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Polverini to return as head of School of Dentisty

Former U-M dentistry department chair Dr. Peter Polverini, now a dean at the University of Minnesota, has been recommended as the new leader for the U-M School of Dentistry. The announcement was made Jan. 17 by President Mary Sue Coleman and Provost Paul N. Courant.

Polverini’s appointment as dean of the dental school will be effective on or before July 1, pending approval by the Board of Regents. He also will be appointed as a professor of dentistry with tenure. Polverini currently serves as dean of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry.

“Peter Polverini brings a wealth of experience in both research administration and dental education,” Courant says. “I am delighted he is returning to the University of Michigan as dean, and look forward to working with him to continue and extend the tradition of greatness of our dental school.”

“The U-M is fortunate to have found a leader with the outstanding credentials Polverini brings to the dental school,” Coleman says. “His pioneering work in angiogenesis (the growth of blood vessels), and its relation to cancer and other diseases, has earned him a stellar scientific reputation”

In 1992 Polverini came to the U-M as a professor of dentistry and chief of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology. He was appointed chair of the Department of Oral Medicine/Pathology/Surgery in 1995, and a year later became chair of the Department of Oral Medicine/Pathology/Oncology. In 1996 he also was awarded the Donald A. Kerr Endowed Collegiate Professorship.

"Dr. Polverini is a highly and widely respected researcher and scholar,” Dean William Kotowicz says. “We are delighted to have he and his wife, Carol, returning to Ann Arbor. He has the perspective and experience to help advance the School of Dentistry in the coming years, both on this campus and nationally. His knowledge of the school and the University will enable him to get a quick start in his role as dean.”

Polverini says while getting closer to family and friends was part of the motivation for returning to U-M, his desire to continue active research also was in the forefront of his decision.

“Returning to Michigan gives me the opportunity to be in a world-class academic institution where there is freedom to be creative at a level not possible in many other institutions,” Polverini says. “U-M is a resource-rich environment.”

As dean, he says his first priority will be to engage faculty in discussions about the school’s future.

“I am a firm believer in the concept of service leadership, and my goal will be to make sure faculty are successful,” he says.

Polverini was chosen from a rich pool of candidates, says Search Committee Chair Dr. Laurie McCauley, professor of dentistry and chair of the Department of Periodontics/Prevention/Geriatrics.

“We were looking for a leader who could successfully approach the challenges of running a complex program that involves not only research but extensive teaching and patient care,” McCauley says. “Peter Polverini is an outstanding candidate who has a breadth of strengths. He has an impressive record of scholarly accomplishments and brings a wealth of experience in administering the multifaceted aspects of an academic program in dentistry.”

Polverini’s career began at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine in 1977, where he served as an assistant professor in the Department of Diagnostic and Surgical Sciences. In 1981 he was recruited to Northwestern University Medical and Dental School. While at Northwestern, Polverini directed the Laboratory of Diagnostic Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, helped organize a graduate Ph.D. program in oral and maxillofacial pathology, and developed the Northwestern University Dental School undergraduate dental student research program.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and a D.D.S. from Marquette University. He completed specialty training in oral and maxillofacial pathology at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine and was awarded the doctor of medical sciences degree from the Harvard Medical School.

Polverini is on the editorial board of Laboratory Investigation and the Journal of Oral Pathology and Medicine, and is an associate editor of the journal Angiogenesis. He is a charter member of the National Cancer Institute’s Subcommittee C, Basic and Preclinical Sciences review committee. Polverini also has an active National Institutes of Health-funded research program that focuses on angiogenic signaling pathways, gene expression, and cell survival mechanisms pertinent to tumor development and angiogenesis-dependent diseases.
The appointment of Polverini follows a 10-month search to replace Kotowicz, who was to finish his term in July but agreed to stay until a new dean was found.

"The School of Dentistry and the entire University community are grateful for Dean Kotowicz's leadership, which has spanned over two decades,” Courant says. “He has been instrumental in restructuring the school to its current stature in research and academic programs." Courant went on to express his appreciation to Kotowicz for his willingness to extend his term until the appointment of a new dean.

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