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Steven W. and Susan Y. Friedrichsen Endowed Scholarship for Excellence in Leadership and Dedication to Compassionate Community Support

For nearly fifty years, Dr. Steve W. Friedrichsen has had a distinguished career in the field of dental medicine not only as a clinician but as an educator, administrator, respected colleague, and author who clearly knows and understands the importance of helping students, patients, and communities thrive through our humanistic WesternU way.

Dr. Friedrichsen received his Bachelor of Science in Biology from Seattle University and a Doctor of Dental Surgery from Northwestern University, Chicago. From there, Dr. Friedrichsen completed his hospital-based General Dentistry Residency program at the University of Chicago. 

Prior to joining WesternU, Dr. Friedrichsen was appointed Dean, Creighton University Medical Center School of Dentistry and Special Assistant to the University President for Healthcare Strategies. He also served for over twenty years as Chairman, Department of Dental Sciences and Director, Idaho Dental Education Program at Idaho State University.  During that time, he developed and initiated the Idaho Advanced General Dentistry Residency Programs in Pocatello and Boise, Idaho. Dr. Friedrichsen has been a clinician-educator for over twenty years – owning and managing an active general dentistry practice while maintaining his teaching and administrative responsibilities. Dr. Friedrichsen has taught dental anatomy, occlusion, expanded function dental hygiene, dental literature review and pre-clinical and clinical restorative dentistry. 

He has published on a wide array of topics including Balancing Leadership and Management, Rural Behavioral Dental Health Care, Periodontal-Restorative Interactions, and a Socio-Economic Comparison of Prosthetic Patients in a Two-Tier Delivery System. He has also made numerous presentations on a local, state, and national level. For Dr. Friedrichsen, leadership roles would become a natural extension to an already prolific career.

In 2010, Dr. Friedrichsen joined WesternU as the Associate Dean of Patient Care and Clinical Curriculum. Dr. Friedrichsen was then named Interim Dean on February 1, 2011, and Dean on July 1, 2011.

Throughout his career, Dr. Friedrichsen has devoted his life to students and underserved communities, serving in several capacities, including positions on the Idaho State Board of Education Committee on Special Health Programs, Creighton University Medical Center Billing Compliance Committee, Omaha VA Hospital deans and directors committee, Commission on Dental Accreditation, and the American Dental Education Association. His engagement in political activities and advocacy work has helped shape the profession into what it is today.

When asked about his impact at WesternU, Michelle Luna, Dean Friedrichsen’s assistant touts his people-centered and forward-thinking leadership style.

“He never dictates, but rather listens, encourages, motivates, and develops others.  He does not allow things to grow stagnant, and is continually looking for improvement, innovation, and creative ways to take the college to the next level. He wants us to be a college that is sought after by students and respected by other academic institutions.

“I’m always amazed by the number of people that seek his involvement and opinion. […] That could only mean one thing to me … [people] respect his knowledge, his measured and well thought out input, and advice.”

Since joining WesternU, both Dr. Friedrichsen and his wife, Sue, have been tirelessly committed to the people of WesternU CDM. They embody the college motto, “Your success is our success.” Steve and Sue Friedrichsen have graciously hosted numerous college events, including but not limited to the Dean’s picnics and barbecues, ADEA receptions, and holiday events. In addition to Sue’s hospitality and her philanthropy, she has always been Dr. Friedrichsen’s number one support person and an integral part of what makes up the special family environment at CDM.

Sue graduated from Northwestern University’s Dental Hygiene program in June of 1977 and practiced as a dental hygienist in Illinois and Idaho (following her vagabond spouse). She also transitioned to front desk/office manager in Idaho to fill a need in the family’s general dental practice. In Idaho, she was very active in their children’s schools and parent support organizations.

While in Omaha she focused on supporting the dean’s role (annual Christmas party, leadership dinners, attending various functions as part of the Creighton Capital Campaign “Willing to Lead” and was instrumental in maintaining relationships with alumni and donors. 

The move to California saw her become involved in Assistance League of the Foothill Communities, Uplanders and Soroptimist for a few years. In addition to her fabulous support for CDM (Holiday and summer parties, treats for faculty, staff and students, dinners with/for donors and financial support for the Dean’s Picnic and any other student cause) she really engaged with Assistance League.  For several years she oversaw AL Bears, providing hospitals and first responders with comfort bears for children in traumatic situations – as a result she knew many of the key personnel at fire and police stations as well as hospitals around the Upland, RC, Montclair area.  She also directed the AL Operation School Bell which provided basic clothing needs for children in need referred by local school districts and for the surprising number of unhoused teens in the region.  The last few years, she served as the VP of Philanthropy for the AL of the Foothill Communities, overseeing and hands on participating in the Bears, School Bell and other philanthropic programs she loves so dearly.

Dr. Friedrichsen is so very proud of all that Sue has accomplished professionally, in addition to her constant devotion to our children and five grandchildren.  With all those responsibilities on her plate, she never short changed either AL, CDM or the family…she is an amazing woman to say the least.

Now, as Dr. Friedrichsen departs from WesternU to spend time with Sue, their two grown children, Molly and Erik, and five grandchildren, the impact of Dean Friedrichsen’s legacy continues through the creation of the (Steven W. and Susan Y. Friedrichsen Endowed Scholarship for Excellence in Leadership and Dedication to Compassionate Community Support).

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