Dentistry Careers Made Possible

NSU College of Dental Medicine Linda Niessen talks about her bequest as a founding member of NSU's 1964 SocietyFrom the beginning of her career, Linda C. Niessen, D.M.D., M.P.H., saw dentistry as a way to serve the public as a health care professional, combining artistic skills and scientific knowledge to improve patients’ health.

“Every dental school must educate excellent clinicians first and foremost,” said Niessen, who arrived at Nova Southeastern University as dean and professor of the College of Dental Medicine (CDM) in October 2013. “Realizing potential for NSU dental students means that they are expected to become leaders in the profession, and that leadership will help ensure that every patient has access to needed oral health care,” she said.

Upon her arrival at NSU, Niessen immediately began to get involved in the dental student life on campus by attending student government meetings and listening to their needs and concerns. She wanted to help the students she served achieve the goals that brought them to NSU.

“When you are the dean of a college, you’re in the career development business. Developing leaders for the future. It’s our job to provide not only professional tools for our students, but financial ones as well,” Niessen said. “Every day I’m helping students realize their potential. And that makes each day a gift.”

She and husband, John J. Lonergan, M.D., who is a clinical assistant professor of family medicine at NSU's Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Allopathic Medicine, made a legacy gift and created the Niessen-Lonergan Family Endowed Scholarship Fund for students at CDM.

“We want to make it easier for students wishing to pursue a career in dentistry, particularly those students who are in the first generation in their family to attend professional school,” said Niessen.

“Both of our children went to professional school, and we were able to support their professional education,” added Lonergan. “Both graduated with no debt, which is practically unheard of. We’ve taken care of our children’s education, and now, we continue to be in a position to help. We aren’t stopping our support just because our children have completed their education.”

For more information about creating a legacy gift, please contact Andrea Darlow, senior director of development for legacy gifts at (954) 262-2135 or at