Achievements & Awards Alumni/Donors Dental Hygiene Faculty

Janet Kinney installed as inaugural Dr. Dorothy G. Hard Legacy Professor7 min read

September 15, 2021

Janet Kinney installed as inaugural Dr. Dorothy G. Hard Legacy Professor7 min read

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Janet Kinney holds a medal commemorating her installation as the Dorothy Hard Professor, with Rogerio Castilho, interim chair of the Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine, and Dean Laurie McCauley. The background images are of Dorothy Hard and Robert Browne, a DDS alumnus whose financial gift made the professorship possible.

Ann Arbor, Mich., Sept. 15, 2021 – Janet Kinney, director of the Dental Hygiene Program at the School of Dentistry, was installed Tuesday as the inaugural Dr. Dorothy G. Hard Legacy Professor.

Dr. Hard built the school’s Dental Hygiene program into a national leader during her 44 years as director from 1924-68. The Hard professorship is the school’s first to honor a dental hygiene faculty member and the first to honor a female faculty member. The establishment of the professorship and the installation on Tuesday are part of a year-long celebration of the centennial of the Dental Hygiene Program, founded in 1921.

The Hard Professorship was made possible by a significant financial gift from Dr. Robert W. Browne, a DDS alumnus from the Class of 1952 and graduate of the school’s orthodontic program in 1959. Dr. Browne made the gift to honor Dr. Hard’s legacy because he credits her as a positive influence during his time in dental school. Additional donors are now adding to the professorship to increase its impact.

During the installation program, Dean Laurie McCauley noted that the new professorship is one of only a few named dental hygiene professorships in the country. Its creation is a testament to the ongoing dedication and generosity of Dr. Browne, she said, noting he is one of the most generous benefactors of the dental school. He previously supported major renovations to the orthodontic clinic and additional endowed professorships, as well as gifts to other units on campus and various communities.

McCauley said the gift by Dr. Browne provides insight into the importance of faculty in the lives of students. “Dr. Hard and her husband, Russell Bunting, the school’s dean at the time, helped Dr. Browne with opportunities to support himself and continue his career pursuits,” McCauley said. “Just think about the impact that Drs. Hard and Bunting must have had on the young Dr. Browne, an impact so meaningful that, 70 years later, he was moved to establish this generous gift of the professorship. I think it is an important lesson to all of us who are faculty about the impact we can have on students that is truly lifelong, as well as the high regard our students have for their faculty.”

Kinney was introduced by Dr. Rogerio Castilho, interim chair of the Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine, which is home to the DH program. Kinney has been director of the DH program since 2012. She earned her BSDH at U-M in 1983 and worked in clinical practice in the United States and Europe for 20 years. She returned to the program in 2004 to pursue her MSDH and added a master’s degree in Clinical Research Design and Statistical Analysis from the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the School of Public Health. After finishing her graduate degrees in 2007, Kinney joined the DH program as an adjunct clinical lecturer for a year, then was hired as a clinical assistant professor. In 2012 she was named Director of Dental Hygiene and became a full professor in 2020, all within the Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine, which is home to the DH program.

In her remarks, Kinney said Dr. Hard is remembered for her extremely high academic and behavioral standards for her students, as well as an unwavering devotion to their success in school and in their careers after graduation. Kinney said it was an early example of what has come to be known as “the Michigan Difference,” which she said she has experienced throughout her career.

In her installation remarks, Janet Kinney addressed the many ways she has experienced “the Michigan Difference” during her dental hygiene career.

Guided by a dentist and his staff in East Lansing after she finished high school, Kinney was encouraged to choose the U-M hygiene program rather than one closer to home because they said U-M was the best. After graduating and moving around the country and overseas, Kinney said her U-M degree opened many doors because employers knew it stood for excellence and outstanding patient care. Her understanding and appreciation of U-M’s commitment to excellence continued when she returned to the dental school for her master’s degree and as an instructor and eventually faculty member.

“One thing I’ve realized is that the Michigan Difference is not about one person. It is about all the team members in the division and in the department. My faculty know I often say it takes a village to impact students and provide the highest quality program.”

Kinney said she is grateful and inspired by being named the Hard Professor. “It reminds me of the legacy of excellence that Dr. Hard started 100 years ago. It inspires me to live up to those values and to set an example for the next recipient of this professorship. It motivates me to provide the highest quality dental hygiene education possible – innovative and on the forefront of our profession, because that’s the Michigan Difference.”

Kinney administers the DH program, teaches both entry-level and graduate-level courses, and conducts research. She is the chair of the Dental Hygiene academic review board and has served on numerous committees, including the Periodontics and Oral Medicine Advisory Committee and the Undergraduate Admissions Advisory Committee at U-M since 2012. She was instrumental in leading a major curriculum redesign to transform the Dental Hygiene bachelor’s program from a three-year program to a two-year, year-round program and led the change through its successful accreditation.

Currently a board member on the Michigan State Board of Dentistry, Kinney is also a committee member of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association Research Advisory group, an associate editor for the International Journal of Dental Hygiene and a member of the American Dental Education Association’s Policy and Research Advisory Committee. Her research interests include salivary diagnostics and social science research in the area of professional identity development. 

Hard was a 1922 DDS graduate who returned to the school in 1924 after two years as an industrial dentist as Parke Davis in Detroit. The Dental Hygiene program was started in 1921 by dental school Dean Marcus Ward. It began with an instructor and several students the first year, then Ward hired an alumnus of the dental school to lead the class for the next two years before hiring Hard in 1924 as the instructor and later director of Dental Hygiene. She was promoted to assistant professor in 1935, to associate professor in 1944, and to professor in 1953. Under her guidance for more than four decades, the curriculum in dental hygiene grew to meet the many changing demands within the profession.

Among Hard’s significant accomplishments was engaging in a lengthy review of the hygiene educational program in the 1930s with members of the Michigan Dental Association after dentists around the state began to question the qualifications of, and need for, hygienists. Hard was credited with engaging in a constructive dialogue with the state’s leading dentists while revamping the curriculum to improve the knowledge and skills of the program’s graduates, thus strengthening not only the program but also the profession.

The dental school’s Executive Committee approved the establishment of the Hard Professorship earlier this year. Kinney’s appointment, effective Aug. 1, 2021, through July 31, 2026, was approved by the U-M Board of Regents.

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The University of Michigan School of Dentistry is one of the nation’s leading dental schools engaged in oral health care education, research, patient care and community service.  General dental care clinics and specialty clinics providing advanced treatment enable the school to offer dental services and programs to patients throughout Michigan.  Classroom and clinic instruction prepare future dentists, dental specialists and dental hygienists for practice in private offices, hospitals, academia and public agencies.  Research seeks to discover and apply new knowledge that can help patients worldwide.  For more information about the School of Dentistry, visit us on the Web at: www.dent.umich.edu.  Contact: Lynn Monson, associate director of communications, at dentistry.communications@umich.edu, or (734) 615-1971.