School of Dentistry community honors the memory of beloved alumnus, faculty member and leader Wood E. Currens

Dr. Currens received his DMD from ULSD in 1967 and then served the school for 44 years in various roles including faculty member, department chair, associate dean, and interim dean
School of Dentistry community honors the memory of beloved alumnus, faculty member and leader Wood E. Currens

Dr. Wood E. Currens

When Dr. Wood E. Currens retired from the UofL School of Dentistry in 2014, he summed up his 40-plus years at the school with this farewell message:

“Over the years, one of my favorite questions to ask applicants, whether for a faculty position or a spot in the entering DMD class was, ‘What do you love?’ After God and family, the responses vary widely. My answer? The University of Louisville School of Dentistry! In saying that, I’m not referring to 129 East Broadway or 501 South Preston. Instead, I’m thinking of the people in those buildings and those who have gone through them.”

Any of the people who met Currens during those years would likely say that feeling of love is mutual – which is why Woody’s death on April 3, 2022, has left a large hole in many hearts.

Dr. Margaret Hill, interim dean of the School of Dentistry and one of Dr. Currens’ former students, says the depth and breadth of his impact on the school is immeasurable. “He had a magical gift in that he connected with people so genuinely,” she says. “He made deep personal connections with virtually every student who came through these doors. What a gift for an educator to be able to give – to connect with multiple generations of students.”

Admissions counselor Robin Benningfield, who worked with Dr. Currens for decades, describes him as “one of the all-time greatest human beings I’ve ever known.” She says he was a joy to be around, and that “the love of teaching and dentistry just filled his heart.”

Although Dr. Currens never sought the spotlight, he couldn’t escape from admiration entirely. He was named the School of Dentistry’s Alumni Fellow in 2005. In 2014, more than 250 people attended his retirement celebration. During that event, the university announced the establishment of an endowed scholarship in his honor. This fund, which is now called the Currens & Mattingly Endowed Scholarship, supports one DMD student and one Dental Hygiene student annually.

More recently, Dr. Currens was recognized in July 2021 at the grand opening of the school’s new Wood E. Currens Student Success and Wellness Center. The project was made possible by a gift from 1974 School of Dentistry graduate Bob McGuinn and his family, who chose to name the center in honor of Dr. Currens.

From 129 East Broadway to 501 South Preston and beyond, Dr. Currens made a lasting impact on the UofL School of Dentistry, but the real impact is on the people he met along the way. In them, Woody’s love of teaching and dentistry is a legacy that will carry on for generations. 

The funeral is this Thursday April 7, 2022, at 10 a.m. at Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church. The address is 1206 Maple Lane, Anchorage, KY 40223.  A reception will follow immediately after the funeral from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Burial will be at Cave Hill Cemetery at 2 p.m. 

More information is available in his obituary


April 5, 2022