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UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry will be closed from Monday, Dec. 25, to Monday, Jan. 1, in observance of winter break.

The School of Dentistry will reopen Tuesday, Jan. 2, and the Urgent Care Clinic will reopen Wednesday, Jan. 3 (by appointment only).

School of Dentistry's 3rd annual Diversity, Inclusion, & Equity Week goes virtual

Published: January 25, 2021 by Kyle Rogers

Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott
Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott shared a special message on her "Texanthropy" initiative during Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Week.

The third annual Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Week at UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry went virtual for the first time due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Across Jan. 19-23, participants logged in via Cisco Webex for a variety of programs organized by the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Wellness Council.

Recordings of each event are available on Panopto (UTHealth credentials required for log-in).

  • Jan. 19
    • “Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity: From Words to Action”
      • Keynote presentation from Dennis Kennedy, founder and chair of the National Diversity Council, and Jobi Martinez, PhD, executive director of Racial Justice Institute;
      • The presentation explained meanings behind words such as diversity, equity, inclusion, belongingness, and antiracism. The presenters also recognized the demographic shift in the U.S., the role of diversity, equity, and inclusion in healthcare, and the need for personal action plans to tackle systemic racism.
  • Jan. 20
    • “LGBTQ+ Care: What the Dentist Should Know”
      • Presented by Alex Barrera, DDS ’17, president of the Houston Equality Dental Network;
      • The presentation broke down common LGBTQ+ terminology, how to recognize disparities, acknowledge the role competency plays in dentistry, and interpret how to be a better ally to this community.
  • Jan. 21
    • “Texanthropy”
      • A special message from Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott on the importance of service.
    • “Past, Present, and Future of Disability Inclusion”
      • Presented by Lex Frieden, MA, LLD, professor at UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics;
      • In the presentation, Frieden looked back at his life, role in creation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and hardships still faced by this community.
    • “Diversity Perspectives from Practicing Dentists”
      • Panel discussion presented by the Greater Houston Dental Society;
      • GHDS members shared perspectives and experiences from their dental journeys. Moderated by GHDS President Victor Rodriguez, DDS ’95, MEd.
  • Jan. 22
    • “My Journey to Oral Health”
      • Q&A session with Professor David Fray, DDS ’79, and Beatrice Degree, a patient at UTSD;
      • Degree, who has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, discussed overcoming her fear of going to the dentist and her positive experiences during her continued visits to UTSD. She stressed the importance for dental and dental hygiene faculty and students to check with patients with special needs about their health condition, make sure they are comfortable, and build trust.
    • Student-led Activity
      • Panel discussion with UTSD dental students Michael Akinyeye, Mackenzie Clayton, Meghna Dara, Nazira Lewis, and Diego Rivas;
      • Students discussed topics such as how to promote diversity, address microaggressions, and be an ally.
  • Jan. 23
    • Mosaic Morning Coffee Shop: Celebrating Diversity Week in Service
      • Presented by Fray, Degree, Jewell Coleman, and Judy Blake;
      • The community wellness event was an informal, listening opportunity to hear from persons with disabilities and celebrate differences. The experience was to virtually “walk” in somebody’s shoes and see the impact of COVID-19. An additional story was shared from the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry;
      • For more information about Mosaic, visit

Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Week was sponsored by the Office of the Dean and the Office of Professional Development and Faculty Affairs.

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