Fall 2017

150 Years and Counting

A Timeline

By Helene Ragovin, with additional reporting by Laura Ferguson

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ISAAC WETHERBEE, a former Baptist minister from Vermont, opens BOSTON DENTAL COLLEGE, one of the country’s first dental schools. Classes meet around Boston, including above a saloon, before moving to Tremont Street in 1877.


The FIRST COMMENCEMENT takes place on June 14 at Mercantile Hall in Boston.

Source: The Dental Cosmos, Volume 14




HAROLD WILLIAMS oversees a merger with Tufts to create the TUFTS COLLEGE DENTAL SCHOOL. He’ll serve as dean of the dental and medical schools.

Photo: Tufts Archives


Tufts dental and medical schools take up residence at 416 HUNTINGTON AVENUE in Boston.


The school has the highest percentage of successful exams of any dental school in the country.


CHARLES F. PAINTER, a physician, becomes dean of the dental and medical schools.


WILLLIAM RICE, D1888, becomes dean.

Photo: Tufts Archives


Despite the onset of the Great Depression, more than 400 alumni contribute or pledge to the DENTAL ALUMNI FUND to modernize the infirmary.


HOWARD MARJERISON, D16, H42, becomes dean.

Photo: Bibby Library


BASIL BIBBY, DI39, a pioneer in research on bacteria, fluoride and caries, becomes dean. He’ll go on to lead the Eastman Dental Center in New York.


JOSEPH YOLKER takes over as dean. He’ll soon leave for the University of Alabama, bringing a half-dozen Tufts faculty with him.


Tufts establishes the BERKSHIRE CONFERENCE, an annual research meeting in periodontology. Meanwhile, Dean CYRIL MARSHALL-DAY settles the school into a former button factory at 136 Harrison Avenue in Boston, where it shares space with the med school.


Tufts Dental College becomes TUFTS SCHOOL OF DENTAL MEDICINE.


JOHN HEIN, D44, H93, takes the reins as dean.


The school establishes the pioneering department of SOCIAL DENTISTRY. Initially focused on training dental assistants, it paved the way for today’s public health and community service curriculum.


J. MURRAY GAVEL, D23, H64, becomes dean. Later, the Gavel Center for Restorative Dental Research is named for him.

Louis J.P. Calisti, right


LOUIS J.P. CALISTI, who will serve as dean for close to a decade, sets in motion a plan to build the first home base dedicated to the dental school.


THOMAS MURNANE, D62, AG68, is acting dean before heading into Tufts fund-raising. He’s succeeded by ROBERT SHIRA, H81, former chief of the Army Dental Corps and U.S. deputy surgeon general.


At the official dedication for ONE KNEELAND, completed at a total cost of $15 million, Massachusetts Governor Francis Sargent is the featured speaker.


Tufts becomes the country’s first dental school to launch a program of community-based EXTERNSHIPS at  sites such as veterans’ hospitals, health clinics, Native American Reservations, correctional facilities and military bases.


ERLING JOHANSEN, D49, one of many Norwegian students who arrived at the dental school after World War II, becomes dean.


After Farleigh Dickinson University unexpectedly closes its dental school, Tufts welcomes 25 students for the classes of 1991 and ’92, part of a tradition of WELCOMING TRANSFERS from shuttered programs.


JOHN A. DIBIAGGIO becomes Tufts University’s first (and so far, only) dentist president, serving through 2001.

Photo: Matthew Modoono


LONNIE NORRIS, DG80, who began his Tufts career in 1977, is the first African American to become dean. He’ll oversee the addition of 95,000 SQUARE FEET to One Kneeland Street.


The start of practice-based CLINIC GROUPS for third- and fourth-year students, under the leadership of a faculty coordinator.


Tufts becomes the first dental school to launch a university-level SLEEP MEDICINE PROGRAM.

Photo: Matthew Modoono


Pediatric dentist HUW THOMAS, a native of Wales, comes to Tufts after serving as dean of the dental school at the University of Alabama.

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