Dentistry Professor Accepted into ADEA Leadership Institute

By Malcolm Maurice, Health Sciences

WASHINGTON -- Dr. Terri Jones Matthews, a prosthodontics professor in the Howard University College of Dentistry, has been accepted into the esteemed American Dental Education Association Leadership Institute (ADEA).

The institute is a yearlong program designed to foster growth of the nation's most promising individuals at academic dental institutions to become future leaders in dental and higher education. Only a handful of teachers across the country are selected each year.

"The depth and knowledge of the ADEA Leadership Institute speakers provide perspective and prepare you for the challenges you will face as a leader in dental education," Dr. Harinder S. Sandhu, a participant in the 2009 class, said on the ADEA Leadership Institute's website. "The interaction with mentors, advisors, and Fellows creates an essential network for future collaboration and problem solving."

The ADEA is accrediting agency for all U.S. and Canadian dental schools and many allied and postdoctoral dental education programs.  It's mission is to lead individuals and institutions of the dental education community to address contemporary issues influencing education, research, and the delivery of oral health care for the health of the public.

A working mother with three children in college, Matthews said when she heard the news of her acceptance, "It did make me smile."

"It's very nice to be nominated and accepted into such a prestigious institute," she said. "It will help with my professional and personal development."

A native of Baltimore, Matthews completed the prosthodontics program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine in 1983.  She later taught for five years at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry

At the time, women in dentistry were "brand new," Matthews said.

"I was the only black female teacher there, and only one of three women (of nearly 40 dentists)," she said.

She left the University of Pittsburgh to work at prosthodontics practice in Baltimore.

Matthews came to Howard University in 1988 in the fixed prosthodontics division.  She said she was surprised to be around so many extraordinary black dentists.

"I had never met an African-American prosthodontist until I came to Howard," Matthews recalled. "It was great to come here and see the women in dentistry."

One of the women was her new boss, Dr. Jeanne Sinkford, the first female dean of a U.S. dental school,

Being in the dentistry field for nearly 30 years, Matthews understands the difficulties of the work for students. 

"Dental school is a rigorous curriculum," she said.

So, she goes out of her way for her students and patients, many of which have her personal phone number.  She said students grow at their own pace, and she does her best to help facilitate their growth.

"Its good to be more interested in the quality of their work over time," she said "This is one place the students can make sure to get it right."

Students and staff say it's apparent that Matthews likes her job, and that she can be a tough, though caring taskmaster."

"Dr. Matthews is honest," said Shana Dicks, a third-year dental student.  "She gives you what you need, even if it may hurt your feelings.  But it's always to help you and make sure you are prepared, not hurt you."

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