The other Dr. Capilouto



By Joy Priest and Taylor Riley

Mary Lynne

This summer, Dr. Mary Lynne Capilouto and her husband, President Eli Capilouto, chose to be a part of UK’s legacy and  relocate from their home in Birmingham, Ala., to begin the 2011-12 school year with UK students.

“It is a tremendous honor,” Capilouto said in the sitting room of her new on-campus residence, Maxwell Place. “I’m the partner to the president, and together we feel an awesome responsibility.

“There is such a rich legacy here, and you want to take good care of the legacy and take it to new heights … and I’m happy to support Eli.”

Upon arrival, the Capiloutos made the decision to live full-time at Maxwell Place. (Former President Lee Todd and wife, Patsy, split their living arrangements between Maxwell Place and a personal residence during Todd’s tenure.)

Capilouto said she and her husband wanted to live in the historic mansion, located in the heart of UK’s campus, because they wanted to live where “there were a lot of people.”

The Capiloutos were given a tour of Maxwell Place by the Todds on the first day the new president was selected for the office.

“This is such a grand home … that first day Dr. and Mrs. Todd hosted breakfast, and that was my first tour of the house,”  Capilouto said. “I was like a little kid exploring. I was taken aback when she asked me if I wanted to see the attic. This attic’s great.”

Maxwell Place, which is fully decorated before a new first family moves in, got a bit of a second-story renovation courtesy of  Capilouto.

“We’ve put some fresh paint on the walls,” she said. “We’ve moved all of our furniture to the second floor and made it our own.”

Capilouto has heard many stories about Patsy Todd’s cookies. A legend went that if a student rang the doorbell at Maxwell Place while the Todds were in office, Patsy Todd would give them a fresh-baked cookie.

The Capiloutos are currently brainstorming what their own legend will be, but Capilouto says she thinks creating one would be a good way to get to know students individually.

“I really take the opportunity to get to know the students and learn about what they’re going through in their classes,” she said.

Capilouto has proven she isn’t shy around students, after her “waltz with the Wildcats,” when she danced with the football team during freshmen move-in.

She expressed her love for staying young and active, being a sports fan and liking Joker Phillips.

“He’s a good coach,” she said. “Recruiting is tough and playing SEC teams are tough, but they’re doing their best.”

The female Dr. Capilouto

When speaking to both of the Capiloutos, addressing them becomes somewhat confusing because they both hold doctoral degrees in dentistry. Is it Dr. and Mrs. Capilouto? Dr. and Dr. Capilouto? Dr. and Dr. Mrs. Capilouto?

Mary Lynne Capilouto, former dean of the University of Alabama-Birmingham School of Dentistry, was one of two female deans at a dental college when she started in the 1990s (the other, Dr. Sharon Turner, the current dean of UK’s College of Dentistry, was dean of Oregon Health and Science University’s School of Dentistry at the same time).

Turner described Capilouto as a “delightful person, easy to work with and a very hard worker.”

“Knowing her background and her leadership, and her ability to understand what happens in the dental school … I’m thrilled to have her here,” Turner said. “She knows my everyday life.”

At UAB,  Capilouto started a community outreach program that allowed students to get real-world training in the less-fortunate areas of Alabama.

“It had a profound impact on the students, and quite often students would come to understand the region and become interested in a rural practice,” Capilouto said.

She said she is continuing her focus on oral health issues in Kentucky.

“Kentucky and Alabama have a lot of similarities as far as dental health issues,” Capilouto said. “There are large amounts of poor access and lack of understanding of oral health issues. Both have large populations that are underserved.”

Capilouto said she is impressed with the current dean of UK’s College of Dentistry, and she is hoping to get more involved with UK’s community outreach.

Turner said she thinks Capilouto wants to become involved because of her public health dentistry background and because of the extent of the dental school’s outreach.

“She is trying to get her license squared away so we can get her on the faculty,” Turner said. “She can be licensed as a faculty-licensed person or get her credentials transferred from Alabama.”

Turner said she simply hasn’t been here long enough to complete that process.

“We’d love to have her,” Turner said. “We do think she wants to contribute to our mission, particularly our outreach mission.”

Mrs. Capilouto

Eli and Mary Lynne Capilouto have been married 33 years.

“We met in dental school,” Mary Lynne said. “He was two years ahead of me. There were only two women in the class (1973), and it was a tough road for me.”

Eli wanted to return to Montgomery, Ala., where his father was already a practicing dentist, but a professor convinced him to remain to join the faculty. A couple of years later, Mary Lynne did the same.

“He knew who I was, but I didn’t know him,” she said. “I remember him grading some of my clinical work … we started dating during my residency.”

The summer after she finished her residency, they got married.

The couple works hard to keep the romance amidst their busy schedules, and they share a lot of the same hobbies.

“We start off the day everyday with breakfast together, and we try to end the day together,” Mary Lynne said. “We like to read the newspapers, you know?”

The Capiloutos share a love for gardening and academia. Mary Lynne said back in Alabama, the couple maintained their own garden at their residence.

“My husband’s best friend besides me and the dogs is the lawnmower,” she said.

The university setting has always been the couple’s community, Mary Lynne said.

“We’ve grown up at a university,” she said. “We both understand the value of education on the quality of life. It’s what we know; where we are comfortable.”