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Dentistry Recognizes Excellence with 2009 Outstanding Alumni Awards


On Friday, March 6, Dentistry’s 2009 Outstanding Alumni — John H. Sullivan, DDS, and James B. Summitt, DDS, MS — will receive their awards during a noon luncheon at the Hilton Memphis Hotel, 939 Ridge Lake Boulevard.

Each year, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) College of Dentistry Alumni Association presents its highest award to alumni who have made distinguished contributions to the dentistry field. On Friday, March 6, the 2009 Outstanding Alumni — John H. Sullivan, DDS, and James B. Summitt, DDS, MS — will receive their awards during a noon luncheon at the Hilton Memphis Hotel, 939 Ridge Lake Boulevard.

John H. Sullivan, Class of 1969, has devoted almost 40 years to general dentistry. Upon graduation, Dr. Sullivan joined the American Dental Association, the Tennessee Dental Association (TDA), and the UT College of Dentistry Alumni Association. His leadership roles in each of these organizations helped to advance dentistry across Tennessee and the nation.

Since 1971, Dr. Sullivan has served the TDA in important capacities including that of president, vice president, West Tennessee vice president, chairman of the awards committee, and chairman of “Dental Relief,” an effort that provides charitable dental services. As a member of the Tennessee Academy of General Dentistry, since 1990, he served as a board member and as board legislative chair.

Adding to his list of organizational involvements, Dr. Sullivan became a member of the American Orthodontic Society, the American Academy of General Dentistry and the American College of Dentists. He is a Fellow of the TDA, the American College of Dentists and the International College of Dentists.

In support of his alma mater, Dr. Sullivan participates on the UT College of Dentistry Alumni Board of Trustees and has served as vice president and president of the UT Dental Alumni Association. He has been vital to the success of the Mid-South Dental Congress, a 14-year-old organization providing continuing education opportunities for dentists in the Memphis region. He helped to establish the Dental Scholarship Endowment, which provides annual need-based scholarships for dental students, and is active on the UT Legislative Committee. Dr. Sullivan also assisted with the College of Dentistry 21st Century Campaign Committee, which raised more than $5 million for the college.

James B. Summitt, Class of 1971, demonstrated an early commitment to dentistry by joining the Dean’s Odontological Society while in dental school. Upon graduation, he became a dental officer for the U.S. Air Force, eventually attaining the rank of colonel. During his military career, he completed a master of science degree in general dentistry and a two-year general practice residency at Wilford Hall Medical Center (WHMC) in San Antonio, Texas. He later led this two-year program and became director of dental services for WHMC.

Dr. Summitt retired from the Air Force in 1989 and later joined the faculty at the University of Texas Dental School at San Antonio. He led the university’s Division of Operative Dentistry beginning in 1991 and maintained that post until he was named chairman of Restorative Dentistry in 2000.

As a dental educator and scientist, Dr. Summitt has published 56 original articles, 85 abstracts, and has been an investigator in 13 funded research projects. Also, he is first author on Fundamentals of Operative Dentistry: A Contemporary Approach, a textbook currently used by many dental schools in the United States and abroad. He serves on the Scientific Investigation Committee for the American Academy of Restorative Dentistry and is vice-president-elect of the Academy of Operative Dentistry. For the American Board of General Dentistry, he served as president from 1996 to 1997.

Dr. Summitt has given much of his time and talents to grooming new members of the dental profession and acting as a dentistry resource. He has been a mentor to numerous students and residents, and has served on the editorial review boards of six dental journals. His professional expertise has been recognized many times through receipt of the U.S. Air Force Meritorious Service Medal (four times) and the Legion of Merit Award; and the Academy of Operative Dentistry 2005 Award of Excellence. He has also earned several teaching awards from UTHSC, including “The Presidential Teaching Award,” his alma mater’s highest teaching accolade.