Firsts in the field
Banker, Glass pave way for future female dentists
Upon entering the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio’s Dental School in 1971, Birgit Junfen Glass, D.D.S., M.S., and Cynthia Banker, D.D.S., M.A., didn’t consider themselves to be trailblazers.
They simply fell in love with the field of dentistry and shared the same vision of helping patients. Yet, the two were indeed pioneers of their profession as they became the first females to graduate from the Dental School in 1975.
They addressed new and important issues in their field, including the development of new techniques, procedures and academic approaches. After graduation, Drs. Glass and Banker took different paths. For Dr. Glass, it was a career in academics. For Dr. Banker, it was a call to private practice.
With the Dental School rapidly growing at that time, Dr. Glass was recruited as an instructor in the Departments of Dental Diagnostic Science and General Dentistry, and was one of the Dental School’s first female faculty members. Since 1995, she has served as the associate dean for academic affairs and continues her appointment as a tenured professor in the Department of Comprehensive Care.
After graduation, Dr. Banker worked in private practice and completed a pediatric dental residency at the Health Science Center. She also worked for several years as a clinical professor in the Department of Operative Dentistry. Dr. Banker, the second female dentist in San Antonio, became known for her compassionate care and expansive knowledge of pediatric dentistry. Today, she practices with her husband, Brett Mueller, D.D.S., at West Side Pediatric Associates and San Pedro North Pediatric Dental Associates in San Antonio.
Drs. Glass and Banker said they firmly believe in giving of their time and talent to further the field of dentistry and in supporting their alma mater. Additionally, they support the university though financial gifts. Dr. Glass is a member of the President’s Council and contributes to the Dental School’s Critical Needs Fund.
Dr. Banker is also a member of the President’s Council and she and her family established the Cynthia Banker Mueller Endowment and the Brett H. Mueller, D.D.S., Endowment for Pediatric Dentistry.
“Dentistry has made my life successful and fulfilled, so I believe that giving to my profession will give me a perpetual link to the future and allow my legacy to continue,” Dr. Banker said.
Dr. Glass agrees. “Why would anyone not give back to the Health Science Center, considering the quality education we received that has made us successful? We couldn’t have done it without that diploma!” she said. “By giving back, we can play a small part in assuring that future graduates are as well prepared as we were, and that the future of health care in this community, including for our own families, will be in the best hands. Indirectly, we continue to be rewarded as our diploma maintains the high value to inspire confidence in us from our patients.”
And, patients aren’t the only ones who admire and trust them. Alexandra Forney, a third-year dental student, worked closely with Dr. Glass while serving as president of the class of 2012.
“Their story carries a spirit that is motivating for young women entering the field of dentistry,” Forney said. “They laid a foundation for future female dentists to build upon and grow.”
Emily Whittington, also a third-year dental student, agrees. “We owe a debt of gratitude to these two great women for paving our way,” she said. “Today, classes are equally divided between male and female students. Dr. Glass and Dr. Banker are truly pioneers and can be proud of what they started.”