Dr. Eugene Natkin, professor emeritus of endodontics in the University of Washington School of Dentistry, has received the first Bruce R. Rothwell Distinguished Teacher Award.
“Gene Natkin is the teacher of teachers. The method developed by Dr. Natkin for teaching courses in endodontics enabled young faculty members ? to quickly establish themselves as effective teachers and to become recognized early in their careers with numerous student awards for teaching excellence. As a consequence, the teaching program developed by Dr. Natkin has earned the department an outstanding national and international reputation,” says Dr. Gerald W. Harrington, who nominated Natkin for the award. Harrington is a professor emeritus, and chairman of the Department of Endodontics.
Harrington said that many of Natkin’s former graduate students have gone on to become deans, associate deans, department chairs and graduate program directors.
Natkin earned his D.D.S. degree from New York University in 1957, followed by his M.S.D. from the University of Washington in 1962, when he became the first graduate of the specialty program in endodontics. He became an instructor that year, and was named the first chair of the Department of Endodontics when it was created in 1967. His self-instructional syllabi, developed with Dr. Robert Guild, have been widely recognized for the quality of instructional material. Many of the concepts put forth, unpublished at the time, proved to be ahead of their time in predoctoral and postdoctoral educational programs.
Dr. Natkin chaired the department until 1980, also the year he became a full professor. In 1995, he retired from his full-time appointment, and was made a professor emeritus.
“His approach was to reduce complex concepts to a level readily understood by the neophyte clinician,” Harrington said. “As a means of simplifying the teaching, and therefore the understanding, of pulpal and periapical diagnosis, he developed reasonable and useful clinical categories, which subsequently have been adopted almost universally.”
The new Bruce R. Rothwell award honors one or more faculty members who have made significant contributions to the teaching program in the UW School of Dentistry. Dr. Rothwell joined the UW faculty in 1974. He was chief of service of dentistry-oral surgery at University of Washington Medical Center and director of hospital dentistry from 1989 to 2000. He was appointed chair of the Department of Restorative Dentistry in 1993, a post he held until shortly before his death on Nov. 14, 2000, at the age of 52.
In recognition of his many contributions to teaching, his widow, Dr. Patricia Rothwell, and friends and colleagues established the award. The award, presented to Dr. Natkin during the annual faculty retreat, was accompanied by a check for $3,500.
The selection committee included faculty members Drs. Patricia Rothwell, Paul B. Robertson, Mark Drangsholt, Karen Sakuma, Heidi Horwitz and Robert Nieman, as well as Betty Low, administrator of the Department of Restorative Dentistry.