Longtime OU College of Dentistry Faculty Member to Retire

Published: Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Kaelan Deese, Staff Writer for the Oklahoman

After 43 years, Dr. Dunn Cumby, division head in community dentistry at the University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry, is stepping down.

He plans to pursue life, family and the groundwork for a new masters program at the OU College of Dentistry.

Graduating as the first black man from that college in 1976, Cumby said he has achieved everything he sought to do over the past 43 years.

"I spent three years at OU for my undergrad and went to dental school in Oklahoma City. After the fourth year, I received my M.P.H. and D.D.S. After that, I became a faculty member and I’ve been a student and faculty member for the last 50 years," Cumby said.

Cumby founded his private practice in 1976 and became an instructor at OU College of Dentistry. In 1999, he began teaching courses such as Introduction to Practice Management, Practice Management and Fundamentals of Dental Practice. He currently teaches Introduction to Ethics.

In 2007, Cumby was approved for a training program, called the Community Dental Health Coordinator Pilot Training Program, which generated $1.4 million to OU College of Dentistry.

In addition to his dental career, in 1998 Cumby became an ordained deacon for the Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. He's also a 4th Degree Black Belt and World Taekwondo referee, and directed and instructed for the East Side YMCA World Taekwondo School for three years.

“It wasn’t that I was ready to retire, I just needed more time and flexibility," Cumby said. “I’ve got eight and a half grandkids now and seven and a half of them live in California. The next one is due on December first. My wife goes to visit them for long periods of time and it makes me want to have more time with them.”

Last year, Cumby, 68, said he was offered a deal to sell his private practice.

“I was at a church in Orlando, Florida, and I remember praying for a solution, just praying for God to decide something for me and I would be ready to do it. About two weeks later, one of my former partners went out to dinner with me and asked if I would be interested in selling him my practice," he said.

Cumby's colleagues said he's highly respected and has touched the lives of countless patients and students.

Dr. Raymond Colhmia, dean of OU College of Dentistry, said Cumby is an exemplary professional and an invaluable asset to the university. He's one of the last faculty that would know all 2,237 graduates that have come through this college, Colhmia added.

"I mean it when I say that I am one of Dr. Cumby's kids. When you come to him about anything, it's like everything stops and all of his attention is dedicated and focus is on you. He is a very compassionate man," Colhmia said.

Cumby was one of Colhmia's professors long before he became the dean of the college and Colhmia attributes much of his success to the help he received from Cumby.

"When Dr. Cumby came to me about retiring, I knew he wouldn't be able to sit idle," Colhmia said. "Dr. Cumby is a professional, and a professional will continue their work until the day they die. ... He would be bored in retirement.

"I offered him a project to work on and I told him to do it in his own way. We're working to add a masters program for public health, and who better than Dr. Cumby could we find to fulfill this duty?"

Cumby will continue to teach ethics and help at his former practice one day a week.

"OU has been good to me and I feel that I've been good to them. It's a symbiotic relationship and I have nothing but great experiences here," Cumby said. “Whatever you do in your life, make sure in yourself that you have the talent or gifted ability to do what you want to do. It will almost always work out.”