Philadelphia — Penn Dental Medicine welcomed the Class of 2026 DMD students to the study of dental medicine at its annual White Coat Ceremony, held August 11 at Penn’s Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. This annual tradition holds symbolic significance for members of the incoming class as they are presented with a white coat and declare their commitment to assume the responsibilities of the dental profession.
“The white coat is a symbol of the professional role our students are assuming as they become health care providers. The white coat is a reminder, as they begin their studies, of the responsibility and trust they will have with their patients,” says Penn Dental Medicine’s Morton Amsterdam Dean, Dr. Mark Wolff. “It’s always an exciting time to welcome a new class of students and celebrate this next step of their education as they join the Penn Dental Medicine community.”
This year’s 150-member class is made up of 97 women and 53 men, who represent 26 states, the District of Columbia, and 10 foreign countries (Albania, Bangladesh, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Denmark, Indonesia, South Korea, Russia, and Taiwan) and speak 28 different languages. The highly accomplished students, selected from 2,210 applicants, had an average overall GPA of 3.77 in their undergraduate studies.
Along with welcoming remarks by Dr. Uri Hangorsky, Associate Dean for Student Life, the program included a message from Dean Wolff and a keynote address by Rev. Charles L. “Chaz” Howard, Penn’s Vice President for Social Equity and Community. Rev. Howard challenged the students to overcome the fear he sees dividing us through reaching out and building trust one relationship at a time.
Students were cloaked in their white coats by members of the faculty, including Dr. Karina Hariton-Gross, Associate Professor of Clinical Restorative Dentistry; Dr. Helen Jeon, Assistant Professor of Orthodontics; Dr. Bruce Shenker, Professor, Department of Basic & Translational Sciences; and Dr. Katherine Theken, Assistant Professor, Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery. Following the introduction and cloaking of each student, the ceremony concluded with the reciting of the Penn Dental Medicine Professional Pledge, led by Dr. Kenneth Kent, Clinical Professor of Restorative Dentistry. A reception with family and friends in attendance followed the program.
The white coat ceremony is part of an eight-day orientation that focuses on building strong connections between the incoming students and a network supporting future resilience.