Recent events have caused us to focus more intently on how we interact with each other, what we value in our communities, and how we approach the challenges facing us all—particularly those involving inclusion, diversity, and social justice. It is well past the time in our history for us to acknowledge our failures and commit to taking actions to improve our culture and to rectify the social injustices that continue even to this day. As you have seen from my colleagues in our administration, including Dr. Shekhar, we are committed to improving diversity and inclusion in our schools, fighting racism broadly, and improving the culture of our institution with purpose and vigor as we move forward. We must acknowledge that we need to do better, and we must also make action happen by achieving visible and measurable results in these areas. While we have had dedicated efforts in these areas, it is clear that we need to do more. The Health Sciences and the greater University community will be supporting a number of events and discussions. They will also be providing enhanced resources so that we may achieve our collective goals, and I am grateful for this level of focus and commitment from the senior leadership. With that in mind, we are committing new resources and effort at Pitt Dental Medicine to make a difference for all of us.
I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Adriana Modesto-Vieira to a newly created position as our first Assistant Dean for Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice. Dr. Modesto-Vieira will be leading these efforts throughout our School and helping to enhance and connect the various initiatives already led by our senior leadership in Student Affairs, Faculty Affairs, Staff Development, and also from our committee on Diversity. This new focus will be infused into all areas of our School and will help us serve the community better. Specifically, Dr. Modesto-Vieira will be working closely with our senior leaders and all of you to improve recruitment, retention, development, and support of a more inclusive and diverse faculty, staff workforce, and student body. Additionally, Dr. Modesto-Vieira will work to link our programing and efforts to those of the Office of Health Sciences Diversity and the University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
This appointment signals a renewed emphasis for us, one that deepens our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and social justice. In order to focus her efforts towards this critically important area, Dr. Modesto-Vieira will be stepping away from the chair position in Pediatric Dentistry, but will remain highly engaged in the Department by continuing her teaching, research, and other commitments. I want to personally thank Dr. Modesto-Vieira for her efforts for the Department of Pediatric Dentistry over the past four years as chair, and we look forward to her continued contributions to the department for our students, residents, and patients. In the near future, we will begin a search for a new chair in Pediatric Dentistry who will be recruited to bring an innovative vision forward for this storied department and build on the legacy established here over many years. I am also pleased to announce that Dr. Robert Weyant, Associate Dean for Public Health and Outreach, and Chair of the Department of Dental Public Health has agreed to serve as Interim Chair while the search is underway. Please congratulate Dr. Modesto-Vieira for taking on this important new role, and I encourage you all to remain engaged in this conversation to keep these efforts present in our minds as we tackle these critical challenges.
Bernard J. Costello, DMD, MD, FACS
Dean and Thomas W. Braun Endowed Professor