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Dr. Thomas Lakars Retires from University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry
Retires as Assistant Professor of Oral Biology after 50 years at College.
By: UIC College of Dentistry
Entering the College as a student in 1963, Dr. Lakars earned his DDS and joined the faculty in 1967. Other than his time in the United States Air Force, he remained at the College until he retired. In 1977-78, he was Acting Head of the Department of Oral Anatomy.
“Every day at the College was interesting, always with much to learn and to do, along with outstanding colleagues and brilliant students,” Dr. Lakars said.
He noted that his three Golden Apple Awards for teaching and two awards presented by the UIC Dental Alumni Association Board of Directors, the E. Lloyd Du Brul Faculty Achievement Award and a University of Illinois Alumni Loyalty Award, “were certainly highlights of my career,” Dr. Lakars said.
“Two most recent awards are the capstone of my dental education career,” he added. “The Class of 2014 elected me as an Honorary Hooder for their commencement ceremony, the first time I had been so honored, and the Odontographic Society of Chicago presented me with the William P. Schoen Jr. DDS, MS, Memorial Teaching Award on April 7.”
The Schoen Award is in recognition for “innovations in and dedication to dental education and its students.”
Dr. Lakars noted that his Oral Anatomy Professors “were most influential in my life and career choice to teach anatomy in dentistry. Professors E. Lloyd Du Brul, James A. Gagnon, and Robert P. Scapino were wonderful, superb teachers, whose amazing knowledge and enthusiasm stimulated me to become an anatomist educating dental students. Dr. Thomas E. Emmering, then a Professor in Radiology and our faculty advisor and mentor for the Rho Chapter of the Delta Sigma Delta International Dental Fraternity, was a very positive role model admired by all the dental students.”
He also feels fortunate to have been a faculty member “for scientifically renowned department heads: Dr. Du Brul and Dr. Karen Hiiemae of the Department of Oral Anatomy, and Dr. Scapino and Dr. Thomas G.H. Diekwisch of the Department of Oral Biology,” Dr. Lakars said.
It was a labor of love for Dr. Lakars to be in charge of the Du Brul Archives of Oral Anatomy, the College’s collection of human, animal, and prehistoric skulls and disarticulated skull bones. He often could be seen showing the collection to dental students or youngsters from local schools. Faculty members Dr. Alison Doubleday and Dr. Robert Druzinsky now are in charge of the collection.
Dr. Lakars had been heavily involved in Delta Sigma Delta since his student days. He served as Supreme Grand Master for the worldwide organization in 2000-01, and has been Supreme Historian and editor of the fraternity’s magazine, Desmos, since 2008. He also was faculty advisor to the Rho chapter at the College for 43 years. Dr. Danny Hanna has taken over that post from Dr. Lakars.
After serving as the UIC Dental Alumni Association Board of Directors Faculty Liaison for decades, Dr. Lakars stepped down from that post a few years ago and was succeeded by Dr. Susan Rowan.
Dr. Lakars thanked his colleagues on the faculty, the support staff, and the housekeeping and maintenance staff for their decades of support. “I miss seeing all of you daily and I’ll always remember our friendships and our dedication to our College of Dentistry,” he said.
He also thanked his students. “It was a joyful privilege for me to be your instructor,”
William S. Bike