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DDS Class of 2025 welcomed to dental profession with white coat ceremony

Published: January 30, 2023 by Kyle Rogers

Group of dental students read The Dentist's Pledge during 24th Annual DDS White Coat Ceremony.
Over 100 dental students were recognized during UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry's 24th Annual DDS White Coat Ceremony on Jan 24. Photo by Brian Schnupp.
Two men, UTSD Alumni Association President Ron Collins, DDS ’79 (left), and Dean John A. Valenza, DDS ’81, stand at the podium reading The Dentists' Pledge from program insert.
UTSD Alumni Association President Ron Collins, DDS ’79 (left), and Dean John A. Valenza, DDS ’81, lead the DDS Class of 2025 through The Dentist's Pledge. Photo by Brian Schnupp.

UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry welcomed 105 students from the Dental Class of 2025 to the health care profession during the 24th Annual DDS White Coat Ceremony in late January.

The landmark ceremony saw family members join the second-year dental class Jan. 28 in the Denton A. Cooley, MD and Ralph C. Cooley, DDS University Life Center. Due to demand, the event was offered in a hybrid format with attendees in the room, in additional seating in the fourth-floor classrooms, and viewing online via Cisco Webex. Photos from the White Coat Ceremony can be viewed on Flickr, and a replay of the event is available on YouTube.

In his opening remarks, Dean John A. Valenza, DDS ’81, summarized what the 2025 class will face as they go forward in dental school in one word—change.

“You started in the midst of a pandemic,” Valenza said. “Each year of dental school is different than the one before, and there is much more going on around you. Just to name a few, health care and economic change are impacting dentistry. New models of dental practice and dental care delivery have emerged. Dentistry has entered the digital era—and that includes [UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry].”

Valenza said the School of Dentistry will implement new teaching and student assessment models starting in fall 2023, and in fall 2024, the dental school will launch a new curriculum that reorganizes the DDS Program into three themes—the art, science, and practice of dentistry—while continuing to weave threads such as diversity; evidence-based dentistry; ethics and professionalism; genetics; geriatrics; health promotion and disease prevention; nutrition; and more.

Alumnus W. Kenneth Horwitz, DDS ’61, welcomed the 2025 class on their journey for “dental knowledge” and told them to not second guess choosing dentistry as their profession during his keynote speech.

“I am sure as you progress, you will experience some trepidation, some fear that makes you dream about law school, medical school, or business school,” Horwitz said. “Don’t fret; don’t give it a second thought. I know you have made the right decision, but what is even more important is you will know you made the right decision very, very soon. The further along you progress in your studies, the more relaxed you will become, and when you do that, the more you will learn.”

UTSD Alumni Association President Ron Collins, DDS ’79, adjunct assistant professor, led students through The Dentist’s Pledge alongside Valenza. Attendees also heard from Michael J. Anton, DDS ’87, president of the UTSD Family and Friends Association; and Glennis Katzmark, DDS ’17, immediate past president of the Houston Academy of General Dentistry, as part of the program.

Robert Spears, PhD, associate dean for student and academic affairs, emceed the ceremony, announcing each dental student and coater, and Ralph Cooley, DDS, assistant dean for admissions and student services, bookended the ceremony, leading the processional of students and providing closing remarks.

The UTSD Alumni Association provided the personalized white coats for the ceremony. Event sponsors included the UTSD Family and Friends Association, Greater Houston Dental Society, Houston Academy of General Dentistry, and the School of Dentistry’s Office of Student and Academic Affairs.

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