April 16, 2014
WEST HAVEN, CONN. -- Marc Benhuri, a New York City dentist known for treating celebrities, CEOs and foreign dignitaries, has been elected to the University of New Haven Board of Governors.
Benhuri, who received his bachelor’s degree from UNH in 1969, owns the Benhuri Center for Laser and Implant Dentistry in Manhattan. His patients have included former President George H.W. Bush – when he was head of the CIA, former President Bill Clinton and former Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
“Dr. Benhuri is a strong addition to the Board of Governors,” said Philip H. Bartels, chair of the Board of Governors. “He brings a passion for the university, years of business expertise and firsthand knowledge of what it is like to be a foreign student at an American university.”
After immigrating to the United States from Iran in 1964, Benhuri wanted to study mechanical engineering. But he came from a family of doctors and dentists stretching back 10 generations, and his family was not happy with his career choice.
Nonetheless, Benhuri earned his degree in mechanical engineering from UNH and landed a job with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, working on codes and standards for nuclear power plants.
“The engineering degree was the beginning for me,” Benhuri says. “UNH was an incredible opportunity, because it was small and the teachers were great. I had internships at Sikorsky, Eastern Industries and Uniroyal, and I got a great background for the future,”
In 1970, Benhuri enrolled in the dentistry program at the University of Pittsburgh, the first engineer to be accepted into that program. Four months later, the head of oral surgery asked him to examine dental implants from an engineering perspective. He created new designs and, before long, the success rate for implants went from 50 percent to 90 percent.
Shortly after opening the Benhuri Center for Laser and Implant Dentistry in New York City, he was invited to treat the Shah of Iran after he had lost some teeth in a skiing accident. He and the Shah became friends, and the Shah introduced Benhuri to King Hussein of Jordan, Anwar Sadat of Egypt and other royal family members throughout the Middle East, many of whom became his patients.
Benhuri established the Department of Dental Implants at Columbia University, and he has lectured around the world for the past 30 years. But dentistry is not his only interest. He recently wrote and published Price for Freedom, which details his successful effort to bring his father, who had been condemned to death for being an industrialist, and other family members out of Iran. Getting his father out required not only a payment of $150,000 but four years of effort.
He credits UNH with providing him a springboard for success.
“I was a foreign student with language difficulties, and UNH had a smaller campus where you could really get close to your professors,” said Benhuri, “UNH gave me a good foundation.”
The University of New Haven is a private, top-tier comprehensive institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education. Founded in 1920 the University enrolls approximately 1,800 graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates.