Volunteer Spotlight: Marc S. Lemchen
Marc S. Lemchen, D70, D17P, DG19P, has a busy private dental practice in Manhattan, but he always makes time for Tufts. Chair of the Board of Advisors for the School of Dental Medicine and member of the Executive Committee of the Brighter World Campaign Cabinet, he is enthusiastic about its continued focus on first-rate teaching and training. He is especially keen to ensure it is equipped with cutting-edge technology. He and his wife, Deborah, are generous Brighter World donors and were each awarded the Dean’s Medal in 2021 for exceptional involvement and leadership at the dental school.
What inspired you to volunteer for the school of dental medicine?
What stands out in my mind to this day from my Tufts interview is that Assistant Dean Fagans, a wonderful man, said: “We want you to know that we’re going to work as hard as we can to make you successful. You’re successful, we’re successful.” I have carried that with me. Tufts gave me four years of a great education and also educated my son, Andrew. One of my personal objectives is to ensure that Tufts graduates dentists who when asked about their time at the university respond with “the four best years of my life!” If we can establish a culture and environment that excites and inspires our students, this will happen. I volunteer because Tufts was and is a very important part of my life, and I continue to want to give back to the school.
Is there one takeaway from the dental school that you have found particularly valuable in your practice?
I have a patient who used to be a leader in investment finance; he is a very personable, funny guy. I said to him once: “I’m always amazed that you have time to talk. You seem to have unlimited time.” He said, “In our business, everything’s about relationships.” The same is true for dentistry. You can be the best dentist in the world, but if you do not build a relationship with each patient, you are not going to have a great practice. That is also true of the Tufts dental faculty I met as a young student: They built relationships. They were always interested in my life and what I was doing. It is a good lesson to remember for any dentist.
You also set an example through philanthropy. You and deborah were the first to step forward in 2016 to support the new lobby by naming the lemchen family reception area. Why was that space significant to you?
I remember going to one planning meeting and saying, it does not matter what the lobby looks like, what matters is your first impression of the people who are there to greet you. Smile and the world smiles with you. It was important to me and to the board to instill that kind of culture, that welcoming feeling, into the lobby. I would like to see Tufts continue to build on the remarkable culture and message evident when you enter the school through our new lobby.
Some people might hesitate to volunteer because of the time commitment. What does it mean to you to volunteer?
It really does not seem like a lot of time. It is a great opportunity to leave a lasting impression on an institution that I am committed to and that I love. I am not good at the sales pitch, but what I would say is: Tufts gave us the opportunity to have a full and rewarding life, to be an important part of our community, to build great relationships with people. You cannot put a price on that, and you never can totally repay it. If you recognize all that Tufts has given you, you will support the institution. I think this is a simple message. Without having had our Tufts experience, where would we be?