The University Record, September 5, 2000

School of Dentistry celebrates 125th anniversary and renovated facilities

By Jerry Mastey
School of Dentistry

A newly refurbished orthodontics wing (above, lower) made construction (above, upper) worth the inconvenience. Photo by Per Kjeldsen, School of Dentistry
With the end of a two-year, multi-million dollar renovation program to facilities in the Kellogg Building, the School of Dentistry caps off 125 years of leadership in dental education and research this week.

An anniversary celebration Sept. 8 will highlight the School’s pioneering roles in such areas as orthodontics and pediatric dentistry and will recognize three distinguished alumni—Robert W. Browne, Kenneth A. Easlick and Samuel D. Harris—with the naming of facilities in their honor. Renovations to the Alpha Omega Dental Fraternity Student Forum also will be celebrated.

At the time of the founding of the College of Dental Surgery in 1875, the U-M was the first state-supported university to offer an educational program to aspiring dentists. Training was largely technical, and graduate dental education programs did not exist. As dentistry has become an increasingly specialized and scientific profession during the past 125 years, the School of Dentistry has made major research contributions and led the way in setting educational standards.

Old and new

Renovations and additions to the Kellogg Building, constructed in 1939–40, represent the School in the year 2000—proud of its past, yet fully equipped for the future.

Old doors, lighting fixtures, handrails and flooring at the Fletcher Street entrance to the Kellogg Building have been retained. The lobby still has its original look.

A state-of-the-art lecture hall now offers Internet connections for portable computers and a huge whiteboard that can display up to three eight-foot projected images and can be used as a writing surface. A futuristic glass-domed atrium, which can seat up to 225 people for banquets or other special events, houses an expanded Gordon H. Sindecuse Dental Museum, named in honor of one of the School’s most generous benefactors.

The $13 million in renovations include three facilities named for distinguished alumni.

Robert W. Browne Orthodontics Wing

After earning his dental degree from U-M in 1952, Robert W. Browne practiced in Kalamazoo until 1957 when he returned to the School of Dentistry to earn his master’s degree in orthodontics. After completing the degree in 1959, he practiced orthodontics in Grand Rapids for the next 20 years. In 1962, he and Robert Richards, another School of Dentistry graduate, created Care Corp., which specialized in long-term care for the elderly. Later, it expanded into recreation and real estate, became a publicly held company in 1968, and was recognized as one of the 10 best managed companies in Michigan.

Browne has been a generous benefactor, not only to the School of Dentistry, but also to other units at the University. The orthodontics wing named for him has 34 new chairs in an open clinic setting; new x-ray facilities, offices, conference rooms and patient waiting room; expanded business and consultation areas; and an updated teaching laboratory.

Kenneth A. Easlick Pediatric Dentistry Clinic

Considered by many to be the father of pediatric dentistry, Kenneth A. Easlick was one of the earliest and most influential dental educators in the United States. After earning his dental degree from the U-M in 1928, Easlick developed the School’s first teaching program in children’s dentistry. Eight years later, he received his master’s degree and developed the first graduate program in dental public health in the United States. In 1941, he was appointed to the faculty of the School of Public Health. In 1961, he became the first chair of the Department of Health Development.

Although he retired in 1963, Easlick served as editor of the Journal of Public Health Dentistry until 1974, and contributed hundreds of articles to dental and dental health publications. He was the first to receive U-M’s Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award. In 1973, he was named “Pedodontic Great” by the American Society of Dentistry for Children. Easlick was 86 when he died in December 1979.

The pediatric dentistry clinic named in his honor has 22 chairs in a semi-open clinic setting. The clinic also has two quiet rooms for children with special needs, a graduate studies seminar room and clinical outcomes research facilities.

Samuel D. Harris Children’s Dental Unit

Samuel D. Harris has dedicated his professional and personal life to helping children. After emigrating to Canada from Kiev, Harris earned his dental degree from the U-M in 1924. The following year, he opened a private practice in pediatric dentistry in Detroit and practiced there until he retired in 1980.

In 1927, he helped found the American Society of Dentistry for Children. Six years later, he published the first issue of the Review of Dentistry for Children and served as its editor for 10 years.

In 1998, Harris received the highest honor the American Dental Association can bestow, the Distinguished Service Award. Last year, he was named one of “25 Dental Visionaries” by the American Student Dental Association. Recently, Harris helped establish an endowed professorship at the School of Dentistry, and Robert Feigal was named to the Samuel D. Harris Endowed Collegiate Professorship in May.

The Samuel D. Harris Children’s Dental Unit includes 10 chairs within the Kenneth A. Easlick Pediatric Dentistry Clinic; facilities for consultation among parents, doctors and patients; clinics; and instrument storage areas.

