Ostrow faculty member receives 2015 Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni Faculty Award


John Hobbs MA '14


04 Sep 15

The CDA-sponsored award recognizes excellence in dental education.
Above: Santosh Sundaresan DDS ’05

Assistant professor of clinical dentistry Santosh Sundaresan DDS ’05 has been chosen to receive the 2015 Arthur A. Dugoni Faculty Award by the California Dental Association.

The award recognizes outstanding faculty members from California’s six dental schools who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, innovation, collaboration, compassion, philanthropic spirit and integrity in dental education, according to the CDA Foundation website.

It’s the second time the CDA Foundation has bestowed the award upon an Ostrow faculty member. In 2012, associate professor of clinical dentistry Thomas Levy earned the distinction.

“ … The Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry is fortunate to have an instructor who is so committed to the preparation of our future dental professionals,” wrote Donald Rolloson DMD, chair of the CDA Foundation’s Board of Directors, in a congratulatory letter to Sundaresan.

Importance of Giving Back

As section chair of Ostrow’s community oral health programs, Sundaresan (or “Dr. Santosh,” as he’s affectionally called) oversees students on-rotation at the school’s mobile clinics — which travel to locations as far away as California’s Central Valley to provide treatment to underserved communities — as well as the two brick-and-mortar clinics on L.A.’s Skid Row, which has an estimated population of 8,000 to 10,000 homeless individuals.

The Indian-born Sundaresan first came to USC’s dental school as a student in ASPID, Ostrow’s international doctor of dental surgery program, in 2003. During his studies, he held various leadership programs, including serving as class treasurer, president of the Indian Student Dental Association and as a student leader within the mobile clinic program.

In 2005, Sundaresan joined the Ostrow faculty as an assistant professor. During the past decade, he has served as assistant director of the USC Union Rescue Mission Clinic, assistant director (and later director) of Ostrow’s mobile clinic and was the first director of the USC JWCH Clinic from 2010 to 2013. He currently serves as section chair of the community health programs.

Continually Raising the Bar

“It’s important for me to give back to people who are not as fortunate as me and who have gone through hardships greater than what I have gone through,” said Sundaresan in last year’s annual report, We See What Can Be.

Sundaresan has also been honored as “Teacher of the Year” by the Pierre Fauchard Academy —an international honorary dental organization — in 2012 and selected by Ostrow’s student body for the “Full Time Clinical Science Faculty Award” in 2014.

“He is clearly competent and inspiring in his teaching activities providing guidance and notably (per the student’s written course and faculty evaluations) some of the most gratifying experiences in the students’ educational careers,” said Roseann Mulligan, associate dean of community health programs and hospital affairs, in her letter of support to the Dugoni Faculty Award selection committee.

Mulligan’s referring in part to student exit surveys, where graduating doctor of dental surgery students have cited community health programs as the top asset in preparing them for their dental career since the question was added to the survey in 2009.

“The focus of Sundaresan’s efforts is to care for the most underserved populations,” Mulligan wrote. “I believe that Dr. Sundaresan continually raises the bar in all aspects of his teaching, leadership and role modeling.”

In addition to the award, Sundaresan will receive a $1,500 check meant to enhance his career aspirations by supporting his continued study of community dentistry.

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