School News

Posted on: Monday, 04/15/2019

Endowed Chair in Restorative Dentistry Established

Ellisons create 12th endowed chairDr. Naomi Ellison ’81, and her husband, Jim Ellison, established the Naomi and Jim Ellison Endowed Chair with a $1 million gift. The chair will be used to recruit and retain star faculty to practice and teach restorative dentistry. The donation establishes the twelfth endowed chair at the dental school and the third in the past five years.

Dr. Naomi Ellison received her dental degree at UCLA in 1981, and she made her first gift to the dental school when she was still a student, to support a subsidy fund for patients from underserved populations. She has selflessly dedicated her time and energy to elevating the dental school through decades of counsel and philanthropic leadership, including her service as chair of the UCLA School of Dentistry’s board of counselors for the past 25 years. She has helped raise more than $55 million to support UCLA Dentistry’s mission for excellence in dental education, research, service, and patient care.

The couple chose to endow a faculty chair in restorative dentistry, in part because they knew it would benefit the dental school for many years to come, and also because they hope that the gift will inspire other alumni of the dental school to consider giving back to their alma mater. For full announcement.

Judith Albino - Commencement SpeakerCommencement Speaker Announced

The UCLA School of Dentistry will hold its 52nd Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, June 2, 2019, in Royce Hall. Dr. Judith Albino, president emerita of the University of Colorado and a professor at the Colorado School of Public Health, is giving this year’s commencement keynote address. She currently serves as project co-director and scientific editor for the 2020 Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health in America.

Most recently, Dr. Albino’s research has focused on oral health in American Indian populations. She was the principal investigator and director of the Center for Native Oral Health Research, which recently completed two major clinical trials to prevent early childhood caries in tribal children. This work builds upon her earlier career focus, which was on social and cognitive strategies for instilling oral health-enhancing behaviors in adolescents. She has served on both corporate and non-profit boards, and is currently the chair of the board of Caring for Colorado, a health grant-making foundation. We look forward to having Dr. Albino join us in June.

Scholarship Ceremony Provides Opportunity for Gratitude

The dental school held a Scholarship Ceremony Luncheon on Saturday, April 13, at the Luskin Conference Center, where student awardees were formally recognized for the scholarships they received by their colleagues, mentors, and donors. The luncheon debuted a new location and new format, and provided an opportunity for students to personally thank the donors for providing scholarship support, which helps offset their debt burden after graduation. 

The UCLA School of Dentistry takes great pride in its ability to provide a high-quality, more affordable dental education for its predoctoral students who are among the best and brightest in field. Every year, the dental school awards over $2M in financial aid from dental school and university sources.

Thank you to all the donors who attended the ceremony, your support helps our students focus on what matters most—becoming the best dentist they can be.

Scholarship Ceremony Luncheon

Future Looks Bright

According to U.S. News and World Report, four oral health professions were among the top 10 spots on the 100 Best Jobs in America for 2019. A general dentist made the no. 4 spot, followed by an orthodontist at the no. 5 spot; both professions had unemployment rates of less than 1 percent. Oral surgeons and prosthodontists were tied for the no. 9 spot, and oral surgeons have almost a zero percent unemployment rate. View the full list of top 100 professions.

UCLA SoD Building

New Sights and Sounds

The A-level classrooms, A3-011, A3-017, and A3-023, now have ceiling mounted speakers and 75” monitors that can display images in each separate room, two rooms, or all three rooms. Sensors tied to the accordion walls will automatically detect which monitors will be in use. The new A/V system can be operated by the user-friendly touch pad interface located in each room. The system also has VGA and HDMI options. The Wolcott Conference room on the same level now has new 65” monitors which are supplied with VGA and HDMI cables to connect devices directly to the monitors. We ask everyone to be respectful of the new equipment. For questions and room reservations, please contact Junior Alcocer at

Welcome to our new Apollonian Society Recent Grad Chair

The UCLA School of Dentistry welcomes our first-ever Apollonian Society Recent Graduate Co-Chair, Dr. Michelle Okamoto, Class of 2013, who is stepping in to serve alongside Drs. Ronald Mito and Mo Budak. In this role, she will work to engage alumni, especially recent graduates, who are looking to stay connected with UCLA Dentistry. She will also help raise funds to support the next generation of student dentists.

Since graduation, Dr. Okamoto has remained involved with UCLA Dentistry by attending events through the UCLA Dentistry Alumni Association and the UCLA Bay Cities Alumni Chapter. She is an Apollonian Society Member, and she also serves as a guest speaker for an annual lecture on professionalism for the first year dental students. She currently works as a general dentist in Torrance, Calif., alongside her father, Dr. Steve Okamoto, Class of 1984.

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