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Dr. Jack Gerrow receives honorary doctorate at spring convocation

Posted by Cheryl Bell on June 11, 2018 in News
Chancellor Anne McLellan and Dr. Jack Gerrow, honorary degree recipient

Former Dalhousie dentistry professor Dr. Jack Gerrow received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at spring convocation on May 28.

As an award-winning professor at Dal and in his 24 years as the chair and registrar of the National Dental Examining Board (NDEB), Dr. Gerrow made a wide-ranging and lasting impact on how dentistry is taught and evaluated, both in Canada and abroad.  

At Dal, he helped to introduce a zero-based curriculum review, a process that involves starting with a blank slate and rebuilding the curriculum from scratch. At the NDEB, he increased the quality and fairness of evaluations and licensing exams. He strongly advocated for the evaluation of dental competencies – the skills that dentistry students must demonstrate before becoming independent practitioners.

Dr. Gerrow worked with many national and international organizations during his career. Speaking at convocation, Dr. Gerrow highlighted the role that Dal played in many of the things he strived to accomplish.

“Dalhousie is an international recognized institution that has consistently innovated, taken risks, and always produced world-class leaders in teaching and research,” he said.

“We sometimes take Dalhousie for granted, but it is when you visit other places that you realize how important Dalhousie is to health care and higher education and how accepted and admired you are as a Dalhousie graduate or faculty member.”

Dr. Gerrow earned his DDS from the University of Toronto in 1979 and completed an MSc and certificate in prosthodontics at the University of Iowa in 1985, the same year he began teaching at Dal. An award for Teaching Excellence from the Alumni Association quickly followed in 1989 and he completed a Master of Education degree in 1990 while teaching at Dal.

Thank mentors and challenge dogma

In his convocation speech, Dr. Gerrow spoke highly of the mentoring he received and the influence it had on his life and career, including his longstanding willingness to identify and challenge dogma.

“By definition, [dogma] is a widely accepted ‘opinion’ without any supporting research evidence. My mentors made me realize that dogma is widespread in both health care and education. It is frequently found in textbooks, lectures (including mine) and makes its way onto tests and licensing exams and unfortunately into patient care decisions.”

He urged graduates to thank their mentors – family, community, academic, and professional – and to “pay back” that mentoring by seeking out individuals to mentor. He also challenged his listeners to “constantly identify and challenge dogma in your disciplines so that you can keep dogma out of patient care decisions.

Dr. Gerrow received the 2018 Gies Award for Outstanding Innovation by a dental educator in support of dental education.

Dr. Jack Gerrow stands beside his Alumni Award for Teaching Excellence 1989 portrait