Established in 2023, the Academic Societies at NYU Dentistry provide an organizational structure that affords our DDS students the experience of small-group learning and mentoring while still having access to the vast resources of a large university. Upon matriculation, each member of an incoming class is inducted into one of the 14 Academic Societies and remains a member of it throughout their time at the College.
Each Academic Society is named for an individual whose life experience represents an important and/or trailblazing contribution to the profession of dentistry, thereby complementing the College’s formal leadership curriculum, and is led by a “Senior Mentor.” These faculty members help students navigate the four years of the curriculum and provide them with mentorship during their clinical education. The Senior Mentor plays a critical role in promoting a strong sense of community within their Society by facilitating academic enrichment, cultural activities, and social events that promote the academic society’s goals and objectives.
In addition to the Senior Mentor, students in each Academic Society benefit from the College’s Student Success Network, which connects every dental student with a comprehensive network of peer mentors, faculty, and staff who provide individualized, one-on-one guidance and personalized support to promote their success from the moment students enter at New Student Orientation.
Greene Vardiman (G.V.) Black (1836-1915) is known as "one of the founders of modern dentistry." He was the author of many dental textbooks and his research led to a number of innovations, including definitive work in dental anatomy and histology which provided the basis for the principles of cavity preparation and a standardized system for classifying cavities. He also invented and designed many instruments used in dentistry. He was a pioneer in the use of the microscope for studying dental disease. He served as a Union scout in the Civil War and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1864.
John Victor Borden (1916-2011) was the inventor of highspeed dental turbine handpiece in 1957 at the U.S. Naval Dental School, Bethesda, Maryland. It was patented as the Airotor but was also referred to as the “Borden Drill.” He also made many contributions to the field of periodontics, including developing the first ultrasonic scaling instrument now known as the “Cavitron."
Annie Elizabeth “Bessie” Delany (1891-1995) was the second Black dentist in New York State. She was a civil rights activist who was famous for the book that she co-wrote with her sister, titled “Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years.” Bessie was the only African-American woman of 170 students in the 1919 entering class of the Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery. She graduated in 1923.
Pierre Fauchard (1678-1761) was a French physician who is considered to be the father of modern dentistry. He was born in France and trained as a medical surgeon before changing over and specializing in dentistry. He was a gifted and talented practitioner who introduced many innovations into dental practice, including numerous techniques on dental fillings and extractions and the importance of good oral hygiene practices. In 1728, he published the first comprehensive dental textbook, Le Chirurgien Dentiste, ou Traité des Dents, which has been translated into many languages. The longstanding Pierre Fauchard Academy, an honorary dental society which recognizes and develops outstanding leaders in the dental profession internationally, is named after him.
Josiah Flagg Jr. (1763-1816) was the first American-born dentist and the first to use gold filling instead of lead or foil in America. A pioneer in innovative dental practice appurtenances, he introduced what is considered to be the first dental chair in the United States and was one of the first to use nitrous oxide and dental dams. He was instrumental in forming the American Society of Dental Surgeons and served as the first president.
Charles N. Ford (1890-1981) was the first African American student to graduate from the NYU College of Dentistry in 1926. He was born in Trinidad and came to the United States in the 1920s after working on the construction of the Panama Canal. He practiced dentistry in Harlem from 1926 until he retired in 1956.
William J. Gies (1872-1956) was a Columbia University biochemistry professor who is widely credited as the founder of modern dental education. In 1926, he published “The Gies Report, Dental Education in the United States and Canada," a landmark report that established the importance of dentistry as a healing science, a learned profession, and an essential component of higher education in the health professions. He helped co-found the Columbia University School of Dentistry, although he never received a dental degree. He helped facilitate the merger between New York College of Dentistry and New York University. He led the establishment of the International Association for Dental Research, the American Association of Dental Schools (now known as ADEA), and the Journal of Dental Research.
Emeline Roberts Jones (1836-1916) is recognized as the first woman to practice dentistry in America. She had wanted to become a dentist, but most dental colleges did not admit women. Her husband was a dentist, and she joined his practice in 1855 after being self-taught using extracted teeth. After her husband died in 1864, she took over his practice and cared for patients in New England.
C. Edmund Kells (1856-1928) is known as the “Father of Dental Radiography,” as he was the first to use dental radiography for diagnostic purposes in the United States. He introduced the capabilities of dental X-rays at a July 1896 meeting of the Southern Dental Association in North Carolina. This is thought to be the first time that intraoral radiographs were taken on a live person in the United States. He was an 1878 graduate of the New York College of Dentistry and was a friend of Thomas Edison. As a result of exposure to X-rays in his work, he suffered through many surgical procedures including amputations.
Faith Sai So Leong (1880-1929), a Chinese immigrant, was adopted by an English teacher in San Francisco at age 13. Educated, dexterous, and mechanically minded, she was encouraged to pursue dentistry by a dentist cousin. When she enrolled at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in San Francisco (now the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry), it was her first experience in an American classroom, where she was also the only woman. She received her dental degree in 1905, becoming the first Chinese American woman dentist in the United States. After receiving her dental license, she practiced privately in San Francisco, where she served patients primarily from the city’s Chinese American community and later in Oakland. Her pioneering legacy is honored in exhibitions at the Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the Museum of Chinese in America, located in New York’s Chinatown district.
Paul Revere (1734-1818) is widely acknowledged as America’s first forensic dentist. He followed in his father’s footsteps and became a master silversmith in 1757. Due to a need for additional income, he entered the field of dentistry in 1768 and trained under an English dentist named Dr. John Baker. He used his craftsman’s talents to make dentures out of walrus ivory or animal teeth and wired them into patients’ mouths. He appears to have only practiced dentistry for six years. In 1773, he joined over 100 other men dumping chests of tea into Boston harbor in an action known as the Boston Tea Party. He was chosen to ride by horseback to neighboring states and cities to inform their citizens of the revolt against the British.
Ida Gray Nelson Rollins (1867-1953) was the first African American woman to graduate from dental school and earn a DDS degree. While attending high school, she mentored with Dr. Jonathan Taft’s dental practice. When Dr. Taft later became Dean of the University of Michigan’s Dental School, he helped get her admitted right after her high school graduation. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 1890.
Lucy Hobbs Taylor (1833-1910) was the first woman to graduate from a dental school. She was born in New York and started working as a dental assistant. After being denied admission twice to a dental school because of her gender, she opened her own practice and practiced for five years before finally being allowed admission to the Ohio College of Dental Surgery. She entered as a D4 student and graduated with honors in 1866.
Charles Tomes (1846-1895) was a British dentist and pioneer in dental anatomy and pathology. He was one of the first dentists to use ether on patients during surgery. He developed techniques for studying teeth under microscopes and wrote several influential books on dentistry.