Dr. Bashar Bakdash arrived at the University of Minnesota in 1974 and held a dual appointment in the School of Dentistry and the School of Public Health. In 1988, Dr. Bakdash became director of the Division of Periodontology. At the time of his interview, Dr. Bakdash was serving as interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in addition to his position as professor and director of the Division of Periodontology.
Dr. Bashar Bakdash begins his first interview by discussing his dental training and his arrival in the United States. He recalls his time studying at the University of California, Los Angeles, his pursuit of a master’s degree in public health, his move to Indiana to complete his degree in periodontology and his residency training, and his move to the University of Minnesota. In reviewing his time at the University of Minnesota, Bakdash discusses his experiences with Dr. Erwin Schaeffer as dean, his teaching, his work toward gaining citizenship in the United States, Dr. Lars Folke’s leadership in the division of periodontology, and Dr. Carl Bandt’s mentorship. Bakdash also discusses his work in professional organizations, his education and media work, his dual appointment in the Dental School and the School of Public Health, teaching, his work for the Center for Disease Control, the threatened closure of the School of Dentistry, and his committee work. He concludes part one of his interview discussing the balance of teaching, research, and clinical work.
In his second interview, Bakdash begins by discussing his international work through the Dental School. He then reflects on the leadership of Drs. Lars Folke and Carl Bandt in the Division of Periodontology, the culture of the Dental School in the 1970s, the leadership of Dr. Erwin Schaeffer as dean and his relationship with the legislature, the relationship between the Dental School and the Medical School, and funding for the Dental School. He then considers the Academic Health Center as an umbrella organization and the relationships among the different schools within the AHC. He then discusses Dr. Richard Oliver’s tenure as dean, retrenchment, efforts to admit more women and minority students in the 1970s and 1980s, the Rajender Consent Decree, Dr. Richard Elzay’s tenure as dean, Dr. Frank Cerra’s role as Vice President of the AHC, Dr. Michael Till’s tenure as dean, his work on the Minnesota and American Dental Associations, his work on the faculty senate. He concludes with final thoughts on changes in dental education and the function of the AHC.
Bashar Bakdash was born June 6, 1944 in Damascus, Syria. He completed his pre-dental and dental education at Damascus University in 1968. Dr. Bakdash sought specialty training in the United States, arriving at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1969 as a postdoctoral scholar, where he earned his Master of Public Health. He then moved to Indiana University in 1972 to pursue a Master of Science in Dentistry, with a focus on periodontics. In 1974, Dr. Bakdash moved to the University of Minnesota and held a dual appointment in the School of Dentistry and the School of Public Health. (His dual appointment ended with the closure of the public health program in the Dental School in 1992.) In 1988, Dr. Bakdash became director of the Division of Periodontology. He has served on many committees within the Dental School, in the University, and in professional organizations. Dr. Bakdash has also won numerous teaching awards over the course of his career. At the time of this interview, Dr. Bakdash was serving as interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in addition to his position as professor and director of the Division of Periodontology.