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125th Anniversary

A Peek at Our Past

The University of Louisville School of Dentistry’s origin can be traced to 1887. A Department of Dentistry was created by Central University which is now known as Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, KY. Dental schools were lucrative businesses and for that reason among others would have been an attractive addition to a University’s operation.

Because Central University needed capital, it sold its “franchise” to a group of medical and dental educators. We can thank Steve and Ford Grant’s ancestors for that move. They reorganized the institution under the name of Louisville College of Dentistry and became associated with Centre College in Danville, KY. In 1918 the college became affiliated with the University of Louisville, the oldest municipal institution west of the Alleghenies. Renaming the institution the University of Louisville College of Dentistry, the institution moved into “modern” facilities which had been built at 129 East Broadway. That building at Brook and Broadway still stands and lives in the memories of the thousands of dentists who participated in the “rigorous” education experiences offered there.

In 1887, the total dental curriculum consisted of two terms, each one lasting five months. Eighteen students began their quest for the Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) degree in January of that year and they were eagerly greeted by the department’s two faculty members.

Interestingly, ten additional men, who had completed their first term at other colleges, finished their second term in Louisville to become the institution’s first graduates in June of 1887. Since that time, they have been joined by the approximately 8,000 additional men and women educated at the School of Dentistry.

The D.D.S. degree was conferred by the University until 1939 Before the next graduation date, the faculty changed the degree to D.M.D., the first letters of the Latin words, which translate, “Doctor of Dental Medicine.” They believed that this designation more accurately and appropriately described the modern concepts required in the practice of dentistry.

In 1952, the School of Dentistry began its Dental Hygiene Program. Sixty years later, more than 1,150 graduates have received their Certificates in Dental Hygiene. Many of that number earned Bachelor of Science Degrees in Dental Hygiene through UofL’s College of Arts and Sciences.

In 2007, the university ended the certificate program and began awarding the B.S. degree through the School of Dentistry. Of the over 300 Dental Hygiene programs in the United States, only 37 grant the baccalaureate degree. The ULSD is proud to be in that number.

In 1970, the School of Dentistry expanded into its present facility and became an integral component of the University’s Health Sciences Center. Over the years the School has benefited from a rich heritage in dental education. It can boast of an illustrious roster of more than 5,500 living alumni, practicing in every state and several foreign countries. Its reputation for clinical excellence and its history of graduates’ contributions to the profession and the public have been continuous since its founding. That is still the case. The excerpt below from the University of Louisville College of Dentistry Bulletin of August, 1918, tells the story that remains accurate to this day:


In Louisville, with the neighboring cities across the Ohio River, together with the numerous charitable institutions and large manufactories located in the city, there is no lack of material for clinics. This college has been known for years for the excellence of the clinic. There is at all times an abundant supply of patients. It is the intention that this clinical practice shall be made as much like an actual dental practice as possible. The development of the ability to obtain and hold a practice, the observance of professional courtesy toward patients – essential to personal success – is regarded as equal in importance to the development of manipulative ability.

Contributions of ULSD Alums

Did you know that the ULSD has graduated: (Look closely, i.e. you are in here)

  • ADA presidents
  • A governor and a spouse of a state governor
  • Board of Dentistry members from many states
  • The head of the Kellogg Foundation
  • A leader of a fire department
  • Presidents of state dental associations from Alaska to Florida
  • A Cushman motor scooter restorer
  • Members of several universities’ Boards of Trustees
  • Deans of dental schools from San Francisco to Chapel Hill and points in between (at least 6)
  • Grads who were “Starters” on football, basketball, chess, cheerleading, etc., teams nationwide
  • A member of a U.S. President’s cabinet
  • Leaders of the Remote Area Medical (RAM) organization
  • A head of United States Public Health Service
  • Assistant and Associate Deans and Specialty Program Directors nationwide
  • The creator and leaders of the Pankey Institute
  • Presidents of specialty organizations
  • “Star rank” members of the military dental corps

And most important of all……

  • High-quality and caring oral health care providers in each and every state.

The ULSD family is delighted and proud that you are an integral part of the over 7,800 graduates, each of whom is a “chapter” in the history of THE School of Dentistry.

The School is ready for year 126 and beyond!

Former dental school

Former dental school located at 129 East Broadway


UofL School of Dentistry

Original front door of the Dental School located at 501 South Preston


New East Entrance

New entrance to the Dental School

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