100 Years of Excellence: A CDM Timeline

  • 1898

    William J. Gies, PhD, Joins Columbia University

    A white man wearing suit and tie looking at the camera

    William J. Gies, PhD, the future guiding light for the Columbia University Dental School, joins the Columbia University faculty. He is 26 years old. At Columbia, his research on the causes of dental caries leads him to meet leading dental practitioners in New York, who he will work with to found the Columbia University Dental School.

  • 1916

    Founding Document is Prepared

    Founding document cover of Columbia University Dental School

    Columbia University publishes a proposal for the establishment of a dental school, submitted by a group of prominent New York dentists, physicians, and scientists. "A Dental School on University Lines" sets forth the enduring principles that general health and oral health are closely related and that the school of dentistry should have close ties with the medical school.

  • 1917

    Columbia University Dental School is Established

    An old sketch of the college of physicians and surgeons building. It is a huge building with three floors.

    College of Physicians & Surgeons

    Columbia University trustees establish the Columbia University Dental School retroactively to September 17, 1916. The school is co-located with the College of Physicians and Surgeons on 59th Street. Two students enroll. Later that year the New York Post-graduate School of Dentistry and the New York School of Dental Hygiene are merged into the dental school.

  • 1919

    William J. Gies, PhD, Establishes the Journal of Dental Research

    The journal enhances the research mission of dental schools across the nation.

  • 1919

    Dental School Entry Requirements Change

    A headshot of a woman who is looking sideways

    Henriette Ofner

    The Columbia University Dental School becomes the first dental school in the nation to require two years of prerequisite college preparation as an entry requirement. This requirement affects enrollment of women in particular, because few women attend college at this time.


  • 1920

    Anna Hughes, DMD, Becomes Director of Dental Hygiene

    An old yellow page of a document by Dr. Hughes

    Document from 1920 by Dr. Hughes

    Dr. Hughes is a champion of preventive dentistry: "The value of a clean mouth as a vital factor in maintaining a healthy body is now universally recognized, and as a result regular and thorough prophylactic treatments have become of constantly increasing importance..."

  • 1922

    First DDS Degree Awarded

    A headshot of a white man who is looking sideways

    Joseph Schroff, MD, DDS

    Joseph Schroff becomes the first recipient of a Columbia DDS degree. He has also earned an MD degree from the College of Physicians and Surgeons. He goes on to serve on the dental school faculty for many years.

  • 1922

    American Association of Dental Schools is Formed

    Logo of Adeagies Foundation

    William J. Gies, PhD, proposes the formation of the American Association of Dental Schools by bringing together several separate entities. It endures as the voice of dental education and is now known as the American Dental Education Association (ADEA), with a foundation named for William J. Gies, PhD.    

  • 1923

    School Merges With the College of Dental and Oral Surgery of New York

    Archive photo of faculty in 1923

    The Columbia University Dental School changes its name to the School of Dental and Oral Surgery (SDOS) as a result of a merger with the College of Dental and Oral Surgery of New York (established 1892). The two buildings the College occupies on East 34th and 35th Street become Columbia University property. Students take basic science classes in the morning on 59th Street and then walk down to 34th and 35th Street for dental technique classes.

  • 1926

    William J. Gies, PhD, Publishes Landmark Report

    The cover of the report named "Dental Education in the United States and Canada"

    Dental Education in the United States and Canada is published by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. It contains 250 pages of text and more than 400 pages of appendices, including descriptions and evaluations of existing dental schools, each of which Dr. Gies visited during 5 years of research. He uses the Columbia school as the model for the future of all dental schools.Dental Education in the United States and Canada remains a seminal piece of research within dentistry.

  • 1927

    Alfred Owre, DMD, MD, Becomes Dean

    An old white man who is standing up and reading a book at a library

    Dr. Owre is recruited from the University of Minnesota. He brings 17 faculty members from Minnesota to join him at Columbia. Dr. Owre's vision of rigorous education fits in well with the School of Dental and Oral Surgery, but many of his ideas regarding the structure of dentistry as a profession are considered controversial. Resistance to his ideas grows, leading to a leave of absence in 1933.

  • 1927

    Seymour Lipton Graduates

    Headshot of Seymour Headshot of Seymour Lipton who is white, wearing spectacles and looking sideways

    Seymour Lipton goes on to become a leading American abstract sculptor. His work is represented by many New York galleries and he receives major corporate commissions. His sculptures are exhibited in museums, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

  • 1928

    The School of Dental and Oral Surgery Moves to 168th Street

    Old picture of 168th street with cars and tall buildings

    SDOS moves into the top three floors of the Vanderbilt Clinic Building on 168th Street. The College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Presbyterian Hospital also move uptown, forming the first complete medical center in the country.

