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Celebrating Women's History Month: Pitt Dental Medicine's First Female Dean

The following is an excerpt from the feature story to appear in the forthcoming Autumn 2024 issue of Pitt Dental Medicine Magazine.

Be sure to watch for this important publication to read the complete story about Pitt Dental Medicine's newest, trailblazing dean, Dr. Marnie Oakley.

Inspired From Day 1 

Marnie Oakley, DMD, Pitt’s new School of Dental Medicine dean, has never really lost that awestruck feeling she experienced the first time she walked onto the University of Pittsburgh’s campus as a 14-year-old from rural Mountain Top, Pennsylvania. That visit to old Pitt Stadium (now the site of the Petersen Events Center) to watch her older brother play football for the Pitt Panthers would become a regular weekend trek for Oakley’s family, bringing her a mere 400 feet from Salk Hall—the physical home of the school she now leads.  

Coming from a hometown of roughly 11,000 to a campus with an enrollment (at that time) of approximately 29,000, Oakley was wowed by Pitt’s dynamic energy and endless student opportunities. Some four decades later, the proud alum has never really lost her eagerness and enthusiasm about the possibilities of Pitt, even after 29 years in faculty roles of increasing responsibility with the dental school. A strong believer in servant-minded leadership, which prioritizes the growth, well-being, and empowerment of colleagues, she has ambitious goals for collectively advancing the school together with her faculty, staff and students. These include addressing workforce shortages and health inequities, preparing students to practice at the forefront of technological innovations in treatment and care, and broadening Pitt Dental Medicine’s educational, research and clinical impacts far beyond southwestern Pennsylvania. 

It’s a bold vision, but Oakley possesses the perfect blend of qualities to succeed. She’s part seasoned Pitt veteran and part innovative newcomer, able to synergize her well-established professional ties and operational knowledge of the school with the boundless energy, fresh eyes, and can-do spirit of a new leader setting foot on campus for the very first time. She also has an innate ability for engaging stakeholders of all kinds in helping her implement the school’s mission, from faculty, staff and students to community, government, and industry partners.  

To read the complete story, please watch for the forthcoming Autumn 2024 issue of Pitt Dental Medicine magazine.