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Dr. Assael named dean of University of Minnesota dental school

June 08, 2012

By Karen Fox, ADA News staff

Dr. Leon Assael

Minneapolis—The University of Minnesota announced May 29 the appointment of Dr. Leon A. Assael, a past chair of the ADA Council on Dental Education and Licensure, as dean of its School of Dentistry.

Dr. Assael's appointment is effective Aug. 1 pending approval by the university's Board of Regents. He succeeds Dr. Judith Buchanan, interim dean. Dr. Assael is a past dean of the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry. Since 2003, he has served as professor and chair of oral and maxillofacial surgery at the Oregon Health and Science University School of Dentistry.

Dr. Assael said he “is honored” to be appointed to this role.

“Being a part of a comprehensive Academic Health Center offers a unique opportunity for collaboration with other health disciplines,” he said. “Plans for the new Ambulatory Care Center will allow for innovation around patient care and interprofessional education. I look forward to working with students, alumni, potential donors, faculty and staff, and to continuing the tradition of excellence established by the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry.”

“Dr. Assael has a wide and deep range of experience, an outstanding reputation, and a compelling vision for the future of dentistry and the U of M School of Dentistry,” said Provost Karen Hanson. “Dentistry and the Academic Health Center faculty and staff, as well as the wider professional community, responded enthusiastically to his candidacy because he is someone who combines broad vision with administrative skill, and he has a proven track record of leadership in the field.”

In a news release, U of M officials cited Dr. Assael's accomplished reputation in research, surgery and teaching, as well as previous experience as a dean.

“Dr. Assael brings senior leadership experience to the School of Dentistry and the university,” said Aaron Friedman, M.D., vice president for health sciences and dean of the U of M Medical School. “I look forward to working with him and the School of Dentistry in furthering the school's missions. His goals for the school fit well with the overall goals of the Academic Health Center, promoting interprofessional education, collaborative research and excellent patient care.”

Dr. Assael is a graduate of Columbia University and earned his dental degree from Harvard University School of Dental Medicine, and a certificate in medical management from the University of Kentucky Gatton School of Business. He completed his residency in oral and maxillofacial surgery at Vanderbilt University.

He is the past editor-in-chief of the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and a diplomate to the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. In 2001, President George W. Bush awarded Dr. Assael the America's Promise Award for advancements in oral health in Appalachia achieved by the University of Kentucky faculty. In 2010, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons awarded him the Board of Trustees special recognition award.

Dr. Assael's primary clinical interest is in the area of facial injuries, facial pain and maxillofacial nerve injuries, and he is a nationally known lecturer on a variety of issues.