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Dentistry Announces the Larry J. Peterson Endowed Professorship in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

This summer, the College of Dentistry will award the Larry J. Peterson Endowed Professorship in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery for the first time, pending approval by the Board of Trustees. The professorship was created through the generosity of the College of Dentistry’s alumni, friends, and faculty members as a way of celebrating the life and accomplishments of their friend and colleague, the late Larry James Peterson, D.D.S., who passed away in 2002.

A longtime administrator and professor in the college, Dr. Peterson, known affectionately as ‘Pete,’ provided outstanding leadership, serving as chair of the Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (OMFS) from 1982 – 1998, and as an OMFS faculty member from 1998 – 2000. His academic credentials included a D.D.S. degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (1968), followed by an oral and maxillofacial surgery residency at Georgetown University (1971). Throughout his distinguished career, Dr. Peterson was honored with a number of prestigious awards. He was a Fellow of the American Dental Society of Anesthesiology, a member of the International College of Dentists, and he was a recipient of the Donald B. Osbon AAOMS Outstanding Educator Award.

Remarking on Dr. Peterson’s professional legacy, Dr. Rick Scheetz, a College of Dentistry alumnus and an oral surgery practitioner in Dublin, Ohio, said, “Dr. ‘Pete’ Peterson was the ultimate teacher. He tailored his teaching methods for students and residents so they could be the best person and the best possible practitioner. He prepared students to be knowledgeable about today's treatments, and he also gave us the foundation to provide therapies that hadn’t yet been discovered.” Scheetz added, “He was my mentor, confidante, business partner, and, most of all, he was my friend. All those who have supported the Larry J. Peterson Endowed Professorship have made contributions that will improve this college’s ability to recruit and retain stellar faculty in the Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, and those faculty members will carry on the principles espoused by Pete.”

Dr. Peter Larsen, current chair of the Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, also commented on Dr. Peterson’s significant contributions to the College of Dentistry. “Pete was one of those gifted people who had the ability not only to see what was coming next, but to also envision what would come after that. When he was an undergraduate student, he took courses not only in the sciences, but also in education so he could be best prepared to one day be a teacher. Very few OMFS educators have a formal education in teaching, and this gave Dr. Peterson insights on the ways to develop an educationally sound program.” Larsen continued, “The College of Dentistry and the Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery benefited from the remarkable talents that allowed Dr. Peterson to advance our educational program in ways that were due to his unique perspective. It’s only fitting that this consummate educator should have an endowed professorship named in his honor. It’s also fitting that this endowment was made possible in large part by his former students and colleagues, all of whom learned tremendously from him.”

When awarded, the Peterson Professorship will be the second endowed faculty position in OMFS, joining the D.P. Snyder Endowed Professorship. The division continues to raise funds for the Morgan Allison Endowed Chair in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, with hopes of completing the fund no later than 2014.

Dentistry's Dean Carole Anderson said of the new professorship, “The recruitment and retention of outstanding educators who are also renowned practitioners is increasingly difficult in oral health education. In addition to ensuring that Dr. Peterson’s accomplishments at Ohio State will always be remembered, resources such as the professorship named in his honor guarantee that the College of Dentistry will continue to attract the best faculty in the world to our campus. I’m very thankful for the philanthropic support that his friends and colleagues have demonstrated.”

[June 2011]