Faculty of Dentistry
Joseph Verco’s input into the formation of the Faculty of Dentistry was critically important. He strongly believed that the practice of dentistry should be seen as a separate discipline from medicine and should have its own academic foundation.
The establishment and the success of the Dental Students’ Society, coupled with earlier amendments to the Dentists’ Act in 1917, further reinforced the case for a faculty of dentistry to be established at the University of Adelaide.
The important amendments to the Dentists’ Act that affected the education of dental students at the university included a definition of the practice of dentistry; prohibiting the practice of unqualified persons; and a restriction on certain types of advertising.
By 1919, the first intake of students to study dentistry was officially admitted to the Bachelor of Dental Surgery degree course under the direction of the Faculty of Medicine. Students who enrolled in the dental course had previously registered as students under the provisions of sub-section (e) of the Dental Board Regulations.
In April 1920, regulations were passed by the University of Adelaide Council to formalise the Faculty of Dentistry.
The Faculty of Dentistry was responsible for advising the Council on all matters relating to the studies, lectures and examinations in the dental surgery course.
Joseph Cooke Verco was the first Dean of the Faculty.
Once the Faculty of Dentistry was established within the university structure, it had to devote its efforts to managing a dental school.
The building of the Dental Hospital or, to be more precise, the Dental Hospital/ Department at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, was a major step forward in the clinical training of dental students. Built on Frome Road in July 1923 with funds obtained from the British Red Cross (£15 000) and from the South Australian government (£10 000), it was the first permanent structure involved in the clinical training of dental students.
Prior to its construction, limited clinical instruction had been managed in a small area of the Old Exhibition Building on the eastern side of Frome Road. This was a location previously used for many years by the military as both a storage facility for military ordinance and a dental treatment centre.
The first university-appointed superintendent of the new Dental Hospital was Dr Arthur I Chapman. He had not only to manage all the educational needs of the dental students, as well as staff requirements and curriculum development, but also to represent the Dental Hospital at faculty meetings and argue issues relating to student complaints and student attendances, and to discuss matters concerning the student fee structure. At this early stage of the Faculty of Dentistry, the role of superintendent was crucial in establishing good working relations between the University of Adelaide and the South Australian Government Hospital Service.
The importance of these relations between the state-government-run dental facilities and the University of Adelaide’s Dental School has continued to the present day. In an address given to the Sixth Foundation Day Ceremony at the Royal Adelaide Hospital on 11 July 1984, Dr James (Bill) Scollin, a 1932 Adelaide graduate who was superintendent of the Dental Department of the Royal Adelaide Hospital from 1949 to 1975, stated: ‘The origins of the dental school and the dental hospital are so closely intertwined that they can be likened to a set of Siamese twins — born together and never capable of separation’ (Scollin 1984).
Of all the issues that confronted the new faculty, the problem of the Articles of Apprenticeship was the most difficult to solve. With the establishment of the Dental Hospital, students were expected to attend the hospital for their clinical training. This meant that for those students who were still under their Articles of Apprenticeship, their time was divided between their employers and the university. Soon after the clinical courses had started, the registered dentists complained that their apprentices were not spending enough time in their practices. It was an issue that was to continue beyond 1922 when a compromise was reached and the registered dentists allowed more time for their apprentices to attend the Dental Hospital. By the mid- to late 1920s, the apprenticeship system was abolished and all students studying dentistry were now unarticled university undergraduates.
The Dental Committee of the Faculty of Dentistry determined the rules and regulations that governed both the activities of staff and students. This committee, formed in January 1921, was staffed by the dentally qualified members of the Faculty of Dentistry.
The Doctor of Dental Science (DDSc) degree was adopted in 1922, with Thomas Draper Campbell being the first person to be awarded the degree in 1923.
By August 1933, agreement had been reached about the educational standards required to be able to practise dentistry. By 1933 the Adelaide Dental School had also become part of a national network that would decide the future directions of training and curriculum development of dentistry in Australia. Such agreements between dental schools contributed toward a greater transmigration of staff and students, invariably leading to improvements in many aspects of dental education.
In the decade following the end of World War II, the Dental School underwent a metamorphosis, with staff numbers increasing in line with the increasing numbers of students.
