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OHSU School of Dentistry loses a leader, mentor, teacher and friend

Dean Emeritus Jack W. Clinton, D.M.D., who retired from OHSU in 2012, passed away on January 3, 2022. Clinton served as dean of the dental school for eight years.

After graduating from the University of Oregon School of Dentistry (now OHSU) in 1964, Clinton was hired on as a clinical instructor. According to Ronald Sakaguchi, D.D.S., Ph.D., M.B.A., dean of the OHSU School of Dentistry, “Many of the programs available at the school today were initiated and built by Dean Clinton. He was a dedicated promoter of dentistry in the Pacific Northwest, a dynamic leader of the school, and a compassionate instructor and mentor.”

“I worked closely with Jack on many projects such as the plan for the SOD at South Waterfront and personally experienced his leadership, passion, visioning, and relationship building.”

Ronald Sakaguchi, D.D.S., M.S., Ph.D., M.B.A.
Dean of the OHSU School of Dentistry

To Don Sirianni D.M.D. ’64, Jack Clinton was a former classmate and personal friend. Sirianni remembers him as an excellent dentist with good dexterity. “Jack was wonderful. He could make things look like they came out of a textbook. He was an excellent practitioner.”

Sirianni recalls that Clinton was a hard worker who wouldn’t quit until a job was done right. Describing his trajectory from student to dental practitioner to leadership in OHSU’s School of Dentistry, Dr. Sirianni says, “Jack was a person who would listen, listen, and listen. He would listen and he would help. He was an academic. And he was a student-friendly instructor.” He believes Clinton will be remembered for his gentleness, adding that as an instructor, “he was the good kind of stern” who would encourage but also hold students accountable to master the required skills.

Reflecting on Clinton’s legacy, Sirianni believes that the current programs and structure of the OHSU School of Dentistry are a direct result of Clinton’s desire and motivation. “That was his biggest accomplishment. The Dental School has Jack’s fingerprints all over it.”

Clinton was essential to the fundraising effort to replace the 1950s-era building on Marquam Hill with the state-of-the-art Skourtes Tower on OHSU’s South Waterfront Campus. Longtime supporters Eugene (DMD ’68) and Bonnie Skourtes stepped up to make the largest gift in the school’s history and, with ODS, A-dec and so many others, the school entered an exciting new era for dentistry in Oregon and beyond. Clinton also created and supported many key programs for which he will be remembered, including the creation of the Dental Careers Institute, the White Coat Ceremony, student outreach rotations, the General Practice Residency, the Hospital Dental Service, and the adoption of the axiUm electronic dental record.

Dean Sakaguchi adds, “I worked closely with Jack and the other associate deans on many projects such as the plan for the SOD at South Waterfront and personally experienced his leadership, passion, visioning, and relationship building. We will miss him greatly.”


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