New Student Leadership Initiatives

Recognizing that dentistry and oral health face challenges and opportunities that will require exceptional leadership as we move forward in the 21st century, NYU Dentistry is prioritizing the development of DDS students to become future leaders for the profession. To that end, the College has launched the NYU Dentistry Dental Student Leadership Institute (DDSLI), which provides a formal structure for students seeking a special focus on leadership to enrich their dental student experience and their future careers. The DDSLI is a three-year, curricular-based program comprised of seminars, workshops, internships, shadowing of leaders, mentoring, and leadership roles. The College has also launched the Global Health Care Leaders Program, a unique professional development experience for students selected from across the DDS program, including Advanced Standing international students, and from the dental hygiene program. Both programs are sponsored by the NYU Dentistry Center for Oral Health Policy and Management, which aims to develop the next generation of policy-oriented leaders for the dental and related health care professions by creating new leadership programming and courses. These initiatives build on the Student Leadership Track and Student Leadership Retreat developed over the past several years by the Office of Student Affairs & Academic Support Services, which has worked to equip students with the skills and tools to foster leadership capacity.

NYU Dentistry Dental Student Leadership Institute Selects Inaugural Class


“Because the rigorous curriculum for dental students focuses predominantly on basic science and clinical care, most learn little about the complexity of the dental and general health care systems — leaving a gap in qualified candidates for faculty and dental leadership positions," said Dean Bertolami. “Fostering new leaders in dentistry is important to our profession and the oral health of our global community,” he added.

The DDSLI will strive to develop adaptive leaders who are prepared to perform in uncertain environments in the future using a differentiating character-based model of leadership, one that develops leadership habits and attitudes that aim for human flourishing in organizations, communities, and society. The DDSLI is dedicated specifically to developing future leaders for the dental profession in academics, the practice sector, oral health policy, and industry. It is a three-year program comprised of seminars, workshops, internships, shadowing of leaders, mentoring, and leadership roles. Annually, up to 35 first year (D1) students will be selected to participate.

Following a highly competitive application process, 19 D1 dental students were selected to participate in the DDSLI’s inaugural class. The accepted students participated in an orientation weekend at an offsite venue in Connecticut in early June. In their subsequent years in dental school, the program will focus on the following major themes:

  • D2: Managing Complexity
  • D3: Leading the Way for 21st Century Oral Health
  • D4: Collaborative Leadership for Evolving Health Care

Additional experiences will include annual capstone projects focusing on these themes, a class leadership project, and a mentorship program throughout all three years that will help students expand their awareness of the importance of mentorship and enable them to become mentors themselves. DDSLI graduates will receive a certificate and be recognized at graduation for their leadership activities. There is no additional cost for students who are selected for admission to the DDSLI.

According to Richard Valachovic, DMD, MPH, clinical professor and director of the NYU Dentistry Center for Oral Health Policy and Management, “We believe that this institutional framework will provide NYU Dentistry students with a unique and deeply personal approach to the realm of leadership.” Dr. Valachovic, who is president emeritus of the American Dental Education Association, leads the DDSLI in collaboration with Dr. Staci Ripkey, associate dean for student affairs and academic support services, and Dr. Karl Haden, coauthor of The 9 Virtues of Exceptional Leaders: Unlocking Your Leadership Potential, and founder and CEO of the Academy for Academic Leadership.

“Our vision,” added Dr. Valachovic, “is to become the premier program for student leadership education in academic dentistry, with DDSLI alumni recognized as leaders in dental education, organized dentistry, public health, corporate dentistry, and collaboration with other health care professions.”

NYU Dentistry Global Health Leaders Program Kicks Off with Student Visit to Washington, DC 


From June 21-23, 2022, 15 NYU Dentistry students visited Capitol Hill to advocate in support of dental research, work force development, and other initiatives to reduce oral health disparities and improve overall health and well-being.

The visit marked the launch of the NYU Dentistry Global Health Leaders Program, a unique professional development experience.

The visit was hosted by the NYU Washington, DC, Global Academic Center — one of NYU’s 15 Study Away Centers. The DC Center provided housing and dining accommodations for the visitors, including a welcoming reception and dinner and a guided nighttime tour of Washington, DC, monuments and memorials.

Dr. Valachovic, Dr. Michael O’Connor, executive vice dean of NYU Dentistry and co-director of the NYU Dentistry Center for Oral Health Policy and Management, and Dr. Staci Ripkey, associate dean for student affairs and academic support services, led the program, which was organized by the NYU Office of Government Affairs. NYU’s Government Affairs team provided advocacy tips for the students and arranged a series of visits for them with Congressional staffers for Representatives Jerry Nadler, Josh Gottheimer, Nicole Malliotakis, Jamie Raskin, Lori Trahan, Carolyn Maloney, and Robert Menendez.

Featured speakers included Drs. Valachovic, O’Connor, and Ripkey, and Mr. Steve Heuer, associate vice president for government affairs at NYU, on how to be an effective advocate. The program also included presentations by leaders from the American Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research, ADEA, and ADA on dental policy priorities for Congressional funding.

“The feedback I’ve received from everyone involved in the visit has been uniformly positive,” said Dean Bertolami. “It was so well received that we are planning to make two visits annually to the NYU Washington, DC, Global Academic Center and one visit annually to an NYU Global Academic Center overseas to familiarize students with dental education and health care policy in other countries, beginning with the NYU Villa La Pietra Global Site in Italy in 2023. We believe that offering students such rich experiences will enable them to become the kinds of leaders who are vital to ensure dentistry’s ability to make a positive impact on the future of health care policy and practice,” he added.


Read more in this issue of Global Health Nexus