MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – First-year dental students in the West Virginia University School of Dentistry Class of 2017 will cap off their orientation with the School’s 12th Annual Professionalism Assembly at 4 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 16 in the WVU Health Sciences Center’s Okey Patteson Auditorium.

The assembly is intended to raise awareness of professional standards that are integral to success in dental school and necessary to sustain public trust in the dental profession. As an indication of dedication to the educational environment of integrity, members of the entering dental class repeat in unison the Pledge of Professionalism and individually sign the corresponding document in the presence of their families, friends and dental faculty and staff.  Each student is given a specially imprinted pen that commemorates the occasion.  

“We use the occasion to underscore the principles of professionalism,” Shelia Price, D.D.S., Ed.D., associate dean for dental admissions, recruitment and access, said. “Dental students share the responsibility to promote oral health and the high standards of dentistry. They represent the School and the dental profession at all times. They represent everything that the School of Dentistry stands for and everything that the profession stands for.”

This year’s keynote speaker is Maj. Gen. Richard Thomas, a graduate of the School of Dentistry and the WVU School of Medicine. He is currently an Army physician and serves as commanding general of the Western Regional Medical Command, chief of the U.S. Army Medical Corps and senior market executive for TRICARE Puget Sound Multi-Service Market.

After graduating from the WVU School of Dentistry in 1986, Thomas served in the Army Dental Corps in Panama and with the 82nd Airborne Division. He later returned to the WVU School of Medicine and received his medical degree in 1994. He was the outstanding graduate intern at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in Texas and completed his residency in Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery at Madigan Army Medical Center at Fort Lewis in Washington, where he was the outstanding graduate in 1999.

Thomas is certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery and is a fellow with the American College of Surgeons. He has also served as consultant to the surgeon general in his medical specialty.

“Dentistry is a highly regarded profession, and our students represent the next generation of oral healthcare providers. As such, it is their responsibility to represent the profession, the WVU School of Dentistry and the University as oral healthcare professionals,” David Felton, D.D.S., M.S., dean of the School of Dentistry, said. “We are confident that our incoming dental class will set the highest standard of professionalism as they begin their matriculation through WVU, and we are extremely excited to have them join us in their journey into the dental profession.”

The evening will conclude with a reception sponsored by the School of Dentistry Alumni Association.

Attention reporters and editors: Maj. Gen. Richard Thomas will be available for interviews prior to the start of the Professionalism Assembly. If you would like to arrange a time to speak with him, please contact Angela Jones-Knopf at 304-293-7087 or
For more information: Angela Jones-Knopf, News Service Coordinator, 304-293-7087
ajk: 08-05-13