Five Decades of Accomplishments

School of Dentistry 50th Anniversary Timeline


  • 61st Texas Legislature authorizes the establishment of The University of Texas Dental School at San Antonio.
  • John V. Olson, D.D.S., serves as the first dean-elect of the Dental School (1969 – 1972).


  • First class of 16 students begin classes in September.


  • Dental School becomes part of the newly created The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.


  • Ground broken for construction of first Dental School building with a capacity for 152 dental students.
  • The Dental School’s first advanced education program, jointly sponsored by the medical school and the Bexar County Hospital District, is offered as a three-year residency in Oral Surgery.


  • Philip Boyne, D.M.D., M.S., becomes dean (1974  – 1976).
  • Dental School receives full accreditation by American Dental Association Council on Dental Education in March.
  • First graduation ceremony with the 14 members of the Class of 1974 earning their D.D.S. degrees in May.


  • Dental School building is dedicated in July. The four-level structure contains 453,769 square feet at a cost of $28 million.
  • Record entering class of 152 is enrolled for fall semester.


  • School of Allied Health Sciences accepts first class for the two-year Certificate of Dental Hygiene program under the direction of Clara Hall.


  • First Dental Hygiene class completes first year. Barbara Floyd is hired as administrative assistant to the chair for Dental Hygiene.


  • John Sharry, D.M.D., M.S., becomes dean (1978  – 1981).
  • NOTE: During Dean Sharry’s tenure, the school hires prominent dentist-scientists to bolster the research mission. This includes Dr. Ken Kornman, Dr. Jeff Eversole, Dr. Stan Holt and Dr. Dominick DePaola (who will later become dean). This leads to significant advances in research.
  • First Dental Hygiene class graduates with 43 students.


  • General Practice Residency program begins with three enrolled residents.
  • Periodontics Residency program begins under the direction of Roland M. Meffert, D.D.S., who leads the program for the first six months and then becomes chair of the Department of Periodontics. James J. Lane, D.D.S., is named program director.


  • Juanita “Nita” Wallace, Ph.D., RDH, who was recruited by John Preece, D.D.S., is named chair and program director for Dental Hygiene.
  • Periodontics Residency Program graduates its first class.


  • Martha L. Wood, Ph.D., is named acting dean of the Dental School.
  • Total number of post-doctoral students and residents is now 34.


  • Entering class is reduced to 128.
  • Norman O. Harris, D.D.S., M.S.D., FACD, professor in the Department of Community Dentistry, first publishes “Primary Preventive Dentistry,” now in its eighth edition.


  • Dominick DePaola, D.D.S., Ph.D., becomes dean (1983  – 1987).
  • First James P. Hollers Memorial Lecture held with Periodontist Claude L. Nabers, D.D.S., M.S.D., as the featured presenter.


  • Entering class is reduced to 105; number of post-doctoral students and residents increases to 48.


  • The Dental School partners with Edgewood Independent School District for the first public school-based preventive training and treatment program.
  • Entering class is reduced to 93; number of post-doctoral students and residents increases to 65.
  • Mobile Dental Van program is established to provide dental care to San Antonio school children, children of migrant farmworkers, and underserved South Texas residents.
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery program integrates M.D. Program and Oral Surgeon-Scientist Program (last graduate in 1998).
  • Advanced Education in General Dentistry program is established under a grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration with three enrolled residents.


  • Number of post-doctoral students and residents increases to 82.


  • Kenneth Kalkwarf, D.D.S., M.S., assumes role of dean (1988 – 2012).


  • Faculty member Steve Senia, D.D.S., and colleague William Wildey, D.D.S., patent a root canal instrument that is shared with the university as its first steady producer of royalties.
  • James Mellonig, D.D.S., M.S., is named director of the Periodontics Residency Program.
  • Dental School Alumni Association is founded.


  • Dental Early Admissions Program is implemented, creating educational opportunities for students at 20 affiliated colleges and universities in Texas.


  • Advanced Education in General Dentistry program is improved and expanded under a subsequent grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.


