IU dentistry dean heads national accrediting agency overseeing U.S. dental education standards

Nov. 14, 2013

For Immediate Release

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana University School of Dentistry Dean John N. Williams Jr. will draw upon his extensive experience leading accreditation site visits at dental schools throughout the country to pursue his newest challenge: heading the national dental accrediting body itself.

The Commission on Dental Accreditation, an agency of the American Dental Association, approved Williams as chair of the commission during the association’s annual session this month in New Orleans. Having recently completed three years of his four-year appointment as a commission board member, he will preside over the 30-member commission for the final year of his term.

The U.S. Department of Education recognizes the Commission on Dental Accreditation as the only agency in the nation to accredit the country’s 65 dental schools as well as all dental and dental-related education programs offered in the U.S. at the post-secondary level. The commission serves the oral health care needs of the public through the development and administration of standards that foster continuous quality improvement of education programs associated with the field of dentistry.

More than 50,000 students are currently pursuing dental, advanced dental and allied dental studies nationwide in 1,453 programs, including 682 students enrolled at IU’s dental school. The U.S. Department of education recently renewed the commission as an accrediting body through July 2017.

Williams’ substantial contributions to the Commission on Dental Accreditation for 15 years have included his leadership of numerous accreditation site visit teams, whose work involves exhaustive reviews of dental schools. Most accredited programs sponsored by dental schools in the U.S. must go through a comprehensive reaccreditation process every seven years.

Serving as dean of dentistry at the universities of North Carolina (2005-10) and Louisville (1999-2005) before accepting the deanship at IU in 2010, Williams has been working with IU’s dental administrators, faculty and staff for the past couple of years in preparation for a Commission on Dental Accreditation visit of their own.

A team of commission visitors completed its on-site review of the Hoosier state’s only dental school just two months ago. IU was the first dental school in the country to be reviewed in an updated system that includes the commission’s introduction of several new standards in dental education, including a commitment to a humanistic culture and learning environment that is regularly evaluated. The official results of IU’s review are expected in early 2014.

Williams was originally appointed to the Commission on Dental Accreditation board as a representative of the American Dental Education Association. He led the Council of Deans, one of the association’s key governing bodies, from 2008 to 2012.