SoDM veteran faculty, family share lessons for career and life
ECU School of Dental Medicine faculty, staff, students and residents tuned in for a virtual Veterans Day Leadership Panel on Nov. 11 to hear words of wisdom from faculty veterans.
Panelists answered questions about leadership and experiences in the military that translate to the classroom and clinic.
The panel was hosted by retired Army Maj. Gen. Dr. T. Rob Tempel Jr., the school’s associate dean for extramural clinical practices, and also included retired Army Maj. Gen. Tom Tempel Sr.; Dr. Loren Alves, Army colonel and clinical associate professor; and Dr. Ed Connelly, retired Navy captain and division director of predoctoral clinical education.
Also on the panel were Dr. David MacPherson, retired lieutenant colonel in the Canadian Army and clinical assistant professor and director of the Advanced Education in General Dentistry residency program; Samantha Leaper, who served in the Coast Guard and is business manager of the school’s community service learning center in Brunswick County; and Gary Vanderpool, who served in the Air Force and is the school’s interim assistant dean for business operations and financial affairs and executive associate vice chancellor for ECU’s health sciences administration.
Tempel Jr. began the event by thanking the panel and their families for their service and sacrifice, telling them it is an honor to serve with them as veterans and in the dental school.
“It’s a pleasure to be on this panel and in this wonderful school,” Tempel Sr. said.
The panelists addressed what leadership qualities in others proved to be the most effective, and what traits they adopted as leaders themselves.
“It’s simply about unconditionally caring for other people and understanding what your mission is,” Tempel Sr. said.
Alves stressed the importance of knowing who you are leading, helping develop young leaders and remembering the people who made you a strong leader. Vanderpool added that the Air Force instilled in him the skills to lead by example.
“Leadership by example extends over a number of issues—ethics, compliance, regulations,” he said. “It shows them that you’re invested in them.”
MacPherson shared that teamwork is key, whether in the military or part of a dental clinic team. Training is vital to having that team prepared to take what comes.
“We train and we practice so when we go out there to do that job, we are at our best,” MacPherson said. “As clinicians and support staff, we give our most care for our patients, but you have to care for yourself too.”
Connelly said the most significant leadership lesson he had learned included the rule never to respond in anger—to put a problem on pause until everyone involved is able to think clearly toward a solution.
Leaper said her Coast Guard experiences taught her to perform each role in a team effectively.
“You have to be a good follower to be a good leader,” she said, an idea that rings true across career and life. “The idea of that has changed because I’ve changed.”
Tempel Jr. fielded questions from the audience and thanked the panel for sharing their insight.
“Everyone on this panel has achieved their position and rank because of how much they cared about the their people and their mission,” he said. “Thank you for your wonderful answers and insight.”