Campus News

Okeson Named Dean of the UK College of Dentistry

This is a photo of UK Interim College of Dentistry Dean Jeffrey Okeson.

LEXINGTON, KY. (July 8, 2020) – University of Kentucky Professor Jeffrey Okeson has been named dean of the College of Dentistry, pending approval by the UK Board of Trustees. The world-renowned educator, researcher, clinician and long-time faculty member has served as interim dean since September 2019. 

“Dr. Okeson has made invaluable contributions to the profession at the state, regional, national and international levels through continuing education and other scholarly activities,” said UK Provost David Blackwell. “He is passionate about continuing to enhance the College’s strong reputation.” 

Dr. Okeson has been a full-time faculty member at UK for 45 years. Serving in various leadership roles within the College of Dentistry, including chief of the Division of Orofacial Pain and the director of the UK Orofacial Pain Clinic, which he founded in 1977; chair of the Department of Oral Health Science; and interim dean since September 2019. 

As a world-renowned specialist in orofacial pain, Okeson has more than 240 publications in the area of occlusion, temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) and orofacial pain in various national and international journals, and he has written two textbooks on TMD and orofacial pain, which have been translated into 12 different languages. Okeson was named the International Dentist of the Year by the Academy of Dentistry International in recognition of his worldwide efforts in these fields. He has lectured in every U.S. state and 59 foreign countries.  

During his tenure at UK, he has received numerous awards. He has been honored with UK’s campus-wide Great Teacher Award, the Provost’s Distinguished Service Professorship and received the first-ever Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Dentistry. He has been inducted into the University of Kentucky Hall of Distinguished Alumni and also recognized as the most outstanding professor in the state of Kentucky with the Acorn Award. 

Okeson is a graduate of the UK College of Dentistry. He completed a general practice residency at the United States Public Health Service in Phoenix, Arizona. 

“I am very honored to have the opportunity to lead our College through these challenging times and into the future,” Okeson said. “We have a very strong and dedicated faculty and staff to support the learning of a bright and enthusiastic group of students and with this excellent team, I am certain we will continue to be leaders in dental education and the profession.”