He succeeds Dr. Bruce Graham, who has retired as Dean. Dr. Graham will return to the faculty in 2014. Currently, a national search for a new Dean is underway.
“I am very happy that Bill has agreed to serve as Interim Dean,” Dr. Graham said. “He is eminently well-qualified to serve the College in this role by virtue of his extensive experience and broad expertise in dental education. And he is also well known and respected by our faculty, who have worked closely with him for the past 12 years to transform our clinical and classroom curricula in the predoctoral and postgraduate programs.
“As Executive Associate Dean, he had been my closest advisor and confidant so he is fully conversant with all of the ongoing business of the Office of the Dean,” Dr. Graham continued. “The College will not miss a beat thanks to Bill’s immense capabilities.”
“The Assistant and Associate Deans, the Department Heads, our entire faculty, and I will keep the College’s initiatives moving forward,” Dr. Knight said. “This is not the time to rest or be caretakers. It also is important to keep the College of Dentistry in its leadership position as one of the flagship programs of UIC.”
Current College initiatives include continuing rehabbing and construction of College facilities, refining the MS in Oral Science program, and implementing the fourth year of the College’s Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) curriculum, which succeeds its previous DDS program.
A member of the faculty since 2001, Dr. Knight first served the College as Assistant Dean for Clinical Education. In his most recent role as Executive Associate Dean, he had been the chief academic officer for the College, working closely with the faculty in the DMD and the Advanced Specialty Programs.
“Dr. Knight has been instrumental in transformative innovations to the professional doctorate program,” said Dr. Lon Kaufman, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost. “Under his leadership, the faculty eliminated discipline-based clinical education and created Group Practice Clinics with interdisciplinary faculty teams mentoring students.”
Conventional discipline-based, preclinical education was replaced with an integrated prepatient care learning program in a high-fidelity simulation clinic. A community-based Service Learning program was implemented across the predoctoral curriculum, culminating with students providing patient care in safety net, community-based clinics.
“These changes have resulted in vastly increased student clinical learning experiences and were recognized with the 2012 American Dental Education Association (ADEA) Gies Award for Innovation by a Dental Education Institution,”
In 2007-08, the faculty created an entirely new classroom curriculum for dental students that integrated biomedical, bio-behavioral, and clinical sciences knowledge and skills through patient care scenarios. The renamed DMD also replaced lectures with small-group learning seminars.
“Dr. Knight was instrumental to developing the new curriculum and he led the approval process from the College level up through the Illinois Board of Higher Education,” Dr Kaufman said. “Dr. Knight also led faculty efforts which culminated in successful implementation of the DMD program in 2011 and assessed its highly positive student learning outcomes to date.”
In 2009, Dr. Knight established the Office of Dental Education to provide technological support for the faculty’s innovations.
Dr. Knight earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery and Master of Science in Restorative Dentistry degrees from the University of Michigan and a Master of Science in Health Care Education degree from the University of Detroit Mercy. He began his career as a Dental Officer in the United States Navy, after which he established a private practice where he served patients for 29 years. He began teaching in 1981 at the University of Michigan, where he was honored five times with Instructor of the Year awards, and he later served in academic affairs and clinical affairs leadership roles at the University of Detroit Mercy.
Instructional design and outcomes assessment are Dr. Knight’s research interests, and he has published 25 articles in peer-reviewed journals on these topics. He is a nationally-recognized thought leader in the learning process that leads to dental students’ development of clinical treatment competency skills, and he has presented 47 invited workshops and presentations on the subject.
Dr. Knight is the recipient of seven competencies awards for educational research presentations at American Dental Education Association national symposia. He is a Fellow of the American College of Dentists and an active member of National and State dental professional organizations. He has held numerous leadership positions in the American Dental Education Association, serving as Chair of the sections on Academic Affairs and Educational Research and Design of Curriculum.
He also has served as a Site Visitor Consultant to the Commission on Dental Accreditation and the National Commission for Accreditation and Assessment, which is an accrediting agency for international dental education programs.
“I have the greatest confidence that Dr. Knight will continue to build the momentum and quality of the College of Dentistry as we complete the search for the next Dean,” Dr. Kaufman said.