School of Dentistry Dean Dr. Sree Koka with Dental Alumni Awardees Dr. Alexa Lampkin and Dr. Darrell Hutto.
School of Dentistry Dean Dr. Sree Koka with Dental Alumni Awardees Dr. Alexa Lampkin and Dr. Darrell Hutto.
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Hutto and Lampkin Honored in 2024 School of Dentistry Alumni Awards

Published on Monday, January 29, 2024

By: Rachel Vanderford, rvanderford@umc.edu

Photos By: Jay Ferchaud/ UMMC Photography

The 2024 School of Dentistry Alumni Awards honored two outstanding School of Dentistry professors–Dr. Mitch Hutto (‘83), who has been teaching at the University of Mississippi Medical Center since 2005, and Dr. Alexa Lampkin (‘17), a dentist new to teaching who has made strides in her early career.

“No one was more deserving of the awards this year than these two,” said Dr. Teena Horn (‘83), Dental Alumni Board president.

Hutto, who was awarded Alumnus of the Year, has been teaching in the School of Dentistry for nearly two decades. After graduating from the school, Hutto went into private practice in Ridgeland. He then decided to come back to UMMC, completing residencies and a fellowship in hospital dentistry before joining the School of Dentistry faculty.

Horn, who graduated with Hutto in 1983, said he was always a good dental student who had good character. “From my understanding, he is well-loved by his students,” she said. “Though I don’t work there, I can certainly believe that.”

Because his mother and sister are both educators, Hutto said he felt like his career in teaching was inevitable. But he still never imagined what a perfect fit the job would be for him. “My secondary degree is actually in science education,” he said. “So, after private practice, when I wanted to do something different, I decided to teach and fell in love with it.”

Hutto’s recognition as Alumnus of the Year reflects his commitment to improving dental education and access to dental health care in Mississippi.

“I had no idea I’d ever get an award like this,” Hutto said. “It’s a great honor."

His goal, he said, is to teach his students to learn from his errors. “If you can keep a student from making some of the mistakes you've made over the years, that’s going to make their journey even smoother,” he said. “And that’s been my driving force as a professor—to make their career less stressful and more rewarding.”

Dr. Darrell Hutto and D3 Shelby Fortenberry work together on finishing an impression for a denture.
Dr. Darrell Hutto and third-year dental student Shelby Fortenberry work together on finishing an impression for a denture.

Hutto said that his favorite thing about being an associate professor is interacting with his students and watching them grow. “They may start as a D1 and go through dental school doing difficult procedures, even sometimes dealing with difficult patients, and just seeing them get through it and finding the confidence that they can do all of that at the end just brings me joy,” he said.

His passion for people extends from classroom to clinic. Hutto is the faculty advisor for the student-run Jackson Free Dental Clinic.

“We provide care for people who are uninsured,” he said. “I love that kind of work. That and teaching are my two loves.”

He is a founding member of the Professional Health Network, which assists dental professionals and other health care providers in their recovery from addictions. He is also on the planning committee for the Mississippi Addictions Conference, the largest of its kind in the state.

Beloved by his students and colleagues, Hutto was awarded the Norman C. Nelson Order of Teaching Excellence Award in 2018.

Lampkin, recipient of the 2024 Early Career Achievement Award, said she “consistently voted for [Hutto] as the clinical professor of the year”.

“He is genuinely deserving of this honor,” she said. “[He is] always accessible with a knock on the door or a call. Dr. Hutto can be relied upon to be there when needed, and I feel privileged to have been his student and now a colleague.”

Lampkin is now an assistant professor of care planning and restorative sciences and director of admissions in the School of Dentistry.

Driven by a passion to address health disparities in her community, Lampkin said she is committed to providing top-tier, inclusive care to all individuals as a dental professional. Treating patients from different demographics and with chronic illnesses, she gained a deeper passion for helping Mississippians who are often turned away or referred long distances to receive treatment.

From left, D3 Marlo Morris, Dr. Alexa Lampkin work on an repairing an broken overdenture on patient Ronnie Gilbert from Kosciusko.
Third-year dental student Marlo Morris, left, and Dr. Alexa Lampkin work on an repairing an broken overdenture on patient Ronnie Gilbert from Kosciusko.

“Serving as the director of admissions for the UMMC School of Dentistry empowers me to play a pivotal role in shaping the future cohort of dental professionals,” she said. “As health care providers, we are entrusted with the care of individuals from diverse backgrounds, each with their unique ideologies, cultures, and socio-economic circumstances. Effective recruitment is a paramount tool in establishing a foundation of inclusivity that mirrors these diverse perspectives.”

Her dedication to improving the educational and dental landscape of Mississippi landed her a position on the Mississippi State Board of Dental Examiners in 2022. Nominated by the dental professional community and selected by Gov. Tate Reeves, Lampkin became not only the first African American woman, but the first female dentist to ever hold a seat on the board — consisting of seven dentists and one dental hygienist.

Lampkin hopes to continue “paving the way for other women who are ready to shatter glass ceilings,” she said. “Our field of dentistry is growing with women representation, so we must match that same energy.”