  • 1930

    Herbert Ferber Graduates

    An abstract expressionist sculptor which looks like two slides crisscrossing

    Herbert Ferber sculpture

    Herbert Ferber, known in the dental world as Dr. Herbert Silvers, goes on to become a world renowned abstract expressionist sculptor. He is credited with creating one of the first environmental sculptures, in 1960, that viewers experience by walking through it. His work is exhibited in many museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum. In the early 1970's, the American Dental Association commissions a sculpture for its headquarters, which it later donates to the City of Chicago.

  • 1933

    Willard Rappleye, MD, Becomes Dean

    Headshot of DR. Rappleye who is a white old man

    Dr. Rappleye, Dean of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, takes on the additional role of Dean of the dental school. He serves as Dean of both schools for the next 25 years. Dr. Rappleye appoints Dr. Arthur T. Rowe, the head of Prosthetics, as Associate Dean to carry out day-to-day operations. He successively appoints Houghton Holiday, Bion East, Maurice Hickey, and Gilbert Smith (who later becomes dean) as associate deans throughout his tenure.

  • 1935

    2 Faculty Members Are Murdered

    Image of the first page of "Columbia Spectator" (a newspaper) where the headline is about the murder committed by Victor Koussow

    Columbia Spectator frontage with article about the murder committed by Victor Koussow

    Victor Koussow, a quarrelsome school laboratory technician, fatally shoots Associate Dean Arthur Rowe and Dr. Paul Wiberg, and injures one other faculty member. He commits suicide as police arrive at the Medical Center.

  • 1945

    School Formally Merges Into the Faculty of Medicine

    Three men and one women are sitting down and one man is standing up . He is showing something on a paper to others.

    Photo of the merger signing in 1945

    The school becomes part of the Faculty of Medicine. This leads to controversy with the Council on Dental Education, the accrediting agency.

  • 1947

    First Postdoctoral Candidates Graduate

    Image of Columbia orthodentist clinic- lot of dentists and patients

    Clinic shot from 1947

    SDOS issues postdoctoral certificates in four specialty areas: oral surgery, general dentistry, periodontics (one of the first such programs in the U.S.), and orthodontics, a program that dates back to 1917.

  • 1947

    Frances Stoll, RDH, BS, Becomes Director of Dental Hygiene

    Headshot of Frances Agnes who is a white middle aged woman

    The Bachelor of Science degree is approved by the University for the graduates of the dental hygiene program.

  • 1950

    Pedodontics Postdoctoral Specialty Program is Established

    Image of the Pediaric clinic where dentists are examining teeth of kids

    Pediatric teaching facilities from the 1950's

    Now called Pediatric Dentistry, the postdoctoral Pedodontics program is established by Ewing Cleveland McBeath, DDS, MD. It is one of the earliest such programs in the world.

  • 1953

    Master of Science in Dental Hygiene Degree is Approved by the University

    Image of a classroom where a teacher is teaching students and mostly they are female.

    A dental hygiene class from the 1940's

    Frances Stoll, Director of the Dental Hygiene program, proposes and the University approves, the Master of Science in Dental Hygiene program for graduates who wish to pursue a career in academia.

  • 1959

    SDOS Separates From the Faculty of Medicine

    Headshot of Gilbert Smith who is a white middle aged man

    Gilbert Smith, DDS

    The University approves a separate faculty, the Faculty of Dental and Oral Surgery. The associate dean’s position under the former arrangement is restored to dean. Gilbert Smith becomes the Dean of SDOS.

  • 1965

    Patricia McLean, RDH, MA, Becomes Director of the Dental Hygiene Program

    Headshot of Patricia MclLan who is white middle aged woman

    She serves for 10 years and retires as an assistant dean.

  • 1968

    Melvin Moss, DDS, PhD, Becomes Dean

    Headshot of Melvin Moss who is a white old man with spectacles. He is smiling at the camera

    A professor in the department of anatomy, he recruits new full time faculty and strengthens the research mission of the school.

  • 1970

    New DDS Curriculum is Introduced

    Image of one patient, one dentist and two students of the clinic. The male dentist is about to examine the patient. And other male and female students are observing him.

    Shot of a teaching clinic in 1970

    The DDS curriculum is revised to include clinic observation in the second year, small group modes of instruction, and electives in the fourth year. Coursework and research in periodontics, growth and development, and prevention is strengthened through new faculty appointments.

