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Meet our 2023 Outstanding Alumni Award recipients

Posted by Kathy MacFarlane on July 27, 2023 in News
l to r: Toby Gushue, Palmer Nelson, Lex MacNeil

The Dentistry Alumni Committee is pleased to announce the 2023 Outstanding Alumni Award recipients: Dr. Toby Gushue (DDS'73), Dr. Lex MacNeil (DDS'73), and Mrs. Palmer Nelson (DDH'89).
The awards will be presented in the Student Union Building, Wayne Cross Room, #303. The event is open to our community. Please register here.
Our OAA winners

Dr. Toby Gushue (DDS'73), St. John's, NL
Dr. Toby Gushue arrived at Dalhousie in 1969 as a mature student with his wife Eleanor. He had already worked as a junior high school teacher for four years in Newfoundland.
Elected class president, a position he held all four years of the program, Gushue often advocated on behalf of the class. At convocation he was awarded a Gold D for his leadership and participation.  
Gushue returned to Newfoundland after graduation and started a general practice, first in Grand Falls, and then St. John’s, Newfoundland, where he practised for 33 years.  He served in various positions with the NLDA for 17 years and with the CDA for 22 years. Thanks in part to his efforts, CDAnet was created, developed, and promoted, transforming and streamlining dental offices all across Canada.
Gushue believed that it was up to the profession to implement positive changes in health-care procedures and policies. He was a tremendous patient advocate, often when others were focused on the business side of the profession. Known for speaking his mind and never shy about taking on an issue, Gushue has retained his feisty sense of justness throughout his career, to the benefit of oral health care in Canada.
He and Eleanor raised two children, David and Jeanette. Gushue loves the outdoors and enjoys fly fishing, hunting, golfing, and watercolour painting.
Dr. Lex MacNeil (DDS'73), Kelowna, BC

Born and raised on a small dairy farm in Cape Breton, NS, Dr. Lex MacNeil has always believed that education is the door that opens onto opportunities.
After graduating with his DDS degree, he headed to the west coast to begin his career in British Columbia. He spent 36 years as a general dental practitioner in Coquitlam and New Westminster. During that time, he was also a part-time adjunct faculty member at the University of British Columbia, rising through the ranks to become assistant dean of clinical affairs. Known for his educational leadership and management skills, it was not surprising that he was recruited to become the founding dean and professor at the College of Dental Medicine at Midwestern University in Illinois.
MacNeil has been involved with professional dentistry throughout his career, serving with the ACFD, ADEA (including the Business and Financial Administration and Clinic Administration section), NDEB, and CDA, to name just a few. He has also worked as a consultant with Health Canada and the International Standards Organization on dental equipment and infrastructure for the past 16 years.
MacNeil is known for his warm and polite demeanour, his ability to work with people, and his hearty handshake. He spends time reading and recreational cycling, and he and his wife Kelly Simmons enjoy travelling. They have two sons, Ken and Gregg, and two grandchildren.

Mrs. Palmer Nelson (DDH'89), Mahone Bay, NS
Mrs. Palmer Nelson has been practising dental hygiene for nearly 34 years – 20 years in Newfoundland and 15 in Nova Scotia, including working in public health and as a clinical instructor at Dalhousie.
She has been a voice, mentor, and advocate for the dental hygiene profession through her involvement with the CDHA for eight years, including as president, the NLDHA for nine years, and the CDHNS for five years.
In 2010, she addressed the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women to help raise awareness on the topic of women in business and their expanding contributions to the business world as well as servants and caregivers of primary health. Nelson has been a strong advocate of self-regulation and was heavily involved in lobbying the Newfoundland and Labrador government for recognition, which the province achieved in 2013.

Nelson and her daughter Sydney own and operate Coastal Dental Hygiene, a mobile oral health service and clinic in Mahone Bay. She has advocated for affordable and accessible oral health care and believes that everyone deserves to have a healthy mouth and a beautiful bright smile. Nelson and her husband Richard have three daughters. She enjoys outdoor activities such as cycling, skiing, swimming, kayaking, golfing, and photography.

Congratulations to all our OAA recipients!
See a list of past OAA recipients.
The Dentistry Alumni Committee (DAC) administers the Faculty of Dentistry’s annual Outstanding Alumni Awards, which are presented to  dentistry or dental hygiene graduates who have made special and/or distinctive contributions to their communities, profession, society at large, or to the Faculty of Dentistry. Special consideration is given to candidates who have advanced the art and science of dentistry or dental hygiene through high quality dental service, research, education, or volunteerism; served the organized profession with distinction; or who have made significant contributions that have extended the frontiers of dentistry or dental hygiene.