Dr. Cohen’s Legacy Lives on in Middle East Center for Dental Education
Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine
To honor the life and passing of D. Walter Cohen, DDS, the Founding Editor of Compendium of Continuing Education in Dentistry, the journal is featuring a series of tributes from various leading healthcare organizations with which he had a significant relationship. This installment is from the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine.
In the 1950s, the Alpha Omega Convention Steering Committee appointed Professor Isaac Schour, Dean of the University of Illinois, to chair a committee to assist with planning the curriculum, recruiting training staff, and orchestrating research activities for a new dental school in Israel-the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine. Professor Schour asked D. Walter Cohen to chair a subcommittee called the Faculty and Fellowship Exchange, which aimed to arrange post-doctoral training for the Jerusalem faculty in various dental education centers in the United States and Europe. Since that appointment nearly 70 years ago, Dr. Cohen was involved in developing the teaching staff and later in virtually everything connected to the dental school in Jerusalem. We at Hadassah honor his life and passing with this tribute featuring remembrances from our current and former dean.
Noah Stern, DMD, MSD
Founder and Editor of Ma Nishma, the alumni journal of Hadassah, and former professor and past vice-dean for curriculum, Hebrew University-Hadassah Faculty of Dental Medicine
D. Walter Cohen and his wife Betty were lifelong friends and supporters of the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine founded by the Alpha Omega Fraternity. They provided consistent and inspired leadership to our dental school while nurturing a long-lasting friendship.
Dr. Cohen was a renowned periodontist who served his profession as an outstanding specialist in a key field of dental medicine. He was a central figure in the growth and development of the Hadassah School of Dental Medicine, as well as a leading American advocate for improved dental care in Israel. An internationally recognized educator and scholar, Dr. Cohen was a strong supporter of many of the Hebrew University's public efforts in the United States. He held countless leadership roles and, in 1977, received the prestigious Honorary Doctorate, the first one ever awarded by the Faculty of Dental Medicine. His impact on the development and quality of dental medicine in Israel is invaluable, and his expertise and immense efforts were instrumental in ranking us as one of the leading dental schools in the world.
Over the years, the Hebrew University has achieved its goals thanks to the continuous, solid partnership with its friends all over the world. The D. Walter and Betty Cohen Chair in Periodontal Research, established in 1985, is an example of professionals abroad linking hands with their colleagues in Jerusalem.
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has the honor to have D. Walter Cohen's name linked in perpetuity with its Faculty of Dental Medicine. The D. Walter Cohen, DDS Middle East Center for Dental Education was established in 1997 through the support of Dr. Cohen and Betty, and the Alpha Omega International Dental Fraternity. Dr. Cohen believed that the emphasis on dental education, coupled with dental research, would help to facilitate cooperation and relationships. The Center's "Alliance for Oral Health Across Borders" is dedicated to creating cross-border cooperation between dental schools to help address the dental needs of people in Middle Eastern countries and promote collaborative research. Through this exchange, the hope for enhanced peace efforts and closer relationships in the Middle East has been re-ignited.
We will miss Dr. Cohen, an extraordinary human being and a true friend of our school and the State of Israel. His legacy lives on at our school through the Center and Chair in his name, such fitting tributes to a man of remarkable achievement, character, and wisdom.
Aaron Palmon, DMD, PhD
Dean, The Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine, Jerusalem, Israel
The Talmud says: "One who wishes to know the height of a palm tree but does not want to actually climb the tree to measure it, can measure his own height, and the length of his own shadow, and the length of the shadow of the height of the palm tree, and calculate the proportions, and he will know the height of the palm tree."
D. Walter Cohen stood as tall as a magnificent palm tree. We were mere saplings by his side. It is only now, when the shadow of this giant has been cast, that we can attempt to measure just how tall he was.
Walter was the last of the giants of the dental profession, a true leader who became a role model to many of us. We admired him, his love to educate and teach, and his continual search for academic truth. We wanted to be like him and were always proud to say he was our mentor.
But Walter was not only one of the most solid pillars of our profession. He was a remarkable human who touched us all. He was a beloved man with a huge heart, who made deep and lasting contributions to society. His kindness, wisdom, and willingness to help made him a true friend.
We were always proud that in this great man's expansive heart, there was a special place filled with love toward Israel and the Faculty of Dental Medicine at the Hebrew University. No one living outside of Israel today has had the tremendous impact on the development and quality of dental medicine in the country as Dr. Cohen did. His tireless efforts to help transform the Faculty of Dental Medicine in Jerusalem into a "second to none" dental school gave rise to the establishment of the Middle East Center for Dental Education.
The sadness is overwhelming, as it is hard to believe that Walter is no longer with us. We always felt he would be with us forever. He was always there for us with help, advice, or a simple word of encouragement. Of course, we knew that no one can live forever, but we refused to accept that this great man, a father to us all, would leave us one day.
Nevertheless, we find comfort knowing that his legacy will live on. Like the palm tree, he cast a giant shadow.
The D. Walter Cohen Middle East Center for Dental Education in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel, will carry his name as a permanent living monument, a truly fitting memorial to his great achievements and accomplishments.
Walter, we love you so much. You will be in our hearts and thoughts forever.
Adam Stabholz, DMD
Former Dean, The Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine, Jerusalem, Israel; International President (2015), Alpha Omega International Dental Fraternity