John A. Valenza, DDS, distinguished teaching professor in the Department of General Practice and Dental Public Health, was appointed dean June 1, 2011 by Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, MD, president of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). Dr. Valenza had been serving as interim dean since June 2009. He holds the William N. Finnegan, III Professorship in the Dental Sciences.
Dr. Valenza is a Houston native who attended The University of Texas at Austin before enrolling at the UTHealth School of Dentistry (UTSD), where he graduated in 1981. He completed a general practice residency at The University of Tennessee Memorial Hospital and practiced full time in the Nashville, Tenn. area from 1982-87 while also serving part-time on the faculty of Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry.
In 1987, he was appointed to the full-time faculty at UTSD (then known as the UT Dental Branch), where he initiated the award-winning General Practice Residency program with Memorial Hermann Hospital, serving as the program's director until 1996. From 1994-96, he also served as director of Advanced Education and Extramural Affairs.
In 1996, Dr. Valenza was named associate dean for patient care, a position he held until 2004. During this time, he oversaw many innovations affecting patient care, including:
From 2002-04, Dr. Valenza also served as acting chair of a new Department of Diagnostic Sciences, overseeing initiation of a number of new courses and clinics.
He served as UTSD’s executive associate dean from 2004 to 2009 and was directly responsible for several initiatives, such as starting the faculty practice (UT*Dentists), developing a clinical simulation clinic, converting to electronic patient records and digital radiography, and obtaining new equipment for UTSD clinics. He oversaw two departments (Educational Support Services and Educational and Technology Services) that are responsible for technology, informatics and general educational support at the school.
Dr. Valenza also led the design, planning and construction of a new, 314,000-square-foot building and conference center to replace UTSD’s 1955 facility. The new building was completed in May 2012.
He is a fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry, the American College of Dentists and the International College of Dentists, and he is a member of the American Dental Association, Texas Dental Association, Greater Houston Dental Society, American Dental Education Association and the American Association of Hospital Dentists. In 2007, he was inducted into The University of Texas Academy of Health Science Education.