Graduation speaker urges grads to be significant

B. Ellen Byrne, R.Ph., DDS, PhD, senior associate dean and professor of endodontics at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry delivered the dental school’s graduation convocation address on Saturday, May 7, 2016, in Wright Auditorium.

B. Ellen Byrne, R.Ph., DDS, PhD

B. Ellen Byrne, R.Ph., DDS, PhD

Dr. Byrne told the 51 graduates that U.S. News and World Report ranks dentistry among the top professions based on salary, employment rate, potential for growth, job prospects, stress level, and work life balance. She said that with the shortage of general practice dentists in North Carolina, the graduates have a great opportunity to make a difference.

“You have already proven that you are successful,” she told the new grads. “How can you make a difference in this world? Take the path of significance. Show up and reach out. Communities everywhere need your help. The skills that you have are extraordinary, and the ability to be significant is boundless.”

Dr. Byrne earned an undergraduate degree in pharmacy in 1977 from Virginia Commonwealth University. She taught at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy for two years before enrolling at that university’s School of Dentistry and graduating in 1983.

She completed a general practice residency at McGuire Veterans Hospital and then returned to the School of Dentistry as a faculty member in the Department of Restorative Dentistry. She continued her education earning a PhD in pharmacology and a certificate in endodontics.

After a brief time in private endodontics practice, Dr. Byrne returned to the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry as an assistant professor in the Department of Endodontics. She has served as interim chair of the department and now serves as professor and senior associate dean of the school.

Dr. Byrne has used her background to provide pharmacology continuing education to the dental community. She has enjoyed numerous local, state and national speaking engagements for national organizations, including the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Association of Endodontists (AAE). She is curriculum consultant for the Commission on Dental Accreditation and past member of the Joint Commission on National Dental Board Examinations and a current member of the Committee for Integrated National Board Examination. She is a past member of the Research and Scientist Affairs Committee for the AAE. She is a past member of, and current consultant to, the ADA’s Council of Scientific Affairs – the council responsible for product reviews and setting the research agenda for the ADA.

Dr. Byrne is from Bedford, Virginia, and lives in Richmond with her husband and three children.