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The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry recently lost a longtime and beloved faculty member with the passing of Perng-Ru Liu, DMD, DDS, MS.

Closeup of Dr. Liu, smiling with glasses hanging around his neck, inside the school. Liu provided leadership in prosthodontics and comprehensive dentistry at UAB SOD for more than 30 years, during which time he earned a reputation for being a hard worker with a soft heart.

“Dr. Liu served our community as a great leader, excellent educator, amazing clinician and an outstanding colleague,” says SOD Dean Russell Taichman, D.M.D., D.M.Sc. “He was a beloved alumnus and member of our faculty and leadership team. I already miss his gentle soul and kindheartedness. He will be greatly missed.”

Liu is credited for being one of the school’s leaders during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through calm determination, he helped acquire and organize needed PPE equipment, then worked to determine the safest way to reopen and operate clinics. His tireless efforts were acknowledged by a grateful university in 2021 when he was awarded the inaugural UAB President’s Award for Excellence in Shared Values.

“Dr. Liu’s leadership minimized the impact of COVID on our patient care and education,” says SOD professor and chair Nicolaas Geurs, D.D.S., M.S. “He was present every day after the resumption of care, and provided all of us a sense of security in that difficult time.

“He was a leader by example, and strived for excellence in everything. He never sought the limelight or glory for his accomplishments. He would rather deflect those to others and facilitate their success. His impact on the school is unmeasurable. His legacy reaches beyond dentistry to human kindness.”

Indeed, colleagues repeatedly used the word “kind” in describing Liu, who also was praised as being an ideal example of the positive influence educators can have on society.

Dr. Liu standing in front of a dentistry chair in the school, arms crossed, wearing a white coat. “To teach is to touch someone’s life forever, and I can’t count how many lives Dr. Liu touched in his career,” says associate professor Wen-Chou Wu, D.D.S., M.S. who served under Liu in the Department of Restorative Sciences. “He was a role model for so many educators. He was the most unselfish, righteous and sincere leader I have met, and the most straight and honest mentor I have met.”

Liu’s personality was so genuine that it was quickly recognized by SOD newcomers, such as Department of Endodontics chair Ashraf Fouad, D.D.S., M.S., who arrived at UAB just two years ago. “Although I had known him for a relatively short period,” Fouad says, “he impressed me with his knowledge and kindness.”

Liu received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Chung-Shan Medical University in Taiwan in 1985. He joined UAB as a clinical instructor in Restorative Dentistry in 1990, then received his Master of Science in Dental Materials from UAB in 1992 and his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree in 1999.

Liu was the founding chair for the Department of Comprehensive Dentistry (2000-09), and also chaired the Department of Prosthodontics (2009-12) and the Department of Restorative Sciences (2012-19). In 2014, Liu was named the inaugural holder of the Thomas P. Hinman Dental Meeting Endowed Professorship in Comprehensive Dentistry. He was appointed Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs in 2020.

“Dr. Liu’s impact on our school is unmeasurable,” says Professor Emerti Sandra Jean O’Neal, D.M.D., M.S. “I will miss him forever. He was one of the giants in dentistry, and he was many people’s hero, including mine.”

While Liu obviously meant so much to the UAB School of Dentistry, Wen-Chou Wu says the school and the university were extremely important to him in return. He says this was especially evident in the final email he received from Liu shortly before his passing.

“In the past 30 years of service at SOD, I gave all I have,” Liu wrote. “I have accomplished a lot, and I have no regrets.”