Dr. Earl Freymiller, an eminent oral and maxillofacial surgeon and a professor at the UCLA School of Dentistry, has been appointed the inaugural holder of UCLA's Bob and Marion Wilson Endowed Chair, effective Jan. 1, 2013.
The endowed term chair — the eighth endowed chair at the dental school — was established to support the teaching, research and public-service activities of a distinguished faculty member who has demonstrated leadership in dental surgery and education and a strong commitment to community service in the field of dentistry.
The UCLA School of Dentistry created the chair with a $1 million endowment to honor longtime supporters Bob and Marion Wilson for the immeasurable generosity they have shown to the school over the years.
"Dr. Freymiller was an obvious choice for me as the first Bob and Marion Wilson Endowed Chair," said Dr. No-Hee Park, dean of the UCLA School of Dentistry. "He truly encompasses the spirit of giving back that the Wilsons embody, through his dedication to teaching, research activities and public service."
A graduate of Harvard University's School of Dental Medicine and Harvard Medical School, Freymiller joined UCLA in 1989 as an assistant professor in the section of oral and maxillofacial surgery. Over his 24 years at the school, he has served in many roles, including as chair of the oral and maxillofacial surgery section and chair of the division of diagnostic and surgical sciences. Since 1995, he has also been chief of dental services at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
Outside academia, Freymiller is deeply involved with the nonprofit Thousand Smiles Foundation, which provides dental care and maxillofacial surgery to less fortunate children in Mexico. He began his volunteer work with the organization in 1990, traveling to Ensenada to perform surgery on underserved children with cleft lips and palate deformities. Since then, he has performed surgery on more than 100 children as part of his volunteer work with the foundation.
"We see children that have ear infections, hearing problems and poor speech development due to their oral cavity deformities," Freymiller said. "With the work we do, we have helped countless children lead more normal lives."
Freymiller's dedication to dentistry and public service mirrors the Wilsons' decades-long commitment to the UCLA School of Dentistry, which has included spearheading fundraising campaigns in support of the Wilson–Jennings–Bloomfield UCLA Venice Dental Center (VDC). As a result of their efforts, the VDC serves thousands of low-income patients each year and gives UCLA dentistry students an opportunity to gain valuable clinical experience.
"The School of Dentistry holds a special place in our hearts," Bob Wilson said. "We applaud the establishment of this new endowed chair to support a distinguished faculty member for many years to come."
Both Bob and Marion attended UCLA, graduating in 1953 and 1950, respectively. Bob went on to a successful career in commercial real-estate development, and the couple has remained dedicated to helping their alma mater fulfill its mission of educational excellence.
The impact of the Wilson's philanthropy is evident across the UCLA campus, most notably in Wilson Plaza, which was dedicated in their name in 2000 in recognition of their longtime generous support for the university. In 2006, they were awarded the UCLA Medal, the university's highest honor.
The UCLA School of Dentistry is dedicated to improving the oral health of the people of California, the nation and the world through its teaching, research, patient care and public service initiatives. The school provides education and training programs that develop leaders in dental education, research, the profession and the community; conducts research programs that generate new knowledge, promote oral health and investigate the cause, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of oral disease in an individualized disease-prevention and management model; and delivers patient-centered oral health care to the community and the state.