Dr. Henry Cherrick, a professor of oral pathology who served as dean of the UCLA School of Dentistry from 1988 to 1995, died on Jan. 24, in Davie, Florida. He was 84.
Cherrick’s affiliation with UCLA spanned two different terms. Arriving at the dental school as assistant professor of oral pathology in 1971, he was promoted to associate professor two years later and then to full professor in 1977. That year, he was honored with the UCLA Alumni Association’s Distinguished Teaching Award.
Leaving Westwood in 1978 to serve as dean of the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine, he was appointed to the same title at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 1981.
Cherrick’s return to UCLA commenced on July 1, 1988. Among many accomplishments during his tenure, Cherrick established and secured funding for a geriatric dentistry program, providing oral health services to people 55 years and older. He also signed a 1992 partnership agreement with two Japanese universities to promote educational and cultural exchange among dental students on both sides of the Pacific. The program resumes this year following a hiatus brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I will always be indebted to Henry as he is responsible for initiating my career in administration. His passion for the school along with his charismatic style, earned him the love and respect of students, staff, faculty and campus leadership,” said Ron Mito, professor emeritus of clinical dentistry and former executive associate dean for academic programs and personnel at the dental school.
“I first met Dr. Cherrick when I was a student in his oral pathology course,” Mito said. “I distinctly recall him lecturing without notes and citing detailed information nearly verbatim from our textbook. His knowledge was mind-blowing.”
Cherrick’s tenure coincided with the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and he advocated for the establishment of a federal program to support dental care for patients who were HIV-positive. As a pathologist, he observed that many of these patients had soft-tissue lesions in their mouths and realized that dentists, if trained properly, could play a key role in AIDS diagnosis. With support from politicians, including U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, in the 1990s Cherrick and his peers in the American Association of Dental Schools (now the American Dental Education Association) successfully lobbied Congress to authorize what is now known as the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Part F Dental Reimbursement Program.
Citing poor health, Cherrick stepped down as dean in July 1995 and retired following a sabbatical.
The author of more than 45 published articles, Cherrick conducted extensive research in areas such as surgical management of pathological processes, oral pathology and bone transplantation. Cherrick collaborated frequently on studies with No-Hee Park, who later served as dean of the UCLA School of Dentistry.
“Being on opposite coasts, Dr. Cherrick and I did not have a chance to meet, however, we will forever be linked as stewards of this incredible dental education institution,” said Paul Krebsbach, current dean of the dentistry school. “Dr. Cherrick’s legacy as an educator, practitioner and administrator lives on through the many UCLA Dentistry colleagues and alumni he positively impacted.”
Born Dec. 4, 1939, in Brooklyn, New York, Cherrick received his associate of arts from the University of Florida in 1961 before earning a doctor of dental surgery at the Medical College of Virginia in 1965. After becoming a certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon at the University Cincinnati Medical Center in 1968, Cherrick’s formal education concluded with a master of science in dentistry from Indiana University-Indianapolis in 1970. That year, he accepted his first faculty position as assistant professor of oral pathology at Washington University, St. Louis.
Cherrick and his wife Naomi were married for nearly 60 years until her death in November 2020. He is survived by a son, Andy, and two grandsons, Jackson and William.