Temple’s Kornberg School of Dentistry honored the legacy of founder John H. McQuillen during a series of events celebrating the school’s 150th anniversary April 12-13.
More than 550 alumni, faculty, students, visitors and guests attended the weekend celebration, which included the opening of a 50-year-old time capsule, tours of the school’s state-of-the-art clinics and facilities, free dental care by Kornberg students, resolutions from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a cocktail reception and a gala dinner at the Barnes Foundation.
At the opening ceremony, current Kornberg School of Dentistry Dean Amid Ismail said he was a big fan of McQuillen, who founded the school as the Philadelphia Dental College in 1863. The college became affiliated with Temple in 1907.
“(John McQuillen) decided before the age of 38 to open a dental school because he was trained as a physician and he didn’t like the way dentists were being trained,” said Ismail. “He decided it was time to educate dentists the same way physicians were educated.”
Ismail noted that when the dental school opened in 1863, there was a civil war raging in the country and Abraham Lincoln was in the White House. “Today, we have President Obama in the White House, so imagine in 150 years how things have changed.”
And the dental school has experienced and been part of change throughout its 150 years, said Ismail.
“Dentistry started from basically a regular dental chair and some forceps to where we are today in terms of sophistication and the use of technology in the way we deliver dental care,” he said. “Temple has been part of the process throughout its 150 years and today is the start of a new era for the dental school.”
One highlight of the weekend was the opening of a time capsule from the school’s 1963 centennial celebration. It contained items such as a history of the dental school and Temple University, centennial programs and invitations, photos and slides, stamps and coins, congratulatory telegrams, copies of Philadelphia’s three daily newspapers and a letter from then-dental school dean Gerald Timmons.
Ismail said that the items will be put on display and a committee will select items from 2013 to place back in the capsule before it is resealed for the school’s 2063 bicentennial celebration.
The 150th anniversary also afforded alumni an opportunity to visit their alma mater and reconnect with former classmates.
“There were four of us here from the Class of 1958; I would never have believed it,” said alumnus Thomas Evans, who met up with classmates William Dragan, Howard Zucker and Jordon Bichefsky. “I haven’t seen Zuck or Bichefsky since I graduated.”
Evans spent two years in the U.S. Army before enrolling in the dental school, but said Temple was a lot tougher than the military.
“I wasn’t a super student, but I never had exam problems because they prepared you,” he said. “Temple had a good reputation and everywhere you went to practice dentistry, they knew if you went to Temple you could perform.”
“I think Temple really gave us a great opportunity to get a great education and I really appreciate the opportunity I’ve gotten,” said Zucker, who is vice chair of the department of hospital dentistry and oral and maxillofacial surgery at Christiana Care Health System in Delaware.
Zucker, who graduated five years before the time capsule was assembled, said seeing its contents brought back a lot of memories, especially the photos of Dean Timmons.
“Dean Timmons was around all the time,” said Zucker. “He didn’t teach any classes, but he knew everybody by name; he really cared for the students.”
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Written by Preston Moretz.