USC University of Southern California

Abelson Acting Dean of Dental School

By Angelica Urquijo

Sigmund H. Abelson has been named acting dean of the USC School of Dentistry.

Abelson had been serving as the school’s associate dean of clinical affairs and associate professor of clinical dentistry under Dean Harold C. Slavkin. Earlier this year, Slavkin announced his plan to step down as dean at the end of the year after serving in the position since 2000.

In January, Slavkin will begin a one-year sabbatical to refocus his scholarly interests. In January 2010, he will return to USC as a member of the School of Dentistry faculty.

Executive Vice President and Provost C. L. Max Nikias made the announcement on behalf of USC President Steven Sample.

Abelson assumed the role Nov. 1 and will remain in the post until the university completes its national search for a new dean.

He has been responsible for the school’s clinical operations, which include the predoctoral and advanced specialty. “Under his leadership, a new clinical model has been implemented, one that enhances the students’ clinical accomplishments as well as the addition of benchmarks to assess their progress throughout their clinical education,” Nikias said.

Abelson is responsible for managing the Oral Health Center, the Center for Oral Microbiological Testing Services and the Redmond Radiological Imaging Center. He is currently active in clinical teaching and problem based learning facilitation, and he previously served as the school’s associate dean for faculty practices. He joined the faculty in 2002.

He has served in various administrative roles during his career. “Having previous experience in association management and providing strategic planning and leadership programs for more than 40 organizations across the country has prepared me to lead the USC School of Dentistry to the next level of excellence,” Abelson said.

“I am a strong advocate for instilling a humanistic model of dental education, a commitment to clinical education excellence and to growing our students as professionals.”

Before coming to USC, Abelson served as the associate director for governance, strategic development and component relations of the California Dental Association and as a speaker of the House of Delegates for nine years. He is a fellow of the American and International Colleges of Dentistry as well as the Pierre Fauchard Academy. He also is a member of the Omicron Kappa Upsilon dental honor society.

For 33 years, Abelson has practiced restorative dentistry in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles. He is a 1966 graduate of the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry.