UAB School of Dentistry honored more than 75 Doctor of Dental Medicine graduates at its commencement ceremony for the class of 2022. Dean Russell S. Taichman, D.M.D., D.M.Sc., presided over the June 4 event at UAB’s Bartow Arena.

graduate with crossed armsThe ceremony included messages from school leaders, alumni, and state dental leadership. Among them were remarks from Jason Etherton, D.M.D., who serves as president-elect of the dental alumni association and James J. Phillips, Jr., D.M.D., who serves as president of the Alabama Dental Association (ALDA).

A highlight, Rear Admiral Gayle D. Shaffer, deputy chief, U.S. Navy, Deputy Surgeon General of the Navy, delivered the traditional Lister Hill Lecture to the graduates. Shaffer, a UAB School of Dentistry alumna, was able to return for the first time in more than three decades to give the commencement address.

During the ceremony, Taichman presented the Dean’s Medal to Austin Richard Stiles, a member of the graduating class. Recognizing Stiles for outstanding scholarship and leadership, Taichman spoke of his pivotal leadership during the pandemic reopening and beyond.

In addition to Stiles, the school recognized the outstanding academic efforts, leadership, and service of more than 40 student award winners during the ceremony.

“UAB School of Dentistry is built upon a longstanding tradition of educational and clinical excellence, service, and scholarly achievements, and this year’s class is no exception,” said Taichman. “We were proud to acknowledge the outstanding academic efforts, leadership, and service of our awardees during the ceremony.”

Edward Bradford, Jr., DDS, MPH, presented several awards during the ceremony. Bradford is a member of the student awards committee.

Among those awards, Tanner C. Godfrey received the Alabama Dental Alumni Association Award for Leadership. The award is given, for outstanding leadership in school affairs, to a member of the graduating class by the upperclassmen of the student body. Godfrey also received the American Student Dental Association (ALDA) Student Leadership Award. The award is given by the School of Dentistry faculty to a graduating student who, having demonstrated leadership qualities as a student, has potential to become a future leader within the profession.

The American Student Dental Association (ASDA) Award of Excellence, honoring the spirit of volunteerism and recognizing student leadership and participation in service to their school and local community, was presented to Jessica M. Mitchum.

The International College of Dentists (ICD) Student Humanitarian Award honors a graduate who exemplified and demonstrated passion for altruistic humanitarian service as a student and has great potential to continue to do so. The award was presented to Nia Renee Taylor.

The Volker Award, named for dentist, noted scientist, educator, and college administrator Dr. Joseph F. Volker, was given to Sarah Gwin Moore. Volker served as the first dean of the School of Dentistry, first president of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and first chancellor of the University of Alabama System. The award is given to a graduating student who has worked for the good of the school and student body. The recipient is selected by a vote of the graduating class.

The UAB National Alumni Society Distinguished Alumni Scholarship Award is presented each year to a student in honor of the previous year’s NAS Distinguished Alumni awardee. The one-time scholarship is given to a student enrolled in the school or course of study of the winner of UAB’s highest alumni honor. The distinguished alumni award winner was School of Dentistry alumnus Dr. Ben Cumbus. Crystal Smith, a third-year student, was recognized as the recipient of this year’s NAS Distinguished Alumni Scholarship Award.

The Omicron Kappa Upsilon William S. Kramer Award of Excellence was presented to Linh Tran. The award recognizes a rising junior who has demonstrated scholarship, character, and the potential promise for advancement of dentistry and service to humanity. One recipient is selected annually by the faculty members of UAB’s Phi Phi chapter.

Eight Omicron Kappa Upsilon (OKU) dental honor society inductees were recognized. Students are elected to OKU membership on the basis of scholarship and professional stature. Honorees were Ryan Boyd Elkins, Tanner Cole Godfrey, Makenzie Kitchens Johnson, Virginia Claire Loeb, Sarah Gwin Moore, Alexander Thomas Mathews, and Katie Li Powers, as well as International Dental Program (IDP) alumni member Melissa Maria Lopez.

A full list of 2022 awardees is published in the commencement program.