UK HealthCare

VIDEO: Why a UK Dentistry Professor Shows 'Tough Love' to His Students

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 16, 2018) — Rodrigo Fuentealba, who teaches in the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry and serves in the Dentistry Oral Health Practice, knows he can be tough on his students.

But his students appreciate the challenge because they know his approach is based on his hope that they will become good clinicians in the future.

Dentistry student Ethan Khazali has taken a number of classes taught by Dr. Fuentealba and he believes that his professor “genuinely cares about his students and wants them to succeed. He has made himself available to his students even after school.”

Khazali also pointed out Fuentealba’s dedication to Mission Lexington Dental Clinic, a clinic where the underserved can receive free dental care. “He takes time away from his family to give back to those who need it most.”

Another of Fuentealba’s students, Karah Brown, agreed that he has a special way of teaching. “Although Dr. Fuentealba is known as being a difficult professor, he is one of the reasons why UK College of Dentistry graduates such fantastic clinicians. The bar is set high for (his) class for a reason. He wants us to be good at what we do. He deals with students’ questions in a way that challenges us.”

Watch the video above to discover why the student who nominated him to win the 2018 Great Teacher Award says Fuentealba is a role model not just in the field of dentistry, but in life.

Award recipients were honored at the UK Alumni Association Great Teacher Award Recognition Dinner last month at the Hyatt Regency in Lexington. They were recognized during the Vanderbilt University vs. Kentucky men’s basketball game later that evening as well.

The Great Teacher Award, started in 1961, is the longest-running University of Kentucky award recognizing teaching. In order to receive the award, educators must first be nominated by a student. The UK Alumni Association Great Teacher Award Committee, in cooperation with the student organization Omicron Delta Kappa, then makes the final selections. Recipients receive an engraved plaque and monetary reward.

The UK Alumni Association is a membership supported organization committed to fostering lifelong engagement among alumni, friends, the association and the university. For more information about the UK Alumni Association or to become a member, visit or call 1-800-269-2586.

This is a photo of UK Great Teacher Dr. Rodrigo Fuentealba
Dr. Rodrigo Fuentealba, UK 2018 Great Teacher.

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: #uk4ky #seeblue