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Program History

The Department of Orthodontics at the UT School of Dentistry was the first postgraduate orthodontic department in Texas. Since its inception in June 1956, it has been engaged in research, teaching and patient care. Our graduates have contributed greatly to the development of dentistry’s oldest specialty. The first clinical orthodontic faculty members were Dr. W. J. Schoverling and Dr. Milton Yellen. Both received orthodontic training at the University of Washington in Seattle. They joined the UTSD department chair, Dr. Westfall, to form the department. The first students of the program were Dr. Shannon and Dr. Ressling. who began training in 1956 and graduated in 1958.

Dr. Westfall continued his role as chair until 1973 when Dr. Dan West assumed the role and kept it until 1995. In 1997, Dr. Marion L. Messersmith took over the responsibility, and the current chair, Dr. Jeryl D. English, assumed the role in 2001.

Class size has ranged from the initial two students in 1956 to a high of 15 in 1971. Since 1981, the number of students has been limited to six and an optional PhD candidate. In 2005, the maximum number for students was raised to seven with permission from the American Dental Association. Dr. Kapadia completed his PhD in 2006 as the department’s first candidate.

The American Dental Association, Council on Dental Accreditation completed an evaluation of the Postgraduate Program in Orthodontics in March 2005. The program was fully accredited and received special recognition for these areas.

  • “The visiting committee noted that the program director has established a blend of high quality clinical teaching, excellent research encompassing both basic and clinical investigation, and an ongoing commitment from the faculty and residents to enhance the advanced education program in orthodontics, the specialty of orthodontics, and the current and future patients they serve. Further, the committee determined that the part-time clinical faculty has been and continues to be a positive force, providing dependable, productive, and enthusiastic support to the program. Their teaching, emotional, and financial support to the program was judged to be exemplary. Also, it was noted that the full-time research faculty has compiled an impressive record of achievement and contributions to the program that has gained broad national recognition. The recent hiring of a productive clinic director is viewed as a positive addition that has allowed the program director to again devote his considerable talents to the overall program administration. Therefore, the program director is commended for his productive blend of leadership and direction; the part-time teaching staff is commended for their sustained support of the program; and the full-time basic science teaching faculty is commended for their teaching and research.”