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Jennifer Cullen appointed director of Dental Hygiene Division at School of Dentistry4 min read

January 16, 2024

Jennifer Cullen appointed director of Dental Hygiene Division at School of Dentistry4 min read

Ann Arbor, Mich., Jan. 16, 2024 – School of Dentistry dental hygiene faculty member Jennifer Cullen has been appointed director of the school’s Dental Hygiene Division.

Dr. Purnima Kumar, chair of the Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine, which oversees the division, announced the appointment Friday, ending a national search.

Jennifer Cullen

Since 2016, Cullen has served as Director of the Dental Hygiene Degree Completion Program and a clinical lecturer. She leads the online program’s curriculum management, faculty development, student support, budget, marketing, recruitment and admissions. She also helped lead the development of a new online, accelerated pathway for dental hygienists who have earned their associate degrees and wish to streamline earning both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in dental hygiene. In her new position, she will also hold the faculty rank of Clinical Assistant Professor.

“With over 20 years in the dental hygiene profession, over a decade of experience in online education, and a passion for facilitating access to both healthcare and education, Jennifer brings unique strengths, skills, and perspectives to her leadership role,” Kumar said in announcing the appointment. “The dental hygiene program has a long and rich history of graduating future-ready hygienists and graduate students, and I am excited to see Jennifer’s vision for its future.”

Cullen graduated from Ferris State University’s Dental Hygiene Program in 1998 and completed her BSDH in 2012 through the U-M dental school’s Degree Completion E-Learning Program. She continued her education with a master’s degree in Public Health, with a certificate in Health Education and Promotion, from Benedictine University in 2015.

Cullen joined the U-M DH program in 2012 as an adjunct clinical lecturer, moving to clinical lecturer in 2016 when she was named director of the Degree Completion Program. Over the course of her career she has taught and mentored undergraduate and graduate students in various learning environments, including clinical, didactic, online and in diverse communities. She has managed teams of faculty and staff in a range of activities related to the sustained management and evaluation of an academic program. As an advocate of undergraduate and graduate student research, she has served as a faculty advisor and thesis chair on numerous projects that have been published and-or received school and national awards.

“I’m grateful for this opportunity to help shape the future of dental hygiene for both the School of Dentistry and the profession in general,” Cullen said. “Dental hygiene is poised for great professional growth in helping improve the health of patients and the public in areas such as multidisciplinary care, dental technologies, advanced research and equitable care. An organization’s success is not achieved by one person, but by a team of faculty, staff and students using equitable collaborative practices to inform program decisions and empower others by instilling a sense of shared purpose and belonging.” 

Founded in 1921, the Dental Hygiene division has been a part of the School of Dentistry for more than a century, making it one of the oldest in the country with the longest-standing DH graduate program. The division offers an entry-level bachelor’s degree, degree completion bachelor’s degree and master of science degree, with both on-campus and online options in the degree completion and graduate programs. The division provides clinical patient care at the undergraduate and graduate levels, both at the university level and in community-based dental programs. A wide range of educational experiences prepare students for careers as a clinician or for positions in public health, research, education and administration. The school engages students in interdisciplinary education, clinical rotations, dental specialty clinics and community service to broaden their scope of learning. 


The University of Michigan School of Dentistry is one of the nation’s leading dental schools engaged in oral healthcare 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:  Contact: Lynn Monson, associate director of communications, at, or (734) 615-1971.