The First Year intake of dental students in 1946 was the largest (totalling forty-two students) in the history of the Adelaide Dental School. This group included a number of ex-servicemen who had been accepted under the Commonwealth Reconstruction and Training Scheme (CRTS). Of these First Year students, almost half either failed or dropped out in the early years of the course, leaving twenty-five to graduate in 1950. Among these graduates, eight were the first CRTS ex-servicemen to become registered dentists in South Australia. Others were to follow in subsequent years.
The 1950s and 1960s was a period of substantial expansion for the Dental School. The deans of dentistry during this period were: Professor TD Campbell (1939-58), Professor AM Horsnell 1959-63, 1971), Mr MJ Barrett (1964-65), Dr AJ Cran (1966-67) and Professor JC Thonard (1968-70).
In 1961, an honours degree was established to enable students to undertake a research project and to serve as preparation for those intending to proceed to further postgraduate work, including masters and PhD degrees.
In 1969, construction of the new Dental Hospital building was completed.
In March 1971, the University Council approved the establishment of four departments within the Faculty of Dentistry. These departments were: Restorative Dentistry, Dental Health, Oral Pathology and Oral Surgery, and Oral Biology. The four new departments replaced the former single Department of Dental Science with its divisions. The heads of these new departments were Murray Barrett, Arthur Maxwell Horsnell, Alec Cran and John Thonard.
In 1982 the School Dental Service and the Adelaide Dental Hospital amalgamted to form the South Australian Dental Service (SADS).
In December 1983, University Council approved the recommendation of the Faculty of Dentistry that the four existing dental departments amalgamate to form one department, effective January 1984, and that the new department should be named the Department of Dentistry.
A major event in late 1988 was the strong reaction from the dental profession to the proposal to amalgamate the Faculties of Medicine and Dentistry. There was overwhelming condemnation of the proposal from the dental profession and the faculty with a strong view expressed that the integrity and identity of the Faculty of Dentistry should be retained. Although dentistry may have won this ‘battle’, ultimately it lost the ‘war’ and its faculty status.
In 1996 the Faculty was merged into the Division of Health Sciences.
In January 1999 the University's Divisions were re-named Faculties and the existing Faculties became Schools. At this time the Faculty of Dentistry became the School of Dentistry.
In 2013, the then executive dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Professor Justin Beilby, together with the then dean of the School of Dentistry, Professor Johann De Vries, opened a new Dental Simulation Clinic in the central part of the university. Constructed at a cost of $6 million, this state-of-the-art facility enables students to practise real-world patient care procedures in a technologically integrated environment.
The Faculty of Health Sciences was renamed the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences in 2016.
Taken from The Adelaide Dental School: 1917-2017. James Rogers, Grant Townsend, Tasman Brown. 2018. Barr Smith Press.
Professor of Dentistry
- Professor Henk Tideman, DDS (Utrecht), MD (Nijmegen), PhD (Amst), FRACDS, FACOMS, 1985-1988
- Professor Tasman Brown, MDS, DDSc, FRACDS, FICD, Professor of Restorative Dentistry 1976-1991 (Emeritus Professor 1992)
- Professor Andrew John Spencer, BDSc (Melb), MDSc (Melb), MPH (Michigan), PhD (Melb), 1987-2011 (Emeritus Professor 2011)
- Professor Vivian Brian Burgess, BDS, MDS (Adel), FADI, FICD, 2008-2012 (Emeritus Professor 2013)
- Professor Johann De Vries, BChD (Pretoria), BCh (Hons) (Pretoria), MDent (Pretoria), 2006-2014 (Emeritus Professor 2014)
- Professor Kaye Roberts-Thomson, MPH (Adel), BDSc (Melb), 2012-2015
- Professor Mark Bartold, BDS (Adel), BScDent (Hons) (Adel), PhD (Adel), FRACDS (Perio), DDSc (Adel), 2001-2017 (Emeritus Professor 2017)
- Professor Grant Townsend, BDS, BScDent (Hons), PhD, DDSc (Adel), 1994 - 2017 (Emeritus Professor 2017)
Succeeding OrganisationDivision of Health Services