Distinguished Alumni Awards

2019 Alumni Award Winners

John Kanyusik, DDS, MSDDistinguished Dental Alumni Award
John Kanyusik, DDS '70, MSD '72

An extraordinary leader and role model with an unassuming demeanor, Dr. John Kanyusik has advanced the orthodontics profession through his dedication to teaching, serving patients, and volunteering.

Kanyusik received his DDS and graduate orthodontic degrees from the University of Minnesota in the early 1970’s. Following his residency, he was an orthodontist in the United States Air Force in Japan from 1972-74. He practiced orthodontics in Mankato, Minnesota from 1975 until he retired from private practice in January 2020.

Kanyusik’s distinguished career is brimming with activities that demonstrate tremendous impact. A few examples include his work as the past president of the Midwestern Society of Orthodontists, past president of the Minnesota Association of Orthodontists, past president of the College of Diplomates of the American Board of Orthodontists, and reviewer for the monthly series “Practical Reviews in Orthodontics.” An avid volunteer, Kanyusik has also dedicated his time to serving others throughout Minnesota and internationally as a teacher for Health Volunteers Overseas.

Especially notable is Kanyusik’s commitment to orthodontic resident education. He has driven from Mankato to Minneapolis since 2002 to serve as an adjunct associate professor in the Division of Orthodontics. He’s highly regarded for his expertise, teaching abilities and outstanding rapport with the residents. His belief in the power of education is further illustrated by his fundraising efforts for the Robert J. Isaacson innovation and professorship funds.

2020 is Kanyusik’s 50th graduation year from the DDS program. Although he’s phasing into retirement, he continues to treat public care patients at his practice. Dr. Kanyusik’s dedication to excellence in orthodontics and to serving patients is extraordinary.


Patt Carlson, DHDistinguished Dental Hygiene Alumni Award
Patt Carlson, GDH '72

Patt Carlson has devoted a lifetime of passion and energy to serving patients and to the promotion of oral health care in Minnesota. A graduate of the Program in Dental Hygiene, she served as dental hygiene faculty at the University of Minnesota in clinical settings and in public health education. For 25 years, Patt was a research examiner and research study coordinator. Most recently, in her role as the Research Study Coordinator she was involved with an interdisciplinary project studying the relationship between RA (Rheumatic and Autoimmune Diseases) and Periodontal Disease.

Patt’s dedication to her research patients is evidenced by the high level of follow-up dental care she provided. She was always willing to go above and beyond for her patients and would offer rides to research appointments for those with no means of transportation.

In 2017, Patt retired from the University. However, this was short lived as she returned in 2018 to part –time employment in dental research. She recently re-retired due to health issues. Patt set a high standard in dental hygiene and in her work with medicine and dental research. She is a shining example of how School of Dentistry alumni make the world a better place.

About the Awards

The Distinguished Dental and Dental Hygiene Alumni Awards are honors given annually to outstanding alumni in recognition of exceptional achievement. Candidates must be a graduate of any program of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry and are judged based on their participation, service, and leadership in the advancement of dentistry and dental health, their public service, community service, and/or civic affairs, and their dedication to continuing education.

The School of Dentistry Alumni Society Honors Task Force will review all candidates and will select the recipients for 2020, who will be presented with the award at the School of Dentistry Alumni Weekend, Fall 2021.

Nominations made within the last five years are considered active and will be considered for the 2020 awards. If you have nominated someone in the past five years and want to provide additional information, please contact the Alumni Office.


If you have any questions, please contact Erin Elliott at 952-200-1413 or estrong@umn.edu.

Previous recipients

PDF icon Previous Award Recipients (download)