  • 1973

    Edward Zegarelli, DDS, Becomes Dean

    Headshot of Dr. Zegarelli who is a old white man

    Dr. Zegarelli, an eminent oral pathologist and SDOS graduate in 1941, serves as Dean from 1973 until he retires in 1978. By the time he retires, he will have spent his entire professional career on the faculty of SDOS.

  • 1977

    Vanderbilt Clinic is Renovated

    Interior image of the clinic renovation of 1970 which shows modern equipments

    Interior of clinic renovation from the 1970

    SDOS facilities on Vanderbilt Clinic floors 7, 8, and 9 undergo a total renovation with modern operatories and new equipment.

  • 1977

    Dona Wayman, BS, MS, EdD, Becomes Director of the Dental Hygiene Program

    Headshot of Dona Wayman who is blonde white woman

    Dr. Wayman comes to the position after completing 3 degrees at Columbia, including a doctorate in education in conjunction with Teachers College.

  • 1978

    Allan J. Formicola, DDS, MS, Becomes Dean

    Headshot of Dr. Formicola who is a white bald man

    Dr. Formicola is the first dean in 50 years to be appointed from outside the faculty. He has previously served as Acting Dean at the New Jersey Dental School and on the faculties of the University of Alabama and Georgetown University. He serves as Dean of SDOS for 23 years.

  • 1982

    MD-Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Program is Established

    Steven Roser is standing in the lest of the photo with an assistant dentist. He is going to examine a patient

    Steven Roser, DMD, MD (left)

    Steven Roser, DMD, MD (left in photo) is appointed director of the Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. He establishes the joint MD-Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery program. It is the 7th such program in the nation and is established between the SDOS, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the Presbyterian Hospital.

  • 1982

    Dental Hygiene Program Closes

    Happy students of Dental Hygiene 1981 class

    Dental Hygiene 1981 class photo

    As community colleges across the country establish 2-year dental hygiene programs, enrollment of students in university programs drops precipitously. Columbia decides to close its program.

  • 1985

    Irwin Mandel, DDS, is Awarded the ADA Gold Medal For Research Excellence

    Headshot of Dr.Mandel who is wearing his apron and smiling at the camera

    Dr. Mandel, Professor of Dentistry and Associate Dean for Research, is the first person to receive this American Dental Association award. He is known for establishing the first Division of Preventive Dentistry at Columbia, and he is world-renowned for his research on saliva.

  • 1986

    SDOS Receives $1 Million Grant

    An Article clipping discussing the grant award from 1986

    An Article clipping discussing the grant award from 1986

    The Pew Charitable Trusts awards SDOS $1 million to implement far-reaching changes in curriculum. Students gain opportunities for electives and joint degrees with School of Public Health and the School of Business.

  • 1988

    Harlem Hospital-SDOS Special Postdoctoral Residency Program is Established

    An exterior shot of the Harlem Hospital which is pretty tall. The building color is mainly grey.

    Exterior shot of the Harlem Hospital

    The program is established to educate underrepresented minority residents in the dental specialties. 23 residents from Harlem Hospital complete specialty programs in fields such as periodontics, endodontics, orthodontics and pediatric dentistry. Graduates become faculty members at Columbia, staff at Harlem Hospital, and practitioners in their specialty fields.

  • 1993

    Alumna Publishes Best Selling Book, Having Our Say

    Headshot of Elizabeth Delany who is a young woman with neck length black hair.

    Elizabeth (Bessie) Delany

    Elizabeth (Bessie) Delany, a graduate of SDOS in 1923, publishes a book of life stories with her sister Sarah (Sadie) Delany, a graduate of Teachers College. The book recounts stories from the lives of these two extraordinary African-American women who grew up in post-Reconstruction South and lived in New York City during the Harlem Renaissance. The book includes Bessie's stories of breaking barriers to become a dentist.

  • 1995

    Community DentCare is Launched

    DentCare mobile Dental Service van which is white and blue in color

    DentCare mobile Dental Service van

    SDOS establishes the Community DentCare network to provide care in public schools and Head Start centers. A grant of $1 million is provided by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation to assist the effort.

  • 1998

    Northern Manhattan Community Voices Collaborative is Established

    Book cover of mobilizing the community for better health which is green and red in color

    Book cover of mobilizing the community for better health

    SDOS is funded with a $4.5 million grant by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to establish the Northern Manhattan Community Voices Collaborative, forming a collaborative of 35 community-based organizations and the Columbia University Medical Center to build health promotion and disease prevention programs.

