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Jeske: How necessity birthed passion for teaching

Longtime faculty receives Honorary Alumnus Award in recognition of distinguished service

Published: September 26, 2022 by Kyle Rogers

Arthur Jeske, DMD, PhD (left), holds his Honorary Alumnus Award with Dean John Valenza, DDS.
Arthur Jeske, DMD, PhD (left), holds his Honorary Alumnus Award with Dean John Valenza, DDS. Photo by Brian Schnupp.

Throughout his academic career, one thing has remained constant for Professor Arthur H. Jeske, DMD, PhD—his pledge to teaching.

“I never saw myself doing anything other than teaching,” said Jeske, associate dean for strategic planning and continuing dental education at UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry. “I have always had a commitment to teaching, and it goes back to when I became a graduate student. I got into teaching kind of by necessity.”

Jeske’s exposure to giving instruction himself came at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. While pursuing his PhD in pharmacology, he was appointed his first role teaching medical, dental, and dental hygiene students.

“I had a scholarship to go to graduate school, and part of the obligation was that I teach,” Jeske said. “I supervised a lab for medical students and gave lectures to dental and dental hygiene students. I really enjoyed it. One of the reasons it was fun, was that I found teaching came naturally to me. I also liked being in an academic setting and being able to interact with those other professional students.”

It was also at the Medical College of Georgia where Jeske met two of his faculty mentors—Raymond. P. Ahlquist, PhD; and Louis Paul Gangarosa, DDS, PhD.

“Dr. Ahlquist, who was the chairman of pharmacology at the time, was an internationally renowned pharmacologist, but he loved to teach students. He taught us a method of how to evaluate what we were studying. The method has really stuck with me and is something I continue to share with my students all these years later.

“Dr. Gangarosa was a dentist at the medical college, and he had the same credentials as me with a PhD background. He showed how he applied the research he had done to patient care and is actually one of the reasons I went to dental school.”

Jeske earned his DMD in 1978 and joined the faculty at The University of Texas Dental Branch (now UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry) teaching pharmacology and dentistry.

Jeske’s passion for teaching is twofold—the enthusiasm of the students and continuing education for himself.

“I get a lot of inspiration and energy from the students.” Jeske said. “When I teach, I learn, too. I firmly believe dentistry is a lifelong learning career as much as it is that of patient care.”

Over his tenure at the School of Dentistry, Jeske has served in a variety of leadership positions, including chairman of the Department of Pharmacology (1987-93), chairman of the Department of Restorative Dentistry and Biomaterials (2004-08), associate dean for strategic planning (2008-13), and currently associate dean for strategic planning and continuing dental education.

In appreciation of his more than 40 years of service to students, residents, faculty, and staff as a clinician-scientist, educator, and scholar, Dean John A. Valenza, DDS, honored Jeske with the distinction of Honorary Alumnus of UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry. The award was announced to a stunned Jeske sitting in the front row of his peers in July during the Summer Faculty Retreat.

“This ranks among one of the highest recognitions of my career,” Jeske said. “It really doesn’t get much better than this when talking about UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry, especially coming in as a non-alumnus. I didn’t imagine this award at a faculty retreat, because that’s typically when we recognize annual faculty awards for research, mentoring, and teaching, but that also made it special to be among all my great colleagues at the School of Dentistry.

“When I first got here in 1978, I never knew how I would fit in. It was a new experience, new city, new educational culture, new boss, there were a lot of other things that were new. And time and time again, what keeps me coming in are the people whom I get to work alongside, as well as the students I get to teach.”

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