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Melvin L. Moss, Former Dean Columbia Dental School

Melvin L. Moss, former dean of the College of Dental Medicine and professor emeritus of anatomy and oral biology in the College of Physicians and Surgeons , passed away June 25 at age 83. Dean Moss's visionary leadership shaped the dental school, and his death is a great loss.

Melvin L. Moss
Dean Moss was also professor emeritus of anatomy at the College of Dental Medicine.

Moss was a 1946 graduate of Columbia's dental school, and after service in the Army Dental Corps and a brief period in dental practice, he returned to Columbia to receive his Ph.D. in anatomy, specializing in physical anthropology. He joined the University faculty in 1952 and was well known throughout the medical center as an outstanding teacher of human anatomy. A prolific researcher, Moss's work on the theoretical basis of craniofacial growth and development received international recognition.

His 1968 appointment to lead the dental school initiated a period of renewal. Under his leadership, the school received more resources for strengthening its educational offerings through investment in facilities and faculty recruitment.

Moss also made significant changes to the curriculum, creating a basic science core in the first year, a dental science core in the second year, clinical training in the third and electives in the final year. He was a strong believer in the importance of student research, and under his guidance, students were encouraged to join faculty research projects as summer research fellows. He also oversaw the creation of the divisions of Growth and Development, Preventive Dentistry and Community Health, and Dental Auxiliary Utilization and Practice Management.

Dean Moss is survived by his wife and colleague, Letty Moss-Salentijn, professor of dentistry and senior associate dean in the College of Dental Medicine; his sons, Noel and James; and a granddaughter, Kristina.

A memorial service will be held June 28 at 11:15 a.m. at The Riverside (76 th and Amsterdam Avenue). Interment will be private. In lieu of flowers, Dr. Moss-Salentijn requests that donations be made to the Melvin L. Moss Scholarship Fund. Contributions should be made by check payable to Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, 630 W. 168 St., New York, NY 10032.

Published: Jul 12, 2006
Last modified: Jul 12, 2006