Dr Vorvady Surendra Shetty remembers days and dates from nearly 50 years ago and is able to recount events from the 1960s like they occurred yesterday. And most of these memories revolve around Manipal, an institution that has grown with him, and in turn, enabled him to grow into a respected academic, widely regarded by his peers for his invaluable contribution to the field of dentistry.
He was an executive committee member of the Dental Council of India from 1998-2003, member of the selection committee for the WHO scholarship for 1998, and Chairman of the government task force committee to review private dental colleges in Karnataka. At present he is a member of the technical committee NABH.
He has been President, Indian Dental Association South Kanara District, President of the Indian Orthodontic Society, 1995, and Chairman, Indian Board of Orthodontics 2008-2009.
He enrolled in the first batch of the Bachelor of Dentistry program in 1965, in the then newly set-up Manipal College of Dental Sciences (MCODS), Manipal. He now lectures in the same lecture halls.
It was a time when dentistry was like an alien field of study. People believed teeth could look after themselves, for the most part; grandmothers’ recipes did the rest.
When Dr Shetty completed his BDS in 1970, he was awarded the Dr TMA Pai Blue Ribbon Gold Medal for the best outgoing student. That set the tone for a long and distinguished career that was to follow. He also topped the state in BDS at the University of Mysore.
He joined the Master’s program in orthodontia in 1972 at MCODS, and thereafter, prepared for a life dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge.
When the Manipal College of Dental Sciences at Mangalore was set up on 19 January 1987, Dr Shetty was appointed Head of the Institution. It was a labour of love for him – to create infrastructure, put the college on the academic map of the country, and oversee its various phases of expansion. In a record of sorts, he held this position for 25 years.
In June 2012, he was elevated to Pro Vice Chancellor. This is a predominantly administrative role, but Dr Shetty embraced this shift from academics as a natural progression in life’s journey. He is happy to let younger persons he groomed take over the institution he set up. To keep moving is the law of nature, he believes.
Dr Surendra Shetty is proud of his long unbroken association with Manipal and the Pai family – three generations, and half a century of the Manipal story have unfolded before his eyes, and it remains an integral part of his life to this day.