University of Michigan School of Dentistry

The College of Dental Surgery at the University of Michigan was founded by the Regents in 1875. The practicing dentists of the state were instrumental in its creation. They had originally petitioned the Regents in 1866 for the establishment of a chair of dentistry. When that petition failed to win regental approval, dentists submitted another petition in 1873. The Regents expressed a willingness to approve this second request, but claimed lack of funds made action impossible. The dentists then turned to the state legislature where they were successful in obtaining a special appropriation for the purpose of teaching dentistry at the university.


The Professor's House on South
University, one of the first four
buiding on campus, was home to
Dentistry from 1877-1891

Originally dentistry was taught by two professors. They, and those subsequently appointed to the faculty, developed a college noted for the adeptness of its graduates in technical and operative areas. Throughout the nineteenth century the college's focus was primarily on technique, but at the beginning of the twentieth century research began to assume an important position in the college's activities. The first major project was undertaken by Marcus Ward, who in 1903 began a study of the properties of dental amalgams used as filling material. Research was also carried on in areas of surgical procedures, with particular success in the area of restoration. Eventually, research became a common activity among the faculty.


The East Professors House, later
the University Hospital, was home
to Dentistry from 1891-1908

Throughout the twentieth century the nature of the student body and the character of the subjects taught developed and changed. In 1921 dental hygiene was first taught, largely to women who would go on to become dental assistants and technicians. By 1927, when the college was renamed the School of Dentistry, the need for both continuing education for practicing dentists and for post-graduate educational opportunities for students had been recognized and was being acted upon. The W. K. Kellogg foundation was particularly instrumental during the 1930s and 1940s in making funds and space available for these two activities.


The Dental Building on N.
University Ave., built in 1908

Space was a continuing problem for the school. When it was founded, the college was placed in a university-owned house, originally used as a faculty residence. In 1877 the school was relocated into a larger building, another university-owned house originally used by a faculty member. In 1891 the school inherited the old University Hospital. During 1908 and 1909 a special building was erected for the Dental School, on North University Avenue. This building was enlarged in 1923. In 1939-1940, with funds supplied by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and the Works Progress Administration, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation Institute: Graduate and Postgraduate Dentistry Building was constructed. In 1969, as part of a major construction program initiated the year before, the 1908 structure was razed. It was replaced by a complex of buildings completed in 1971.

Deans of the School of Dentistry

TermDean
1875-1903Jonathan Taft
1903-1906 Cyrenus G. Darling (Acting)
1907Willoughby D. Miller
1907-1916Nelville Hoff
1916-1934Marcus L. Ward
1934-1935Chalmers John Lyons
1935-1950Russell W. Bunting
1950-1962Paul H. Jeserich
1962-1981William R. Mann
1981-1982 Robert E. Doerr (Acting)
1982-1987Richard L. Christiansen
1987-1989 William Kotowicz (Acting)
1989-1995J. Bernard Machen
1995-2002William Kotowicz
2003-Peter Polverini