The Dental College of Georgia at Augusta University has a long history of preparing dentists to serve Georgia and the world. Since the first class of DMDs graduated in 1973, nearly 2,500 students have earned their Doctor of Dental Medicine degree. While the location and college name have changed over the years, one thing remains constant: our commitment to educating dentists to improve the overall health and reduce the burden of illness in society through dental health and disease prevention.
Thoughts of creating a dental school date back to shortly after the Civil War. The Medical College of Georgia was reopened in 1865, after a four-year hiatus during the war. The faculty of MCG first discussed the idea of opening a dental school in October 1868. According to the faculty minutes, members rejected Dr. Rivers letter proposing the school to teach dentistry for the upcoming term, but promised to consider the program during future meetings. The next serious references to establishing a dental school occurred in 1897 and 1902 with Dean Eugene Foster. He strongly urged the Board of Trustees to open the school and provided various figures to support his argument. The college proposed the idea to the Board of Regents in 1937, but they deemed the program non-vital. In 1960, several community dentists formed the Augusta Dental Society and they actively worked to establish the school.
In 1965, the Board of Regents approved President Harry O'Rear’s request for more medical programs at MCG by establishing several new schools, including the establishment of the School of Dentistry. MCG admitted the first dental doctoral students into the School of Dentistry in 1969, almost 100 years after the faculty first discussed the program. The Board appointed Dr. Judson C. Hickey as the first Dean in 1966, a position he held until his retirement in 1987. The school offered the Bachelor of Science degree in Dental Hygiene in 1967 and the first class graduated in 1969. The first class of dental doctoral students were accepted in 1969, and the first Doctor of Dental Medicine degrees were awarded to 13 dentists in June 1973. The dental faculty taught the first dental classes in two non-permanent buildings, technically trailers, on Floyd Street until the permanent building on the corner of Fifteenth Street and Gwinnett, now called Laney-Walker, was built. The faculty moved into the new facility in June 1971. The school added several new advanced programs in the 1970s: oral surgery, periodontics, oral biology and prosthodontics. The school continues to offer dental students eight different disciplines for degrees.
Now, Georgia’s only dental school, established as one of the nine colleges at Augusta University, The Dental College of Georgia boasts one of the most impressive clinical buildings in the country, having moved into its 269,000 square foot “green” building in September 2011. The facility was Silver LEED-certified in late 2012, a year after its completion, demonstrating Augusta University’s commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility. The building won engineering and construction management awards for best project.
In January 2015, dental students began holding class in the new J. Harold Harrison, M.D. Education Commons, with a state-of-the-art simulation laboratory, two large flexible classrooms dedicated to dentistry, a café, student lounge and a variety of study environments to accommodate up to 300 students.
Dr. Carol Lefebvre was appointed the fourth Dean of The Dental College of Georgia in 2014 after serving as vice dean alongside Dr. Drisko. She worked with Dean Drisko in the planning and construction of the new dental school. Dr. Lefebvre began her career at the DCG in 1989 as assistant professor in the prosthodontics department. She earned her DDS and MS in prosthodontics at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry and her BS at Michigan State University.
Dr. Connie Drisko was appointed the third Dean of the School of Dentistry in May 2003 after serving as associate dean for academic planning/faculty development and director of clinical research at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry. It was Dean Drisko’s vision that a new clinical dental school facility be built in Augusta. The students, faculty and staff took occupancy of the new facility in the summer of 2011.
Dr. David Myers, one of the founding faculty of the School of Dentistry, followed Dr. Hickey as Dean in 1989, continuing the tradition of excellence in teaching and research. Students and faculty continued to receive national recognition during his tenure as dean and several innovative teaching models were developed. Dr. Myers retired in 2000.
Dr. Judson C. Hickey was recruited in 1966 to create the Medical College of Georgia's School of Dentistry. He served as assistant dean at the University of Kentucky School of Dentistry and was a noted researcher. The School obtained a national reputation of excellence within a few years of its founding, due to Dr. Hickeys recruitment of faculty with an advanced degree in a basic science as well as their dental degree and a sense of humanity. He also encouraged the faculty to create a stimulating environment for the students. Dr. Hickey retired after two decades of service.