Penn Dental Medicine is among the oldest university-affiliated dental institutions in the nation. Its historic ties trace back to the Philadelphia College of Dental Surgery, established in 1852. In 1856, the faculty of the Philadelphia College of Dental Surgery formed the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery when the former closed, and in 1878, the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery Dean, Dr. Charles J. Essig, was asked to join the University of Pennsylvania, founding the School of Dental Medicine as the Dental Department of the University of Pennsylvania. He would serve as the School’s first Dean from 1878-1883. The Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery would eventually merge with the University of Pennsylvania in 1909.
The School’s first facilities were housed in Medical Hall (now Claudia Cohen Hall). The following year it moved into its own building, Dental Hall, which was designed and constructed for its particular needs.
In 1897, Thomas W. Evans, a Philadelphia native, who became the dentist to the courts of Europe during France’s Second Empire and confidant of Napoleon III, left his estate to create and maintain a dental school that would be “second to none.” Evans’ generosity made possible the construction of the Evans Building (officially called the Thomas W. Evans Museum and Dental Institute) which opened in 1915, the best-equipped dental building in the nation at that time. His boldness and spirit of leadership have continued to guide the School throughout its history of expansion and innovation both in curriculum and in clinical and scientific facilities.
Throughout its history, Penn Dental Medicine has grown in size and has consistently been at the forefront of dramatic changes that have characterized the profession of dentistry during that time. Nevertheless, Penn Dental Medicine has remained faithful to its original mission: “to prepare students for qualification for dental practice, to provide graduate training for qualified practitioners and to create the opportunity and facilities for scientific research in dentistry.”
Since its founding, the dental education program has maintained its leadership role in dental education and research by preparing distinguished graduates capable of functioning in the many roles the profession demands: scientist, diagnostician, clinician, artist, engineer, teacher, and business manager. The School is committed to offering an education that advances both the art and science of dentistry, and prepares its students for leadership in the profession.
Mark S. Wolff, DDS, PhD, 2018 – present
Denis F. Kinane, BDS, PhD, 2009 – 2017
Marjorie Jeffcoat, DMD, 2003 – 2008
Raymond J. Fonseca, DMD, 1989 – 2003
Jan Lindhe, DDS, PhD, 1983-1988
D. Walter Cohen, DDS, 1972-1983
Lester William Burket, DDS, 1951-1972
Joseph L.T. Appleton, Jr., DDS, 1941-1951
Charles Root Turner, DDS, 1917-1941
Edward Cameron Kirk, DDS, 1895-1917
James Truman, DDS, 1883-1895
Charles J. Essig, MD, DDS, 1878-1883
Dana T. Graves, DDS, DMSc, January 2018-June 2018
Thomas Sollecito, DMD, 2008-2009
Malcom Lynch, DDS, MS, 1988-1989
Dr. Thomas W. Evans, a Philadelphia native who became the dentist to the courts of Europe during France’s Second Empire and confidant of Napoleon III, was Penn Dental Medicine’s earliest benefactor. Evans left his estate to create a dental school that would be “second to none,” making possible the construction of the Thomas W. Evans Museum and Dental Institute at 40th and Spruce Streets on the site of his family’s home. This flagship building, dedicated in 1915, is still home much of the School’s clinical care, instruction, and administrative staff. Read a Penn Gazette story on Thomas Evans »