Bulyea Cup Award winner Dr. Sharon Compton

The School of Dentistry is proud to announce Dr. Sharon Compton as the 2020 recipient of the prestigious Bulyea Cup Award.

Tarwinder Rai - 21 December 2020


It wasn't the first time Dr. Sharon Compton was acting-chair; a role she had done many times before. But what Dr. Compton didn't know was that this time her role was going to be a lot different. With a global health crisis knocking closer and closer to home, Dr. Compton was about to find herself stepping out onto an uncharted path.

With Alberta announcing a province-wide lockdown and closure of non-essential businesses, Dr. Compton was faced with providing leadership to the students, staff and faculty at the school.

"She led with calmness, strength and compassion in communicating and helping adapt educational programs to online delivery, managing the care of patients, faculty, staff and especially students through many urgent and demanding adaptations," says Steve Patterson, professor and associate chair in the School of Dentistry. "It was evident that so many looked to her for that strength and leadership that gave them courage during a time of significant uncertainty and worry. Sharon expressed care for the well-being, safety and health of all those within her stewardship during this time."

But it's leadership traits like these that mark her success. And the School of Dentistry is proud to announce Dr. Compton as the 2020 recipient of the prestigious Bulyea Cup Award.

Dr. Compton wears many hats at the school. She is the director of the dental hygiene program and the Educational Research and Scholarship Unit (ERSU). She is a professor and is the associate chair of the dental hygiene program as well.

"Sharon has two aspects to her personality. She has a vision for education plus the administrative skills to enact that vision. This combination has served her very well," says professor emeriti and colleague Nadine Milos. "She has been and continues to be an important leader and creates a very positive impression for us at many levels due to her beliefs, hard work and demeanor. She has always been a team player, supporting the entire department."

Under Dr. Compton's leadership, the dental hygiene program has experienced unprecedented growth. The program, which was originally a diploma, became an undergraduate degree program in 2017. Further, the program saw the addition of a dental hygiene thesis-based masters degree - a first of its kind in Canada.

Her advocacy for dental hygiene has seen her sit on many national and international boards and associations. In 2015 she was the recipient of the Canadian Dental Hygiene Association (CDHA) Distinguished Service Award, and in 2019 she received the CDHA Life Membership Award. 

"Sharon adapted the curriculum to meet the changing needs of the public and the profession. Oral health of the elderly is of particular interest to her and is often an oversight to those who are responsible for eldercare. Sharon spearheaded the initiative to have dental hygiene students provide care to this vulnerable population and the importance of caring for this group is conveyed to the students by their participation in the care of the elderly in long term care facilities," says dental hygiene associate professor Ava Chow. "She is a role model, for myself and many others, and is  a compassionate, dedicated and accomplished leader. This was never more evident than her leadership of the School of Dentistry through the initial stages of the unprecedented COVID crisis. Her tireless efforts to continually improve in education, research and the profession, energizes those around her and inspires them to follow suit."

Internationally, her legacy includes helping universities develop their own dental hygiene programs. Dr. Compton was instrumental in establishing a dental program at Aga Khan University in East Africa and Pakistan. In 2016, the university graduated its first class of dental hygiene diploma students.

Dr. Compton is a strong advocate of research with a focus on  the oral health of seniors, the role of a healthcare professional in tobacco cessation counseling, and the training for healthcare professionals providing oral care. But, whether it's her own research or that of a colleagues or student, she tirelessly helps promote them though mentorship and teaching.  Her leadership in the ERSU has changed the research landscape in dentistry by creating engaging teaching and learning activities at all levels.

Congratulations Dr. Compton on being the 2020 Bulyea Cup Award recipient!