Clifton O. Dummett, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC, passed away at the age of 92 on September 7, 2011.
Born in Georgetown, British Guyana on May 20, 1919, Dummett studied at Howard and Roosevelt Universities before earning his DDS from Northwestern University in 1941. He went on to earn masters degrees in periodontics and public health from Northwestern and the University of Michigan, respectively.
Before arriving at USC in 1966, Dummett became Dean of the Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry in 1947 (at age 28, then the youngest dean ever in the U.S.) before working with the Veterans Administration in Tuskegee, Alabama. In 1955, Dummett enlisted in the Air Force, serving for 24 years; upon his retirement in 1979 he had earned the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and was awarded the Certificate of Merit. An unyielding advocate for social justice and equality for all people, it was his resolution in the American Dental Association House of Delegates that led to the lifting of restrictive membership within the organization. He also served the National Dental Association for 22 years as editor in chief and authored the book that recounted the history of the organization.
At the Ostrow School of Dentistry, Dummett taught dental history and led the Community Dentistry department. An internationally acclaimed author and researcher, he wrote hundreds of articles on dental history, public health issues, social and community issues, and more. His perspective on the importance of dentists’ ability to be sensitive to the needs of all people was at first controversial, but was gradually embraced by dental institutions throughout the nation – with USC emerging as a leader in the field of Community Dentistry.
I will never forget Dr. Dummett as he welcomed me and my fellow students at USC Dental School to his Community Dentistry class.
“Good morning, doctors.”
An outstanding Professor of Dentistry, a warm human being and a credit to our profession.
Dr. Dummett, Rest In Peace and thank you for making a difference in all of our lives.