Endowed Professorship Honors Beloved Pediatric Dentistry Professor
By Catherine Duncan
The impact that Timothy B. Henson, DMD, had on the School of Dentistry’s pediatric dentistry program, its faculty, residents and students still resonates today.
Colleagues remember a gifted, sociable educator who personified the joy that can be found in teaching future dental care providers. Dr. Henson became a trusted, respected friend to faculty and staff at the dental school.
Pediatric dentistry residents recall a professor who taught them specialized skills while pushing them to learn on their own and find answers to their questions. This prepared many to embark on their own journeys of running successful pediatric dental practices. He also invited them to his home for meals and strove to bring them together as a team.
And, his special interest in treating infants with cleft lip and palates helped put the School of Dentistry at UT Health San Antonio on the national map for excellence in pediatric dental education. As a member of the pediatric dentistry team from 2000 through 2012, Dr. Henson brought to the dental school expertise and experience with the Presurgical Nasoalveolar Molding Appliance (PNAM) from Florida and shared it in his coursework for treating pediatric patients with cleft lip and palates. Of course, many tiny patients from San Antonio and South Texas benefited from this critical presurgical procedure.
Dr. Henson, 63, died on August 11, 2021, from complications from prostate cancer.
Kevin J. Donly, DDS, MS, professor and chair of the Department of Developmental Dentistry at the School of Dentistry, shared that after his friend and colleague was initially diagnosed with cancer, Dr. Henson’s former residents Jason E. Turner, DMD, MBA, and Miles Mazzawi, DMD, worked together to establish the Dr. Timothy B. Henson Endowment in Pediatric Dentistry in 2018 at the School of Dentistry.
Dr. Turner and Dr. Mazzawi wanted to recognize Dr. Henson for his work in pediatric dentistry and in teaching as he was battling cancer. Unfortunately, by 2020, they all learned that he would not be able to defeat cancer.
“I wrote a letter that we mailed to former residents, colleagues and family members and friends asking them to donate to the endowment. We wanted to be able to elevate the endowment while Tim could still enjoy it,” Dr. Donly said. “We raised $100,000 in two months during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The philanthropic support elevated the endowment to become the Dr. Timothy B. Henson Endowed Professorship in Pediatric Dentistry. As of Oct. 1, 2021, 92 gifts from 87 donors had raised more $147,000.
In June 2021, the dental school hosted a private reception with Dr. Donly, his colleagues, former residents and friends. “At the reception, we were able to announce the endowment’s elevation to a professorship. When he was presented this honor, Tim got choked up. He asked those in attendance to raise their hand if they were from his neighborhood. Then if they were faculty. Last, he asked former residents to raise their hands. He said, ‘This has brought all of you together. You are my family.’”
Dr. Donly said that Dr. Henson never married or had children. “We were all his family. We wanted him to know that he would be remembered,” he said.
The endowed professorship will help recruit and retain excellent faculty members. “When we hire someone who holds this professorship, we will tell them about Tim and the impact he had here. His remembrance will live on,” he added.
Julie Bryan—Dr. Henson’s dear friend of 20 years, travel companion and self-proclaimed “partner in crime”—said her best friend loved to teach dental residents and care for his young patients. The professorship honors his legacy in both of these areas.
“I am so glad he was alive when the endowment was created. He was able to see so many people come together to support the endowment and then raise it to a professorship. It meant so much to him,” she said.
“I spoke to Dr. Donly earlier this year, and we decided this was such a great way for his many friends to honor him on his birthday. While he was still here, it gave us a way to show him the difference he made in all of our lives—not just in the dental world.”
In life, “Tim chose quality over quantity. We traveled to amazing places together. He was a great cook who loved food and wine. He really enjoyed Fiesta. He lived large and passionately. He lived immediately,” Bryan said. “I’m so glad that he was able to learn about the endowment while he was still here. So many times, these honors are done after someone is gone. I know how much he enjoyed the reception announcing the endowment and being able to thank everyone who came together to honor him. What a lovely memory for Tim and everyone who loves him.”
If you are interested in making an online gift, please visit https://makelivesbetter.uthscsa.edu/henson or if you would like to make a gift in kind, contact Amanda Liccione, director of development for the School of Dentistry, at (210) 567-6536 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.