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Lisa Dodge honored with university-wide staff award

Lisa Dodge

Paul Courant presents the Candace Johnson Award to Lisa Dodge.

Lisa Dodge thanks U-M and the School of Dentistry after the presentaion.

From left: School of Dentistry Dean Laurie McCauley; Dr. William Giannobile, chairman of the Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine; Lisa Dodge; Wendy Kerschbaum, former director of the Dental Hygiene program; and Janet Kinney, director of the Dental Hygiene program.

Lisa Dodge is hugged by a well-wisher during the award reception.

Candace Johnson Award recognizes professionalism

Ann Arbor, Mich., Feb. 13, 2017 -– A School of Dentistry staff member who has been described as the heart of the Dental Hygiene program was honored Monday with the University of Michigan’s 13th annual Candace J. Johnson Award for Staff Excellence.

Lisa Dodge, a senior administrative assistant, was presented with the award during a ceremony at the school’s Sindecuse Museum atrium.  The award was established in 2004 as a memorial to Johnson, a staff member in the Office of the Provost who died in 2003. The Provost's Office created the award to recognize staff members on campus who, like Johnson, have a positive influence in the workplace through their professionalism and personality.

Several letters of nomination from students, faculty and administrators of the Dental Hygiene program praised Dodge for her devotion to constantly meeting the needs of the program, from the smallest daily details to the most important and time-consuming projects such as the complicated national accreditation process every seven years. She has worked in the Dental Hygiene program since 1998.

At Monday’s ceremony, U-M Interim Provost Paul Courant recalled the exemplary work of Candace Johnson and said Dodge likewise provides an impressive array of services to students, faculty and staff.  “Lisa does lots of things, but what really came through in the (nominations) was the way she does them,” Courant said. “There were several recurring words in the letters of support, among them: listens, communicates, attentive, compassionate, supportive, respects others, helps open doors, commitment, meticulous, hard-working and, perhaps the most common word, smiles.  Taken together, these words convey kindness and professionalism. These qualities are what we seek in people we honor in Candace Johnson’s name.”

Dean Laurie McCauley recalled that many years ago when she was chair of the Periodontics and Oral Medicine Department, which includes Dental Hygiene, Dodge was considering an offer by another unit on campus. “When I heard about this, first I panicked, then I begged and pleaded.  After what seemed like weeks and months, Lisa said she was going to stay. I remember telling her, now it’s our job to make sure that the decision is a good one for you.  I hope it was a good one, Lisa … and I hope today is a little bit of evidence of how much you are appreciated by our school.”

Dodge said receiving the award is humbling.  “Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would be the recipient when there are so many deserving staff who work at the university,” she said. “I ​believe this award must be shared with the many people who have touched my life.  It is a culmination of interactions, nudges, inspiring moments, challenges and a great deal of passion that have influenced me throughout my journey at the university.”

Dodge assists students as they prepare to enter the school’s three dental Hygiene Programs – bachelor’s, degree completion and master’s.  Once they are enrolled, she helps them navigate the rigors of day-to-day life as students, and acknowledges their accomplishments along the way.  She provides administrative support to the faculty in Dental Hygiene and the Department of Academic Affairs.​ 

“I love the people – the faculty, students and staff,” Dodge said. “The Dental Hygiene faculty exemplify the ‘Michigan Difference’ each and every day.  I feel so blessed to be a small part of this amazing team.  The students work so hard to get to Michigan and there is no greater joy than to watch their dreams come true. My colleagues in Academic Affairs and the staff in the Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine are exceptional. I am so​ honored to serve among these amazing people.”

Dodge’s work ethic and always-upbeat personality were cited by Dental Hygiene Director Janet Kinney, former director Wendy Kerschbaum and retired clinical assistant professor Anne Gwozdek during the program Monday.

In her nomination letter, Kinney cited the complicated accreditation process as an example of Dodge’s efficiency. “Dependability should be Lisa’s middle name,” Kinney wrote. “ … As director, I can think of no one else I would rather have alongside of me during this daunting task than Lisa. I never doubted that deadlines would be met.  Oftentimes Lisa would finish early. I never doubted that the quality of Lisa’s work would be superior. And finally, I never doubted that Lisa would carry through with each and every detail.”

“It is Lisa’s willingness to suggest and then work through new proposals until completion which have helped our program operate more smoothly and better support our students,” Kinney said. “… Lisa’s problem-solving, efficient approach has made life easier for both faculty and students.”

Dodge is the department’s “heart and our biggest advocate,” Connie L. MacKinnon, adjunct clinical lecturer in dentistry, wrote in her nomination. MacKinnon said Dodge is always cheerful in helping with questions of any kind. “She is the quiet but steady machine that makes our department run efficiently,” MacKinnon said. “… It is reassuring to know that she is a phone call, text or email away.  She responds very quickly with the answer to whatever it is you needed.”

Gwozdek worked with Dodge for many years. “‘What can I do to help?’  are the first words you often hear from Lisa Dodge,” Gwozdek said in her nomination. “Not only is she willing to help in all circumstances, she is also very intuitive and identifies in advance when help might be needed. If you spoke to any Dental Hygiene student or faculty member, they would have a story to tell you about Lisa going out of her way to aid them.”

This is the second time in three years and third time since its inception that the Candace Johnson Award has gone to a School of Dentistry staff member.  In 2015, the late Jan Berry won the award, and in 2005 it was presented to Meghan Genovese.

For more information, see the University Record story.


The University of Michigan School of Dentistry is one of the nation’s leading dental schools engaged in oral health care education, research, patient care and community service.  General dental care clinics and specialty clinics providing advanced treatment enable the school to offer dental services and programs to patients throughout Michigan.  Classroom and clinic instruction prepare future dentists, dental specialists, and dental hygienists for practice in private offices, hospitals, academia and public agencies.  Research seeks to discover and apply new knowledge that can help patients worldwide.  For more information about the School of Dentistry, visit us on the Web at:
School of Dentistry writer Lynn Monson at, or (734) 615-1971.