Janet Southerland, DDS ’89 is the recipient of Carolina’s Harvey E. Beech Outstanding Alumnus Award. The award recognizes black alumni who help the development of the Black Alumni Reunion and who have been leaders in the University and community. Being outstanding community leaders and giving back to society are two important values that many UNC alumni successfully achieve in their personal and professional life.
Southerland is the chair of hospital dentistry in the School of Dentistry, chief of the oral medicine service at UNC Hospitals, and director of the Dental Assistant On-Call Program. Colleague Steve Offenbacher describes Southerland as “an amazing person with admirable strength, perseverance and conviction. She is tireless in her dedication to service, community and family. She is a natural leader, which combined with her intellect and compassion makes her an exceptional role model. She has a strong sense of duty and selflessly works for those around her. She is one of those unique individuals who can take adversity and transform it into opportunity.
Southerland, a Tar Heel through and through, earned undergraduate degrees in zoology and dental hygiene before completing her DDS in 1989, a GPR in 1991, and a MPH in 1993. She is currently working on her PhD dissertation in oral biology. She joined the dental school faculty 1993 and is currently assistant professor in the department of dental ecology.
In her own words, “The things I enjoy most about being a faculty member are teaching in the clinical, operating room, and classroom settings, researching oral disease that impacts systemic health, mentoring students who are interested in the dental profession, working with medically compromised patients, and being able to utilize all of my educational experiences to help patients.”
Started in 1981, this award is named in honor of Harvey Elliott Beech ’52, UNC’s first black graduate who went on to become an accomplished lawyer in North Carolina.