USC University of Southern California

Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC

Roseann Mulligan earns 2020 Gies Award for Achievement for Dental Educators

BY JOHN HOBBS MA ’14 

Associate Dean of Community Health Programs and Hospital Affairs Roseann Mulligan MS ’87 has been awarded a 2020 Gies Award for Achievement for Dental Educators from the ADEAGeis Foundation.

This prestigious award is meant to pay tribute to individuals who meaningfully advance oral health and dental education.

“We are tremendously proud of ‘Nan’ for this honor,” said Dean Avishai Sadan. “She has long inspired Ostrow faculty, staff and students with her tireless leadership in making sure hundreds of thousands of underserved individuals in Southern and Central California receive the dental care they so desperately need.”  

A career dedicated to the underserved

Mulligan first became interested in providing treatment to the underserved as a UCLA dental student, who traveled with her school’s mobile dental clinics, providing treatment to the children of migrant farm workers in California’s agricultural heartland. 

In 1982, she joined Ostrow’s faculty, hoping to share this same passion with USC dental students. “My interest in working with the underserved and special needs communities blossomed when I was in school,” she said. “My goal was to provide those same opportunities to our students.”

Just three years later, Mulligan helped found USC’s Special Patients Clinic, which was the first of its kind in the nation — providing treatment to those least likely to be treated elsewhere (developmentally delayed and physically disabled patients, the frail elderly and patients living with HIV/AIDS).

In 2000, Mulligan took the reins of Ostrow’s Community Oral Health Programs. As the program’s leader, she managed to expand the school’s many community-based programs to include more service locations and demographics, including school-aged children, foster children, migrant workers, Skid Row residents and elderly and abused adults. Today, as a result of these efforts, Ostrow provides treatment to more than 75,000 underserved patients every year. 

Expanding patient populations

Under her leadership, USC established an eight-chair dental clinic at Union Rescue Mission in 2000 that caters to homeless and underserved populations. In 2010, a second seven-chair dental clinic was established across the street at John Wesley Community Health Institute. Since 2011, Ostrow students and residents have provided treatment to nearly 20,000 individuals on Skid Row. 

“She has long inspired Ostrow faculty, staff and students with her tireless efforts to make sure hundreds of thousands of underserved individuals in Southern California receive the dental care they so desperately need.”

–Avishai Sadan, Dean

In 2015, on what was the 30th anniversary of the Special Patients Clinic, Mulligan and her husband, Assistant Dean for Distance Education Glenn Clark, endowed and named the Dr. Roseann Mulligan Special Patients Clinic, ensuring its continued existence long into the future.

“I believe these patients deserve the very best oral health care we can provide,” Mulligan said in 2015 news article about the gift. “They often have so many other conditions going on that can be impacted by poor oral health care.” 

The largest civilian mobile dental clinic fleet

Under Mulligan’s leadership, the USC dental school — long known for its mobile dental clinic program — managed to amass the largest civilian mobile dental clinic fleet in the nation. In 2016, she oversaw the acquisition and deployment of the world’s then-largest mobile dental clinic, thanks to a $3-million gift from the Hutto Patterson Charitable Foundation. Mulligan also helped establish a partnership with QueensCare, a nonprofit health provider for low-income Angelenos. The collaboration led to the establishment of the first QueensCare mobile clinic, which provides free comprehensive dental care to low-income elementary school children. Since then, the USC/QueensCare Mobile Dental Program has grown to include several mobile dental clinics, providing treatment at two different schools simultaneously.

Mulligan also manages relationships with more than 200 sites, including public schools; federally funded health and nutrition programs for women, infants and children; community health clinics; and retirement communities to further expand Ostrow’s reach into underserved communities.

Effecting policy change

In addition to providing care to underserved populations, Mulligan’s research publications have led the public to better understand the link between school absenteeism and poor oral health and the ensuing costs to public school systems. Her research has effected policy change to bring greater financial resources to underserved communities through public and private support.

All of these efforts throughout the years have been the result of more than $70 million in private and public funding sources Mulligan has helped raise throughout her career. 

Mulligan has a joint appointment with the USC Davis School of Gerontology. She is the chair of the Division of Public Health & Pediatric Dentistry and the Charles M. Goldstein Professor of Community Dentistry.  

She will officially receive the award at the annual Gies Awards taking place in National Harbor, Md., on March 16, 2020. Click here for ticket information

Posted 11072019