Honoring Outstanding Achievement

The University of Minnesota has a long-standing tradition of recognizing the accomplishments of alumni and others who exemplify the best of scholarly and public life. This year, School of Dentistry alumni received the University’s top honors.

In October, six-time University of Minnesota graduate E. Dianne Rekow, D.D.S., Ph.D. [LINK], received the University’s highest recognition, the prestigious Outstanding Achievement Award. The award is conferred on those who have attained unusual distinction in their chosen field and for demonstrating outstanding achievement and leadership on a community, state, national or international level.

Well-known for her pioneering work with computer-assisted design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) technology, Rekow has explored the synergy between technology and materials science in support of human health and wellness, with work that spans the professions of dentistry; orthodontics; dental education; biomedical engineering; mechanical engineering; physics; and math. She is a talented educator, visionary leader and accomplished scientist, as well as an international authority on the performance of new materials and products for use in esthetic and restorative dentistry.

Additionally, she holds the dual distinction of being the first American to lead a major United Kingdom dental school and the first woman to serve as dean of the Dental Institute at King’s College in London, Europe’s most prestigious dental school. She has been dean of the Dental Institute at King’s College since 2012. Dr. Rekow accepted her award at an event on October 15, 2015. Dentistry Magazine recently featured Rekow's remarkable career and journey.

Also recognized at the event was Michael Zakula, D.D.S., who received the University of Minnesota Alumni Service Award. A long-time resident of Hibbing, Minn., Zakula was instrumental in identifying an opportunity for the dental school to partner with the Hibbing Community College (HCC). The relationship resulted in an expanded teaching facility for HCC dental assisting students and a clinic that is now the site of one of the most popular clinical outreach experiences for School of Dentistry students.

Since 2002, more than 1,000 University dental and dental hygiene students have spent time at the Hibbing clinic, getting hands-on experience in patient care and learning about life and dental practice in Greater Minnesota. The availability of comprehensive dental services at the clinic also expanded access to dental care for residents in underserved communities throughout northeastern Minnesota.

Dr. Zakula also co-created the Michael J. Till Dental Scholarship Program. Most recently, he worked through Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation to create Dedicated to Minnesota Dentists, a program that provides loan repayments for dentists who commit to practicing general dentistry full-time for five years in a designated dental health professions shortage area.