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School of Dentistry celebrates 115 years of dental education

Published: February 27, 2020 by Bradi Zapata

The school of dentistry's Celebrating 115 Years event was held in the fourth-floor Alumni Circle, where donuts and coffee were on display.
Faculty, staff, students, residents, and guests filled the halls of the fourth-floor Alumni Circle to celebrate the 115th year of The University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston.
Lisa Cain, PhD signed her name on a 3-foot-wide signature board.
Lisa Cain, PhD signed her same on a 3-foot-wide "thank-you" board during the school of dentistry's 115th Year Celebration.
Variations of frosted donuts with sprinkles were available for the attendees.
Donuts and coffee were available during the school of dentistry's 115th Year Celebration event.

On Feb. 11, 1905, the Texas Dental College was chartered as the first dental school in Texas. The school was established to be a source of dental education to ensure safe, reliable care for people across the state.

On Feb. 11, 2020, The University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston celebrated its 115th anniversary. Faculty, staff, students, residents, and guests filled the halls of the fourth-floor Alumni Circle early that morning to show their appreciation for the school and those who helped make the institution what it is today.

Guests marked the moment by signing their names on a 3-foot-wide “thank-you” board. During the event, guests reminisced with colleagues over fresh coffee and doughnuts while writing thank-you notes to the alumni, contributors, and former faculty who shaped the current climate of dental education and the profession. See photos from the “Celebrating 115 Years” kick-off event here.

The thank-you notes, signed by faculty members — including some who had worked for the school for over 40 years — thanked their colleagues for making the School of Dentistry a place they could call home, where they could feel a sense of belonging. Additionally, students thanked the institution at large for a providing a platform for fulfilling their dreams of becoming health care providers. Staff thanked alumni for making a substantial impact in the lives of many Houston residents. The notes will be shared with stakeholders, friends and alumni to express gratitude for their contributions and courage.

Throughout 2020, the School of Dentistry will celebrate landmark dates and happenings, including the first day of class, marked as Oct. 2, 1905.

Campus visitors can learn about these historical events by viewing The University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston Historical Gallery, sponsored by the UTSD Alumni Foundation, in the Frederick C. Elliott, DDS, Main Lobby on school’s first floor.

This gallery features a dental chair manufactured in 1877, a foot-powered dental engine, photos of the school’s previous locations, and a timeline of key people and events over the last 115 years. Anyone interested in traveling through time to see the school’s history can find it in The Elliott Lobby. Tours can be scheduled by contacting the PACE Center at 713-486-4028 or by emailing

About the School

UTHealth School of Dentistry at Houston began as the Texas Dental College, a private institution in rented quarters above a dry goods store on Congress Avenue. For decades, the school’s leadership lobbied to join The University of Texas System, but were unsuccessful until World War II caused an acute need for more dentists. The Texas Dental College formally closed on Aug. 31, 1943 and reopened on Sept. 1, 1943 as The University of Texas School of Dentistry. Enrollment doubled.

A grant from the M.D. Anderson Foundation helped establish the school as a founding institution in the Texas Medical Center, and in 1952, the School of Dentistry’s dean, Dr. Fred Elliott, resigned to become the first executive director of the TMC. That same year, the school broke ground on a new building at 6516 M.D. Anderson Blvd. It was completed in 1955.

Upon moving into the new facility, also known as “The Pink Palace” because of the pinkish-brown marble exterior, the school assumed a new name, “The University of Texas Dental Branch.”  

Nearly 60 years later, the school moved into another new building — the current location at 7500 Cambridge Street — and in 2012 reverted to its original name:  The University of Texas School of Dentistry. Since 1972, the school has been part of UTHealth, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.  

Despite these changes, UTHealth School of Dentistry has consistently provided high-quality education, patient care, service, and research, pursuing a vision of “Improving Oral Health … Improving Overall Health.”  

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