TORONTO — University of Toronto dean of dentistry Dr. David Mock is a man of firsts. He is the first Jewish dean of the department, and, after serving two back-to-back terms as dean since 2001, he is very likely the first to receive a rocking chair at his retirement tribute.
When Mock was told that U of T would create a chair in his honour, he joked that he would like it to be a rocking chair. To his surprise, he received both the academic honour and the item of furniture.
“We’re going to take it to the cottage,” Mock said with a laugh, when asked what he would do with the unusual gift.
Mock’s tribute was held at the U of T Faculty Club on June 28. His colleagues, friends and family, who had come from as far away as Israel, attended the event, which featured refreshments, music and a farewell video tribute.
Mock was presented with an official portrait, as well as a plaque to recognize his work. Dr. Harinder Sandhu, the director of the Schulich dentistry program at University of Western Ontario, presented the plaque.
“I’m very, very proud of my faculty,” said Mock, who is a specialist in oral pathology and oral medicine. He has been at U of T, first as a student and later as a professor, virtually continuously since the first year of his undergraduate degree in 1963.
When he became dean of dentistry in 2001, one of the first things Mock did was to hang a mezuzah in the doorway of his office. “I felt it was an indication of the times and that things have gotten better,” he said of his appointment as a Jewish dean. Mock said as a student, he witnessed unofficial forms of antisemitism and racism that he says are no longer present at the university.
Prior to Mock’s first term as dean, there had only been a Jewish interim dean of dentistry, but not a full-term one. Mock will be succeeded by Dr. Daniel Haas, who is also Jewish.
U of T president Dr. David Naylor, a friend and colleague of Mock’s, spoke at the reception, sharing fond memories of working with the former dean. “This is a man who has given his life in many ways to advancing this profession and this institution,” Naylor said of Mock.
Also at the tribute, it was announced that a fellow graduate of U of T’s dental school, Mark Nusbaum, and his wife, Edith, would establish an endowed fund in Mock’s honour to support graduate students.
Mock chose to share his tribute with his wife, Karen, a well-known human rights consultant. At the Faculty Club, Karen Mock was presented with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for her service to the community.
“It’s been wonderful to share the journey,” she said of both their career accomplishments. The Mocks celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary this December.
Though Mock is on his way to retirement, he said he will continue with some part-time teaching as well as his work at Mount Sinai Hospital, both passions that he is not ready to leave behind just yet.
“I will do the things that I enjoy, and I won’t do the things I don’t enjoy,” he said with a laugh.