Alumni plan drive to honor professor with lecture series

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Dental Medicine

Alumni plan drive to honor professor with lecture series

ALUMNI OF THE School of Dental Medicine have launched a drive to create an endowment to support an annual lecture series in honor of dental faculty member John J. Cunat, chair of the dental school's department of orthodontics and head of its graduate department program, who retired in August after 40 years as a faculty member in the school.

The drive, which to date has raised $80,000 for the John J. Cunat Fund, has been spearheaded by a committee of 13 Western New York orthodontists whom Cunat assisted and inspired during his teaching career.

Barry F. Wood, D.D.S. '66, and Barry A. Ruchlin, D.D.S. '67, are cochairs of a committee. The members are Heather A. Braun Buccieri, D.D.S. '87; Albert P. Cavallari, D.D.S. '85; M. Kurtz Dietzer, D.D.S. '54; Melvyn M. Leifert, D.D.S. '67; James C. Leitten, D.D.S. '67; Andrew L. MacDonald, D.D.S. '89; James D. Ritzenthaler, D.D.S. '59; Gary D. Schuller, D.D.S. '56; Roger W. Triftshauser, D.D.S. '61; John R. Whiteman, D.D.S. '69; and Laurence C. Wright, D.D.S. '57.

The proceeds from the permanent endowment fund will be used to sponsor an annual orthodontics lecture to be held each spring to coincide with the orthodontics commencement ceremonies. The lecture series named in Cunat's honor will begin this year.

Cunat, who received his doctorate in dentistry from UB in 1952, joined the dental faculty in 1955 and became chair of orthodontics in 1965. He has lectured locally, throughout the country and at international conferences. He also has served in the dental school's private practice since its formation.

"The John J. Cunat Fund is a wonderful and most welcome addition to the school. It serves as both a tribute to Dr. Cunat, who chaired the department of orthodontics and headed its graduate program for more than 30 years, and as a gift from Drs. Barry Ruchlin, Barry Wood, their committee and many others who mounted this extremely successful drive for the benefit of the School of Dental Medicine and the orthodontic community," according to Louis J. Goldberg, dean of the UB dental school.

Wood, a former student of Cunat, said that his mentor has made a major impact on his career.

"Dr. Cunat, in his own quiet way, has done many things for the department of orthodontics. Without his guidance, I wouldn't be where I am today. We want to honor him in a special way because of all that he has given to us," he said.

Ruchlin has donated an accumulated $50,000 to UB, most of which has gone directly to the UB dental school. One of his donations to the dental school led to the creation of the Ruchlin Room, where continuing education courses and seminars are held.