|Left to right: Javed Tariq, Jeanne Sinkford, Gwyndolyn Brown and Deidrea Williams|
At the beginning of June, the James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine had the distinct honor and privilege of hosting Dr. Jeanne Craig Sinkford, an internationally known pioneer in advancement of under-represented minorities and women in the field of dentistry.
Dr. Sinkford serves as a role model for many. She graduated first in her class from Howard University’s College of Dentistry and is known as a dental educator, administrator, researcher, and clinician. During her career, Dr. Sinkford served as dean for Howard University College of Dentistry from 1975 to 1991, making her the first female dean of any U.S. dental school. She served as leader and member of numerous committees and has spent her career working to increase the representation of women and minorities in the dental profession. Some of the councils and organizations she has served on include the National Institutes of Health, National Academy of Sciences NRC Governing Board, White House Conference on Aging, Food and Drug Administration, and the Veteran’s Administration.
Dr. Sinkford also has received a remarkable number of awards, the most recent being the ADA Distinguished Service Award. This is the highest honor one can receive from the ADA and its president, Dr. Maxine Feinberg, commended her for being “a true leader in dentistry.”
The MUSC College of Dental Medicine’s Office of Diversity was founded in the fall of 1996. Since then, it has worked to increase the number of under-represented minority applicants and enrolled students. Dr. Gwendolyn Brown, director of diversity, and Pearl Givens, student services program coordinator, currently work in the Office of Diversity.
Dr. Brown had met Dr. Sinkford at various minority and student recruitment functions and was delighted when Dean Sarandeep Huja asked her to speak at the college. “Sometimes you question whether you are making a difference and she [Dr. Sinkford] confirms that every little thing you do makes a difference,” she said.
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At the beginning of Dr. Sinkford’s visit, student-hosted tours preceded a reception in the grand lobby of the Clinical Education Center. This reception was widely attended by members of the MUSC family including faculty, students, and alumni, as well as Howard University alumni. Dr. Sinkford said that she was surprised at the number of former students and colleagues who had traveled to the event from around South Carolina.
The next day, Dr. Sinkford met with many leaders in the College of Dental Medicine from the Student National Dental Association, participants from the Summer Careers Academy, the Department of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and from the American Association for Women Dentists along with female faculty members. Each of these meetings allowed Dr. Sinkford to share her experiences on the evolution of women in dentistry and fostered conversation about inclusion and diversity within MUSC. In addition, Dr. Sinkford prepared a presentation called “Legacy and Opportunity: The Fork in the Road,” which was attended by staff, faculty, and students. This presentation served as a culmination of her experiences and allowed members of MUSC to truly see the impact she has made during her career.
While Dr. Sinkford’s visit came to an end, the ideas she brought with her will endure. As Dr. Brown said, “She was at the forefront of change and is still working at the forefront of change.” If the past proves anything, it proves that Dr. Sinkford will continue to make an impact in the world of dentistry.
Photos from the event
Continue the impact
Please consider making a donation to the Dr. George C. McTeer Sr. Scholarship, which honors the first African-American dentist to graduate from MUSC. This scholarship supports financially-disadvantaged or first-generation students, students from rural and impoverished areas and those who otherwise would not be able to attend.