Dental Foundation, Faculty and Staff

Department of Prosthodontics Establishes the Matt Wood Faculty Support Endowment and Prosthodontics Symposium

The school’s Department of Prosthodontics is honoring one of their own with the creation of a new endowment fund and an annual continuing education program. The Dr. Matthew T. Wood Faculty Support Endowment Fund honors Wood, a long-time school faculty member who is now retired.

“Dr. Wood’s long time commitment to the University of North Carolina, its students and the Department of Prosthodontics has been an inspiration to the school’s faculty and staff,” said Dr. Al Guckes, associate professor in the department. “He has the ability to always demand the best from students and faculty while being patient, supportive and congenial, and remain focused on providing superior patient care.”

Wood graduated from UNC in 1954 and the School of Dentistry in 1958. The Enfield, N.C. native joined the school’s faculty as an instructor in the Department of Removable Prosthodontics following his graduation. In 1966, he resigned to pursue his master’s degree in prosthodontics, which he completed in 1968 prior to rejoining the Department of Prosthodontics faculty. Wood served as chair of the department from 1976-88, during which time he established the maxillofacial prosthetics service at UNC. Wood retired from his full-time position at the School of Dentistry in December 1994, and remained an adjunct professor in the Department of Prosthodontics for an additional 16 years.

During his tenure at UNC, Wood implemented an innovative television-assisted approach to complete denture clinical instruction, which continues to evolve with technology and be used today. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the school’s summer community service rotation site at the Cherokee Indian Hospital. His innovation and dedication to the school and students was honored in 1985 when he was named the recipient of the Richard F. Hunt Award for Excellence in Teaching, and again in 2009 with a Certificate of Educational Excellence for Teaching presented by the Department of Prosthodontics.

“Dr. Wood is perhaps the most beloved prosthodontic faculty we’ve ever had,” said Dr. Sompop Bencharit, assistant professor in the Department of Prosthodontics. “He often told us that there would be no dental school if there was no dental student. That’s true, of course, but he was saying it because he believed in being a great teacher who always put students first – which he was.”

While at the University, Wood also held external appointments at UNC Hospitals and at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Durham. Additionally, he served 20 years in the U.S. Naval Reserve, retiring in 1975 as a commander.

A leader in the UNC Dental Alumni Association (UNCDAA), Wood served on the board for a number of years and as president from 1969-70. He was later honored with the UNCDAA Distinguished Service Award in 1992, and 2008 was given the same award by the Dental Foundation of North Carolina. He also held memberships in several professional organizations, including the American Dental Association, the International College of Dentists, The American Prosthodontic Society, The American College of Prosthodontics and the Southeastern Academy of Prosthodontics. He served as president of the Southeastern Academy of Prosthodontics in 1997. In 2012, Wood received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the North Carolina Section of the American College of Prosthodontics. He is also a member of Delta Sigma Delta and served as international president in 1982-83.

“Dr. Wood’s outstanding knowledge of prosthodontics, his desire and ability to transmit this knowledge to students with a dash of good humor and well known Woodism’s , and his respect and affection for students make him one of the most respected and admired faculty ever to teach at the UNC School of Dentistry,” said Guckes.

A dinner is being planned to celebrate the establishment of the new fund and to honor Wood for his dedication to the school, the Department of Prosthodontics and dentistry. The event will take place Thursday, November 29 in Chapel Hill. Following the dinner, we will kick off the first annual Matthew Wood Prosthodontics Symposium on Friday November 30. The symposium will feature the presentation of the Matthew Wood Prosthodontic Faculty Excellence Award to a prosthodontic faculty member for significant contributions to prosthodontic education and practice. This year’s recipient is Dr. Wood.

The Matthew Wood Fund will be used to support clinical teaching in the Department of Prosthodontics, including the recruitment and retention of clinical faculty. To contribute to the fund, call Paul Gardner, associate dean for advancement, at (919) 537-3258.