  • 2000

    SDOS becomes National Program Office for $26 Million Project

    SDOS is selected by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as the National Program Office for the Pipeline, Profession & Practice: Community-Based Dental Education demonstration project, the largest foundation initiative in dentistry ever funded. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the California Endowment also provide funds for this project. The ten-year project funds 23 dental schools to implement programs for students to study and treat patients in community clinics and encourages schools to increase underrepresented minority student applications and enrollment.

  • 2001

    Ira Lamster, DMD, MMSc, Becomes Dean

    Headshot of Dr. Lamster who is black haired white man. He is smiling at the camera .

    Formerly Vice Dean of SDOS and Director of the Division of Periodontics, Dr. Lamster serves as dean from 2001 to 2013. Dr. Lamster proposes to change the name of the school from the School of Dental and Oral Surgery (SDOS) to the College of Dental Medicine (CDM) to reflect changes in the way dentistry is practiced.

  • 2004

    ElderSmile Program is Launched

    Elder Smile brochure cover. It has 3 images. In the middle there is a photo of an old couple smiling at each other and other 2 photos are of a white old male and a black woman

    SDOS establishes the ElderSmile program to bring attention to the oral health needs of the elderly. Care is provided at the Washington Houses for the Elderly and the Isabella Geriatric Center.

  • 2006

    SDOS Becomes the College of Dental Medicine

    The sign of college of dental medcine with a brown background

    The Board of Trustees approves the school's name change to the College of Dental Medicine. The new name better reflects its comprehensive biomedical approach in its missions.

  • 2009

    School receives prestigious ADEA Gies Award

    ADEA Gies award which looks like a headshots hot of Dr. Gies

    The College of Dental Medicine receives the American Dental Education Association William J. Gies Foundation award for Outstanding Vision by an Academic Dental Institution.

  • 2009

    Dental Research Complex Constructed

    Two male students and one female student looking at slides through microscopes.

    A major new research complex is constructed on the 12th Floor of the Vanderbilt Clinic building, permitting the dental school to recruit new research faculty and expand its research program.

  • 2010

    DDS-MA Program With Teachers College is Established

    One female student and two faculty members practicing on a model of teeth

    Roseanna Graham, DDS, becomes the first graduate of this dual degree program. She goes on to earn a PhD in science education, also a first. Dr. Graham joins the College of Dental Medicine faculty full time.

  • 2013

    Christian Stohler, DMD, DrMedDent, Becomes Dean

    Headshot of Dr. Stohler who is a white man with spectacles. He is smiling at at camera

    Dr. Stohler comes from the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, where he served as Dean for 10 years before arriving at Columbia. Dean Stohler oversees the expansion of the dental school's clinic space onto the Vanderbilt Clinic building's 5th floor, increasing clinic space by 25%.

  • 2014

    School Receives Its Second William J. Gies Foundation Award

    Picture from a school clinic opening in 2014. Four men are standing up and one female student is on the patient chair. They are are smiling at the camera

    Picture from a school clinic opening in 2014

    The College of Dental Medicine is awarded a second American Dental Education Gies Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement by an Academic Dental Institution for its Community DentCare program. (Photo shows opening of a public school clinic site.)

  • 2014

    School Receives HEED Award

    Dr. Dennis Mitchell

    The College of Dental Medicine is awarded a Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award (HEED) for outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. It is the first dental school in the nation to win such an award. It is Dr. Dennis Mitchell who established the Office of Diversity Affairs at the College of Dental Medicine, and he was appointed the Vice Provost for Faculty Diversity and Inclusion for Columbia University.

  • 2016

    School Celebrates Its 100th Anniversary

    The cover of A Dental School on University Lines by Allan Formi. The cover has a blue background with a statue of  a historical figure in front.

    The College of Dental Medicine celebrates its first 100 years. A comprehensive history book is written by Allan J. Formicola, Dean Emeritus, and is published by Columbia University Press. The College anticipates moving forward in an electronic age.

  • 2017

    Center For Precision Dental Medicine is Officially Dedicated

    Columbia Center for Precision Dental Medicine

    The College of Dental Medicine welcomes 150 donors, alumni, local leaders, and other members of the community on December 5 to dedicate the Center for Precision Dental Medicine, a new addition to the college designed to help transform the field of dentistry.The new dental education and patient care suite has 48 new dental operatories outfitted with first-of-its-kind technology developed specifically for Columbia’s vision of stretching the boundaries of dentistry as it is practiced and taught. Read more