July 8, 2009
Three-decade chair steps aside
Since 1976 the smiling, sagely, and prolific fulcrum for the Department of Endodontics at the Loma Linda University School of Dentistry has been Leif K. Bakland. In 1977 he became the founding chair of the School’s newly formed Department of Endodontics.
Born in Tromsö, Norway, Dr. Bakland earned his DDS degree from LLUSD in 1963 (the year Endodontics was recognized by the ADA as a specialty in dentistry), and then practiced general dentistry in Massachusetts for eight years—during the last three of which he served also as a dentist to the University Health Service of Harvard College.
To avoid the closing of his fledgling dental practice, in 1964 Dr. Bakland joined the U. S. Army Reserves as a First Lieutenant, rather than wait to be drafted into the Vietnam War. He found he enjoyed the periodic camaraderie of Reserve service and retired thirty years later as a full Colonel.
In 1971 Dr. Bakland was accepted into the endodontic program at Harvard School of Dental Medicine and Forsyth Dental Center.
Dr. Bakland switched North American coasts in 1976 to join the School of Dentistry as Associate Professor of Endodontics. The following July he had the honor of founding and chairing the School’s Department of Endodontics—a position he maintained for the next thirty-two years, with the exception of a four-year hiatus (1987-1991) during which he served as Associate Dean for Clinical Administration. For the first eleven of those years Dr. Bakland served simultaneously as Director, Graduate Endodontics, and for the eleven years from 1993 to 2004 he served concurrently as endodontics chair and as Associate Dean for Advanced Education.
Over sixty publications listed in his CV evidence the pleasure Dr. Bakland takes in writing and editing. Among his most meaningful contributions to the corpus of dental pedagogy are his co-editorship of the first and second editions of Traumatic Dental Injuries, A Manual, and his co-editorship of the fourth through sixth editions of Ingle’s Endodontics.
Dr. Bakland has been president, director, chair, advisor or member of nearly 60 committees, associations, and boards—including especially President, School of Dentistry Alumni Association; Director, American Association of Endodontists; President, California State Association of Endodontists; President of the Amrican Board of Endodontics; President of the College of Diplomates of the ABE; President, Pulp Biology Group IADR/AADR; and President, Tri County Dental Society.
Also important to Dr. Bakland has been his many years as a consultant to the Commission on Dental Accreditation, Council on Dental Education, American Dental Association.
Approximately 200 guest lectures have taken Dr. Bakland to many countries on every continent except Antarctica.
Among the honors he has been awarded, the one Dr. Bakland found most rewarding was received in 2008—the first named professorship for the School of Dentistry, the Ronald E. Buell Professor of Endodontics.
Throughout his thirty-three teaching years in Loma Linda, the maintenance of institutional memory has been a cynosure for Dr. Bakland. In that service he became, in 1987, the founding editor of the School’s alumni journal, Dentistry, for which he has remained a significant contributor and gray eminence even after he relinquished its editorship in 2003. Now in semi-retirement he hopes to have the time to write, among other things, about the School, its professional education achievements, and its contribution to the mission of the University and the Seventh-day Adventist Church around the world.
Dr. Bakland has occupied the southeast corner office of Prince Hall’s fourth floor (suite 4400) since the tower was erected in 1976. His new office on the same floor’s east facade, just twenty-five feet to the north, will not be hard to find. Many of his colleagues hope he will occupy it for another thirty-three years.