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New book documents school history over the last 55 years

Ann Arbor, Mich., June 25, 2018 -– The course of history that brought the School of Dentistry to its current standing as one of the best in the world has been updated in a new book that focuses on the last half-century of the school’s 143-year history.

“Victors for Dentistry (1962-2017); Decades of Innovation and Discovery” is the first book updating school history since 1975.

The 188-page book documents the people in the last five decades who have added layer upon layer of commitment and innovation to the strong foundation of excellence built by the school’s founders and early leaders.

Sharon Grayden, the book’s editor, writes in the preface: “If the first 100 years were years of evolution in dental education, the decades that followed have been nothing short of transformational. The U-M School of Dentistry has always set a high bar, not afraid to challenge the status quo and not content with the way things have always been done. Always asking, ‘how can we do this better?’ ”

“This book celebrates all that the professional community known as the U-M School of Dentistry has accomplished,” Grayden writes. “Through good times and times of change, it has always been about the people – the drivers, visionaries and the innovators – who persisted regardless of the usual obstacles and inertia that often stand in the path of progress in higher education.”

Grayden took over the book project after retiring as the school’s Director of Communications in December 2016. She spent much of 2017 organizing, editing and expanding a collection of articles, timelines and photographs that were compiled by Jerry Mastey, the school’s writer and editor who retired in early 2016.

The impetus for the historical update came when the University of Michigan was planning for its bicentennial observance in 2017. The university asked its schools and colleges to compile short histories of their units for a publication timed to the bicentennial. The dental school leadership decided to go forward with an additional, more thorough history that would update the only other history book that has been written about the school. That first dental school history book, “Alumni Bulletin, Centennial Issue 1875-1975,” was a short compilation of stories and photos by Dr. Charles Kelsey, a school historian, to commemorate the dental school’s centennial.

The new book overlaps the first book in order to start with the deanship of Dr. William Mann, who served from 1962-1981. Mann was the driving force who implemented the construction of the current building that houses the dental school, a monumental undertaking because of the growth of both dentistry and dental education after the Second World War. Successive chapters of the book are organized by the terms of the deans and interim deans who followed: Robert Doerr, Richard Christiansen, J. Bernard Machen, William Kotowicz, Peter Polverini and Laurie McCauley, the current dean who has led the school since 2013.

The book starts with details of the massive construction project that created the current dental school building, which was completed in 1971. In the ensuing years, there was a major reorganization of departments, regular curriculum updates, groundbreaking research and clinic advancements by faculty, and a continued recognition around the world that Michigan was a leading school of dentistry.

The written material is supported by dozens of photographs and illustrations that document developments such as the state-of-the-art television studio and mobile TV cameras – now quaint-looking antiques – that documented nearly every dental procedure a student would have to learn. Other photos record the advent of computers and technology, school researchers and leaders who won awards, and alumni, faculty and staff looking much younger during their earlier days at the school.

In the book’s foreward, Dr. Raymond Gist, a 1966 alumnus and former president of the American Dental Association, said this review of school history serves to remind readers of the respect the school commands in the world-wide dental community. “As I perused this rich history of my dental school from 1962 through 2017, I was pleased to see that the administration, faculty and staff have been, and continue to be, proactive on all fronts. That throughout the decades, administrations have kept the focus on excellence and have worked diligently to ensure a welcoming and effective environment for educating future dental professionals, providing exceptional patient care, and conducing world-class research. The school has clearly developed an ideal formula for maintaining its status as the number one dental school in America.”

The book, published by Michigan Publishing, can be ordered online at Amazon.com for $44 in hardback and $25 in paperback.

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The University of Michigan 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 prepare 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.  For more information about the School of Dentistry, visit us on the Web at: www.dent.umich.edu.  Contact: Lynn Monson, associate director of communications, at dentistry.communications@umich.edu, or (734) 615-1971.