“One of the best decisions I’ve made in my professional life was talking Dr. Harvey Kessler into coming to work here,” said Dr. John Wright, Regents Professor and department head of diagnostic sciences, at a Dec. 5 retirement reception for the professor and graduate program director in oral and maxillofacial pathology.
“When I can’t figure something out, he’s my go-to,” Wright said, a sentiment echoed by Dr. Lisa Cheng, associate professor in diagnostic sciences, who complimented Kessler as a role model in patience and willingness to help others.
Former residents touted not only Kessler’s knowledge but also his wisdom, all the while highlighting his positive attitude and calm demeanor.
Dr. Aditi Bhattacharya traveled to Dallas from New York University College of Dentistry, where she is an assistant professor, just to speak at the reception.
“Pathology is a place where we need a mentor,” she said. “I can’t begin to describe how incredible this journey has been for me. It’s not just what you taught me at the microscope … I learned how to teach and that work should be enjoyable.
“When we attended resident meetings and said who we were training with, people were jealous. This also afforded us respect even though we were residents.”
Kessler’s professional influence extends to the national level, as he has served as president of the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology in addition to the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology.
“It’s rewarding to see the respect he commands from leaders in our profession,” Wright said. “Because he’s the best, he’s able to demand the best from his residents. His demeanor, professionalism and productivity are equally inspirational to his colleagues.”
Dr. Aparna Naidu, assistant professor in diagnostic sciences, presented Kessler a hardcover book of “thank you” letters written by former oral and maxillofacial pathology residents and colleagues from his academic and military careers.
“We will miss your heart and your compassionate nature,” said Naidu, now a 10-year faculty member. “You told me I would be a ‘lifer,’ and I probably laughed at that idea.”
As for Kessler: “I found another home and another family here,” he said. “It’s been a wonderful 15 years.”
Retirement holds the promise of travel with his wife, Lynn, reading books for pleasure, having fun with grandchildren, playing golf and sleeping “late” (until 6:30 a.m.).
“I’ve been a workaholic, and now it’s time for me to devote time to my wife, the love of my life,” Kessler said.