Faculty Alumnus Creates Endowed Scholarship for Student Mentors

Dr. Mitch Gardiner, working with a student. PHOTO CREDIT: John Emerson

Every student admitted to RSDM has had some share of academic success, observes Dr. Mitch Gardiner. But not everyone can be a mentor to classmates.

It’s a quality that Gardiner, an alumnus and assistant clinical professor in the Restorative Department, wanted to recognize when he established an endowed scholarship for the Chancellor’s Challenge, which matches donations through 2019.

“Students can’t get in here if they aren’t high achievers, but I wanted them to be rewarded for mentoring and supporting their classmates and fellow students,’’ says Gardiner, a member of the Class of ’77. “We aren’t here to compete with each other, we’re here to help each other. It develops a collegial attitude, and that’s what matters in life.’’

This is the third scholarship Gardiner has endowed – and also the first RSDM scholarship to recognize student mentors. The Michael D. Scotti, DMD Endowed Scholarship was named in honor of his late friend and classmate, who succeeded despite having to cope with the symptoms of juvenile diabetes. Gardiner and other classmates donated to support that scholarship, which recognizes a fourth-year student who exemplifies academic merit and financial need.

“He was so well liked by everyone,’’ Gardiner remembers. “We wanted to keep his memory alive. He left a real mark on this school.’’

He also established a scholarship in memory of his parents for supporting his education. That scholarship, the Alan & Trudi Gardiner and Morton and Pearl Lowe Endowed Scholarship, goes to students who exemplify excellence, financial need and a steadfast commitment to their studies.

Gardiner has always been keenly aware of the debt so many students assume to pay for dental school. “It’s like having a mortgage,’’ he declares. So when he heard about the matching Scholarship Challenge, he didn’t want to waste time. “I decided I’m going to do it and get it up and going right away. These students need it now.’’