  • Dental School is ranked No. 1 by U.S. News & World Report. The Dental School also earns this top dental school ranking in 1995 and 1996, which was the last year that U.S. dental schools were ranked by this publication.
  • Dental School introduces the Graduation with Research Honors designation for students completing research experiences. Since then, 253 dental students have achieved this distinction.


  • Bachelor of Science completion program is established for those who have already earned the Certificate in Dental Hygiene.
  • Dental School begins an exchange program with dental students from Meikai University and Asahi University in Japan.


  • Master of Science in Dental Hygiene is established to provide the necessary educational environment to develop educators sorely needed in Dental Hygiene bachelor’s programs nationwide.


  • Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene is established.


  • Dental Clinic at Long Campus is renovated, including 170 predoctoral clinic operatories. The project also features new operatory equipment for state-of-the-art dental chairs and delivery systems. This renovation project will be expanded through 2002.
  • The Dental Hygiene program moves from the Dental School’s fourth floor to the second floor of the School of Health Professions. The clinic remains at the main campus and dental hygiene students and faculty shuttle between the two campuses.


  • Department of Dental Hygiene agrees to a three-year contract with the U.S. Army to send active duty soldiers to participate in the dental hygiene program.


  • A comprehensive electronic curriculum is implemented, including standard laptops, electronic textbooks and Vitalsource Bookshelf. The school becomes the first in the nation to provide students with electronic textbooks and required computer use at point of experience.
  • John P. Brown, B.D.S., Ph.D., and M. Elaine Neenan, D.D.S., M.S., M.P.H., of the Department of Community Dentistry—along with faculty, students and staff—support a campaign that leads to the approval of community water fluoridation of the San Antonio Water System.


  • Lily T. Garcia, D.D.S., M.S., FACP, is named first female chair in the Dental School (Department of Prosthodontics).
  • School renovates all large lecture halls to support digital visualization and mechanical and network infrastructure for student laptops.
  • Dental Hygiene program stops offering two-year certificate program and solely offers a baccalaureate program for entering students.


  • Mary MacDougall, Ph.D., leads efforts to obtain funding for Craniofacial Oral Biology Student Training in Academic Research (COSTAR).
  • (Now directed by Dr. Kenneth Hargreaves, COSTAR has so far supported 75 Ph.D., D.D.S./Ph.D., postdoctoral, and faculty trainees.)
  • Laredo Campus Extension is dedicated. This will be the home of Laredo-based, full-time dental residency programs.
  • Pediatric dental care program at the Salinas Clinic on San Antonio’s West Side begins.


  • The first dual-degree student, Dr. Cara Knight Gonzales, graduates with both a D.D.S. and Ph.D. (Since then, 11 additional D.D.S./Ph.D. students have graduated, and three students are currently in the program. Current AEGD Director Ahmed Sabbah, D.D.S., Ph.D., completed this program.)
  • Dental School, in collaboration with Edgewood Independent School District and Methodist Healthcare Ministries, implements a Community Service Project, involving all dental students that provides dental care to more than 600 children annually.


  • Dental School departments are reorganized and General Practice Group model for Predoctoral Clinics is implemented.


  • Dental School researchers are the first in the world to successfully map the gene that causes dentinogenesis imperfecta (DGI) Type III, a disease that affects tooth density and color and over time can cause teeth to wear to the gum line.
  • The Miles of Smiles-Laredo dental public health school-based program is established and grows from serving two schools to all 47 elementary schools in Laredo, Texas, through the support of HRSA’s Grants to Support States Workforce. For 11 years the program provided dental screenings, fluoride varnish and dental sealants at no cost to the families or school districts.
  • Dental School implements a DICOM Radiographic Imaging System called MiPACS.


  • Dental School Multidisciplinary Labs are renovated and transformed into Pre-clinical Simulation Labs and provide digital infrastructure to support electronic curriculum delivery.
  • Stacy Wendell Clapp, Jr. Scholarship Fund is established with, at that time, the largest gift from an individual to a dental school in Texas. This was created by a $2 million gift from the estate of Dr. Stacy Wendell Clapp, Jr., a former adjunct faculty member.
  • The International Dentist Education Program (IDEP) is established as a two-year advance standing alternative program, which was the first program in the southwest to offer qualified graduates of foreign dental programs the opportunity to earn the D.D.S. degree. The first class of 10 students graduated in 2009, and today there are over 100 IDEP graduates practicing or teaching.
  • Brian Mealey, D.D.S., is named director of the Periodontics Residency Program.
  • Dental School implements axiUm, a comprehensive electronic health record system.


