VCU School of Dentistry has named Carlos S. Smith, D.D.S., M.Div., F.A.C.D., as the inaugural associate dean for inclusive excellence, ethics, and community engagement, effective April 24. 

Since 2020, Smith, an associate professor in the Department of Dental Public Health and Policy, has served as the VCU School of Dentistry’s first director of diversity, equity, and inclusion, while also serving as the School’s director of the Ethics Curriculum. In this work, Smith has led schoolwide efforts in shaping a culture of inclusion and addressing issues related to diversity, cultural sensitivity, and health equity across the curriculum, as well as faculty development and student belonging.

In his new role, Smith will lead a comprehensive and integrated strategy to ensure inclusive excellence is a hallmark of all VCU School of Dentistry stakeholder experiences, including patients, students, staff and faculty. He will also be responsible for expanding the school’s community engagement efforts with various community organizations and patient groups, and leading important initiatives aimed at improving access to care. 

“This role aligns closely with the priorities outlined in our new five-year strategic plan, impacting not only our efforts to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for our students, faculty and staff, but also focusing resources on improving the experiences of our patients daily,” said Lyndon Cooper, D.D.S., Ph.D., dean of VCU School of Dentistry. “Dr. Smith is uniquely qualified to lead transformation within dental education and the profession, and we will all benefit from his success in these endeavors.” 

Smith is nationally recognized for his expertise and leadership in ethics, professionalism, and diversity in dental education. Most recently, he garnered the inaugural American Dental Education Association (ADEA) Dr. Jeanne C. Sinkford Faculty Leadership Award, and he is the sole dentist appointed to the newly established CVS Health National Health Equity Advisory Board. Smith is a sought-after lecturer and has provided keynote and seminar presentations for the National Dental Association, American Dental Association, American College of Dentists, ADEA, Virginia Health Catalyst, Virginia Dental Association, dental schools, hospital systems and oral health advocacy groups. 

As part of a large, urban university with a premiere academic health system, Smith works closely with colleagues throughout VCU and VCU Health to support institutional commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education and health care. Last year, he chaired the VCU Office of Health Equity’s inaugural History and Health; Racial Equity Symposium, and he is often called upon to serve on a variety of committees and initiatives, such as the university’s recent Land Acknowledgement Task Force. Smith is also an affiliate faculty with the VCU Institute for Inclusion, Inquiry, and Innovation, having co-led a team across academic disciplines that secured a small grant from the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) to serve as thought partners to develop a Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Campus Climate Assessment Toolkit.

One of only 12 faculty nationwide to be directly appointed to the ADEA Collaborative on Dental Education Climate Assessment, Smith also served as a co-author on a groundbreaking study on dental school organizational climate and culture that has led to the dental education-wide climate assessment survey, collecting baseline data on diversity, equity and inclusion at U.S. and Canadian dental schools and allied dental programs.

“I am elated to take on this new role and help bring Dean Cooper’s vision of VCU School of Dentistry as a clinical and teaching environment where everyone feels they truly belong to fruition,” said Smith. “I am particularly excited to grow our DEI infrastructure and team, aligning our ethics curriculum and organizational values directly to mitigating issues of access to care and championing our community engagement efforts with collaborative partnerships and patient demographic groups, both across the commonwealth and specifically in the Richmond metropolitan area.” 

In August, Smith begins his term as president of the American Society for Dental Ethics and is a member of the board of directors of the Academy for Professionalism in Healthcare, a national organization committed to ensuring professionalism across health professions disciplines. 

“Ensuring an understanding of our ethical commitments to health equity and access to care, is key for me. Thus, I’m excited to lead that work and understanding on a larger scale,” said Smith. 

After nearly a decade in public health and private practice, Smith joined VCU in 2015 as an assistant professor in the Department of General Practice and has served in a variety of roles including group practice leader, course director, and faculty in both clinical and preclinical courses. An ordained clergy, Smith also completed clinical pastoral education at Duke Medical Center, providing care and crisis management to families of cardiac pediatric patients. He served in pastoral ministry, with varied roles such as associate pastor, young adults pastor, and college pastor, with a key emphasis on holistic young adult development.

Categories Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Schoolwide News