Alpha Omega Dental Fraternity Student Forum

On the ground floor of the dental building, the Alpha Omega Dental Fraternity Student Forum gives students a place to relax or study and also is the site of many social and educational gatherings.

Facilities have been improved and new telecommunications equipment has been installed.

Other improvements

Continuing dental education offices are now more spacious, registration facilities have been improved, and new offices and conference rooms have been constructed. A major lecture room that seats up to 94 allows students and faculty to connect portable computers to the World Wide Web. Both the major lecture room and a smaller lecture room, which seats 36, are wheelchair-accessible.

‘A Banner Year’

“This has truly been a banner year marked by a confluence of events,” says Dean William Kotowicz. “For 125 years, the School of Dentistry has been considered a pioneer and, to this day, we continue to be recognized by our peers in the oral health care profession as truly ‘the leaders and best.’ Our history, our new and improved facilities, our programs, faculty, students and staff have all set the stage for an exciting future,” he adds.

A look back

1875 – The Legislature establishes a College of Dental Surgery at the U-M. The first class had 20 students taught by three faculty members.

1880 – The first two women graduate from the College of Dental Surgery.

1890 – The College of Dental Surgery is the first dental school to provide graduate dental education.

1910 – Russell Bunting begins research on the cause and control of caries (cavities).

1921 – Dental hygiene curriculum established. First master of science degree conferred.

1922 – U-M becomes the first dental school to offer graduate training in orthodontics leading to a master of science degree.

1927 – Name changed to the School of Dentistry.

1938 – W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the School develop plans to construct a building specifically for postgraduate dental instruction, and construction begins the following year.

1938 – Kenneth Easlick develops the nation’s first graduate program in dental public health.

1945 – The School collaborates with city officials in Grand Rapids to launch a water fluoridation program that ushers in one of the most successful public health projects in history.

1957 – Plans announced to build a new dental building to be linked to the Kellogg Building.

1965 – School investigators make first orthodontic field expedition to ancient Nubia (Egypt).

1966 – Ground broken for construction of new dental building. At the time, the project is the largest building contract in U-M history, approximately $17.3 million.

1967 – Dental Research Institute established. It’s one of five in the nation funded by the National Institute of Dental Research.

1971 – School of Dentistry building on North University Avenue dedicated.

1972 – School begins summer dental community outreach clinics in Adrian and Stockbridge.

1973 – Summer migrant dental clinic begins in Traverse City area.

1976 – School researchers receive international recognition for discovering a 3,000-year-old Royal Egyptian mummy (Queen Tiy, circa 1397–1360 B.C.). School lab tests confirm her identity.

1977 – School recognized by Student National Dental Association for having the highest enrollment of Black students.

1991 – “Black Dentistry in the 21st Century” conference takes place here.

1995 – School, American Dental Association, Michigan Dental Association and city of Grand Rapids conduct International Fluoridation Symposium marking the 50th anniversary of water fluoridation.

1998 – Kellogg Building renovations begin.

1999 – School expands annual “Table Clinic,” a half-day event, to a full-day event celebrating research at the School and renames the program “Research Table Clinic Day.”

1999 – School awards first two doctorates (in oral health sciences).

2000 – School is the first in the nation to host the “Scientific Frontiers in Clinical Dentistry” program, attracting more than 1,500 dentists from across the country.

2000 – School announces five new community partnerships to provide oral health care services to the underserved across Michigan.

The School of Dentistry

The School of Dentistry is one of the nation’s leading dental schools engaged in oral health care education, research, patient care and community service. General dental care clinics and specialty clinics providing advanced treatment enable the School to offer dental services and programs to patients throughout Michigan. Classroom and clinic instruction train future dentists, dental specialists and dental hygienists for practice in private offices, hospitals, academia and public agencies. Research seeks to discover and apply new knowledge that can help patients worldwide.

When it was established in 1875, the School was known as the College of Dental Surgery. The name was officially changed to the University of Michigan School of Dentistry in 1927.

Since its founding, more than 9,200 men and women have graduated with dental degrees. Another 2,600 have received either a certificate or a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene following the creation of the dental hygiene curriculum in 1921.

Whether as general practice dentists, dental specialists or dental hygienists, School of Dentistry graduates have served in thousands of communities in all 50 states and in countries around the world. Most have been practitioners. Others have been researchers. Some have been teachers.

Many have been leaders of dental and dental hygiene organizations at local, state, and national levels. Four School of Dentistry administrators have been elected president of the American Dental Association.

More information about the School is on the Web at