University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry Dean receives 2021 William J. Gies Award from ADEA

Mert N. Aksu, dean and professor at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry, has been named a recipient of the 2021 American Dental Education Association’s (ADEA) Gies Award for Vision – Dental Educator.

The William J. Gies Awards are the most coveted honors in oral health and dental education and recognize the efforts of individuals, institutions and organizations that exemplify the highest standards of vision, innovation and achievement in oral health and dental education.

Aksu was nominated for his ability to institute changes now to address issues in the future. His unique and unconventional approach to dental education and oral health care have positively impacted the faculty, students and patients he serves.

Since joining the University in 1993, Aksu has held many positions at Detroit Mercy Dental including professor, executive associate dean and assistant dean of clinic administration. He has served as the dean since being appointed to the position in 2008.

Aksu’s leadership approach includes a strong commitment to developing faculty and students to be competent in their discipline and skilled as leaders. Under his vision and leadership, Detroit Mercy Dental has successfully launched new curricular and clinical models, educational delivery and assessment models and community outreach programs.

In his pledge to ensure the safety and well-being of faculty, staff, students and patients particularly in a high- risk geographic area, he co-invented a Class I, FDA approved patent-pending chairside aerosol mitigation system (AeMS, LLC) which is in place on all units in the dental clinic. This device contributes to safe dental patient care with approximately 900 devices being used by students and professionals.

“Throughout his career, Dean Aksu has addressed challenges in a creative and forward-looking manner, said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Pamela Zarkowski, who received the same award in 2017. “This award demonstrates that his peers recognize his passion for and dedication to Detroit Mercy Dental’s students, employees, colleagues and the patients they serve. I am grateful for his leadership and contributions to the School and University.”.

Aksu will receive his award along with seven other Gies awardees on March 12, 2021, in conjunction with the virtual 2021 ADEA Annual Session & Exhibition.

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About the ADEAGies Foundation: As the only philanthropy dedicated solely to dental education, the ADEAGies Foundation’s mission is to enhance the oral health of the public by funding programs that support innovations in dental education, research, leadership and recognition. To achieve its mission, the Foundation awards grants (over $1.8 million to date) and holds The William J. Gies Awards for Vision, Innovation and Achievement each year. Building on these successes, the ADEAGies Foundation has committed to increase funding for innovations within academic dentistry, and to ensure that those ideas are disseminated throughout the profession to reach their full potential for change. The Foundation’s funding will support leadership programs and transformational advances throughout dental education to improve oral and systemic health.

About ADEA: The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) is The Voice of Dental Education. Our mission is to lead and support the health professions community in preparing future-ready oral health professionals. Our members include all 78 U.S. and Canadian dental schools, more than 800 allied and advanced dental education programs, more than 50 corporations and approximately 18,000 individuals. Our activities encompass a wide range of research, advocacy, faculty development, meetings and communications, including the esteemed Journal of Dental Education®, as well as the dental school application services ADEA AADSAS®, ADEA PASS®, ADEA DHCAS® and ADEA CAAPID®. For more information, visit