Dr. Carroll Ann Trotman

Dr. Carroll Ann Trotman began her term as dean of The Ohio State University College of Dentistry in August.

Carroll Ann Trotman, BDS, MA, MS, began her term as dean of The Ohio State University College of Dentistry in August. In this Q&A with “ODA Today,” Dean Trotman looks forward on her leadership at the college.

What was it that interested you in The Ohio State University’s College of Dentistry?

I was aware of the achievements being made by the college long before the deanship opportunity came along. The college has a prominent place among the Big Ten dental schools, and is one of the largest public dental schools in the nation – the fourth largest in the U.S. And, Ohio State is one of the largest public universities and a highly respected educational powerhouse.

I have interacted with members of the college’s faculty throughout my career, so I knew of its reputation for providing an outstanding education for students and excellent clinical care for patients, while conducting cutting-edge research and serving the community. To sum it up, this College of Dentistry is making significant advances in many important areas and I wanted to be part of that forward momentum.

What would you like to see the College of Dentistry and organized dentistry in Ohio accomplish in the next five years?

Although I have only served as dean for a few weeks, I already value the strong partnership that exists between our college and the Ohio Dental Association (ODA). I met with the past president, Dr. David Kimberly, and with David Owsiany, the executive director, and I am looking forward to working with the new president, Dr. Thomas Kelly. I am impressed with the efforts of the leadership and staff who support such a large and active organization that has a significant impact on the dental profession in Ohio.

The ODA has a laudable record of serving Ohioans and supporting our students and alumni. I look forward to promoting that message and our students’ involvement with the ODA. They will benefit from this collaborative experience that will help prepare them for a variety of leadership roles after graduation.

It is also a priority to enhance our students’ awareness of this mutually supportive relationship with the ODA, and to increase their understanding of organized dentistry’s role in partnering with the college’s constituents to meet the needs of the public and support the profession.

What do you feel will be the greatest challenges facing the College of Dentistry and the profession in the years ahead?

We must work to ensure that our college continues to be a place that is attractive and welcoming to diverse students, staff and faculty. And, importantly, we have to continue to recruit and retain the talented faculty needed to educate future dentists and leaders in the field to serve the state and nation. These college-wide efforts and initiatives are ones to which we are fully committed because they are vital for our future.

A challenge that is at the heart of the university president’s initiatives, is ensuring that education is affordable. We need to manage the cost of dental education so that aspiring dental professionals can be educated and trained in our college. While we have effectively controlled our educational costs in comparison with our Big Ten peers, this continues to be an ongoing effort and challenge. Increasing the number of scholarships we provide for our students is one approach that can help reduce their debt loads.

Another impactful issue is related to COVID-19. One can expect that we will have to navigate our way through the ongoing pandemic. We have learned how to meet our obligations while working under the constraints imposed by the pandemic, and we have to continue developing strategies that ensure our success no matter what the future may bring.

Local challenges that are no less important include our new facility’s radiology clinic and simulation laboratory which are vital components of the Postle Hall expansion that must be completed. We need to engage our constituents to get the support required. I am confident that our alumni, partners and friends will continue to support our efforts as they have done so generously in the past.

Ohio State has a long history of strong didactic and clinical dental education. What are your goals for the College of Dentistry?

Speaking broadly, one goal is to both maintain our high standards and continue making advances in our curricula and clinical care to ensure a strong foundational didactic and contemporary clinical education for our students. This will require multi-faceted efforts that include the completion of the two projects previously mentioned – the radiology clinic and the simulation laboratory. An important aspect of this is to ensure that our students are trained to use the most current digital radiography, clinical imaging, digital impressioning and CAD/CAM technology, to name just a few.

We will continue to build on the college’s national reputation as an outstanding educational institution. That will include an array of endeavors driven largely by our strategic initiatives. I continue to meet with our students, staff and faculty to understand their needs. These meetings are very informative and rewarding. Together with our staff and faculty, I am excited about the work we will do to enhance our students’ and residents’ educational experiences and environments.

You have been an NIH-funded researcher throughout your career. Have those experiences given you any special goals for the College of Dentistry’s research programs?

I have had a multifaceted career as a teacher, clinician, senior administrator and researcher. From my experiences serving in these different capacities, I believe that research must be integral to our students’ educational experience – integrated into the curriculum. Such exposure broadens their perspective on what it means to be a dental professional, the importance of keeping abreast of new discoveries, and the impact of research on clinical practice and evidence-based dental care.

Our college has thriving research programs to directly support this education. The research conducted by our faculty generates an average of about $4.5 million in funding each year, and we have to ensure the viability of these programs and foster new avenues for collaborative research for our faculty both within and outside the university. It will be exciting to develop and expand our research initiatives.

As a new member of the Buckeye Nation, have there been any events or experiences that were especially memorable?

I’m glad you asked that question. A recent event that will remain in my memory occurred at our Dental Alumni Society reception at the ODA’s Annual Session. There was a prize drawing for a football signed by Archie Griffin.

Everyone at the gathering was given a free ticket and I was asked to do the honors. So I reached into the bag and withdrew the winning ticket. I read the number. But no one seemed to have it. So I read it again. Everyone looked around at each other, and then they all looked again at their tickets. At that point, I looked at my ticket. That’s when I realized it was ME! I won!

That was a truly special moment and a memory to treasure. The football will be displayed prominently in my office so I can be reminded daily of my first “big win” as a Buckeye!

Are there any closing comments you’d like to make?

I want to showcase the college. Ohio State’s College of Dentistry is known as a leader throughout the nation in educating dentists, dental hygienists and dental specialists – and in its commitment to innovation and excellence. We have ambitious and talented students; outstanding faculty with world-class credentials; hard-working and dedicated staff members; and alumni who are known for their loyalty and generosity. Our potential is unlimited, and that will be demonstrated as we build on past successes.

My other comment is that although I have been in Ohio for a short time, I continue to be impressed by the warm welcome I have received and the generosity of the people who have helped me in so many ways. That has been very special and it is something I am grateful for. I am honored to serve as dean of The Ohio State University’s College of Dentistry, and I am looking forward to everything the future holds. It will continue to be an exciting journey!