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Release: Oct. 26, 1999

University of Iowa dental alumni receive awards during annual reunion

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa Dental Alumni Association honored three award winners during the group’s 82nd annual meeting and reunion Oct. 22-23 in Iowa City.

The alumni association has named Michael J. Till, D.D.S. of Minneapolis, 1999 Alumnus of the Year. James L. Fuller, D.D.S. of Iowa City, is 1999 Educator of the Year, and Robert W. Harpster, M.P.A. of Des Moines, is 1999 Honorary Alumnus of the Year. The honorees were recognized at an Oct. 23 alumni dinner.

Till, currently dean of the University of Minnesota College of Dentistry in Minneapolis, received a dental degree in 1961 and a master’s degree in 1963, both from the UI College of Dentistry. The Independence, Iowa native attended Loras College in Dubuque before coming to the UI. He taught abroad for several years after completing his dental education, then joined the Minnesota dental faculty in 1970. He went on to serve as chair of pediatric dentistry and in 1997 was named dean.

Till was one of the first dentists to be chosen as a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow. He also has served as director of the American Dental Political Action Committee and a trustee for the American Dental Association. He is past president of the Minnesota Dental Association and the Minnesota Association of Pediatric Dentists, a board member of the Friends of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, and a fellow of the American and International Colleges of Dentistry.

Fuller is a professor emeritus of operative dentistry at the UI College of Dentistry. Originally from Burlington, he received a dental degree from the College in 1962, then practiced in Winfield, Iowa. He returned to the UI as a part-time instructor, eventually completing a master’s degree and assuming a full-time faculty appointment. He has written extensively on issues in dental education and helped to develop an admissions interview for prospective students — a version of which is still used today.

Fuller’s professional activities have included membership in the Dental Anatomy and Occlusion Section of the National Board Examinations, plus the American Association of Dental Schools Council of Faculties. He also served on the External Review Committee of the University of Montreal College of Dentistry.

Harpster is executive director of the Des Moines-based Iowa Dental Association (IDA). Born and raised in Washington, D.C., he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in public administration from American University. He moved to Iowa in 1970 and in 1989 was named director of the 1,500 member IDA. Before joining the organization, he was managing director of Investors Management Group and CEO of the League of Iowa Cities.

Harpster has received nine state gubernatorial appointments and presidential appointments to the White House Conference on Balanced Growth and Economic Development, and the National Rural Community Facilities Conference. His other service activities include membership on the Drake University Curriculum Review Committee and state vice-presidency of the American Society of Public Administrators. He also has been a member of the Board of Governors for the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute and the board of directors for the Arthritis Foundation, Iowa Chapter.