SOD alumni board names former MDA president Alumnus of the Year
Published on Monday, February 11, 2019
By: Kate Royals
Dedicated, generous and humble. These are the terms used to describe the 2019 Dental Alumnus of the Year Dr. Roddy Scarbrough.
The University of Mississippi School of Dentistry Alumni Board honored Scarbrough at the 37th annual Dental Alumni and Friends dinner at the Fairview Inn on Feb. 8.
Scarbrough “caught the bug” of dentistry, as he says, when he was a child watching his grandfather, a dentist in Richton who saw patients on an emergency basis on Saturday nights. He attended the School of Dentistry at UMMC and graduated in 1989, opening up a private practice in his hometown soon after.
His favorite part of being a dentist is “the ability to give people back a smile.”
But he’s reached an audience beyond his patients in Richton, becoming involved in organized dentistry early in his career.
Scarbrough realized at that time many non-dentists were making decisions about the profession, and he believes strongly that is not the best strategy.
“I would prefer that when a decision is made about dentistry that a dental perspective is involved in that thought process,” Scarbrough explained.
So he set out to offer that dental perspective, moving up the ranks of organizations locally, regionally and then nationally.
Just four years out of dental school, he became involved in the South Mississippi Dental Society and became president in 1995. He then went on to become membership chairman and president of the Mississippi Academy of General Dentistry before being elected to the Board of Trustees in the Mississippi Dental Association in 1998.
He became president of MDA in 2006 and was tasked with helping dentists in south Mississippi affected by Hurricane Katrina.
Connie Lane, then executive director of the Association, said Scarbrough stepped up and advocated for dentists.
“That was a real pivotal time in the life of the organization, and had Dr. Roddy not been attentive and willing to go above and beyond … A person who was less dedicated or less attentive would not have been able to do the type of job he did,” Lane recalled.
Although Katrina had hit a year earlier, there was still much to be done to help dentists who had lost their practice or suffered damage to their office or home.
“He’s certainly done a lot for dentistry in Mississippi,” she said.
Scarbrough’s friends and colleagues echoed Lane.
“I can’t say I’ve met anybody else that’s been as dedicated to the profession of dentistry,” said Dr. Frank Conaway, a classmate of Scarbrough’s and a dentist who lost his practice in Hurricane Katrina. “He’s given so much of his time and effort to improve the profession.”
Conaway recalled how Scarbrough helped him when he was rebuilding his office.
“He came and helped me gut the office … I couldn’t ask for a better friend,” he said.
After serving as president of MDA, Scarbrough was elected as an American Dental Association Delegate Alternate for Mississippi and was elected to the Academy of General Dentistry Board of Trustees. In 2011 he was appointed to the Mississippi State Board of Dental Examiners for a six-year term.
Scarbrough currently serves as one of three ADA Delegates for the state of Mississippi, representing the state’s dentists and influencing national decisions and policies made about the profession. He has also been honored as a fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry, a distinction held by only six percent of general dentists in the U.S. and Canada.
Colleagues admire his down to earth nature despite his many accomplishments.
“He’s done so much for the dental world … but he’s really not about showing his C.V. to everybody who walks by,” said Dr. Steve Gandy, an associate clinical professor in oral-maxillofacial surgery and pathology at UMMC who graduated from dental school a year ahead of Scarbrough.
Gandy also said Scarbrough is dedicated to his family, community and faith.
“He went back to (his hometown of) Richton. He really could’ve gone anywhere … He has stayed close to his immediate family,” he said.
Scarbrough said he is surprised and humbled to be named Dental Alumnus of the Year.
“I am excited to be recognized by my colleagues and peers that I have been a positive voice for the dental school,” he said. “I will continue to promote the dental school throughout the country in my organized dentistry travel adventures.”
And, in true humble form, Scarbrough credited his colleagues.
“Most of my accomplishments and successes have been part of a group effort … I did not get here all by myself.”