  • The Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust awards $2 million to establish the Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust Distinguished University Chair in Oral Health, in appreciation of The Honorable Solomon Casseb, Jr. and Mr. Joseph C. Martin, III, Trustees.


  • Minerva Garcia, D.D.S., is named holder of the school’s first distinguished chair, the Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust Distinguished University Chair in Oral Health, in appreciation of The Honorable Solomon Casseb, Jr. and Mr. Joseph C. Martin, III, Trustees.
  • Dental School receives funding from Texas Health and Human Services Commission for a demonstration project to provide oral health care via a mobile dental unit to underserved children in Webb, Duval, Starr and Zapata counties.
  • The first Advanced General Dentistry and Pediatric Dentistry residents begin their training programs in Laredo.


  • Renovation of the dental clinic at the Laredo Health Department is completed and the Advanced General Dentistry and Pediatric Dentistry resident programs become fully operational.
  • Dental School goes paperless with the conversion to electronic patient records in the student clinics.
  • Taline “Talley” Dadian Infante, Ed.D., M.S., RDH, becomes director of the Department of Dental Hygiene after Dr. Nita Wallace becomes interim dean for the School of Health Professions.
  • The Dental Hygiene Bachelor Completion and Master programs transition to 100 percent online in April to accommodate the working dental hygiene student.


  • The Dental School establishes an affiliation agreement with the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission (SACM) to provide advanced dental education programs for SACM post-graduate students who will return to Saudi Arabia upon completion of their respective training programs.
  • Ten school departments are merged and form five new departments.
  • Dental School receives the Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Predoctoral Training in General, Pediatric, and Public Health Dentistry grant.
  • General Practice Residency (Department of General Dentistry and later in Department of Comprehensive Dentistry) is closed due to budgetary constraints.


  • Dental Hygiene relocates offices to the Dental School building on the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Campus. Previously, their offices were located with the School of Health Professions on the Greehey Academic and Research Campus.


  • Groundbreaking ceremony is held for $96.5 million state-of-the-art clinical dental facility which will be called the Center for Oral Health Care and Research.
  • Site visit by the Commission on Dental Accreditation results in fully accredited status.
  • School receives funding from Methodist Healthcare Ministries to support the Primary Dental Care rotation for the homeless at San Antonio Christian Dental Clinic, located at Haven for Hope; to fund the Laredo Pediatric Dentistry Program; and to fund the Ricardo Salinas Pediatric Dentistry Program. This funding has been provided annually and continues today.
  • Dental Hygiene becomes the Division of Dental Hygiene under the Department of Periodontics and transitions from the School of Health Professions to the Dental School.


  • William W. Dodge, D.D.S., assumes role of dean (2013 – 2018).
  • $500,000 naming gift establishes the Greehey Family Foundation Pediatric Dental Clinic.
  • The Dental School is awarded a four-year HRSA Center of Excellence grant for 2013-2017 to create a pipeline of students from Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley to dental careers and provide career development opportunities for Hispanic faculty.
  • Longtime Dental Hygiene Director Dr. Nita Wallace retires with 34 years of service.
  • Jo Ann Diaz Jordan, M.A., B.S.D.H. Class of 2001, RDH, is appointed program director for Dental Hygiene by Periodontics Chair David L. Cochran, D.D.S., Ph.D.
  • School creates task force called the Biomedical and Preclinical Science group to perform a critical self-assessment of the first- and second-year curriculum.


  • The Dental School officially changes its name to School of Dentistry after UT System Regents’ approval on May 15.
  • School of Dentistry clinics start doing business as UT Dentistry.
  • Three-year Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery program expands to three residents per year.
  • DentaQuest Foundation supports the dental public health school-based program Miles of Smiles-Laredo to develop an innovative web-based data collecting system SmilesMaker© for community-based oral health programs. It goes on to be used in various parts of the U.S.
  • Carol A. Nguyen, M.S., RDH, becomes program director for the Dental Hygiene Bachelor Completion online program.
  • Melanie Taverna, M.S.D.H. Class of 2011, RDH, becomes program director for the Master of Science in Dental Hygiene online program.
  • Dr. Kenneth Hargreaves is awarded a $1.4 million NIH R01 Grant (2014 – 2017) to evaluate endogenous TRP agonists in human burns.


