Professional News

Okeson Named Interim Dean of College of Dentistry

Dr. Jeff Okeson

LEXINGTON, KY. (Sept. 4, 2019) – University of Kentucky Provost David Blackwell has named Professor Jeffrey Okeson to the position of interim dean of the College of Dentistry.

Dr. Okeson has been a full-time faculty member at UK for 45 years. He currently serves as chief of the Division of Orofacial Pain and is the director of the UK Orofacial Pain Clinic, which he founded in 1977. He previously served as chair of the Department of Oral Health Science.

“A world-renowned educator, researcher and clinician, Dr. Okeson has provided great service and leadership to the University of Kentucky since he joined the faculty in 1974,” Blackwell said. “It is clear that the College will benefit from his leadership.”

In addition to his leadership locally, Okeson is a leader in temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) and orofacial pain worldwide. He has more than 240 publications in the area of occlusion, 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 was 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 his residency at the United States Public Health Service in Phoenix, Arizona.

Okeson’s appointment is effective immediately. He takes over for Interim Dean Larry Holloway.

“Dean Holloway stepped up for UK and the College of Dentistry at a crucial moment,” Blackwell said. “His insight, intellect, and servant-leadership have prepared the College for this next step. I look forward to having him back full-time in his role as Vice Provost.”

Blackwell plans to start a national search for a permanent dean in October.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion two years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. The Chronicle of Higher Education judged us a “Great College to Work for," and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for three straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.