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OHSU School of Dentistry dean steps down

Dr. Ronald Sakaguchi will serve as interim dean until a national search is conducted
Robertson Life Sciences Building
Among the former dean's accomplishments at OHSU was the transition of the dental school in 2014 from the Marquam Hill Campus to a new state-of-the-art training, research and patient care facility in the Skourtes Tower, left, part of the OHSU Robertson Life Sciences Building on the South Waterfront. (OHSU/Kristyna Wentz-Graff)

OHSU Provost Elena Andresen, Ph.D., announced today that Phillip Marucha, D.M.D., Ph.D., will step down as dean of the OHSU School of Dentistry. Beginning Oct. 1, 2020. Dr. Marucha will focus on personal and professional goals until the end of the year and return to support the education and research missions of the school as a tenured professor in the Department of Periodontology, at the beginning of the next calendar year.

Dr. Marucha joined the school in 2013, and he is the ninth dean to lead Oregon’s only dental school since its establishment in 1898. 

“He worked to position the School of Dentistry as a national leader, and to ensure the state’s only dental school remains a viable public resource for underrepresented and marginalized communities statewide,” said Andresen. “We are grateful for his service to OHSU and to the people of Oregon.”

Among Marucha’s accomplishments at OHSU is the successful transition of the dental school in 2014 from its Marquam Hill Campus to a new state-of-the-art training, research and patient care facility in the Skourtes Tower, part of the OHSU Robertson Life Sciences Building at the Schnitzer Campus on the South Waterfront.

Dr. Marucha made significant changes to the predoctoral curriculum and a four-fold increase in research funding to nearly $6 million. He also spearheaded the creation of House Bill 2220, in collaboration with the Oregon Dental Association, which authorizes dentists to administer vaccinations, including measles, flu and HPV. The bill became law in January 2020.

Prior to OHSU, Marucha served as associate dean for research and director of graduate studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry. He received his dental medicine degree from the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine and remained there for a certificate in periodontology and a doctoral degree in immunology. He was elected fellow to the American Dental Education Association Leadership Institute in 2007. 

Dr. Andresen has asked Ronald Sakaguchi, D.D.S., Ph.D., M.B.A., a professor in the OHSU School of Medicine’s Division of Management, to serve as interim dean until a national search for a new dean is conducted. Dr. Sakaguchi brings extensive academic, clinical, financial, operations and research experience to the new appointment, with numerous publications and NIH grants. He is the senior editor of a textbook in dental biomaterials used in dental schools internationally and is trained as a prosthodontist and practiced for many years prior to joining the OHSU School of Dentistry. 

During the COVID pandemic, Sakaguchi was asked by Scott Page, chief of OHSU Operations, and Mike McCaffrey, associate vice president of Logistics, to start up and lead a manufacturing team within OHSU Logistics and Supply Chain to coordinate the production of PPE in collaboration with industry partners, including Nike, A-dec, and BMP America. His team worked to maintain a supply of PPE for OHSU Healthcare throughout the crisis.

Sakaguchi joined the OHSU School of Dentistry in 1994 as an associate professor with tenure. He was promoted to professor in 1999 and served in a number of dental school leadership roles over the years, including associate dean for research and innovation, a position he held from 2007 to 2011, when he joined the Division of Management in the School of Medicine, where he led graduate courses and workshops in innovation, project management, operations management, managerial decisions, and the capstone program in the M.S. and MBA programs in Healthcare Management.

Before joining OHSU, Sakaguchi served as an associate professor with tenure in the Department of Oral Sciences, and member of the Minnesota Dental Research Center for Biomaterials and Biomechanics, in the Dental Research Institute at the University of Minnesota.

Sakaguchi will be joined by a highly skilled team that includes an interim director of clinical operations and quality, an interim fiscal officer, and an organizational development consultant.


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