  • Dedication is held for the Center for Oral Health Care and Research, a four-story, 198,000-square-foot ultra-modern dental clinic facility at 8210 Floyd Curl Drive. Patients can now receive the latest evidence-based care in 12 specialties.
  • Dental hygiene clinic on fourth floor of the main campus moves to the COHCR.
  • Dr. Kenneth Hargreaves awarded DoD CDMRP grant totaling $1.3 million (2015 – 2018) to study novel analgesics for treating burn pain.
  • Stephen Harris, Ph.D., awarded $1.8 million for NIH R01 grant (2016-2021) to study stem cells of the periodontium and possible methods of regenerating healthy cells after the effects of periodontal disease.


  • Dr. Kenneth Hargreaves awarded $1.9 million for NIH R01 grant (2016-2021) to study a novel mechanism of sexually dimorphic orofacial pain in women.


  • New curriculum is implemented with a total deconstruction and reconstruction of the first- and second-year curriculum. The existing 52 silo-based courses were replaced with three thematic tracks: Human Health and Disease, Introduction to Patient Care, and Foundations of Restoration in Dentistry.
  • The School of Dentistry’s four-year HRSA Center of Excellence grant is successfully renewed for an additional period through 2022.
    Yong-Hee Chun, D.D.S., Ph.D., is awarded $1.8 million for a NIH R01 grant (2017 – 2022) for “Enamel with Overexpressed Ameloblastin.”
  • Shivani Ruparel, Ph.D., is awarded $1.9 million for a NIH R01 grant (2017 – 2022) for the “Role of Peripheral Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) Signaling in Oral Cancer Pain.”


  • Adriana Segura, D.D.S., M.S., is named interim dean of the School of Dentistry.
  • The International Dental Education Program (IDEP) creates an Accredited Introductory Course as part of the new curriculum.
  • This second-year hybrid course consists of online training followed by customized hands-on training taught by specialists and content experts, geared to maximize clinical skills.
  • Brij Singh, Ph.D., becomes the associate dean for research.
  • COSTAR Trainee Ashley Wallace (D.D.S./Ph.D. candidate) receives F30 award.
  • COSTAR Post-Doctoral Fellow Peter LoCoco, Ph.D., receives F31 award.


  • Peter M. Loomer, B.Sc., D.D.S., Ph.D., MRCD(C), FACD, becomes dean (2019 – present).
  • Site visit by the Commission on Dental Accreditation results in fully accredited status.
  • School of Dentistry is awarded a Center for Medicare Services grant to initiate a program to provide comprehensive oral health care to 7,000 nursing home residents in San Antonio.
  • Barbara Floyd retires as dental hygiene administrator after 42 years of service.
  • Nikita Ruparel, D.D.S., Ph.D., M.S., graduates from the COSTAR program under the D.D.S./Ph.D. track and accepts an appointment as an associate professor and director of Advanced Education for the Department of Endodontics.
  • Armen Akopian, Ph.D.; Alexei Tumanov, M.D., Ph.D., and Dr. Shivani Ruparel were awarded an NIH grant totaling $3.2 million (2019 – 2024) to validate a novel “master switch” target that will effectively and without side-effects treat many orofacial pain conditions.


  • Clinical practice and academic programs restructured because of COVID-19 pandemic.
  • BienAir Dental USA’s donation of $1.7 million in control panels and electric power sources in the clinics and simulation labs is the largest corporate gift to date.
  • Trainee COSTAR Rebecca Lane, Ph.D. candidate, awarded F30 grant.
  • Dr. Armen Akopian and Dr. Alexei Tumanov awarded NIH Grant totaling $2.4 million (2020 – 2025) to study a method which will permanently reverse chronic neuropathy pain.


Share this post!

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

Categories for this article :