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Dr. Connie Drisko, GRU dental school dean and Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations chair, dies at 73

June 24, 2014

By Kimber Solana

Dr Connie Drisko
Dr. Connie Drisko
Augusta, Ga
.—Dr. Connie Drisko, the chair of the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations, died June 22 after a short battle with acute myelogenous leukemia. She was 73 years old.
    
A 1980 graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Dr. Drisko spent over three decades as a leader in the dental profession and education.
    
"Dr. Drisko led the (Georgia Regents University) College of Dental Medicine through a remarkable period of growth," said Gretchen Caughman, GRU executive vice president for academic affairs and provost. "She was a remarkable leader, and an unwavering advocate for dentistry and dental education. Connie's spirit will be greatly missed."
    
Dr. Drisko became the college's third dean in 2003. Under her leadership, she oversaw construction of a new state-of-the-art clinical facility. The facility opened in 2001 with 316 clinical operatories, simulation labs and clinics for junior and senior dental students.
    
In addition, the college twice received accreditation by the Commission on Dental Accreditation and has been nationally recognized for student diversity programs that prepared under-represented minority and low-income students for dental practice.
    
In 2012, Dr. Drisko received GRU's inaugural employee Diversity Award for promoting and enhancing diversity among students, faculty and students since she became dean.
    
"Connie's passion for the College of Dental Medicine and dentistry in the state of Georgia was evident to everyone she met," said Dr. Carol Lefebvre, who succeeded Dr. Drisko as dean and who served as associate and vice dean under Dr. Drisko for seven years.
    
"She poured her heart and life into getting us into this new building, and it stands as a monument to her tireless efforts. The college has lost a dear friend."
    
Prior to joining GRU, Dr. Drisko served as director of the Dental Education and Research Center at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry in Louisville, Kentucky. She had previously served as associate professor of periodontics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and as a clinical dental hygiene instructor at Tyler Junior College in Texas and at the University of Oklahoma.
    
Dr. Drisko was a practicing dental hygienist for 16 years before earning her dental degree in 1980.
    
In addition, Dr. Drisko chaired the American Dental Education Association Women's Advisory and Legislative Advisory committees, a member of the Gies Board of Trustees and was a faculty member for the organization's Leadership Institute.
    
Dr. Drisko was also a member of the Georgia Society of Periodontists Executive Committee; a diplomate, former director and chair of the American Board of Periodontology; and a Fellow of the American College of Dentists, the International College of Dentists, the Pierre Fauchard Academy and the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine program.
    
Dr. Drisko is survived by her husband Dr. Richard Drisko; step-daughter Julie Gardner, and her husband, Marc, of Frisco, Texas; sister Carol Barr of Wichita, Kansas; two granddaughters, Kristin Longstaff and Cara Gardner, of Frisco, Texas; and five nieces and nephews.
    
A private family service and burial will be held this week. A memorial service for friends and extended family is being planned for September.
    
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made in Dr. Connie Drisko's memory to the Georgia Health Sciences Foundation, 1120 15th Street, FI-1000, Augusta, GA 30912. Funds will be used to support the College of Dental Medicine's pediatric dentistry outreach programs and other efforts related to the oral health needs of children.