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Gifts Mean New Scholarships, Professorship, Dedicated Fund

Monday, March 11, 2013 - 3:40pm

Dr. and Mrs. Leslie Fullerton

Associate Professor Emeritus Les Fullerton, DDS, and his wife, Tricia, executive director of the UTSD Alumni Association, made one of four gifts making news at UTSD. Photo by Brian Schnupp.

Four major gifts to The University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston totaling $360,000 will fund two new scholarships, a new endowed professorship and enhancements to the Alumni Circle on the fourth floor. The donors include Tan V. Vu, DDS; Michael Schwinn, DDS; Professor John M. Powers, PhD, and his wife, Susan M. Powers, PharmD; and Associate Professor Emeritus Leslie O. Fullerton, DDS, MS, and his wife, UTSD Alumni Association Executive Director Tricia Fullerton.

With UTSD poised for major advances, these gifts from committed alumni and faculty of the school come at a crucial time, said John A. Valenza, DDS, dean of the School of Dentistry.

“Each of these gifts by itself is a significant contribution,” Valenza said. “But coming in such rapid succession they also represent a major step forward for the school. The generosity of these four families will make a real impact for key initiatives – faculty and student support, and enriching our physical space.”

Alumni Circle Dedicated Fund
A $100,000 gift from Associate Professor Emeritus Leslie O. Fullerton, DDS, MS, and his wife, UTSD Alumni Association Executive Director Tricia Fullerton, will create a dedicated fund for enhancing the Alumni Circle and adjacent space on the fourth floor UTSD’s new building. This will include adding plaques, displays and furnishings to the space highlighting the achievements and professional excellence of previous graduates.

“The Alumni Circle is a special part of our new building, and the generosity of Dr. and Mrs. Fullerton will ensure that this fourth-floor area honoring alumni, faculty and students is an attractive, inviting space that reminds past, present and future members of the UTSD family of those who have gone before them,” Valenza said.

Now retired, Dr. Fullerton is a 1965 graduate of the School of Dentistry and has long been among the school’s most active alumni, serving as past president of the UTSD Alumni Association and current board member of the Alumni Foundation – Houston School of Dentistry.

Oral Biomaterials Professorship

Professor John M. Powers, PhD, (right) accepts an honorary doctorate from Nippon Dental University in Japan.

Dr. Powers

Professor John M. Powers, PhD, of the Department of Restorative Dentistry and Prosthodontics, and his wife, Susan M. Powers, PharmD, have given $100,000 to create the John M. Powers, PhD, Professorship in Oral Biomaterials. Dr. John Powers currently lives in Michigan but has remained active with UTSD since joining the faculty in 1988. He was the founding director of the Houston Biomaterials Research Center, now known as the Houston Center for Biomaterials and Biomimetics. Powers recently received the International Association for Dental Research’s highest honor, the Wilmer Souder Award.

“UTSD has allowed me to mentor numerous students, residents and junior faculty, accomplish meaningful research and advance education in oral biomaterials,” Powers said. “This endowed professorship in oral biomaterials will allow UTSD to attract and support outstanding faculty in the future.”

Two New Scholarships

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Dr. Schwinn

Dr. Tan Vu

Dr. Tan Vu

Tan V. Vu, DDS, pledged $100,000 for a new endowed scholarship. Vu, a native of Vietnam who fled the country as a teen, is a 1992 graduate of UTSD and practices in Houston. His donation matches the largest single scholarship gift in the school’s history.

“Dr. Vu survived refugee camps in Thailand and the Philippines before coming to America, and his success is a truly inspiring story,” said John Greer, executive director of development for UTSD.

The Vu Scholarship will be awarded to an exemplary dental student in financial need. The endowment will fund multiple scholarships.

Other deserving students will get assistance from a new endowed scholarship funded by a $60,000 gift from Michael Schwinn, DDS. A 1981 UTSD graduate, Schwinn has practiced dentistry in Hawaii for the past 30 years. Although he lives in Honolulu, Schwinn is originally from Houston and said a piece of him will always remain deep in the heart of Texas.

Schwinn’s gift was a welcome but unforeseen windfall for the school, Greer added, borne of Schwinn’s desire to give back to UTSD.