UNMC News

Dr. Paul Swanson to receive Distinguished Service Award

Wausa, Neb. native to be honored by UNMC College of Dentistry Alumni Association

Paul D. Swanson, D.D.S., will receive the 2013 Distinguished Service Award from the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry Alumni Association. The award is presented annually to someone on the basis of their contribution to the UNMC College of Dentistry Alumni Association and the contributions they have made to the dental profession.

Dr. Swanson will receive the award Oct. 4 at the College of Dentistry’s Alumni Homecoming Reunion banquet at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Lincoln. Clara Tao, D.D.S., president of the UNMC College of Dentistry Alumni Board, will present the award.

Dr. Swanson was born and raised on a farm his grandparents had built near Wausa, Neb.  His first eight years of school were in a one-room country school house. He attended Wausa High School from 1941 to 1945, during the years of World War II, and received a B.S. degree in education from Nebraska State Teacher’s College at Wayne in 1949. 

He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1950 and went through Officer Candidate School and was released to the Air Force Reserves in 1953.  Dr. Swanson entered dental school at the University of Nebraska in 1954 and received his D.D.S. degree in 1958.  His earlier acceptance in the USAF Senior Dental Program resulted in a three-year assignment at Norton Air Force Base, San Bernardino, Calif. The Swanson family lived in nearby Redlands.

Dr. Swanson took and passed the California State Board exam in February 1959, allowing him to work part time evenings and Saturdays in a general dentist office in Redlands, so as to not interfere with his Air Force practice. 

With this start in Redlands, he was offered the opportunity to build and design his own office suite in a dental complex that was being constructed. Dr. Swanson began his own private practice late in 1961 after his release from the Air Force.  Waiting for the completion of the office complex, he gained employment as a general dentist at Pacific State Hospital in Pomona, Calif., and became a part-time clinical instructor at Loma Linda University College of Dentistry.  Later he had a part-time practice in a periodontist’s office in Palm Springs.

Dr. Swanson practiced general dentistry in Redlands for 33 years, retiring in June 1994.  He was a member of the Tri County Dental Society and served as chairman of the Peer Review Committee for the Redlands-Yucaipa area for 21 years. 

He also was a member of the Western Society of Periodontology and Federation Dentaire Internationale. During his years of practice, he was a volunteer dentist for the Assistance League of Redlands and active in civic affairs serving as president of the Optimist Club as well as the House of Neighborly Service. He also served as an elder in the First Congregational Church and later served in many offices of the First Congregational Church.

From the start of his time in California, Dr. Swanson was active in the Nebraska Alumni Association of Southern California, better known as Californians for Nebraska.  He served as president in 1994-95. He later served on the National Alumni Board for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln holding the post of regional director of the Far Western states.  Dr. Swanson received the Distinguished Service Award from UNL’s Alumni Association at commencement exercises in May 2001. 

Dr. Swanson and his wife, Marcia, are members of the President’s Club, the Chancellor’s Club, and the Dean’s Club.  They have established an endowed scholarship for pre-dental students attending Wayne State College and also an endowed scholarship for UNMC College of Dentistry students in Lincoln.  Dr. Swanson has served as trustee at Wayne State College. 

The Swansons have been married for 57 years.  They met at the university as students.  Marcia has a B.S. degree in education from UNL.  They have two married children, five grandchildren, and one great grandchild. 

Both of the Swansons’ children have University of Nebraska degrees.  Their daughter, Cynthia, has a B.A. degree in communications and also a B.S. degree in education from Chapman University in California.  She is a teacher in the elementary public schools in Port Orchard, Wash.

Their son, Randel, is a practicing pediatric dentist and dentist anesthesiologist in Bellingham, Wash.  He also has a doctor of pharmacy degree from the UNMC College of Pharmacy. The Swansons’ grandson, Seth, is presently a junior dental student at the UNMC College of Dentistry, making the Swansons a three-generation Nebraska dental family.

Through world-class research and patient care, UNMC generates breakthroughs that make life better for people throughout Nebraska and beyond. Its education programs train more health professionals than any other institution in the state. Learn more at unmc.edu.

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John Keenan
UNMC Public Relations
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(402) 559-8329
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