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Polverini Named Distinguished University Professor

Ann Arbor, MI — May 21, 2015 — Dr. Peter Polverini received one of the University of Michigan’s top honors today as he was named the Jonathan Taft Distinguished University Professor of Dentistry.  The appointment, made this afternoon by U-M Regents, is effective September 1. 

Polverini is the first from the School of Dentistry to receive the prestigious distinction.  He was dean of the School of Dentistry from 2003 to 2013.

Distinguished University Professorships recognize exceptional scholarly and/or creative achievements, national and international reputation, superior teaching and mentoring, and an impressive record of service.  When it created these positions in 1947, the Board of Regents wanted Distinguished University Professors to be recognized for their major contributions to the university, the nation and the world.

Notable Achievements

In a nomination letter, Dean Laurie McCauley and Dr. Paul Krebsbach, chair of the Department of Biologic and Materials Sciences, noted that Polverini “has had a distinguished career in vascular biology…and has long been an influential figure in academic dentistry.”  Citing some of his other achievements, they described Polverini as “a remarkable mentor and visionary who has fostered leadership development, community and global outreach, and innovative and biomedically-integrated dental education.”

McCauley and Krebsbach detailed Polverini’s leadership that resulted in “extensive curriculum redesign” at the School of Dentistry.  In reshaping of dental education at U-M they noted many new opportunities were created.  The curriculum now allows students to engage in team-based learning and patient care, explore “pathways” of their choosing to enhance their education and career goals, participate in leadership initiatives, and collaborate with other schools and colleges on campus to establish interprofessional education.

As a result of these and other efforts, they wrote, “Education at the School of Dentistry at the University of Michigan has been largely reborn during the last five years.”

Nine individuals, including a U-M president emeritus, three deans, a dean emeritus, two associate deans, a professor, and an associate vice chancellor for research all offered testimonials about Polverini’s achievements and what they gained from their professional and personal interactions with him.

Naming the Professorship

Each distinguished professorship bears a special name that is determined by the appointed professor in consultation with his or her dean.  Regent bylaws state the name of the professorship shall be “the name of a person of distinction in the same general field of interest, preferably a person formerly associated with the university.”  It is fitting that this professorship is named for Jonathan Taft was the School of Dentistry’s first dean (1875-1903). 

In a tradition that began more than 10 years ago, newly-appointed Distinguished University Professors deliver an inaugural lecture that highlights their work at U-M, typically during the first or second full year of their appointment.  No date, topic or location has yet been set for Polverini’s lecture.