Photo of Ronald L. Occhionero

Dental medicine’s Ronald L. Occhionero retires after 58 years

In popular culture, it’s a feat to be well known by one name. Yet at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, one faculty member managed to build an impressive reputation on just one letter: Known to decades of students, staff and faculty as “Dr. O,” Professor Emeritus and Former Associate Dean for Administration Ronald L. Occhionero recently retired from the university after 58 years of service.

When Occhionero arrived at CWRU in 1964, he brought with him a vision—and just three years later, he founded the Department of Comprehensive Care. Initially known as the Preceptor Program, the department established a new paradigm in clinical dental education which has persisted in the school for 55 years.

“We are extremely proud of the significant contributions made by Dr. Occhionero to our dental school, the university and the profession of dentistry,” said Dean Kenneth Chance. “He is truly iconic.”

Over his tenure, Occhionero authored and implemented several major funded grants and contracts through the United States Public Health Service, the Division of Dental Health Manpower Service and the Kellogg Foundation. In addition, he was honored with the Omicron Kappa Upsilon award for academic and clinical achievement and elected the 130th Ohio Dental Association President.

Occhionero leaves behind a longstanding legacy which can be felt by the whole CWRU community, not just those at the School of Dental Medicine. One of his proudest accomplishments was the initiation, development and implementation of the dental benefits program for CWRU faculty, students and staff. Launched in 2002, this dental benefits program is available at a reduced cost to patients to improve access to quality dental care.

“I can’t say enough about the wonderful staff that I have had the privilege of working with over all my years,” said Occhionero. “I truly have been blessed with the best clinical preceptors, those that guided the Expanded Function Auxiliary Program and those staff coordinating other office responsibilities.”

Members of the community can register for a reception that will be held in Occhionero’s honor today (July 21) at the Samson Pavilion North Winter Garden from 5 to 7 p.m.