50 Years of Excellence: An Introduction to School’s History

The Dental School building is seen under construction in April 1974. The completed $28 million building was dedicated in July 1975.

Future Success Based on Strong Foundation

By Catherine Duncan

Wearing hardhats, John V. Olson (left), D.D.S., first dean of the Dental School, and J. D. Robertson, then acting dean, symbolize the groundbreaking for the new building in January 1973. Inclement weather forced the festivities inside.

Responding to a dire need in Texas for dentists, the 61st Legislature passed in 1969 House Bill 79 establishing The University of Texas Dental School at San Antonio. The bill was formally signed by Governor Preston Smith in front of the Alamo in June 1969.
Also in 1969, the U.S Department of Health, Education and Welfare announced it would fund two-thirds of the cost to construct a new Dental School facility. The Legislature approved $1.2 million in funding to plan the school.

The UT Board of Regents appointed John V. Olson, D.D.S., dean of the UT Dental Branch in Houston, as the part-time acting dean of the new San Antonio school. Dr. Olson and his faculty hit the ground running to create the new curriculum and clinical training for the first dental students.

In September 1970, 16 students began classes in borrowed space from the fledgling UT Medical School at San Antonio. On June 2, 1974, at the first graduation ceremony, 14 students earned their Doctor of Dental Surgery degrees.

In January 1973, inclement weather forced the Dental School’s groundbreaking ceremony inside. Poor weather didn’t dampen enthusiasm about construction of the 453,769-square-foot building. In July 1975, the Dental School finally had its own home with the opening of the $28 million, four-story structure.

Forty years later in September 2015 the well-established, nationally renowned School of Dentistry celebrated the grand opening of the Center for Oral Health Care and Research. The $96.5 million, 198,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility has enabled the School of Dentistry and UT Dentistry, its comprehensive dental practice, to improve and expand dental education, patient care and research that benefits residents of San Antonio, South Texas and the nation. The School of Dentistry still occupies much of the space in the original dental school building, which has been largely renovated.


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In the 2020 issue of Salute

Salute is the official magazine for the alumni and friends of the School of Dentistry at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Read and share inspiring stories highlighting our dental alumni, faculty and students who are revolutionizing education, research, patient care and critical services in the communities they serve.

View the 2020 issue

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