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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

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    University Dental School Changes Leadership

    Dr. Ray C. Williams became the new dean of Stony Brook’s School of Dental Medicine on Feb. 1. He comes to Stony Brook from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was the chair of the Department of Periodontology for 15 years.

    Williams’ career in dentistry started out with a mentor suggesting the profession, who thought he would be most happy with a career that had a lot of contact with people. Not only did this mentor think that dentistry was right for Williams, but a professor also urged him to take the path to dental school.

    Williams attended Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., and then headed to the University of Alabama for dental school. He finished his studies at Harvard University.

    Coming to the end of his studies at Harvard, Williams had a choice: He could either join Harvard as the head of the Department of Periodontology or Stony Brook University. Williams took the offer from Harvard, where he stayed for 20 years.

    “I enjoyed being at Harvard,” Williams said. “You can say that when I was there, I grew up in academics. I learned how to be an academician.”

    During his tenure at University of North Carolina, Williams said he enjoyed the challenges of being at such a large school and building up a large department. Although he does say that both Harvard and University of North Carolina were both very different places, with one being a private school and the other being a rather large state school.

    “Dr. Williams has been an exemplary teacher, researcher and colleague, to name just a few of the many ways in which he has contributed to the mission of our School of Dentistry and the promotion of oral health in our state and beyond,” said his former University of North Carolina colleague, John N. Williams, now the dean of its school of dentistry, in a former American Dental Association article. “We congratulate him on this honor and wish him the very best in his new role as dean of the Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine.”

    “Identifying and recruiting new faculty members to modernize and grow the department” was his biggest challenge at North Carolina, Williams said. And as for Harvard, the biggest challenge he faced was building a research laboratory that was adequately funded and could accomplish the research mission of the department.

    While at Harvard, Williams built a graduate training program in periodontology that provided an area for future dental leaders to grow. At University of North Carolina, Williams managed to raise an endowment fund that led to establishing professorships and named fellowships.

    Over the years, in addition to being the chair of the Department of Periodontology, Williams published 130 papers based on his research regarding new ways to prevent and treat periodontal disease. His works have appeared in “The Journal Science” and “The New England Journal of Medicine.”

    Williams says that he has loved Stony Brook since he was a graduate student at Harvard and is happy that he finally had another offer to work to here.

    “I consider this dental school to be the jewel and crown of dentistry in the United States, and it is a wonderful opportunity to be able to work here,” Williams said.

    Some of his goals include the dental school growing in size so that it can provide top level oral care to more citizens, that certain specialties of dentistry, such as oral and maxillofacial surgery, can regain the world eminence that should right be part of Stony Brook University.

    He’s also hopeful that Stony Brook can be the leader in increasing the access to care for young people and that the university will be able to grow their research mission and continue to provide new information and treatment prevention services to dentistry.

    According to Williams, “I’ve only been here a short time but it has been easy to realize the wealth of talent, enthusiasm and dedication that is the School of Dental Medicine. I am a very lucky person.”

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