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Dr. Bettie McKaig, first female ADA vice president, dies

February 10, 2020

By Kimber Solana

Dr. Bettie R. McKaig, who served as the Association’s first female vice president from 1998-99, died Feb. 3. She was 70.
   
Most recently, Dr. McKaig served in 2019 as the first female president of the International College of Dentists and as an active adjunct faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
   
Photo of Dr. McKaig
Dr. McKaig
“For any of us who had the pleasure to know Dr. McKaig, to say that this is an incredible loss is an understatement,” said Dr. Scott S. De Rossi, dean and professor at the UNC at Chapel Hill Adams School of Dentistry, in a message to the UNC dentistry community. “A passionate, strong woman, she forged new paths for female practitioners — both dentists and hygienists alike. She dedicated her career to caring for patients but also to being an advocate for providers in dental hygiene and dentistry and especially for women in the profession.”
   
In addition to the ICD and ADA, Dr. McKaig served in 1995-96 as the first female president of the North Carolina Dental Society, which recognized her service to the profession with the 2012 Distinguished Service Scroll Award.
   
Dr. McKaig also served as chair of the ADA Council on Membership, president of the North Carolina Academy of General Dentistry and president of the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners.
   
She was a fellow with the International College of Dentists, American Academy of General Dentistry and the American College of Dentists.
   
Dr. McKaig received her bachelor’s degree, dental degree and a master’s degree in public health administration from the University of North Carolina, where she continued to serve in her career as a faculty member.
   
In a 1998 interview with the Triangle Business Journal after her election as ADA vice president, Dr. McKaig said she hoped to continue the Association’s efforts “to preserve the patient’s freedom of choice of their dentists and to preserve the doctor-patient relationship.”
   
“North Carolina has always been a leader in that,” said Dr. McKaig, who practiced general dentistry in Raleigh, North Carolina.
   
Dr. McKaig was recognized multiple times by the UNC Dental Alumni Association, including a Distinguished Service Award in 1991 and a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2011.
   
“I find myself wanting to continue explaining her impact, but I am not sure it is actually possible to articulate what Dr. McKaig has meant to the landscape of dental hygiene and dentistry at local and international levels, nor what she has meant to our school,” Dr. De Rossi said. “Her influence will surely be felt for many generations to come — after all, she has spent many of her Fridays here teaching the next generation of practitioners.”
   
Dr. McKaig is survived by her husband, Dr. Ross Vaughan, her siblings, Vicki Hanna and Glenn Raybon, along with her step-children, Gordon Vaughan, Sarah Vaughan and Scott Vaughan.
   
A celebration of life is scheduled Feb. 15 at the Carolina Club, 150 Stadium Drive, from 12-3 p.m. EST. Dr. McKaig’s family requests donations to the Bettie McKaig Scholarship Fund, which she established at the UNC at Chapel Hill Adams School of Dentistry.