Office of the Dean

About Dean Mert N. Aksu

dean mert n. aksuMert N. Aksu, D.D.S, J.D., MHSA, Cert. DPH was named Dean of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry in July 2008 and is currently the second longest-serving dean in the School’s history. 

Aksu, who is a tenured professor, has been an educator for 35 years and has held appointments at three universities. He joined the University of Detroit Mercy in 1993 and has held a variety of roles since including serving as the executive associate dean for patient management, associate dean for clinic administration, and director of patient quality assessment. Most recently, Aksu was appointed as assistant to the provost for Optometric and Dental Education leading the University through the establishment and accreditation of its first School of Optometry which is slated to open fall of 2023. 

As both a scholar and a lifelong learner, Aksu has contributed several scholarly articles to peer-reviewed journals and has taken over 2,700 hours of continuing education credits throughout his career. In addition, Aksu is an internationally recognized speaker on dental ethics, risk management, alternative workforce considerations, and access to care. 

Aksu believes that diversity is an essential component of an educational environment that enhances both the academic environment and cultural competence of students. Recognizing that those who learn on a diverse campus acquire the compassion, passion, and skills required to reduce health disparities, Aksu is dedicated to recruiting and retaining a diverse body of learners and teachers. He has long been committed to developing a diverse campus culture by actively supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives through thoughtful planning and dedicated funding. 

With a dedication to supporting the career development of those he leads, Aksu takes great pride in helping promote the upward career trajectory of fellow leaders and deans. In 2021-2022, Detroit Mercy faculty and administrators hold 11 American Dental Education Association (ADEA) leadership positions. 

Aksu’s transformational leadership approach has resulted in substantial contributions to dental education, the advancement of oral health, and access to care. His forward-thinking and outcome-based solutions result in educating evidence-based, practice-ready oral health care professionals who distinguish themselves by their ability to lead in the successful delivery of care today and meet the changing needs of tomorrow.  


To contact Dean Mert N. Aksu, please email or call assistant to the dean, Crystal Becker at or 313-494-6621

9 peer reviewed publications
3 book chapters
30 abstracts
20 million in grants since becoming dean


  • D.D.S., University of Michigan 
  • J.D., Wayne State University 
  • MHSA, University of Michigan
  • Cert. DPH, Case Western Reserve University 


  • Pierre Fauchard Academy 
  • American College of Dentists 
  • Academy of General Dentistry  
  • International College of Dentists  
  • American College of Legal Medicine  


  • American Dental Education Association’s Gies Award for Vision – Dental Educator, 2021 
  • Pierre Fauchard Academy Distinguished Service Award, 2019 
  • Crain’s Detroit Mergers and Acquisitions Award, 2008 
  • University of Detroit Mercy Honorary Alumnus of the Year, 2004 

Current and former professional highlights include

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    Beginning in 2005, Aksu planned, coordinated, and managed the physical transformation of the School of Dentistry for its third location move in 15 years. He facilitated the acquisition of a vacant, dilapidated hospital building that involved a 23.5-million-dollar renovation project. The relocation served as the fulcrum point for economic activity and revitalization in the core city and Corktown (primarily Hispanic/Latinx) communities.  

     As one of the few US based dental schools without a medical school counterpart, Aksu forged key partnerships with local hospitals, philanthropic groups, and specialty organizations to increase access to care and simultaneously provide meaningful clinical experiences for students. In addition, he partnered with Wayne State University to apply for and receive funding to become the only Area Health Education Center in Michigan.  

     Under his leadership, Aksu has received over two million dollars in community service grants allowing for the provision of dental care to underserved and homeless populations though multiple outreach learning opportunities. 


    Educational Transformation

    Upon identifying curricular redundancy across disciplines, difficulties with integrating information, and a need for stewardship in managing student clinical experiences, Aksu lead a school-wide reorganization and comprehensive curriculum restructure.  

    To achieve this, he dissolved departments and created six interdisciplinary divisions that were charged with implementing a contemporary, clinically relevant, interdisciplinary, evidence-based and deliberately sequenced curriculum. All courses now include case-based presentations, discussion, assignments and assessment throughout the curriculum to prepare students for the Integrated National Dental Board.  

    In addition, his curricular vision has resulted in a complete patient care delivery restructuring involving six interdisciplinary group practices and increased efficiency and productivity.  

    The comprehensive curricular reform has provided opportunities for faculty and staff to serve in key roles while enhancing the leadership pipeline.


    Educational Commitment throughout COVID-19

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, Aksu worked tirelessly with local authorities to ensure that the Emergency Dental Clinic was open and fully operational during Michigan’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order from March 24 – May 31, 2020. He quickly organized a plan with local hospital systems to accept patient referrals presenting with dental-related emergencies, allowing care to Michigan citizens without a dental home. Patients ranged in age from 5 to 95 and traveled from throughout Michigan to receive treatment. During this time, the School of Dentistry triaged 2.5 times the average number of emergencies typically treated on an annual basis.   

    In his pledge to ensure the safety and well-being of faculty, staff, students, and patients particularly in a high- risk geographic area, he creatively sought out PPE procurement from the onset of the pandemic and implemented state-of-the-art safety devices. He co-invented a Class I, FDA approved patent-pending chairside aerosol mitigation system (AeMS, LLC) which is in place on all units in the dental clinic. In addition, authentic and safe competency assessment methods were developed to deem students competent within a few weeks of resuming clinical instruction and patient care.