van Horn, science liaison for Proctor and Gamble, said the dental hygiene program has played an important role in helping the U-M School of Dentistry remain as one of the nation’s top dental schools. “People respect Wendy because of what she does not just at Michigan, but nationwide as a dental hygiene educator,” Van Horn said.
Wendy Kerschbaum Award
A new award was unveiled during the program. Easter, who is president of the U-M chapter of the Student American Dental Hygienists’ Association, announced the Wendy Kerschbaum SADHA Emerging Leader Award, would be presented annually to a second- or third-year dental hygiene student in SADHA who exhibits a strong commitment to the dental hygiene profession and demonstrates leadership in the organization. The recipient’s name will be engraved on a plaque that will be displayed in the dental hygiene office. The first recipient of the award was Annette Kavanaugh, DH3.
“We Never Do Anything By Ourselves”
Acknowledging those who contributed to her success, Kerschbaum gave special thanks to her father, Dr. Bill Brown (DDS 1945, MS 1947), a former professor of dentistry at U-M and dean of the College of Dentistry at the University of Oklahoma for 18 years. “You were an amazing role model who was committed to excellence and passionate about education,” she said.
Kerschbaum added that her achievements would not have been possible without help from others. “I’m a firm believer that whatever we do, we do not do by ourselves. It takes everyone,” she said.
Advising dental hygiene students “to be open to new opportunities and not to be afraid of stepping outside your comfort zone,” Kerschbaum added, “one step leads to the next and then the next. I hope you enjoy your journey as much as I have enjoyed mine.”
The University of Michigan School of Dentistry is one of the nation’s leading dental schools engaged in oral health care education, research, patient care, and community service. General dental care clinics and specialty clinics providing advanced treatment enable the School to offer dental services and programs to patients throughout Michigan. Classroom and clinic instruction prepare future dentists, dental specialists, and dental hygienists for practice in private offices, hospitals, academia, and public agencies. Research seeks to discover and apply new knowledge that can help patients worldwide. For more information about the School of Dentistry, visit us on the Web at: www.dent.umich.edu.