Four Decades of Dedication
Dr. Bill Dodge Retires as Dean of Dental School
On May 29, 2018, just two days before retiring, William W. Dodge, D.D.S., dean of the School of Dentistry, reflected on 40 years at UT Health San Antonio. He arrived in 1978 just four years after the first dental class graduated.
“I never envisioned this day. This wasn’t part of my original life plan. I thought I would spend my career in private practice,” said Dr. Dodge.
After practicing for two years in the U.S. Army and five years in private practice in San Antonio, Dr. Dodge hadn’t found the fulfillment he expected. “In private practice, you are on an island. You don’t have anyone to consult with throughout the day.”
While maintaining his nearby practice, he started teaching one day a week in the dental school clinic. “I enjoyed teaching a great deal. And, I had daily contact with colleagues who shared my desire to work with students. I could just go next door to confer with another dentist,” Dr. Dodge recalled. “I sat down with my wife, Jill, and together we decided if this was going to make me happy, I needed to sell the practice.
“I’m so glad I did. The pleasure you get from being here with students and the experiences you get with faculty and staff, you can’t get elsewhere. I got here, and I just fit,” he said.
Looking back, Dr. Dodge reflected on the three main advancements that occurred during his time at the dental school.
A New Curriculum
Dr. Dodge, who taught for seven years as a full-time professor, said, “We were one of the first universities to have adopted a group general dentistry curriculum. Others followed suit,” said Dr. Dodge, who later became director of the general dentistry program.
A New Practice
In 1985, he became the first director when the school created its faculty dental practice. Until that time, the dental clinic was staffed by students and residents as part of their respective curriculum.
“Some of the university and school leaders saw the writing on the wall. State funding was going to continue to decrease. We had to look for revenue elsewhere. Clinical was the answer,” he said. “The practice started very small and now generates $20 million per year. Without this funding, the dental school would not exist. I am fortunate I had a hand in it.”
A New Building
Former Dean Kenneth L. Kalkwarf, D.D.S., M.S., who served as dean for 24 years, saw the need for a new building for the dental school’s clinical practice. As associate dean of patient care at the time, Dr. Dodge was entrusted with creating its conceptual plan.
When Dr. Kalkwarf retired and Dr. Dodge was appointed dean, Gary F. Guest, D.D.S., who became associate dean for patient care and is a former student of Dr. Dodge’s, supervised the construction of the new Center for Oral Health Care & Research.
Opened in July 2015, the 198,000-square-foot, four-story facility allowed the school to vastly expand its clinical space and provide the newest equipment and technology for patient care and research activities. The $96.5 million center for oral health care, patient care and education is now hailed as one of the best in the nation, drawing visitors from other dental schools.
“I feel good about those three things—the curriculum, clinical practice and building. It wasn’t me. It was everyone. We had support from above and from below. We were fortunate to have UT System and university leaders throughout the years supporting the dental school. We were lucky to have Presidents John P. Howe, Francisco Cigarroa and Bill Henrich. It took everyone working together.”
The Next Chapter
Throughout the years, Dr. Dodge saw young men and women complete the academic programs and become successful in the field. “You hope you had some role in that,” he added. “Each year you had an infusion of new students. Each class has its own personality. They are always so refreshing and so energetic.”
He explained there are certain events that are instantly life changing: getting married, having a first child, and the loss of a loved one. “My life will be different. I won’t wake up and go to the same place I went to for 40 years.
“I look back and am proud of what I have done. And, I’m looking forward to what is to come. If you ask me what I’m going to do, I will tell you I don’t know. But, I’m going to try some different activities. I’m going to enjoy this next chapter,” he added.
COMMENTS FROM COLLEAGUES
“Bill Dodge served the School of Dentistry with distinction for 40 years in a variety of roles, including dean. During his tenure, his achievements included designing and occupying a state-of-the-art clinical venue. In partnership with faculty, he led a 94 percent growth in net patient revenue from 2012 to 2017. He refocused the school’s research efforts to grow its NIH portfolio. He oversaw a significant revision of the school’s curriculum. I am very proud to have worked with such a talented and dedicated leader, and our entire institution is grateful to him for his exemplary service.”
William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP
“Bill Dodge probably had more impact on the predoctoral clinical care aspect of dental education than anyone in the U.S. during the 1990s and 2000s. His contributions to the school’s predoctoral clinical enterprise, as well as to multiple other schools through his activities with the Commission on Dental Accreditation and the American Dental Education Association, set the stage for what we now recognize as a contemporary clinical care/education model.”
Kenneth L. Kalkwarf, D.D.S., M.S.
Emeritus Professor, Former Dean and President Ad Interim
“I had a unique opportunity and the good fortune to be associated with Bill as my teacher, my peer and colleague, my friend, my boss and my mentor over 40 years. He had a major impact on my career, and I attribute part of my success to that relationship.”
Gary F. Guest, D.D.S.
Associate Dean for Patient Care
“During Dr. Dodge’s tenure, significant transformational advances occurred. The new Center for Oral Health Care & Research opened and new innovative curriculum was developed. He is a valued colleague dedicated to faculty and student success.”
Eileen T. Breslin, Ph.D., RN, FAAN
Dean, School of Nursing
“For people to be most productive, they have to be in a supportive, nurturing environment where expectations are clear and people feel appreciated. Dr. Dodge provided this type of environment to everyone under his leadership. As my last boss before retirement, he gave me that final boost in challenging me to end my career with a significant accomplishment.”
Birgit Junfin Glass, D.D.S. Class of 1975, M.S.
“During his long career, Bill Dodge seemed to always be tasked with the most difficult jobs from establishing the faculty practice to serving as acting chair of multiple departments, to serving as vice dean and dean. He met each of these challenges in a calm but efficient manner.”
Spencer Redding, D.D.S., M.Ed.
Emeritus Chair, Department of Comprehensive Dentistry
“Dr. Dodge was our dean, but he was incredibly humble and never missed an opportunity to chat with students and just be present for us. He was never too busy for us. He made sure that his students knew he was there for them, and it made my dental school experience absolutely wonderful to have his support!”
Kim Do, D.D.S. Class of 2017
Pediatric Dentistry Resident, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Oklahoma State University